This Surah was revealed in two stages. Its first section was revealed in A.H. 7, probably on the occasion of the conquest of Khayber, and the second section was revealed shortly after the migration as the Prophet established the Friday congregation prayer on the 5th day after his arrival at Madinah.
- Allah has appointed Muhammad (pbuh) as His Rasool.
- Allah rebutted the claim of Jews to be the favorites of God to the exclusion of others.
- Commandment relating to the obligation of 'Friday Prayers.'
The first section was revealed after the final defeat of the Jewish tribes at the Battle of Khayber. Allah Almighty revealed this last and final address which was directed towards the Jews in the Qur'an. In this they are reminded of three things:
- Did you refuse to believe in Muhammad (pbuh) only because he was born among a people whom you considered 'gentiles'? You were under the false delusion that a Rasool must necessarily belong to your own community and that anyone who claimed to be a Prophet outside your own community must be an imposter. This is Allah's bounty, which He may bestow on anyone He may please. You have not been granted a monopoly over it.
- You were made the bearers of the Torah, but you did not undertake your responsibility and discharge it as you should have. Therefore you are no better than that donkey who is loaded with books and does not know what burden he is bearing. You not only shirk your responsibility of being the bearers of Allah's book, but you did not even hesitate to deliberately deny Allah's revelations. Yet you consider yourselves as Allah's favorites.
- If you really consider yourselves as Allah's favorites and were sure of having a place of honor and high rank with Him you would not have feared death and accepted a life of disgrace and subjugation. This condition itself is proof that you are fully conscious of your misdeeds, and your conscience is aware that if you die with these misdeeds, you will meet your Rabb with a greater disgrace on the Day of Judgement.
In the second section, Allah warned the Muslims not to treat their Friday as the Jews had treated their Sabbath. This section was sent down on the occasion when a trade caravan arrived in Madinah right at the time of Friday congregation prayer. During the service when the people heard the din and drum, they left the Prophet's mosque and rushed to the caravan although the Prophet was delivering the Sermon. Thereupon it was enjoined that when the call for the Friday Prayer was made all trade, business and other occupation must stop. Upon hearing the call, believers should suspend every kind of transaction and hasten to the remembrance of Allah. However, when the prayer is over they can go back and resume their normal business.