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 person seeks the Almighty’s
protection from various evils. However, there are certain aspects which
distinguish this sūrah from the previous one:
Firstly, in this sūrah, refuge is sought
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 it is more argumentative in style. In this
sūrah, on the other hand, this style, though present, is overshadowed by
repeated earnest calls which invoke Allah’s mercy.
Secondly, in the previous sūrah, refuge
is sought 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
Thirdly, in the previous sūrah, Satan is
referred to with regard to one of his characteristics -- jealousy. In this sūrah,
his method and technique, his clan and accomplices, the sphere of his incursions
and onslaughts, all are brought to light so that people have a clear perception
of their shrewd enemy and are in a position to defend themselves.
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 jinn and men.
(Say: I seek refuge with the Cherisher of mankind, the
Emperor of mankind, the God of mankind.) (1-3)
These opening verses seek refuge with Allah through three
attributes, which, in fact, also determine the basic rights of Allah imposed on
man. They guide us moreover that help should only be solicited from someone who
possesses such attributes.
How the attributes stated above ascertain these 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 to worship and regard
someone who is not the real cherisher of mankind their real emperor and,
therefore, such practice has been totally forbidden.
In Sūrah Fātihah, it is stated that since it is the
Almighty Who is the Cherisher of His creation, all thanksgivings must return to
Him, and He alone should be worshipped and sought 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.
(From the mischief of the Prompter [of evil] who withdraws
[after his prompts]). (4)
This verse states the real entity from which refuge is
sought in the above verses. Though it is not stated in words, yet it is quite
evident from the attributes mentioned and the specification made later that it
is Satan who is referred to.
The verse describes Satan’s technique and his line of
attack: he allures people through propaganda and deceptive promises and by
initiating wicked suggestions in their minds. After entrapping 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 Waswās (prompter of evil)
and Khannās (one who withdraws) which means 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 may 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 also assured His creation that He would certainly help
those who would repose all their confidence in Him and counteract the assaults
Your Lord suffices as [your] Guardian. (17:65)
The adjective Khannās 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, but the last verse
clearly points out that these evil creatures exist both in men and in the
jinn-folk. Some other commentators have understood it to mean ‘someone who comes
again and again’, which has no basis in the Arabic language.
In the opinion of this writer, 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 very character of Satan is also depicted at various instances in the Qur’ān.
In Sūrah Furqān, he is called Khadhūl, that is ‘one who deceives his followers’:
And Satan is the deceiver of men. (25:29)
To quote Sūrah Banī Isrā’īl:
All of Satan’s promises are 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 disbelieves, 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 Quraysh to attack Madīnah 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 Quraysh’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)
Not only Satan and his followers exhibit this very
character in this world, they will also do so in the next. The Qur’ān, on a
number of occasions, has drawn a picture of the dialogue that will take place in
Hell between evil leaders and their followers. These adherents will ask the
leaders, whom they had so diligently followed, to come forward and help them.
The leaders will reply that it was their fault that they had followed them, for
they had never forced them to do so; therefore, they should now face the
The word Khannās is meant to express the above mentioned
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 disloyalty and betrayals when a person falls prey to his ‘word of
(Who implants evil suggestions in the hearts of man, [and
is] from among the jinn and the men.) (5-6)
The above stated verses indicate Satan’s mission as well
as his brethren’s so that people can have a clear perception of their enemy. His
modus operandi is to prompt evil suggestions in a person’s bosom. Here, the word
Sudūr (chests) actually implies a person’s heart which is contained in his
chest. 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
at various places. He has no other authority or hold on man and cannot forcibly
lead him astray, as mentioned earlier.
The words min al-Jinnati wa al-Nās ([and is] from among
the jinn and men) specify Satan' brethren, indicating that he is not an
independent creation of Allah, but every one among the jinn 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 jinn. It is
incorrect to regard this particular Satan as an independent or eternal creation.
However, his mission will be carried on till the Day of Judgement through his
disciples and followers who are from both men and the jinn folk.
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 interpreted 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 “Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān” by Shehzad Saleem)