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Holy Quran Section > Commentary of the Holy Quran by Dr. Basharat Ahmad > Chapter 113 (Al-Falaq - The Dawn)

Commentary of Chapter 113 (Al-Falaq - The Dawn) of the Holy Quran:
by Dr. Basharat Ahmad
Translated by Imam Kalamazad Muhammad

1. Introduction:

"In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

1. Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of the dawn,

2. From the evil of that which He has created,

3. And from the evil of intense darkness, when it comes,

4. And from the evil of those who cast (evil suggestions) in firm resolutions,

5. And from the evil of the envier when he envies.

Surah al-Falaq is one of the last two chapters of the Holy Quran called al-mu’awwazatain, as these start with the word ‘a-‘oo-zu, which means I seek refuge. In this chapter, Allah’s protection or refuge has been sought against all sorts of evils which instigate others to cause injury to us, whereas in surah an-Nas, protection has been sought against all such evil inclinations through which we cause harm or injury to others. Thus, these two chapters are so comprehensive that no evil or evil inclination has been left out from which refuge has not been sought in Allah. It is written in the Hadith that on the revelation of these two chapters, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) became very happy and he forsook other prayers seeking Allah’s protection and adopted these instead.

2. The Meaning of the Word 'Al-Falaq':
The word fa-laq,
in the first verse of the chapter, means cleaving or splitting. This word has been used at two other places in the Quran. In 6:96, the words are Faa-li-qul hab-bi wan na-waah (One who causes the grain and date-stone to split or germinate). Then in verse 97 of the same surah, the words are Faa-li-qul aspbaah (the Cleaver of the daybreak). Here Allah’s attribute, Faa-liq, has been mentioned in the beginning. This word carries two meanings: firstly, the Being Who brings out the dawn from the darkness of night; and secondly, the One Who splits the hard date-stone and brings out the young shoot. In other words, it refers to the all-pervasive power of Allah which extends from the tiny creation of the young shoot to the manoeuvring of the huge planets, such as the sun and the moon, in the universe. By using His divine attribute al-Falaq, the idea is to impress upon the mind of the believer that it is Allah alone Who can protect one from evils.

3. The True Meaning of the Expression 'Blowing Over a Knot':
The other word which needs explaining is na-fa-sa which means to blow. To blow into one’s heart means to put a thing or an idea into one’s heart. Similarly, to blow over a knot, as is mentioned in verse 4 (naf-faa-saa-ti fil u-qad) means to insinuate evil suggestions into the resolution of men or into the management of their affairs. And it does happen that when a person undertakes some good work, there are people who themselves do nothing, but would always discourage him by dissuading him or by weakening his determination by over-emphasising unfounded fears.

4. A Baseless Story Attributed to the Holy Prophet [pbuh]:
Unfortunately, some of the commentators
of the Holy Quran, by confining themselves to taking into account the literal meaning of the words blowing into the knots have been led to the baseless story that some Jewish woman wove a magic spell over the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), with the effect that he became forgetful. The Holy Quran rejects all such stories and narration.

The fact is that it was the disbelievers who accused the Holy Prophet of being a magician, as we find in the Quran: Qaa-lal kaa-fi-roo-na in-naa haa-zaa la-saa-hi-rum mu-been (The disbelievers say: This is surely a manifest enchanter – 10:2). As has already been mentioned, these two chapters cover all sorts of evils, and that is why most devout Muslims, before going to bed, recite them to seek Allah’s protection.

5. Seeking Protection From the 'Evil of that Which Allah has Created':
Now we come to the second verse, from the evil of that which Allah has created. We should bear in mind that man, by and large, depends on the environment for the maintenance of his very existence. It is our common experience that a human being faces two kinds of dangers while living on this earth. Firstly, dangers which are obvious and known such as beasts, snakes, robbers, etc. Secondly, things which although essential and beneficial for the maintenance of human life, yet at times take a dangerous turn, such as air, water, fire, food, etc. For instance, fire is the primary source of energy and heat for human beings, but at times it blazes uncontrollably, thus destroying property and killing people. Similarly, water is the main source of life and vegetation, but at times it turns into devastating floods causing widespread havoc and destruction. Then come man’s own creations, such as the motor-car, the aeroplane and other means of transport. These have made man’s travelling faster and more comfortable, but at times when an accident occurs, it causes injury and death. Again, one eats delicious food for enjoyment, but at times it causes serious illness and food-poisoning. So in this verse, protection is sought in Allah from evils which are known, and from the evil consequences of things which Allah has created for the maintenance and benefit of human beings, but which at times due to accidents or mishandling by human beings themselves, become harmful and dangerous.

6. Seeking Protection From the 'Evils of Darkness':
In the third verse, protection is sought against the evils of darkness, whether it is the darkness of night or the darkness of ignorance. We find that mugging, theft, robbery, murder and other crimes are committed mostly in the darkness of the night. Similarly, social evils such as drinking, dance-parties and all sorts of licentious and promiscuous activities are carried out during the night. Sometimes even useful things become dangerous in the dark when one cannot see them and can get oneself injured, such as a staircase or any other thing which one may come across in darkness.

So, darkness in many ways becomes a source of danger or injury, and even useful things can cause harm in darkness when one cannot see them properly. Similarly, lack of knowledge or correct information may lead one to failure or loss, such as in business, etc. In other words, lack of knowledge not only keeps one away from the right way, but also wastes one’s capabilities and may land one into harmful and dangerous situations.

7. Seeking Protection From Those Who 'Cast Evil Suggestions in Firm Resolutions':
The fourth verse emphasises the need for one’s determination to carry on some work to its successful end. It is at this stage that some people try to dissuade one from some good work by making evil suggestions or by over-emphasising the dangers and consequences which may accrue in case one fails to accomplish the undertaking.

8. Seeking Protection From the 'Evil of an Envier When He Envies':
The last verse teaches a very important prayer to save one from the evil of the envier when he envies. It is at this stage the jealous people become more active to strike the final blow and destroy the work which they could not stop otherwise by insinuation or evil suggestions. So one really needs Allah’s help and protection at this final stage, because one is desperate to complete the work as any obstacle or hindrance at this stage would certainly upset one very much.

9. Summary:
So in this chapter,
as explained before, a prayer has been taught to seek protection in Allah against all such evils which come in the way of a believer in his struggle in life.

The first verse of the chapter also emphasises a subtle truth about Allah’s protection for human struggle in life. The Divine attribute Faa-liq denotes that as Allah cleaves the daybreak out of the darkness of the night and brings young shoots out of the hard date-stone, so, too, will He bring a believer out of the darkness of indecision, confusion and difficulties and definitely guide and help him to final success.

A Muslim believes Allah to be the All-powerful and Over-all Controller of things, and so to Him alone we should address our supplications. That is why the Holy Quran starts with the prayer: ee-yaa-ka na’-bu-du wa ee-yaa-ka nas-ta-‘een (Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help). Thus the start made by seeking Allah’s blessings and help has been beautifully ended with a prayer, seeking Allah’s protection for all we do in our struggle through the arduous journey of life. 

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