Period of Revelation
The following internal evidence shows that this Sura was revealed during the last Makkan stage of Prophethood: 1.V. 41 clearly shows that persecution had forced some Muslims to emigrate to Habash before the revelation of this Sura. 2.It is evident from v. 106 that at that time the persecution of the Muslims was at its height. Therefore a problem had arisen in regard to the utterance of a blasphemoins word
without actual disbelief
under unbearable conditions. The problem was that if one did so how he should be treated. 3.vv. 112-114 clearly refer to the end of seven year famine that had struck Makkah some years after the appointment of the Holy Prophet as Allah's Messenger. 4.There is a reference to V 116 of this Sura in VI: 145
and v. 118 of this Sura contains a reference to VI: 146. This is a proof that both these Suras (VI and XVI) were sent down in the same period. The general style of the Sura also supports the view that this was revealed during the last stage at Makkah. Central Theme All the topics of the Sura revolve round different aspects of the Message
refutation of shirk
proof of Tauhid
and warning of the consequences of the rejection of and opposition and antagonism to the Message.
Topics of Discussion
The very first verse gives direct and strict warning to those who were rejecting the Message outright
as if to say
Allah's decision has already been made concerning your rejection of the Message. Why are you then clamouring for hastening it? Why don't you make use of the respite that is being given to you!
And this was exactly what the disbelievers of Makkah needed at the time of the revelation of this Sura. For they challenged the Holy Prophet over and over again: "Why don't you bring that scourge with which you have been threatening us! For we have not only rejected your Message but have been openly opposing it for a long time." Such a challenge had become a by-word with them
which they frequently repeated as a clear proof that Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) was not a true Prophet. Immediately after this warning they have been admonished to give up shirk
for this false creed was the main obstacle in the way of the Message. Then the following topics come over and over again
one after the other: 1.Very convincing proofs of Tauhidand refutation of shirkhave been based on the plain signs in the universe and in man's own self. 2. The objections of the disbelievers have been answered
their arguments refuted
their doubts removed and their false pretexts exposed. 3.Warnings have given of the consequences of persistence in false ways and antagonism to the Message. 4.The moral changes which the Message of the Holy Prophet aims to bring practically in human life have been presented briefly in an appealing manner. The mushrikshave been told that belief in Allah
which they also professed
demanded that it shotlld not be confined merely to lip service
but this creed should take a definite shape in moral and practical life. The Holy Prophet and his companions have been comforted and told about the attitude they should adopt in the face of antagonism and persecution by the disbelievers.