Explaining Surat Al’Asr (the Declining Day) of the Holy Quran
The main axes of the subject:
– Explaining his Exaltedness’ words: By time…
– Explaining his Exaltedness’ words: Indeed, mankind is in loss…
– Explaining his Exaltedness’ words: Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience…
Learning the most important concepts of Surat Al’Asr
Exporting the subject:
“In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. By time (1) Indeed, mankind is in loss (2) Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience (3).”
Surat Al’Asr summarizes the entire Quranic knowledge and sums the distributed aims of the holy Quran in a briefest statement2. This chapter holds a great good turn. Allah (the Exalted) will seal the fate of anyone who reads it with patience and will be deemed as one of the righteous on the Day of Judgment. Al Shafe’ei was quoted as saying: “Had this chapter been revealed solely, it would have been sufficient.”3
Explaining his Exaltedness’ words: By time…
Allah (the Exalted) swore in time because this issue holds a lesson for the insightful. This oath that was repeated in the holy Quran projects important facets in several sections. It also aims to stress the issue of oath as well as protrude its significance. By time relates to the time of the prophet (s.a.a.w.)4, which was the time of the rise of Islam on the human race with the emergence of right and wrong5. Shahid Motahari (RIP) mentioned that this very point suits best when swearing by time and the time of human race. This is because swearing in the Quran conforms to the subject for which Allah made an oath. Hence, in order for the Quran to bring to light the significance of that time Allah (the Exalted) used it for his oath. One must also understand that the age of the prophet is the very age of the rise of Islam.6
2- Explaining his Exaltedness’ words: Indeed, mankind is in loss…:
A- Mankind Species: The word man at this point means mankind species. In other words, the loss stated by this verse is comprehensive regarding all mankind, all matured people. The definite article in Arabic (al) as in English (the) refers to all members of mankind. The definite article was used to stress loss as well as to contemplate on this issue.
B- Man’s Loss: The holy Quran mentioned the issue of man’s loss of life, money, relatives, this world and the afterworld in seventy sources7. This issue projects the significance of this concept and the necessity in determining the aim of Allah (the Exalted) behind the loss of man who is considered to be the most noble and best creature at all according to Allah (the Exalted).
C- What is the emerging loss to man which the noble verse confirms? Loss or losing refer to shortage of capital. It does not mean losing the excess capital such as profits and other similar issues. This issue refers to man hence saying: Zeid lost, or refers to action hence saying: he lost his trade.8
D- What does man lose? Man loses his real capital. The most precious issue that he owns in this existence is his life. Therefore, age experiences constant decrease and diminish. Age decreases day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute. One of the scholars quotes one of the righteous people as he explained this verse, saying that he learned its meaning from an ice seller who was exhibiting his merchandise in sunlight and would yell saying: have mercy on he whose capital is melting.9 It goes without saying as the narrations state that each breath man takes brings him one step further towards death. Imam Ali (a.s.) said: “Man’s breath represents his steps towards his death.”10
E- The world is a place of profit and loss: Allah (the Exalted) granted man a great capital. This is his age, which he can use to accomplish in this world that which is expressed as to be a trading market. Imam Ali al Hadi (a.s.) said: “The world is a market where people have profited while others have lost.”11 However, how can a person spend this capital of his?
– Some spend their capital in return for money, fame or leadership…
– Some spend it for pleasures and lusts…
– There are others who spend their entire life and entity by giving every-thing to Allah (the Exalted), acting in his way.
F- Who are the losers?
– They are those that lose themselves. Allah (the Exalted) says: “And those whose scales are light – they are the ones who will lose themselves for what injustice they were doing toward Our verses.”12
– For those who lose faith, Allah (the Exalted) says: “Say, “To Who be-longs whatever is in the heavens and earth?” Say, “To Allah.” He has decreed upon Himself mercy. He will surely assemble you for the Day of Resurrection, about which there is no doubt. Those who will lose them-selves [that Day] do not believe.”13
– For those who lose this world and the afterworld. Allah (the Exalted) says: “And of the people is he who worships Allah on an edge. If he is touched by good, he is reassured by it; but if he is struck by trial, he turns on his face [to the other direction]. He has lost [this] world and the Hereafter. That is what the manifest loss is.”14
– The greatest losers, Allah (the Exalted) says: “Say, [O Muhammad], “Shall we [believers] inform you of the greatest losers as to [their] deeds? [They are] those whose effort is lost in worldly life, while they think that they are doing well in work.”15
– Explaining Allah’s words: “Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience…”
The holy Quran designed a salvation method to avoid the greatest loss. This method is formed of four principles that will prevent this great loss and change it into a great benefit and great profit. These principles are:
1- Faith: as in his words: “…except for those who have believed…”
2- Righteous deed: as in his words: “…and done righteous deeds…”
3- Advise with truth and patience: as in his words: “…and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience…”
A – The faithful believer: the faithful man will not encounter forfeit because he goes forth and backwards in accordance with the satisfaction of Allah (the Exalted) who says: “Every soul will taste death. Then to Us will you be returned.”16 “…Then He will bring you [back] to life, and then to Him you will be returned.”17
B- Faith and righteous deed are inseparable components: when we contemplate on the verses of the Quran we discover a clear correlation between the righteous deed and faith. This issue indicates that faith must be correlated with complete commitment to the rules of the doctrine. Faith does not exist without action; besides, faith alone does not serve the purpose…
Allah (the Exalted) says: “…Except those who repent, believe and do righteousness; for those will enter Paradise…”18 “…Except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them Allah will replace their evil deeds with good…”19
The rule that provides us with benefit from these verses with other verses is that: no faith can exist without action (deed). Acting must be one of a good kind and must harmonize with the sacred doctrine. An act is deemed righteous if it guides people or upgrades their scientific, practical or cultural level, etc… Therefore, the righteous deed is the practical aspect of faith. Faith is an act with its entirety.
C- Advising each other to truth and patience: this is the commandment of exchange, where each believer advises the other. Commandment is a double and mutual action. At this point it indicates our function towards the others of the young members of the society. Hence, one must advise the other as you must also accept his advice.
Patience: A number of obstacles, hindrances and difficulties can occur after the embracement of faith resulting in harm towards a believer. There-fore, one must be patient to be able to continue especially that keeping a belief as an act is more difficult than the deed itself.
1- Surat: an Arabic term in the Quran that means chapter
2- Sayyid Tabtabaei, Tafsir Al Mizan, Vol. 3, P. 409
3- Muhammad Jawad Mugniyah, Tafsir Al Mubin, 821
4- (s.a.a.w.): Stands for peace be upon him and his household
5- Sayyid Tabtabaei, same previous source
6- Sahib Motahari, book Tafsir Qisar al Sowar (the interpretation of the short chapters)
7- Refer to the Cow Chapter, verses: 27, 64, and 121; the Family of Imran: 85 and 149; the Women: 119; the Table Spread: 5, 21, 30 and 53; the Cattle: 12, 20, 31,140; the Heights: 9, 23, 53
8- Al Raghib al Asfahani, book Sharh Mofradat al Quran (explain Quranic vocabularies),
9- Tafsir al Fakhr al Razi, Vol. 32
10- Nahj al Balagha, short speeches, 47
11- Tuhaf al Uqul, P. 361, words of Imam Ali al Hadi (a.s.)
12- The Holy Quran, Surat al A’araf (the Heights): Verse 9
13- The Holy Quran, Surat al An’am (the Cattle): Verse 12
14- The Holy Quran, Surat al Haj (the Pilgrimage): Verse 11
15- The Holy Quran, Surat al Kahf (the Cave): Verses 103-104
16- The Holy Quran, Surat al Ankabut (the Spider): Verses 57
17- The Holy Quran, Surat al Baqarah (the Cow): Verses 28
18- The Holy Quran, Surat Maryam (Mary): Verses 60
19- The Holy Quran, Surat al Furqan (the Criterion): Verses 70