The Surah takes its name from the word al-A`la in the very first verse.
Period of Revelation
The subject matter shows that
this too is one of the earliest Surahs to be revealed, and the words: "We shall
enable you to recite, then you shall never forget" of verse 6 also indicate that
it was sent down in the period when the Holy Messenger (upon whom he Allah's
peace) was not yet fully accustomed to receive Revelation and at the time
Revelation came down he feared lest he should forget its words. If this verse is
read along with verse 114 of Surah Ta Ha and verses 16-19 of Al-Qiyamah and the
three verses are also considered with regard to their styles and contexts, the
sequence of events seems to be that first in this Surah the Holy Prophet (upon
whom be peace) was reassured to the effect: "Do not at all worry: We shall
enable you to recite this Word, then you shall not forget it." Then after a
lapse of time, on another occasion, when the Surah Al-Qiyamah was being
revealed, the Holy Prophet involuntarily began to rehearse the words of the
Revelation. Thereupon it was said: "O Prophet do not move your tongue to
remember this Revelation hastily. It is for Us to have it remembered and read.
Therefore when We are reciting it, listen to its recital carefully. Again, it is
for Us to explain its meaning."Last of all, on the occasion of the revelation of
Surah Ta Ha, the Holy Prophet on account of human weakness, again became afraid
lest his memory should fail to preserve some portion of the 113 verses which
were continuously revealed at that time, and therefore, he began to memorize
them. Thereupon, it was said: "And see that you do not hasten to recite the
Quran before its revelation is completed to you."After this, it never so
happened that he felt any such danger, for apart form these three places, there
is no other place in the Quran where there might be a reference to this matter.
Theme and Subject Matter
This short surah contains
three themes: Tauhid, instructions to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) and
In the first verse, the doctrine of Tauhid has been
compressed into a single sentence, saying that Allah's name should be glorified
and exalted, i. e. He should not be remembered by any name which mighty reflect
a deficiency, fault, weakness, or an aspect of likeness, with created beings,
for the root of all false creeds in the world are wrong concepts about Allah,
which assumed the form of an erroneous name for His glorious and exalted Being.
Therefore, for the correction of the creed, the primary thing is that Allah
Almighty should be remembered only by the beautiful names which suit and befit
In the next three verses, it has been said: "Your Lord,
glorification of Whose name is being enjoined, is He Who created everything in
the Universe, proportioned it, set it a destiny, taught it to perform the
function for which it is created, and you witness this manifestation of His
power day and night that He creates vegetation on the earth as well as reduces
it to mere rubbish. No other being has the power to bring about spring nor the
power to prevent autumn."
Then, in the following two verses, the Holy
Prophet (upon whom be peace) his been consoled, as if to say: "Do not worry as
to how you will remember word for word the Qur'an that is being revealed to you.
It is for Us to preserve it in your memory, and its preservation is not in any
way the result of any excellence in you but the result of Our bounty and favor,
otherwise if We so will, We can cause you to forget it."
Then, the Holy
Prophet (upon whom be peace) has been told: "You have not been made responsible
to bring everyone on to the right path; your only duty is to convey the truth,
and the simplest way of conveying the truth is that admonition be given to him
who is inclined to listen to the admonition and accept it, and the one who is
not inclined to it, should not be pursued. The one who fears the evil
consequences of deviation and falsehood, will listen to the truth and accept it,
and the wretched one who avoids listening to and accepting it, will himself see
his evil end."'
The discourse has been summed up, saying: "Success is
only for those who adopt purity of belief, morals and deed, and remember the
name of their Lord and perform the Prayer. But, on the contrary, the people are
wholly lost in seeking the ease, benefits and pleasures of the world, whereas
they should actually endeavor for their well being in the Hereafter, for the
world is transitory and the Hereafter everlasting and the blessings of the
Hereafter are far better than the blessings of the world. This truth has not
been expressed only in the Qur'an but in the books of the Prophets Abraham and
Moses too, it had been brought to the notice of man.