Observations on the structure, organization, and coherence of Sūrat at-Tīn
Sūrat at-Tīn (The Fig) is a short sūrah that sits at the 95th position of the Quran’s compiled order. Most commentators believe it to be a Makkan revelation based on its tone and language. The sūrah is probably best known for the unique oaths that begin its composition.
It has been observed that the sūrah forms a ring structure when its subject matter is laid out.1
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Or, summarized another way:
[A]/[A’] - There are two widely accepted interpretations to the beginning oaths. The first is that they refer to the prophets Noah (land of figs), Jesus/Abraham (land of olives), Moses (Mount Sinai), and Muhammad ﷺ/Abraham (Makkah).2
The second is that they refer to the lands where revelation was sent down. That would mean these oaths refer to Jerusalem (figs and olives), Mount Sinai, and Makkah (the secure city).
Together, the oaths can be seen to be referring to the Message and the Messenger.
On the other end of the sūrah we find Allah ﷻ questioning those who would deny revelation. As the Messenger ﷺ is told more explicitly elsewhere in the Quran, this is not the first time a prophet is being rejected by his people.
The disbelievers at the time of the Messenger ﷺ (and today) are essentially being told, “Are you denying the history of revelation that has come down from before? Are you denying Allah and the judgment that is to come?”
[B]/[B’] - After the reference to the different prophets, Allah ﷻ says, as a proof of the oaths just made, “We have certainly created man in the best of stature.” Believers are being encouraged by these messengers of history to aspire to the greatness we were created for. The paired section says as much when Allah ﷻ gives us the formula in the form of belief and righteous deeds.
[C] - Unlike how the outer sections highlight mankind’s ability to reach great heights, the center reminds us that we have been brought low because of our lack of belief and good actions.
And Allah ﷻ knows best.
Ali Khan, Nouman. “01. At-Tin (Ayah 1-8) - A Concise Commentary” Bayyinah TV, https://bayyinahtv.com/video/1982
In totality, these oaths would be considered to be referring to the five prophets who Allah ﷻ calls, “the messengers of strong resolve.” Prophet Abraham has a possible reference in both Makkah, where he prayed for the Messenger’s coming, and Jerusalem, where he is said to have went to settle after Makkah.