Period of Revelation Edit
The place where this sura was revealed is disputed, with the majority believing that it was revealed at Medina. However, because it explains why God has sent a messenger, many have argued that it must be an earlier revelation from Mecca. Ibn Az Zubair and Ata bin Yasar hold the view that it is Medani. Ibn Abbas and Qatadah are reported to have hold the views, first that it is Makki, second that it is Medani. Hadhrat Aishah regards it as a Makki sura. Abu Hayyan, author of Bahr al-Muhit, and Abdul Munim ibn Al-Faras, author of Ahkam al-Quran, also have preferred to regard it as Makki. As for its contents, there is nothing in it to indicate whether it was revealed at Makka or at Madina.
Summary, Lines 1-8Edit
The sura opens by condemning the polytheists of Arabia, as well as those amongst the People of the Book who had fallen into disbelief. However, they may be restored only by a "clear sign" from God who speaks holy and untainted words - the Prophet Muhammad bringing the Qur'an, which lays down proper laws and morality. The fifth Ayat explains that all God asks of mankind is,
"To praise God by offering Him devotion being true, to pray the salat, and to give charity. And that is the Religion of Truth."
Those to cling to these simple truths will be offered the Gardens of Paradise, "underneath which rivers flow" as their prize; for God is pleased with them for being the best of possible creations. Those who turn away, however, shall meet the fires of Hell.
Haddad, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 97, No. 4. (Oct. - Dec., 1977), pp. 519-530.