In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
- Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of the dawn,
- From the evil of that which He has created,
- And from the evil of intense darkness, when it comes,
- And from the evil of those who cast (evil suggestions) in
- And from the evil of the envier when he envies.
Surah al-Falaq is one of the last two chapters of the Holy
Quran called al-muawwazatain, as these start with the
word a‘uzu, which means I seek refuge. In this chapter,
Allah’s protection or refuge has been sought against all sorts of
evils which incite others to cause injury to us, whereas in surah
al-Nas, protection has been sought against all such evil inclinations
through which we cause harm or injury to others. Thus these two
chapters are so comprehensive that no evil or evil inclination has
been left out from which refuge has not been sought in Allah. It
is written in the Hadith that on the revelation of these
two chapters, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sas) became very
happy and he forsook other prayers seeking Allah’s protection and
adopted these instead.
The word falaq in the first verse of the chapter means cleaving
or splitting. This word has been used at two other places
in the Quran. In 6:96, the words are Fáliq-ul habbi wan
na-waa (One who causes the grain and date-stone to split
or germinate). Then in verse 97 of the same surah, the
words are Fáliq-ul isbáh (the Cleaver of the daybreak).
Here Allah’s attribute, Fáliq, has been mentioned
in the beginning. This word carries two meanings: firstly, the Being
Who brings out the dawn from the darkness of night; and secondly,
the One Who splits the hard date-stone and brings out the young
shoot. In other words, it refers to the all-pervasive power of Allah
which extends from the tiny creation of the young shoot to the manoeuvering
of the huge planets, such as the sun and the moon, in the universe.
By using His divine attribute al-Falaq, the idea is to impress
upon the mind of the believer that it is Allah alone Who can protect
one from evils.
The other word which needs explaining is na-fa-sa which
means to blow. To blow into one’s heart means to put a thing
or an idea into one’s heart. Similarly, to blow over a knot, as
is mentioned in verse 4 (naf-fá-sá-ti fil uqad)
means to insinuate evil suggestions into the resolution of men or
into the management of their affairs. And it does happen that when
a person undertakes some good work, there are people who themselves
do nothing, but would always discourage him by dissuading him or
by weakening his determination by over-emphasizing unfounded fears.
Unfortunately, some of the commentators of the Holy Quran, confined
themselves to the literal meaning of the words blowing into the
knots and this gave rise to the baseless story that some Jewish
woman wove a magic spell over the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sas),
with the effect that he became forgetful. The Holy Quran rejects
all such stories and narration.
The fact is that it was the disbelievers who accused the Holy Prophet
of being a magician, as we find in the Quran: Qála-l-káfirúna
inná házá la-sáhir-um mubín (The
disbelievers say: This is surely a manifest enchanter 10:2).
As has already been mentioned, these two chapters cover all sorts
of evils, and that is why most devout Muslims, before going to bed,
recite them to seek Allah’s protection.
Now we come to the second verse:
From the evil of that which Allah has created.
We should bear in mind that man, by and large, depends on the environment
for the maintenance of his very existence. It is our common experience
that a human being faces two kinds of dangers while living on this
earth. Firstly, dangers which are obvious and known such as beasts,
snakes, robbers etc. Secondly, things which although essential and
beneficial for the maintenance of human life, yet at times take
a dangerous turn, such as air, water, fire, food etc. For instance,
fire is the primary source of energy and heat for human beings,
but at times it blazes uncontrollably thus destroying property and
killing people. Similarly, water is the main source of life and
vegetation, but sometimes it turns into devastating floods causing
widespread havoc and destruction. Then come man’s own creations,
such as the motorcar, the aeroplane and other means of transport.
These have made man’s travelling faster and more comfortable, but
sometimes when an accident occurs, it causes injury and death. Again,
one eats delicious food for enjoyment but at times it causes serious
illness and food poisoning. So in this verse, protection is sought
in Allah from evils which are known and from the evil consequences
of things which Allah has created for the maintenance and benefit
of human beings, but which at times due to accidents or mishandling
by human beings themselves, become harmful and dangerous.
In the third verse:
And from the evil of intense darkness, when it comes
protection is sought against the evils of darkness, whether it
is the darkness of night or the darkness of ignorance. We find that
mugging, theft, robbery, murder and other crimes are committed mostly
in the darkness of the night. Similarly, social evils such as drinking,
dancing-parties and all sorts of licentious and promiscuous activities
are carried out during the night. Sometimes even useful things become
dangerous in the dark when one cannot see them and can get oneself
injured, such as a staircase or any other thing which one may come
across in darkness.
So, darkness in many ways becomes a source of danger or injury
and even useful things can cause harm in the dark when one cannot
see them properly. Similarly, lack of knowledge or correct information
may lead one to failure or loss, such as in business etc. In other
words, lack of knowledge not only keeps one away from the right
path but also wastes one’s capabilities and may land one into harmful
and dangerous situations.
The fourth verse:
And from the evil of those who cast evil suggestions
in firm resolutions
emphasizes the need for one’s determination to carry on some work
to its successful end. It is at this stage that some people try
to dissuade one from some good work by making evil suggestions or
by over-emphasizing the dangers and the supposedly unfortunate consequences
which may result in case one fails to accomplish the undertaking.
The last verse:
And from the evil of the envier when he envies
teaches a very important prayer to save one from the evil of
the envier when he envies. It is at this stage that jealous
people become more active in trying to strike the final blow and
destroy the work which they could not stop otherwise by insinuation
or evil suggestions. So one really needs Allah’s help and protection
at this final stage because one is desperate to complete the work
as any obstacle or hindrance at this stage will certainly upset
one very much.
So in this chapter, as explained before, a prayer has been taught
to seek protection in Allah against all such evils that come in
the way of a believer in his struggle in life.
The first verse of the chapter also emphasizes a subtle truth about
Allah’s protection for human struggle in life. The Divine attribute
Fáliq denotes that as Allah cleaves the daybreak out
of the darkness of the night and brings young shoots out of the
hard date-stone, so, too, will He bring a believer out of the darkness
of indecision, confusion and difficulties and definitely guide and
help him to final success.
A Muslim believes Allah to be the All-powerful and Over-all Controller
of things, and so to Him alone we should address our supplications.
That is why the Holy Quran starts with the prayer: iy-yaka na-bu-du
wa iy-ya-ka nasta‘in (Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for
help). Thus the start made by seeking Allah’s blessings and
help has been beautifully ended with a prayer, seeking Allah’s protection
for all we do in our struggle through the arduous journey of life.