Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Holy Qur'an (Summary): Chapter 89 Sūrat al-Fajr (The Daybreak)

Sūrat al-Fajr, the 89th chapter of the Holy Quran consists of 30 verses and is part of the 30th Part of Holy Qur'an. The Sūrah begins with the word Fajr, the daybreak and mentions people of the bygone days who disobeyed Allah and His prophets and were destroyed. And it also gives good tidings to those who did good and obeyed commandments of Allah with bounties and rewards of Paradise in the hereafter.

The Surah begins with four solemn pledges that Allah take to show His eternal powers and warns those who disobey Him and His commandments brought to them by His prophets (verses 1-4):
  • By the dawn
  • And [by] ten nights
  • And [by] the even [number] and the odd
  • And [by] the night when it strolls away
There are many interpretations of the above four vows that Allah has taken in this surah, beginning with the Daybreak, the dawn when the sun rises, a similar pledge Allah has taken in Sūrat ash-Shams (The Sun), the 91st chapter, and the darkness comes to an end. 
  • Fajr in fact means to tear or rip open something completely.So the earliest time when the light tears through the darkness of the night - Fajr has begun. Thus Fajr is the time when those fearing Allah wake up willingly by choice to worship Allah, while the disbelievers remain asleep. This makes the believing slave of Allah have a high rank in His sight. When Allah swears by the morning - He is swearing by death and life. Because the night sleep is a sign of death, and the waking up is like the Resurrection after that death. 
  • Taking oath of the 'Ten nights' has been explained by scholars as either the Last 10 Nights of Ramadan (when Qur'an was revealed and Laylat-al-Qadr occurs in any of the odd nights) or the First 10 Nights of Dhul Hijjah (the month Hajj, the great annual pilgrimage).
  • The swearing  by the even and the odd also has many interpretations. The even and odd means that every creation has been made in pairs: Earth / Sky. Day /Night, Sun / Moon, Male / Female, Hell / Paradise. Which means that without the one, we cannot appreciate the other. Likewise the good and the evil - of which good is even and the evil is odd. So on the day of Judgment, the injustices and justices would be balanced out and reward and punishment would be decided.
  • "I swear by the night as it strolls away" implies that people don't have power over time, rather Allah has power over time, and humans - with the limited abilities given to them - use the different times for their benefit. [2]
[Verses 5-10]
Allah having taken the four solemn pledges, which shows His might and control over everything that happens to us, asks the non/disbelievers "Is there [not] in [all] that an oath [sufficient] for one of perception?" And if this was not enough, then Allah tells them how His wrath befell of people of  Aad and Iram (who had lofty pillars, the likes of whom had never been created in the lands, people to whom Prophet Hud (peace be upon him) was sent and when they did not obey the prophet, the city was destroyed in a great storm - Read more about these people in Surah Hud, Chapter 11)), Thamud (mentioned in the 91st chapter Sūrat ash-Shams who disobeyed Prophet Saleh (peace be upon him) and were destroyed) and the Pharaoh (who despite all his might and large armies, referred here as Possessor of Pegs could not stop Prophet Musa (Moses, peace be upon him) and was finally drowned chasing the Prophet.

The mention of these four mighty people and kings and the wrath that befell on them to completely obliterate them from the earth has been used as a forewarning to the pagans of Makkah, who boasted of their wealth and rich ancestral lineage, and tell them in clear words that if the do not obey the message of Allah, sent to them trough Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and hurt and torture him, their fate will be similar to the people long gone and perished. And we see today that in the lands of Arabia, none of the erstwhile today exist for not believing in the words of Allah and His Prophet (s).

This is then followed by Allah's pledge to destroy who stands disbelieved (Verses 11-14):
  • Who (all) were rebellious (to Allah) in these lands,
  • so they increased in corruption.
  • So your Lord poured on them different kinds of severe torment.
  • There is no doubt, your Lord is waiting in observation
Allah then mentions of ungrateful people, even among the believers besides the non/disbelievers, that those who are given in abundance are grateful to Him. But if the face hardships they lament and complain and become ungrateful (verses 15-26):
  • And as for man, when his Lord tries him and [thus] is generous to him and favors him, he says, "My Lord has honored me."
  • But when He tries him and restricts his provision, he says, "My Lord has humiliated me."
  • No! But you do not honor the orphan
  • And you do not encourage one another to feed the poor.
  • And you consume inheritance, devouring [it] altogether,
  • And you love wealth with immense love.
  • No! When the earth has been leveled - pounded and crushed -
  • And your Lord has come and the angels, rank upon rank,
  • And brought [within view], that Day, is Hell - that Day, man will remember, but what good to him will be the remembrance?
  • He will say, "Oh, I wish I had sent ahead [some good] for my life."
  • So on that Day, none will punish [as severely] as His punishment,
  • And none will bind [as severely] as His binding [of the evildoers].
While for the ungrateful, a long list is given as above, for the grateful there is promise of eternal rewards (verses 27-30):
  • [To the righteous it will be said], "O reassured soul,
  • Return to your Lord, well-pleased and pleasing [to Him],
  • And enter among My [righteous] servants
  • And enter My Paradise."
The theme of this surah thus revolves around the rewards and punishments in the Hereafter, which the people of Makkah were not prepared to acknowledge then, and even thereafter. We still find many believers following the path of people mentioned in verses 11-26 and oblivious of the day of justice when all injustices will be equated with justices - and those having a negative net effect will find them in hell with blazing fire, boiling water and torture that one cannot even imagine.

Allah has forewarned everyone of the consequences of what we prefer to do and has given us knowledge to differentiate between good and evil. It is up to us now to prepare for our hereafter and ask repentance of all sins we have thus far committed, lest time runs out for confessions and asking forgiveness.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sūrat al-Fajr with English subtitles:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Part backwards for chapters in 30th Part are shorter and easier to understand)

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