Benefits from Surah al-'Asr
By Abu Abdis Salaam
All Praises are due to Allaah, and may the Peace and Blessings of Allaah be showered upon the Noble Messenger.
Allaah says in Soorah al-'Asr:
"By the 'Asr,
Indeed all of mankind is in a state of loss,
Except those who have eemaan,
Conduct righteous actions,
Call each other to the Truth,
And call each other to having patience."
'Asr here means time. So there are three opinions as to what it is:
1 - The time from the creation of the world till the Day of Judgement
2 - The duration of the Prophethood of Muhammad SAW
3 - Salaat-ul-'Asr
When Allaah says 'By the `Asr', He is making an oath. So Allaah is swearing by al-'Asr. Allaah can swear by anything He wants, as He can use anything to be His witness. However, we as Muslims, are not allowed to swear by anything or anyone except by Allaah, His Names or His Attributes. The Prophet SAW said: "Whoever swears by other than Allaah has indeed committed kufr [disbelief] or shirk [polytheism]."
So this is a prohibition for us to swear by anything or anyone except Allaah.
Then Allaah says:
"Inna al-insaana la fee khusr" [Indeed mankind is in loss]
Here Allaah could have said:
"Al-Insaanu fee khusr" [mankind is in loss]
But, rather, He emphasised this sentence by the addition of 'inna' and 'la'. This is only done if this there is some doubt or rejection of the sentence. In the Arabic language one would not use 'inna' or 'la' except if someone may have doubt in what is being said. So one would emphasise what he is saying by adding these two words.
Likewise, it is not necessary to use the 'la', as Allaah could also have just used 'inna':
"Inna al-insaana fee khusr"
So He added the 'la' for extra emphasis.
So Allaah emphasised the fact that mankind - the human race as a whole - are in loss, in three ways:
1 - Using an oath
2 - Using 'Inna'
3 - Using 'la'
He did this due to the fact that the kuffaar [disbelievers] rejected the fact that they would be in loss unless they possessed the four qualities mentioned later in the soorah.
So the emphasis means that we pay special attention to what is coming next. We should want to know how we can be excluded from the general rule of being in a state of loss.
So Allaah then says:
"Except those who have eemaan"
Eemaan can be loosely translated as faith. However, a definition of eemaan, as stated by Shaykh-ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah, would be:
"Eemaan is statement and action - statement of the heart and the tongue, and action of the heart, the tongue, and the limbs. It increases with obedience [of Allaah] and decreases with disobedience."
So we can see that eemaan consists of five parts:
1. STATEMENT OF THE HEART
This is known as tasdeeq, or the firm beliefs that a person holds, which admits no doubt, whatsoever. E.g.: with respect to Allaah, His Angels, Books, Messengers, Qadr [Predestination], the Last Day etc.
2. STATEMENT OF THE TONGUE
This is when a person proclaims his belief, eg when he says: 'I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah'.
3 - ACTION OF THE HEART
This refers to the different states and feelings of the heart. Things like love, hope, fear, reliance and trust in Allaah, etc.
4 - ACTION OF THE TONGUE
Things like making dhikr of the tongue, such as saying subhaanAllaah. Or like giving da'wah - enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, etc..
5 - ACTION OF THE LIMBS
Things like salaah, zakaah, sawm, hajj etc.
As eemaan consists of these different parts, we should see that it would not remain constant. One's strength of belief increases and decreases, his love, hope, fear, etc increase and decrease. Therefore, we should see that eemaan increases with obedience to Allaah, and decreases with disobedience.
Next Allaah says:
"And do righteous actions"
So here Allaah has separated eemaan from righteous actions by saying:
"Except those who have eemaan and do righteous actions."
Does this mean that eemaan is separate from actions. Does this not mean that actions are not part of eemaan as mentioned above? The answer is no. Here Allaah is emphasising action. So He mentions a general point [eemaan] followed by a specific [actions]. This can be shown by the next aayah:
"And enjoin each other to the Truth."
Enjoining each other to the Truth is da'wah. Giving da'wah is from the 'righteous actions'. So Allaah mentioned da'wah to emphasise it from the many 'righteous actions'. In a similar way, Allaah says:
"Say, whoever is an enemy to Allaah, the Angels, the Prophets, Jibreel and Mikaa`eel; then Allaah is an enemy of the disbelievers" [Soorah Baqarah].
Here, Allaah mentions the angels and then later on mentions Jibreel and Mikaa`eel. But Jibreel and Mikaa`eel are both angels. So why did Allaah mention them? This is, as we mentioned, in order to emphasise Jibreel and Mikaa`eel, as some people did indeed hate these two angels. So likewise, Allaah mentions actions after eemaan - even though actions are part of eemaan - due to the fact that some people would reject the fact that they must do righteous actions, and that belief is enough! As we often hear from some people who make excuses for their neglecting compulsory good deeds: "But God knows what's in my heart" or "It is what's in my heart that counts"....
As for the righteous action, then it has two conditions:
1 - It must be founded upon a CORRECT INTENTION. That is: it must be done sincerely for the sake of Allaah. It must not be done to show off, or for the purpose of any saint, or other individual. The proof of this is the
statement of the Prophet SAW: "Indeed actions are but by intention, and every man shall get what he intends."
2 - It must be done ACCORDING TO THE SUNNAH of the Messenger SAW. The proof of this is the statement of the Prophet SAW: "Whoever introduces something in this affair of ours [ie Islaam], then it will be rejected."
Then Allaah continues:
"And enjoin each other to the Truth."
This means da'wah, or calling others to Islaam. So it is not enough to have the correct beliefs and righteous actions. One must call to that.
The messenger SAW said: "Narrate from me even if it is an aayaah."
There are a number of conditions of da'wah:
1 - CORRECT INTENTION
As we mentioned earlier, every good deed must be founded upon a correct intention, due to the statement of the Prophet SAW: "Indeed actions are but by intention, and every man shall get what he intends." Da'wah is not excluded from this.
2 - KNOWLEDGE
One must have knowledge of what he is calling to and how to call to it. Allaah says:
"Say [O Muhammad]: This is my path. I call to it UPON SURE KNOWLEDGE, I and those who follow me."
3 - WISDOM
"Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and a good admonition."
So we should be gentle at times, and harsh at other times. We should employ tadarruj [graduation] not giving all of Islaam at once.
Da'wah can be of many types: with the pen by writing books, giving advice, giving speeches...
4 - PRACTISING WHAT WE PREACH
"O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do?"
Allaah completes the Soorah by saying:
"And enjoin others to having patience [Sabr]."
There are three categories of SABR:
1 - Sabr in being obedient to Allaah
2 - Sabr against being disobedient to Allaah
3 - Sabr against the Qadr [predestination] of Allaah, such as when calamities occur etc.
So we ask Allaah ta'aalaa to make us of those who have eemaan, do righteous actions, call to that, and then have patience.
And all Praises belong to Allaah, the Lord of the Worlds.
Source: Islamic Awakening