Introduction and Exegeses of Surah al-Falaq and Surah al-NaasWritten by محبوب حسين الأزهرى
The name of the first Surah is al-Falaq and the second is al-Naas. Both were revealed simultaneously. In terms of meaning, significance and purpose, they are so closely related that it is difficult to separate them. For this reason one of the names that they have been given is ‘Mu’awwazatayn’. Rather than writing separate introductions for them, I will suffice by writing only one. The first Surah ‘al-Falaq’ consists of one ruku (passage), five verses, thirty words and seventy-four letters, whilst the second Surah ‘al-Naas’ comprises of one ruku, six verses, twenty words and seventy-nine letters.
Everyone is unanimous that they were both revealed simultaneously, but the question arises as to their location of revelation. There are two opinions regarding this. Hazrat Hasan Basri, ‘Ata, ‘Ikramah and Jabir may Allah be pleased with all of them, were of the opinion that they were revealed in Makkah and one of the opinions of ibn Abbas also support this. In addition to Qatadah, Abu Saleh and ibn Abbas, a large group of scholars believe that they were Madani Surahs. Some exegetes have supported the first opinion, but Ahadeeth Marfuah supports the second opinion, therefore it is difficult to give preference to someone’s opinion over Marfu hadeeth. One Marfu hadith presented that has been recorded by Muslim, Tirmidhi, Nisa’i and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, who have narrated from Hazrat Uqba ibn ‘Amir that one day the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him said to me “Do you know that Allah has revealed upon me last night verses of the likes that have never been revealed before? They are ‘A’uzu bi rabbi’l-falaq’ and ‘A’uzu bi rabbi’n-naas’.” Hazrat Uqba accepted Islam after migration in Madinah, and hence, the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him telling him, “Do you know that Allah has revealed upon me last night verses of the likes that have never been revealed before, they are ‘A’uzu bi rabbi’l-falaq’ and ‘A’uzu bi rabbi’n-naas’.” is clear evidence that they were revealed in Madinah.
Another hadith that supports this opinion is one that deals with the reason for their revelation. This hadith has been narrated by leading scholars such as al-Baghwi, al-Nasafi, al-Bayhaqi and ibn Sa’d. In addition to them the great commentators of Hadith Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani and Badr al-Din al-‘Ayni, in their great compilations, have recorded that in the seventh year of Hijrah a Jew by the name of Labeed ibn A’asam performed magic (the details of which will be given later on) and these two Surahs were revealed to break the effects of the magic.
After the evidence from the scholars of Hadith and the Marfu narration of Hazrat ‘Uqba, there is no need for further evidence. Therefore to insist that these Surahs were revealed in Makkah and to say that in the other explicit narrations the objective was to draw attention to the Surahs that had already been revealed in Makkah, according to me is unacceptable. According to my understanding and research I have drawn the conclusion that they were revealed in Madinah Shareef.
There are some awkward points of discussion here that cannot be overlooked or avoided under any circumstances. Under the heading of the introduction to these Surahs it is necessary to discuss and address these ambiguous points of discussion and their responses. Therefore I would like to draw the attention of the reader to these discussions.
First discussion: Are both these Surahs a part of the Qur'an and is there definitive evidence to support this as there is for other Surahs of the Qur'an?
This question arises due to the fact that narrations exist where it has been recorded that Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) discounted these as a part of the Qur’an and the mushaf he had prepared also did not contain these two Surahs. Imam al-Suyuti (may Allah be pleased with him) has written explicitly
“Ahmad, al-Bazzar, al-Tabarani and ibn Mardawiyyah have narrated through a sound chain from ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) that he would omit the mu’awwazatain from the mushaf and would claim “Do not mix such things with the Qur’an that are not from it.” The Blessed Prophet (peace be upon him) has only ordered us to seek protection through them and therefore he would not recite them in prayer.” (al-Durr al-Mansur).
There is no discussion here as to the status of the hadith as being Ahad. The scholars of the principles of hadith have mentioned the rule that ‘the memory and integrity of the narrators is not sufficient for the acceptance of hadith Ahad, in addition they have to meet a certain standard of dirayat (critical analysis of Hadith text) from which one condition is that it should not go against common sense. Based upon this principle, it not plausible to use these narrations as the basis for rejection of these Surahs.
Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (May Allah be please with him) was not amongst those individuals who only saw the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him a few times during his life, or someone who was engrossed in the worldly life and unable to be present in the company of the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him. Instead he was from those fortunate individuals who were ever present in the company and service of the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him. He is counted amongst the Ashab al-Suffa and was ever present in the masjid. His life rotated around visiting the Holy Prophet peace be upon him, attending to him, listening to his words of wisdom and retaining them, and to learning the verses of the Qur’an that were being revealed and memorising them. He would perform the majority of his prayers behind the Holy Prophet peace be upon him.
How is it conceivable that Uqba ibn Amir who accepted Islam after the Holy Prophet’s migration to Madinah was aware of these two Surahs being a part of the Qur'an and Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, who had accepted Islam long before the migration and was very rarely absent from the company of the Holy Prophet peace be upon him, present for the majority of the prayers and one who read behind the Holy Prophet so frequently, the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him recited the Surahs numerous times in prayer and many companions heard them , how is it possible that one who was ever present in prayer in the company of the Holy Prophet peace be upon him was unaware whether these were Surahs of the Qur’an or not? It is a strange notion indeed.
For this reason, all these narrations that are Ahad, to hold such beliefs about Abdullah ibn Mas'ud based upon them, which only tarnish his reputation and raise objections against him, open up such doors and avenues which allow others (kuffaar, mulhideen) to level even greater accusations against the rest of the Qur'an, and this is completely unacceptable for me.
The narration that ibn Qutayba presents that Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud did not include the “Mu’awwazatayn” in his Mushaf because he had heard the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him recite them and blow (dam) on Imam Hasan and Imam Hussain and that this is a dam like any other dam - this is unacceptable because the Qur'an is a miracle, the like of which no individual, no human group and not even that most eloquent and versed people can produce. How can this be confused with other dams especially by the likes of Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, who was very eloquent, a master of the Arabic language and its nuances - it is inconceivable.
Imam al-Suyuti narrates a hadith from al-Tabarani “al-Tabarani narrates in his book ‘al-Mu’jam al-Awsat’ through a Hasan chain from Ibn Mas’ud, from the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him that “Such verses were revealed to me the likes of which have never been revealed before, and they are the “Mu’awwazatayn”. (al-Durr al-Manthur).
This hadith also proves that the Prophet peace be upon him personally informed Abdullah ibn Mas’ud about their revelation. Maybe he initially assumed they were for doing dam, but when the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him informed him, any doubts about that would have been removed and he would have retracted his first statement.
It is a separate issue if someone is aiming to deliberately malign a Companion by blatantly ignoring clear evidences, such as the author of ‘Tafheem al-Qur'an’. Even if it is hypothetically accepted that he didn’t include the two Surahs in his copy of the Qur'an because he did not believe them to be a part of it, then it also has to be mentioned that his version of the Qur'an did not contain Surah al-Fatihah, and that does this mean that he did not accept it as a part of the Qur'an, something that he would hear the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him reciting in every prayer.
The only plausible reason for the Surahs not being included is that they were recited so often that he felt there no need to include them and in addition this version was for his personal use therefore he omitted them otherwise he would not have.
Many books contain such narrations and not every reader has the ability or the leisure to verify them, thus the average person becomes victim to such misconceptions. To tackle such objections and doubt, it is imperative to remember one principle all the time and that is what the Qur'an is constituted of. It is that which the Companions heard from the Holy Prophet peace be upon him and then by way of continuity they passed it on. The Companions passed it on in the same way to the successors and so forth until it reached us.
In the era of Uthman, the Companions unanimously prepared a standard copy based on the copy in the possession of Zaid ibn Thabit. He had many copies made under his supervision, and he sent out all over the Muslim world to the various leaders so that everywhere recitation would take place according to it. Therefore, the title Qur'an is only given to this version and any narration opposing this will have a questionable chain of transmission, for it will be Khabar Waahid, or the personal opinion of someone. To sum it all up, the title ‘Qur'an’ is given to the Uthmani copy upon which all the Companions were unanimous, and from then until today there has not been a single alteration or modification of any sort.
Second discussion: Was magic performed on the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him? What was the effect on the Blessed Personage of the Holy Prophet peace be upon him?
Before presenting my own research on this issue, I would like to list a summary of all the narrations from the different books with minor differences in their wordings. After that I will present all the objections of the Mu’tazilites, old and new and finally, if Allah gives me the opportunity, I will present the opinion of the Ahl as-Sunnah.
You have already read numerous times in detail the unreasonable and uncalled for enmity of the Jews and their hostility towards the Holy Prophet peace be upon him from the very first day. As Allah increased the honour and status of the Holy Prophet peace be upon him, and the doors to victories were opened to him, the flames of enmity towards him from the Jews would increase. In the 7th year of Migration, when the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him returned safely from Hudaybiyyah, an envoy of the Jews from Khayber came to see the famous magician Labeed ibn A’asam. Some historians have called him a Jew, but in reality he was an individual who belonged to the tribe of the Banu Zuraiq and he might have adopted the Jewish religion and thus been called a Jew.
The Jews of Khayber came to him and lay their problems out in front of him. They told him that a Qurayshi had come from Makkah and had destroyed their reputation. ‘We have exhausted all political avenues in trying to make him unsuccessful, we have plotted and schemed against him, instigated the polytheist tribes against him but have been unsuccessful. In addition to that, all the magicians that we have at our disposal have tried everything but the results have always been the same. In this region, your magical might is celebrated and we have come to you in despair from every other place. If you help us, this problem of ours will be alleviated.’ They presented a huge incentive to him and he readily accepted.
A young Jewish boy who would spend time in the service of the Holy Prophet peace be upon him was somehow convinced to steal a piece of the comb and some strands of hair of the Holy Prophet peace be upon him. Labeed and his daughters, who were two steps ahead of him in this field, worked their magic on the items and placed it in the cover made from a bunch of unripe dates (khosha of a nar khajoor). They then buried them deep in a well in the district of the Banu Zuraiq under a large heavy stone. The well was known as “Zarwan” or “Zi Arwan” and according to some “The Well of Arees “.
After six months had passed, minor symptoms started to appear, and the last forty days were difficult for him of which the last three were unbearable. The kind of effect and pain he endured is explained in detail in the following evidences. Imam al-Suyuti writes: “The Blessed Prophet peace be upon him’s health deteriorated gradually without him being able to identify the cause”. Imam al-Alusi writes: “… to the extent that he would presume that he had performed an action which he hadn’t.” (Ruh al-Ma’ani).
Every narration that is related to effects of the magic found in the books of hadith, all portray the fact that the effects were physical in the sense that he experienced weakness and lethargy. There is no narration at all to suggest that his duties of Prophethood were affected or compromised in any manner. He never compromised any aspect of his prayers nor forgot during recitation of the Qur'an and neither did it affect the Islamic state or its stability or other aspects of leadership and propagation of Islam.
When the pain became severe, the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him raised his hands in prayer and the very same night Blessed Prophet he was informed of what had afflicted him. The Blessed Prophet peace be upon him informed the Mother of the Believers, Aisha may Allah be pleased with her, “Oh Aisha, the matter which I asked my Lord about, He has informed me in relation to it”. Aisha asked, “O Prophet of Allah, what were you told?” He informed her, “Last night in my dream two men came to me, one sat near my head and the other sat near my feet (in some narrations it states that they were Jibraeel and Mikaeel). One asked the other “What is wrong with him?” to which the other replied “He has been affected by magic.” The first person asked, “Who is responsible for this?” to which the second replied, “Labeed ibn A’asam.” The first asked, “What was used?” The second replied, “Part of a comb and some strands of hair have been placed in a cover made from a bunch of unripe dates.” The first asked, “Where is this kept?” to which the second replied, “Deep in the well of Zi Arwan under a stone.” The first asked “What should be done about this?” the second person replied “The well must be drained of its water and the items recovered from under the stone.”
The Blessed Prophet peace be upon him immediately dispatched Hazrat Ali, Hazrat Ammaar ibn Yaasir and Hazrat Zubayr may Allah be pleased with them to the well regarding this issue. By the time they had drained the well, the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him had himself arrived. When the stone was raised and the package was recovered from underneath it, it was opened and the piece of comb, the strands of hair tied to a bowstring which had 11 knots in it. At that moment Hazrat Jibraeel appeared, recited these two Surahs and requested the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him to recite the Surahs verse by verse and whilst reciting each verse open one knot and remove one needle. Subsequently, the eleven verses of both Surahs were recited, the eleven knots were opened and all the needles were removed. As a result the Holy Prophet peace be upon him’s health returned to normal and the effects of the magic completely disappeared.
The companions asked permission from the Holy Prophet to take Labeed’s head, but he replied, “Allah has cured me and I do not want to fan the flames of dissent amongst the people on my accord.”
Subhaanallah! Just look at the status of the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him. He does not even seek justice against those who were making an attempt on his life.
صلّى الله عليك يا رسول الله صلّى الله عليك يا مقيل العثرات صلّى الله عليك يا صفوح عن الزّلات و بارك وسلّم
Now that you have heard a brief summary of the incident, prepare yourselves for the objections of the early Mutazilites and modern intellectuals. They disregard all these narrations deeming them to be unfounded and unreliable, claiming that if they were to be accepted then this would be a grave insult to the rank of Prophethood. All trust regarding revelations and Islamic rulings would disappear because if we accept what the narrations state, that he was affected by the magic, then it is possible that a verse could have slipped of his mind and some personal saying could have been mistaken for a verse of the Qur'an. This ruling of the Shariah would not be from Allah but instead it would be a result of the power and influence exerted by the magician. It would also contradict Allah’s promise “Allah will protect you from the people.” When Allah has assumed the responsibility for his protection, how then could it be possible for Him to allow the Jews to perform magic on the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him.
This is the opinion of the intellectuals, both old and new, and you have seen how they have presented their views.
The Ahl al-Sunnah respond to these objections by saying that the Prophet peace be upon him had two statuses; that of a human being and that of a prophet. He was subject to ailments and afflictions such as, fever, pain, injury, the blessed teeth being broken, being bloodied at Taif, his blessed forehead being injured at Uhad. All of these incidents are recorded in the pages of history. Even these people who object to them cannot deny these because no blemish can occur on the Prophet peace be upon him’s status of prophethood. In his case, the effect of the magic was only limited to his physical health and no aspect of prophethood was affected.
If the Holy Prophet peace be upon him was affected and had forgotten a verse of the Qur'an or mixed up the order of the words in a verse, added a verse to the Qur'an from himself or muddled up any aspect of the Salah, those who are unsympathetic to Islam would have certainly raised a huge uproar. May Allah protect us from such a thing. They would have most certainly acquired such a weapon to cause damage to prophethood without needing any other weapon after this to damage Islam, but no such thing has happened to be recorded in the books of hadith or history. In all of the books that the enemies of Islam have written, to date none of them have any such narrations recorded in them, which informs us that the magic of Labeed the Jew was only restricted to the physical health as is mentioned in the narrations of Imam al-Suyuti and Imam al-Alusi.
One last point that remains is whether there is any reality to magic or not. Does the nature of something influenced by magic change or is it the fact that its nature is one thing and it appears as something else? This is an entirely different discussion but there is no doubt regarding it affecting the people. The magicians in the court of the Pharaoh are mentioned in numerous places in the Qur'an, and Qur'anic text proves that they were led to believe that the ropes were snakes. Even Hazrat Musa was temporarily affected and afraid of them as snakes. The Qur'an states “When they did their ropes and staffs through their magic seemed to be moving. Moses felt afraid within himself.” In Surah Taha it also states about them that “Their great magic bewitched people’s eyes.”
Third discussion: what is the Islamic ruling regarding exorcism/adjuring?
It is necessary to bear in mind one fact from the outset and that is the presence of exorcism/adjuring in every society since early times. For this purpose whatever mantras, charms, spells they would use they would seek aid in performing them through their gods or goddesses, dark satanic powers and the heavenly constellations, etc. They firmly believed that it was these things that granted power to their magic and enabled them to practise it. Islam uprooted shirk from its roots and annihilated their belief that apart from Allah, there cannot be a god or goddess, sun, moon or stars that can create any effect in anything. For this reason, it is inconceivable that Islam would permit any such mantra or exorcism/adjuring that would involve shirk or any belief remotely representing shirk. For this reason all such mantras, spells, talismans, amulets and charms, etc. are strictly forbidden in Islam and considered haram.
Those hadith that forbid exorcism/adjuring, talismans, etc. all refer to those actions that involve a form of polytheistic activity, but anything that involves the Blessed Names of Allah, verses of the Qur'an, any prayer uttered by the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him, any amulet or prayer which does not have any element of shirk is permissible.
The first piece of evidence presented is the two Surahs under discussion whereby their recitation acted as a means of countering magic and a source of blessing. It was a daily practise of the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him to recite Surah Ikhlas, Surah Falaq and Surah Naas every evening before sleeping, blowing on his hands and wiping his entire body thrice. This has been narrated by Sayyidah Aisha who was a witness to this. Amongst the scholars who have narrated this with an authentic chain are Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim, Imam Malik, Imam Ibn Majah, Imam Abu Daud, etc. may Allah be pleased with them all.
In addition to this Imam Bukhari, Imam Ahmad, Imam Timidhi and Imam Ibn Majah have narrated from Ibn Abbas may Allah be pleased with him that the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him would recite these Surahs, blow on Imam Hasan And Imam Hussain and say:
اُعِيْذُكُمَا بِكًلِمَاتِ اللهِ التَّامَّةِ مِنْ كُلِّ شَيْطَانٍ وَّ هَامَّةٍ وّمِنْ كُلِّ عَيْنٍ لاَمَّةٍ.
One day Uthman ibn Abi al-A’aath may Allah be please with him informed the Holy Prophet peace be upon him “Since the day I have embraced Islam, I have been suffering from a pain and sometimes feel that it will end up taking my life”. The Blessed Prophet peace be upon him instructed him to place his hand where it was painful, recite Tasmiyyah (Bismillah) three times followed by:
اَعُوْذُ بِاللهِ وَ قُدْرَتِة مِنْ شَرِّ مَا اَجِدُ وّ اُحَاذِرُ
It is recorded in the Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Tahawi narrated from Talaq ibn Ali that he was once bitten by a scorpion in the company of the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him, and so the Holy Prophet peace be upon him prayed and wiped the bite mark curing him.
Imam Muslim has recorded a tradition from Abu Saeed al-Khudri may Allah be pleased with him that once the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him became unwell and Jibraeel came to see him. He asked him whether he was feeling unwell to which he peace be upon him replied yes. Jibraeel then recited the following and blew on him:
بِاسْمِ اللهِ أَرْقِيْكَ مِنْ كُلِّ شَيْئٍ يًوْذِيْكَ مِنْ شَرِّ كُلِّ نّفْسٍ اّوْ عَيْنِ حَاسِدٍ اَللهُ يَشْفِيْكَ- بِاسْمِ اللهِ اَرْقِيْكَ –
Translation: “Allah’s name I take and adjure you from all those things that cause you pain and the evil of a person and the evil eye of every jealous person. May Allah restore your health, Allah’s name I take and adjure you.”
It has also been narrated in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal from the Mother of the Believers, Hafsa may Allah be pleased with her that ‘one day the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him came to my quarters and a woman by the name of Shifa was sitting with her who would pray over ant stings. The Holy Prophet peace be upon him said to her “Shifa teach Hafsa this cure” Shifa bint Abdullah herself states that the Blessed Prophet peace be upon him said to me “Just like you taught Hafsa to read and write, teach her the cure for and stings.”’ (Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Abu Dawood and Nisai).
Auf ibn Malik’s narration is recorded by Imam Muslim in his Saheeh that ‘we once asked the Holy Prophet peace be upon him, “O Messenger of Allah, we used to perform Adjuring during our time in ignorance. What is your opinion regarding it now?” The Blessed Prophet peace be upon him replied, “Recite to me what you used to read, there is no restriction in this so long as it does not contain shirk.”’
Jabir ibn Abdullah may Allah be pleased with him narrates that ‘the Prophet peace be upon him forbade us from adjuring resulting in some members from the family of Amr ibn Hazam and informing the Prophet (Peace be upon him), “We had a cure which we recite for scorpion and snake bites, but you have forbidden us from using such things now”. They recited the cure to the Blessed Prophet (Peace be upon him) who replied, “I do not see anything constricting in this. Whoever amongst you can benefit his brother should do so.” (Muslim, Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Ibn Majah).
From a huge source of hadith I have just selected a few and presented them to you and for someone seeking the truth they will be sufficient. Our belief is that something will only give benefit when it involves the permission of Allah; otherwise nothing else has the ability to harm. If herbs and roots, pills, elixirs, mixtures and injections can become a means of cure and health, with the permission of Allah, then why cannot the Blessed Names of Allah, verses from the Qur'an, noble sayings of the Blessed Prophet (Peace be upon him), with the permission of Allah, be equally or even more effective?
Finally, I feel it necessary to point out something of paramount importance, and that is the question, ‘Is it permissible to receive financial reward for amulets and adjuring, etc.?’ For this, the narration of Abu Saeed al-Khudri, recorded by Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim, Imam Tirmidhi and in other notable books of hadith, is sufficient. The summary of the narration is as follows:
The Blessed Prophet (Peace be upon him) sent some of his companions on a mission, which included Abu Saeed al-Khudri may Allah be pleased with them all. They passed by a village inhabited by an Arab tribe whom they asked for some food and provisions. The tribe refused to help them in any manner, thus forcing the Muslims to spend the night hungry. In that time, the leader of the village was bitten by a scorpion, and when the pain became unbearable, the villagers came running to the Muslims and told them that ‘Our leader has received a scorpion bite and he is in severe pain. If you have any medicine or any one of you can cure (dam) him, come and do so”. Abu Saeed Khudri replied “We have a cure for it but you people have been extremely rude to us, not even having the decency to provide some food for us, therefore unless you provide us with some remuneration for our service, we will not treat him.” They promised “If our leader is cured then we will give you a herd of goats as payment.” Abu Saeed went and recited Surah al-Fatihah, then wiped his saliva over the affected area and thus alleviating the pain and completely healing their leader. The people, in accordance to their promise, provided a herd containing thirty goats to the Muslims. When Abu Saeed returned to the Muslims, they collectively decided that they would refrain from using the goats until they had sought the advice and permission of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him). After their completion of the mission, and upon their return to Madinah Munawwarah, they presented the whole story to the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him). The Blessed Prophet (Peace be upon him), with a smile asked, “How did you know that this Surah could be recited and dam could be done? Take the goats and leave a share for me.” After this narration there is no need for further discussion on this topic.
Under the commentary of these two Surahs, all the detail regarding them has been provided, but you need to keep in mind the fact that no matter how weak a person may feel, if he steps on the battlefield, he is representing the truth to face falsehood, and there is a Being whose protection he can receive, and that is Allah. It is necessary that a Muslim does not resort to despair and hopelessness, but keeps faith in Allah and with these blessed words he keeps supplicating to Him at all times.
News Central Jail, Sargodha
15 April 1977
Yesterday I and five of my companions were sentenced to four months imprisonment with hard labour in the first degree at the Raheem Bakhsh Fayyadh Magistrate, Bhalwaal. Alhamdulillah.
Exegesis of Surah al-Falaq (Madani, 5 verses)
In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
1. Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of the Dawn
2. From the mischief of created things;
3. From the mischief of Darkness as it overspreads;
4. From the mischief of those who practise Secret Arts;
5. And from the mischief of the envious one as he practises envy.
1) Whilst commenting on the word “Awz”, Imam Raghib writes:“Al-Awz refers to seeking refuge with someone and clinging to them”. Imam Ibn Manzur writes: “To seek refuge with someone and to firmly hold onto someone”. Al-Falaq literally refers ‘to tear apart’, and in this verse it refers to the daybreak tearing apart the darkness of the night and coming through. These are the last two Surahs of the Qur'an, known as the ‘Mu’awwazatayn’. In this sacred book, man’s purpose of life is presented to him. His destination has been specified for him without which there is no other destination that is capable of being the destination of any individual or group. This is that elevated destination for such a person to camp and be tested who is the object of the prostration by angels, but this path is beset with difficulties, every step of the way there are mountainous obstacles barring his way. His enemies lie in wait for him in filth-pots so that when they get a chance they will strike at him. His enemies are such that some aim to eradicate his physical abilities whereas others want to end his faith. This being created of dust, how can he remain steadfast and face these enemies and survive?
For this reason, the glorious Qur'an is instructing the one desirous of this station to take refuge with such a Being who is the Most Elevated, Most High, Most Powerful and Most Dominant. He is aware of your apparent and hidden enemies, your physical and spiritual enemies, their apparent plans and secretive schemes against you, at the same time possessing the power to destroy their plans and make unsuccessful their schemes. Come! Take refuge with him and hold on to him with steadfastness then advance towards your intended destination. Where you want to make your place is dependent upon your firm resolve and effort, and you have no reason to fear internal or external problems.
In this Surah, those things have been mentioned that are dangerous to a human’s physical development and his health, and in the other Surah those dangers have been highlighted that are harmful to a person’s faith and certainty.
In the first verse of this Surah, Allah has instructed His Beloved Prophet (Peace be upon him), and through His Beloved Prophet (Peace be upon him) every servant of the Blessed Prophet (Peace be upon him) to proclaim: “I take refuge with the Lord of the morning Who converted the darkness of the night to the light of day, Who blessed the silence and desertion of the night with the magnificence of day, Who transformed the barbarianism of the night to the interests of the day, the One who can turn an unhelpful situation can alleviate your problems, the darkness that enshrouds your world of hopes, through His mercy that can be removed.” Come to His glorious and magnificent court and present your complaint and see for yourself what is done about it.
2) I seek refuge from the pain afflicted and the evil of everything. This is because it is not possible for us to count everything nor is it possible for us to identify all the harms of these things. According to our imperfect knowledge, we assume something to be beneficial for us, but in reality it turns out to be harmful. For this reason we should leave the details of these things and say, “You are the creator of everything; I seek refuge with You from the harm and evil of these things that You are aware of and capable of protecting me from.”
3) Al-Ghaasiq, refers to a pitch black and dark night. Waqab – refers to one thing entering into another and becoming a part of it. The severity of the darkness of the night is being mentioned here at a time when everything is nestled in its bosom, wherever you look there is darkness, this atmosphere itself is enough to instil overwhelming fear and dread in a person’s heart. For this reason, a thief takes advantage of the darkness and commits robbery, a murderer takes the life of his victim, people’s honour is taken under its cover, dark agencies fearlessly act under the guise of its security and the victim is unaware of the danger he is facing. The enemy takes control over him as he is unaware and he does not allow him to call out for help. For this reason, man has been instructed to seek protection and refuge from the darkness of the night.
4) Naffaathaat – (single - Naffaathatun) this is on the measure of exaggeration. According to the ‘al-Mufradaat’ the word ‘Nafatha’ refers to ‘spitting out a little saliva’, but Ibn Manzur says that spitting out a little saliva is known as ‘al-Tafl’, ‘al-Nafas’ refers to something lower than that and more similar to blowing (Lisaan al-Arab).
‘Uqad’ is the plural ‘Uqdatun’ which means ‘a knot’. Magicians, when they perform magic and recite whatever incantations they might, usually make a knot in a string and blow upon it. Just like pure speech has a good and positive effect, satanic incantations and spells have a negative and evil effect. Whether the nature of something changes or not, with magic it is another issue for debate, but there is no doubt that a person is undeniably affected psychologically. It has been reported about the case of Harut and Marut that they would teach people such magic that would ‘cause a rift between a husband and wife’. A perfectly happy household would be ripped apart, the love and affection between a husband and wife would turn into hatred and enmity. It is also related in the Qur’an about the magicians of Pharaoh that when they spoke their spells and blew on the ropes that they were holding, thousands of people were present who witnessed the ropes transform into snakes and sway in front of them.
Who knows what evil magic some malevolent person is planning for them and for the sake of a little financial incentive what hell they are about to unleash for them. For this reason, this (magic) has been specifically mentioned that ‘O Lord! Whichever evildoer is planning on causing me harm, destroying the peace of my home, harming my health, etc. and whatever evil practises they are involved in, I am unable to defend myself from them, therefore. “O my lord, my Protector take me into Your protection and save me from their evil”’.
Women were the main practitioners of the black arts therefore the feminine plural form ‘Naffaathaat’ has been used.
5) Whilst explaining the meaning of ‘Hasad’, Ibn Manzur writes: “It is when a person sees the success and respect of another and starts burning up inside, desiring that if only his wealth, success and respect belonged to me rather than him, and if these things were not destined for me then if only they were taken away from him and he be deprived of them.
Such hopes and desires indicate towards the lowliness and malevolence of a human that has sunk low, but it is not just restricted to this level. Sometimes such feelings become the basis of injustice and persecution. A person who is consumed by the flames of jealousy does not remain seated with one hand on another; instead he is active in dreaming up and concocting such plans and conspiracies which he can execute so that he can fulfil his hateful desires. He stoops to such a low and base position that he is prepared to carry out acts that cannot in any way be associated to a decent human being. Cain killed Abel merely out of jealousy, whilst Abu Jahl and other senior figures of the Quraysh knew with certainty that Blessed Prophet (Peace be upon him) was a true messenger, but due to their jealousy they refused to accept Islam.
That human upon whom Allah has showered His favours, unfriendliness towards him is frequent and predominant. He respects them and tries to please them and to a permissible extent tries to help them, but despite this those who are jealous, the fire of jealousy will remain burning in their hearts, and they will burn with jealousy without any cause. A person cannot identify all types of jealousy and cannot always identify the plots of those who are jealous of him, and even if he can identify them, he cannot always deal with them. For this reason he is ordered to take refuge with his Beneficent Lord, for indeed only He can protect him from their evil designs once he has obtained that protection.
O Allah! This weak and frail servant of yours asks for protection in Your shade, without Your protection he has nowhere else to go.
اللّهم صلّى وسلّم وبارك على سيّدنا و مولانا محمّد الحامد المحمود و على اله و صحبه و من تبعه و احبه الى يوم الدين
Exegesis of Surahal-Naas (Madani, 6 verses)
In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
1. Say: I seek refuge with the Lord and Cherisher of Mankind,
2. The King (or Ruler) of Mankind,
3. The God (or Judge) of Mankind,—
4. From the mischief of the Whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after his whisper),—
5. (The same) who whispers into the hearts of Mankind,—
6. Among Jinns and among Men.
1) In the previous Surah refuge was sought from those dangerous and evil things that directly affect a person’s apparent and physical nature, therefore, the Being with whom protection is sought is only identified as ‘Lord of the Dawn’. Now guidance is being given to seek refuge from those attacks and invasions aimed at the person’s faith and belief. The wealth of faith and certainty is definitely more important and affluent than bodily and physical blessings. For this reason, the Kind Being with whom we are being ordered to seek sanctuary, He has been introduced to us in detail so that each individual can, according to their own ability and intellect, acknowledge His greatness and according to their passion and desire seek refuge with Him.
A normal person is only interested in those blessings that are related to his physical wellbeing; if he receives good food to eat, decent accommodation for his residence, his daily needs are fulfilled easily and comfortably, he will be happy and satisfied. He has no desire to exceed beyond societal needs and neither does he possess the ability. For such people, Allah has been introduced to them as “The Lord and Cherisher of Mankind” so that they could seek protection with that being who could take care of all their needs, through Whose kindness their lives are freed from despair and loss, this would give them certainty.
But not all mankind’s hopes are confined to such things. Some people desire that justice and fairness, that no one is oppressed and no one is denied his due rights. If someone aspires to become an oppressor or desires to take away someone’s right, all his dignity and pomp should be reined in and demands of justice should be fulfilled. This duty can only be fulfilled by an independent king and powerful ruler. For this reason the people are informed that the Being with Whom you are being instructed to take sanctuary, He is not only responsible for your societal needs, but He is the king and ruler. His command is enforced everywhere, at all times and upon everything. No one has the audacity to contravene His command. He is just and fair. It is not in His nature to be forceful and severe. For such people he has been introduced as “The King/Ruler of Mankind” in order to remove their uncertainty.
The Third and best group are those people who love Him and take refuge with Him solely for the reason that he is their Creator. They are prepared to go hungry, experience a life deprived of luxuries being pleased with His decision, stand tall and happily bearing their chests against all tyrannical injustices, their lips will not utter any words of complaints; they will only love Him for the reason that He is their True Creator and the Merciful Lord. For such people, the blessed words “The God/Judge of Mankind” have been used.
When man recognises Allah in the light of these three attributes of perfection, he can then plead to his Lord, “O my Lord, True Ruler of the heavens and earth, the focal point and centre of my love and devotion, protect me from every evil design of Satan, give me the ability to combat all satanic whisperings and guide this weak and frail traveller to his destination.” When he reaches this stage he is able to understand Him according to his status.
Satan came to Sayyidah Hajirah (peace be upon her) and said to her, “Do you know that Ibrahim (peace be upon him) has bathed and clothed your child so that he can offer him up as a sacrifice!” Hajirah (Peace be upon her) said, “Have you become stupid? Does a father ever sacrifice his child? Especially that father who has child more beautiful that the moon at an elderly age?” He replied that his Lord had commanded him to sacrifice his son. Upon hearing this, Hajirah (peace be upon her) replied calmly, “If it is my Lord’s command, then forget one Ismail (peace be upon him); if I had a million Ismail’s I would sacrifice them all for His sake.” This is the state of those people whom Allah takes into His refuge.
2) وسوسه is known as whisperings/ temptations of the ego. وسواس is one who puts all sorts of temptations in your heart. When a person tries to persuade someone to do something that is against his nature, the initial reaction is that of strong denial. He dismisses the idea with sever dislike. The tempter does not persist in his action and he steps back, seemingly defeated and retreating, but at every opportunity he repeats the same thing. If the person still resists again he will beat a hasty retreat and bide his time and the act will be repeated. With each attack the persons resolve will weaken until the day will come when that person who initially resisted any attempts to carry out the act will embrace it with open arms. Satan’s tactics are very much the same. He does not tire from attempting to mislead a person and he continuously persists in his efforts. Sometimes he attacks, other times he visibly retreats, to the extent that the most intellectual individual, if he does not have the protection of his Lord, will end up being misled. Both of his ploys are referred to as وسواس and خنّاس.
Some scholars have said that when Satan finds a person neglectful in His remembrance of Allah his attacks on that person begin, and when the person returns to the remembrance of Allah, Satan backs off from his assault and hides in a corner. This is similar to a thief who is breaking the law, when a security light shines he stops his act and becomes like a statue and when the light moves away from him he resumes his activity.
3) His method of tempting people is very clever and deceitful; quietly he keeps putting temptations into a person’s heart and disturbs the tranquillity and peace of the heart. The worst of mankind and Jinn are also involved in this type of behaviour; such people have been referred to as ‘Satans/Devils’ in the Qur’an. Allah states “And similarly we have appointed enemies for every Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) – devils from men and jinns“. Undoubtedly until a person in under the protection of Allah, he cannot avoid such people, for it is impossible for him.
O Allah take your humble servant, whose knowledge is weak, understanding is imperfect, whose courage is low and whose ability to defend himself is non-existent, take him into Your protection.
My faith, my certainty, my passion and my dedication is a glimmering light that is a reflection of my love for Your Blessed Prophet (Peace be upon him) I place in your refuge. Please accept this service to Your blessed book for which you gave this nobody the opportunity.
I want to present two couplets of Your beloved servant, Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani;
ايدركنى ضيم وانت ظهيرى اءظلم فى الدنيا وانت نصيرى
فعار على حامى الحمى وهو قادر اذا ضاع فى البيداء عقال بعيرى
O my Lord! Have mercy on me, always shower Your blessings upon me, forgive my sins, forgive my parents, raise their station, forgive my family and relatives, forgive my associates, forgive the teachers of Dar ul Uloom Muhammadiyyah Ghawthiyyah, its students and helpers, give Dhiya ul Quran acceptance, make it the cause of peoples guidance and make it the means of success for this sinful person.
الحمد لله ربّ العالمين الرحمن الرحيم مالك يوم الدين ايّاك نعبد و ايّاك نستعين اهدنا الصراط المستقيم صراط الذين انعمت عليهم غير المغضوب عليهم ولا الضّالين آمين.
اللّهم صلّ على حبيبك الأكرم و نبيّك المعظّم ورسولك المحتشم حبيبى وقرة عينى وسرور قلبى ملجائى و ملاذى فى الدارين سيّدى و سيّد الخلق محمّد منبع الدود والكرم من الصلوات اطيبها ومن التسليمات انكمها ومن البركات اسنها ومن التحيّات اجملها وعلى آله الكرام واصحابه العظام ومن احبه واتبه الى يوم الدين- اللهم اجعلنا من احياءه ومن خدام دينه وانصر شريعته وارزقنا محبته واحشرنا فى زمرته تحت لواء الحمد يا ارحم الراحمين-
ربّ اوزعنى ان اشكر نعمتك التى انعمت علىّ و على والدىّ وان اعمل صالحا ترضاه واصلح لى فى ذريّتى انّى تبت اليك وانّى من المسلمين-
فاطر السموات والأرض انت ولىّ فى الدنيا والأخرة توفّنى مسلماً والحقنى بالصالحين-
اشهد ان لا إله الاّ الله وحده لاشريك له واشهد ان محمّد عبده و رسوله-
سبحان الله وبحمده سبحان الله العظيم-
لاحول ولا قوّة الا بالله العلى العظيم
After relying upon the Most Merciful and Generous, Almighty and Wise Lord this weak and frail traveller, whose journey started on the 1st of Ramadhan 1379 Hijri, Monday the 29th February 1960, by the grace of his Most Merciful and Generous, Almighty and Wise Lord, today on the 29th of Ramadhan, 1399 Hijri, Thursday 23rd of August 1979 has reached the end of his journey at the blessed moment when the Muazzin who is calling the Azan for Asr prayer, is proclaiming to the world “أشهد أنّ محمدا رسول الله”, I too proclaim
اشهد ان لا إله الاّ الله
أشهد أنّ محمدا رسول الله
اللهم صل وسلم و بارك على طور التجليات الإحسانية و مهبط الأنوار الرحمانية
عبدك و حبيبك محمد
وعلى آله واصحابه ومن احبه واتبعه الى يوم الدين
Your humble servant
Mohammad Karam Shah
Allama Hafiz Mahboob Hussain al-Azhari BA (Hons), BSc (Hons), MA (RES) Secretary of WAAG (World Association of Al-Azhar Graduates) UK, a mureed of Hazrat Zia-Ul-Ummat Shaykh Pir Justice Pir Karam Shah Al-Azhari and a student of Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada. As such, Mahboob Hussain is the founder and resident scholar of PirKaramShah.com. He was born in Pakistan in 1976 Mahboob Hussain arrived in the UK in 1978 where he settled in Dewsbury. In 1980 he began his primary Islamic studies under Abul In’am Muhammad Abdul Bari Chishti and followed that by memorisation of the Qur'ân. After completing his GCSE’s in 1993 he rejoined his teacher in Jamia al-Karam, which at that time was at the former site in Milton Keynes, where under his tutelage and the auspicious guidance of Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada, he began his studies in Arabic and Islamic studies and A Levels. Here he was fortunate to meet with his Shaykh, the Ummah’s Luminary, Justice Shaykh Muhammad Karam Shah al-Azhari (ra) and pledged his allegiance to him.
After completing his A Levels and studies in Jamia al-Karam in 1997, he was fortunate to pursue his studies in Jamia al-Azhar, Cairo where he gained a BA honours from the Department of Theology, specialising in the science of Prophetic Traditions. After completing his studies in 2000, he returned to the UK and spent a year teaching Arabic and Islamic studies in his local town Dewsbury. In 2001 he began BSc in Computing and Information Studies in the University of Bradford, which he completed in 2005 and immediately rejoined Shaykh M I H Pirzada at Jamia al-Karam as a teacher. Mahboob Hussain has achieved his MA thesis by research at the University of Leeds titled ‘Jewish Anecdotes in Qur'ânic Exegesis’ and is currently looking forward to his upcoming PhD InshAllah. He is also involved in alot of other literary work, such as English translation of selected surahs of Tafsir Zia-Ul-Quran, soon to be exclusively released on pirkaramshah.com.