Like all the surahs revealed in Makkah, this surah deals with the issue of faith, but it especially focuses on the question of revelation and the divine message. It can truly be said that this question provides the central theme of the surah and that all points discussed in it serve this purpose.
Yet the surah also expands on the truth of Godâs oneness, presenting it from different angles. It also speaks of the truth of resurrection and the need to believe in it. The life to come is mentioned in several places with different images of it presented. The surah also outlines some of the believersâ qualities and the good manners characterizing their behavior. It also mentions manâs provisions and how they are given in plenty or in scant measure. Furthermore, it speaks about man and his two states when he enjoys happiness or suffers hardship.
Nevertheless, the question of revelation and the divine message provides the basic truth the surah expounds upon, giving it its general ambiance. It is as if all the points and ideas discussed in the surah are meant to emphasize this truth and drive it home.
The line the surah takes in presenting this truth and its associated topics requires further discussion. It is presented in different ways, each separated from the other with a few verses that speak about Godâs oneness through showing that the Creator, or the Provider, or who controls hearts, or determines all creaturesâ fates is the One God. As the surah tackles its main theme of revelation and message, it emphasizes that the source of all revelation is one, as also are the message, the faith, the code of living and the line to be followed. Similarly, the leadership of humanity under the banner of faith is one. Thus the theme of oneness, with all its meanings and connotations, is brought into sharp relief throughout the surah, whatever topic it may be discussing. We will now briefly refer to some such examples:
The surah begins with five separate letters: âHa. Mim. Ayn. Sin. Qaf.â These are immediately followed by the statement: âThus has God, the Almighty, the Wise, sent revelation to you, Prophet, and to those who preceded you.â It, thus, begins by stating that all revelations, throughout all generations, come from the same source. Further attributes of God are added in the next verse: âHis is all that is in the heavens and the earth. He is the Most High, the Supreme One.â These attributes highlight the fact that the heavens and the earth belong to one owner, and that He is the Supreme One.
We talked previously about the separate letters that begin several surahs. Here we have five of these, followed by the verse saying: âThus has God, the Almighty, the Wise, sent revelation to you, Prophet, and to those who preceded you.â (Verse 3) Thus, in this way and following this pattern, God sent down His revelations to you and to messengers before you. It is made of words and phrases composed of those letters known to man. People know these words and phrases and grasp their meanings, but they cannot compose anything like it out of the letters they know so well.
At the same time, the unity of revelation is established. This comes from the same source as it is revealed by God, the Almighty, the Wise. Those who receive it are the messengers He sent across different generations. The message revealed is essentially the same, despite the fact that it was given to different recipients at different times. Thus we see the divine message as a story beginning far back in ancient times, having numerous intertwined episodes, and following the same principles, like a mature tree graced with a large number of branches and firm, deep roots.
When this fact is well established in believersâ hearts, they feel that their faith is well-founded, stable and authoritative. They are, thus, strongly attracted to the source of this revelation, who is âGod, the Almighty, the Wise.â They also value the bond between them and the believers who followed such revelations throughout all generations, since the family of believers goes far back in history, and they all turn ultimately to God. How can they abandon the straight path of the divine message to take other, divergent ways that have unclear beginnings and lead nowhere?
The surah then adds other attributes belonging to God: âHis is all that is in the heavens and the earth. He is the Most High, the Supreme One.â People are often deluded, thinking that they own something of what they have in their hands; it appears to be at their disposal and they use it for their own benefit. Theirs, however, is not true ownership. The true owner is God who creates, brings to life and deals death. He alone can give people whatever He wishes, withhold, take away or replace what He chooses. He is the One who determines the nature of everything and conducts this in accordance with the law He has chosen. Everything, then, complies with this law and behaves according to it. Every single thing in the universe, thus, belongs to God, who is the sole owner, without partners. He is the âMost High, the Supreme One.â His ownership is marked by His supremacy, making everything else appear lowly and inferior. ¬