THIS SURAH, revealed about six or seven years before the hijrah, takes its designation from the prophetic reference to the Byzantines in the opening verses. (For the historical background of this prophecy, see notes 2 and 3 below.) From this unequivocal prediction of events which at the time of its revelation were still shrouded in the mists of the future, the surah proceeds rapidly to its central theme: the wonder of God's creation of all that exists, His constant "bringing forth the living out of that which is dead", and thus His ability, and promise, to resurrect the dead at the end of time. But this, the Qur'an says, most people are "determined not to know" (verse 56), because "they know but the outer surface of this world's life, whereas of the ultimate things they are utterly unaware" (verse 7); and because of their oblivion of those ultimate things, "corruption has appeared on land and in the sea as an outcome of what men's hands have wrought" (verse 41): a most incisive prediction of what is happening in the world of our days.
Alif. Lam. Mim.1