This is the first Surah of the Qur'an, which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had publicly recited before an assembly of the Qureysh (and according to Ibn Marduyah, in the Ka'bah) in which both the believers and the disbelievers were present. At the end, when he recited the verse requiring the performance of a Sajdah and fell down in prostration, the whole assembly also fall down in prostration with him, and even those chiefs of the polytheists who were in the forefront of the opposition to the Prophet (pbuh) could not resist falling down in prostration. Ibn Mas'ud (may Allah be pleased with him) says that he saw only one man, Umayyah bin Khalaf, from among the disbelievers, who did not fall down in prostration but took a little dust and rubbing it on his forehead said that it was enough for him. This Surah was revealed in Ramadhan of 5th year of Prophet's residence at Makkah.
- Scene of the 1st. Revelation, brought by angel Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
- Allah gave Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) a tour of the heavens, paradise and other great signs.
- Lat, Uzza and Manat (goddesses of Arabs) are nothing but names in vented by pagan Arabs.
- Angels have no share in divinity, nor they can even intercede without the permission of Allah.
- Do not claim piety for yourselves, Allah knows who is Godfearing and pious.
- No soul shall bear the burden of another, there shall be nothing for a person except what he strived for.
The theme of the discourse is to warn the disbelievers of Makkah about the error of the attitude that they had adopted towards the Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The discourse starts by saying: "Muhammad is neither deluded nor gone astray, as you are telling others in your propaganda against him, nor has he fabricated this teaching of Islam and its message, as you seem to think he has. In fact, whatever he is presenting is nothing but Revelation which is sent down to him. The verities that he presents before you, are not the product of his own surmise and speculation but realities of which he himself is an eye witness. He has himself seen the Angel through whom this knowledge is conveyed to him. He has been directly made to observe the great Signs of Allah during his trip of M'iraj; whatever he says is not what he has himself thought out but what he has seen with his own eyes." After this, following three convincing arguments are presented:
- The religion that you are following is based on mere conjecture and invented ideas. You have set up a few goddesses like Lat and Manat and Uzza, whereas they have no share in divinity. You regard the angels as the daughters of Allah. You think that these deities of yours can influence Allah in your favor, whereas the fact is that all the angels together, who are stationed closest to Allah, cannot influence Him even in their own favor. None of beliefs that you have adopted is based on knowledge and reason, but are wishes and desires for the sake of which you have taken some whims as realities. This is a grave error.
- The final judgement will not depend on what you consider yourself to be, and on the claims you make about your purity and chastity but on whether you are pious or impious, righteous or unrighteous in the sight of Allah. If you refrain from major sins, He in His mercy will overlook your minor errors.
- A few basic principles of the true faith are reiterated which were stated in the Books of the Prophets Abraham and Moses, so that there remains no misunderstanding that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has brought some new and novel religion. These are the same fundamental truths which the former Prophets of Allah have always been presenting in their respective ages. It is made clear that the destruction of the 'Ad, the Thamud and of the people of the Prophets Nuh (Noah) and Lut (Lot) was not the result of accidental calamities, but Allah has destroyed them in consequence of the same wickedness and rebellion from which the disbelievers of Makkah are not inclined to refrain and desist.
This was such an impressive discourse, by it even the most hardened deniers of the truth were completely overwhelmed, and when after reciting these verses of Divine Word the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) fell down in prostration, they too could not help falling down in prostration along with him.