This Surah was revealed during the early period of the Prophet's residence at Makkah.
- Creation of the heavens, earth, mountains and vegetation clearly points out towards the Day of Judgement.
- Resurrection and man's accountability in the court of Allah.
- The righteous will be well pleased, while the disbelievers will be put in hell where they will be treated with scalding water and decaying filth.
Its theme is to affirm the resurrection and hereafter, and to warn the people of the consequences of disbelieving it. When the Prophet (pbuh) first started to preach Islam at Makkah, his message consisted of three elements:
- That none be held as an associate with Allah in Godhead.
- That Allah had appointed him as His Messenger.
- This world will come to an end one day and then another world will be established when all the former and the latter generations will be resurrected with the same bodies in which they lived and worked in the world; then they will be called to account for their beliefs and deeds and those who emerge as believing and righteous in this accountability will go to paradise and those who are proved to be disbelieving and wicked will live in hell for ever.
Of these, the first item was highly unpleasant for the people of Makkah, they were not disbelievers in the existence of Allah. They believed in His Being the Supreme Sustainer, Creator and Providence and also admitted that all those beings whom they regarded as their deities, were themselves Allah's creatures. Therefore, in this regard the only thing they disputed was whether they had any share in the attributes and powers of Divinity and in the Divine Being itself or not.
As for the second item, the people of Makkah were not prepared to accept it. However, what they could not possibly deny was that during the 40 year life the Prophet (pbuh) had lived amongst them before his claim to Prophethood, they had never found him lying or deceitful or one who would adopt unlawful methods for selfish ends.
As for the third thing, resurrection, they mocked it most and expressed unusual wonder at it, and regarding it as remote from reason and impossible. They talked about it as incredible, even inconceivable, in their assemblies. Therefore, reference is made to the common talk and the doubts that were being expressed in every street of Makkah and in every assembly of the people on hearing the news about Resurrection. Then, the deniers have been asked: "Don't you see this earth which We have spread as a carpet for you? Don't you see the high mountains which we have so firmly placed in the earth? Don't you consider your own selves how We have created you as pairs of men and women? Don't you consider your sleep by which We make you seek a few hours rest after every few hours labor and toil so as to keep you fit for work in the world? Don't you see the alternation of the night and day which We are so regularly perpetuating precisely according to your needs and requirements? Don't you see the strongly fortified system of the heavens above you? Don't you see the sun by means of which you are receiving your light and heat? Don't you see the rains which fall from the clouds and help produce corn and vegetables and gardens? Do these things only tell you that the power of the Almighty Being Who has created them, will be unable to bring about Resurrection and establish the Next World? Then, from the supreme wisdom which is clearly working in this world around you, do you only understand that although each function of it is for a purpose, life is yet meaningless? Nothing could be more absurd and meaningless, that man after being granted vast powers of appropriation in this world be let off without any accountability. He should neither be rewarded for satisfactory work, nor punished for unsatisfactory performance.
In conclusion, the Divine Court in the Hereafter has been depicted, making it plain that there will be no question of somebody's being adamant in the matter of getting his followers and associates forgiven. None will speak without leave and leave for intercession will be given only for those who had acknowledged the Truth in the world; rebels of God and rejectors of the Truth will deserve no intercession at all.