Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Establish worship) fulfil the prayer (at the two ends of the day) the morning prayer and the Zuhr; it is also said that the reference here is to the morning prayer and the prayers of Zuhr and 'Asr (and in some watches of the night) at the advent of the night, i.e. the prayers of Maghrib and 'Isha'. (Lo! good deeds) the five daily prayers (annul ill deeds) sins other than the enormities; it is also said that the good deeds refer to the formulas: “Glory be to Allah”, “Praise be to Allah”, “there is no god save Allah” and “Allah is the greatest”. (This is a reminder for the mindful) this is an act of repentance for those who repent; it is also said that this means: these expiate the sins of the repentant. This verse was revealed about a man called Abu'l-Yusr Ibn 'Umar.
And establish prayer at the two ends of the day, at first light and before sunset, that is, [pray] in the morning, at noon, and in the afternoon, and in some watches (zulafan is the plural of zulfa), a portion, of the night, that is, at sunset and late evening. Indeed good deeds, such as the five prayers, annul misdeeds, minor sins: this was revealed regarding one who kissed a female stranger and told the Prophet (s) about it, and then asked him, ‘Is this [verse true] for me?’ and the Prophet said to him, ‘It is [so] for every person of my community’, as reported by the two Shaykhs [Bukhārī and Muslim]. That is a remembrance for the mindful, an admonition for those who heed them.
And establish prayer at the two ends of the day: since the five senses are sources of distraction that distract the heart with corporeal configurations that rush in on it and attract it away from the Presence of the Compassionate One, veiling it from the light and from being present by turning [it] away from the Holy Side and orienting [it] to the substance of abomination, substituting its intimacy with loneliness and purity with sulliedness, five prayers were prescribed in which the servant can devote himself without distraction to being present and close the doors of the senses, lest there should rush in on the heart any distraction, and [in which] the door of the heart is opened up to God, exalted be He, by orienting [to Him] and by means of the intention for [the reception of] the arrival of the reinforcement of light, and [in which] that person can gather his scattered thoughts and enjoy the intimacy of his Lord away from loneliness alongside a united orientation and an actualised concentration. Thus these prayers come to constitute five doors for the heart that open out to the Side of the Lord through which light enters onto him - in contrast to the five that open up to the side of Deluder and the abode of the Accursed Deluder through which darkness enters - so that the incoming light might dissipate the vestiges of its darknesses and sweep away the dust of its sulliedness. That is the meaning of His words: Indeed good deeds annul misdeeds. It is also related in ḥadīth that [the period] from one prayer to the next expunges what [sins] are between them, so long as the grave sins are avoided. He has commanded that it be observed at the two ends of the day so that its provisions, for the subsisting of concentration and the mastery of the luminous configuration, might be extended from the first [end] to [include] all the times [of the day], so that maybe that person might be of those who regularly observe their prayers [cf. Q. 70:23] by the regular occurrence of that presence and the subsistence of that light, and that perhaps he might sweep away and remove at the end [of the day] the separation and the sulliedness that were actualised in all of the other moments.
Now, since the dominance of the natural faculties, those that govern matters like nourishment, takes place at night, when they draw the soul to managing the body by making it sleep in obliviousness to its spiritual world, detaining it from its affair relating specifically to that [world], which is the perusal of the Unseen and the witnessing of the world of the Holy, by preoccupying it with the use of the instruments of nourishment in order to cultivate the body, stripping it thereby of subtlety and lenience and tarnishing it with coverings, there is then a need for making it subtle and pure in wakefulness and for illuminating it and softening it by means of prayers, and so He said: and in some watches of the night. That which has been mentioned pertaining to the establishing of prayers at the aforementioned times and the annulling of misdeeds by means of good deeds, is a reminder for whoever remembers his state of presence with God in purity, concentration, intimacy and tasting.
`Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said,
وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَوةَ طَرَفَىِ النَّهَارِ
(And perform the Salah, at the two ends of the day) "This is referring to the morning prayer (Subh) and the evening prayer (Maghrib).'' The same was said by Al-Hasan and `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam. In one narration reported by Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak and others, Al-Hasan said, "It means the morning prayer (Subh) and the late afternoon prayer (`Asr).'' Mujahid said, "It is the morning prayer at the beginning of the day and the noon prayer (Zuhr) and late afternoon prayer (`Asr) at the end of the day.'' This was also said by Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi and Ad-Dahhak in one narration from him.
وَزُلَفاً مِّنَ الَّيْلِ
(and in some hours of the night.) Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Al-Hasan and others said, "This means the night prayer (`Isha').'' Ibn Al-Mubarak reported from Mubarak bin Fadalah that Al-Hasan said,
وَزُلَفاً مِّنَ الَّيْلِ
(and in some hours of the night.) "This means the evening (Maghrib) and late night (`Isha') prayers. The Messenger of Allah said,
(They are the approach of the night: Maghrib and `Isha'.) The same was said by Mujahid, Muhammad bin Ka`b, Qatadah and Ad-Dahhak (that this means the Maghrib and `Isha' prayers). It should be noted that this verse was revealed before the five daily prayers were made obligatory during the night of Isra' (the Prophet's night journey to Jerusalem). At that time there were only two obligatory prayers: a prayer before sunrise and a prayer before sunset. During the late night another prayer (Tahajjud) was also made obligatory upon the Prophet and his nation. Later, this obligation was abrogated for his nation and remained obligatory upon him. Finally, this obligation was abrogated for the Prophet as well, according to one opinion. Allah knows best.
The Good Deeds wipe away the Evil Deeds
Concerning Allah's statement,
إِنَّ الْحَسَنَـتِ يُذْهِبْنَ السَّـيِّئَـتِ
(Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds.) This is saying that the performance of good deeds is an expiation of previous sins. This has been mentioned in a Hadith recorded by Imam Ahmad and the Sunan Compilers, that the Commander of the faithful, `Ali bin Abi Talib, said, "Whenever I used to hear a narration from the Messenger of Allah, Allah would cause me to benefit by it however He willed. If anyone informed me of any statement that he said, I would make him swear (by Allah) that the Prophet said it. If he swore by Allah, then I would believe him. Abu Bakr once told me -- and Abu Bakr was truthful -- that he heard the Messenger of Allah say,
(There is not any Muslim who commits a sin, then he makes Wudu' and prays two units of prayer, except that he will be forgiven (that sin).) In the Two Sahihs it is recorded that the Commander of the faithful, `Uthman bin `Affan made Wudu' for the people (to see), just like the Wudu' of the Messenger of Allah. Then he said, "I saw the Messenger of Allah make Wudu' like this, and he said,
(Whoever makes Wudu' like this Wudu' of mine, then he prays two units of prayer in which he does not speak to himself, he will be forgiven for his previous sins.) In the Sahih it is recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Do you think that if there was a flowing river at the door of anyone of you and he bathed in it five times every day, would there be any dirt left on him) They said, "No, O Messenger of Allah!'' He said;
(The five daily prayers, Jumu`ah (Friday prayer) to Jumu`ah and (the fast of) Ramadan to Ramadan are expiations for whatever sins were committed between them, as long as you stay away from the major sins.) Al-Bukhari recorded Ibn Mas`ud saying that a man kissed a woman (who was not his relative or wife). He then came to the Prophet and informed him about the incident. Thus, Allah revealed,
(And perform Salah, at the two ends of the day and in some hours of the night. Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds.)11:114 The man then said, "O Messenger of Allah, is this only for me'' The Prophet replied,
«لِجَمِيعِ أُمَّتِي كُلِّهِم»
(This is for all of my (Ummah) followers.) Al-Bukhari recorded this narration in the Book of Prayer as well and the Book of Tafsir. Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that a man came to `Umar and said that a woman came to do business with him. During the course of their business, he took her into his place and did everything with her except the actual act of sexual intercourse. `Umar said, "Woe unto you! She probably was a woman whose husband is away (fighting) in the path of Allah.'' The man said, "Of course she was.'' `Umar then said, "Go to Abu Bakr and ask him about this.'' The man went to Abu Bakr and asked him about the matter. Abu Bakr said, "She probably was a woman whose husband is away (fighting) in the path of Allah,'' just as `Umar had said. Then he went to the Prophet and told him the same story. The Prophet said,
«فَلَعَلَّهَا مُغِيبَةٌ فِي سَبِيلِ الله»
(She probably was a woman whose husband is away (fighting) in the path of Allah.) Then a verse of Qur'an was revealed,
(And perform the Salah, at the two ends of the day and in some hours of the night. Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds.) The man then said, "O Messenger of Allah! Is this verse only for me, or does it apply to all of the people in general'' `Umar then struck the man on his chest with his hand and said, "No, rather it is for all of the people in general.'' Then the Messenger of Allah said,
(`Umar has spoken the truth.)
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
It means this: "There is nothing new in the different opinions expressed by different people regarding the Qur'an. They behaved in the same manner towards the Book that was given to Prophet Moses. Therefore, O Muhammad, do not be disheartened by their rejection of the Qur'an, though its teachings are simple and plain. "
This is to reassure the Holy Prophet and the believers that they should patiently wait for the consequences of the misbehavior of the unbelievers towards the Qur'an ways. But this will happen in due course as previously ordained by Allah for Allah does not make haste in passing judgment, though the people demand haste.
This was to urge Salat at three times, that is, Morning, Evening and `Isha. This shows that this was revealed before Salat had been made obligatory five times a day during the Mi'raj. (For explanation, see E.N. 95 of XVII, E.N. 111 of XX, and E.N. 124 of XXX).
This is the remedy for eradicating evil from the world: "Do good deeds and defeat evil with them. The best way of making you virtuous is to establish salat, which will remind you of Allah over and over again: which will produce those good characteristics in you that shall help you fight successfully against the systematic and united front of evil that has been formed against the Mission of the Truth. This will also enable you to establish practically the system of virtue and reform." (For explanation see E.N.'s 77-79 of XXIX).
(Establish worship at the two ends of the day and in some watches of the night. Lo! good deeds annul ill deeds…) [11:114]. Master Abu Mansur al-Baghdadi informed us> Abu 'Amr ibn Matar> Ibrahim ibn 'Ali> Yahya ibn Yahya> Abu'l-Ahwas> Simak> Ibrahim> 'Alqamah> al-Aswad> 'Abd Allah who said: “A man came to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and said: 'O Messenger of Allah, I have fondled a woman at the end of Medina. However, I have touched her without making love to her; here I am, sentence me to whatever judgment you see fit!' 'Umar exclaimed: 'Allah had concealed your sin if only you had kept it concealed'. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, did not answer him. The man left. Another man went after him, called him back and recited to him this verse. One man asked: 'O Messenger of Allah, is this for him specifically?' He said: 'No, it is for all people' ”. This was narrated by Muslim from Yahya ibn Yahya and by Bukhari from Yazid ibn Zuray'. 'Amr ibn Abi 'Amr informed us> Muhammad ibn Makki> Muhammad ibn Yusuf> Muhammad ibn Isma'il> Bishr ibn Yazid ibn Zuray'> Sulayman al-Taymi> Abu 'Uthman al-Nahdi> Ibn Mas'ud who reported that a man kissed a woman after which he went to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and informed him of what he did. Allah, exalted is He, then revealed this verse (Establish worship at the two ends of the day and in some watches of the night…) up to the end of the verse. The man asked: “Does this apply specifically to me?” He said: “It applies to whoever practises it from among my community”. Muhammad ibn Musa ibn al-Fadl informed us> Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Umawi> al-'Abbas al-Duri> Ahmad ibn Hanbal al-Marwazi> Muhammad ibn al-Mubarak> Suwayd> 'Uthman ibn Mawhab> Musa ibn Talhah> Abu'l-Yusr ibn 'Amr who said: “A woman whose husband was sent with an army by the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, came to me and said: 'I want to buy one silver coin worth of dates'. I liked the woman and so I said: 'I have in the house dates which are much better than these, so come with me'. I touched her and kissed her. I then went to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and related to him what happened. He said to me: 'You have betrayed a man who is fighting for the sake of Allah in relation to his wife with the like of this'. And he put his head down on me. I thought I was of the dwellers of hellfire and that Allah would never forgive me. But then Allah, exalted is He, revealed (Establish worship at the two ends of the day and in some watches of the night…). The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, sent for me and recited it to me”. Nasr ibn Bakr ibn Ahmad al-Wa'iz> Abu Sa'id 'Abd Allah ibn Muhammad al-Sijzi> Muhammad ibn Ayyub al-Razi> 'Ali ibn 'Uthman> Musa ibn Isma'il> 'Ubayd Allah ibn 'Asim (the wording is that of 'Ali)> Hammad ibn Salamah> 'Ali ibn Zayd> Yusuf ibn Mahran> Ibn 'Abbas who said: “A man went to 'Umar and said: 'A woman came to buy from me, I took her inside an antechamber and did with her everything except intercourse'. 'Umar said: 'Woe unto you, her husband is absent fighting for the sake of Allah!' I said: 'Yes, he is!' He said: 'Go to Abu Bakr [and see what he says]'. He went to Abu Bakr and he said exactly as 'Umar said. He said: 'Go to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and ask him'. He went to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and related to him what he had already related to Abu Bakr and 'Umar. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace said: 'Is her husband away fighting for the sake of Allah?' When the man confirmed it, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, did not speak with him. This verse was then revealed (Establish worship at the two ends of the day and in some watches of the night. Lo! good deeds annul ill deeds…), and the man asked: 'O Messenger of Allah, is this for me specifically or is it for everyone?' 'Umar struck his chest and said: 'No, it is for everyone'. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, laughed and said: ' 'Umar is right!' ”. Abu Mansur informed us> Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Tusi> 'Ali ibn 'Umar al-Hafiz> al-Husayn ibn Isma'il al-Mahamili> Yusuf ibn Musa> Jarir> 'Abd al-Malik ibn 'Umayr> 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Abi Layla> Mu'adh ibn Jabal who reported that he was sitting with the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, when a man came and said: “O Messenger of Allah, what do you say about a man who touches a woman who is unlawful for him to touch, such that he does everything that a man usually does with his lawfully wedded wife, except that he does not have intercourse with her?” The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said to him: “Perform minor ritual ablutions properly and then stand up to pray”. Then, Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse (Establish worship at the two ends of the day and in some watches of the night…) up to its end. Mu'adh ibn Jabal asked: “Is this for him specifically or for all Muslims?” He replied: “It is for all Muslims”. Master Abu Tahir al-Ziyadi informed us> Hajib ibn Ahmad> 'Abd al-Rahim ibn Munib> al-Fadl ibn Musa al-Sinani> Sufyan al-Thawri> Simak ibn Harb> Ibrahim> 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Yazid> Ibn Mas'ud who said: “A man came to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and said: 'O Messenger of Allah, I have fondled a woman except that I did not sleep with her'. Allah, exalted is He, revealed [as a response] (Establish worship at the two ends of the day and in some watches of the night. Lo! good deeds annul ill deeds)”.