Tafsir of Surah al Layl

Since 2012-11-17

Tafsir (interpreting) of Surah al Layl - The Night (Surah 92)

Tafsir of Surah al Layl - The Night (Surah 92)

{By the night as it envelops; (1) And by the day as it appears in brightness; (2) And by Him Who created male and female; (3) Certainly, your efforts and deeds are diverse (different in aims and purposes)} [Al-Layl 92:1-4]
 
{وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا يَغْشَىٰ ﴿١﴾ وَالنَّهَارِ إِذَا تَجَلَّىٰ ﴿٢﴾ وَمَا خَلَقَ الذَّكَرَ وَالْأُنثَىٰ ﴿٣﴾ إِنَّ سَعْيَكُمْ لَشَتَّىٰ} الليل: 1-4
 
Transliteration: Waallayli itha yaghsha (1) Waalnnahari itha tajalla (2) Wama khalaqa alththakara waalontha (3) Inna saAAyakum lashatta (4)

In this chapter Allah takes an oath by the times in which the servants, in all their differing circumstances, perform their deeds. “By the night when it enshrouds,” its darkness falling on creation, and man takes his repose, resting from toil and labour.“By the day when it appears in full splendour,” illuminating creation. In its light, people leave their houses seeking their livelihood.
 
“And by Him who created the male and female,” it is possible that this be the meaning in which case Allah is taking an oath by His noble self, i.e. He created male and female. It is also possible that the meaning be, “and by the creation of the male and female” in which case the oath is by His creation. His all encompassing wisdom is exemplified here in His creating every species in pairs, male and female. In order for them to propagate, He has led one to be naturally attracted to the other and has made the male and female of each species compatible with the other, {So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators.}[Al-Muminoon 23: 14][1]
 
{فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّـهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ}المؤمنون: 14
 

 

Transliteration: fatabaraka Allahu ahsanu alkhaliqeena     
 
“Surely your striving is for diverse ends,” this is the point of the oaths: man, responsible for your deeds, your efforts are greatly disparate because of the huge differences in your actual works, the amount of them, the energy expended in doing them, the desire to perform them, and in their goals: are they for eternal face of Allah, the Most-High, or are they for some temporal objective soon to disappear? If it is the first case, the deed will endure forever but if it is the second case the deed would come to an end as soon as the goal is reached. This holds true for every deed that is done for other than the face of Allah.

This is why Allah gave a degree of eminence to those who work (for His sake) by saying:
{As for him who gives (in charity) and keeps his duty to Allah and fears Him, (5) And believes in Al-Husna. (6) We will make smooth for him the path of ease (goodness). (7) But he who is greedy miser and thinks himself self-sufficient. (8) And gives the lie to Al-Husna (see Verse No: 6 footnote); (9) We will make smooth for him the path for evil; (10) And what will his wealth benefit him when he goes down (in destruction).}
 
{فَأَمَّا مَنْ أَعْطَىٰ وَاتَّقَىٰ ﴿٥﴾ وَصَدَّقَ بِالْحُسْنَىٰ ﴿٦﴾ فَسَنُيَسِّرُهُ لِلْيُسْرَىٰ ﴿٧﴾ وَأَمَّا مَن بَخِلَ وَاسْتَغْنَىٰ ﴿٨﴾ وَكَذَّبَ بِالْحُسْنَىٰ ﴿٩﴾ فَسَنُيَسِّرُهُ لِلْعُسْرَىٰ ﴿١٠﴾ وَمَا يُغْنِي عَنْهُ مَالُهُ إِذَا تَرَدَّىٰ}الليل: 5-11
 
Transliteration: Faamma man aAAta waittaqa (5) Wasaddaqa bialhusna (6) Fasanuyassiruhu lilyusra (7) Waamma man bakhila waistaghna (8) Wakaththaba bialhusna (9) Fasanuyassiruhu lilAAusra (10) Wama yughnee AAanhu maluhu itha taradda

“As for him who gives,” of what he has been commanded subsuming acts of worship linked to wealth: zakat, charity, expiation and spending in ways of goodness; and acts of worship linked to the body: prayer, fast etc.; and those acts of worship that combine both: Hajj, Umrah etc. “and is mindful of Allah” by staying away from all that Allah prohibited. “And believes in the Good,” i.e. believes in 'None has the right to be worshipped save Allah' and all its related beliefs and requirements. “We will pave his way to Ease,” we will smooth his affair, and make the performance of good and the avoidance of evil easy for him. This is because he met the requirements for ease so Allah smoothed his way to that ease. “But as for him who is niggardly” in doing what he has been commanded, leaving off the obligatory and recommended spending, and not permitting his self to fulfil its obligations to Allah “and deems himself self-sufficient,” in no need of Allah.
 
As such he abandons servitude to Allah and does not view himself to be utterly and completely dependant on Allah. There is no victory and success for the soul unless Allah be its beloved and its object of worship, for whose sake it performs deeds, and towards whom it turns. “And denies the Good,” that Allah has enjoined His servants to: correct beliefs. “We will pave his way to Adversity,” the state of adversity and all despicable traits will be made easy for him. We ask Allah or well-being! “His wealth,” which made him take the path of inordinacy, which made him think he was self-sufficient, which made him niggardly, “will not help him when he plummets to the depths,” i.e. when he is destroyed and dies because at that time nothing accompanies man save his deeds. His wealth from which he did not give what was obligatory for him will be a source of anguish because he never used it to prepare for his Hereafter.


{Truly! Ours it is (to give) guidance, (12) And truly, unto Us (belong) the last (Hereafter) and the first (this world). (13) Therefore I have warned you of a Fire blazing fiercely (Hell); (14) None shall enter it save the most wretched, (15) Who denies and turns away.}
 
{إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا لَلْـهُدَىٰ ﴿١٢﴾ وَإِنَّ لَنَا لَلْآخِرَةَ وَالْأُولَىٰ ﴿١٣﴾ فَأَنذَرْتُكُمْ نَارًا تَلَظَّىٰ ﴿١٤﴾ لَا يَصْلَاهَا إِلَّا الْأَشْقَى ﴿١٥﴾ الَّذِي كَذَّبَ وَتَوَلَّىٰ} الليل: 12-16
 
Transliteration: Inna AAalayna lalhuda (12) Wainna lana lalakhirata waaloola (13) Faanthartukum naran talaththa (14) La yaslaha illa alashqa (15) Allathee kaththaba watawalla

“Providing guidance is up to Us,” i.e. the path of guidance leads one to Allah and draws one close to His good-pleasure. As for misguidance, its paths are barred from Allah and they lead the one traversing them to severe torment. “The Last and the First belong to Us,” it belongs to Us and We can do with it as We will, He has no partner in it so let the desirous turn to Him when seeking something and sever their hopes in the objects of creation. “I have warned you of a raging Fire in which only the most wretched will roast: those who denied” the truth “and turned away,” from the ordinances.

{And Al-Muttaqun (the pious and righteous - see V. 2:2) will be far removed from it (Hell). (17) He who spends his wealth for increase in self-purification, (18) And have in his mind no favour from anyone for which a reward is expected in return, (19) Except only the desire to seek the Countenance of his Lord, the Most High; (20) He surely will be pleased (when he will enter Paradise).}
 
{وَسَيُجَنَّبُهَا الْأَتْقَى ﴿١٧﴾ الَّذِي يُؤْتِي مَالَهُ يَتَزَكَّىٰ ﴿١٨﴾ وَمَا لِأَحَدٍ عِندَهُ مِن نِّعْمَةٍ تُجْزَىٰ ﴿١٩﴾ إِلَّا ابْتِغَاءَ وَجْهِ رَبِّهِ الْأَعْلَىٰ ﴿٢٠﴾ وَلَسَوْفَ يَرْضَىٰ} الليل: 17-21
 
Transliteration: Wasayujannabuha alatqa (17) Allathee yutee malahu yatazakka (18) Wama liahadin AAindahu min niAAmatin tujza (19) Illa ibtighaa wajhi rabbihi alaAAla (20) Walasawfa yarda

“The one most mindful of Allah will be spared it: he who gives his wealth to purify himself,” from sins and filth, seeking thereby the face of Allah. This then proves that if spending in a recommended way causes one to leave the obligation of repaying debts, or spending in ways that are obligatory upon him, this recommended spending is not legislated for him, rather, in the view of many of the scholars, this spending of his would be rejected because he sought to purify himself with a recommended deed at the expense of an obligatory deed.

“not to return a favour to anyone,” meaning that there is no one who done him a good turn requiring a return except that he has returned it. Perhaps they are even left owing him but he did what he did for the sake of Allah alone because he is in dire need of His beneficence and His alone. Whoever still has to return a favour will eventually do some turn for them that may be a cause for a decrease in his sincerity to Allah. This verse was revealed concerning Abu Bakr: everyone who had done him a favour had been repaid, even the Messenger of Allah (SAW), with the obvious exception of the blessing that came as a result of his being a Messenger which cannot possibly be repaid: the blessing of Islam and receiving guidance. In this respect Allah and His Messenger have a blessing over everyone that can never be repaid. However, this said, the verse is general and applicable to everyone who has this quality.
 
Therefore, such a person has nothing left that he must repay to any object of creation and as such all his deeds are entirely and sincerely for Allah, Most High. This is why He says, “desiring only the face of his Lord, Most High. He will certainly be well-pleased,” with what Allah will grant him of favour and reward.
 
 
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End Notes
* [1] Another interpretation is, “and the creation of the male and female.” [Abu Hayyan]
 
 
'Abdur-Rahman ibn Nasir as-Sa'di
Translated by Abû Rumaysah
 

 

 

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