The Surah takes its name from verse 224 in which the word Ash-Shu`araa'
Period of Revelation
The subject matter and the style show, and the traditions confirm,
that it was revealed during the middle Makkan period. According
to Ibn Abbas, Surah Ta Ha was revealed first, then Surah Al
Waqiah, and then Surah Ash-Shu'araa.(Ruh-ul-Ma'ani, Vol. xx,
p. 64). About Surah Ta Ha it is well known that it had been
revealed before Hadrat Umar embraced Islam.
Subject Matter and Topics
The background of the Surah is that the disbelievers of Makkah
were persistently refusing, on one pretext or the other, to
accept the message of Islam given by the Holy Prophet. Sometimes
they would say that he did not show them any sign to convince
them of his Prophethood; sometimes they would brand him as
a poet or a sorcerer and mock his message; and sometimes they
would ridicule his Mission, saying that his followers were
either a few foolish youth, or the poor people and slaves --
whereas, they argued,
if his Mission had really some value for the people, the nobles
and the elders would have accepted it first. Thus, while on
the one hand, the Holy Prophet was becoming wearied by his
efforts to show them rationally the errors of their creeds
and prove the truth of the Doctrines of Tauhid and the Hereafter,
the disbelievers, on the other, were never tired of adopting
one kind of obduracy after the other. This state of affairs
was causing great anguish and grief to the Holy Prophet.
Such were the conditions when this Surah was revealed. It begins
with words of consolation to the Holy Prophet, implying, "Why
do you fret for their sake?If these people have not believed
in you, it is not because they have not seen any Sign, but
because they are obdurate. They will not listen to reason they
want to see a Sign which makes them bow their heads in humility.
When this Sign is shown in due course of time, they will themselves
realize that what was being presented to them was the Truth."
After this introduction, till verse 191, one and the same theme
has been presented continuously, and it is said: "The whole
earth abounds in such Signs as can guide a seeker after truth
to Reality, but the stubborn and misguided people have never
believed even after seeing the Signs, whether these were the
Signs of the natural phenomena or the miracles of the Prophets.
These wretched people have stubbornly adhered to their erroneous
creeds till the Divine scourge actually overtook them." It
is to illustrate this that the history of seven of the ancient
tribes has been told, who persisted in disbelief just like
the disbelievers of Makkah. In this connection, the following
points have been stressed:
The Signs are of two kinds:(a) Those which are scattered
all over the earth, and by seeing which an intelligent
person can judge for himself whether what the Prophet is
presenting is the Truth or not and (b) those which were
seen by Pharaoh and his people, Noah's people, the Ad and
the Thamud, Lot's people and the people of Aiykah. Now
it is for the disbelievers to decide which kind of the
Signs they are eager to see.
The mentality of the disbeliever has been the same throughout
the ages; their arguments and their objections, and their
excuses and subterfuges for not believing have been similar
and ultimately the fates that they met have also been the
same. Likewise, the Prophets in every age presented the
same teachings, their personal character and their reasoning
and arguments against their opponents were the same, and
they were all similarly blessed with mercy by Allah Almighty.
Both these patterns of behavior and conduct are found in
history, and the disbelievers could themselves see as to
which respective patterns they and the Holy Prophet belonged.
Allah is All Mighty, All Powerful and All Merciful at
the same time. History contains instances of His Wrath
as well as of His Mercy. Now, therefore, it is for the
people to decide whether they would like to deserve Allah's
Mercy or His Wrath.
Lastly, the discussion has been summed
up, saying "O
disbelievers, if at all you want to see the Signs, why
should you insist on seeing those horrible Signs that
visited the doomed communities of the past?Why don't
you see the Qur'an which is being presented in your own
language?Why don't you see Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's
peace and mercy) and his Companions?
Can the revelations of the Qur'an be the work of a satan
or a jinn?Does the recipient of the Qur'an appear to
be a sorcerer?Are Muhammad and his Companions no different
from a poet and his admirers?Why don't you give up disbelief
and search your hearts for their judgment?When in the
heart of your hearts you yourselves believe that the
Revelations of the Qur'an have nothing in common with
sorcery and poetry, then you should know that you are
being cruel and unjust, and will certainly meet the doom
meant for the cruel and unjust."