In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Period of Revelation: Makkan
Order of Revelation: 24
Background of Revelation:
One day the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was addressing one of the Quraysh dignitaries while hoping that he would accept Islam that ibn Umm Maktum, a poor blind man, unaware that the Prophet was busy came and sought explanation of some points concerning Islam. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not like this interruption and ignored him. It was then that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala sent down this Surah.
Theme and Subject Matter:
The background of its revelation gives us a hint regarding the theme of this Surah.
The Surah opens by criticizing the Prophet’s behavior laying down clearly the values and principles upon which Islamic society is founded. Not only was he corrected but the error in his approach was also pointed out. When a person embarks on the mission of spreading the message of Islam, it’s natural that he approaches the influential people in the society first. It is not because he regards rich as noble and poor as contemptible but rather it makes the task easy for even if his invitation spreads among the poor and weak people, it cannot make much difference. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam also adopted almost the same method in the beginning. His motive was sincere and he desired promotion of Islam. He did not discriminate between the rich and poor.
In the second part of the Surah, man’s ungrateful attitude towards Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and his denial of Him come up for discussion. Here man is reminded of his origin; how his life is made easy; how Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala determines his death and resurrection; and how, after all this, he fails to carry out His orders, “Cursed is man; how disbelieving is he?” [80: 17]
The third part directs man to reflect upon things of immediate concern to him, namely, his food, “Then let mankind look at his food,” [80: 24]. Absolute perfection of creation is obvious in the provision of food for man as it is obvious in the creation, proportioning and development of man himself.
The final part touches upon the Deafening Blast and its fearful effects. The very sound of the words gives the impression of horror. It makes people unaware of anything around them. Their faces, however, provide a lucid account of what is happening to them. “But when there comes the Deafening Blast, on the Day a man will flee from his brother, and his mother and his father, and his wife and his children,” [80:33-36]
A quick preview of the Surah leaves a profound effect on the reader. Its message and its implications are so powerful that no human heart can avoid being deeply touched, even by a quick perusal of it.