ON THE LAST SECTION QUR`AN
Chapter 114: Surat Al-Nas
the name of Allah,
the Beneficent, the Merciful
While the beginning of
the Qur`an is concerned with the recognition that the only path to
success is that of glorification, supplication and praise, the final
part of the Qur`an is concerned with taking refuge in the Source of
Say: I take
refuge in the Lord of mankind,
means 'people, mankind.' Its root word
is anisa, which means 'to be familiar, sociable, intimate',
thus denoting the underlying gregariousness of man's nature. We
all naturally seek companionship.
encompasses and reflects a broad spectrum of characteristics and
potential behavior. If he aspires to know Allah, then his behavior
will come to reflect that in its nobility. If he ignores the
instinct to seek his Creator, or Source, he becomes reduced to the
lowest of the low (as we are told in the Chapter of the Fig).
Inevitably, his behavior will reflect the baser attributes, such
as greed or selfishness, which can lead to treachery. Though his
capacity for treachery is as boundless as his appetites, the Lord
of all men is aware at all times of our states and intentions.
Whatever we do, we remain under the Lordship of Allah. The
ultimate refuge or protection from other people is with Allah, Who
is closer to us than our jugular vein, as He revealed to us in a
holy tradition (hadīth qudsī). The root of the verb
a'ūdu (I seek refuge) reflects this closeness, for it comes
from 'ādha which originally meant 'to be next to the bone
The King of
The God of mankind,
We take refuge in the
Lord, in the Creator of this entity called 'man', who contains
within himself both the higher attributes and the lower
attributes. We take refuge in Allah from the lower attributes,
from the attributes which cause us loss.
From the evil
whisperings of the elusive shaytān,
There is a great deal
written about the word waswās which are subtle whisperings
in one's innermost that incite one to evil. In one reference ten
meanings are given for al‑waswasah, denoting ten different
attributes of the whisperer. If we overcome them we will
understand the shirk (associating another with God) of
waswās, and therefore we will be able to truly take refuge
is an onomatopoeic word imitative of the sound of whispering.
Whispering is one of the actions which, in our dīn and in
our adab (courtesy), is very much repudiated, because
something worth saying should be shared by saying it out loud.
is an epithet of shaytān, and means 'slinking away',
specifically, when the Name of Allah is mentioned.
There are sources or
rivers which feed the waswās. Just as the Garden has
underground rivers which feed it, so too has the waswās.
One of these rivers is hirs (greed or covetousness). That
river can be fought, blocked, and dammed by tawakkul wa qanā'h
(trustful dependence [on Allah] and contentment).
Another river is
amal, which means 'expectation.' This river, too, can be
dammed by constant remembrance – dhikr. Our hope for things of this
world can be stopped by remembering that each breath may be our
last. This remembrance will cut the flow of that river which feeds
the whisperer who pours distracting suggestions into our ears.
The third river is
shahawāt ad‑dunyā or 'worldly desires'. These desires can be
killed by remembering that the ni’am (favors, bounties)
will all eventually leave us, and that the hisāb (account)
will have to be rendered. We will have to account for the way in
which we spent the bounty and goodness that was given to us. It
will be a lengthy account – we are told 50,000 years – in which
every minute detail will be reviewed and examined, and which,
however minute, can be a witness for or against us.
The fourth river, or
source, of waswās is tahsīl, meaning 'acquisition'.
This river can be stopped by seeing the justice of each person's
situation. What a person reaps arises from the justice of his own
situation. We cannot alter it.
The fifth river is
balā`, 'affliction'. The flow of this can be stemmed by not
looking at the affliction in a situation, but rather by seeing the
good in it.
The sixth river is
kibr, or 'pride', which can be fought by humility. Whenever
kibr rises up in us, we should immediately call upon the
humility within ourselves, so that we break its effect on us.
The seventh river is
tahqīr, that which entices us to belittle the honorable
position of the believers, as well as anything that the believer
possesses, anything that is in his domain, and that which is
halāl (permitted) for him and harām (forbidden) for
others. This river can be stopped by considering their honor to be
great and by respecting it.
The eighth source of
waswās is the love of dunyā (this world), including
the desire to be acknowledged and admired by others. This love and
desire can be undone by bringing oneself to the state of
The ninth source of
waswās which encourages shaytān is separation and stinginess (bukhl).
This can be combatted by generosity. Sakhā` means 'giving
according to what the occasion demands'; jūd means 'giving
without being asked'; and karam is 'giving whatever has
been asked'. These three are attributes of Allah. The fourth kind
of giving is īthār, 'giving what one needs oneself', and this is an
attribute which only man can have. This
attribute cannot be ascribed to Allah, for Allah has no need whatsoever of anything. Thus we
can take on this final attribute, which is a great aid for our
inner, upward mobility toward that noble state which befits us as the
khalīfah, or vicegerent, of Allah.
Who whispers in the
innermost hearts of mankind,
(plural of sudūr) is the 'chest or breast', that part of
us which faces what confronts us. It is where the battles and
dramas take place. It must be remembered that every drama is
self‑created. Every imaginable human role stirs in the breast of
man: the king, the despot, the afflicted, the jealous, the strong,
the doubter, and the complainer. We have to take refuge from
these, take refuge in the Lord Whose mercy brings us to the
recognition that everything that occurs, visible and invisible,
occurs according to a just system, according to perfect laws which
govern this passage, this journey through the creation. The laws
in this existence are self enforced; there is no need for
From jinn and mankind.
is synonymous with jinn, and means 'the unseen, hidden
forces of power'. Jannah (the Garden) is derived from the
same root and refers to the most desirable place to be, a
garden, which, in the desert culture of the Arabs
where temperatures averaged 100 degrees Fahrenheit, was a place of
respite and ease from the harsh realities of the desert. The
lushness and the shade of the Garden is so contrastingly rich that
the ground cannot be seen for the thick foliage of the trees. In
the same way that the ground is 'hidden' by the lush growth, thus
referring to a hidden state, the jinn are also hidden,
limited in their states just as men are.
Therefore, we are asking for refuge, for protection from any
energies whose nature we do not understand, and whose creation is
not visible or discernable by us.
End of the Surah