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Chapter 93: Ad-Duha (The Brightness of the Day)
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Chapter 93:

The Brightness of the Day

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

  1. By the brightness of the day!
  2. And the night when it is still! —
  3. Thy Lord has not forsaken thee, nor is He displeased.
  4. And surely the latter state is better for thee than the former.
  5. And soon will thy Lord give thee so that thou wilt be well pleased.
  6. Did He not find thee an orphan and give (thee) shelter?
  7. And find thee searching, so He showed the way?
  8. And find thee in want, so He enriched thee?
  9. Therefore the orphan, oppress not.
  10. And him who asks, chide not.
  11. And the favour of thy Lord, proclaim.

This chapter is one of the earliest revelations and was revealed at Makkah. In it we are told that as the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sas) was par excellence the perfect embodiment of all good deeds, therefore Allah, Most High, promised to make him happy and intimated that the stream of His blessings would continue to flow abundantly.

The chapter begins thus:

1-3. By the brightness of the day,
And the night when it is still,
Thy Lord has not forsaken thee, nor is He displeased

These verses greatly consoled the heart of the Holy Prophet (sas) for sometimes the greatest benefactors of mankind, when faced with great trials and precarious circumstances would often be assailed by doubts, thinking that perhaps Allah had withdrawn His help from them. For example, when the Jews seized Prophet Jesus and nailed him to the Cross and he could see no escape from crucifixion which the Torah itself had deemed an accursed death, then the following words involuntarily escaped from his lips: “My Lord! My Lord! Why hast Thou forsaken me?”

Similarly, when the Holy Prophet (sas) went to Taif to preach the message of Islam and was stoned and chased by the wicked people there, he ran for two or three miles and then sat down in a garden and offered this supplication to the Almighty:

“O Allah! If Thou art not displeased with me, then all these persecutions are easy for me to bear.”

In short, such dangerous and uncertain circumstances come into being that it begins to appear as if Allah has forsaken His servant while the seeming domination and mastery of the enemies give rise to the fear that perhaps Allah is angry at him, and so he makes no effort to prevent the evils and persecution of the enemies but leaves them to their own devices. And such occurrences did come about in the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (sas). In fact, his whole sojourn at Makkah was filled with tribulations and such, too, were the travails at the Battle of Uhud and the Truce of Hudaibiyyah. But besides this, as the Holy Prophet is a living prophet in that his period of prophethood extends till the Day of Judgement, then this same kind of uncertain times had to befall his ummah (community), too, and they have! So today, too, in these troubled circumstances, there is a creeping fear in the hearts of Muslims as they wonder whether Allah has withdrawn his support for the religion of Islam. These verses furnish a reply to these misgivings and difficulties.

There are two possible reasons why help is taken away from an affair: either there is no need for it again and so it is abandoned, or the Master has become incensed with whom he was supporting and so has withdrawn His assistance and given it to someone else. Accordingly, the comfort that Allah gives here covers these two reasons.

Allah promises that however delicate an age may come over Islam, whether in his lifetime or after, until the Day of Judgement, the Holy Prophet must never entertain the thought that Allah has forsaken Islam because He thinks it has become redundant, nor must he feel that Allah is angry at him; neither must the Holy Prophet think that the pathways to Allah’s pleasure have been vouchsafed to another religion besides Islam. We must observe here that the name Islam is synonymous with the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sas), for a denial of assistance to Islam is tantamount to the non-existence of succour to the Holy Prophet, and this is so because the Holy Prophet’s entire life was devoted to one cause and one cause only – to establish the religion of Islam. Allah, Most High, gives the assurance that however dangerous a period may beset Islam, the Holy Prophet must not imagine that Allah will forsake him nor be angry at him. The enemies were given free rein to commit all the evils they could. Allah consoled the Holy Prophet with the promise that however turbulent the times that may confront Islam, He will never deny His help to the religion nor be displeased with the Holy Prophet, but He points out that, in accordance with the laws of nature, these times are bound to come, as He says: We bring these days to men by turns (3:139).

If we cast a glance at the law of man’s nature, too, we will observe that if man does not get rest and sleep at night, he will not be in a proper condition to face the exertions of the next day. No wise person ever objects to Allah’s creation of the night for, if the daytime is perpetual, how can work be done?

Knowledgeable people know that if night does not come and man does not replenish his powers in the embrace of night, then he will not be prepared for labour the next day. Hence, it is imperative that before each day’s work one must enjoy the tranquillity of night. Similarly, before any fresh progress or new initiative, it was necessary for the Prophet’s mission, that is, Islam, to undergo that troubling period of calamities that would serve to mould the character of his people and prepare them to make additional exertions.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Mujaddid of the fourteenth century and Promised Messiah, used to say that we should be grateful to the unbelieving Arabs for, had they not raised every conceivable kind of objection and offered every manner of opposition, we would not have seen the wondrous knowledge and wisdom of the Holy Qur’an, nor would we have witnessed the unique moral excellence of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sas).

The late Hazrat Maulana Nur-ud-Din, too, was of the opinion that if an enemy objects to a particular verse of the Holy Qur'an, then that verse does in reality contain a hidden treasure-chest of knowledge and wisdom. But this cannot be discovered until the spade of objection is applied to it.

Thus, if all kinds of insecure and frightful times did not befall the Prophet’s mission, it would have been impossible for Islam to make progress. Every vicissitude in life offers an opportunity for new advancement. Every period of rest or decline serves as a preamble to additional labour and development. It is a proven fact that the fulfilment of Allah’s aid and assistance is clearly seen when these delicate times present themselves.

4. And surely the latter state is better for thee than the former.

In this verse, Allah, Most High, says that not only will He never deprive Islam of help in perilous times, nor will He ever become indignant, but more than that, He assures the Holy Prophet that the period after danger and trials will be more profitable for him than the calamitous times. In other words, his mission will grow from strength to strength so that every later hour will be more prosperous than the preceding one. Of course, it is possible for a Muslim nation to fall from hereditary or political grace and even to be destroyed, but it cannot happen that Allah will desert the Holy Prophet and his mission (Islam).

If a nation calling itself Muslim earns the wrath of Allah through its own misconduct and ceases to act according to the laws of Islam, then its consequent perdition follows the law of nature. However, Islam can never be obliterated. If one nation dies, then another will take its place, as the Holy Qur’an says: He will bring in your place a people other than you (9:39).

5. And soon will thy Lord give thee so that thou wilt be well pleased. 

That is, the religion of Islam shall continue to grow by leaps and bounds. The Holy Prophet’s pleasure in this world was to see people reach that stage of advancement which he wished for them and on the Day of Judgement his desire would be to see people forgiven of their sins and see them attain salvation. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said in a hadith that he will never be happy if there is even one follower of his in Hell.

So, besides the Hereafter, these verses also bring very glad tidings concerning this world by announcing that Islam will continue to gain ground. And although this is a very tenuous period for the religion, which is besieged on all sides by enemies who are bent on eradicating it, yet Allah, Most High, has promised that after the darkness of this night, the time of the spread of celestial light will surely come and then the grandeur and majesty of the Holy Prophet will radiate throughout the world with greater intensity than in former days. Already the signs of this are becoming evident as the beauty of Islamic principles begins to captivate the hearts of people in Christian countries so much so that Bernard Shaw, an atheist philosopher, was forced to admit that if the Holy Prophet were to return to life, then all the problems of the world would be solved under his dictatorship. This is nothing to shout about for it is only the beginning. How splendid the sequel will be has been clearly enunciated in these verses.

After this, Allah, Most High, makes mention of the Prophet’s past life in order to disclose to him that Allah had undertaken his care and help from the very beginning. He is now a prophet of Allah and so lives under the wings of his Lord’s love and assistance. In other words, it is as if Allah, Most High, is addressing the Holy Prophet like this: “From the time of your birth when you were not even a prophet until the present time, I have always protected and assisted you. I helped you through every difficulty and fulfilled every need of yours and blessed your efforts with steady progress and improved your condition immeasurably. Do you think that I will cut off the flow of My patronage and protection to you in the future?”

6-8. Did He not find thee an orphan and give thee shelter?
And find thee searching, so He showed the way?
And find thee in want so He enriched thee?

Before commenting on these verses, it is necessary to point out here that the explanation given to the verse Wa wajadka dallan fa hada by some of our Maulvis, (they say it means: “We (Allah) found thee (the Holy Prophet) in error and then guided thee”), is completely wrong. It is true that dall means on the wrong path, but that is not the only meaning. It also signifies the following: wandering in search of and lost in love for, as the Holy Qur’an itself says in relation to the Prophet Jacob: Innaka fi dalalatikal qadim (You are still lost in your old infatuation). Here, the reference is to the Prophet Jacob’s great love for his son, Prophet Joseph. Similarly, we find the expression in the Arabic language: Dallal ma’u fil labani (The water is lost in the milk). However, one can still question why we felt obliged to reject the meaning of dall here as on the wrong path, and select the other two meanings above. The Holy Qur’an itself furnishes another outstanding support for the chosen interpretations when it says: Ma dalla sahibukum wa ma ghawa (Your companion (i.e. the Holy Prophet) errs not nor does he deviate – 53:2).

Again, consider the cry of the Holy Prophet when his people wanted him to change the Holy Qur’an: I have lived among you a lifetime before this (10:16). In other words, he asked them: “Tell me, what mistake have I made in my whole lifetime?”

If a book should unambiguously proclaim to the world that the Holy Prophet, who lived day and night before the eyes of his people and committed no error, and should even go so far as to challenge them to produce even a solitary instance of deviation on the Prophet’s part, then how can that same book contradict itself by asserting: You (the Holy Prophet) were going astray (wrongly guided) and then We guided thee (to the right path)?” This explanation is totally erroneous and the true significance of this verse is: “You were wandering in search of Me or you were lost in love for Me so I guided you to your desired destination." In other words, you have found your Beloved, that is, Allah, and you have been successful in gaining His approval.

In the three verses above, Allah has mentioned the three conditions of the Holy Prophet (sas). Firstly, the period of childhood in which he was orphaned and had lost the love and tender care of both father and mother. However, Allah, Himself, had taken him under His care and protection, and ample proof of that is the nature of the Prophet’s upbringing. Although he was left all alone in the world and generally speaking, in such a condition the instilling of good habits and morals into orphans is destroyed, yet this was not the case with the Holy Prophet for it appears that Allah took upon Himself the responsibility of shaping his conduct and virtues. So, far from being destroyed, so exalted was his development that there is no parallel to it in the world.

Another point mentioned here is that in that centre of idol-worship, in that cradle of ignorance, vice and immorality, in that capital where the voice of the worship of one God was silent, for our Holy Prophet to entertain in his heart the love and longing for Allah and to engage in worship and religious discipline in the mountain caves is such an amazing and astonishing event that it clearly bespeaks the all-absorbing power and influence of Divinity.

In addition, Allah never allowed this lover of truth to stumble, but guided him, Himself, to the cherished goal, and illumined his life through His Friendship.

Allah, Most High, then speaks of the Prophet’s inner development and spiritual perfection after his period of adolescence. Referring then to his worldly difficulties, He says that He found him in need but gave him in abundance. In other words, He freed him from anxiety for worldly subsistence and made him a wealthy man through trade. Added to this, his marriage to Lady Khadijah ensured his financial stability and made him so free of worry over the necessities of life that he was able to devote undivided attention to what he cherished most – to forge a bond with his Creator and to show kindness to His creatures.

If we ponder deeply we shall see that concerning man there are three difficulties which can befall him, and if these are lifted, then he can count himself as being extraordinarily fortunate. These are: proper nurturing and upbringing in infancy; the development of high morals and the entrenchment of Divine worship after adolescence; and the removal of financial strain that brings about a condition of enjoyment and ease.

The Holy Prophet (sas) suffered from all these constraints to the greatest degree – in childhood he became an orphan and was thus deprived of the best support a child can have, that is, his parents; after adolescence he was forced to exist in a milieu of polytheism and depravity; later on he had to endure the most stringent financial exigencies for he owned neither capital nor property.

Nevertheless, the solution of these hardships provides an undisguised testimony to the fact that from the very beginning his nurture and providence lay in the lap of the Almighty. In his orphaned state, the nurture and upbringing he received served to develop his natural capabilities and morals to the highest limit; after adolescence, contrary to the prevailing societal norms, he was imbued with the belief in one God, and was granted deep divine knowledge and fervent love for the Almighty to the highest degree; he possessed neither wealth nor estate, yet his condition was transformed from penury to ease. All these constitute indubitable proof of Divine help and providence.

However, this is only one aspect of these blessings. There is another side to them and that is the spiritual side. We have explained many times before that yatim (orphan) refers to a person who is all alone in the world with not even a single companion or friend. So the verse: Did He not find thee an orphan and give (thee) shelter? alludes to the Holy Prophet’s condition when, all by himself, he was trying to establish the belief in one God and to inculcate divine knowledge, righteousness and goodness in his people. But he had neither friend nor helper nor companion in his task, neither did he possess any means to fulfil that yearning of his heart. Then Allah came to his assistance and appointed him a prophet, and taking him under His wing He stood up for him and shielded him from danger when he was all alone in the world with no friend nor helper.

The verse: And find thee wandering in search, so He showed thee the way? points to the fact that when the world was completely lost in error and transgression and the Holy Prophet could find no avenue through which he could spread guidance, Allah, Most High, through divine revelation, opened a way for him so that he could propagate the truth and guidance to the world and establish the unity of Allah.

And find thee in want and enriched thee?

This verse reminds the Holy Prophet that he was uneducated and illiterate but the magnitude of his task demanded a high level of knowledge and wisdom. Yet, although he was bereft of education, Allah bestowed on him in abundance knowledge and wisdom, proof and arguments to enable him to overcome all false creeds. In regard to this benefit, the Holy Qur’an says elsewhere: And whoever is granted wisdom, he indeed is given a great good (2:269).

In short, Allah’s Providence took care of him in every contingency. Starting from his birth, whatever hardships came in his way, Allah was there to support him with His help and protection, even performing miracles to remove the difficulties. When he became an orphan, Allah nurtured and nourished him in the lap of His Providence. After adolescence, when there arose the need for guidance in faith and divine knowledge, then Allah enabled him to cross successfully every spiritual stage, one after the other, and he was then able to achieve every object he desired.

When financial exigencies cropped up, Allah changed his condition from need and indigence to ease and plenty. When his heart burned for the reformation of the world, Allah stood close to him in his loneliness and helplessness and conferring upon him the mantle of the seal of prophethood, He became His shield and protector. When there was no visible means of lifting the veil of the intense darkness of ignorance and polytheism and no earthly method of bestowing reformation and guidance, then Allah bestowed the gift of divine revelation on him. When for this stupendous task the necessity for knowledge, wisdom and material resources presented itself, He granted him unlimited knowledge and gave him abundance in place of every kind of indigence. Indeed, every succeeding condition was superior to the preceding one. After every difficulty, when ease made its appearance, it did so bearing gifts a thousand-fold greater than in earlier times.

So we can repose our faith in Allah’s promises for the future also – that trials and tribulations are necessities in life and there is no preventing their eventuality. However, after every period of calamity and degeneration, there will come a time which will be infinitely more productive for the Holy Prophet (sas) for Allah will never forsake him nor be angry at him.

In short, when such are Allah’s attributes of love and fidelity, then man must also generate these celestial virtues within him and colour himself with these colours. In other words, whatever blessings we hope and expect from Allah, we in our turn should confer the same on others so that it may become a means of attracting more favours and more heavenly blessings.

9. Therefore, the orphan oppress not.

Whoever does not treat an orphan harshly but deals kindly with him will find Allah with him in his own period of loneliness and helplessness and even more, Allah will take him under His Own care.

10. And him who asks, chide not.

This verse, too, makes it evident that dall really means searching for the love of Allah and seeking and asking for a path of guidance for mankind and so does not mean lost in error. In other words, the word sa’il (seeker) is synonymous with dall (wandering in search). Thus, if we do not reprove a person who asks, then Allah, too, will not reject our requests and He will even grace us with a place in His court.

11. And the favour of thy Lord proclaim.

Whoever proclaims the favour of his Lord receives two benefits. Firstly, when good things come his way he, unlike others, does not fall prey to boastfulness, pride and self-conceit. Instead, he never forgets his Lord and so keeps on strengthening that bond of love between himself and his Creator and Cherisher.

Furthermore, he feels compassion for the needy just as he feels for himself and his heart is stirred with a great yearning to improve their condition. It is an accepted fact that if a person colours himself with a particular attribute of Allah and thereby showers beneficence on mankind in accordance with that attribute, then that very attribute of Allah is impressed on the servant. For example, if a person fulfils the needs of the indigent then Allah in turn will fulfil the needs of that person. This is mentioned in the Hadith and it is in reference to this that the celebrated poet, Hali, wrote the following couplet:

If you are kind to those on earth,
Allah in the High Heavens will be kind to you.

The second benefit that accrues from proclaiming the favours of Allah is that if a person is given the wealth of knowledge and wisdom, he will find this wealth itself increasing. In other words, his own knowledge will grow and others, too, will receive lavishly of this treasure of knowledge and wisdom and when they hear the wonderful bounties of Allah being proclaimed, that will generate in their hearts an enthusiasm for forging a connection with Allah.

In the previous three verses, Allah has demanded the demonstration of three moral characteristics in man in return for the bestowal by Him of three kinds of benevolence and favours on him so that he may become qualified for an increase in grace and bounty from Allah.

When, through his quality of being Rahman (Beneficent), Allah confers so many gratuitous gifts on man, then why should man not make use of these bounties in order to acquire more blessings that would flow in consequence of Allah’s attribute of being Rahim (Merciful)?

The explanation of these three cherished favours has already been mentioned above. However, hidden in them are allusions to three deep and subtle points. In the verse: Therefore, the orphan, oppress not, Allah makes the following point to the rejecters: “Do not treat the Holy Prophet (sas) harshly because you think that he is a defenceless orphan. He is an orphan who is under the protection of Allah. So do not think that he is alone.”

The underlying message in the next verse: And him who asks, chide not, is that the Holy Prophet is “begging Allah to give you guidance and is pleading with you to reform yourselves.” So he is a petitioner who asks nothing for himself. Instead, everything he asks for is for your reformation and advancement.

Finally, the next verse, And the favour of your Lord proclaim, contains the subtle message: The existence of this person, that is, the Holy Prophet (sas), is a blessing from Allah, and the guidance he brought you, that is, the Holy Qur’an, is an incredibly marvellous gift of Allah. You should accept it with gratitude and proclaim it to others so that they, too, may receive benefit from Allah.

Next: Chapter 94: Al-Inshirah (The Expansion)
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