Ash-Shams · Juz 30

Tafseer Surah Ash-Shams Ayaat 1-10

A Look into the Human Soul

Ayaat 1 - 10

In these Ayaat Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala swears by His creation drawing man’s attention to them. Man ought to reflect on these objects and try to appreciate their value and the purpose of their creation.

The first creation that Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala swears by is the sun and its brightness. The word duha [وَضُحَـهَا] is from the root ḍād ḥā wāu which means “to be uncovered, to be revealed or to appear conspicuously”. The word is also used for those hours of the morning which follow shortly after sunrise. It is the time when the sun rises and goes up slightly higher on the sky and its light spreads on the earth. Everything becomes clear due to sunlight. In winter, this is a time of refreshing warmth. In summer, it is a time when temperature is just mild before the blazing heat of midday sets in.

Then He swears by the moon as it follows the sun. The sun hides and the night falls. There is an age-long fascination between the human heart and moon. People have been known to sit and contemplete in moonlight. When there is no light in the middle of the sea it is the moon that gives man company.

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala then swears by the day as it reveals the sun. Apparently it seems it’s about the sun however there is a discreet illusion to the fact that sunlight reveals ‘the earth’. It is during daytime when man is able to explore the earth and get on with his life.

Then it was said, “By the night when it covers it.” This is the opposite of what happens during the day. Night time is like a screen that covers and hides everything.

“And [by] the sky and He who constructed it,” meaning if the sky is such a magnificent spectacle that it appears like a strong protective covering adorned with stars and planets then how remarkable its Creator would be.

The oath then includes the earth and its spreading as preparatory to the emergence of life. Indeed, human and animal life would not have been possible had the earth not been spread out. It is indeed the special characteristics and the natural laws which Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has incorporated in the making of this earth that make life on earth possible.

Ayaat 5 and 6 take our attention to the great Designer and Architect of the sky and earth, and on His perfection and absolute freedom from flaw or defect in the design and creation of the universe.

The Surah then moves on to man who has been perfectly apportioned. His hands, his feet and his senses are appropriate for him to live as man in this world. Not only that but Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala also endowed man with the faculties of thinking and reasoning, imagination, will power and other similar powers through which he performs his actions. Man is just as capable of recognizing the good as he is of recognizing the evil in everything he encounters, and he is equally capable of directing himself one way or the other. This dual ability is deeply ingrained within him.

The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Every child that is born, is born upon the Fitrah, but his parents make him a Jew, a Christian, or a Zoroastrian. This is just as the animal is born, complete with all of its parts. Do you notice any mutilation in it?” Both Al-Bukhari and Muslim recorded this hadeeth from Abu Huraira radhiAllahu ‘anhu.

In Saheeh Muslim, it has been narrated from `Iyad bin Himar Al-Mujashi`i that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,“Allah the Mighty and Majestic says, ‘Verily I created My servants Hunafa (as monotheists), but then the devils came to them and distracted them from their religion.’”

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala didn’t leave man with no guidance He guides him by sending messages that help him see the truth and choose the right path. Thus, he recognizes his way easily and clearly.

Abu Huraira and ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhum reported that whenever the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam recited:

وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا – فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا

he would stop and say the following du`a,

اللْهُمَّ آتِ نَفْسِي تَقْوَاهَا، أَنْتَ وَلِيُّهَا وَمَوْلَاهَا، وَخَيْرُ مَنْ زَكَّاهَا

“O Allah! Give my soul its good. You are its Guardian and Master, and the best to purify it.”

The primitive meaning of tazkiyah is ‘inner cleanliness’, signifying he who obeyed Allah and purified his inner and outer selves. One the other hand is a man who disregards his soul by neglecting to allow it to receive guidance (denoted by the word dassaha). He treats it in this manner until he performs acts of disobedience and he abandons obedience of Allah.

Hence, it can be concluded man is equipped with a conscious faculty which determines his line of action. He is responsible for his actions and decisions. He who uses this faculty to strengthen his inclinations to what is good and to purify himself and to weaken his evil drive will be prosperous and successful. By contrast, a person who uses this faculty to suppress the good in him will ruin himself.

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