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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Surah An Nās - The Mankind: Exegesis 114th Chapter of Qur'an


Sürah An Nās (pronounced An Naas) is the 114th surah with six verses / ayahs, part of the 30th Juzʼ and last Sürah / chapter of the Holy Qur'an. The Sürah takes its name from the word "people" or "mankind" (al-nās), which recurs throughout the chapter. 

As already mentioned in the summary of both Sürah Al Falaq and Sürah 114. An Nas, though these two Sürahs of the Qur'an are separate entities and are written in the Mushaf 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 Mu'awwidhatayn (the two Sürahs in which refuge with Allah has been sought). It is believed  that these Surahs were revealed together at Makkah, that is why the combined name of both is Mu'awwidhatayn. Also in both Sürahs refuge has been sought from evil: In Sürah Al Falaq from the outer evils and in Sürah An Nas from the inner evil. 

Sürah An Nās is a short six-verse invocation, asking God for protection from the Satan (Iblis), and his helpers among both jinn and humans who lead people astray through whispering or insinuation (waswasah) and temptation.

Let us now read the translation and exegesis / tafseer in English of the Sürah. For recitation in Arabic Text, please view the video at the end with English subtitles:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ النَّاسِ 
( 1 )   Say, "I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind,
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The previous Sura 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.

Man's relation to Allah may be viewed in three aspects: (1) Allah is his Lord, Maker, and Cherisher; Allah sustains him and cares for him; He provides him with all the means for his growth and development, and for his protection against evil; (2) Allah is his king or ruler; more than any earthly king, Allah has authority to guide man's conduct, and lead him to ways which will make for his welfare; and He has given him laws; and (3) Allah is He to Whom mankind must return, to give an account of all their deeds in this life (ii. 156); Allah will be the Judge; He is the goal of the Hereafter, and the only Being entitled to man's worship at any time. From all these aspects man could and should seek Allah's protection against evil.
 مَلِكِ النَّاسِ 
( 2 )   The Sovereign of mankind.
 إِلَـٰهِ النَّاسِ 
( 3 )   The God of mankind,
Here also, as in Surah Al-Falaq, instead of saying Audhu-billahi (I seek Allah’s refuge), a prayer has been taught to seek Allah’s refuge by reference to His three attributes: First, that He is Rabb-in-naas, i.e. Sustainer, Provider; second, that He is Malik-in-naas, i.e. Master of all mankind; third, that He is Ilah-in-naas, i.e. real Deity of all mankind. Here, one should clearly understand that the word ilah has been used in two meanings in the Quran: first for the thing or person who is practically being worshiped although it or he is not entitled to worship; second, for Him Who is entitled to worship, Who is in fact the Deity whether the people worship Him or not, wherever this word is used for Allah; it has been used in the second meaning. Seeking refuge by means of these three attributes means: I seek refuge with that God, Who being the Sustainer, King and Deity of men, has full power over them, can fully protect them and can really save them from the evil, to save myself and others from which I am seeking His refuge. Not only this; since He alone is Sustainer, King and Deity, therefore, there is no one beside Him with Whom I may seek refuge and he may give real refuge.

Ibn Kathir Explanation:
These are three attributes from the attributes of the Lord, the Mighty and Majestic. 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.

It is confirmed in the Sahih that he (the Prophet ) said, (There is not a single one of you except that his companion (a devil) has been assigned to him.) They (the Companions) said, "What about you, O Messenger of Allah'' 
He replied,
(Yes. However, Allah has helped me against him and he has accepted Islam. Thus, he only commands me to do good.) 
It is also confirmed in the Two Sahihs from Anas, who reported the story of Safiyyah when she came to visit the Prophet while he was performing I`tikaf, that he went out with her during the night to walk her back to her house. So, two men from the Ansar met him (on the way). When they saw the Prophet , they began walking swiftly. So, the Messenger of Allah said, (Slow down! This is Safiyyah bint Huyay!) They said, "Glory be to Allah, O Messenger of Allah!'' He said, (Verily, Shaytan runs in the Son of Adam like the running of the blood. And verily, I feared that he might cast something into your hearts -- or he said -- evil.) 
 مِن شَرِّ الْوَسْوَاسِ الْخَنَّاسِ 
( 4 )   From the evil of the retreating whisperer -
The word waswas " وَسْوَاسِ "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 an 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.

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 does 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 man with the suggestion that there is no haram 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 from among men and jinn makes a common front against him and 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 him 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 Quran: If Satan ever excites you to anger, seek refuge with Allah. (Surah Al-Aaraf, Ayat 200); (Surah HaMim As-Sajdah, Ayat 36).
Say: Lord, I seek refuge with You from the promptings of satans. (Surah Al-Mominun, Ayat 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-Aaraf, Ayat 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 HaMim As-Sajdah, Ayat 35).

In this connection, another thing should also be kept in mind, and it is this: Evil suggestion is not whispered into the heart of man only from outside by the satans 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 judgment astray, and it is not only the satans from outside but within man his satan of the self also beguiles him. This same thing has been expressed in the Quran, thus: And We know the evil suggestions arising from his self. (Surah Qaaf, Ayat 16). On this very basis, the Prophet (peace be upon him) in his well-known Sermon said: We seek Allah’s refuge from the evils of our self.

Ibn Kathir Explanation:
Sa`id bin Jubayr reported that Ibn `Abbas said concerning Allah's statement, (The whisperer (Al-Waswas) who withdraws.) "The devil who is squatting (perched) upon the heart of the Son of Adam. So when he becomes absentminded and heedless he whispers. Then, when he remembers Allah he withdraws.'' Mujahid and Qatadah also said this.

Al-Mu`tamir bin Sulayman 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.''

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Though it has not been stated in words, it is quite evident from the attributes mentioned and referred to later that it is Satan who is referred to here. The verse describes Satan’s special technique through which he lures people. It is also evident from the Qur’an that this is Satan’s sole weapon through which he realizes his objective. God has not given him the power to forcibly lead people astray. He entraps them through false promises, presents the wickedest of things in a very attractive form, assumes the role of a well-wisher and gives earnest suggestions and advice. Yet, he cannot go beyond this. The Qur’an has assured servants of God who are not influenced by his suggestions that he will not be able to harm them in any way.

Whether it is the jinn or men who induce these latent suggestions in people, their general psyche is that once a person is caught in their web of deception, they totally absolve themselves of the consequences and leave people to themselves. Such satans can always be seen among human beings. It is evident from the Qur’an that the satans from among the jinn too are no different. The word خَنَّاس depicts this very character so that people always keep the insincerity and treachery of Satan in mind. Thus, at another instances, the Qur’an states that he is an eternal deceiver (khadul), all his promises are mere deception and in the Hereafter too he will absolve himself of all consequences and abandon his followers.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
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 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" (vi. 112). They secretly whisper evil and then withdraw, to make their net the more subtle and alluring.

 الَّذِي يُوَسْوِسُ فِي صُدُورِ النَّاسِ 
( 5 )   Who whispers [evil] into the breasts of mankind -
Ibn Kathir Explanation:
(Who whispers in the breasts of An-Nas.) Is this specific for the Children of Adam as is apparent, or is it general, including both mankind and Jinns

There are two views concerning this. This is because they (the Jinns) are also included in the usage of the word An-Nas (the people) in most cases.

Ibn Jarir said, "The phrase Rijalun min Al-Jinn (Men from the Jinns) has been used in reference to them, so it is not strange for the word An-Nas to be applied to them also.'' 

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual words are: صُدُوۡرِ النَّاسِ. They, however, refer to the hearts that beat in the chests.

 مِنَ الْجِنَّةِ وَالنَّاسِ 
( 6 )   From among the jinn and mankind."
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 naas would apply to both jinn and men. They say that this can be so, for when the word rijal (men) in the Quran has been used for the jinn, as in( Surah Al-Jinn, Ayat 6), and when nafar can be used for the group of jinn, as in (Surah A1-Ahqaf, Ayat 29), men and jinn both can be included metaphorically in the word naas also. But this view is wrong because the words naas, ins and insan are even lexically contrary in meaning to the word jinn. The actual meaning of jinn is hidden creation and jinn is called jinn because he is hidden from man’s eye. On the contrary, the words naas and ins are spoken for insan (man) only on the basis that he is manifest and visible and perceptible. In (Surah Al-Qasas, Ayat 29), the word anasa has been used in the meaning of raa, i.e. the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) saw a fire in the direction of Toor. In (Surah An-Nisa, Ayat 6), the word anastum has been used in the meaning of ahsastum or raaytum (i.e. if you perceive or see that the orphans have become capable). Therefore, naas cannot apply to jinn 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 Quran as well as by the Hadith. The Quran says: And so it has always been that We set against every Prophet enemies from among devils of men and devils of jinn, who have been inspiring one another with charming things to delude the minds. (Surah Al-Anaam, Ayat 112).

And in the Hadith, lmam Ahmad, Nasai, and Ibn Hibban have related on the authority of Abu Dharr a tradition, saying: I sat before the Prophet (peace be upon him, who was in the Mosque. 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 Prophet (peace be upon him) said: O Abu Dharr, seek Allah’s refuge from the devils of men and the devils of jinn. I asked, are there devils among men also? O Messenger of Allah! He replied: Yes. 

Ibn Kathir Explanation:
This is supportive of the second view. It has also been said that Allah's saying, (Of Jinn and An-Nas) is an explanation of who is it that whispers into the breasts of mankind from the devils of mankind and Jinns. 

This is similar to Allah's saying,

وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَا لِكُلِّ نِبِىٍّ عَدُوّاً شَيَـطِينَ الإِنْسِ وَالْجِنِّ يُوحِى بَعْضُهُمْ إِلَى بَعْضٍ زُخْرُفَ الْقَوْلِ غُرُوراً
(And so We have appointed for every Prophet enemies -- Shayatin among mankind and Jinn, inspiring one another with adorned speech as a delusion.) (6:112) 

Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "A man came to the Prophet and said, `O Messenger of Allah! Sometimes I say things to myself that I would rather fall from the sky than say (aloud openly). ' The Prophet said,

«اللهُ أَكْبَرُ، اللهُ أَكْبَرٌ الْحَمْدُ للهِ الَّذِي رَدَّ كَيْدَهُ إِلَى الْوَسْوَسَةِ»
(Allah is Most Great! Allah is Most Great! All praise is due to Allah Who sent his (Shaytan's) plot back as only a whisper.)'' Abu Dawud and An-Nasa'i also recorded this Hadith.

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
The above is perhaps the oldest Qur'anic mention of the term and concept of al-jinnah (synonymous with al-jinn), which has been tentatively explained in Appendix III. In the above context, the term probably denotes the intangible, mysterious forces of nature to which man's psyche is exposed, and which sometimes make it difficult for us to discern between right and wrong. However, in the light of this last verse of the last surah of the Qur'an it is also possible to conclude that the "invisible forces" from which we are told to seek refuge with God are the temptations to evil emanating from the blindness of our own hearts, from our gross appetites, and from the erroneous notions and false values that may have been handed down to us by our predecessors.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This verse informs us of the fraternity of Satan. The implication is that Satan is not an independent being created by God to lead people astray. The fact of the matter is that all those who adopt this attitude from among the jinn and mankind become Satan.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
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. See last note. 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.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sürah An Nās with English subtitles:
You may refer to our Reference Page "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, explanation and exegesis of other chapters of the Qur'an.

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1]
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. [2}  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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