This is the first Surah of the Qur'an, which the Prophet(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had publiclyrecited before an assembly of the Qureysh (and accordingto Ibn Marduyah, in the Ka'bah) in which both thebelievers and the disbelievers were present. At the end,when he recited the verse requiring the performance of aSajdah and fell down in prostration, the whole assemblyalso fall down in prostration with him, and even thosechiefs of the polytheists who were in the forefront ofthe opposition to the Prophet (pbuh) could not resistfalling down in prostration. Ibn Mas'ud (may Allah bepleased with him) says that he saw only one man, Umayyahbin Khalaf, from among the disbelievers, who did not falldown in prostration but took a little dust and rubbing iton his forehead said that it was enough for him. ThisSurah was revealed in Ramadhan of 5th year of Prophet'sresidence at Makkah.
The theme of the discourse is to warn the disbelievers ofMakkah about the error of the attitude that they hadadopted towards the Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh). The discourse starts by saying: "Muhammad isneither deluded nor gone astray, as you are tellingothers in your propaganda against him, nor has hefabricated this teaching of Islam and its message, as youseem to think he has. In fact, whatever he is presentingis nothing but Revelation which is sent down to him. Theverities that he presents before you, are not the productof his own surmise and speculation but realities of whichhe himself is an eye witness. He has himself seen theAngel through whom this knowledge is conveyed to him. Hehas been directly made to observe the great Signs ofAllah during his trip of M'iraj; whatever he says is notwhat he has himself thought out but what he has seen withhis own eyes." After this, following three convincingarguments are presented:
This was such an impressive discourse, by it even themost hardened deniers of the truth were completelyoverwhelmed, and when after reciting these verses ofDivine Word the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) fell down inprostration, they too could not help falling down inprostration along with him.
The Surah derives its name from the very first word wanNajm. This title also does not relate to the subjectmatter, but is a name given to the Surah as a symbol.
According to a Tradition related by Bukhari, Muslim, AbuDa'ud and Nasai, on the authority of Hadrat Abdullah binMas'ud, the first Surah in which a verse requiring theperformance of a sajdah (prostration) was sent down, isSurah An-Najm. The parts of this Hadith which have beenreported by Aswad bin Yazid, Abu Ishaq and Zubair binMu'awiyah from Hadrat Ibn Mas'ud, indicate that this isthe first Surah of the Quran, which the Holy Prophet(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had publiclyrecited before an assembly of the Quraish (and accordingto Ibn Marduyah, in the Ka'bah) in which both thebelievers and the disbelievers were present. At the end,when he recited the verse requiring the performance of asajdah and fell down in prostration, the whole assemblyalso fall down in prostration with him, and even thosechiefs of the polytheists who were in the forefront ofthe opposition to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessingsof Allah be upon him) could not resist falling down inprostration. Ibn Mas'ud (may Allah be pleased with him)says that he saw only one man, Umayyah bin Khalaf, fromamong the disbelievers, who did not fall down inprostration but took a little dust and rubbing it on hisforehead said that that was enough for him. Later, as IbnMas'ud relates, he saw this man being killed in the stateof disbelief.
Another eye witness of this incident is Hadrat Muttalibbin Abi Wada'ah, who had not yet become a Muslim. Nasaiand Musnad Ahmad contain his own words to the effect:"When the Holy Prophet recited the Surah An-Najm andperformed the sajdah and the whole assembly fell down inprostration along with him, I did not perform the sajdah.Now to compensate for the same whenever I recite thisSurah I make sure never to abandon its performance."
Ibn Sad says that before this, in the Rajab of the 5thyear of Prophethood, a small group of the Companions hademigrated to Abyssinia. Then, when in the Ramadan of thesame year this incident took place the news spread thatthe Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be uponhim) had recited Surah An-Najm publicly in the assemblyof the Quraish and the whole assembly, including thebelievers as well as the disbelievers, had fallen down inprostration with him. When the emigrants to Abyssiniaheard this news they formed the impression that thedisbelievers of Makkah had become Muslims. Thereupon,some of them returned to Makkah in the Shawwal of the 5thyear of Prophethood, only to learn that the news waswrong and the conflict between Islam and disbelief wasraging as furiously as before. Concequently, the secondemigration to Abyssinia took place, in which many morepeople left Makkah. Thus, it becomes almost certain thatthis Surah was revealed in the Ramadan of 5th year ofProphethood.
The details of the period of revelation as given abovepoint to the conditions in which this Surah was revealed.During the first five years of his appointment as aProphet, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allahbe upon him) had been extending invitation to Allah'sReligion by presenting the Divine Revelations before thepeople only in private and restricted meetings andassemblies. During this whole period he could never havea chance to recite the Quran before a common gatheringopenly, mainly because of the strong opposition andresistance from the disbelievers. They were well aware ofhow magnetic and captivating was the Holy Prophet'spersonality and his way of preaching and how impressivewere the Revelations of the Quran. Therefore, they triedtheir best to avoid hearing it themselves and to stopothers also from hearing it and to suppress hisinvitation by false propaganda by spreading every kind ofsuspicion against him. For this object, on the one hand,they were telling the people that Muhammad (peace andblessings of Allah be upon him) had gone astray and wasnow bent upon misleading others as well; on the otherhand, they would raise an uproar whenever he tried topresent the Quran before the people so that no one couldknow what it was for which he was being branded as amisled and misguided person.
Such were the conditions when the Holy Prophet (peace andblessings of Allah be upon him) suddenly stood up one dayto make a speech in the sacred precincts of the Ka'bah,where a large number of the Quraish had gatheredtogether. Allah at that time made him deliver thisdiscourse, which we have now in the form of the SurahAn-Najm with us. Such was the intensity of the impressionthat when the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allahbe upon him) started reciting it the opponents were socompletely overwhelmed that they could not think ofraising any disorder, and when at the conclusion he felldown in prostration, they too fell down in prostrationalong with him. Later they felt great remorse at theweakness they had involuntarily shown. The people alsostarted taunting them to the effect that whereas they hadbeen forbidding others to listen to the Quran, that daynot only had they themselves listened to it, withcomplete absorption but had even fallen down inprostration along with Muhammad (peace and blessings ofAllah be upon him). At last, they had to invent a storyin order to get rid of the people's taunt and ridicule.They said, "After he had recited afara'ait-ul Lata walUzza wa Manat ath-thalitha-al ukhra, we heard fromMuhammad the words: tilk al-gharaniqa- tal-'ula, wa annashafa'at-u-hunna latarja: 'They are exalted goddesses:indeed, their intercession may be expected.' From this weunderstood that Muhammad had returned to our faith." As amatter of fact, only a mad person could think that in thecontext of this Surah the sentences they claimed to haveheard could have any place and relevance.(For details,please see E. N.'s 96 to 301 of Surah Al Hajj).
The theme of the discourse is to warn the disbelievers ofMakkah about the error of the attitude that they hadadopted towards the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad (peaceand blessings of Allah be upon him).
The discourse starts in a way as if to say: "Muhammad isneither deluded nor gone astray, as you are tellingothers in your propaganda against him, nor has hefabricated this teaching of Islam and its message, as youseem to think he has. In fact, whatever he is presentingis nothing but Revelation which is sent down to him. Theverities that he presents before you, are not the productof his own surmise and speculation but realities of whichhe himself is an eye witness. He has himself seen theAngel through whom this knowledge is conveyed to him. Hehas been directly made to observe the great Signs of hisLord: whatever he says is not what he has himself thoughtout but what he has seen with his own eyes. Therefore,your disputing and wrangling with him is just like thedisputing and wrangling of a blind man with a man ofsight over a thing which the blind man cannot see but hecan see."
After this, three things have been presented in theirsuccessive order: First, the listeners have been made tounderstand that: "The religion that you are following isbased on mere conjecture and invented ideas. You have setup a few goddesses like Lat and Manat and Uzza as yourdeities, whereas they have no share whatever in divinity.You regard the angels as the daughters of Allah, whereasyou regard a daughter as disgraceful for your own selves.You think that these deities of yours can influence Allahin your favor, whereas the fact is that all the angelstogether, who are stationed closest to Allah, cannotinfluence Him even in their own favor. None of suchbeliefs that you have adopted, is based on knowledge andreason, but are wishes and desires for the sake of whichyou have taken some whims as realities. This is a graveerror. The right and true religion is that which is inconformity to the reality, and the reality is neversubject to the people's wishes and desires so thatwhatever they may regard as a reality and truth shouldbecome the reality and truth. Speculation and conjecturecannot help to determine as to what is according to thetruth and what is not; it is knowledge. When thatknowledge is presented before you, you turn away from it,and brand the one who tells you the truth as misguided.The actual cause of your being involved in this error isthat you are heedless of the Hereafter. Only this worldis your goal. Therefore, you have neither any desire forthe knowledge of reality, nor do you bother to seewhether the beliefs you hold are according to the truthor not.
Secondly, the people have been told that: Allah is theMaster and Sovereign of the entire Universe. Therighteous is he who follows His way, and the misguided hewho has turned away from His way. The error of themisguided and the righteousness of the righteous are nothidden from Him. He knows whatever everyone is doing: Hewill requite the evil with evil and the good with good.The final judgment will not depend on what you consideryourself to be, and on tall claims you make of yourpurity and chastity but on whether you are pious orimpious, righteous or unrighteous, in the sight of God.If you refrain from major sins, He in His mercy willoverlook your minor errors.''
Thirdly, a few basic principles of the true Religionwhich had been presented hundreds of years before therevelation of the Quran in the Books of the ProphetsAbraham and Moses have been reiterated so that the peopledid not remain involved in the misunderstanding that theProphet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be uponhim) had brought some new and novel religion, but theyshould know that these are the fundamental truths whichthe former Prophets of Allah have always been presentingin their respective ages. Besides, the same Books havebeen quoted to confirm the historical facts that thedestruction of the 'Ad and the Thamud and of the peopleof the Prophets Noah and Lot was not the result ofaccidental calamities, but Allah has destroyed them inconsequence of the same wickedness and rebellion fromwhich the disbelievers of Makkah were not inclined torefrain and desist in any case.
After presenting these themes and discourses the Surahhas been concluded, thus: "The Hour of Judgment hasapproached near at hand, which no one can avert. Beforethe occurrence of that Hour you are being warned throughMuhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) andthe Quran in the like manner as the former people hadbeen warned before. Now, is it this warning that you findnovel and strange? Which you mock and ridicule? Which youturn away from and cause disorder so that no one elsealso is able to hear what it is? Don't you feel likeweeping at your folly and ignorance? Abandon thisattitude and behaviour, bow down to Allah and serve Himalone!"
This was that impressive conclusion hearing which eventhe most hardened deniers of the Truth were completelyoverwhelmed, and when after reciting these verses ofDivine Word the Holy Messenger of Allah (peace andblessings of Allah be upon him) fell down in prostration,they too could not help falling down in prostration alongwith him.
1 to 18 - Scene of the 1st Revelation, brought by angel Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad and Allah gave him a tour of heavens, paradise and other great signs
19 to 25 - Lat, Uzza and Manat (goddesses of Arabs) are nothing but names invented by pagan Arabs
26 to 32 - Angels have no share in divinity, nor they can intercede without permission and\t Do not claim piety for yourselves, Allah knows who is Godfearing and pious
33 to 62 - No soul shall bear the burden of another, there shall be nothing for a person except what he strived for