This is a thirty-one verse chapter. It is generally accepted that it was revealed in Mecca, however, there is some scholarly debate and many scholars believe that the chapter was revealed in Madina. There are even suggestions that part of it was revealed in Medina whilst the majority was revealed in Mecca. The theme of the chapter is to inform humankind of their true position in the world and suggests that he (each human being) should adopt an attitude of gratefulness. After addressing humankind, the chapter goes on to describe Paradise in great detail contrasting the end results for both the evildoers and the righteous. This chapter is a serene discourse encouraging people to turn to God, obey Him, seek His pleasure, remember His favors, and work to avoid His punishment; and it is sometimes referred to as Time (Ad-Dhar).
God asks, ‘Was there not a period of time when the human being was nothing, not even mentioned?’ This question requires us to think about where we were before God called us into existence. God creates each human being from a drop of mingled fluid; a combination of both male and female substances. All people were created to undergo a test, thus for this reason God endows the human being with the faculties of hearing and sight. God shows us to the right path, and it is us that make a choice. Will we stay on the right path and be grateful or stray from it thus showing our ingratitude.
We have a choice, and God tells us clearly what the outcome of our choice will be. For the disbelievers, those who chose to stray from the path, God has prepared chains, shackles, and a blazing fire. However, those who choose to stay on the path of righteousness will be in Paradise enjoying its delights.
These people, who will be in Paradise, are the ones who fulfil their vows and dread the widespread terror that will occur on the Day of Judgement. They are also compassionate towards those who are less fortunate. They feed the poor, the orphan, and the captive, in spite of having desire for it themselves. They know within their hearts that they feed them for His sake only and do not expect any reward or gratitude from people.
Thus God will keep them safe from the woes on that Day, and they will be radiant with happiness. They will be rewarded for their patience with gardens in Paradise and silken clothing. There they will recline on couches and feel no scorching heat or bitter cold. The trees of Paradise will provide shade, and the fruits of Paradise will hang in low clusters within easy reach. They will be served from silver dishes and crystal cups, and goblets made from clear silver, filled by attendants with everything they desire or fancy. They will be given a drink infused with ginger from a fountain in Paradise known as Salsabil. Their attendants will be boys of eternal youth, and if you saw them you would think that they were scattered pearls. If you could look around you would see blessings and pleasure, splendor and wealth. The residents of Paradise will wear clothing of fine green silk and rich brocade. They will wear fine jeweled bracelets, and their Lord will give them a pure drink. It will be said to them, ‘This is your reward, and your endeavors (in the world) have been appreciated.’
This Quran has been revealed to you (O Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) gradually according to the circumstances. O Prophet, bear patiently the hardships and difficulties that you may face in the great mission that has been entrusted upon you, and do not yield to any disbeliever so as to give up preaching of the true faith or become inclined to make even the least change in the religious beliefs or the moral teachings to please anyone. Remember the name of your Lord at dawn and in the evening. Bow down to Him at night and exalt His praise in the long hours of the night.
These disbelievers love the transitory life of this world and neglect to prepare for the heavy Day that is coming. God created them and strengthened their constitution, giving them all the power that they enjoy. If He so willed he could do away with them and replace them with a different creation. This is indeed a warning.
The Quran is a reminder that makes the truth evident. People have been given free will to make their choices. Those who wish to take heed will benefit from it whilst those who knowingly reject the truth will be severely punished.
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