This sūrah is the dual of Sūrah Falaq, the previous sūrah
and there is no essential difference between the central themes of the two. Both
are a means through which a man seeks the Almighty’s protection from various
evils. However, there are certain aspects which distinguish this sūrah from the
Firstly, in this sūrah, refuge has been saught with Allah
through His attributes which are directly related to man. As a result, the
appeal of the sūrah is more effective. The previous sūrah also carries an
effective appeal, yet an element of reasoning dominates its style. In this sūrah,
on the other hand, this element, though present, is overshadowed by an earnest
call which invokes Allah’s mercy.
Secondly, in the previous sūrah, refuge has been saught
from various evils, while this sūrah seeks protection against Satan, the root of
all evils and, as indicated in the previous sūrah, the eternal enemy of Tawhīd.
Thirdly, in the previous sūrah, Satan has been referred to
with regard to one of his characteristics---jealousy. In this sūrah, his method
and technique, accomplices and colleagues, and the sphere of his incursions and
onslaughts have been brought to light so that people have a clear recognition of
their shrewd enemy and are in a position to defend themselves.
Meaning of the Sūrah
Say: I seek refuge with the Cherisher of mankind, the
Emperor of mankind, the God of mankind from the mischief of the Prompter [of
evil] who withdraws [after his prompts], who implants evil suggestions in the
hearts of men, [and is] from among the jinns and men.
Explanation of the Sūrah
Qul aa’oozu birabbinnaas. Malikinnaas. Iilaahinnaas.
(Say: I seek refuge with the Cherisher of mankind, the
Emperor of mankind, the God of mankind.) (1-3)
The above verses seek the refuge of Allah through three
attributes, which, in fact, also determine the basic rights imposed on man. They
guide us, moreover, that help should only be solicited from someone who possess
How the attributes stated above ascertain the basic rights
can be understood if one appreciates that it is only befitting for someone who
is the Cherisher of mankind to be their real Emperor and it is only befitting
for someone who is the real Emperor of mankind to have the right to be
worshipped. It is certainly against all norms of sense and reason to worship and
regard someone who is not the real cherisher of mankind their real emperor and,
therefore, such a practice has been totally forbidden.
In Sūrah Faatihah, it had been stated that the real
emperor since the Almighty is the Cherisher of His creation, therefore, all
thanksgivings must return to Him and He alone should be worshipped and saught
help from. What the opening three verses of this sūrah imply is no different.
An acceptance of the above three attributes closes all
doors which lead to polytheism, and an acknowledgement of one of them
necessitates the acknowledgement of the others.
Min sharril waswaasil khannaas.
(From the mischief of the Prompter [of evil] who withdraws
[after his prompts].) (4)
This verse states the real being from which refuge has
been saught in the above verses. Though it has not been stated in words yet it
is quite evident from the attributes mentioned and the specification made later
that it is Satan who has been referred to.
The verse describes Satan’s technique and his line of
attack: he allures people through propaganda, deceptive promises and by
initiating wicked suggestions in their minds. After entraping them, he acquits
himself of all the consequences and enjoys watching the ill-fated foolish who
get caught by his sinister schemes.
There is no conjunction between waswaas (prompter of evil)
and khannaas (one who withdraws) which means, as has been indicated many times,
that these two characteristics exist simultaneously in the noun they qualify.
It is quite evident from this verse that Satan’s only
weapon is prompting evil suggestions. Apart from this, he has no other powers
through which he might necessarily lead a person astray. He tries to frighten as
well as to cajole people through threatening admonitions and sugar-coated
promises, but he cannot harm people who are not over-awed by him. Therefore,
when he had threatened the Almighty that he would lead mankind astray, the
Almighty had clearly replied: ‘[Do whatever you can], you will have no power
over my people [who intend to remain on the right path]’ (17:65). He had also
assured His creation that He would certainly help those who would repose all
their confidence in Him and counteract the assaults of Satan: ‘Your Lord
sufficeth as [your] Guardian’ (17:65).
The word khannaas delineates another aspect of Satan’s
character. Commentators have generally regarded it to mean someone who prompts
evil suggestions while remaining hidden from people. This meaning can only be
accepted if Satan and his allies are regarded as jinn-folk, but the last verse
clearly points out that these evil creatures exist both in men and in jinns.
Someother commentators have understood it to mean ‘someone who comes again and
again’, which is totally against linguistic principles.
In our consideration, it means someone who withdraws and
retreats. This actually brings out a typical feature of Satan’s mode of attack.
Initially, he comes out and entices his prey and when a person succumbs to his
wicked suggestions he acquits himself of all the consequences. This character of
Satan has been depicted at various instances in the Qur’ān. In Sūrah Furqaan, he
has been called Khazool ie. ‘one who deceives his followers’:
“And Satan is the deceiver of men.” (25:29)
To quote Sūrah Bani-Israel:
“All of Satan’s promises are a mere deception.” (17:64)
Sūrah Hashr portrays this aspect of Satan’s character even
“They are like Satan, when he says to man: disbelieve.
When he disbelieveth, he says to him: I here and now disown you, I fear Allah,
the Lord of the Worlds.” (59:16)
The Jews had demonstrated this Satanic character at the
time of the battle of Badr. They had induced the Quraish to attack Medina by
giving them the assurance that the Muslims would not be able to face them, and
if need be, they themselves would come forward and assist them. However, as
history bears witness, they never turned up in the battlefield. The Qur’ān has
depicted this character as follows:
“And when Satan [Jews] made their [the Quraish’s] deeds
seem fair to them and said: Today no man shall overcome you and I shall be with
you. But when the two forces faced each other, he took to his heels saying: I am
done with you; I see what you do not.” (8:48)
Satan and his followers exhibit this character not only in
this world, they shall do so in the next as well. The Qur’ān has, at a number of
occasions, drawn a picture of the dialogue that shall take place in Hell between
evil leaders and their followers. These adherents would ask the leaders, whom
they had so diligently followed, to come forward and help them. The leaders
would reply that it was their fault if they had followed them, for they had
never forced them to do so; therefore, they should now face the punishment
The word khannaas is meant to express the above feature of
Satan’s character and actually sounds a warning to everyone: People should not
be overwhelmed by his sweet talk; rather they should always keep in mind his
disloyality and betrayels after a person falls prey to his ‘word of honour’.
Allazee yuwaswisu fee sudoorinnaas. Minal jinnati wannaas.
(Who implants evil suggestions in the hearts of man, [and
is] from among the jinns and men.) (6-7)
The above verses indicate Satan’s mission as well as his
brethren so that people can have a clear recognition of their enemy. His modus
operandi is to prompt evil suggestions in a person’s bosom (sadr, pl:sudoor).
Here, a person’s bosom actually implies his heart which is contained in it.
These evil suggestions are, of course, meant to divert a man from the right
path. Satan himself has stated this to be his mission as specified by the Qur’ān.
He has no other authority or hold on man and cannot forcibly lead him astray, as
The words minal jinnati wannaas ([and is] from among the
jinns and men) specify Satan’ brethren, indicating that he is not an independent
creation of Allah, but every one among the jinns and men who induces evil
suggestions in others’ hearts is, in fact, a Satan. The Qur’ān has specified
that the Satan who had inveigled Adam was from among the jinns. It is incorrect
to regard this particular Satan as an independent or eternal creation. However,
his mission shall be carried on till the Day of Judgement through his disciples
and followers who are from both the men and jinnfolk.
With these words the exegesis of this sūrah ends, which,
ends “Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān” as well. I, as a humble servant, am extremely grateful
to the Almighty for being able to be of some service to the cause of truth. I
pray to Him to make this work a means of my salvation in the Hereafter, to make
every rightly interpretted verse a source of benefit for others and to protect
everyone from the evils of an erroneous inference. O Allah! Show us the right
path the way it is and make us follow it and O Allah! Show us the wrong path the
way it is and keep us away from it. (Amen)
(Translated from Islahi’s “Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān”)