Quarterly: Issue No 8
COMMENTARY OF SURAH AL-ASR
by the late Hazrath Maulana Abdul Kadir Sahib of South Africa (Rahimahullah)
Allah, the Exalted, says:
BY THE FLIGHT OF TIME! VERILY MAN IS IN A LOSS UNLESS HE BE OF THOSE WHO HAVE FAITH (IMAN) AND DO GOOD WORKS; AND ENJOIN UPON ONE ANOTHER THE TRUTH (HAQ); AND ENJOIN UPON ONE ANOTHER PATIENCE (SABR). (Surah Al-Asr: 1-3)
SUMMARY OF ITS COMMENTARY
In this small chapter of the Glorious Quran, Allah takes an oath of the Flight of Time (i.e. TIME that is moving fast) in which man spends his life on earth. This limited Time is very valuable and crucial to man and it all depends on how he spends it. After taking an oath of this Flight of Time, Allah, the Exalted says that man is indeed in a loss by spending this time without being obedient to Allah. But, on the other hand, Allah the exalted also makes an exception under the same oath that those who have firm faith in Him and do good deeds are not in a loss. They are the people who have perfected their souls. They not only do good deeds to uplift themselves but also continuously exhort one another with truth and patience. These people are not in a loss but instead they are in great success and have profited a lot by spending their Time in this manner.
ITS VIRTUE AND SIGNIFICANCE
It is recorded in the Hadeeth collection of Tabrani that Hazrat Ubaidullah bin Hisn (May Allah be pleased with him) said: ‘There were two companions of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) whose normal practice was that whenever they met they never separated unless they read Surah Al-Asr to one another thereby reminding each other of their duties laid down in this chapter.’
It is also reported by Ibn Katheer, a great Quraanic commentator (mufassir), that Imam Idrees ash-Shafe’I (May Allah have mercy on him) used to say that if people only had the foresight and pondered over this chapter alone, then this would have been sufficient for them for success both in this world and the hereafter.
A DETAILED COMMENTARY
In this small but important chapter of the Glorious Quran Allah, the Most High, takes the oath of the FLIGHT of TIME and says that mankind is in a complete loss except those who establish four things in their daily life:-
Good Deeds (Amal-e-Salih)
Exhort one another with truth (Haq)
Exhort one another with patience (Sabr)
To save oneself from the loss of this world and the hereafter and to gain maximum benefit, Allah points us to four major areas of concern. The first two concern one’s self and the other two relates to the guidance and upliftment of the Muslim Ummah.
At this point, let us ponder and see what is the connection of TIME with the topic of discussion in this chapter. Why is Allah, the Exalted, taking an oath of the Flight of Time. All the great scholars and commentators of the Quran are unanimous in saying that the growth and development of man, his activities, deeds and the framing of his character are all done within the framework of Time. The actions and deeds which we are commanded with in this chapter are carried out and executed during the days and nights of this Flight of Time. It is precisely for this reason alone that an oath of TIME is taken. To explain it more manifestly, the CAPITAL of man which he uses to uplift himself is the TIME of his life he spends in this world. If one ponders very carefully, the years, months, days, hours and minutes put together constitutes man’s CAPITAL. It is with this CAPITAL that he can either attain great success in this world and the hereafter or he can destroy himself by spending this CAPITAL in committing evil. It all depends on how he uses his CAPITAL. Many scholars and saints have said very rightfully that man’s life on earth is made of a limited number of breaths. If one breath expires then one vital part of his life is lost which he can never get back. Allah has created man and has given him his life on earth as his CAPITAL and placed him in a special kind of business. Man is supposed to use his intelligence and skill to use this CAPITAL to produce the maximum benefit with it. If he uses this CAPITAL wrongly, he will incur loss and harm to himself and is bound to lose this CAPITAL as well. This is not just a poetic comparison but is explained as such by the Quran and Ahadeeth. To give examples, I quote two examples of which one is from the Quran and the other from the Ahadeeth.
Allah, the Exalted, says in the Glorious Quran:
O YOU WHO BELIEVE! SHALL I POINT OUT TO YOU A TRADE THAT WILL SAVE YOU FROM A SEVERE PUNISHMENT?- THAT YOU BELIEVE IN ALLAH AND HIS MESSENGER AND THAT YOU STRIVE (YOUR UTMOST) IN THE CAUSE OF ALLAH WITH YOUR PROPERTY AND YOUR LIVES. (Surah As-Saff:10)
The following hadeeth of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also brings out the same concept:
“Whenever a person wakes up in the morning he puts the CAPITAL of his life on a trade. Some free this CAPITAL from loss and harm while others destroy it completely.”
The great commentators have also said that this CAPITAL is not something ‘solid’ which one can keep for a few days and then use it afterwards for one’s benefit. This CAPITAL is so ‘liquid’ that it is flowing away from a person every minute and second. That part of the CAPITAL which has flowed away cannot be regained. Therefore man has to be very intelligent to use this ‘liquid’ and ‘continuously flowing’ CAPITAL for his maximum benefit.
It has been reported that one pious Alim (scholar) visited the market-place and saw a man selling ice-cubes. After a while, he went to his people and said that he has now fully understood the real tafseer of Surah Al-Asr by just looking at the man selling ice-cubes. If that man had become a little negligent about his CAPITAL (i.e. the ice-cubes), then he would have lost a huge part of his trade including the CAPITAL because it would have melted and flowed away as water.
Similarly, the FLIGHT of TIME in man’s earthly life bears the same significance. Allah, the Exalted, takes an oath of this flight of Time and draws man’s attention towards four things which, if established firmly, will save him from the loss in both worlds. The four things which mankind is asked to be steadfast and firm in are as follows:
Good deeds (Amal-e-salih)
Exhort one another with truth (Haq)
Exhort one another in Patience (Sabr)
The first two are self-explanatory and need no further explanation. These two relate to man’s own self and his betterment. The last two needs further explanation and are worth noting. The word TAWAASAW in this chapter is derived from WASIYYAH. WASIYYAH is the terminology given to the advice and guidance given with emphasis and in an effective manner to a person to do some good deed. It is for this reason that the instructions left by a deceased to be carried out on his behalf is called WASIYYAH. Thus, the last two things mentioned are two parts of the WASIYYAH i.e. the Wasiyyah of Haq (Truth) and the Wasiyyah of Sabr (Patience). What are their real interpretations?
The Haq (truth) implies the correct beliefs (aqaa’id-e-saheehah) and the Sabr (patience) implies restricting oneself from committing evil deeds. Using the word TAWAASAW with HAQ (truth) is then interpreted to be AMR-BIL-MA’ROOF i.e. commanding others towards good. Similarly, using the word TAWAASAW with SABR (patience) implies NAHI-‘ANIL MUNKAR i.e. prohibiting others from committing evil. The Haq (truth) implies all the correct and true beliefs (aqaa’id) and the Sabr (patience) may be understood as being punctual and steadfast in doing all good deeds and continuously refraining from evil. Why? Because the real menaing of Sabr (patience) is to control and master one’s inner self (nafs). Therefore, one will always tend to do good and keep away from evil.
Many learned scholars (ulama-e-haqq) have said that there are two things which really prevent man from holding correct beliefs and doing good deeds:
1) DOUBT i.e. when a person has doubts on certain beliefs in Islam either by way of speculation or contemplation. This will result in the persons Imaan (faith) becoming weak and consequently ignores doing good deeds and will tend to be more attracted towards evil.
2) PERSONAL DESIRES i.e. when a person is over-powered by his lower self (nafs) and commits evil deeds inspite of him knowing that such deeds are evil.
Such scholars have then interpreted the Wasiyyah of Haq (truth) as the rectification of the beliefs of muslims by correct education. And the Wasiyyah of Sabr (patience) as the rectification of the deeds of muslims by calling them towards good and keeping them away from evil.
There is one very important fact that emerges from this chapter of the Glorious Quran. The fact that it is not sufficient to rectify and uplift one’s own self alone with good beliefs and deeds. To attain salvation, it is also necessary to make untiring efforts to encourage other muslims towards good and to keep them away from evil. Being negligent and consistently overlooking the evil ways of one’s family members, close relatives and friends is a means of closing the doors of salvation for one’s own self. It is for this very reason that the Quran and the Ahadeeth has made it compulsory for each Muslim, according to his or her capabilities, to invite others towards good and forbid them from committing evil. In this matter, many Muslims are unmindful and negligent. This also applies to our learned memmembers of the Muslim community as well. They feel it content to engross themselves only in good deeds whilst leaving their family members to live their lives in a non-Islamic manner.
Those who are learned but do not put their knowledge into practice are similar to what Allah, the Most High, mentions with regards to the Jews and their Mosaic Law (Tawraah). The Jews knew the Mosaic Law very well but did not obey it because of their love for the world and their wealth. Allah, the Most High, compares them to a donkey which carries huge books but cannot understand them. Allah, the Most High, says:
THE SIMILITUDE OF THOSE WHO WERE CHARGED WITH THE (OBLIGATIONS OF THE ) MOSAIC LAW BUT WHO THEN FAILED IN THOSE (OBLIGATIONS) IS THAT OF A DONKEY WHICH CARRIES HUGE BOOKS (BUT UNDERSTANDS THEM NOT)… (Surah Al-Jumu’ah:5)
Many great commentators (mufassiroon) have written that an Alim (scholar) who does not put into practice what he knows is similar to what Allah compares in connection with the Jews and their Mosaic Law mentioned in the Quranic verse above. In another verse of the Glorious Quran, Allah, the Most High, says:
O YOU WHO BELIEVE! SAVE YOURSELVES AND YOUR FAMILIES FROM A FIRE WHOSE FUEL IS MEN AND STONES; OVER IT (THE FIRE) ARE (APPOINTED) ANGELS STRONG AND SEVERE, WHO DO NOT DISOBEY ALLAH WITH WHATEVER HE COMMANDS THEM, BUT THEY DO (PRECISELY) WHAT THEY ARE COMMANDED. (Surah At-Tahreem: 6). It is therefore evident from this verse that it is compulsory (FARD) for each Muslim to save himself from the fire of Hell by obeying the commands of Allah and submitting himself or herself fully to the will of Allah. It is likewise compulsory (FARD) to save one’s immediate family members and close friends from the Fire of Hell by teaching them the commands of Allah and then making all efforts to ensure that they become obedient to those commands of Allah, the Most High.
(Translated from the Maulana’s Jumu’ah lectures by his son Abdul Haq). May Allah, the Exalted, give us all the tawfeeq and hidayah to sincerely put Islam into practice. Ameen!
The following declarations were made at
the closing of a conference held by the International Islamic Revivalist
1. The Islamic Movements agree that the
2. The Islamic Movements endorse the struggle of Sheikh
Osama Bin Laden against the
3. The Islamic Movements agree that the global problems we face are a direct result of the absence of the Islamic State (Khilafah) and we need to co-operate and work together to fulfill our duty of its re-establishment.
4. The Islamic Movements are united in their
condemnation of the oppression and atrocities committed by western regimes
against Muslims and particularly those in
5. The Islamic Movements will never remain silent in the face of such aggression and humiliation. Rather we will ensure that they co-operate to highlight the open and hidden agendas of our common enemies so that the Muslim masses have full awareness of their Islamic obligations and duties in response.
6. The Islamic Movements agree to meet at short notice in order to formulate a firm response to any action threatened against or taken against Muslims wherever they may be. This may involve verbal, financial and physical co-operation. The Second Conference of Islamic Revival Movements will be hosted, after Ramadhan, by Sheikh Abu Hamza (Ansar Al-Shari’ah).
7. Although political unity requires an Islamic State (Khilafah), co-operation to remove the obstacles in the way of revival is possible in the areas of our resources and manpower.
8. Obstacles in the way of revival include Secularism, Nationalism, Partisanship and lack of awareness about Islam amongst Muslims as a solution for all our problems.
9. The Islamic Movements will continue their struggle against the corruption of man-made law and the distortion of Islam by the Media. We pledge to continue calling the society to Islam, commanding good, forbidding evil and working sincerely for the domination of the World by Islam and the Supremacy of Allah’s commands on Earth, which is inevitable (Inshaa-Allah).
The main problems causing Muslim disunity are caused by two factors; abandoning the Qur'an and our in-fighting. These two factors are also related, the second being caused by the first. The Qur'an had declared us one brotherhood and had warned us against in-fighting. We have ignored those teachings and the billion-strong ummah has turned into an ummah fragmented into a billion segments.
A very large number of our internal battles is the result of narrowly defined self-interests. Islam could have been the force that helped us overcome that. Unfortunately, instead of letting it fulfill that role, today we have made even religion provide us with additional and unresolvable points of conflict. We fight over petty issues of fiqh. We fight over fine points of religious interpretation. We turn minor points of religious law into big battlegrounds while most important and fundamental teachings of religion are violated and ignored.
We do all this inspite of our religion is being attacked from all directions. Thousands of people become apostates every year. Qadianis (who declare Mirza Ghulam Ahmed of Qadian to be a prophet), Shiahs and Munkareen-e-Hadith (deniers of Hadith) have been busy attracting our new generations to their falsehoods. Haram is being declared as halal. Our Muslim masses are ignorant of their own religion and easily indulge in customs borrowed from polytheists. On top of all that is the western culture of hedonism, of shamelessness, of moral anarchy, that is invading our societies through film, television, radio, and obscene literature. Corruption of all sorts has permeated all layers of our society. Should not we be reflecting on this and asking ourselves what would the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, expect of us? Today, when the roots of Islam are under attack, we are busy taking care of the leaves.
Differences of opinion are inevitable wherever people have both intellect and honesty. Complete consensus on every issue is possible only when either everyone is dumb, so they cannot think of a different idea, or they are dishonest so they willingly agree with a position even if it is wrong. After all religious interpretations are not personal rights that can be sacrificed away easily. The problem occurs when we overstate these differences. There were differences of opinion in fiqh among the Companions, their followers, and great Mujahideen. But they did not turn these into fights. They disagreed but they maintained respect and love for each other. Their brotherhood and unity remained intact. They had tolerance for the others’ views.
How can we have tolerance for something we know is wrong? Of course we cannot have any tolerance for anything clearly established as wrong by Qur'an or Hadith. We can never show tolerance for apostasy. We can never agree on changing the Shariah's established definitions of halal and haram. But beyond this there are issues about which Qur'an and Sunnah are silent or are subject to more than one interpretation. Here the mujahideen deduce the intent of Qur'an and Sunnah based on their best ability. Here disagreements are possible. As long as those involved are qualified Mujahideen (like our four respected Imams of Fiqh), their differing views have to be respected. We can follow only one opinion, and we should try and determine the one closest to the intent of the Shariah, but we cannot declare opposing views as evil. We exaggerate when we deal with people holding valid opposing views as if they were outside the bounds of Islam.
Overstatement and Extremism are the main causes of most fights involving our religious groups. It also happens with Islamic organizations. Most are doing useful work in the areas they chose based on their abilities and inclinations. Had they developed a spirit of cooperation and considered their differences as just a natural division of labor, together they could have become a formidable force. Unfortunately each one of them considers their work and methodology as the only methodology for Islamic work. If a person leaves one of these organizations to join another, he is treated as if he had denounced his faith. This is exaggeration. It produces the tribalism of jahiliya (the pre-Islamic period of ignorance) among religious workers. Pious people are not extinct today. What we surely need is reformers who can rise above their narrow perspectives and heed the universal and unifying call of Islam.
SOME BELIEFS of the SHIAHS
The Muslim Ummah is warned against the basic beliefs of the Shiahs which are expressly documented in the book Al-Hukumatul Islamiyyah of Ayatullah Khomeini. Some of which are as follows:
“Among the essential and fundamental beliefs of our religion (Shia Isna Ashariyya) is the belief that our Innocent Imams hold the station (maqam) which could NOT be reached by any favourite Angel, Prophet or Messenger.” (p.52) Na’oozubillah!
“One cannot even imagine any act of negligence or error on the part of the Imam (i.e. they are infallible)” p.91
“Imamate is higher to Prophethood and Apostleship”, asserted by Allama Baqar Majlisi in his book Hayat-e-Qulub
(VOL III p. 10). Na’oozubillah!
The following is reported to have been said by the eleventh Imam of the Shiahs, Hasan Askari:
“We, the Awsiya of the Prophets are not conceived in the wombs of our mothers, but in their sides. We do not come out of the wombs, but out of the thighs of our mothers. We are the Light of God and hence we are kept away from filth and uncleanness”, found in the book Haqqul Yaqeen p. 126.
May Allah protect our Iman (Faith) from such filthy beliefs leading to kufr. Ameen.