The Holy Qur'an

Al-Tafsīr Al-Kabīr – The Grand Exegesis, Sūrah al-Falaq Part 10

In the previous edition, the reason for Allah using the command ‘Say’ in chapter 112 of the Holy Qur’an was explained.

In this edition, we explore further meanings of al-Falaq.

Translated by Murtaza Ahmad

Edited by The Review of Religions Translation Team.

The third meaning of the word al-Falaq is جَهَنَّمُ [jahannam, or hellfire]. In light of this meaning قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ الْفَلَقِ * مِنْ شَرِّ مَا خَلَقَ implies that ‘I seek refuge with Allah, the Creator of Jahannam, and also against the great torments of this jahannam.’

In the Holy Qur’ān Allah Almighty states وَلِمَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ جَنَّتَانِ.[1]  That is, the servants of God enter jannah [paradise] both in this world and in the hereafter. Moreover, the system that God Almighty establishes at the hands of His prophets is called jannah as well, as Allah said to Prophet Ādam (peace be on him) in the Holy Qur’ān:

اُسْكُنْ أَنْتَ وَزَوْجُكَ الْجَنَّةَ

That is, ‘O Ādam! Stay in the system that We have commanded you to abide in, for if you do so, this world will become a paradise for you.’ [2]  

By telling this incident of Prophet Ādam (peace be on him) the Holy Qur’ān explains that the Holy Prophet (sa) is like Ādam, and that Allah Almighty also established a system at his hands that will have people enter paradise in this world and live a life of peace and security. Thus, the words قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ الْفَلَقِ * مِنْ شَرِّ مَا خَلَقَ explain that ‘O Muslims! You should pray. Now that the Holy Qur’ān has been revealed the Holy Prophet (sa) been sent to you, Allah Almighty has admitted you, both individually and collectively, to paradise. [Allah says]

كُنْتُمْ عَلَى شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِنَ النَّارِ فَأَنْقَذَكُمْ مِنْهَا [3]

“You were on the brink of a pit of fire and He pulled you out and entered you into paradise.” Allah granted you peace of heart and mind. You have been united under one hand, and you have cultivated in your hearts such love and affection for one another that this world has become a paradise for you. You have found Allah Almighty and your hearts have gained peace. Thus, remember these favours and seek refuge with the Allah, the Lord of jahannam [hell]. And come under His protection so that you may be safeguarded against the torments [of jahannam] and so that its fire never comes near you. That is to say, so that a situation never arises wherein you are deprived of peace at both a personal and collective level, or that disputes and fighting break out among you or that you abandon the teachings of the Holy Qur’ān which would make this world a hell for you, and you would have to experience hellfire in the hereafter as well.’

The fourth meaning of al-Falaq is a valley between two mountains. Some nations incline towards one extreme, whereas others go to the opposite extreme. However, the path between two extremes is the true means of attaining Allah Almighty and establishing peace and security in the world. It is for this reason that Allah Almighty refers to the Muslims as the Ummah of Moderation. That is, their teachings do not contain either one extreme or the other. And such a teaching is the best teaching and will bring about peace in the world. Thus, Allah states: قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ الْفَلَقِ * مِنْ شَرِّ مَا خَلَقَ, that is, ‘O Muslims! Say: We seek refuge with the Lord Who created the beautiful valley of Islam between the two mountains of extremes, where the world can find comfort and peace.’ In other words, these verses signify that you should seek refuge with the One Who revealed a most glorious religion like that of Islam and Who also commissioned a perfect man like the Holy Prophet Muḥammad (sa) through whom you found the perfect teaching of the Qur’ān. Seek refuge with Allah Almighty lest some sort of evil comes upon you. That is to say, [seek refuge] lest there comes a time when you are overcome by an evil which then causes you to deviate from the most sublime teachings of Allah Almighty, and you leave Islam, and turn away and become indifferent to the Holy Prophet Muḥammad (sa). By doing this you will be embroiled in difficulties and your life will become challenging for you.  أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ الْفَلَقِ also indicates that moderation is the correct means of drawing beneficence from Allah Almighty’s Rubūbiyyah [divine providence] and of reaching Him. Man cannot reach Allah Almighty either by pursuing the path of one extreme nor by going down the path of the opposite extreme.

But indeed, if man adopts the path of moderation, he is able to reach God Almighty; however, there are many obstacles in reaching Him, and in truth every particle in the world is an obstacle to man reaching Him. Often those who fail do so because they think they have removed obstacle x and y, but the truth is that there are many other obstacles, too, which one’s mind cannot even conceive. Successful is he who realises that every particle of the world pulls him towards itself. He becomes wary of his wife, children, teachers, students, wealth, property, status, dignity, deeds and the lack thereof – in other words, he becomes wary of everything. Because sometimes man is deprived because of a certain deed he has committed; at other times, because of an action he hasn’t performed, and at others, due to his knowledge; and sometimes due to his ignorance.

Thus, he who truly desires to succeed falls in prostration before Allah Almighty and declares أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ الْفَلَقِ * مِنْ شَرِّ مَا خَلَقَ. ‘O God! I do not know where these obstacles and destruction are coming from in my way, therefore, Oh God,  Creator of all things, safeguard me against their evil because only You have full knowledge about [the true nature of] their evil.’ This is the first step to success. That is, man is cautious of each and every particle, so much so that he is afraid even of his own self and seeks protection from its evil. Furthermore, not only is a believer heedful of his faith lest arrogance arise in his heart, resulting in his ruin, but he is also fearful of attaining nearness to Allah because this can also at times become a means of ruining a person, as was the case with Bal‘am Bāʿūrā [4]. The Holy Prophet (sa) turns our attention to this danger in the words:            

لَا مَلْجَأَ وَلَا مَنْجَا مِنْكَ إِلَّا إِلَيْكَ

This means, ‘We do not know whether or not misfortune or ruin will befall us on the path we are taking to reach you. This is why You alone are the means of our salvation, so take us under Your protection.’ In short, the words مِنْ شَرِّ مَا خَلَقَ explain to us that man should fear every particle of the universe, and because he does not know what might become a means of ruining him, therefore, one must seek refuge with the God Who has created all of these things.

Serialisation of Surah al-Falaq will continue in the next edition


[1] The Holy Qur’an, 55:47.

[2] The Holy Qur’an, 2:36.

[3] The Holy Qur’an, 3:104.

[4] It is related that Bal‘am Bāʿūrā was a virtuous man who lived in the time of Moses (as), but pride turned his head and he ended in disgrace. In chapter 7, verse 177 of the Holy Qur’an, Allah the Almighty describes him as follows: ‘And if We had pleased, We could have exalted him thereby; but he inclined to the earth and followed his evil inclination’.


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