Seeking Refuge with Allah
The Surah begins with the prayer of seeking refuge,
قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبّ الْفَلَقِ
The act of seeking refuge necessarily consists of three parts:
(1)The act of seeking refuge itself;
(2) the seeker of refuge; and
(3) he whose refuge is sought.
Seeking refuge implies feeling fear of something and seeking protection of another, or taking cover of it, or clinging to it, or going under its shelter for safety. The seeker after refuge in any case is the person, who feels that he cannot by himself resist and fight the thing that he fears but stands in need of refuge with another for protection. Then the one whose refuge is sought must necessarily be a person or being about whom the seeker after refuge believes that he or it alone can protect him from the calamity.
Now, one kind of refuge is that which is obtained according to natural laws in the physical world from a perceptible material object or person or power, for example, taking shelter in a fort for protection against the enemy’s attack, or taking cover in a trench or behind a heap of earth, or wall, for protection against a shower of bullets, or taking refuge with a man or government, protection from a powerful tyrant or taking refuge in the shade of a tree or building for protection from the sun.
In this Surah, we seek refuge of the One Who is above everything. On Whom we have a firm belief that He will save us from every kind of material, moral or spiritual harm. This kind of a refuge is a necessary corollary of the doctrine of Tawheed. It can be sought from no one but Allah.
The polytheists seek this kind of protection from other beings besides than Allah, e.g. the jinn, or gods and goddesses. The materialists turn to material means and resources, for they do not believe in any supernatural power. But the believer only turns to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and seeks refuge only with Him, against all such calamities and misfortunes to ward off which he feels he has no power.
Examples of Seeking Refuge with Allah
About the polytheists it has been said in the Qur’an:
“And there were men from mankind who sought refuge in men from the jinn, so they [only] increased them in burden.” Al-Jinn: 6
A hadeeth from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu narrates that when the polytheistic Arabs had to pass a night in an uninhabited valley, they would call out, saying: We seek refuge of the lord of this valley (i.e. of the jinn who is ruler and master of this valley).”
As for the attitude and conduct of the Believers, the Qur’an says that they seek Allah’s refuge for protection against the evil of everything that they fear, whether it is material, moral or spiritual. Thus, about Maryam ‘alayhi salaam it has been said that when an angel appeared before her suddenly in human guise (when she did not know that he was an angel), she cried out. She said, “Indeed, I seek refuge in the Most Merciful from you, [so leave me], if you should be fearing of Allah.” [Surah Maryam: 18]
When Prophet Nu’h ‘alayhi salaam made an improper petition to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and was rebuked in response, he immediately submitted: “My Lord, I seek refuge in You from asking that of which I have no knowledge. And unless You forgive me and have mercy upon me, I will be among the losers.” [Surah Hud: 47]
When Prophet Musa ‘alayhi salaam commanded the children of Israel to sacrifice a cow, and they said that perhaps he was having a jest with them, he replied: “I seek refuge in Allah from being among the ignorant.” [Surah al-Baqarah: 67]
These examples show that the believer should seek Allah’s refuge from every danger and evil and not the refuge of anyone else, nor he should become self sufficient of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and place reliance only on himself.