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 the word saff occurred.
Period of Revelation
It could not be known from any reliable tradition, but a study
of its subject-matter shows that this Surah probably was sent
down in the period closely following the Battle of Uhud, for
by reading between the 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 Faith
and to struggle with their lives in the cause of Allah. It
is addressed to the Muslims with weak faith as well as those
who had entered 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
At the outset the believers have been warned to the effect; "Allah
indeed hates those people who say one thing and do another,
and He indeed loves. those who fight in the cause of the Truth,
standing like a solid structure, against the enemies of Allah."'
In vv. 5-7 the people of the Holy Prophet's community have
been warned that their attitude towards their Messenger and
their Religion should not be like the attitude that the Israelites
had adopted towards the Prophets Moses and 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 has been made with the challenge:"The
Jews and the Christians, and the hypocrites, who are conspiring
with them, may try however hard they may to extinguish this
Light of Allah, it will shine forth and spread in 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 way to
success both here and in the Hereafter is only one: that they
should believe in Allah and His Messenger sincerely and should
exert their 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.
In conclusion, the believers have been exhorted to' the effect
that just as the disciples of the Prophet Jesus had helped
him in the cause of Allah, so should they also become "helpers
of Allah", so that they too are blessed with the same kind
of good pleasure and approval of Allah as had been the believers
before them against the disbelievers.