Surah Muhammad is the 47th sura. It is a Madani sura of the Qur'an located in its 26th juz'. It is called “Muhammad” because the name is mentioned in its second verse.
The main theme of the sura consists in characteristics of believers and disbelievers, and their fate in the afterlife. A well-known verse of the sura is the verse 7 concerning how God supports believers. And its fourth verse concerning the prohibition of killing prisoners of wars and their release without a payment or in exchange for a ransom counts as a Jurisprudential Verse.
Rewards for the recitation of this sura include immunity from poverty and drinking from Heavenly springs.
The sura is called “Muhammad” because the name appears in its second verse. It is also called Sura al-Qital (fight), because a majority of its verses are concerned with jihad. It is also called “alladhin kafaru” (those who disbelieved) because it opens with this phrase.
Place and Order of Revelation
Sura Muhammad is a Madani sura, and in the order of revelation, it is the 95th sura revealed to the Prophet. In the present order of compilation, it is the 47th sura, located in the 26th juz' thereof.
Number of Verses and Other Features
Sura Muhammad has 38 verses, 542 words, and 2424 letters. With regard to size, it counts as one of the Mathani suras, which occupies less than one hizb.
The main theme of Sura Muhammad consists in characteristics of believers and disbelievers, and a comparison of their respective fates after resurrection. The sura is also concerned with jihad and fights against enemies of Islam. It deals with issues of fight and jihad because it was revealed during the Battle of Uhud.
The words, “idlal” (wasting) and “ihbat” (rendering worthless), are repeatedly used in the sura referring to actions of disbelievers being wasted and rendered worthless, which is said to have to do with their disbelief and their abhorrence of the Qur'an.
The content of the sura can be summarized as follows:
Faith and disbelief, and a comparison of the condition of believers and disbelievers in this world and the afterlife,
Jihad with enemies, and an order concerning prisoners of wars,
Hypocrites who were sabotaging in Medina at the time of the revelation of these verses,
Recommendation of people to proceed through the Earth and investigate the fates of past nations as lessons,
Divine test regarding wars,
Donation as a kind of jihad.
Purposes of jihad with God’s enemies
First goal: countering the acts of the enemies of God’s religion
First subject-matter: the way of the enemies being wrong, and the way of believers being right
Second subject-matter: believers must fight the enemies of the religion
Second goal: believers enjoying divine support and rewards
First reward: victory of the believers and destruction of the enemies
Second reward: believers enjoying eternal Heavenly blessings
Third reward: God’s support of believers against enemies
Fourth reward: believers enjoying various Heavenly blessings
Third goal: disclosing the acts and the nature of hypocrites
First action: insulting the Prophet and his teachings
Second action: failure in performing the command to jihad
Third action: hidden cooperation with enemies
Fourth actin: God’s methods in revealing the nature of hypocrites
Conclusion: encouraging the believers to go to jihad in the way of God First subject-matter: consequences of indolence in jihad
Second subject-matter: love of this world as a factor of indolence in jihad
The Verse of Divine Support
This verse encourages believers to fight the enemies. According to some Shiite exegeses, the emphasis on faith in this verse implies that a sign of faith is to fight enemies of the truth, and “to support God” obviously means to support His religion. According to these exegeses, supporting the Prophet, his sharia and his teachings, and as in other Quranic verses (Sura al-Hashr, verse 8), supporting God and His messenger come together.
In Nahj al-balagha, Imam ‘Ali is quoted as saying that if people support God, God will support them and will plant firmly their feet. God does not ask for people’s support out of misery and helplessness. He asks for support when He is all the while Mighty and Wise, and the armies of skies and the Earth are under His command. God asks for support because He wants to test people and determine people who do good things.
The verse 4 of Sura Muhammad is a Jurisprudential Verse concerning what to do to prisoners of wars after the wars end. The verse prohibits the murder of such prisoners, giving the leader of Muslims a choice to release them without any payment or in exchange for a ransom.
Virtues and Effects
The Prophet is quoted as saying that if a person recites Sura Muahmmad, then when he rises from the grave, he will see the Prophet Muhammad wherever he looks and God will satiate him from Heavenly springs. Rewards for the recitation of Sura Muhammad, as in a hadith from Imam al-Sadiq, include the removal of doubts about the religion, prevention of poverty, and being secured by God and the Prophet.