This Surah was revealed during the early stage of the Prophet's residence at Madinah.
- To Allah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and He knows all that you conceal and reveal.
- Surely there will be life after death, the Day of Judgement and reward for good and bad deeds.
- No affliction can ever befall anyone except by the leave of Allah.
- Among your wives and children there are some who are your enemies, be aware of them.
The theme of this Surah is an invitation to the Faith, obedience (to Allah) and the teaching of good morals. The sequence followed is that the first four verses are addressed to all men; verses 5-10 to those men who do not believe in the invitation of the Qur'an; and verses 11- l8 to those who accept and believe in this invitation. In the verses addressed to all men, they have been made aware in a few brief sentences of the following four truths:
- That the universe in which you live is not Godless, but its Creator, Master and Ruler is an All Powerful Allah, and everything in it testifies to His being Who is perfect and absolutely faultless.
- That the universe is not without purpose and wisdom. Its Creator has created it to manifest the truth. No one should be under the delusion that it is just a show, which began without a purpose and will come to an end without a purpose.
- That the excellent form that Allah has created you with and the choice that He has given you to choose between belief and unbelief is not a useless and meaningless activity so that it may be of no consequence whether you choose belief or unbelief. In fact, God is watching as to how you exercise your choice.
- That you have not been created irresponsible and unanswerable. You are to return ultimately to your Creator, and will meet the Being who is aware of everything in the universe, from Whom nothing is hidden, and to Whom even the innermost thoughts of peoples' minds are known.
After stating these truths about the Universe and Man, the address turns to the disbelievers and their attention is drawn to the two causes of prior nation's destruction:
- They refused to believe in the Rasools whom Allah sent for their guidance, with the result that Allah too left them to themselves, and that they invented their own philosophies of life and went on groping their way from one error to another.
- They rejected the doctrine of the Hereafter, and thought this worldly life to be an end in itself, and believed that there was no life hereafter where they will render an account of their deeds before Allah. This corrupted their attitude towards life, and their morals and character became so polluted that eventually the scourge of Allah came and eliminated them from the scene.
After stating these historical facts, the disbelievers are admonished to wake up and believe in Allah, His Rasool and the Light of Guidance that Allah has sent in the form of The Qur'an if they want to avoid the fate met by the former peoples. Besides, they are warned that the Day shall eventually come when all the former and the latter generations will be gathered in one place and the misdeeds committed by each will be exposed before all mankind. Then addressing the believers, a few important instructions are given:
- Whatever affliction befalls a person in the world, it befalls with Allah's leave. Whoever in this state of affliction remains steadfast to the Faith, Allah blesses his heart with guidance.
- The believer is not required to affirm the Faith with the tongue only, but after the affirmation of the Faith he should practically obey Allah and His Messenger. If he turns away from obedience he would himself be responsible for his loss.
- The believer should place his trust in Allah alone and not in any other power of this world.
- Worldly goods and children are a trial for it is their love that generally distracts man from the path of Allah and His obedience. Therefore, the believers should beware of this fact about their children, and wives lest they directly or indirectly become robbers for them on the Way of Allah ; and that they should spend their wealth for the sake of Allah so that their self remains safe against the temptations of Satan.
- Every person is responsible only to the extent of his power and ability. Allah does not demand that man should exert himself beyond his power and ability. However, the believer should try his best to live in fear of Allah as much as possible, and should see that he does not transgress the limits set by Allah in his speech, conduct and dealings.