Tafsir al-Mu’awwidhatayn (Qur’anic Exegesis of Surah al-Falaq & Surah an-Nas)
This is an anthology of various tafsir (Qur’anic exegesis) on the last two surahs of the Qu’an, Surah al-Falaq (Chapter 113) and Surah an-Nas (Chapter 114). The purpose of this endeavor is to make much of the relevant tafsir available on the Internet available in one place. When two separate tafsir say the same thing, I either cite both of them or only the earliest one, depending on whether the later tafsir added anything to the topic or just rehashed old material. Links will be provided to the various websites which contain the tafsir so that the reader may do his/her own research if he/she wishes. I will paraphrase and re-synthesize most of the tafsir, but I will also provide full block quotes when I feel paraphrasing would do injustice. I hope this will be a benefit to everyone, and may Allah (SWT) forgive any errors I make, for in the end of the day, despite 1400 years of Islamic thought, only Allah (SWT) knows best the meaning of His Word.
Introduction to al-Mu’awwidhatayn
- These two surahs, Surah al-Falaq and Surah an-Nas, contain a directive from Allah (SWT) primarily to His Prophet and secondly to the believers at large, to take refuge in Him and seek His protection in the face of any source of fear, hidden or visible, known or unknown. It is as if Allah, the Exalted, is unfolding His world of care, and embracing the believers in His guard, and is kindly and affectionately calling on them to resort to His care where in they will feel safe and peaceful: “I know that you are helpless and surrounded by foes and fears … Come on here for safety, contentment and peace …” (Fi Zilal al-Qur’an)
- Although these two Surahs of the Qur’an are separate entities and are written in the mus`haf also under separate names, yet they are so deeply related mutually and their contents so closely resemble each other’s that they have been designated by a common name al-Mu’awwidhatayn (the two Surahs in which refuge with Allah has been sought). (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
Circumstances of Revelation
- There is a difference of opinion as to when/where it was first revealed.
- Some, such as Imam al-Hasan al-Basri (RH), Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl (RA), Wasil ibn ‘Ata (RH), and Jabir bin Zaid al-‘Azdi (RH) are of the opinion that the two surahs are Makki (revealed in Makkah). Abdullah ibn Abbas (RA) supports the same view, but there is another tradition from him saying that the surah is Madini (revealed in Madinah), and Qatadah bin al-Nu’man (RA) and Abdullah ibn az-Zubair (RA) share this view as well. This view is further supported by a hadith in which ‘Uqbah bin ‘Amir (RA) narrates how the Prophet (SAW) told him that on that particular day these surahs had been revealed to him. (Sahih Muslim Bk.004 Ch.136 No.1774) This hadith is cited as evidence because ‘Uqbah bin ‘Amir (RA) had become a Muslim in Madinah after the Hijrah as related by Abu Dawud and Nasa’i on the basis of his own statement. Other traditions which have lent strength to this view are those related by Ibn Sa’d al-Baghdadi (RH), Imam al-Baghawi (RH), Imam Nasafi (RH), Imam Baihaqi (RH), Ibn Hajar (RH), Badr-uddin ‘Ayni (RH), ‘Abd bin Humaid (RH), etc. that relate that these surahs were revealed when the Jews had worked magic on the Holy Prophet (SAW) in Madinah and he had fallen ill under its effect. Ibn Sa’d (RA) has related on the authority of al-Waqidi (RA) that this happened in A.H. 7. On this very basis Sufyan bin Uyainah (RH) also has described these surah as Madani. (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
- The difference of opinions is harmonized by realizing that just because a surah was revealed at a certain incident doesn’t always mean that it was never revealed before, as is the case of Surah al-Fatihah and Surah al-Ikhlas. Rather, sometimes certain parts of the Qur’an might have revealed for the first time, and then again during a certain incident to draw the Prophet’s (SAW) attention to it, and then again during another incident for the same reason, and so forth, and the same was for al-Mu’awwidhatayn. The subject matter of these two surahs insists that they were sent down at Makkah in the first instance when opposition to the Holy Prophet there had grown very intense. Later on in Madinah, when storms of opposition were raised by the hypocrites, Jews and polytheists, the Holy Prophet (SAW) was again instructed to recite these surahs, as shown in the already-mentioned tradition from Uqbah bin Amir (RA). After this, the Prophet (SAW) fell under magic, and his illness grew intense, [the angel] Gabriel (AS) came and instructed him by Allah’s command to recite these two surahs. This would explain the disagreement among the early Muslims, as someone might have heard the surahs being revealed in Madinah, but was not there in Makkah to hear their first revelation. It is wrong to relate these two surahs only with the incident of magic, since besides the one verse (Surah al-Falaq, Qur’an Ch.113 v.4), the remaining verses of Surah al-Falaq and the whole of Surah an-Nas have nothing to do with it directly. (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
- The conditions under which al-Mu’awwidhatayn were first sent down in Makkah were as follows.
- As the message of Islam spread throughout Makkah, the opposition of the disbelieving Quraish also became more and more intense. As long as they had any hope that they might prevent Muhammad (SAW) from preaching Islam by throwing some temptation in his way, or striking some bargain with him, their hostility did not become very active. However, when the Quraish began to realize that the Prophet (SAW) would not so easily give up preaching, as in Surah al-Kafirun (Qur’an Ch.109 vv.1-7) they were plainly told: “Say: I do not worship those who you worship nor are you worshipers of Him Whom I worship…For you is your religion and for me is mine,” the hostility reached its extreme limits. Even more, the families of those individuals who had accepted Islam were burning with rage from within and without against the Holy Prophet (SAW). They were cursing him, holding secret consultations to kill him quietly in the dark of the night so that the Bani Hashim could not discover the murderer and take revenge; magic and charms were being worked on him so as to cause his death, or make him fall ill, or become mad; shayateen from among the men and the jinn spread on every side so as to whisper one or another evil into the hearts of the people against him and the Qur’an brought by him so that they became suspicious of him and fled him. There were also many people who were burning with jealousy against him, for they could not tolerate that a man from another family or clan other than their own should become so blessed and prominent. For instance, the reason why Abu Jahl was crossing every limit in his hostility to him has been explained by himself: ‘We and the Bani Abdi Manaf (to which the Holy Prophet belonged) were rivals of each other: they fed others, we too fed others; they provided conveyances to the people, we too did the same; they gave donations, we too gave donations, so much so that when they and we have become equal in honor and nobility, they now proclaim that they have a Prophet who is inspired from the heaven; how can we compete with them in this field? By God, we will never acknowledge him, nor affirm faith in him.’ Such were the conditions when the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) was commanded to tell the people: “I seek refuge with the Lord of the dawn, from the evil of everything that He has created, and from the evil of the darkness of night and from the evil of magicians, men and women, and from the evil of the envious”, and to tell them: “I seek refuge with the Lord of mankind, the King of mankind, and the Deity of mankind, from the evil of the whisperer, who returns over and over again, who whispers (evil) into the hearts of men, whether he be from among the jinn or men.” (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
- This is similar to what the Prophet Moses (AS) was told to proclaim when Pharaoh had expressed his design before his full court to kill him: “I have taken refuge with my Lord and your Lord against every arrogant person who does not believe in the Day of Reckoning.” (Surah al-Ghafir, Qur’an Ch.40 v.27) and “I have taken refuge with my Lord and your Lord lest you should assail me.” (Surah ad-Dukhan, Qur’an Ch.44 v.20) On both occasions these illustrious prophets of Allah (AS) were confronted with well-equipped, resourceful and powerful enemies. On both occasions they stood firm on their message of Islam against their strong opponents, even though the prophets had no material power or the strength with which they could fight them. On both occasions they utterly disregarded the threats, dangerous plans and hostile devices of their opponents, saying: ‘We have taken refuge with the Lord of the universe against you.’ Obviously, such firmness and steadfastness can be shown only by someone who has the knowledge and conviction that the power of His Lord is the supreme power, that all powers of the world are insignificant against Him, and that no one can harm the one who has taken His refuge. Only such a one can say: ‘I will not give up preaching the Word of Truth. I care the least for what you may say or do, for I have taken refuge with my Lord and your Lord and Lord of all universe.’ (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
- Related here is the story of the bewitchment of the Rasulullah (SAW).
- After the Treaty of Hudaibiyah when the Holy Prophet (SAW) returned to Madinah, a deputation of the Jews of Khaibar visited Madinah in Muharram, A.H. 7 and met a famous magician, Labid bin Asam, who belonged to the Ansar tribe of Bani Zurayq. They said to him: “You know how Muhammad has treated us. We have tried our best to bewitch him but have not succeeded. Now we have come to you because you are a more skilled magician. Here are three gold coins, accept these and cast a powerful magic spell on Muhammad.” In those days the Holy Prophet (SAW) had a Jewish boy as his attendant. Through him they obtained a piece of the Holy Prophet’s comb with some hair stuck to it. Magic was worked on the same hair and the teeth of the comb. According to some traditions, magic was worked by Labid bin Asam himself, according to others, his sisters were more skilled than him and he got the spell cast through them. Whatever be the case, Labid placed this spell in the spathe of a male date-tree and his it under a stone at the bottom of Dharwan or Dhi Arwan, the well of Bani Zurayq. The spell took one whole year to have effect upon the Holy Prophet (SAW). In the latter half of the year the Holy Prophet (SAW) started feeling unwell. The last forty days became hard on him, of which the last three days were even harder. But its maximum effect on him was that he way melting away from within. He thought he had done a thing whereas, in fact, he had not done it: he thought he had visited his wives whereas he had not visited them; and sometimes he would doubt having seen something whereas, in fact, he had not seen it. All these effects were confined to his own person; so much so that the other people could not notice what state he was passing through. As for his being a Prophet, no change occurred in the performance of his duties. (Tafeem ul-Qur’an)
- The commentators of the Qur’an have said on the matter of the Rasul (SAW) being under magic: “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) had a Jewish servant boy. The Jews approached him and kept after him until he gave them some fallen hair from the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, as well as a few teeth from his comb. The Jews used these to cast a spell of black magic on him. The person who was behind this was the Jew Labid ibn al-A’sam. He then put the hair in a well belonging to Banu Zurayq called Dharwan. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, fell ill for a period of six month, during which the hair of his head fell off, he imagined that he slept with his wives when he did not, and was withering away without knowing the reason. As he was one day sleeping, he saw two angels coming to him. One of them sat at his head and the other at his feet. The angel who sat at his head asked: ‘What is wrong with the man?’ The second angel responded: ‘A spell of black magic was cast on him’. The first one asked: ‘And who is responsible for this sorcery?’ The second angel answered: ‘It is Labid ibn al-A’sam, the Jew’. The first angel asked again: ‘What did he use to cast black magic on him?’ The second angel said: ‘He used a comb and fallen hair’. The first angel asked: ‘Where is it now?’ The second angel said: ‘It is inside the spadix of a palm tree beneath the stepping stone which is inside the well of Dharwan,’ at which point the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, woke up. He said: ‘O ‘A’ishah, do you not think that this is from Allah to inform me of the cause of my illness?’ He then sent ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA), al-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwam (RA) and ‘Ammar ibn Yasir (RA) who drained the water of that well as one would drain the dust of henna. They lifted the stone and got the spadix out and found therein some of the hair of the Messenger of Allah (SAW) as well a few teeth from his comb. They also found with it a string with eleven knots knitted with needles. Allah, exalted is He, then revealed Surah al-Falaq and Surah al-Nas (al-Mu’awwidhatayn). With each verse that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) read one knot was untied and the Prophet (SAW) felt some lightness. When the last knot was untied, the Prophet (SAW) got up as if he was released from a cord to which he was tied up. Gabriel (AS) kept saying: ‘In the name of Allah I cast this incantation on you to protect you from anything that might harm you and that Allah heals you from the resentful envier and the evil eye’. Those around him said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, should we not head toward that evil person and kill him?’ He said: ‘As for me, Allah has cured me, and I dislike causing evil to other people’. This is of the forbearance of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace.” (Asbab al-Nuzul al-Wahidi)
- Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn Ja’far informed us from > Abu ‘Amr Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Hiri> Ahmad ibn ‘Ali al-Mawsili> Mujahid ibn Musa> Abu Usamah> Hisham ibn ‘Urwa> his father> ‘A’ishah, may Allah be well pleased with her, who said: “A spell of black magic was cast on the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, such that he used to imagine that he did things when he did not. He was at my place, one day, and he began imploring Allah in earnest. Then he said: ‘Did you not feel, O ‘A’ishah, that Allah has answered me about that which I have enquired?’ I said: ‘And what is that, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said: ‘Two angels came to me…’, and he mentioned the whole story”. The whole story is narrated by Imam al-Bukhari (Sahih al-Bukhari Vol. 7 Bk.71 No.658 & Vol.8 Bk.75 No.400).
Objections to the Prophet (SAW) Being Under the Influence of Magic
- Many people have trouble accepting the story of the Muhammad (SAW), or any prophet of Allah (SWT), for that matter, being under the malignant influence of magic.
- First, its important to note that it is an established fact that this incident of magic happened. Some ignorant Muslims would try to deny that a holy prophet could ever be subjected to such evil. However, the early Muslim scholars were as honest as possible in that they never tried to change or corrupt the facts of history, or else this “embarrassing” story would have never made it down to us today. It has been related by to us by Imam al-Bukhari (RA), Imam Muslim (RA), Imam Nasa’i (RA), Imam ibn Majah (RA), Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (RA), Abdur Razzaq RA), Humaidi (RA), Imam Baihaqi (RA), Tabarani (RA), Ibn Sad (RA), ibn Mardayah (RA), ibn Abi Shaibah (RA), Imam Hakim al-Nishaburi, Abd bin Humaid (RA) and other traditionists on the authority of Aishah bint Abi Bakr (RA), Zaid bin Arqam (RA) and Abdullah bin Abbas (RA), through so many different and numerous channels that forgery is out of the question. (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
- There is no tradition to say that Muhammad (SAW) might have forgotten some verses of the Qur’an in those days, or might have recited a verse wrongly, or a change might have occurred in the assemblies and in his counsels and sermons, or he might have presented verses as revelation which may not have been revealed to him, or even that he might have missed a prayer and thought that he had performed it. God forbid, if any such thing had happened, it would have caused a clamor and the whole of Arabia would have known that a magician had overpowered the one whom no power had been able to overpower. But the Holy Prophet’s (SAW) position as a Messenger of Allah (SWT) remained wholly unaffected by it. (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
- Those who are uncomfortable with prophets being affected by black magic don’t understand how magic operates. Magic is a physical phenomenon, and prophets were not immune to physical phenomenon. Prophets could feel the heat of fire, the coolness of hunger, the pang of hunger, etc. (Ma’ariful Qur’an)
- There if nothing in the traditions which might spoil his office of prophethood. In his personal capacity if any injury could be inflicted on him as it happened in the Battle of Uhud, if he could fall from his horse and be hurt as is confirmed by the ahadith, if he could be stung by a scorpion as has been mentioned in Musnad Ahmad, and none of these negates the protection promised him by Allah (SWT) in his capacity as a prophet, he could also fall ill under the influence of magic in his personal capacity. (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
- That a Prophet can be affected by magic is also confirmed by the Qur’an. The Qur’an tells us how not only the common people, but the Prophet Moses (AS) as well, felt that the cords and staffs coming at them were like so many snakes, thus feeling all their hearts with fear, and it was only due to the revelation and encouragement of Allah (SWT) that Prophet Moses (AS) was able to throw down his own staff and defeat Pharaoh’s magicians (Surah al-Araf, Qur’an Ch.7 v.116; Surah Ta-Ha, Qur’an Ch.20 vv.66-69). (Tafheem ul-Qur’an and Ma’ariful Qur’an)
- As for the objection that this incident then confirms the accusation of the disbelievers of Makkah that the Holy Prophet (SAW) was a bewitched man, its answer is that the disbelievers did not call him a bewitched man in the sense that he had fallen ill under that effect of black magic cast by somebody, but in the sense that some magician has, God forbid, made him go mad, and so his claim to Prophethood and tales of Hell and Heaven were done in this same madness. (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (RA) and al-Mu’awwidhatayn
- There are reports that suggest that the great Sahabi, Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (RA), did not believe al-Mu’awwidhatayn to be a part of the Qur’an, thus suggesting possible corruption of the Qur’an.
- Narrated Masruq: Abdullah bin Mas’ud was mentioned before Abdullah bin ‘Amr who said, “That is a man I still love, as I heard the Prophet saying ‘Learn the recitation of Quran from four from ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud –he started with him–Salim, the freed slave of Abu Hudaifa, Mu’adh bin Jabal and Ubayy bin Ka’b.” (Sahih al-Bukhari Vol.5 Bk.58 No.153)
- Imam Ahmad (RH) records that apparently Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (RA) did not consider al-Mu’awwidhatayn to be part of the Qur’an. (Musnad Ahmad no.21224-21227) There are a couple of other traditions which say the same thing in other collections as well, such as those of Imam Abu Bakr al-Bazzar (RH), Imam al-Tabarani, Imam ibn Marduyah (RH), Al-Qadi Abu Ya’la (RH), Abdullah bin Ahmad bin Hanbal (RH), Imam al-Humaydi (RH), etc.
- Many scholars have deemed these traditions to be false for various reasons. First of all, to not believe in the entire Qur’an would make someone a disbeliever, but no one has ever accused Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (RA) of such. Second, there are narrations that say that he had written down al-Mu’awwidhatayn in his mus’haf at first, and later on erased them (along with Surah al-Fatihah), thus showing if these traditions are true, then he had first thought they should be in his mus’haf, and later saw it unnecessary to keep them in this mus’haf. It is improbable that he erased them because he thought they weren’t Qur’anic, since it is ludicrous to think that any Muslim, nonetheless an esteemed Sahabi as ibn Mas’ud, would ever doubt the validity such a important surah as Surah al-Fatihah, as surah that is repeated at least 17 times a day throughout the 5 daily prayers. Thirdly, we have his qirat (oral recitation) passed down in an unbroken chain from Ibn Mas’ud to today, and his qirat contains al-Mu’awwidhatayn. Scholars who are of the opinion that these traditions of ibn Mas’ud not accepting part of the Qur’an are false include Imam an-Nawawi (RH), Imam ibn Hazm al-Andalusi al-Zahiri (RH), Imam al-Razi (RH), Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi al-Baqillani (RH), etc. (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
- However, it is an established and undeniable fact that al-Mu’awwidhatayn is indeed a part of the Qur’an. (1) Imam Abu Bakr al-Bazzar (RH), after relating these traditions of Ibn Mas’ud , wrote that he (Ibn Mas’ud) is solitary and isolated in his this opinion; no one from among the Sahabah (RA) supported this view. (Musnad al-Bazzar) (2) The copies of the Qur’an which Uthman (RA), had compiled by the consensus of the Sahabah and which he had sent from the Islamic Caliphate officially to the centers of the world of Islam contained both these surahs. (3) The canon mus’haf, which, since the sacred time of the Holy Prophet (SAW) till today, has had the seal of consensus of the entire world of Islam, contains both these surahs. The solitary opinion of only Abdullah bin Mas’ud (RA), in spite of his high rank, has no weight against this great consensus. (4) Most importantly of all, it is confirmed by numerous sound and reliable ahadith of the Holy Prophet (SAW) that he not only recited these surahs in the salah himself (Musnad Ahmad, Sunan Abu Dawud) but instructed others also to recite them, and taught them to the people as the surahs of the Qur’an, as will be shown by the ahadith in the section below entitled “Virtues of al-Mu’awwidhatayn.”. (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
- The question shouldn’t be whether al-Mu’awwidhatayn is Qur’anic, but rather did Abdullah ibn Mas’ud really disregard these two surahs.
- Even if the reports are true, it is evident from his surviving chains of qirat, as mentioned above, that he ultimately accepted these two surahs. If the stories are true, it just goes to show that the Sahabah (RA) were not infallible. One possible explanation is that Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (RA) thought these two surahs to be revealed is du’a, or prayer/incantations, but not actually Qur’anic revelation. That would explain why he had written them down, and erased them later. He never denied that al-Mu’awwidhatayn was revealed by God Almighty, but rather he is reported to have denied the Qur’anic nature of these two surahs. (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
- Imam Ahmad (RH) also recorded from Zirr bin Hubaysh that Ubayy bin Ka’b told him that Ibn Mas’ud did not record the Mu’awwidhatayn in his mus’haf (written copy of the Qur’an). So Ubayy said, “I testify that the Messenger of Allah informed me that Gabriel said to him, “Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of the Daybreak…” (Qur’an Ch.113) So he said it. And Gabriell said to him “Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of mankind…” (Qur’an Ch.114) So he said it. Therefore, we say what the Prophet said.” (Tafsir ibn Kathir)
Virtues of al-Mu’awwidhatayn
- Prophet Muhammad (SAW) held the two surahs of al-Mu’awwidhatayn in high esteem, and taught them to his followers as such. He even used them in salah (obligatory prayer).
- ‘Uqba b. ‘Amir reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: “What wonderful verses have been sent down today. the like of which has never been seen! They are: ‘Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of the dawn,’ (Surah al-Falaq, Qur’an Ch.113) and ‘Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of men.’ (Surah an-Nas, Qur’an Ch.114)” (Sahih Muslim Bk.004 Ch.136 No.1774)
- ‘Uqba b. ‘Amir reported: The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said to me: “There have been sent down to me verses the like of which had never been seen before. They are the Mu’awwadhatain.” (Sahih Muslim Bk.004 Ch.136 No.1775)
- Narrated Uqbah ibn Amir: I was driving the she-camel of the Apostle of Allah (SAW) during a journey. He said to me: “Uqbah, should I not teach you two best surahs ever recited?” He then taught me: “Say, I seek refuge in the Lord of the dawn,” (Surah al-Falaq, Qur’an Ch.113) and “Say, I seek refuge in the Lord of men.”(Surah an-Nas, Qur’an Ch.114) He did not see me much pleased (by these two surahs). When he alighted for prayer, he led the people in the morning prayer and recited them in prayer. When the Apostle of Allah (SAW) finished his prayer, he turned to me and said: “O Uqbah, how did you see?” (Sunan Abu Dawud Bk.8 No.1457)
- Narrated Uqbah ibn Amir: The Apostle of Allah (SAW) commanded me to recite Mu’awwidhatayn (the last two surahs of the Qur’an) after every prayer. (Sunan Abu Dawud Bk.8 No.1518)
- Uqbah bin ‘Amir reported, “While I was leading the Messenger of Allah along one of these paths he said, ‘O Uqbah! Will you not ride?’I was afraid that this might be considered an act of disobedience. So the Messenger of Allah got down and I rode for a while. Then he rode. Then he said, ‘O Uqbah! Should I not teach you two surahs that are of the best two surahs that the people recite?’ I said, ‘Of course, O Messenger of Allah.’ So he taught me to recite ‘Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of Al-Falaq.’ (Surah al-Falaq, Qur’an Ch.113) and ‘Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of mankind .’ (Surah an-Nas, Qur’an Ch.114) Then the call was given to begin the prayer and the Messenger of Allah went forward (to lead the people), and he recited them (the two surahs) in the prayer. Afterwards he passed by me and said, ‘What do you think, O Uqayb? Recite these two surahs whenever you go to sleep and whenever you get up.'” (Musnad Ahmad) Imam an-Nasa’i and Abu Dawud both recorded this hadith as well in their Sunan an-Nasa’i and Sunan Abu Dawud, respectively. (Tafsir ibn Kathir)
- Al-Mu’awwidhitayn had special protective characteristics/benefits.
- See no.5 under the previous bullet.
- Imam an-Nasa’i (RH) recorded in his Sunan al-Nasa’i from Uqbah bin Amir that the Messenger of Allah said, “Verily, the people do not seek protection with anything like these two: ‘Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of Al-Falaq.’ (Surah al-Falaq, Qur’an Ch.113) and ‘Say: I seek refuge with (Allah) the Lord of mankind.’ (Surah an-Nas, Qur’an Ch.114)” (Tafsir ibn Kathir)
- Imam an-Nasa’i recorded in his Sunan an-Nasa’i that Uqbah bin Amir said, “I was walking with the Messenger of Allah when he said, ‘O Uqbah! Say!’ I replied, ‘What should I say?’ So he was silent and did not respond to me. Then he said, ‘Say!’ I replied, ‘What should I say, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of Al-Falaq.’ (Surah al-Falaq, Qur’an Ch.113) So, I recited it until I reached its end. Then he said, ‘Say!’ I replied, ‘What should I say 0 Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of mankind.’ (Surah an-Nas, Qur’an Ch.114) So, I recited it until I reached its end. Then the Messenger of Allah said, ‘No person beseeches with anything like these, and no person seeks refuge with anything like these.'” (Tafsir ibn Kathir)
- Imam an-Nasa’i recorded in his Sunan an-Nasa’i that Ibn Abis al-Juhani said that the Prophet (SAW) said to him, “O Ibn Abis! Shall I guide you to — or inform you — of the best thing that those who seek protection use for protection?” He replied, “Of course, O Messenger of Allah!” The Prophet (SAW) said, “‘Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of Al-Falaq.’ (Surah al-Falaq, Qur’an Ch.113) and ‘Say: “I seek refuge with the Lord of mankind.’ (Surah an-Nas, Qur’an Ch.114) These two Surahs (are the best protection).” (Tafsir ibn Kathir)
- Narrated ‘Aisha: “Whenever Allah’s Apostle became sick, he would recite Mu’awwidhatayn (Surah al-Falaq and Surah an-Nas) and then blow his breath over his body. When he became seriously ill, I used to recite (these two suras) and rub his hands over his body hoping for its blessings. (Sahih al-Bukhari Vol.6 Bk.6 No.535)
- Narrated ‘Aisha: “Whenever thy Prophet go went to bed every night, he used to cup his hands together and blow over it after reciting Surah al-Ikhlas, Surah al-Falaq and Surah an-Nas, and then rub his hands over whatever parts of his body he was able to rub, starting with his head, face and front of his body. He used to do that three times. (Sahih al-Bukhari Vol.6 Bk.6 No.536)
- All these reports throw powerful light on that underlying factor of Allah’s (SWT) Kindness and Love to which the two surahs draw attention. (Fi Zilal al-Qur’an)
Tafsir of Surah al-Falaq
“Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of the Daybreak“
- As “qul” (say) is a part of the message which was conveyed to the Holy Prophet (SAW) by Revelation for preaching his prophetic message, its first addressee is the Holy Prophet himself but also after him every believer is its addressee, too.
- Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of the Daybreak, from the evil of that which He created, and from the evil of the darkness when it is intense, and from the evil of those who blow on knots, and from the evil of the envious when he envies. (Surah al-Falaq, Qur’an Ch.113 vv.1-5)
- The act of seeking refuge necessarily consists of three parts: (1) the act of seeking refuge itself; (2) the seeker of refuge; and (3) he whose refuge is sought. Seeking refuge implies feeling fear of something and seeking protection of another, or taking cover of it, or clinging to it, or going under its shelter for safety. The seeker after refuge in any case is the person, who feels that he cannot by himself resist and fight the thing that he fears, but stands in need of refuge with another for protection. Then the one whose refuge is sought must necessarily be a person or being about whom the seeker after refuge believes that he or it alone can protect him from the calamity. Now, one kind of refuge is that which is obtained according to natural laws in the physical world from a perceptible material object or person or power, such as taking shelter in a fort for protection against the enemy’s attack, or taking refuge with a man or government, for protection from a powerful tyrant, or taking refuge in the shade of a tree or building for protection from the sun. Contrary to this, the other kind of refuge is that which is sought in a supernatural being from every kind of danger and every kind of material, moral or spiritual harm and injury on the basis of the belief that that being is ruler over the physical world and can protect in supersensory ways the one who seeks refuge. This second kind of refuge is the one that is implied not only in Surah al-Falaq and Surah an-Nas, but wherever in the Qur’an and the Sunnah mention has been made of seeking refuge with Allah. It is a necessary corollary of the doctrine of Tawheed (Absolute and Pure Oneness of God) that this kind of refuge should be sought from no one but Allah (SWT). (Tafheem ul Qur’an)
- The polytheists sought this kind of protection, and seek even today, from other beings than Allah (SWT), e.g. jinni, or gods and goddesses. The materialists turn for this also to material means and resources, for they do not believe in any supernatural power. But the believer only turns to Allah (SWT) and seeks refuge only with Him, against all such calamities and misfortunes to ward off which he feels he has no power. (Tafheem ul Qur’an)
- “And that from among men some people used to seek refuge with some people from among the jinn, but they increased them in wrongdoing…” (Surah al-Jinn, Qur’an 72:16).” As-Suddi said, “A man used to set out with his family (on a journey) until he came to a piece of land where he would settle. Then he would say, ‘I seek refuge with the master (Jinn) of this valley from the jinni, or that myself, my wealth, my child or my animals are harmed in it.”’ Qatadah said, “When they sought refuge with them instead of Allah, the jinni would overcome them with harm because of that.” Ibn Abi Hatim recorded from Ikrimah that he said, “The Jinns used to fear humans just like humans fear them, or even worse. So whenever humans would come to a valley the jinni would flee. So the leader of the people would say, ‘We seek refuge with the leader of the inhabitants of this valley.’ So the Jinns said, ‘We see these people fleeing from us just like we flee from them.’ Thus, the jinni started coming near the humans and afflicting them with insanity and madness.” (Tafsir ibn Kathir)
- As for the attitude and conduct of the God-worshipers, the Qur’an says that they seek Allah’s refuge for protection against the evil of everything that they fear, whether it is material or moral or spiritual. Thus, about Mary it has been said that when God’s angel appeared before her suddenly in human guise (when she did not know that he was an angel), she cried out: “I seek the merciful God’s refuge from you, if you are a pious man.” (Surah Maryum, Qur’an Ch.19 v.18). When the Prophet Noah made an improper petition to Allah, and was rebuked by Allah in response, he inunediately submitted: “My Lord, I seek Your protection lest I should ask of You anything of which I have no knowledge.” (Surah Hud, Qur’an Ch.11 v.47) When the Prophet Moses commanded the Children of Israel to sacrifice a cow, and they said that perhaps he was having a jest with them, he replied: “I seek Allah’s protection from behaving like ignorant people.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Qur’an Ch.2 v.67)
- Meaning of ‘al-Falaq’
- It is said that al-Falaq refers to a well in the Fire; and it is also said that al-Falaq is a valley in the Fire. (Tanwir al-Miqbas)
- Ibn Abi Hatim (RH) recorded that Jabir (RA)said, “’Al-Falaq’ is the morning.” Al-Awfi (RH) reported from Ibn Abbas (RA), “’Al-Falaq’ is the morning.” The same has been reported from many others. (Tafsir ibn Kathir)
- The term ‘al-falaq’ (‘the light of dawn’ or ‘the rising dawn’) is often used tropically to describe ‘the emergence of the truth after (a period of) uncertainty’ (Taj al-Arus: hence, the appellation ‘Sustainer of the Rising Dawn’ implies that God is the source of all cognition of truth, and that one’s ‘seeking refuge’ with Him is synonymous with striving after truth. (The Message of the Qur’an)
- The word ‘falaq’ means ‘to split or cleave’ and here it is used in the sense of ‘break of dawn’. In another verse, a similar quality of Allah is used in Qur’an 16:961 ([He is] the One who causes the dawn to break). Of all the Divine attributes, this particular attribute is used presumably because the darkness of night often causes evils and difficulties, and the daylight removes them. This attribute of Allah (SWT) points to the fact that anyone who seeks protection in Allah, He will remove all afflictions from him. (Ma’ariful Qur’an)
- The phrase used in the original is ‘Rabb il-Falaq.’ ‘Falaq’ actually means to split and to pierce through. Another meaning of ‘falaq’ also is to create, to bring into being, for everything created in the world appears by splitting something. All vegetation sprouts by splitting open the seed and the soil; all animals come out either from the womb of mother or by breaking open the egg, or some other obstruction. All springs gush out by splitting open the rock or soil. The day appears by piercing through the curtain of the night. The drops of rain pierce through the clouds and fall on the earth. In short, everything in the world comes into being as a result of breaking and splitting another thing; so much so that the earth and the heavens also in the beginning were one mass, then they were broken and parted. (Surah al-Anbiya, Qur’an Ch.21 v.30). Thus, according to this meaning the word ‘falaq’ is common to all creations. Now, if the first meaning is adopted, the verse would mean: “I seek refuge with the Lord of the Rising Dawn”, and according to the second meaning, it would mean: “I seek refuge with the Lord of all Creation.” Here the attribute of “Rabb” has been used for Allah instead of His proper Name, for Allah’s attribute of being Rabb, i. e. Master, Sustainer and Providence, is more relevant to seeking and taking of His refuge. Then, if ‘Rabb il-Falaq’ implies ‘Lord of the Rising Dawn,’ seeking His refuge would mean: “I seek refuge with the Lord Who brings out the bright daylight from the darkness of night so that He may likewise bring well-being for me from all kinds of physical and psychical dangers.” If it is taken to mean ‘Rabb il-Khalaq’ the meaning would be: “I seek refuge with the Lord of all Creation, so that He may protect me from the evil/harm of His Creation.” (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
- ‘Falaq’ is “Dawn” or “Daybreak,’ the cleaving of darkness and manifestation of light. This may be understood in various senses: (1) literally, when the darkness of the night is at its worst, rays of light pierce through and produce dawn; (2) when the darkness of ignorance is at its worst, the light of Allah pierces through the soul and gives it enlightenment (Surah an-Nur, Qur’an Ch.24 v.35); (3) non-existence is darkness, and life and activity may be typified by light. The author and source of all true light is Allah, and if we seek Him, we are free from ignorance, superstition, fear, and every kind of evil. (The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an)
“From the evil of that which He created“
- Meaning of ‘sharr’
- Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (RH) expounds that the word sharr (evil) is employed in two different senses: [I] pain, loss, injury, trouble, grief, distress and affliction which affect man directly, and they are by themselves troubles and afflictions; and  the factors that cause such losses, injuries and afflictions. The second type covers disbelief, idolatry and all sins. covers the evil of the entire creation. This verse was sufficient to guard against all mischief and calamities, but three particular forms of evil have been singled out in the following verses to seek protection which often cause calamities and afflictions. (Ma’ariful Qur’an)
- This verse means to seek refuge ‘…from the evil of any from among His creation that possesses evil…’ (Tanwir al-Miqbas)
- “…from the evil of what He has created…” of obligated animate beings and non-obligated ones and from all inanimates, such as poison and so on… (Tafsir al-Jalalayn)
- This means from the evil of all created things. Thabit al-Bunani (RH) and Imam al-Hasan al-Basri (RH) both said, “Hell, Iblis and his progeny, [are] from among that which He (Allah) created.” (Tafsir ibn Kathir)
- ‘…that which He created” can mean ‘from man and jinn.’ This is because Labid bin A’sam al-Yahudi cast into the well of Banu Bayada a spell against the Prophet (SAW), and magic can tend to require jinn. (Tafsir al-Tustari)
- Our trust in Allah is the refuge from every kind of fear and superstition, every kind of danger and evil. Three special kinds of mischief are specified in the next three verses, against which our best guard is our trust in Allah, the Light of the heavens and the earth. They are: (1) physical dangers, typified by darkness, (2) psychical dangers within us, typified by Secret Arts, and (3) psychical dangers from without us, resulting from a perverted will, which seeks to destroy any good that we enjoy. (The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an)
- From the linguistic point of view, “ghasiq” means “substantially pouring out” and “waqb” is the name given to a little hole in a mountain through which water issues forth, “waqab” is the verb denoting such an action. What is probably meant here is the night, with all that accompanies it when it rapidly engulfs the world. That is horrifying in itself; in addition it fills hearts-with the possibility of an unknown, unexpected discomfort caused by a savage beast, an unscrupulous villain, a striking enemy or a hissing poisonous creature, as well as anxieties and worries (which entail depression and uneasiness) and evil thoughts and passions that are liable to revive in the dark during one’s state of solitude at night. This is the evil against which the believer needs the protection of Allah. (Fi Zilal al-Qur’an)
- A few things in this verse deserve consideration:
(1), that the creation of evil has not been attributed to Allah, but the creation of creatures has been attributed to Allah and of evil to the creatures. That is, it has not been said: “I seek refuge from the evils that Allah has created” but that “I seek refuge from the evil of the things He has created.” This shows that Allah has not created any creature for the sake of evil, but all His work is for the sake of good and a special purpose. However, from the qualities that He has created in the creatures to fulfill the purpose of their creation, sometimes evil can appears from some kinds of creatures.
(2), that even if this one sentence was given and no mention was made of seeking Allah’s refuge specifically from the evils of some particular kinds of creatures (as found in the following verses), this one sentence alone would have sufficed to express the intent, for in it Allah’s refuge has been sought from the evil of all creatures. After this general prayer for refuge, the mention of seeking refuge from some particular evils by itself gives this meaning: ‘Though I seek Allah’s refuge from the evil of everything created by Allah, I stand in great need of Allah’s refuge from the particular evils that have been mentioned in the remaining verses of Surah al-Falaq and Surah an-Nas.’
(3), that the most suitable and effective prayer for seeking refuge from the evil of the creatures is that refuge should be sought with their Creator, for He is in any case dominant over His creatures and is aware of their evils. Hence, His refuge is the refuge of the supreme Ruler Whom no power can fight and oppose, and with His refuge we can protect ourselves from every evil of every creature, whether we are aware of it or not. Moreover, this contains the prayer for refuge not only from the evils of the world but also from every evil of the Hereafter.
(4), that the word ‘sharr’ (evil) is used for loss, injury, trouble and affliction as well as for the means which cause losses and injuries and afflictions; for example, hunger, disease, injury in accident or war, being burnt by fire, being stung or bitten by a scorpion or snake, losing a loved one and similar other evils which are evils in the first sense, for they are by themselves troubles and afflictions. Contrary to this, disbelief, polytheism and every kind of sin and wickedness, for instance, are evils in the second sense, for they cause loss and affliction, and although apparently they do not cause any trouble at the moment, some sins actually give pleasure and bring temporary profit. Thus, seeking refuge from evil comprehends both these meanings.
(5), that seeking refuge from evil contains two other meanings also. First, that tnan is praying to his God to protect him from the evil that has already taken place; second, that man is praying to his God to protect him from the evil that has not yet taken place. (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
“From the evil of the darkness when it is intense“
- That is, [from] night when it becomes dark and the moon when it is absent… (Tafsir al-Jalalayn)
- That is to say, when night falls, or it has been said that it means when the darkness intensifies. It has also been said [that it means]: when night first encroaches on [lit. ‘penetrates’ dakhala] the day, [that is], when night is just beginning, devils among the jinn are released and anyone who is afflicted in that hour will not recover. At-Tustari (RH) also said regarding this verse: “Its inner meaning refers to remembrance [dhikr and taqwa], when regard for the self [the ego] enters it, thereby screening dhikr from sincerity [ikhlas] towards God by remembrance [purely] of Him.” (Tafsir at-Tustari)
- This (al-Ghasiq) means ‘the star.’ Ibn Zayd (RA) said, “The Arabs used to say, ‘Al-Ghasiq is the declination (of the position) of the heavenly body known as Pleiades. The number of those who were ill and stricken with plague would increase whenever it would decline, and their number would lessen whenever it rose.'” (Tafsir ibn Kathir)
- The darkness of the night, physical darkness, is a good type of physical dangers and difficulties. Many people are afraid of physical darkness, and all are afraid of physical injuries, accidents, and calamities. We should not fear, but having taken reason able precautions, trust in Allah. (The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an)
- The word ‘ghasiq’ is derived from ‘ghasaq’ (to become dark or intensely dark). Thus ibn ‘Abbas (RA and others say that the word ‘ghasiq’ stands for ‘night’. The verb ‘waqaba’ is derived from ‘wuqub’ which means for utter darkness ‘to overspread completely and intensely.’ The verse basically means: ‘I seek refuge in Allah from the night when its darkness has completely and intensely overspread.’ The word ‘night’ has been specifically mentioned because this is the time when jinni, shayateen, and dangerous animals appear. Thieves and robbers emerge at this time to carry out their crimes of theft and other acts of wickedness. The “enemies” attack at this time. Black magic has the worst effect when it is intensely dark at night. As soon as the dawn approaches, the effects of all these things disappear and fade away. [Ibn Qayyim (RH)] (Ma’ariful Qur’an)
- Therefore, command was given to seek Allah’s refuge from the evils and calamities which descend at night. Here, the subtle relation that exists between seeking refuge from the evil of the dark night with the Lord of Daybreak cannot remain hidden from anybody having insight and understanding. (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
- A difficulty is confronted in the explanation of this verse due to several authentic traditions A’ishah (RA) has reported: “Once during a moon-lit night, the Holy Prophet (SAW) look hold of my hand and pointing to the moon said: `Seek Allah’s refuge, for this is al ghasiq idha wagab’. (Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Nasa’i, lbn Jarir, Ibn al-Mundhir, Hakim, Ibn Marduyah). To explain this some scholars said that ‘idha wagab’ here means ‘idha khasaf,’ i. e. when the moon is eclipsed. But in no tradition has it been mentioned that when the Holy Prophet pointed to the moon, it was in eclipse. Also, in the Arabic lexicon ‘idha wagab’ cannot mean ‘idha khalaf.’ In our opinion the correct explanation of this hadith is that since the moon rises in the night (in the daytime it does not shine even if it is there in the sky), what the Holy Prophet meant was this: ‘Seek God’s refuge from the night, the time when it (the moon) appears, for the light of the moon is not as helpful for the one who resists as it is for the one who attacks, and not as helpful for the victim of the crime as it is for the culprit.’ On this very basis the Holy Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said: “When the sun has set, devils scatter on every side. Therefore, gather your children together in the house and keep your animals tied down until the darkness of night disappears.” (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
“And from the evil of those [women] who blow on knots“
- Mujahid (RH), Ikrimah (RA), al-Hasan (RH), Qatadah (RA) others all said, “This means the witches.” Mujahid (RA) said, “When they perform their spells and blow into the knots.” (Tafsir ibn Kathir)
- That is, the sorceresses who blow on knots. (Tafsir at-Tustari)
- [This verse means] and from the evil of the women-blowers, sorceresses who blow, on knots, which they knot into strings, blowing into them [certain] words, but without spittle; however, al-Zamakhshari (RH) says, ‘with this [spittle]’ — [sorceresses] such as the daughters of the said Labid — (Tafsir al-Jalalayn)
- The word ‘naffithat’ is derived from ‘nafth’ which means ‘to blow’. The word ‘uqad’ is the plural of ‘uqdah’ which means ‘a knot’. The magicians [of that time] usually tie knots on a string or piece of thread, recite magical incantations or formulae and blow on them. The phrase ‘…the women who blow on the knots’ refers to female magicians. It is possible that the pre-adjectival noun of the adjective ‘naffithat’ be ‘nufis’ [souls]. Thus this verse may be translated as ‘the evil souls who blow on knots’. This translation would include men and women who carry out this evil practice. But most probably its pre-adjectival noun is ‘womenfolk’. Women have been specifically mentioned perhaps because generally womenfolk have the natural disposition to carry out the evil practice of witchcraft; or probably because Labid ibn Asam, whose black magic was a cause of revelation of this surah, got this most heinous act done by his daughters. Hence, the act of witchcraft is ascribed to them. (Ma’ariful Qur’an)
- Abu Muslim al-Isfahani (RH) and al-Zamakhshari (RH) have given another meaning also of ‘naffathati fil-uqad,’ which is that it implies the deceitfulness of women and their influencing men’s resolutions, views and ideas, and that this has been compared to a magic spell, for in the love of women man starts behaving as if he was under a spell. Though this explanation is interesting, it runs counter to the commentary given by the earliest scholars; and it also does not correspond to the conditions in which the Mu’awwidhatayn were sent down as we have shown earlier. (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
- The reason why protection is sought against magicians is firstly that a cause of revelation of these two surahs was the incident of magic on the Messenger (SAW). Secondly, people are normally unaware of the act of magicians, and they do not pay attention to getting themselves exorcised. They are under the impression that it is some kind of medical ailment and try to get themselves medically cured. In the meantime the magical effect continues to grow worse. (Ma’ariful Qur’an)
- About magic, one should know that since in practicing magic help is sought of the shayateen and evil spirits or even stars to influence the other person evilly, it has been called kufr (disbelief). (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
“And from the evil of the envious when he envies.“
- This means the Jews who envied the Prophet (SAW) to the point that they practiced sorcery against him.Ibn Abbas (RA) said: In this verse [is a reference to] the [lower] self] of a human being. (Tafsir at-Tustari)
- This verse means [when] he manifests his envy and behaves in accordance with it — such as the mentioned Labid from among the Jews who were envious of the Prophet (SAW). (Tafsir al-Jalalayn)
- This refers to Labid ibn al-Asam, the Jew, who was envious of the Prophet (SAW) and used black magic to separate him from A’ishah (RA). (Tanwir al-Miqbas)
- Envy is the evil, be grudging reaction one feels towards another who has received some favours from Allah. It is also accompanied by a very strong desire for the annihilation of such favours. Some harm to the envied may result from such a baseless grudge. Now, this may either be the outcome of some direct physical action of the envier or may result from the suppressed feelings alone.We should try not to feel uneasy on learning that there is a countless number of inexplicable mysteries in life. There are several phenomena for which no account has been offered up till now. Telepathy and hypnosis are examples of such phenomena.
Very little is known about the mysteries of envy and the little that is known has often been uncovered by chance and coincidence. In any case, there is in envy an evil from which the refuge and protection of Allah must be sought. For He, the Most Generous, Most Merciful and the One who knows all has directed His Messenger and his followers to seek His refuge from this evil. It is unanimously agreed by the Islamic schools of thought that Allah will always protect His servants from such evils, should they seek His protection as He has directed them to do.
- People are asked specifically to seek protection from ‘hasid’ (jealous one) and ‘hasad’ (jealousy). This has been specified for the same reasons as given above, because black magic was worked on the Prophet (SAW) account of jealousy. The Jews and the hypocrites could not bear to see the rapid progress and expansion of Islam. They could not defeat him in outer combat; therefore they tried to satisfy their jealousy by performing witchcraft on him. There were uncountable number of green-eyed monsters against the Prophet (SAW). That is a major reason why protection was sought against them. Jealousy of the jealous one gives him restless days and sleepless nights. He is at all times after causing loss to his envied person. Therefore, the harm he wishes to inflict is severe. (Ma’ariful Qur’an)
- ‘Hasad’ means that a person should feel unhappy at the better fortune, superiority or good quality that Allah has granted to another, and should wish that it should be taken away from the other person and given to him, or at least the other one should be deprived of it. However, ‘hasad’ does not mean that a person should wish that he too should be blessed with the bounty that the other one has been blessed with. Here, Allah’s refuge has been sought from the evil of the jealous one when he feels jealous, and takes a practical step with word or deed to satisfy his heart. For until he takes a practical step, his being unhappy may by itself be bad but it is not an evil for the other person so that he may seek refuge from it. When such an evil appears from a jealous person the best thing would be to seek Allah’s refuge from it. Besides this, there are a few other things also which are helpful for obtaining immunity from the evil of the jealous person. First, that one should have trust in Allah and faith that unless Allah so wills no one can harm him in any way. Second, that one should have patience over what the jealous person says and does and should not start behaving impatiently so as to be degraded morally to the level of the jealous person. Third, that one should in any case maintain dignity and practice piety even if the jealous person behaves frivolously, being fearless of God and shameless of the people. Fourth, that one should free one’s mind of every thought about the jealous person and should disregard him altogether, for making him a subject of one’s thought is a prelude to being influenced by him. Fifth, that one should do the jealous person a good turn as and when one can, not to speak of treating him evilly, no matter whether this good behaviour mitigates his jealousy or not. Sixth, that one should understand rightly and remain steadfast to the doctrine of Tawhid, for the heart which enshrines Tawhid cannot be affected by the fear of anything except the fear of Allah. (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
- The Arabic word ‘hasad’ is invariably used in the bad sense. It generally means to desire the deprivation of the other man rather than one’s own acquisition of any bliss that he may possess. Simply put, ‘hasad’ means that a person should feel unhappy at the better fortune and good quality that Allah has granted to another, and wishes that it should be taken away from the other person and given to him, or at least the other should be deprived of it. Hasad in this sense is totally forbidden and a major sin. This is the first sin that was committed in Jannah and also the first one committed on Earth. Iblis was jealous of Adam (AS) in Jannah and the latter’s son Qabil was jealous of his brother Habil on earth. [Qurtubi]’Ghibtah,’ on the other hand, means to desire for oneself the same blessing as the other man has, without any idea of the latter’s losing it. It is to seek the blessings of God for oneself, without any ill-feeling to those who have already been blessed. This is not only permissible but also desirable. (Ma’ariful Qur’an)
Concluding Comments of Tafsir Surah al-Falaq
- The mention of these three [elements of evil] which were [already] summed by [the statement] ‘of what He has created,’ is because of the severity of their evil. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn)
- Apart from the general protection that is sought in this surah, protection is sought from three specific evils. These are mentioned separately in verses 3, 4 and 5. Furthermore, in the first and the third specific evils particular restrictions are placed. The first specific evil, ‘gasiq’ [darkness], is restricted by the phrase ‘when it penetrates.’ The third specific evil ‘hasid’ is restricted by the phrase ‘when he envies.’ The practice of witchcraft is left unrestricted because its harmful effect is general. The harmful effect of darkness is felt when there is total absence of light, plunging the night in intense and utter darkness. Likewise, jealousy may not cause harm to its object until the jealous one takes a practical step with word or deed to satisfy his heart. For until he takes a practical step, his being unhappy may be harmful to himself, but it is not harmful for the other person so that he may seek refuge from it. Hence, restrictions are placed on the first and the third specific evils. (Ma’ariful Qur’an)
Tafsir of Surah an-Nas
“Say: I seek refuge with the Lord and Cherisher of Mankind“
- It is also said this means: ‘I seek protection (in the Lord of mankind) in the Lord of the jinn and humankind.’ (Tanwir al-Miqbas)
- They [mankind] have been singled out for mention here in order to honor them, and a preface to seeking refuge from the evil of the one who whispers in their hearts. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn)
- The previous surah pointed to the necessity of seeking Allah’s protection against external factors which might affect an individual. Here the need of protection from internal factors, mankind being viewed as a whole, is pointed out. For this reason the threefold relation in which man stands to Allah is mentioned in the first 3 verses. (The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an)
- The particular mention of mankind here brings man closer to Allah’s protection and care. (Fi Zilal al-Qur’an)
- The attributive name of Allah ‘rabb’ stands for ‘one who nurtures’, and implies that the Supreme Nurturer takes care of everything under all circumstances. In the present verse, He is referred to as ‘the Lord of Mankind’, while in the previous surah He was referred to as ‘the Lord of the Daybreak’, because in the foregoing surah the purpose was to seek protection against the outer bodily hardships and privations of life, and they are not confined to human beings. Animals also suffer bodily hardships and difficulties, but not the Satanic instigations which are restricted to man. [Mazhari from Baidawi] (Ma’ariful Qur’an)
Ayah/Verse 2 & 3
(2) “The King (or Ruler) of Mankind“; (3) “The God (or Judge) of Mankind“
- The King and Creator of Jinni and Humankind… (Tanwir al-Miqbas)
- Both ‘Malik in-Nas’ (verse 2) and ‘Ilah in-Nas’ (verse 3) are either substitutions or adjectival qualifications or explicative supplements; the repetition of the annexed word ‘an-nas’ (mankind) is meant as an additional explication. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn)
- These first 3 verses mention 3 attributes from the Attributes of the Lord. They are Lordship, Sovereignty and Divinity. Thus, He is the Lord of everything, the King of everything and the God of everything. All things are created by Him, owned by Him, and subservient to Him. Therefore, He commands whoever is seeking protection to seek refuge with the One Who has these attributes from the evil of the whisperer who withdraws. This (the whisperer) is the devil that is assigned to man. For verily, there is not any of the Children of Adam except that he has a companion that beautifies wicked deeds for him. This devil will go to any lengths to confuse and confound him. The only person who is safe is He Whom Allah protects. (Tafsir ibn Kathir)
- The reason for adding these two attributes is that the word ‘rabb,’ attributed to a particular thing, could refer to someone other than Allah also, as for instance ‘rabb-ud-dar’ [land-lord] ‘rabb-ul-mal’ [owner of wealth]. But not every master or owner is a king. That is why the attributive name ‘malik’ [King] has been added to indicate that He is not only the ‘Lord of mankind’ but also the ‘King of mankind’. Furthermore, not every king is worthy of worship. Thus the third attributive name ilah [deity]has been added to ‘nas’ [people]. The Divine wisdom in combining all three Divine attributes is that each attribute motivates protection. Every master has servants and takes care of them. Likewise, every king has subjects and looks after them. The fact that the worshiped God protects His worshiper is even more obvious. Only Allah, and no other being, is characterized by these three attributes simultaneously. Therefore, seeking Allah’s protection by invoking these attributes is the greatest protection, and the invocation is readily acceptable. Since the first sentence contains the word nas (people), the second and the third verses should apparently refer to them with the pronouns by saying, ‘malikihim’ [their king] rather than repeating the word ‘nas'(people). However, this is an occasion of supplication and praise, and as such, repetition needs to be employed by deliberate design to add force and clarity to the sublime emotion by creating natural rhyme, rhythm and melodic sequence. (Ma’ariful Qur’an)
- Some scholars have explained the repitition of the word ‘nas’ differently. They say that the word ‘nas’ occurs five times in this surah. In its first occurrence, it refers to the children. The word ‘rabb’ that refers to nurturer-ship of Allah is a hint to this, because children need nurturing the most. Its second occurrence refers to youth, and the hint in the context is the word malik which refers to kingship of Allah. It bears political connotation and is appropriate to the youth. Its third occurrence refers to old age. Old people cut themselves off from the world and look up to Allah alone as the real support of life, and render Him alone true and unconditional obedience and to make Him alone the real object of his love and adoration. The context for this is ‘ilah,’ [God] which points to the Divine worship. Its fourth occurrence refers to the righteous servants of Allah. The contextual hint for this is the word waswasah [evil whisperings] because the devil is the enemy of the righteous servants of Allah. His work is to cast evil prompting into the hearts of such people. Its fifth occurrence refers to mischief-makers because protection is sought from their mischief. (Ma’ariful Qur’an)
“From the evil of the whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after his whisper)“
- This means Shaytan, who runs away and hides himself whenever Allah is mentioned. (Tanwir al-Miqbas)
- This is Shaytan — he is referred to by the name of the action [waswasa] on account of his repeatedly engaging in it — who slinks [away] and recoils from the heart whenever God is mentioned. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn)
- Evil insinuates itself in all sorts of insidious ways from within so as to sap man’s will, which was given to man by Allah. This power of evil may be Satan or his host of evil ones, or evil men or the evil inclinations within man’s own will: for there are “evil ones among men and Jinns, inspiring each other with flowery discourses by way of deception” (Surah al-An’am, Qur’an Ch.6 v.112). They secretly whisper evil and then withdraw, to make their net the more subtle and alluring. (The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an)
- The whisperer is the devil who is squatting (perched) upon the heart of the Son of Adam. So when man becomes absentminded and heedless, Shaytan whispers. Then, when man remembers Allah, Shaytan withdraws. Mujahid (RH) and Qatadah (RA) also said this.Mu’tamir bin Sulayman (RH) reported that his father said, “It has been mentioned to me that Shaytan is al-Waswas. He blows into the heart of the Son of Adam when he is sad and when he is happy. But when he (man) remembers Allah, Shaytan withdraws.” (Tafsir ibn Kathir)
- We do not know how the jinni perform this whispering, but we certainly find its repercussions in the behaviour of individuals as well as in human life generally. We know for sure that the battle between Adam (AS), as thus mankind, and Iblis is a very old one. War between the two was declared by Shaytan out of the evil inherent in him, his conceit and his envy and resentment of man. He was given God’s permission to carry out this battle for some purpose which Allah (SWT) alone comprehends, but man has not been left alone, dispossessed of the necessary means of protection. He has been provided with power of faith or “iman”, that is, conscious belief in and knowledge of Allah and His attributes through conviction and sincere devotion.Meditation and seeking refuge in Allah are among the most effective weapons. When man neglects these means of security and defense, he indeed has only himself to blame. As for humans we know a great deal of their curious ways of whispering and prompting and some types like the following are more devilish than the Devil:
1. a bad companion who injects evil into his comrade’s heart and mind while he is unaware, as he is thought to be trustworthy,
2. a ruler’s counselor or advisor who “whispers” to him and turns him into a destructive tyrant,
3. an unscrupulous slanderer who fabricates and decorates tales and makes them sound factual and convincing
4. a hustler of immoral business and dealings who tries to get through to people by exploiting their sensual, unhealthy desires,
5. a hundred other “whisperers” who lay various traps inconspicuously utilizing people’s different weak points which they detect and look for.
They are more devilish than even the jinni themselves. Faced with evil in this guise, man is not capable of ensuring his own safety. Allah therefore points out to him in this surah the means he can employ in this fierce battle.
And there is a very direct significance in identifying the “prompter” as “slinking”. For while this description indicates the secretiveness of this whisperer on the one hand, it is, on the other hand, an illusion to its intrinsic feebleness whenever it is discovered or resisted. It subsides and meekly withdraws when met in the open.
Nevertheless, the battle is everlasting since this “prompter” is always watchful for the right moment (when one neglects the remembrance of Allah) to implant its evils. For the believer to be conscious of Allah once in a while is not sufficient, as the war is continuous till the end of time; this the Qur’an vividly states in a lucid picture:
“And when We (Allah) said to the angels, ‘Fall down prostrate before Adam ‘, they fell prostrate except Iblis (Satan) who said, ‘Shall I bow down before him whom You have created of clay? Do you see this creature whom You have honored above me? If You give me grace until the Day of Resurrection, I will certainly destroy his offspring, save but a few’. ‘Be gone!’ said He. ‘But you and whoever of them follows you will have Hell for reward. An ample reward it shall be. Rouse with your voice whomever you are able. Muster against them your horse men and your fool men. Be their partner in their wealth and in their off spring. Make them promises. Whatever Satan promises them is only for deceit. But over My true servants you shall have no power.’ Your Lord is their all Sufficient Guardian.” (Surah al-Isra’, Qur’an Ch.17 vv.61-5)
This concept of the battle and the source of evil in it, whether provoked by Satan himself or by his human agent, fully inspires man to feel that he is not helpless in it; since his Lord, Sovereign and Deity controls all creations and events. Though He has permitted Shaytan to attack, He has supreme power over him and He has also provided guidance for man. Allah leaves to Satan only those who neglect Him their Lord, Sovereign and Deity, but those who live in consciousness of Him are safe and protected against his intimidation’s and incitements. Thus, righteousness is supported by the only true power of the Lord, Sovereign and Deity, whereas evil is backed by a slinking prompter, a sneaky whisperer, cowardly in the open field, quick to retreat in war, and easily defeated by one’s seeking refuge with Allah.
This is the most perfect conception of the battle between good and evil. It is a conception which protects the being against defeat and provides him with strength confidence and contentment. (Fi Zilal al-Qur’an)
- The word ‘waswas’ in ‘waswas-il-khannas’ means ‘the one who whispers over and over again,’ and ‘waswasa’ means ‘to whisper into someone’s heart an evil suggestion over and over again in such a way or ways that the one who is being inspired may not feel that the whisperer is whispering an evil suggestion into his heart.’ ‘Waswasah’ by itself suggests repetition just as ‘zalzalah’ contains the meaning of repetitive movement. Since man is not tempted by just one attempt but effort has to be made over and over again to seduce and tempt him, such all attempt is called ‘waswasah’ and the tempter ‘waswas.’As for the word ‘khannas,’ it is derived from ‘khunus,’ which means to hide after appearing and to retreat after coming into view. Since ‘khannas’ is the intensive form, it would imply the one who behaves thus very frequently. Now, obviously the whisperer has to approach man for whispering again and again, and besides, when he is also described as ‘khannas,’ the combination of the two words by itself gives the meaning that after whispering once he retreats and then again returns over and over again to repeat the act of whispering. In other words, when once he fails in his attempt to whisper evil, he withdraws, then he again returns to make the second and the third and the next attempt over and over again. (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
- After understanding the meaning of ‘waswas-il-khannas,’ let us consider what is meant by seeking refuge from its evil. Its one meaning is that the seeker after refuge himself seeks God’s refuge from its evil, i.e. from the evil lest it should whisper some evil suggestion into his own heart. The second meaning is that the caller to Truth seeks God’s refuge from the evil of the one who whispers evil suggestions into the hearts of the people against himself. It is not in his own power to approach all the people in whose hearts evil suggestions are being whispered against himself individually and remove the misunderstandings of every person. It is also not right and proper for him that he should give up his mission of inviting others to Allah and should devote all his time and energy to removing the misunderstanding created by the whisperer and to answering their accusations. It is also below his dignity that he should stoop to the level of his opponents. Therefore, Allah has instructed the caller to Truth to seek only His refuge from the evil of the wicked people, and then to attend single-mindedly to his work of invitation and mission. For it is not for him to deal with them but for Allah, who is Sustainer of men, King of men, God of men.Here, one should also understand that an evil suggestion is the starting , point of evil act. When it affects a careless or heedless person, it creates in him a desire for evil. Then, further whisperings change the evil desire into an evil intention and evil purpose. When the evil suggestion grows in intensity, the intention becomes a resolution, which then culminates in the evil act. Therefore, the meaning of seeking God’s refuge from the evil of the whisperer is that Allah should nip the evil in the bud.If seen from another aspect, the order of the evil of the whisperers seems to be this: first they incite one to open unbelief, polytheism, or rebellion against Allah and His Messenger, and enmity of the righteous (godly) people. If they fail in this and a person dces enter Allah’s religion, they misguide him to some innovation. If they fail in this too, they tempt him to sin. If they do not succeed even in this, they inspire the tnan with the suggestion that there is no haran in indulging in minor sins, so that if he starts committing these freely, he is over burdened with sin. If one escapes from this too, in the last resort they try that one should keep the true religion confined to oneself, and should do nothing to make it prevail, but if a person defeats all these plans, the whole party of the devils froth among men and jinn makes a common front against him incites and stirs up the people and makes them shower him with invective and accusation and slander, and defames him as widely as it can. Then, Satan comes to the believer and excites hisn to anger, saying: “It is cowardly of you to have borne all this insult: arise and clash with your opponents.” This is the last and final device with Satan by which he tries to thwart the struggle of the caller to Truth and entangle him in difficulties and obstructions. If he succeeds in escaping from this too, Satan becomes powerless before him.
About this same thing it has been said in the Qur’an: “If Satan ever excites you to anger, seek refuge with Allah.” (Surah al-A’raf, Qur’an Ch.7 v. 200); “Say: Lord, I seek refuge with You from the promptings of shayateen.” (Surah al-Mu’minun, Qur’an Ch.23 v.97); “The fact is that if ever an evil suggestion from Satan so much as touches those, who are God-fearing people, they immediately get alerted and clearly see the right course they should adopt.” (Surah al-A’raf, Qur’an Ch.7 v.201). And on this very basis about the people who escape from this last attack of Satan Allah says: “None can attain to this rank except those who are men of great good fortune.” (Surah Fussilat, Qur’an Ch.41 v. 35).
In this connection, another thing also should be kept in mind, and it is this: an evil suggestion is not whispered into the heart of man only from outside by the shayateen from among men and jinn, but also by the self of man from within. His own wrong theories misguide his intellect, his own unlawful motives and desires lead his power of discrimination, will and power of judgement astray, and it is not only the shayateen from outside but within tnan his satan of the self also beguiles him. This same thing has been expressed in the Qur’an, thus: “and We know the evil suggestions arising from his self.” (Surah Qaf, Qur’an Ch.50 v.16). On this very basis, the Holy Prophet (SAW) in his well-known sermon said: “We seek Allah’s refuge from the evils of our self.” (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
- Sahl al-Tustari (RH) was asked, “What is ‘a whispering’ (waswasa)?” He replied: “Everything besides God is a whispering. Truly, when the heart of a person is with God, it speaks from God, but if it is with other than Him, it speaks from other than Him. Then he said: “Whoever desires this world will not be saved from whispering. The position of whispering in relation to the servant is that of the evil-inciting self (al-nafs al-ammara bi’l-su’) when it mentions [a suggestion] to the natural disposition (tab). The whispering of the Enemy (aduww) within the breasts is as in His words, ‘who whispers in the breasts of people -*, whether they be of jinn or mankind [Surah an-Nas, Qur’an Ch.114 vv.5-6], meaning within the breasts of jinn and men alike. The whispering of the lower self is within the heart, for God, has said: ‘We know what his soul whispers to him. We are closer to him than his jugular vein.’ [Surah Qaf, Qur’an Ch.50 v.16]Knowledge (ma’rifa) of the lower self (nafs) is more elusive [lit. hidden (akhfi)] than knowledge of the Enemy (aduww), while knowledge of the Enemy is more apparent (ajla) than knowledge of the world. The way to capture the enemy is through knowing him, for when you know him you have captured him, but if you do not know that he is the enemy then he has captured you.The similitude of the servant, the Enemy and the world is that of the hunter, the bird and the grain. The hunter is Satan (Iblis), the bird is the servant and the grain is this world. There is not a [single] gaze (nazra) that is not coveted by Satan. If you have been fasting [continuously] and wish to stop fasting he will say to you, ‘What will the people say? You, who are known for fasting, have given up fasting.’ If you respond with, ‘What do I care about people?’ he will say to you, ‘You have spoken rightly, so stop fasting for they will put the matter of the cessation of your fast down to good judgment and sincerity.’ Likewise, if you are known for seclusion and you leave your seclusion, he will say, ‘What will people say? You have left your seclusion. If you respond by saying, ‘What do I care about people?’ He will say, ‘You have spoken rightly, so give up your seclusion, for they will put the cessation of your seclusion down to good judgment and sincerity.’ In this way in all your affairs he turns you back to people, to the point where it is as if he commands you to humility (tawaḍu) for the sake of attaining fame with people.
It was related that there was a man among the devout worshipers (ubbad) who never used to get angry, so Satan came to him and said, ‘If you get angry and then show patience your reward will be greater. The devout worshiper understood him, and asked, ‘How does anger come about?’ He said, ‘I will bring you something and will say to you “Whose is this?” to which you should say, “It’s mine.” To which I will say, “No it’s not, it’s mine.” ‘ So, he brought him something and the devout worshiper said: ‘It’s mine!’ to which Satan said: ‘No it’s not, it’s mine!’ But the worshipper said, ‘If it’s yours, then take it away.’ And he did not get angry. Thus did Satan return disappointed and aggrieved. He wished to engage his heart so he could get what he wanted from him, but he [the worshiper] found him out and warded off his deception.Then Sahl at-Tustari said: You must have sincerity (ikhlaṣ) to keep you safe from whispering. Beware of devising and self-management (tadbir) for it is a sickness of the lower self. Incumbent on you is emulation (iqtida’), for emulation is the basis of [good] works. Beware of conceit (ujb) for even before accomplishing its most elementary stage, you will have entered Hell. Incumbent on you are satisfaction (qunu’) and contentment (riḍa), for [your] livelihood is in these two. Beware not to conspire against others, apart from yourself, for this will cause you to forget yourself. Incumbent upon you is silence, for you know the [beneficial] states that are within it. Incumbent upon you is the abandonment of lusts, so that you may thereby cut yourself off from the world. Incumbent upon you is the night vigil, so that your self dies to the inclination of its natural disposition (maylat al-tab’), and your heart comes to life.
When you perform the prayer, do it as if you were bidding farewell. Fear God and He will give you security. Aspire towards Him and He will give you hope. Put your trust in Him and He will suffice you. Incumbent upon you is seclusion (khalwa), that all flaws (afat) may be removed [lit. severed] from you. Indeed, Ibn Abbās (RA) said, ‘If it wasn’t for fear of whisperings, I would move to a country where I have no friends. Does anything corrupt man besides man?’
Then Sahl (RH) said: The mingling of a friend of God (awliya) with people is a disgrace (dhull), whereas his solitude (tafarrud) is a source of honour (‘izz). I have never seen friends of God who were not solitary beings (munfaridun). (Tafsir at-Tustari)
“(The same) who whispers into the hearts of Mankind“
- This happens whenever they (mankind) neglect to remember God. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn)
- …and when Allah is not mentioned, he whispers in the hearts of created beings… (Tanwir al-Miqbas)
- Allah has built two houses in the heart of man, in one of which an angel resides and in the other the shaytan. The angel urges him to do good works and the shaytan induces him to do evil works. When man remembers Allah, the shaytan withdraws. And when he stops remembering Allah, the shaytan perches on the heart of man and pecks with his beak to whisper into it to do evil things.” [Transmitted by Abu Ya’la on the authority of Anas (RA)as quoted by Mazhari] (Ma’ariful Qur’an)
“From among the jinni and the men.“
- This last clause amplifies the description of the sources from which the whisper of evil may emanate: they may be men whom you may see or invisible spirits of evil working within. So long as we put ourselves in Allah’s protection, and trust in Allah, evil cannot really touch us in our essential and inner life. (The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an)
- This is an explination for the whispering Satan being of the jinn and [also] of the humans, similar to God’s saying, ‘the devils of humans and jinn’ [Surah al-An’am, Qur’an Ch.6 v.112]; or, mina’l-jinnati, ‘of the jinn’, is an explanation for him [Satan], ‘wan-nas,’ ‘and [of] mankind’ being a supplement to al-waswās, ‘the whisperer.’ Both [explanations] apply to the evil of the mentioned Labid and his daughters; the objection to the first opinion is that humans do not ‘whisper’ in the hearts of [other] humans, but that it is the jinn who whisper in their hearts: I would respond by saying that human beings also ‘whisper’ in a manner appropriate to them, [beginning] externally, whereafter their whispers reach the heart and establish themselves in it in the way in which this [customarily] happens. But God knows best… (Tafsir al-Jalalayn)
- According to some scholars, these words mean that the whisperer whispers evil into the hearts of two kinds of people: the jinn and the men. If this meaning is admitted, the word ‘nas’ would apply to both jinn and men. They say that this can be so, for when the word ‘rijali’ (men) in the Qur’an has been used for the jinn, as in Surah al-Jinn, Qur’an Ch.72 v.6, and when ‘nafar’ can be used for the group of jinn, as in Surah a1-Ahqaf, Qur’an Ch.46 v.29, men and jinn both can also be included metaphorically in the word ‘nas.’ But this view is wrong because the words ‘nas,’ ‘ins’ and ‘insan’ are even lexically contrary in meaning to the word ‘jinn.’ The actual meaning of ‘jinn’ is ‘hidden creation’ and a jinn is called a jinn because he is hidden from man’s eye. On the contrary, the words ‘nas’ and ‘ins’ are spoken for insan (man) only on the basis that he is manifest and visible and perceptible. In Surah al-Qasas, Qur’an Ch.28 v.29, the word ‘anasa’ has been used in the meaning of ‘ra a,’ i.e. “the Prophet Moses saw a fire in the direction of Tur.” In Surah an-Nisa’, Qur’an Ch.4 v.6, the word ‘anastum’ has been used in the meaning of ‘ahsastum’ or ‘ra aytum’ (i.e. if you perceive or see that the orphans have become capable). Therefore, ‘nas’ cannot apply to jinni lexically, and the correct meaning of the verse is: “from the evil of the whisperer who whispers evil into the hearts of men, whether he be from among the jinn or from the men themselves.” In other words, whispering of evil is done by devils from among jinn as well as by devils from among men and the prayer in this surah has been taught to seek refuge from the evil of both. This meaning is supported by the Qur’an as well as by the ahadith. See Surah al-An’am, Qur’an Ch.6 v.112. And in the ahadith, Imam Ahmad (RH), Imam Nasa’i (RH), and Ibn Hibban (RH) have related on the authority of Abu Dharr (RH) a tradition, saying: “I sat before the Holy Prophet (SAW), who was in the mashid. He said: ‘Abu Dharr, have you performed the Prayer?’ I replied in the negative. He said: ‘Arise and perform the Prayer.’ So, I performed the Prayer. The Holy Prophet said: ‘O Abu Dharr, seek Allah’s refuge from the shayateen of men and the shayateen of jinn.’ I asked: ‘Are there shayateen among men also, O Messenger of Allah?!’ He replied: ‘Yes.'” (Tafheem ul-Qur’an)
- Shaikh Izzuddh ibn Abdus-Salam states, in his monograph ‘al-Fawa’id fi Mushkilat-il-Qur’an,’ that the ‘whisperer from mankind’ refers to the whispering of one’s own nafs (base faculties of the man himself). Just as the Shaytan casts evil thoughts into man’s mind, likewise the base self of man urges him to do evil works. (Ma’ariful Qur’an)
- Just as it is necessary for man to avoid evil deeds, it is essential for Muslims to avoid occasions that may cause others to have ill thoughts about them. Should there arise an occasion which may give rise to such bad thoughts, they should immediately clarify the situation, and put an end to it then and there. Satanic pranks are highly dangerous. It is not easy to avoid them unless we seek refuge with Allah. (Ma’ariful Qur’an)
Concluding Comments of Tafsir Surah an-Nas
- There are two types of evil thoughts:  voluntary; and  involuntary. Here we are warned against voluntary thoughts that proceed from the will or from one’s own free choice. The involuntary thoughts are thoughts that occur without one’s will or free choice. Such thoughts come to mind involuntarily and pass away. They are not harmful, nor are they sinful as long as they do not act upon them or speak about them. (Ma’ariful Qur’an)
- In the present surah, rabb [Lord], malik [King] and ilah [God],three Divine attributes have been invoked, while the evil from which protection is sought is only one, that is, the whispering. Conversely, in the previous surah, only one attribute of Allah is mentioned, that is, rabb-il-falaq [Lord of the Daybreak], but the evils from which protection is sought are many which are mentioned in three verses. This goes to show that the mischief of the Shaytan is the worst type of evil. The hardships and calamities that befall man in this world, affect his body and mundane affairs, unlike the Satanic pranks which affect man’s mundane affairs as well his affairs of the Hereafter. The Shaytan is always after destroying man’s after-life, and that is the most dangerous situation. If man suffers from physical injury or harm, he can find cure or remedy for it; but because the Shaytan lurks or lies hidden in ambush in every nook and corner of man’s life to assault him unnoticed and pull him downwards, away from the Divine, it is not possible to resist him except with the protection granted by Allah. (Therefore, protection from him is sought by invoking three attributes of Allah.) (Ma’ariful Qur’an)
Concluding Comments of Tafsir al-Mu’awwidhatayn
- Allah prefaced the Qur’an with Surah al-Fatihah which began in His name. It further described His predominant attributes as being Rabb or Maintainer of the universe; as being the All-Merciful and Very Merciful and the Sole Judge of rights and wrongs. It defined religion as being His worship alone and imploring Him alone for help – all else being powerless in comparison. It further taught man to pray for true guidance so that he is able to find the right path, and be established in it. He is taught to pray to be saved from being among those who are condemned and those who have lost the right path after having received it. These factors serve the purpose of man’s success and prosperity in this world and in the next world, that is the Hereafter. However, in the process of achieving this purpose man is obstructed by the accursed Shaytan. He lays various traps inconspicuously utilizing people’s different weak points, their sensual and unhealthy desires which he detects and exploits. The Satanic traps or snares need to be shattered or broken to pieces. Seeking refuge in Allah is the only effective protection against these evil powers. That is why the Qur’an most fittingly ends on this. (Ma’ariful Qur’an)
Annotated Bibliography of Tafsir
- Fi Zilal al-Qur’an – “In the Shade of the Qur’an” is a highly influential commentary of the Qur’an, written by Sayyid Qutb, a leader within the Muslim Brotherhood, while he was in prison following an attempted assassination of Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1954. The book outlines Qutb’s vision of an Islamic state and society. It is considered by some to be a comprehensive and far-reaching tafsir that takes a clear and lucid interpretation of the Qur’an.
- Tafheem ul-Qur’an – This is a 6-volume translation and explanation of the Qur’an written by Maulana Syed Abdul ‘Ala Maududi over a span of 30 years, from 1942-1972. Maududi applied the traditional tafsir to modern issues such as economics, sociology, history, and politics. He was also the founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami religiopolitical party in Pakistan.
- Asbab al-Nuzul al-Wahidi – This work is the earliest in a branch of Islamic studies known as “Asbab al-Nuzul,” the contexts and occasions of the revelation of the Qur’an. It was written in the 5th century A.H. by ‘Alī ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi (RH).
- Ma’ariful Qur’an – This 8-volume commentary of the Qu’an was originally written in Urdu by professor and Grand Mufti of Darul Uloom Deoband, and founder of Darul Uloom Karachi, Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi. It was then translated into English by Professors Muhammad Hasan Askari and Muhammad Shamim under the supervision of Shafi’s son, Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani in 1995.
- Tafsir ibn Kathir – This is probably the most famous tafsir available in the Western world, if not the whole world. It is certainly the most common tafsir found translated into the English language. Written in the 14th century C.E. by Abu Al-Fida, ‘Imad Ad-Din Isma’il bin ‘Umar bin Kathir Al-Qurashi Al-Busrawi (known commonly as Ibn Kathir), it is known for its extensive use of ahadith to explain the verses and chapters of the Qur’an. Some consider it a summary of the earlier Tafsir at-Tabari.
- Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir ibn Abbas – Attributed variously to the the Abdullah ibn Abbas (RA) and to Abu Tahir Muhammad ibn Yaqub al-Fayruz Abadi (RH), this is one of the most pivotal works for understanding the environment which influenced the development of Qur’anic exegesis. Despite its uncertain authorship and its reliance on the controversial Israliyyat, or Israelite (biblical) stories, Tanwir al-Miqbas offers valuable insight into the circulation and exchange of ideas between Islam, Judaism and Christianity during the formative phase of Islamic exegesis.
- The Message of the Qur’an – This book is a translation (into English) and interpretation of the Qur’an by Muhammad Asad (born as Leopold Weiss), an Austrian Jew who converted to Islam in 1926. The book has since been translated into several other languages. This particular translation is banned in Saudi Arabia, perhaps deviating from the orthodox interpretation of some passages.
- The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an – One of the most popular translations with commentary of the Qur’an today, this work was completed by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (d. 1953 CE/1372 AH) as an act of heartfelt service to the Qur’an. Known for its beautiful language and scholarly medical exegesis, this work was even endorsed and propagated by the Saudi government as their top translation of choice until just recently, and still remains to be influential to this day.
- Tafsir al-Jalalayn – Tafsir al-Jalalayn is one of the most significant tafsir of the Qur’an. Composed by the two “Jalals” — Jalal al-Din al-Mahalli (d.864 AH/1459 CE) and his pupil Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (d.911 AH/1505 CE), Tafsir al-Jalalayn is generally regarded as one of the most easily accessible works of Qur’anic exegesis because of its simple style and one volume length.
- Tafsir at-Tustari – The earliest surviving Sufi commentary on the Qur’an, this record is a key source of introduction to the Sufi tradition of Qur’anic interpretation and acquaint them with spiritual doctrines fundamental to the later development of Sufism. In addition to insights into the spiritual significance of almost 1,000 verses of the Qur’an, this invaluable work, written by the influential Sufi mystic Sahl at-Tustari (d.896 CE/283 AH), includes numerous references to traditions of the Prophet, explanations of the ethical and mystical dimensions of the religious life, stories of the prophets, and anecdotes about earlier mystics.