91 - Ash Shams (The Sun)

4 Tafsir(s) related to verse 91.1


By the sun and her morning light,

Ibn Al Kathir

Allah swears by His Creation that the Person Who purifies Himself will be Successful and the Person Who corrupts Himself will fail

Mujahid said,

وَالشَّمْسِ وَضُحَـهَا

(By the sun and Duhaha.) "This means, by its light.'' Qatadah said,


(wa Duhaha.) "The whole day.'' Ibn Jarir said, "The correct view is what has been said, `Allah swears by the sun and its daytime, because the clear light of the sun is daytime.'''

وَالْقَمَرِ إِذَا تَلـهَا

(By the moon as it Talaha.) Mujahid said, "It follows it (the sun).'' Al-`Awfi reported from Ibn `Abbas that he said,

وَالْقَمَرِ إِذَا تَلـهَا

(By the moon as it Talaha.) "It follows the day.'' Qatadah said, "`as it Talaha (follows it)' is referring to the night of the Hilal (the new crescent moon). When the sun goes down, the Hilal is visible.'' Concerning Allah's statement,

وَالنَّهَارِ إِذَا جَلَّـهَا

(By the day as it Jallaha.) Mujahid said, "When it illuminates.'' Thus, Mujahid said,

وَالنَّهَارِ إِذَا جَلَّـهَا

(By the day as it Jallaha.) "This is similar to Allah's statement,

وَالنَّهَارِ إِذَا تَجَلَّى

(By the day as it Tajalla.) (92:2)'' And they have said concerning Allah's statement,

وَالَّيْلِ إِذَا يَغْشَـهَا

(By the night as it Yaghshaha.) meaning, when it covers the sun, which takes place when sun disappears and the horizons become dark. Concerning Allah's statement,

وَالسَّمَآءِ وَمَا بَنَـهَا

(By the heaven and Ma Banaha.) The meaning here could be for descriptive purposes, meaning "By the heaven and its construction.'' This was said by Qatadah. It could also mean "By the heaven and its Constructor.'' This was stated by Mujahid. Both views are interrelated, and construction means raising. This is as Allah says,

وَالسَّمَآءَ بَنَيْنَـهَا بِأَيْدٍ

(With Hands did We construct the heaven.) (51:47) meaning, with strength.

وَالسَّمَآءَ بَنَيْنَـهَا بِأَيْدٍ وَإِنَّا لَمُوسِعُونَ - وَالاٌّرْضَ فَرَشْنَـهَا فَنِعْمَ الْمَـهِدُونَ

(Verily, We are able to extend the vastness of space thereof. And We have spread out the earth: how excellent a spreader are We!) (51:47-48) This is also similar to Allah's statement,

وَالاٌّرْضِ وَمَا طَحَـهَا

(By the earth and Ma Tahaha.) Mujahid said, "Tahaha means He spread it out.'' Al-`Awfi reported from Ibn `Abbas that he said,

وَمَا طَحَـهَا

(and Ma Tahaha.) "This means what He created in it.'' `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn `Abbas that he said, "Tahaha means that He proportioned it.'' Mujahid, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak, As-Suddi, Ath-Thawri, Abu Salih and Ibn Zayd all said that


(Tahaha) means, He spread it out. Allah then says,

وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا

(By Nafs, and Ma Sawwaha (Who apportioned it).) meaning, He created it sound and well-proportioned upon the correct nature (Al-Fitrah). This is as Allah says,

فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفاً فِطْرَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِى فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا لاَ تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ

(So set you your face towards the religion, Hanif. Allah's Fitrah with which He has created mankind. No change let there be in the Khalqillah.) (30:30) The Messenger of Allah said,

«كُلُّ مَوْلُودٍ يُولَدُ عَلى الْفِطْرَةِ فَأَبَوَاهُ يُهَوِّدَانِهِ أَوْ يُنَصِّرَانِهِ أَوْ يُمَجِّسَانِهِ، كَمَا تُولَدُ الْبَهِيمَةُ بَهِيمَةً جَمْعَاءَ، هَلْ تُحِسُّونَ فِيهَا مِنْ جَدْعَاءَ؟»

(Every child that is born, is born upon the Fitrah, but his parents make him a Jew, a Christian, or a Zoroastrian. This is just as the animal is born, complete with all of its parts. Do you notice any mutilation in it) Both Al-Bukhari and Muslim recorded this Hadith from Abu Hurayrah. In Sahih Muslim, it has been narrated from `Iyad bin Himar Al-Mujashi`i that the Messenger of Allah said,

«يَقُولُ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: إِنِّي خَلَقْتُ عِبَادِي حُنَفَاءَ فَجَاءَتْهُمُ الشَّيَاطِينُ فَاجْتَالَتْهُمْ عَنْ دِينِهِم»

(Allah the Mighty and Majestic says, "Verily I created My servants Hunafa' (as monotheists), but then the devils came to them and distracted them from their religion.)'' Then Allah says,

فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا

(Then He showed it its Fujur and its Taqwa.) meaning, He showed him to his transgression and his Taqwa. This means that He clarified that for it and He guided it to what has been ordained for him. Ibn `Abbas said,

فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا

(Then He showed it its Fujur and its Taqwa.) "He explained the good and the evil to it (the soul).'' Mujahid, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak and Ath-Thawri all said the same. Sa`id bin Jubayr said, "He gave him inspiration (to see what was) good and evil.'' Ibn Zayd said, "He made its Fujur and its Taqwa inside of it.'' Ibn Jarir recorded from Abul-Aswad Ad-Dili that he said, "`Imran bin Husayn said to me, `Do you think that what the people do, and what they strive for is a thing that is pre-ordained and predestined for them, or is it a thing which is only written after the Message comes to them from the Prophet, when there will be an evidence against them' I said, `Rather it is something preordained upon them.' Then he said, `Is that an injustice' Then I became extremely frightened of him (due to what he was saying), and I said to him, `There is nothing except that He (Allah) created it and possesses it in His Hand. He is not asked about what He does, while they (His creation) will be asked.' He (`Imran) then said, `May Allah guide you! I only asked you about that in order to inform you that a man from Muzaynah or Juhaynah tribe came to the Allah's Messenger and asked him: "O Messenger of Allah! Do you consider the actions of mankind and their struggles to be preordained for them and written for them from Qadr, or something written for them only after the Message came to them from their Prophet, when there will be an evidence against them'' He (the Prophet ) replied:

«بَلْ شَيْءٌ قَدْ قُضِيَ عَلَيْهِم»

(Rather it is something preordained for them.) So the man said, "Then what is the point of our actions'' The Prophet replied,

«مَنْ كَانَ اللهُ خَلَقَهُ لإِحْدَى الْمَنْزِلَتَيْنِ يُهَيِّئُهُ لَهَا، وَتَصْدِيقُ ذَلِكَ فِي كِتَابِ اللهِ تَعَالَى:

وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا - فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا»

(Whoever Allah created for one of the two positions (Paradise or Hell), He makes it easy for him (to attain). The proof of that is in the Book of Allah (By Nafs, and Ma Sawwaha (Who apportioned it). Then He showed it its Fujur and its Taqwa).)'' Ahmad and Muslim both recorded this Hadith. Allah then says,

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن زَكَّـهَا - وَقَدْ خَابَ مَن دَسَّـهَا

(Indeed he succeeds who purifies it. And indeed he fails who Dassaha.) This could mean that whoever purifies himself by obedience to Allah, then he will be successful. This is as Qatadah said, "He cleanses it from the lowly and despicable characteristics.'' Similar to this has been reported from Mujahid, `Ikrimah and Sa`id bin Jubayr.

وَقَدْ خَابَ مَن دَسَّـهَا

(And indeed he fails who Dassaha.) meaning, to conceal it. This means that he makes it dull, and he disregards it by neglecting to allow it to receive guidance. He treats it in this manner until he performs acts of disobedience and he abandons obedience of Allah. It also could mean that he is indeed successful whose soul Allah purifies, and he has failed whose soul Allah corrupts. This is like what was reported by Al-`Awfi and `Ali bin Abi Talhah from Ibn `Abbas. At-Tabarani recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "The Messenger of Allah used to stop whenever he recited this Ayah,

وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا - فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا

(By Nafs, and Ma Sawwaha (Who apportioned it). Then He showed it its Fujur and its Taqwa.) Then he would say,

«اللْهُمَّ آتِ نَفْسِي تَقْوَاهَا، أَنْتَ وَلِيُّهَا وَمَوْلَاهَا، وَخَيْرُ مَنْ زَكَّاهَا»

(O Allah! Give my soul its good. You are its Guardian and Master, and the best to purify it.)'' Another Hadith Imam Ahmad recorded that Zayd bin Arqam said that the Messenger of Allah said,

«اللْهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْعَجْز وَالْكَسَلِ، وَالْهَرَمِ وَالْجُبْنِ وَالْبُخْلِ وَعَذَابِ الْقَبْرِ. اللْهُمَّ آتِ نَفْسِي تَقْوَاهَا، وَزَكِّهَا أَنْتَ خَيْرُ مَنْ زَكَّاهَا، أَنْتَ وَلِيُّهَا وَمَوْلَاهَا. اللْهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ قَلْبٍ لَا يَخْشَعُ، وَمِنْ نَفْسٍ لَا تَشْبَعُ، وَعِلْمٍ لَا يَنْفَعُ، وَدَعْوَةٍ لَا يُسْتَجَابُ لَهَا»

(O Allah! Verily, I seek refuge with You from weakness, laziness, senility (of old age), cowardliness, stinginess and the torment of the grave. O Allah! Give my soul its good and purify it, for You are the best to purify it. You are its Guardian and Master. O Allah! Verily, I seek refuge with You from a heart that is not humble, a soul that is not satisfied, knowledge that does not benefit and a supplication that is not answered.) Zayd then said, "The Messenger of Allah used to teach us these (words) and we now teach them to you.'' Muslim also recorded this Hadith.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

The word duha as used in the original applies both to the light of the sun and to its heat. Although in Arabic its well known meaning is the time between sunrise and meridian when the sun has risen high, at that height it does not only give light but heat too. Therefore, when the word duha is attributed to the sun, its full meaning can be expressed more appropriately by its radiant brightness than by its light, or by the time of the day that it indicates.

That is, when the night comes, the sun hides and its light remains hidden throughout the night. This state has been described, saying that the night covers up the sun, for the night actually signifies the sun's hiding behind the horizon because of which its light cannot reach that part of the earth where the night has fallen.

"Who established it": Who established it like a vault over the earth. In this verse and in the two succeeding verses, the word ma has been used. A section of the commentators has taken this ma as an infinitive, and interpreted these verses to mean "By the heaven and its being established, by the earth and its being spread out, and by the human self and its being balanced. " But this meaning is not correct for the reason that the following sentence: "then inspired it with its wickedness and its piety", does not fit in with the context. Other commentators have taken ma here in the meaning of mun or alladhi and they interpret the sentence to mean: "Who established the heaven, who spread out the earth, and who balanced the human self. " This second meaning is correct in our view, and no one can object that ma in Arabic is used of lifeless things and irrational creatures, For in the Qur'an itself there are numerous instances that ma has been used in the meaning of mun, e.g. we la antum `abiduna ma a `bud ("nor are you the worshipers of Him Whom I worship"), fankihu ma taba lakun~-mia-an-nisa ` ("so, marry from among the women those whom you like").wa la tanlkihu ma nakaha abaa ukum min-nisa' ("do not marry those women whom your fathers had married").

"Balanced it" : gave man such a body which by virtue of its erect stature, its hands and feet, and its brain was most appropriate for him to live as man in the world. He blessed him with the senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell which on account of their combination and their characteristics could become the best means of obtaining knowledge for him. He endowed him with the faculties of thinking and reasoning, imagination, memory, discrimination, judgment, will-power and such other mental powers by virtue of which he is able to perform the functions fit for man in the world. In addition, balancing also means that man was not created a sinner by birth and a criminal by instinct but on right and sound nature, anti was not characterized with any inborn crookedness because of which he may be unable to adopt the right path even if he wanted to do so. This same thing has been expressed in Surah Ar-Rum, saying: "Be steadfast on the nature whereupon Allah has created mankind." (v. 30), and the same has been explained by the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace ) in a Hadith, saying: "Every new-born child is born on true human nature; it is his parents who make him a"Jew or a Christian or a Magian afterwards. Its example is of an animal giving birth to complete and sound young one. Do you find any one with a torn or slit ear ?" (Bukhari, Muslim). That is, it is the polytheistic people who on account of their superstitions of ignorance tear and slit the ears of animals after wards; otherwise God does not cause an animal to be born with torn ears from its mother's belly. In another Hadith the Holy Prophet said: "My Lord says: I had created all My servants on true Faith (i.e. on sound nature); then the satans came and led them astray from their Faith (i.e.. the true natural Faith) and made unlawful what I had made lawful for them, and commanded them to associate with Me those for whom I had sent down no authority." (Musnad Ahmad; Muslim also has related a saying from the Holy Prophet in similar words).

The word ilham is derived from Jahm which means to swallow. According to this very basic meaning, the word ilham is used terminologically for Allah's inspiring a man with a concept or idea unconsciously. Inspiring the human self with its wickedness and its piety and virtue has two meanings: (1) That the Creator has placed in it tendencies to both good and evil, and this is the thing that every man feels in himself. (2) That Allah has endowed every man's unconscious mind with the concept that there is a moral good and there is a moral evil, that good morals and acts and evil morals and acts are not equal and alike; fujur (immorality) is an evil thing and taqva (abstention from evils) a good thing. These concepts are pot new to man; he is conscious of these by nature, and the Creator has endowed him with the ability to distinguish between good and evil naturally. This same thing has been said in Surah AI-Balad: "And We showed him both the highways of good and evil." v. 10); and in Surah Ad Dahr, thus: "We showed him the way, whether to be grateful or disbelieving" (v. 3); and the same has been expressed in Surah AI-Qiyamah, saying: "In man there is the reproaching self (conscience) which reproaches him when he commits evil (v. 2)," and "Man knows his own self best, even though he may offer many excuses." (w. 1415).

Here, one should also understand well that Allah has blessed every creature with natural inspiration according to its position and nature, as has been pointed out in Surah Ta Ha: "Who has given a distinctive form to everything and then guided it aright." (v. 50). For example, every species of animals has been given inspirational knowledge according to its needs by virtue of which the fish learns to swim, the bird to fly, the bee to make the beehive and the weaver-bird to build the nest instinctively. Man also in view of his different capacities has been granted separate kinds of inspirational knowledge. His one capacity is that he is an animal being; as such the most significant instance of the inspirational knowledge that he has been given is that the human child starts sucking the mother's milk soon on birth. which no one could teach it, had it, not been taught it instinctively by God. Another position of man is that 6e is a rational being. As such God has boon blessing him with. inspirational guidance continuously since the time of his creation, by virtue of which he has been discovering things and making inventions to develop his civilization. Anyone who studies the history of these discoveries and inventions will realize that there was hardly any which might be the result of man's own effort or thought, but mostly it so happened that suddenly an idea struck a person and he discovered or invented something. Besides these two, another position of man is that he is a moral being. In this position too Allah has blessed him by inspiration with discrimination between good and evil and of the realization of the good to be good and of the evil to be evil. This sense of discrimination and realization is a universal truth on account of which no human society in the world has even been without the concepts of good and evil; there has never been in history, nor is there now, a society which may not be having some kind of a system of rewarding the good and punishing the evil. this fact being prevalent in every age, at every place, and at every stage of civilization is a clear proof of its being natural and innate. Furthermore, this is also proof that a Wise Creator possessed of knowledge has endued man's nature with it, for in the elements of which man is made up and the laws which govern the material system of the world, no human origin of morals can be traced out.

This is for which an oath has been sworn by the things mentioned in the above verses. Let us now consider how those things bear upon it. The rule that Allah has followed in the Qur'an is that to bear testimony to the truths that He wants to impress on the human mind, he cites some of the most conspicuous, common-place things which every man sees in his surroundings, or in his own self. Accordingly here, pairs of contradictory things have been cited, each unlike the other in its effects and results, rather opposite and reverse. The first pair is of the sun and the moon. The light of the sun is intensely bright and also hot. As against it the moon has no light of its own. Even if it is there in the sky when the sun shines, it is without light. It shines when the sun hides, and even then its light is neither so bright that it may change the night into day nor is there any heat in it that it may have the same effect as the sun's light. Nevertheless, it has its own effects which are quite different from the effects of the sun. Likewise, there is the pair of the day and the night. Each is the reverse of the other. The effects and results of each are so different from the other that no one can say they are alike; so much so that even a most foolish person cannot possibly say that the day's being the day or the,night's being the night does not make any difference. Likewise, there is the pair of the sky and the earth; the former has been raised high by the Creator and the latter spread like a carpet beneath it. Although both are serving the same universe, its system and expediencies, yet there is a world of difference between their functions and their effects and results. After citing these universal evidences, man's own self has been considered, and it has been said that after balancing it with suitable combination of the limbs, senses and mental powers and faculties the Creator has placed in it tendencies, inclinations and motives to both good and evil, which are contradictory to each other, and made him understand by inspiration the distinction between the two: that one is fujur, which is evil, and the other is tagva, which is good. Now, if the sun and the moon, the day and the night, the earth and the heaven, are not alike but necessarily different from each other in their effects and results, how can fujur and taqva of the self be alike in spite of being reverse of each other? Man himself in this world does not regard and acknowledge the good and the evil as equal, no matter what criteria of good and evil he might have devised for himself according to his self-propounded philosophies. In any case, about whatever he regards as good, he holds the opinion that it is appreciable and worthy of praise, reward and recompense. On the contrary, about whatever he regards as evil, it is his own objective opinion that it is worthy of condemnation and punishment. But the real judgment does not lie with man; it lies with the Creator, Who has inspired man with his fujur and taqva. The fujur is that which is fujur in the sight of the Creator and the tagva that which is tagva in His sight, and both have separate results in the sight of the Creator. The result of the one is that he who purifies his self, should attain to eternal success, and the result of the, other is that he who suppresses his self, should be a failure.

Tazkiyah means to purify, develop and cultivate. In the context it clearly moans the one who purifies his self of fujur and develops it to the level of tagva and cultivates in it the,good, will attain to eternal success. As against this; the word dassaha has been used, the infinitive of which is tadsiyah, which means to suppress, conceal, seduce and lead astray. The meaning of this also becomes clear from the context; i. e. the one who suppresses the tendency in his self towards good instead of developing and cultivating it, who seduces it into doing evil, and makes fujur dominate over taqva so as to cover it up completely like the dead body which is buried and covered with earth, will be a failure. Some commentators have interpreted this verse to mean: "Truly successful was he whom (whose self) Allah purified.and a failure he whom (whose self) Allah suppressed." But this commentary is, firstly, opposed to the style of the Qur'an in view of the language, for if Allah had meant to say this, He would have said: "Truly successful was the self which Allah purified and a failure the self which Allah suppressed;" secondly, this commentary clashes with the other statements of the Qur'an on this subject. In Surah Al-A`la, Allah says: "Truly successful was he who adopted purity." (v. 14). In Surah `Abasa, Allah has addressed His Holy Messenger, saying: "And. you would not be responsible if he did not adopt purity " In both these verses, adoption of purity has been regarded as an act of man. Besides, the truth stated at many places in the Qur'an is that man in this world is being put to the test. For example, in Surah Ad-Dahr, it is said: "We created man from a mixed sperm-drop, to try him, and so We made him capable of hearing and seeing." (v. 2) In Surah AlMulk it is stated: "Who created death and life that he may try you to see which of you is best in deeds. (v. 2) Now, obviously, if the examiner at the outset encourages one candidate and discourages the other, the test would he a farce. Therefore, the correct commentary is that which Qatadah, `Ikrimah, Mujahid and Sa`id bin Jubair have given, saying that the subject zakkaha and dassaha is man and not God. As for the Hadith which Ibn Abi Hatim has related on the authority of Juwaybir bin Sa`id from Dahhak from Ibn `Abbas, saying that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) himself interpreted this verse to mean: "Truly successful was the self whom the Almighty Allah purified"; this saying is not confirmed to be from the Holy Prophet, for its one reporter Juwaybir, has been rejected as a narrator of Hadith, and Dahhak did not meet Ibn `Abbas. However, the Hadith which Imam Ahmad, Muslim, Nasa'i and Ibn Abi Shaibah have related on the authority of Hadrat Zaid bin Arqam, is correct which says that the Holy Prophet used to pray: "O Allah, grant my self its taqva and purify it: You alone are the best to purify it; You alone are its Guardian and Master. " In almost similar words, this supplication of the Holy Prophet has been related by Tabarani Ibn Marduyah and lbn al-Mundhir from Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Abbas and Imam Ahmad from Hadrat `A'ishah. It actually means that man can only desire and seek tagva and tazkiyah; as for its attainment, it depends in any case on Allah's grace and,favour alone. And the same also is we of tadsiyah: Allah does not suppress a self forcibly, but when a man is resolved on iniquity, Allah deprives him of the grace of tagva and tazbyab, 'and leaves him alone to suppress and bury his self under nay heap of filth he likes.

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 (By the sun and his brightness): '(By the sun and his brightness) Allah swears by the sun and its light,