In fact, very few chapters contain clear references to events which took place in Muhammad's life.
Nöldeke studied the style and content of the chapters and assumed that first, later (Madinan) chapters and verses and are generally shorter than earlier (Meccan) ones, and second, that earlier Meccan verses have a distinct rhyming style while later verses are more prosaic (prose-like).
On the other hand, Madinan verses are longer and have a distinct style of rhyming and concern to provide legislation and guidance for the Muslim community.
Richard Bell took Nöldeke's chronology as a starting point for his research, however, Bell did not believe that Nöldeke's criteria of style were important.
Mehdi Bazargan divided the Quran into 194 independent passages preserving some chapters intact as single blocks while dividing others into two or more blocks.
He then rearranged these blocks approximately in order of increasing average verse length. Bazargan assumed that verse length tended to increase over time and he used this assumption to rearrange the passages.
According to Nöldeke, earlier chapters have common features: many of them open with oaths in which God swears by cosmic phenomena, they have common themes (including eschatology, creation, piety, authentication of Muhammad's mission and refutation of the charges against Muhammad), and some Meccan chapters have a clear 'tripartite' structure (for example chapters 45, 37, 26, 15, 21).
Surahs (chapters) are recited during the standing portions (Qiyam) of Muslim prayers.
Muhammad's last pilgrimage is mentioned in 5:3 which occurred in 632, a few months before he died.
This method is of limited usefulness because the Quran narrates the life of Muhammad or the early history of the Muslim community only incidentally and not in detail.
Surah Al-Fatiha, the first chapter of the Quran, is recited in every unit of prayer and some units of prayer also involve recitation of all or part of any other surah.
The word surah was used at the time of Muhammad as a term with the meaning of a portion or a set of verses of the Quran.