This chapter mentions the prophetic mission and discusses the warning it contains of the Resurrection, the obstinate rejection of it by the polytheists and their bafflement at such a concept. This is because they believed that death represented a total end to the human being’s identity; once a person’s body turned to dust, nothing was left of them. How, they asked, could a person come back to life just as he had been before his death? It responds to their bafflement and skepticism by saying that God’s knowledge encompasses them entirely and that with Him is a Preserving Book from which no detail about His creation, no matter how infinitesimally small, is omitted. Then he threatens them with the same fate as befell previous nations who perished.
Secondly, this chapter calls attention to God’s knowledge and power by mentioning His governance, as demonstrated by the creation of the heavens and the stars and celestial bodies that adorn them, and by the creation of the Earth, its expansiveness, the casting of mountains into it and the growth of various species of plants upon it, then the sending down of rain by which He provides sustenance for His servants and revives the land.
Next, it exposits the condition of the human being from the very beginning of his creation and says that every word and every thought of his is under complete and total observation so long as he is alive. Then, when death comes to him, and he is brought back for judgement, and when his accounting is finished, if he was one of the deniers then he will enter hellfire, and if he was one of the Godwary, he will enter the gardens of Paradise.
In short, the focus of this chapter’s discourse is the Resurrection and some of its most profound verses read:
- You were certainly oblivious of this. We have removed your veil from you, and so your sight is acute today. (50:22)
- The day when We shall say to hell, Are you full? It will say, Is there any more? (50:30) and
- There they will have whatever they wish, and with Us there is yet more. (50:35)
This chapter is Meccan, as demonstrated by the context of its verses. However, it has been suggested that one or two verses, beginning with, Certainly We created the heavens and the earth, and whatever is between them, in six days, and any fatigue did not touch Us (50:38) could be from Medina, though there is no textual indication of this.
The verses we have mentioned begin with a general discussion of the Resurrection and the polytheists’ skepticism thereof, and a general answer and warning to them. Then, there is a detailed response and warning second.