Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Al-Fajr

The Surah is so designated after the word wal-fajr with which it opens.

Its contents show that it was revealed at the stage when persecution of the new converts to Islam had begun in Makkah. On that very basis the people of Makkah have been warned of the endings of the tribes of Ad and Thamud and of Pharaoh.

Its theme is to affirm the meting out of rewards and punishments in the Hereafter, which the people of Makkah were not prepared to acknowledge. Let us consider the reasoning in the order in which it has been presented.

First of all, swearing oaths by the dawn, the ten nights, the even and the odd, and the departing night, the listeners have been asked: "Are these things not enough to testify to the truth of that which you are refusing to acknowledge?" From the explanation that we have given of these four things in the corresponding notes, it will become clear that these things are a symbol of the regularity that exists in the night and day, and swearing oaths by these the question has been asked in the sense: Even after witnessing this wise system established by God, do you still need any other evidence to show that it is not beyond the power of that God Who has brought about this system to establish the Hereafter, and that it is the very requirement of his wisdom that He should call man to account for his deeds?

Then, reasoning from man's own history, the evil end of the Ad and the Thamud and Pharaoh has been cited as an example to show that when they transgressed all limits and multiplied corruption in the earth, Allah laid upon them the scourge of His chastisement. This is a proof of the fact that the system of the universe is not being run by deaf and blind forces, nor is the world a lawless kingdom of a corrupt ruler, but a Wise Ruler is ruling over it, the demand of Whose wisdom and justice is continuously visible in the world itself in man's own history that He should call to account, and reward and punish accordingly, the being whom He has blessed with reason and moral sense and given the right of appropriation in the world.

After this, an appraisal has been made of the general moral state of human society of which Arab paganism was a conspicuous example; two aspects of it in particular, have been criticized: first the materialistic attitude of the people on account of which overlooking the moral good and evil, they regarded only the achievement of worldly wealth, rank and position, or the absence of it, as the criterion of honor or disgrace, and had forgotten that neither riches was a reward nor poverty a punishment, but that Allah is trying man in both conditions to see what attitude he adopts when blessed with wealth and how he behaves when afflicted by poverty. Second, the people's attitude under which the orphan child in their society was left destitute on the death of the father. Nobody asked after the poor; whoever could, usurped the whole heritage left by the deceased parent, and drove away the weak heirs fraudulently. The people were so afflicted with an insatiable greed for wealth that they were never satisfied however much they might hoard and amass. This criticism is meant to make them realize as to why the people with such an attitude and conduct in the life of the world should not be called to account for their misdeeds.

The discourse has been concluded with the assertion that accountability shall certainly be held and it will be held on the Day when the Divine Court will be established. At that time the deniers of the judgment will understand that which they are not understanding now in spite of instruction and admonition, but understanding then will be of no avail. The denier will regret and say, "Would that I had provided for this Day beforehand while I lived in the world." But his regrets will not save him from Allah's punishment. However, as for the people who would have accepted the Truth, which the heavenly books and the Prophets of God were presenting, with full satisfaction of the heart in the world, Allah will be pleased with them and they will be well pleased with the rewards bestowed by Allah. They will be called upon to join the righteous and enter Paradise.

By the Dawn
And the ten nights,
And the even and the odd,
And by the Night when it passeth away;-

Is there (not) in these an adjuration (or evidence) for those who understand?
Dost thou not consider how thy Lord dealt with (the tribe of) A'ad,
Of the (city of) Iram, with lofty pillars,
The like of which were not produced in (all) the land?
And with (the tribe of) Thamud who cut out (huge) rocks in the valley?-
And with Pharaoh, firm of might?

(All) these transgressed beyond bounds in the lands,
And heaped therein mischief (upon mischief).
Therefore did thy Lord pour on them a scourge of diverse chastisements:
Verily! thy Lord is ever watchful.

Now, as for man, when his Lord trieth him, giving him honour and gifts, then saith he, (puffed up), "My Lord hath honoured me."
But when He trieth him, restricting his subsistence for him, then saith he (in despair), "My Lord hath humiliated me!"

Nay, nay! but ye honour not the orphans!
Nor do ye encourage one another to feed the poor!-
And ye devour inheritance - all with greed,
And ye love wealth with inordinate love!

Nay! When the earth is pounded to powder,
And thy Lord cometh, and His angels, rank upon rank,
And Hell, that Day, is brought (face to face),- on that Day will man remember, but how will that remembrance profit him?
He will say: "Ah! Would that I had sent forth (good deeds) for (this) my (Future) Life!"
For, that Day, His Chastisement will be such as none (else) can inflict,
And His bonds will be such as none (other) can bind.

(To the righteous soul will be said:) "O (thou) soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction!
"Come back thou to thy Lord,- well pleased (thyself), and well-pleasing unto Him!
"Enter thou, then, among My bondmen!
Enter thou My Garden!



2 comments:

Endless Chatter said...

Reciting this surah and burooj during fajr prayers is the sure recipe that will make my fajr an emotional one.

I am always attracted to the verses in the middle which says if one subsistence is restricted, they say their lord hath humiliated them.

What even more interesting is that, the solution is kind of "simple", honoring the orphans and you only have to encourage one another to feed to poor. Not even needing to do it yourself.

Anyway, taking a little break from line of interviews and meetings.... getting back to another :-(

Salam and have a good weekend

TheHoopoe said...

endless chatter,

Alhamdulillah! I am so glad to have a response on an entry such as this. Normally, people are shy to share their applications of ahadeeth or verses of the Qur'an. So, thank you!

I concur with you. That middle verse has a twin and must always go together:

"Now, as for man, when his Lord trieth him, giving him honour and gifts, then saith he, (puffed up), "My Lord hath honoured me."
But when He trieth him, restricting his subsistence for him, then saith he (in despair), "My Lord hath humiliated me!"

In this very short 2 verses, God gently reminded us of how fair-weather we are of our Faith in Him. If we don't feel embarrassed about ourselves, then I don't know what else...

And your other observation is very astute and poignant. You are absolutely correct: God does not require us to 'move mountains' for Him to be pleased with us. In fact, it is not even in the doing of deeds, it is in the reminder of doing those deeds. Subhan-Allah!

Its a reminder of the basic concept: if you do good deeds, you are rewarded at least 10 times the reward. If you merely think about doing things you are also rewarded. However, God is indeed Merciful to us - for every bad thoughts we think of, we are not punished for it, and for every bad deed we do, we are only punished to that one deed.

As I always said in class: mathematically speaking (but of course this is not about mathematics), it is so difficult for a Muslim to be thrown in the Hellfire. Just count!

Masya-Allah!

Thanks!