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Theme 1: Expounding the true value of the Qur'an
This Surah is a wonderful balance of warning and instruction. The disbelievers of Makkah are warned to take a lesson from the chastisement of the Israelites and other past civilisations. They should therefore accept the message of Islam before they too are annihilated and replaced.
The Israelites, with whom Islam was now going to come in direct contact with in Madinah, are also admonished in the Surah and told to heed the chastisements that had historically been inflicted upon them. They are warned to take advantage of the Prophethood of the Prophet Muhammad as the last opportunity for them.
As regards the education of mankind it has been stressed that human success or failure, gain or loss, depends upon the right understanding of Monotheism, life-after-death and Prophethood. Accordingly, convincing arguments have been put forward to prove that the Qur’an is the Book of God and its teachings are true and genuine. The doubts of the disbelievers about these basic realities are removed and they are admonished and rebuked in regard to their ways of ignorance.
In connection with this, the fundamental principles of morality and civilisation on which the Islamic way of life is established have been put forward. This was like a manifesto for the intended Islamic state, which had been proclaimed a year before its actual establishment. It has been explicitly stated that this was the sketch of the system on which the Prophet Muhammad was instructed to build the foundations of society.
The Prophet was also instructed to stay firm regardless of the opposition and difficulties which he was encountering and not to compromise belief. Moreover, prayer (Salat) was prescribed in order to reform and purify their souls, producing the high qualities of character essential to faith. Incidentally we learn from hadith that ascension was the first occasion on which the five daily Prayers were prescribed.