This surah is the dual of Surah
the previous surah and there is no essential difference between the central
themes of the two. Both are a means through which a person seeks the Almighty’s
protection from various evils. However, there are certain aspects which
distinguish this surah from the previous one:
Firstly, in this surah, refuge is
sought with Allah through His attributes which are directly related to
man. As a result, the appeal of the surah is more effective. The previous
surah also carries an effective appeal, yet it is more argumentative in
style. In this surah, on the other hand, this style, though present, is
overshadowed by repeated earnest calls which invoke Allah’s mercy.
Secondly, in the previous surah, refuge
is sought from various evils, while this surah seeks protection against
Satan, the root of all evils and, as indicated in the previous surah, the
eternal enemy of Tawhid.
Thirdly, in the previous surah, Satan
is referred to with regard to one of his characteristics -- jealousy. In
this surah, his method and technique, his clan and accomplices, the sphere
of his incursions and onslaughts, all are brought to light so that people
have a clear perception of their shrewd enemy and are in a position to
Say: I seek refuge with the Cherisher
of mankind, the Emperor of mankind, the God of mankind from the mischief
of the Prompter [of evil] who withdraws [after his prompts], who implants
evil suggestions in the hearts of men, [and is] from among the jinn and
(Say: I seek refuge with
the Cherisher of mankind, the Emperor of mankind, the God of mankind.)
These opening verses seek refuge with
Allah through three attributes, which, in fact, also determine the basic
rights of Allah imposed on man. They guide us moreover that help should
only be solicited from someone who possesses such attributes.
How the attributes stated above ascertain
these basic rights can be understood if one appreciates that it is only
befitting for someone who is the Cherisher of mankind to be their real
Emperor, and it is only befitting for someone who is the real Emperor of
mankind to have the right to be worshipped. It is certainly against all
norms of sense to worship and regard someone who is not the real cherisher
of mankind their real emperor and, therefore, such practice has been totally
In Surah Fatihah, it is stated that
since it is the Almighty Who is the Cherisher of His creation, all thanksgivings
must return to Him, and He alone should be worshipped and sought help from.
What the opening three verses of this surah imply is no different.
An acceptance of the above three attributes
closes all doors which lead to polytheism, and an acknowledgement of one
of them necessitates the acknowledgement of the others.
(From the mischief of the Prompter
[of evil] who withdraws [after his prompts]). (4)
This verse states the real entity
from which refuge is sought in the above verses. Though it is not stated
in words, yet it is quite evident from the attributes mentioned and the
specification made later that it is Satan who is referred to.
The verse describes Satan’s technique
and his line of attack: he allures people through propaganda and deceptive
promises and by initiating wicked suggestions in their minds. After entrapping
them, he acquits himself of all the consequences and enjoys watching the
ill-fated foolish who get caught by his sinister schemes.
There is no conjunction between Waswas
(prompter of evil) and Khannas (one who withdraws) which means that these
two characteristics exist simultaneously in the noun they qualify.
It is quite evident from this verse
that Satan’s only weapon is prompting evil suggestions. Apart from this,
he has no other powers through which he may necessarily lead a person astray.
He tries to frighten as well as to cajole people through threatening admonitions
and sugar-coated promises, but he cannot harm people who are not over-awed
by him. Therefore, when he had threatened the Almighty that he would lead
mankind astray, the Almighty had clearly replied:
[Do whatever you can,] You will have no power over my
people [who intend to remain on the right path]. (17:65)
He also assured His creation that He would
certainly help those who would repose all their confidence in Him and counteract
the assaults of Satan:
The adjective Khannas delineates another
aspect of Satan’s character. Commentators have generally regarded it to
mean someone who prompts evil suggestions while remaining hidden from people.
This meaning can only be accepted if Satan and his allies are regarded
as jinn, but the last verse clearly points out that these evil creatures
exist both in men and in the jinn-folk. Some other commentators have understood
it to mean ‘someone who comes again and again’, which has no basis in the
In the opinion of this writer, it
means ‘someone who withdraws and retreats’. This actually brings out a
typical feature of Satan’s mode of attack. Initially, he comes out and
entices his prey, and when a person succumbs to his wicked suggestions,
he acquits himself of all the consequences. This very character of Satan
is also depicted at various instances in the Qur’an. In Surah Furqan, he
is called Khadhul, that is ‘one who deceives his followers’:
To quote Surah Bani Isra’il:
Surah Hashr portrays this aspect of Satan’s
character even more clearly:
They are like Satan, when he says to man: disbelieve.
When he disbelieves, he says to him: I here and now disown you, I fear
Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. (59:16)
The Jews had demonstrated this Satanic
character at the time of the battle of Badr. They had induced the Quraysh
to attack Madinah by giving them the assurance that the Muslims would not
be able to face them, and if need be, they themselves would come forward
and assist them. However, as history bears witness, they never turned up
in the battlefield. The Qur’an has depicted this character as follows:
And when Satan [Jews] made their [the Quraysh’s] deeds
seem fair to them and said: Today no man shall overcome you, and I shall
be with you. But when the two forces faced each other, he took to his heels
saying: I am done with you; I see what you do not. (8:48)
Not only Satan and his followers exhibit
this very character in this world, they will also do so in the next. The
Qur’an, on a number of occasions, has drawn a picture of the dialogue that
will take place in Hell between evil leaders and their followers. These
adherents will ask the leaders, whom they had so diligently followed, to
come forward and help them. The leaders will reply that it was their fault
that they had followed them, for they had never forced them to do so; therefore,
they should now face the punishment themselves.
The word Khannas is meant to express
the above mentioned feature of Satan’s character and actually sounds a
warning to everyone: People should not be overwhelmed by his sweet talk;
rather they should always keep in mind his disloyalty and betrayals when
a person falls prey to his ‘word of honour’.
(Who implants evil suggestions
in the hearts of man, [and is] from among the jinn and the men.)
The above stated verses indicate Satan’s
mission as well as his brethren’s so that people can have a clear perception
of their enemy. His modus operandi is to prompt evil suggestions in a person’s
bosom. Here, the word Sudur (chests) actually implies a person’s heart
which is contained in his chest. These evil suggestions are of course meant
to divert a man from the right path. Satan himself has stated this to be
his mission as specified by the Qur’an at various places. He has no other
authority or hold on man and cannot forcibly lead him astray, as mentioned
The words min al-Jinnati wa al-Nas
([and is] from among the jinn and men) specify Satan' brethren, indicating
that he is not an independent creation of Allah, but every one among the
jinn and men who induces evil suggestions in others' hearts is, in fact,
a Satan. The Qur’an has specified that the Satan who had inveigled Adam
was from among the jinn. It is incorrect to regard this particular Satan
as an independent or eternal creation. However, his mission will be carried
on till the Day of Judgement through his disciples and followers who are
from both men and the jinn folk.
With these words the exegesis of this
surah ends, which ends "Tadabbur-i-Qur’an" as well. I, as a humble servant,
am extremely grateful to the Almighty for being able to be of some service
to the cause of truth. I pray to Him to make this work a means of my salvation
in the Hereafter, to make every rightly interpreted verse a source of benefit
for others, and to protect everyone from the evils of an erroneous inference.
O Allah! Show us the right path the way it is and make us follow it, and
O Allah! Show us the wrong path the way it is and keep us away from it.
(Translated from "Tadabbur-i-Qur’an"
by Shehzad Saleem)