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The Meccan surahs are the chronologically earlier chapters (surahs) of the Qur'an that were, according to Islamic tradition, revealed anytime before the migration of the Islamic prophet Muhammed and his followers from Mecca to Medina (Hijra). The Medinan surahs are those revelations that occurred after the move to the city of that name.

Meccan surahs are typically shorter than Medinan surahs, with relatively short verses (ayat), and mostly come near the end of the Qur'an. (As a general rule, the surahs of the Qur'an are ordered from longest to shortest.) Most of the surahs containing Muqatta'at are Meccan. The division of surahs into 'Meccan' and 'Medinan' is primarily a consequence of stylistic and thematic considerations. Classification of the surahs into these periods is based upon factors such as the length of the verse and the presence or absence of certain key concepts or words (e.g. al-Rahman as name of God).

Following are some characteristics of Meccan verses, No 7 and 8 are stylistic characteristics, and the last 4 are content and subject characteristics:

  • Any chapter that has a verse that commands to prostrate to Allah (آيات السجدة) is Meccan , except chapters 13and 22. Any chapter that contains the word kalla كلا (never) is Meccan , and are found only in the second half of the Qur'an.
  • Any chapter that has the phrase ياأيها الناس O Mankind, but does not have the phrase يأيها اللذين آمنوا O you who believe is Makki, except chapter 22.
  • All chapters that start with initial letters muqattaat are Meccan , except chapters 2,3 and 13.
  • Any chapter that relates the story of Adam and Iblis (i.e., Satan) is Meccan , except chapter 2. Any chapter that relates the stories of previous prophets and their people is Meccan , except chapter 2.
  • Short verses, and strong rhetorical style and rhythmic sound.
  • Repeated use of emphasis, exhortation, analogies and oath.
  • Emphasis on the belief in Allah, the Day of Judgement and description of Hell and Heaven (paradise).
  • Call for adherence to good moral and universal characters like truthfullness, kindness to relatives, old and neighbor, etc.
  • Argument with the polytheists and refutation of their associating partners with Allah.
  • Warning the polytheists through stories of previous messengers when punishment came to their people when they rejected their message.



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