This Surah was revealed during the period when persecution of the new converts to Islam had begun in Makkah.
- The admonition for social welfare through the examples of prior nations.
- What should be avoided to do real social welfare?
- The Day of Judgement will be too late to heed the admonition.
The theme of this Surah is to affirm the rewards and punishments in the Hereafter through swearing oaths by the dawn, the ten nights, the even and the odd, and the departing night, the disbelievers are told that these things are a symbol of the regularity that exists in the night and day, and swearing oaths by these the question has been asked: "Even after witnessing this wise system established by God, do you still need any other evidence to show that it is not beyond the power of that God Who has brought about this system to establish the Hereafter?" Reasoning is then given from man's own history. The evil end of 'Ad, Thamud and Pharaoh are cited as examples showing that when they transgressed and spread corruption in the land, Allah laid upon them the scourge of His chastisement. This is proof of the fact that the system of the universe is not being run by deaf and blind forces, but by a Wise Ruler, the demand of Whose wisdom and justice is continuously visible in man's own history.
After this, an appraisal of human society is made criticizing the materialistic attitude of people; they overlook the morality of good and evil; they regard only the achievement of worldly wealth, rank and position, or the absence of it, as the criterion of honor or disgrace; and have forgotten that neither riches are a reward nor poverty a punishment, but that Allah is trying man in both conditions to see what attitude he adopts when blessed with wealth and how he behaves when afflicted by poverty. This discourse is concluded with the assertion that accountability shall certainly be held and it will be held on the Day when the Divine Court will be established. At that time, the deniers of the judgement will be regretful, but their regrets will not save them from Allah's punishment. As for the people who have accepted the truth, which the Heavenly books and the Prophets are presenting to the world, Allah will be pleased with them and they will be well pleased with the rewards bestowed by Allah. They will be called upon to join the righteous and enter paradise.