The Surah derives its name from the sentence yuqatiluna fi sabil-i-hlsaff-an of verse 4; thereby implying that it is a Surah in which theword saff occurred.
Period of Revelation
It could not be known from any reliable tradition, but a study of itssubject-matter shows that this Surah probably was sent down in theperiod closely following the Battle of Uhud, for by reading betweenthe lines perceives a clear description of the conditions that prevailed in that period.
Theme and Subject Matter
Its theme is to exhort the Muslims to adopt sincerity in Faithand to struggle with their lives in the cause of Allah. It isaddressed to the Muslims with weak faith as well as those who hadentered Islam with a false profession of the Faith and also those who were sincere in their profession. Some verses are addressed to the first two groups, some only to the hypocrites, and some only to the sincere Muslims. The style itself shows where one particular group has been addressed and where the other.
At theoutset the believers have been warned to the effect; "Allah indeedhates those people who say one thing and do another, and He indeedloves. those who fight in the cause of the Truth, standing like asolid structure, against the enemies of Allah."'
In vv. 5-7 the peopleof the Holy Prophet's community have been warned that their attitudetowards their Messenger and their Religion should not be like theattitude that the Israelites had adopted towards the Prophets Mosesand Jesus (peace be upon them). In spite of acknowledging the Prophet Moses as a Messenger of God they continued to malign him as long as he lived, and in spite of witnessing clear signs from the Prophet Jesus they denied him without any hesitation. Consequently, the Israelites became perverse, incapable of benefiting from divine guidance. This is certainly not an enviable state which another nation should imitate.
Then, in vv. 8-9 a proclamation hasbeen made with the challenge:"The Jews and the Christians, and thehypocrites, who are conspiring with them, may try however hard theymay to extinguish this Light of Allah, it will shine forth and spreadin the world in all its fullness, and the Religion brought by the true Messenger of Allah shall prevail over every other religion however hateful it may be to the pagans and polytheists.
In vv. 10-13, the believers have been told that the wayto success both here and in the Hereafter is only one: that theyshould believe in Allah and His Messenger sincerely and should exerttheir utmost in Allah's Way with their selves and their wealth. As a reward for this they will earn immunity from Allah's punishment, forgiveness of their sins and the eternal Paradise in the Hereafter, and will be blessed with Allah's good pleasure, succor and victory in the world.
Inconclusion, the believers have been exhorted to' the effect that justas the disciples of the Prophet Jesus had helped him in the cause ofAllah, so should they also become "helpers of Allah", so that they tooare blessed with the same kind of good pleasure and approval of Allah as had been the believers before them against the disbelievers.