The Surah takes its title from the sentence, Wa anzalna' l-hadida, ofverse 25.
Period of Revelation
This is unanimously a Madani Surah, and a study of its subject mattershows that it was probably sent down some time during the intervalbetween the Battle of Uhud and the Truce of Hudaibiyah. This was thetime when the tiny Islamic State of Madinah had been hemmed in by thedisbelievers and the handful of the ill equipped Muslims wereentrenched against the combined power of entire Arabia. In this stateIslam not only stood in need of the sacrifice of Life from itsfollowers, but it also needed monetary help and assistance. In thisSurah a forceful appeal has been made for the same. This view isfurther strengthened by verse 10 in which Allah has addressed thebelievers to the effect "Those of you who would spend and fight afterthe victory can never be equal to those who have spent and foughtbefore the victory." And the same is supported by the traditions thatIbn Marduyah has related on the authority of Hadrat Anas. In respectof the verse: Alam ya'n-i lilladhina aamanu an takhsha'a qulubu- humli-dhikrillah-i, he says that 17 years after the commencement of therevelation of the Qur'an this verse was sent down to arouse thebelievers to action. Reckoned thus the period of the revelation ofthis Surah falls between the 4th and the 5th year after the hijrah.
Theme and Subject Matter
The theme of this Surah is to exhort the Muslims to spend in the causeof Allah. At the most critical juncture of the history of Islam whenit was engaged in a life and death struggle against Arab paganism,this Surah was revealed to persuade the Muslim's to make monetarysacrifices in particular, and to make them realize that Islam did notmerely consist in verbal affirmation and some outward practices butits essence and spirit is sincerity towards Allah and His Religion.The faith of the one who was devoid of this spirit and who regardedhis own self and wealth as dearer to himself than Allah and HisReligion, was hollow and therefore of little worth in the sight ofAllah.
For this object, first the attributes of Allah Almighty havebeen mentioned so that the listeners may fully realize as to Who isaddressing them. Then, the following themes have been expressed insequence:
- The inevitable demand of the Faith is that one should notshirk spending one's wealth for the sake of Allah. This would not onlybe contrary to the Faith but also wrong realistically. For the wealthindeed belongs to Allah, on which man has been given proprietaryrights only as His vicegerent. Yesterday this wealth was in otherpeople's possession today it is with one particular man, and tomorrowit will pass into some one else's hand. Ultimately, it will go back toAllah, Who is the inheritor of everything in the universe. Only thatmuch of this wealth will be of any use to a man, which he spends inthe cause of Allah during the period it is in his possession.
- Although making sacrifices for the sake of Allah is commendable in anycase, the true worth of these sacrifices is determined by the natureof the occasion. There is an occasion when the power of paganism isoverwhelming and there is a danger that it might subdue and overcomeIslam completely; there is another occasion when Islam is in astronger position in its struggle against un-Islam and the believersare attaining victories. Both these states are not equal as regardstheir respective importance. Therefore, the sacrifices that are madein these different states would also not be equal. Those who sacrificetheir lives and expend their wealth to further promote the cause ofIslam when it is already strong cannot attain to the rank of those whostruggled with their lives and their wealth to promote and uphold thecause of Islam when it was weak.
- Whatever is spent for the cause ofthe Truth is a loan on Allah, and Allah will not only return itincreasing it manifold but will also give from Himself the best rewardfor it.
- In the Hereafter the Light shall be bestowed only on thosebelievers who would have spent their wealth in the cause of Allah. Asfor the hypocrites who watched and served only their own interests inthe world, and who least bothered whether the Truth or falsehoodprevailed will be segregated from the believers in the Hereafteralthough they might have lived in close association with them in theworld. They will be deprived of the Light, and they will be countedamong the disbelievers.
- The Muslims should not behave like thosefollowers of the earlier Books, whose lives have been. spent in theworship of the world and whose hearts have become hardened due tonegligence with the passage of time. He cannot be a believer whoseheart does not melt at the remembrance of Allah and does not bow tothe Truth sent down by Him.
- The sincere upholders of the Truth andthe true witnesses of the Faith in the sight of Allah are only thosebelievers who spend their wealth in His way sincerely, without anydesire of show.
- The life of this world is only a short lived springand a means of pride and show. Its sports and pastimes, its adornmentsand decorations, its pride of place, its wealth and possessions, forwhich the people try to vie with one another, are transient. Itslikeness is of the crop which flourishes and blooms, then turns paleand then finally is reduced to chaff. The everlasting life is the lifehereafter when results of great consequence will be announced.Therefore, if one has to vie with another for something, one shouldstrive for Paradise.
- Whatever good man meets with and whateverhardship he suffers in the world, are pre-ordained by Allah. A truebeliever is he who does not lose heart in affliction and is not puffedup with pride in good times. It is the character of a hypocrite anddisbeliever that he is puffed up with pride when Allah favors himwith His blessings, behaved boastfully and shows stinginess whencalled upon to spend in the cause of the same God Who blessed him, andalso counsels others to be stingy like himself.
- Allah sent HisMessengers with clear signs and the Book and the Law of Justice sothat the people may adhere to justice; besides, He sent down iron alsoso that power may be used to establish the Truth and vanquishfalsehood. Thus, Allah likes to see as to who from among the peoplewould rise to support and succour His true Religion even at the riskof their lives. These opportunities Allah has created for man's ownadvantage and development; otherwise Allah does not stand in need ofothers for His works.
- Prophets came from Allah in the past, andby their preaching some people adopted the Right Path, but most ofthem persisted in wickedness. Then the Prophet Jesus came, whoseteachings brought about many moral improvements in the lives of thepeople, but his community invented monasticism. Now Allah has sent theProphet Muhammad (upon whom be His peace and blessings). Those whoaffirm faith in him and pass their life fearing Allah's accountability,will be given by Allah a double share of His mercy and He will blessthem with the Light by which they will see and walk the straight pathamong the crooked paths met with at every step in the life of thisworld. Although the followers of the earlier revelation regardthemselves as the monopolists of Allah's bounties, the fact remainsthat Allah Himself controls His bounties He may bless with thesewhomever He pleases.