Period of Revelation:
The two sections of this Surah were revealed in two separate periods.
The first section (vv. 1-19) is unanimously a Makki Revelation. This is supported both by its subject matter and by the traditions. This section was revealed at a time when the Prophet (peace be upon him) had openly started preaching Islam and the opposition to him at Makkah had grown active and strong.
About the second section, (v. 20) although many commentators have expressed the opinion that this too was revealed at Makkah, some other commentators regard it as a Madani Revelation. This same opinion is confirmed by the subject matter of this section. It mentions fighting in the way of Allah and, obviously, there was no fighting at Makkah. It also contains the command to pay the obligatory Zakah, and it is confirmed that paying Zakah at a specific rate and with an exemption limit (Nisâb) was enjoined at Madinah.
Major Issues, Divine Laws and Guidance:
• Allah ordered the Prophet not to stand in prayer the whole night.
• Those who oppose the Prophet will be treated with heavy fetters and blazing fire.
• The Qur'an is a reminder for those who want to find the Right Way.
• Read from the Qur'an as much as you easily can.
• Whatever you spend in the way of Allah, you will find it in the Hereafter.
In the first seven verses, the Prophet (peace be upon him) has been commanded: "Prepare yourself to shoulder the responsibilities of the great Mission that has been entrusted to you; its practical form is that you should rise during the hours of night and stand up in Prayer for half the night, or for a little more or less of it. Devote yourself exclusively to Allah Who is the Owner of the whole universe and entrust all your affairs to Him with full satisfaction of the heart. Bear with patience whatever your opponents may utter against you. Do not be intimate with them. Leave their affair to Allah: He Himself will deal with them." The people of Makkah are warned: "We have sent a Messenger to you, as We had sent a Messenger to the Pharaoh. Just consider what fate Pharaoh met when he did not accept the invitation of the Messenger of Allah. Even if you are not punished by a torment in this world, how will you save yourselves from the punishment on the Day of Judgment?"
The second section, according to a tradition from Sayyidunâ Sa'eed bin Jubair, was revealed ten years later, and in it, the initial command given in connection with the Tahajjud (late night prayer), in the beginning of the first section, was curtailed. The new Command enjoined, "Offer as much of the Tahajjud Prayer as you easily can, but what the Muslims should particularly mind and attend to are the five times obligatory prayers a day; they should establish it regularly and punctually; they should pay their Zakah dues accurately; and they should spend their wealth with sincere intentions for the sake of Allah.
In conclusion, the Muslims are exhorted: "Whatever good works you do in this world will not go waste, they are like the provisions which a traveller sends in advance to his permanent place of residence. Whatever good you send forth from this world, you will find it with Allah. The provisions thus sent forth will not only be much better than what you will have to leave behind in this world, but Allah will also give you an extra and richer reward from His Own bounty."
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surah al-an¢a- m gives a concise and accurate description of the life and mission of Muhammad. It says: “Say, ‘My prayers and my devotions, my life and my death, are all for God, Lord of all crea- tion: He has no partners. Thus I am commanded, and I am the ﬁrst of those who submit to His will’” (al-An¢¥m: 162–163). Muhammad’s life, unlike any other, was wholly devoted to the service of God and His message. His task was not limited to the conﬁnes of Arabia, but to raising a community that would change the direction of humanity altogether, for all time to come. His nation was to carry the banner of truth in the face of all odds. His sixty years on this earth were not devoted to reform merely one gen- eration but to establish the tenets of taw^Ïd all over the globe, for ever, and to raise the men and women that would carry it forward for posterity. In the early days of his mission, Muhammad was urged to: “Spend most of the night in prayer; half of it, a little less or a little more, and recite the Qur’an in slow, measured, rhythmic tones” (2–4). There was going to be no more time for comfort or relaxation because: “We are about to pass on to you words of enormous gravity” (5). The Qur’anic revelations Muhammad was about to receive would charge him with great responsibility and demand of him dili- gence and hard work. He would spend most of the night in prayer and by day he had to proclaim the message and confront his detrac- tors. He had only God Almighty to depend on, and so he had to surah 73 • Al-Muzzammil devote time to His praise and gloriﬁcation in order to draw of His power and strength and be able to face his enemies. God reassures Muhammad, saying: “We have in store for them heavy fetters and a blazing ﬁre, and food that chokes and a harrow- ing torment” (12–13). This would be their fate “on the Day that the earth and the mountains shake violently, and the mountains crumble into heaps of shifting sand” (14). The surah thus depicts a frightening and awesome scene that should incite people to think and reﬂect on their life and their future after death. Muhammad is a paradigm for men who fear God and are con- scious of their accountability to Him. His Companions emulated his example and learnt from him how to combat falsehood and confront evil. But God, in His inﬁnite mercy, relieved the rest of the Muslims of the obligation to pray for most of the night and urged them to attend to their daily duties and responsibilities. The surah says: And God knows precisely the length of night and day, and He knows that you cannot spend the night in prayer, and so He was merciful towards you. Now recite of the Qur’an as much as is easy for you to recite. (20) This concession is not without conditions. It is, in fact, a reward for other duties required of the believers. The surah elaborates: “God knows that there are among you some who are sick and others who travel far and wide seeking God’s bounty, and yet others ﬁghting for the cause of God” (20). The Muslim nation needs people who build as much as it needs those who protect and defend, because there are predators constant- ly looking to strike at the ﬁrst sign of weakness or neglect. When the Muslim nation is attacked or subdued, the truth is in danger of being undermined or destroyed altogether.