114 - An Nas (Mankind)

5 Tafsir(s) related to verse 114.1

Al-Jalalayn

Say: ‘I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind, their Creator and their Possessor: they [mankind] have been singled out for mention here in order to honour them, and a preface to seeking refuge from the evil of the one who whispers in their hearts;

Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi

(Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind") [114:1-6]. The commentators of the Qur'an said: "The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, had a Jewish servant boy. The Jews approached him and kept after him until he gave them some fallen hair from the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, as well as a few teeth from his comb. The Jews used these to cast a spell of black magic on him. The person who was behind this was the Jew Labid ibn al-A'sam. He then put the hair in a well belonging to Banu Zurayq called Dharwan. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, fell ill for a period of six month, during which the hair of his head fell off; he imagined that he slept with his wives when he did not, and was withering away without knowing the reason. As he was one day sleeping, he saw two angels coming to him. One of them sat at his head and the other at his feet. The angel who sat at his head asked: 'What is wrong with the man?' The second angel responded: 'A spell of black magic was cast on him'. The first one asked: 'And who is responsible for this sorcery?' The second angel answered: 'It is Labid ibn al-A'sam, the Jew'. The first angel asked again: 'What did he use to cast black magic on him?' The second angel said: 'He used a comb and fallen hair'. The first angel asked: 'Where is it now?' The second angel said: 'It is inside the spadix of a palm tree beneath the stepping stone which is inside the well of Dharwan', at which point the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, woke up. He said: 'O 'A'ishah, do you not think that this is from Allah to inform me of the cause of my illness?' He then sent 'Ali [ibn Abi Talib], al-Zubayr [ibn al-'Awwam] and 'Ammar [ibn Yasir] who drained the water of that well as one would drain the dust of henna. They lifted the stone and got the spadix out and found therein some of the hair of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, as well a few teeth from his comb. They also found with it a string with eleven knots knitted with needles. Allah, exalted is He, then revealed Surah al-Falaq and Surah al-Nas (al-Mu'awwidhatayn). With each verse that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, read one knot was untied and the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, felt some lightness. When the last knot was untied, the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, got up as if he was released from a cord to which he was tied up. Gabriel, peace be upon him, kept saying: 'In the name of Allah I cast this incantation on you to protect you from anything that might harm you and that Allah heals you from the resentful envier and the evil eye'. Those around him said: 'O Messenger of Allah, should we not head toward that evil person and kill him?' He said: 'As for me, Allah has cured me, and I dislike causing evil to other people'. This is of the forbearance of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace". Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn Ja'far informed us> Abu 'Amr Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Hiri> Ahmad ibn 'Ali al-Mawsili> Mujahid ibn Musa> Abu Usamah> Hisham ibn 'Urwa> his father> 'A'ishah, may Allah be well pleased with her, who said: "A spell of black magic was cast on the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, such that he used to imagine that he did things when he did not. He was at my place, one day, and he began imploring Allah in earnest. Then he said: 'Did you not feel, O 'A'ishah, that Allah has answered me about that which I have enquired?' I said: 'And what is that, O Messenger of Allah?' He said: 'Two angels came to me"', and he mentioned the whole story". The whole story is narrated by Bukhari from 'Ubayd ibn Isma'il from Abu Usamah. The same narration has different channels of transmission in both the authentic collections of Bukhari and Muslim. The book Asbab Nuzul al-Qur'an concludes here, and praise be to Allah, the One, the Munificent, and may Allah bless our master Muhammad, his household and all those who follow them in excellence.

Ibn Al Kathir

These are three attributes from the attributes of the Lord, the Mighty and Majestic. They are lordship, sovereignty and divinity. Thus, He is the Lord of everything, the King of everything and the God of everything. All things are created by Him, owned by Him, and subservient to Him. Therefore, He commands whoever is seeking protection to seek refuge with the One Who has these attributes from the evil of the whisperer who withdraws. This (the whisperer) is the devil that is assigned to man. For verily, there is not any of the Children of Adam except that he has a companion that beautifies wicked deeds for him. This devil will go to any lengths to confuse and confound him. The only person who is safe is He Whom Allah protects.

It is confirmed in the Sahih that he (the Prophet ) said,

«مَا مِنْكُمْ مِنْ أَحَدٍ إِلَّا قَدْ وُكِّلَ بِهِ قَرِينُهُ»

(There is not a single one of you except that his companion (a devil) has been assigned to him.) They (the Companions) said, "What about you, O Messenger of Allah'' He replied,

«نَعَمْ، إِلَّا أَنَّ اللهَ أَعَانَنِي عَلَيْهِ فَأَسْلَمَ، فَلَا يَأْمُرُنِي إِلَّا بِخَيْرٍ»

(Yes. However, Allah has helped me against him and he has accepted Islam. Thus, he only commands me to do good.) It is also confirmed in the Two Sahihs from Anas, who reported the story of Safiyyah when she came to visit the Prophet while he was performing I`tikaf, that he went out with her during the night to walk her back to her house. So, two men from the Ansar met him (on the way). When they saw the Prophet, they began walking swiftly. So, the Messenger of Allah said,

«عَلَى رِسْلِكُمَا، إِنَّهَا صَفِيَّةُ بِنْتُ حُيَيَ»

(Slow down! This is Safiyyah bint Huyay!) They said, "Glory be to Allah, O Messenger of Allah!'' He said,

«إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ يَجْرِي مِنِ ابْنِ آدَمَ مَجْرَى الدَّم، وَإِنِّي خَشِيتُ أَنْ يَقْذِفَ فِي قُلُوبِكُمَا شَيْئًا، أَوْ قَالَ: شَرًّا»

(Verily, Shaytan runs in the Son of Adam like the running of the blood. And verily, I feared that he might cast something into your hearts -- or he said -- evil.) Sa`id bin Jubayr reported that Ibn `Abbas said concerning Allah's statement,

الْوَسْوَاسِ الْخَنَّاسِ

(The whisperer (Al-Waswas) who withdraws.) "The devil who is squatting (perched) upon the heart of the Son of Adam. So when he becomes absentminded and heedless he whispers. Then, when he remembers Allah he withdraws.'' Mujahid and Qatadah also said this.

Al-Mu`tamir bin Sulayman reported that his father said, "It has been mentioned to me that Shaytan is Al-Waswas. He blows into the heart of the Son of Adam when he is sad and when he is happy. But when he (man) remembers Allah, Shaytan withdraws.'' Al-`Awfi reported from Ibn `Abbas;

الْوَسْوَاسِ

(The whisperer.) "He is Shaytan. He whispers and then when he is obeyed, he withdraws.'' As for Allah's saying;

الَّذِى يُوَسْوِسُ فِى صُدُورِ النَّاسِ

(Who whispers in the breasts of An-Nas.) Is this specific for the Children of Adam as is apparent, or is it general, including both mankind and Jinns

There are two views concerning this. This is because they (the Jinns) are also included in the usage of the word An-Nas (the people) in most cases.

Ibn Jarir said, "The phrase Rijalun min Al-Jinn (Men from the Jinns) has been used in reference to them, so it is not strange for the word An-Nas to be applied to them also.'' Then Allah says,

مِنَ الْجِنَّةِ وَالنَّاسِ

(Of Jinn and An-Nas.) Is this explanatory of Allah's statement,

الَّذِى يُوَسْوِسُ فِى صُدُورِ النَّاسِ

(Who whispers in the breasts of An-Nas.) Then, Allah explains this by saying,

مِنَ الْجِنَّةِ وَالنَّاسِ

(Of Jinn and An-Nas.) This is supportive of the second view. It has also been said that Allah's saying,

مِنَ الْجِنَّةِ وَالنَّاسِ

(Of Jinn and An-Nas) is an explanation of who is it that whispers into the breasts of mankind from the devils of mankind and Jinns. This is similar to Allah's saying,

وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَا لِكُلِّ نِبِىٍّ عَدُوّاً شَيَـطِينَ الإِنْسِ وَالْجِنِّ يُوحِى بَعْضُهُمْ إِلَى بَعْضٍ زُخْرُفَ الْقَوْلِ غُرُوراً

o(And so We have appointed for every Prophet enemies -- Shayatin among mankind and Jinn, inspiring one another with adorned speech as a delusion.) (6:112) Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "A man came to the Prophet and said, `O Messenger of Allah! Sometimes I say things to myself that I would rather fall from the sky than say (aloud openly). ' The Prophet said,

«اللهُ أَكْبَرُ، اللهُ أَكْبَرٌ الْحَمْدُ للهِ الَّذِي رَدَّ كَيْدَهُ إِلَى الْوَسْوَسَةِ»

(Allah is Most Great! Allah is Most Great! All praise is due to Allah Who sent his (Shaytan's) plot back as only a whisper.)'' Abu Dawud and An-Nasa'i also recorded this Hadith.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

Here also, as in Surah Al-Falaq, instead of saying A'udhu-billahi (I seek Allah's refuge), a prayer has beat taught to seek Allah's refuge by reference to His throe attributes: first, that He is Rabb-un nas, i.e. Sustainer, Providence and Master of all mankind; third, that He is Ilah-un-nas, i.e. real Deity of all mankind, (Here, one should clearly understand that the word ilah has been used in two meanings in the Qur'an: first for the thing or person who is practically being worshiped although it or he is not entitled to worship; second, for Him Who is ' entitled to worship, Who is in fact the Deity whether the people worship Him or not, wherever this word is used for Allah; it has been used in the second meaning). Seeking refuge by means of these throe attributes means: "I seek refuge with that God, Who being the Sustainer, King and Deity of men, has full power over them, can fully protect them and can really save them from the evil, to save myself and others from which 1 am seeking His refuge. Not only this: since He alone is Sustainer, King and Deity, therefore, there is no one beside Him with Whom I may seek refuge and he may give real refuge."

The word waswas in waswas-il-khannas means the one who whispers over and over again, and waswasa means to whisper into someone's heart an evil suggestion over and over again in such a way or ways that the one who is being inspired may not feel that the whisperer is whispering an evil suggestion into his heart. Waswasah by itself suggests repetition just as zalzalah contains the meaning of repetitive movement. Since man is not tempted by just one attempt but effort has to be made over and over again to seduce and tempt him, such all attempt is called waswasah and the tempter waswas. As for the word khannas, it is derived from khunus, which means to hide after appearing and to retreat after coming into view. Since khannas is the intensive form, it would imply the one who behaves thus very frequently. Now, obviously the whisperer has to approach man for whispering again and again, and besides, when he is also described as khannas, the combination of the two words by 'itself gives the meaning that after whispering once he retreats and then again returns over and over again to repeat the act of whispering. In other words, when once he fails in his attempt to whisper evil, he withdraws, then he again returns to make the second and the third and the next attempt over and over again.

After understanding the meaning of waswas-il-khannas, let us consider what is meant by seeking refuge from its evil. Its one meaning is that the seeker after refuge himself seeks God's refuge from its evil, i.e. from the evil lest it should whisper some evil suggestion into his own heart. The second meaning is that the caller to Truth seeks God's refuge from the evil of the one who whispers evil suggestions into the hearts of the people against himself. It is not in his own power to approach all the people in whose hearts evil suggestions are being whispered against himself individually and remove the misunderstandings of every person. It is also not right and proper for him that he should give up his mission of inviting others to Allah and should devote all his tune and energy to removing the misunderstanding created by the whisperer and to answering their accusations. It is also below his dignity that he should stoop to the level of his opponents. Therefore, Allah has instructed the caller to Truth to seek only His refuge from the evil of the wicked people, and then to attend single-mindedly to his work of invitation and mission. For it is not for him to deal with them but for Allah, who is Sustainer of men, King of,men, God of men.

Here, one should also understand that an evil suggestion is the starting, point of evil act. When it affects a careless or heedless person, it creates in him a desire for evil. Then, further whisperings change the evil desire into an evil intention and evil purpose. When the evil suggestion grows in intensity, the intention becomes a resolution, which then culminates in the evil act. Therefore, the meaning of seeking God's refuge from the evil of the whisperer is that Allah should nip the evil in the bud.

If seen from another aspect, the order of the evil of the whisperers seems to be this: first. they incite one to open unbelief, polytheism, or rebellion against Allah and His Messenger, and enmity of the righteous (godly) people. If they fail in this and a person does enter Allah's religion, they misguide him to some innovation. If they fail in this too, they tempt him to sin. If they do not succeed even in this, they inspire the man with the suggestion that there is no harm in indulging in minor sins, so that if he starts committing these freely, he is over burdened with sin. If one escapes from this too, in the last resort they try that one should keep the true religion confined to oneself, and should do nothing to make it prevail, but if a person defeats all these plans, the whole party of the devils froth among men and jinn makes a common front against him incites and stirs up the people and makes them shower him with invective and accusation and slander, and defames him as widely as it can. Then, Satan comes to the believer and excites him to anger, saying: "It is cowardly of you to have borne all this insult: arise and clash with your opponents." This is the last and final device with Satan by which he tries to thwart the struggle of the caller to Truth and entangle him in difficulties and obstructions. If he succeeds in escaping from this too, Satan becomes powerless before him. About this same thing it has been said in the Qur'an: "If Satan ever excites you to anger, seek refuge with Allah." (Al-A`raf: 200, Ha Mim As-Sajdah: 36);

"Say: Lord, I seek refuge with You from the promptings of satans." (Al-Mu'minun: 97);

"The fact is that if ever an evil suggestion from Satan so much as touches those, who are God-fearing people, they immediately get alerted and clearly see the right course they should adopt." (AI-A`raf: 201).

And on this very basis about the people who escape from this last attack of Satan Allah says: "None can attain to this rank except those who are men of great good fortune." (Ha Mim As-Sajdah: 35).

In this connection, another thing also should be kept in mind, and it is this: EviL suggestion is not whispered into the heart of man only from outside by the satans from among men and jinn, but also by the self of man from within. His own wrong theories misguide his intellect, his own unlawful motives and desires lead his power of discrimination, will and power of judgment astray, and it is not only the satans from outside but within tnan his satan of the self also beguiles him. This same thing has been expressed in the Qur'an, thus: "and We know the evil suggestions arising from his self." (Qaf : 16). On this very basis, the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) in his well-known Sermon said: "We seek Allah's refuge from the evils of our self."

According to some scholars, these words mean that the whisperer whispers evil into the hearts of two kinds of people: the jinn and the men. If this meaning is admitted, the word nas would apply to both jinn and men. They say that this can be so, for when the word rijali (men) in the Qur'an has been used for the jinn, as in Al-Jinn: 6, and when nafar can be used for the group of jinn, as in A1-Ahqaf: 29, men and jinn both can be included metaphorically in the word nas also. But this view is wrong because the words nas, ins and ihsan are even lexically contrary in meaning to the word jinn. The actual meaning of jinn is hidden creation and jinn is called jinn because he is hidden from man's eye. On the contrary, the words nas and ins are spoken for insan (man) only on the basis that he is manifest and visible and perceptible. In Surah Al-Qasas: 29, the word anasa has been used in the meaning of ra a, i.e. "the Prophet Moses saw a fire in the direction of Tur. " In Surah An-Nisa': 6, the word anastum has been used in the meaning of ahsastum or ra aytum (i.e. if you perceive or see that the orphans have become capable). Therefore, nas cannot apply to jinn lexically, and the correct meaning of the verse is: "from the evil of the whisperer who whispers evil into the hearts of men, whether he be from among the jinn or from the men themselves." In other words, whispering of evil is done by devils from among jinn as well as by devils from among rnen and the prayer in this Surah has been taught to seek refuge from the evil of both. This meaning is supported by the Qur'an as well as by the Hadith. The Qur'an says: "And so it has always been that We set against every Prophet enemies from among devils of men and devils of jinn, who have been inspiring one another with charming things to delude the minds." (Al-An'am :112)

And in the Hadith, lmam Ahmad, Nasa'i, and Ibn Hibban have related on the authority of Hadrat Abu Dharr a tradition, saying: "I sat before the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace), who was in the Mosque. He said: Abu Dharr, have you performed the Prayer? I replied in the negative. He said: Arise and perform the Prayer. So, I performed the Prayer. The Holy Prophet said: O Abu Dharr, seek Allah's refuge from the devils of men and the devils of jinn. I asked. are there devils among men also? O Messenger of Allah! He replied: Yes."

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said regarding the interpretation of Allah's saying (Say: I seek refuge): '(Say: I seek refuge) and it is also said this means: I seek protection (in the Lord of mankind) in the Lord of the jinn and humankind,