This Sűrah takes its name from 2nd verse of 4th Rakuh (And give general invitation to mankind for the Hajj (pilgrimage) that they should come to you on foot and riding camels from every place faraway or near,).
Period of Revelation:
This Sűrah contains the characteristics of both the Makki and the Madanni Sűrahs. For this reason the commentators hold opposing views about its being Makki or Madanni. But we are of the opinion that its style is like this because its first part (vv. 1-24) has revealed in the last period of the Makki life of the Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the second part (vv. 25-78) has revealed during the first period of Madanni life. That is why this Sűrah contains the characteristics of both the periods.
The style and theme of the beginning of the Sűrah shows that it has been revealed in Makkah and most probably in the last period of Makki life, just before the migration to Madinah. This parts ends on the verse 24th (They were guided to accept the pure Word (Lâ ilâha ill-Allâh) and they were shown the Path of Allâh all Praise-Worthy.).
Then right after it from verse 25th (Those people who committed infidelity (Kufr) and those who are stopping (today) from the Path of Allâh and hinder the visitation of Masjid-al-Harâm (at Makkah)) all of sudden the style of topic changes and it clearly shows that rest of the Sűrah has been revealed in Al-Madinah – it is quite possible that it has been revealed in the month of Zul-Hijjah in the very first year after Hijrah, because the topic of the verses 25 - 41 indicates it, and the occasion of revelation of the verses 39-40 also confirms it. At that time the immigrants had just migrated to Madinah, at the time of Hajj they were having the memories of their homes in Makkah, and it was becoming quite evident that the mushrik of Quraish had also restricted them from visiting the Masjid-al-Harâm. In that period, they might have been waiting for the Divine permission to wage war against those tyrants -- who had expelled them from their homes and deprived them of visiting the House of Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala (Masjid-al-Harâm) and made their lives difficult because they embraced Islam. It was the right psychological occasion for the revelation of these verses. In these verses while mentioning about the Hajj first of all it has been told that Masjid-al- Harâm was built for this purpose and the process of Hajj was started so that the worship of One Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala should be established – but today shirk has been committed there and it has been restricted for the worshipers of One Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala. After that, permission was granted to Muslims to wage war against those tyrants and to expel them from the country to establish the righteous way of life in which the evil is eradicated and righteousness prospers. It has been stated by Ibne Abbas, Mujahid, Urwah-bin-Zubair, Zaid-bin-Aslam, Muqatil-bin-Hayyan, Qatadah and other great commentators, that this is the first verse (39) in which Muslims are granted permission to wage war. And it has been proved from Hadiths and the books on the life of the Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that right after this permission, practical struggle started immediately against the Quraish and the first expedition departed to the coast of the Red Sea in Safar, 2 A.H., which is known as the Expedition of Waddan or Al-Abwa.
Theme and Discussion:
Three groups are addressed in this Sűrah: i- The Mushriks of Makkah, ii- the indecisive and hesitant Muslims, and iii- the True Believers.
The address to Mushriks started in Makkah and completed in Madinah. In this address, they have been warned in a forceful way "You have persistently and stubbornly insisted in your ideas of ignorance, and instead of Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala trusted in your powerless deities, and have declined the Messenger of Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala. Now you will meet the same end, as those before you have met because of their disobedience. You have harmed yourselves by rejecting Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and persecuting the pious people of your own nation. Consequently, your false deities shall not be able to save you from the wrath of Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala. With this warning, the factor of advice and making them to understand has not been left out. Throughout the Sűrah there is warning and advice as well as sound arguments have been given against the creed of shirk and in favor of Tauhid and the Hereafter.
The indecisive Muslims, who had accepted the worship of Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala but were not ready to bear any hardship in its way, they have been addressed and criticized. They have been asked -- what kind of this faith is? If there is peace, harmony, prosperity then Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala is yours and you are HIS servants. However, if any adversity comes in that way then neither Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala is yours nor you are HIS servants. Whereas you should note it well that you cannot avert any misfortunes, hardship, or adversity by your this attitude -- that Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala has ordained for you.
The true Believers
have been addressed in two ways. In one
address, they as well as the common people of
In the first address, the Mushriks of
Makkah have been criticized on their attitude that they have banned the
visitation of Believers to the Masjid Al-Harâm, whereas the Masjid Al-Harâm is
not their personal property and they do not have any right to stop anyone from
performing Hajj. This objection was not
only justified itself but it was also an effective political weapon against the
Quraish. From it a question has been
raised in the minds of other tribes of
In the second address, the Muslims have been permitted to response the tyranny of the Quraish with force and at the same time, they have been told that what kind of attitude they should adopt after acquiring power to rule in the land and as a ruler what would be their main object. This topic is in the middle of Sűrah as well as in the end. Finally, the Believers have been officially given the name of "Muslims", saying, "You are the real heirs to Ibrâhim, you have been chosen for this service that you become witnesses of the Truth before mankind, now you should make your lives models for rest of the world by establishing Salât, paying the Zakât, and doing good deeds, and trusting upon Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala, do Jihad to spread the Word of Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala.
Just to point here, that if you also review the introductions to Sűrah Al-Baqarah and Sűrah Al-Anfâl, it will be lot easier to understand it.