This Surah is entitled Ar Rahman, the word with which it begins. This title, however, deeply relates to the subject matter of the Surah too, for in it, from the beginning to the end, the manifestations and fruits of Allah's attribute of mercy and grace have been mentioned.
Period of Revelation
The commentators generally hold the view that this is a Makki Surah, though according to some traditions which have been cited on the authority of Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas, Ikrimah and Qatadah, it was revealed at Madinah. But, firstly, there are also some other traditions from these very authorities, which contradict this view; secondly, its subject matter bears a closer resemblance with the Makki Surahs than with the Madani Surahs; rather it appears to belong to the very early Makkah period. However, there are several authentic traditions which testify that it had been revealed in Makkah itself many years before the hijrah.
Musnad Ahmad contains a tradition from Hadarat Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr (may Allah bless them both), to the effect: "I saw the Messenger of Allah offering his Prayers in the sacred precincts of the Ka'bah facing the corner in which the "Black Stone" is fixed. This relates to the time when the Divine Command, fasda bi-ma tumar ("So, proclaim publicly, O Prophet, what you are being commanded") had not yet been revealed. The polytheists at that time were hearing the words, Fa-biayyi alaa'i Rabbi kuma tukadhdhi ban, being recited by him in the Prayer." This shows than this Surah had been sent down even before Surah Al-Hijr.
Theme and Subject Matter
This is the only Surah of the Qur'an in which besides men the jinn also, who are the other creation of the earth endowed with freedom of will and action, have been directly addressed, and both men and jinn have been made to realize the wonders of Allah's power, His countless blessings, their own helplessness and accountability before Him, and have been warned of the evil consequences of His disobedience and made aware of the best results of His obedience. Although at several other places in the Qur'an there are clear pointers to show that like the men the jinn too are a creation who have been endowed with freedom of will and action and are accountable, who have been granted the freedom of belief and unbelief, of obedience and disobedience, and among them too there are the believers and the unbelievers, the obedient and the rebellious, as among human beings, and among them too there exist such groups as have believed in the Prophets sent by God and in the Divine Books, this Surah clearly points out that the message of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the Qur'an is meant both for men and for jinn and that his Prophethood is not restricted to human beings alone.
English Translation: Noor International