The Surah has been entitled As-Sajdah after the theme of Sajdah
(prostration) as expressed in verse 15.
Period of Revelation
From the style of the Surah it appears that it was sent down
during the middle Makkah period, more particularly in its initial
stage, for one does not find in its background that severity
of the persecution and tyranny which one finds in the Surahs
sent down in the later stages.
Theme and Topics
The main theme of the Surah is to remove the doubts of the
people concerning Tauhid, the Hereafter and the Prophethood,
and to invite them to all these three realities. The disbelievers
of Makkah, when they talked of the Holy Prophet in private,
said to one another, "This person is forging strange things
sometimes he gives news of what will happen after death.
He says: when you have become dust, you will be called to render
your accounts, and there will be Hell and Heaven. Sometimes
he says: these gods and goddesses and saints are nonentities:
One God alone is the Deity. And sometimes he says: the discourses
which I recite are not my own but Allah's Word. All these are
strange things which he presents."The answer to these doubts
and misgivings forms the theme and subject matter of this Surah.
In this connection, the disbelievers have been told: "Most
certainly it is Allah's Word, which has been sent down in order
to arouse a people who are sunk in heedlessness, being deprived
of the bounties and blessings of Prophethood. How can you call
it a fabrication when its having been sent dawn from Allah
is manifest and self evident?"
Then, they have been asked, "Use your common sense and judge
for yourselves which of the things presented by the Quran is
strange and novel?Look at the administration of the heavens
and the earth: consider your own creation and structure. Don't
these things testify to the teaching which this Prophet is
presenting before you in the Quran? Does the system of the
universe point to Tauhid or to shirk? When you consider this
whole system and your own creation, does your intellect testify
that the One Who has given you your present existence, will
not be able to create you once again?"
Then a scene of the Hereafter has been depicted, the fruits
of belief and the evil consequences of disbelief have been
mentioned and the people exhorted to give up disbelief even
before they meet their doom and accept the teaching of the
Quran, which will be to their own advantage in the Hereafter.
Then they have been told: It is Allah's supreme Mercy that
He does not seize man immediately for his errors to punish
him finally and decisively but warns him beforehand by afflicting
him with small troubles and hardships and calamities and losses
and strokes of misfortune so that he may wake up and take admonition.
Then it is said: "This is not the first and novel event of
its kind that a Book has been sent down upon a man from God.
Before this the Book had been sent upon Moses also, which you
all know. There is nothing strange in this at which you should
marvel. Be assured that this Book has come down from God, and
note it well that the same will happen now as has already happened
in the time of Moses. Leadership now will be bestowed only
on those who will accept this Divine Book. Those who reject
it shall be doomed to failure."
Then the disbelievers of Makkah have been admonished to the
effect:"See the end of the doomed communities of the past by
whose ruined habitations you pass during your trade journeys.
Will you like to meet the same doom yourself? Do not be deluded
by the apparent and superficial. Today you see that no one
is listening to Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) except
a few young men and some slaves and poor men, and he is being
made the target of curses and ugly remarks from every side.
From this you have formed the wrong impression that his mission
will fail. But this is only a deception of your eyes. Don't
you see the phenomenon in your daily life that a land previously
lying absolutely barren starts swelling with vegetation and
plant life everywhere just by a single shower of the rain though
before this no one could ever imagine that under the layers
of its soil there lay hidden such treasures of greenery and
In conclusion, the Holy Prophet has been addressed to the effect: "These
people mock at what you say and ask as to when you will attain
this decisive victory. Tell them: when the time comes for the
final judgment regarding you and us, believing then will not
profit you at all. If you have to believe, believe now. But
if you intend to await the final judgment, then await it as