بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Name: Named after the first word wal-layl
Period of Revelation: Makkan
Theme and Subject Matter:
The Surah distinguishes between two different lifestyles and explains the contrast between their ultimate ends. In view of the subject matter this Surah consists of two parts.
The first part [Ayaat 1–11], points out that the striving of mankind is as divergent as the day is from the night, and the male is from the female. This is based on their moral characteristics. Then the Surah goes on to explain three moral characteristics of two kinds, as an illustration from a vast collection of man’s strivings. These have been described in such terse sentences that they move the heart as soon as one hears them.
Characteristics of the first kind are that one should spend one’s wealth, adopt Allah’s consciousness and piety, and acknowledge good as good. The second kind of the characteristics are that one should be miserly, should least care for Allah’s pleasure and displeasure, and repudiate what is good and right. These two modes which are clearly divergent cannot be equal and alike in the respect of their results. The person who adopts the first mode will find his path easy. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala will make doing good easy for him and doing evil difficult. On the contrary, he who adopts the second mode of life, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala will make doing evil easy for him and doing good difficult.
This passage has been concluded with the most effective and touching sentence saying,
وَمَا يُغْنِى عَنْهُ مَالُهُ إِذَا تَرَدَّى
“And what will his wealth avail him when he falls?”
Meaning this worldly wealth for the sake of which man is even prepared to risk his life will not go down with him into the grave; therefore, what will it avail him after death?
In the second part [Ayaat 12-21] also three truths have been stated. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has not left man uninformed in this world rather He has taken on the responsibility upon Himself to teach man which is the straight path and which is the devil’s path. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala is the Owner of this world and the next. Therefore, if one seeks this world, Allah will give it to him and if one seeks the hereafter, again it is Allah Who will give it. Now, it is upon man which world does he seek. The wretched one who rejects the path of the Messenger and the Book will have a blazing fire ready for him. The God-fearing on the other hand, the one who spends his wealth in a good cause without any selfish motive, will attain the pleasure of his Lord.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala make us from the latter group, aameen.