THE DESIGNATION of this surah is derived from the references in verses 9-27 to the War of the Confederates, which took place in the year 5 H. (see note 13 below). The tone of these references, and especially of verse 20, shows that this part of the surah was revealed immediately after that war, i.e., towards the end of 5 H. Verses 37-40, which deal with the Prophet's marriage to Zaynab bint Jahsh, were revealed in the same year, probably a few months earlier; the same can be said of verses 4-5, which apparently contain an indirect allusion to the Prophet's adoptive relationship with Zaynab's first husband, Zayd ibn Harithah (see in this connection note 42 below). On the other hand, verses 28-29 and 52 cannot have been revealed earlier than the year 7 H., and may even belong to a later period (cf. note 65 on verse 52). There is no clear evidence as to the date of the rest of this surah, although some authorities (e.g., Suyuti) maintain that much - if not most - of it was revealed after surah 3 ("The House of "Imran") and before surah 4 ("Women"), which would place it towards the end of 3 H. or in the early part of 4 H. In brief, it can be stated with certainty that the surah was revealed in small segments at various times between the end of the first and the middle of the last third of the Medina period. This, together with the fact that a considerable portion of it deals with the personal history of the Prophet, the relationship between him and his contemporaries - in particular, his family - and certain rules of behaviour which applied explicitly, and specifically, to his wives alone, explains why this surah is so complex in its structure and so diversified in its modes of expression.
O PROPHET! Remain conscious of God, and defer not to the deniers of the truth and the hypocrites: for God is truly all-knowing, wise.