Sura 97, “The Night of Power” (more precisely “Decree” or “Destiny”) is disputed as to whether it comes from the Meccan or Medinan period, but this is of little moment, since the chapter contains nothing decisive doctrinally. The “Night of Power” was the occasion of Muhammad’s first revelation (v. 1) — the one recorded in 96:1-5. It is “better than a thousand months” (v. 3), for on this night the Spirit came down — that is, according to the Tafsir al-Jalalayn and others, Gabriel.
In Islam the Night of Power is a special night for prayer, generally observed on one of the last ten days of the month of Ramadan.
Sura 98, “Evidence,” is probably Medinan, and shares the bellicosity and contempt for the People of the Book (primarily Jews and Christians) of the Medinan suras. Maududi says that its placement after suras 96 and 97 is “very meaningful. Surah Al-Alaq  contains the very first revelation, while Surah Al-Qadr  shows as to when it was revealed, and in this Surah it has been explained why it was necessary to send a Messenger along with this Holy Book.”
Why was it necessary? Because Jews and Christians aren’t going to forsake their falsehoods without clear evidence (v. 1), and that evidence is Muhammad and the Qur’an (v. 2). Yet when Muhammad came, the People of the Book became divided over him (v. 4) — as the Tafsir al-Jalalayn explains: “Before his arrival they had all agreed to believe in him when he would come; then those who disbelieved in him from among them became envious of him.” They have been commanded to worship Allah, “establish regular prayer,” and practice “regular charity” — three of the five Pillars of Islam. Those Jews and Christians who reject Muhammad and Islam are the “most vile of created beings” (v. 6) — a cardinal verse among the Qur’an’s many verses dehumanizing unbelievers — while the righteous are the best of creatures (v. 7).
Sura 99, “The Earthquake,” foretells earth’s final convulsion (vv. 1-5) and the separation of the good from the evil (vv. 6-8). Are you a southpaw? The Tafsir al-Jalalayn reports that “on that day mankind shall issue forth, they will depart from the site of the Reckoning, in separate groups, divided up, so that those taking it [their book] by the right hand will go to Paradise, while those taking it by the left hand will go to the Fire…”
Five suras follow with similar warnings. Sura 100, “The Chargers,” notes mankind’s ingratitude to Allah (v. 6) and warns of the Day of Judgment (vv. 9-11). Sura 101, “The Calamity,” also dwells on the Day of Judgment, noting that one’s good deeds must outweigh one’s bad deeds on a scale in order to enjoy “a life of good pleasure and satisfaction” rather than the Fire (vv. 6-11). Sura 102, “Competition,” criticizes those who compete for worldly goods (v. 1) and ignore the imminence of death (v. 2) and hell (v. 6). Sura 103, “The Declining Day,” asserts that mankind is lost (v. 2) except for those who have faith and do good deeds (v. 3). The jurist Ash-Shafi’i said: “If the people were to ponder on this Surah, it would be sufficient for them.” Sura 104, “The Traducer,” calls down woe upon those wealthy (v. 2) people who gossip and sow scandal (v. 1), thinking their wealth would make them immortal (v. 3). They will be thrown into hellfire (vv. 4-6).
The early Meccan sura 105, “The Elephant,” refers to an event said to have taken place in 570 A.D., the year Muhammad was born. The Yemeni Christian ruler Abrahah led a force into Arabia (a force that included elephants), intending to destroy the Ka’bah in Mecca. The guardians of the Ka’bah could offer no defense, but Allah sent flocks of birds who struck the invaders with stones (vv. 3-4). Here again is reinforced the idea that obedience to Allah will bring earthly success and prosperity, and disobedience to Allah will bring earthly ruin.
Sura 106, “Quraysh,” calls upon the pagan Arab tribe of Mecca, the Quraysh (a tribe of which Muhammad was a member), who are the custodians of the Ka’bah — at that time a pagan shrine — to worship the real Lord of the shrine, Allah (v. 3). Sura 107, “Almsgiving,” excoriates those who deny the coming Judgment (v. 1) and are unkind to orphans (v. 2) and the needy (v. 3), and neglect prayers (v. 5). Sura 108, “Abundance,” addresses Muhammad, telling him that those who hate him will be cut off, having no children (v. 3). The Tafsir al-Jalalayn says that “this was revealed regarding al-Asi b. Wa’il, who called the Prophet al-abtar, ‘the severed one’, when his son al-Qāsim died.” Muhammad never had a son who lived to adulthood.
Sura 109, “The Unbelievers,” is frequently invoked today as one of the Qur’an’s statements of tolerance. According to most scholars it is a Meccan sura, revealed at a time when the Muslim were a small, weak, embattled band, feeling threatened by the pagan Quraysh — making it possibly a plea for tolerance for the Muslims, not a magnanimous granting of tolerance to an opposition group. Al-Wahidi, however, explains that this sura was a rejection of an invitation from the Quraysh: “Come follow our religion and we will follow yours. You worship our idols for a year and we worship you Allah the following year. In this way, if what you have brought us is better than what we have, we would partake of it and take our share of goodness from it; and if what we have is better than what you have brought, you would partake of it and take your share of goodness from it.” Muhammad rejected the offer: “Allah forbid that I associate anything with Him.”
In any case, the Tafsir al-Jalalayn says that this sura was revealed before Muhammad “was commanded to wage war” against idolaters. And Muhammad al-Ghazali, who is often cited as a reformist, writes ominously in his Journey Through the Qur’an about the limits of tolerance in his commentary on this sura: “Oppressing Islam and denying it the right to life cannot be tolerated. It must be explicitly stated that blood will continue to flow until this evil desire is removed and the power of Islam is restored and its Shari’a protected and its complete implementation guaranteed. Do the oppressors understand?” (Emphasis added.)
Sura 110, “Succor,” exhorts Muhammad to praise Allah and pray for forgiveness when he sees people entering Islam “in crowds” (v. 2). This was, according to Islamic tradition, the last sura revealed, when Muhammad was on his deathbed. He was master of Arabia and mass conversions were indeed taking place — so, with mission accomplished, he died.
Sura 111, “Palm Fibre,” is elucidated by a hadith (Bukhari, vol. 6, book 65, no. 4770, Darussalam edition) in which Muhammad climbs a mountain and begins calling the Quraysh. When they assembled, he told them: “I am a warner to you in face of a terrific punishment.” This annoyed Abu Lahab, Muhammad’s uncle, who shouted to the Muslim prophet: “May your hands perish all this day. Is it for this purpose you have gathered us?” Muhammad thereupon received this sura, cursing Abu Lahab and his wife to hellfire.
Sura 112, “Sincerity,” again rejects the idea that Allah “begets” (v. 3) — a repudiation not only of Christianity but of the pagan “daughters of Allah:” that Muhammad had briefly endorsed during the Satanic Verses incident.
Sura 113, “Dawn,” and sura 114, “Mankind,” are known collectively as Al-Mu’awwidhatan: the two suras of taking refuge in Allah from evil. They were probably revealed early in Muhammad’s prophetic career, and have a particular status in Islamic piety as incantations to ward off harm — since when Muhammad lay in bed with his final illness, he recited them over and over.
And thus ends the Qur’an.
(Revised June 2016)