Surah Al-Bayyinah (The Clear Evidence) is generally referred to the early Medina period. The subject matter of Surah Al-Bayyinah carries forward the argument that those who deny Truth are resistant to the message of Almighty Allah, however clear may be the proof in support of it.
The difference between the true believers and the unbelievers is described in this present Surah using the pure pages of the Holy Quran as “Clear Evidence” and the “Sunnah” (Practice) of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the final Messenger of Almighty Allah.
“Those who reject (Truth), among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, were not going to depart (From their ways) until there should come to them Clear Evidence,” Verse1
The term “The People of the Book” here is used in the Quran to refer to the Jews and the Christians who had scriptures in the same line of prophecy in which they came to our Holy Prophet. The “Torah” was given to the Jews and “Injil” was given to the Christians. In fact, their scriptures should have prepared them for the arrival of the greatest and last of the Prophets as the Holy prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) was predicted in many ways.
At that time, not all People of the Book in Arabia and neighboring areas accepted the Quran and the beloved Prophet. They fell from the true, straight and standard religion into scheming ways. Divided into many small groups, they argued with each other about insignificant details; they will not come to the true path until they said they must be convinced with the arrival of the promised Prophet. But when the promised Prophet came in the person of Muhammad (Pbuh) they rejected him as they really did not want to seek for the Truth; they only wished to follow their own fancies and desires.
On the other hand, the polytheists and the pagans who had not formerly believed in any scriptures denied the clear evidence that came to them. They rejected the holy Prophet as they were not really searching for the Truth being so much absorbed in their own beliefs and aspirations.
So, what was the “Clear Evidence”? It was the Holy Prophet himself, his life, his personality and his teaching. “An apostle from God, rehearsing scriptures kept pure and holy: wherein are laws (or decrees) right and straight. Nor did the People of the Book make schisms, until after there came to them Clear Evidence” Verses 2-4
The People of the Book knew from the reading of their scriptures that Muhammad (Pbuh) was true, upright and in rank with Abraham (Ibrahim (Pbuh)). They know him to match with the description of the Prophet predicted among them. But egotism tempted some of them to act against their own understanding and to mask the truth.
“And they have been commanded no more than this: to worship God, offering Him sincere devotion, being true (in faith); to establish regular prayer; and to practice regular Charity; and that is the Religion Right and Straight.” Verse 5
What is this standard and straight Religion, free of all doubts, casual rights and ceremonies? The Clear Evidence came in Islam and are summed up in three eternal principles: (1) heartfelt and sincere devotion to Allah (2) prayer and praise as they draw men nearer to Allah and the spiritual world (3) Service to men by deeds of practical charity.
“Those who reject (Truth), among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, will be in hell-fire, to dwell therein (for aye). They are the worst of creatures. Those who have faith and do righteous deeds, they are the best of creatures.” Verses 6-7
Men have been given the faculty to distinguish between the right and the wrong. Thus, the person brings his own punishment whether he calls himself one of the children of Abraham or one of the redeemed of Christ or whether he goes by the mere light of nature and reason as a Pagan. Men who live a life of faith and good deeds validate the reason of their living here. Among the best of creation are those who resist with themselves to stay devotedly obedient to the Laws of Almighty Allah. So, unlike the angels, they have been given the freewill to choose between the good and the bad. Through their good choice, men earn the pleasure of Almighty Allah.
“Their reward is with God: Gardens of Eternity, beneath which rivers flow; they will dwell therein for ever; God well pleased with them, and they with Him: All this for such as fear their Lord and Cherisher.” Verse 8
The good choice of men makes them attain the fulfillment of their highest hopes which is the heaven described in allegory and imagery with the intention to open a window for our spiritual eyes. To please Almighty Allah is the final Bliss of Salvation and the fear of Allah is the fear to abuse against His holy law and will; but such fear is akin to love that dawns the awareness of the loving care of Allah for His creatures.
Reference: “The Holy Quran” translation by A. Yusuf Ali
“The Quran in Plain English” by Iman Torres- Al Haneef