The Declining Day
|Other names (Eng.)||Eventide, The Epoch, Time, Afternoon, The Flight Of Time|
|Structure||1 rukus, 3 verses|
Sūrat al-‘Aṣr (Arabic: سورة العصر ) (The Declining Day, Eventide, The Epoch, Time) is the 103rd sūrah of the Qur’ān. It contains three āyāt, and is believed to be an early Meccan sura (although a few commentators consider it Madinan). Surat al-‘Asr is the second shortest sura after al-Kawthar. It teaches that all human beings are in loss, except those who have Iman (concept), do righteous deeds and remind others of the Haqq (truth, rights, reality) and remind others of Sabr (patience).
- Ibn Kathir, a traditional exegete holds that this sura, as a warning to believers not to waste time or they we could be humiliated or even ruined. (IbnKathir, 2010).
- T. B. Irving, a contemporary exegete, says that the surah offers a consoling prayer, since it brings home to believers how all things change, and to strengthen one to learn patiently to face the inevitable. (Irving, 1985, p. 389).
- Imam Shafi, a jurist and traditional scholar of Islam, held-that if God had only revealed this surah it would have been sufficient for the guidance of all humankind. (IbnKathir, 2010). It summarized the very essence of the Qur'anic message. Thus, Imam Shafi’i asserts that if one followed its counsel, it was enough for humankind to achieve success in life.(Imam Shafi’i d. 820)
- Sayyid Qutb, a modern exegete of the Qur'an, asserts that this surah outlines a complete system for human life based on an Islamic viewpoint. He says that it defines, in the clearest and most concise form, the basic concept of faith in the context of its comprehensive reality (1979, p. 274). He further says that he is gravely shocked to see the loss and ruin in which humanity finds itself. He is critical of Muslims and non-Muslims and particularly witnessing that humankind is turning away from the goodness that God has bestowed upon it. He is confident that the guidance of this surah is what made the early Muslim great as it can do for those that follow it in the long history of humanity. He says that once the early Arabs were aroused by such surahs, they quickly burst the bounds of Arabia and zealously worked toward the salvation of humanity (Qutb (d. 1966), 1979, p. 280).
- Toshihiko Izutsu: The surah is significant in that an entire practical code of conduct was binding upon the believer the moment he/she truly believed in the oneness of God and the truth of the Prophetic conduct (Isutzu, 2007, p. 106).
- Al-Tabarani: Interestingly, when humankind finds itself at a loss; it can revive itself by returning to the formula provided by the third verse and the four principles/conditions, which are adhered to as a foundation. We saw how these four principles operated on both physical and spiritual levels. This is probably the reason why the companions of the Prophet did not want to become heedless of the foundational message of Islam. Consequently, they used to meet one another and only depart until one of them recited surat-Al-Asr to the other and they bid peace upon one another. (Tabrani 2010).
- People may say that all is “loss”, but the Qur'an says, “No, not all”. (Ali, 1961, p. 41). Muslims believe those that practice the four principles/conditions as mentioned in this surah will not be in vain.
- Kenneth Cragg: It can be emphasized that the Qur'anic injunctions that were urgent in the original pagan setting of the first Muslims, led them to reach a true monotheism. Thus change happens pragmatically and revolutionized each epoch of the qur’anic reception is a bold claim of the Qur'an (Kenneth Cragg 1973, p. 189).
- From these renowned exegetes of the Qur'an and their handling of this vital surah, we may take such honest stock as space allows and take their analysis even further. Can the modern reader within Islam or outside it hope to know the Qur'an in its essential reality in a truly religious reading? We are ready to judge by literary criteria and with evident reverence and discipline, but yet with a liberty of mind that reads for itself (Cragg, 1973, p. 74).
All These exegetes offer a terse reminder of the importance of time and care in its utilization.
It is said to have sparked the conversion of ‘Amr ibn al-‘Āṣ after he recited it to the self-proclaimed prophet Musaylimah and he responded with a "surah" about the hyrax, which ‘Amr ibn al-‘As rejected as absurd.
- Abul Ala Maududi: This Surah is a matchless specimen of comprehensiveness and brevity. A whole world of meaning has been compressed into its few brief words, which is too vast in content to be fully expressed even in a book. In it, in a clear and plain way it has been stated what is the way to true success for man and what is the way to ruin and destruction for him. Imam Shafe has very rightly said that if the people only considered this Surah well, it alone would suffice them for their guidance.
- Al-Tabarani: How important this Surah was in the sight of the Companions can be judged from the tradition cited from Hadrat Abdullah bin Hisn ad-Darimi Abu Madinah, according to which whenever any two of them met they would not part company until they had recited Surah Al-Asr to each other.
- Mufti Muhammad Shafi: the Struggle of the human being is like the one who is trying to sell ice. It is melting away and he needs to sell it quickly and make as much sales before the end of the day comes. Otherwise - all his valuables' and efforts will go to waste. [In the past - there were no Freezers, so your ice would melt into water by the end of the day.]
- Tafsir al-Mazhari: The taNween ن at the end of KhusriN makes it an INCREDIBLE Loss. Al Insaan - (lil Jins - to all human beings) - there is no exception - the entire category. A universal statement. The statement directly targets you.
- Al-Zamakhshari: People are in tremendous loss because of that which they buy and sell in life (of good and bad), except for the Saaliheen (righteous). O Allah, make us of the Saliheen (righteous), ameen. Because the Saliheen buy for the next life instead of for the pleasures of this life. And then they were profitable and happy on Judgment Day, and whoever was an enemy to their buying - then he was in loss and deaspair.
- Muhammad ash-Shawkani: Every human is in a state of buying and selling than others. He exhausts his ages (youth, middle age, seniority etc.) in purchasing Allah's pleasure. Rushing in gathering Allah's reward. Also refer to tafsir sura at-Takathur.
- Al-Akhfash al-Akbar said: - Khusr [loss] means Halaka حالك [violent death]. Mawt موت - general death. So the disbeliever is setting himself up for a violent death by being in this loss.
- al Farraa': A terrible ending ('uqooba عقوبة - ones end which is scary so people take warning from it [i.e. So the people say; 'I don't want to die like that'])
- Ibn Zayd: La fee Khusr (surely in Loss) means La fee Sharr (surely in Evil deeds).
- Muhammad Ash-Shanqeeti: Insaan is singular but it refers to all mankind.
- Ibn Taymiyyah: (as quoted by Muhammad Shafee' in Ma'arif al Qur'an):
Humanity is kept from accepting the truth of Islam by 2 obstacles; 1 - Shubuhaat (Doubts) 2 - Shahawaat (Temptations) Either one of these lead people astray. It is an intellectual problem (people feel answers by callers to Islam are not satisfactory). It is a psychological problem (people want to follow forbidden desires).
- Shah Waliullah: in At-Tadhkeer bi ayyaamillah - Remembrance of the Days of Allah. By Allah saying; Wa-al 'Asr - We will remember the special Days of Allah. The Days when; Allah created the human being (Adam), the Day He revealed the Qur'an to Prophet Muhammad, the Day Allah drowned the disbelievers of Prophet Nuh, the Day Allah destroyed Pharaoh and saved Moses, the Day of Badr, the Day when Allah spoke to Musa/Moses. The Day of Judgment, the Day the believers will see Allah. By saying al 'Asr - we will remember these Days so we will not want to be in loss.
- Hamiduddin Farahi: One of the lessons of this surah is that a lot of people see historical sites, which are a sign of destroyed nations.So when we see the legacies; the Pyramids, the Mountain homes of Thamud, and the great buildings and nations of power who have died - we realise that Allah destroyed them through time.This is a reminder of; Inna al insaana la fee Khusrin - surely man is in loss.Allah replies to such people;
أَوَلَمْ تَكُونُوا أَقْسَمْتُم مِّن قَبْلُ مَا لَكُم مِّن زَوَالٍ Were you not of those who would swear before that your time of downfall will not come? (Ibrahim (sura) 14:44)
Even visiting the ancient sites and ruins is a reminder of; wal 'Asr (by the time) innal insaana la fee khusr (surely man is in loss).
- Muhammad ash-Shawkani: These people gather and combine between Emaan and good action. Iman and good deeds work together. They Both strengthen each other.When you fulfill all the 4 attributes - then you have stronger Emaan (belief, good deeds, enjoining truth and patience.)If you have none - you probably don't have Emaan.
قَالَتِ الْأَعْرَابُ آمَنَّا ۖ قُل لَّمْ تُؤْمِنُوا وَلَٰكِن قُولُوا أَسْلَمْنَا وَلَمَّا يَدْخُلِ الْإِيمَانُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ ۖ وَإِن تُطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ لَا يَلِتْكُم مِّنْ أَعْمَالِكُمْ شَيْئًا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ The Bedouins say, "We have believed." Say, "You have not [yet] believed; but say [instead], 'We have submitted,' for faith has not yet entered your hearts. And if you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not deprive you from your deeds of anything. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful." (Surat al-Hujurat 49:14)
- Al-Zamakhshari: Tawaassu bil haqq - includes tawheed, obedience to Allah and His Messenger, being distant for worldly ambitions, and inclination to the hereafter.
- Muhammad ash-Shawkani: They enjoin and advise each other with the truth that deserves to be established and implemented.
- Qatada ibn al-Nu'man: bil haqq (with truth) refers to advising each other with the Qur'an. Reminding each other through the Qur'an. With tawheed, and most people understand it to be any good and any truth to be lived by.
- Ibn Kathir: Aladheena aamanoo (believe - with their hearts), wa 'amilu as-salihaat (do good deeds - with their limbs), and they enjoin each other to the truth by doing and enjoining on others to do acts of obedience and to abandon all that is forbidden, and they enjoin each other to perseverance against all calamities and they held to and advised to Emaan with perseverance whenever they were tortured for enjoining the truth.
- Muhammad Ash-Shanqeeti: Tawwaassu bil haq - telling each other about the truth after doing good deeds. The 'amil as-saalihaat was good deeds - general ('aam), and enjoining the truth was khaas (specific).
- Al-Zamakhshari: Watawaasu bis-sabr (enjoin upon each other perseverance) - Sabr over whatever Allah tests His slave with, perseverance in obedience to Allah, and in times of temptation. Allah put Sabr at the end and haqq first, and enjoining the haqq as more important. And more noble.
- Muhammad Ash-Shanqeeti: As-Sabireen - whenever a situation of patience is required - this person is patient. Through all circumstances.
- Surah Al-Asr (Complete text in Arabic with English and French translations)
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