In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Period of Revelation: Makkan
Order of Revelation: 80
Theme and Subject Matter:
Its theme is to affirm the Resurrection and Hereafter and to warn the people of the consequences of accepting or denying it.
When the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam first started to preach Islam in Makkah, his message consisted of three elements:
(1) That none be held as an associate with Allah in Godhead;
(2) that Allah had appointed him as His Messenger;
(3) that 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 and called to account for their beliefs and deeds.
Of these, although the first thing was highly unpleasant for the people of Makkah, yet in any case, 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 thing, the people of Makkah were not prepared to accept it. However, what they could not possibly deny was that during the 40 years life that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had lived among them before his claim to Prophethood, they had never found him a lying deceitful person or the one who would adopt unlawful methods for selfish ends. They themselves admitted that he was wise, righteous and possessed moral superiority. Therefore, in spite of charging him with a thousand false accusations, nothing to say of making others believe, they were finding it difficult even for themselves to believe that although he was an honest and upright man in every other affair and dealing of life, yet, God forbid, a liar only in his claim to be a Prophet.
Thus, the first two things were not in fact so perplexing for the people of Makkah as the third thing. When this was presented before them, they mocked it most of all, expressed unusual wonder at it, and started talking against it as something inconceivable. But in order to bring them to the way of Islam it was absolutely essential that the doctrine of the Hereafter should be instilled into their minds, for without belief in this doctrine, it was not at all possible that they could adopt a serious attitude with regard to the truth and falsehood, could change their standard of values in respect of good and evil, and giving up worship of the world, could be inclined to follow the way that Islam urged them to follow. That is why in the earliest Surahs revealed at Makkah the doctrine of the Hereafter has been impressed and stressed more than anything else.
In the Surah, reference has been made to the common talk and the doubts that were being expressed in every street of Makkah and in every assembly on hearing the news about Resurrection. The deniers have been asked: Don’t you see this earth spread out as a carpet for you? Don’t you see the high mountains firmly placed? Don’t you consider your own selves how you have been created in pairs? Don’t you consider your sleep as a means to rest to keep you fit for work? Don’t you see the alternation of the night and day? Don’t you see the strongly fortified system of the heavens above you? Don’t you see the sun giving you light and heat? Don’t you see the rains falling from the clouds and helping you grow your produce? 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, do you only understand this that although each part of the universe and each function of it is purposive, yet life is meaningless and there will be no accountability?
After giving these arguments it has been emphatically stated that the Day of Judgment shall certainly come to pass on its appointed time. No sooner is the Trumpet sounded than whatever is being foretold shall appear before the eyes, and whether you believe in it today, or not, at that time you will come out in your multitudes from wherever you would be lying dead and buried to render your account. Your denial cannot in any way avert this inevitable event.
Every single misdeed of those who do not expect any accountability to take place and have thus belied Allah’s Revelations, lies reckoned and recorded with Us, and Hell is ever lying an ambush to punish them and punish them fully for all their doings. Then, the rewards of those who lived as responsible people in the world and have provided for their Hereafter beforehand have been mentioned. They have been reassured that they will not only be rewarded richly for their services but in addition they will also be given sufficient gifts.
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 will be granted on the condition that intercession be made only for the one to whom leave of intercession will have been given, and the intercessor will say only what is right. Moreover, leave for intercession will be given only for those who had acknowledged the Truth in the world but were sinners; rebels of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and rejectors of the Truth will deserve no intercession at all.
The discourse has been concluded with this warning: The Day the coming of which is being foretold, shall certainly come to pass. Do not think it is yet far off, it is close at hand. Now, whoever wills, let him believe in it and take the way towards his Lord. But he who disbelieves, in spite of the warning, will have all his deeds placed before him and he will exclaim regretfully:
“Oh, I wish that I were dust!” [78:40]
At that time, his regrets will be about the same world of which he is so enamored today!