Name of the Surah
Generally the word “Anaam” is translated as the cattle, however, the word cattle is limited to the cows. In Arabic, the word Anaam means all grazing livestock that includes camels, sheep, goats as well as cows.
The Surah takes its name from ayaat 136, 138 and 139 in which superstitious beliefs of the idolatrous Arabs concerning the lawfulness of some an’aam and the unlawfulness of some others have been refuted.
Period of Revelation
So far we have read Madni Surahs [except Surah al-Fatihah] from now onwards we will read Makki Surah. This labeling has been done by the Prophet salAllahu aalyhi wa sallam [may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him] under the supervision of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala [Glorified is He].
Ibn Abbas radhiAllahu anhu [may Allah be pleased with him] narrates that the entire Surah was revealed in one sitting at Makkah, accompanied by 70,000 angels raising their voices in glorification of Allah.
Occasion of Revelation
Twelve years had passed since the Prophet salAllahu aalyhi wa sallam [may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him] had been inviting people to Islam.
Prophet’s uncle Abu Talib and wife Khadeeja radhiAllahu anha [may Allah be pleased with her] were no more alive to support the Prophet in his mission. Despite the lack of worldly support, the Prophet continued his mission and a handful of people continued to accept Islam. The opposition by the wealthy and powerful idolators of Arabia was severe. Muslims were exposed to physical violence and social and economic boycott.
The persecution by Quraysh had intensified, due to which majority of the Muslims had to seek refuge in Abyssinia [present day Ethiopia].
When some influential people of Yathrib [present day Madina] embraced Islam, it was then that a ray of hope for the Muslims gleamed.
The Surah deals with the following topics:
1. Refutation of shirk and invitation to the creed of Tawheed.
2. Enunciation of the doctrine of the “Life after death” and refutation of the notion that there’s no life after death.
3. Refutation of the prevalent superstitions.
4. Enunciation of the fundamental moral principles for the building up of the Islamic Society.
5. Answers to the objections raised against the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam [may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him] and his mission.
6. Comfort and encouragement to the Prophet and his followers who were at, that time in a state of anxiety because of the apparent failure of the mission.
7. Admonition, warning and threats to the disbelievers and opponents to give up their apathy and haughtiness.
It must, however, be noted that the above topics have not been dealt with one by one under separate headings, but the discourse goes on as a continuous whole and these topics come under discussion over and over again in new and different ways.