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Meaning of and Commentary on Surah Al-Asr (103)*

Bismillh ir-rahmn ir-rahm. Wa al-'asri! Inna al-insna la f khusri, In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. By the time! Surely man is in loss,

Ill al-ladhna aman, wa 'amil as-slihti, wa tawsaw bi al-haqqi, wa tawsaw bi as-sabr. Except those who believe and do good, and exhort one another to Truth, and exhort one another to patience. In Surah al-Ftiha, Allh (SWT) teaches us to seek the straight path, as-sirt al-mustaqm, and in Surah al-'Asr the essence of that straight path is revealed to mankind; and that straight path is made of four components: (i) Believe in One Allh, and (ii) Do ml as-sliht (good deed), and (iii) Strongly appeal to one another to al-Haqq (the Truth), and (iv) Strongly appeal to one another to as-Sabr (patience+). Anyone who successfully follows this divine guidance will, InshAllh, find themselves on the straight path, and their life will be filled with the glory of Allh, while those who fail to follow this guidance will be at a great loss. Thats basically the essence of the Surah Al-Asr. (+ means commitment, constancy, perseverance all inclusive in patience) These simple lines of divine guidance tell us how to live our entire life. Many books, with thousands of words, cannot say as much as these three short yt do. There are many laws and rules and regulations that appear in the Qur'n as specific guidance, but this early Surah is much grander in scale and portrays the fundamental character and moral values which are essential for the righteous life. This Surah shows us "the big picture", and undoubtedly anyone who truly understands and lives by these ideals will be on the straight path, InshAllh. This Surah is considered summary of the whole Quran by almost all notable Islamic scholars. At-Tabarani recorded from 'Abdullah bin Hisn Abi Madinah that he said, "Whenever two men from the companions of the Messenger of Allah (S) used to meet, they would not part until one of them had recited Surah al-'Asr completely to the other, and one of them had given the greetings of peace to the other" Ash-Shafi'i said, "If the people were to ponder on this Surah, this [alone] would be sufficient for them." So lets look at the beauty of this Surah.

It is one of the shortest surahs of the Quran but one of the most difficult ones to give dars (lesson) on. Because it represents the summary of the whole Quran. As a matter of fact it represents the summary of whole of our deen. Subhaanallaah!

Let us look at the coherence and placement of this Surah. Its located between Surah atTakathur and Surah al-Humzah, two great losses. Whats Takathur? Its wants and desires, more and more - until when? Hattaa zurtumul makabir until you go and hug or your graves. Whats the end result? Latara wunnal jahim surely you will see the hellfire. Thats a loss, isnt it? On the other end is the Surah al-Humazah. Wailulli kulli humazatil lumazah. Alladhi ja-ma-a maalanw-wa-ad-dadah. Rough translation. Woe to everyone who does humazah (gibaah, slandering, backbitiong, etc. from the front) and lumazah (gibaah, slandering, backbitiong, etc. from the back); and collects (ja-ma-a) wealth (maal) and counts continuosly. Whats the end result? Kallaa layum-bathanna fil hutamah No! He will be thrown in the hutamah- the Crushing Fire! And its not an ordinary fire. Its Naarullaahil muqadah- It is the fire of Allaah lit by Allaah! Thats a loss, isnt it? In between these two losses sits the Surah Al-Asr whose main theme is Innal insaan lafi khusr - Surely man is in the loss! How appropriate! Subhaanallaah! Normally in the Quran the beginning of a Surah is connected with the end of the previous Surah in theme. Here the beginning is Wal Asr! By the Time! And the end of the previous Surah that is at-Takathur is: Thumma latus alunna yaw maee thin anin naeem Then you will surely be asked (to account for) on that Day about the blessings (the naeem) you used to have (in this world). Whats the biggest blessing we all (rich and poor, black and white, young and old) are bestowed upon by Allaah regardless of who we are? Its the time itself! Subhaanallaah! How perfectly said! The previous Surah talks about our distraction due to more and more wants and desires but it does not talk about distraction from what? Unlike this, for example, in Surah al-Munafiqun (63:9), Allah (SWT) says: Laa tulhikum amwaalukum walaa awlaadukum an-dhikrillaah Let not your wealth and your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. So what distractions prevented us from remembering Allaah? They are the wealth and the children. In Surah Al-Asr, the from is: Ill al-ladhna aman, wa 'amil as-slihti, wa tawsaw bi alhaqqi, wa tawsaw bi as-sabr. If you dont do (exception) these four things (belief in One Allaah, good deeds, reminder to the Truth and reminder to the patience), they are the distractions for being in the loss! Surah Al-Asr offers the concluding address or summary of the last four Surahs starting with Surah Az-Zalzallah, then Surah Al-Adiyaat, then Surah Al-Qariah, then Surah AtTakathur, and then Surah Al-Asr. By and large, Surah Az-Zalzallah and Surah Al-Qariah talk about the unfolding of the Day of Qiyamah or the reality of the Day of Judgment while Surah Al-Adiyaat and Surah At-Takathur talks about our lapsed, casual, despiteful way of living. So first Allahs warning, then our ignorance, then Allaahs more warning, then our more ignorance, and it ends with Al-Asr, where He (SWT) declares with the final concluding remark Innal insaan lafi khusr, Indeed man is in the loss! But even after that He is ArRahmaan, Ar-Rahim. So He (SWT) still blesses us with the exception clause in our contract. And whats that clause? It is: Ill al-ladhna aman, wa 'amil as-slihti, wa tawsaw bi alhaqqi, wa tawsaw bi as-sabr. Subhaanallaah! This Surah has some similarities and some contrast with Surah at-Tin (95). Both Surahs have oaths at the beginning (e.g. 4 in Surah at-Tin and 1 in Surah Al-Asr), both Surahs have reference to al-Insaan, the man or mankind (lakad khalaqnal insaan fii ahsani taqweem and innal insaan lafi khusr). Here there is contrast as well. Lakad khalaqnal insaan fii ahsani taqweem means: We have certainly created man in the best of stature while innal insaan lafi khusr means: Indeed man is in loss. If we are created in the best of forms meaning to succeed

then how come we are in loss that indeed is a failure! Thats the contrast! Who is responsible for that and how? Great question. Answer lies in the positive connotation associated with Surah At-Tin and the negative or warning connotation associated with Surah Al-Asr. And only we are responsible for bringing us down from the highest of high to the lowest of low by not doing the four exceptions of the Surah Al-Asr. Another contrast is this: Surah At-Tin talks about ajr, the reward. It says: falahum ajrun ghairu mamnun. that they will have uninterrupted reward. For whom? For those who do illalladhi aamanu waaamilus-saalihaat. In Surah Al-Asr, there is no such reward, no ajr. Its a bare minimum. Its for passing grade. This Surah is for survival not for success or higher grades of Jannaah! Subhaanallaah! Speaking of success, how do we define success? In worldly terms we think success means those who have lots of money and wealth, lots of properties and houses and lands and fancy cars and degrees from prestigious colleges and high executive jobs and so forth are the successful. Those who are poor and destitute and homeless and deported, they are not. Lets look at some examples from the history. Firaun, the Pharoah. He had money and power and palaces and so forth. Was he successful? No. Not all. On the other hand, look at Ibrahim (A) or Rasulullah (S). They were virtually tortured and deported from their homes! They did not leave any assets behind! They did not have any standing armies! Were they successful? Yes indeed they were! Also I said that this Surah is all about survival not for success. So what does that mean? When we are in survival mode, we dont worry about success at that moment in time. When you are in a burning building, you dont go to your boss asking for promotion. Survival instincts tell you to get out of the building first and put the promotion on the back burner. And when you try to do that, you realize that to get out of the building you have to unlock four doors! All four of them, not one or two or three, all four! You know what I am talking about! So brothers and sisters we have to change our thinking of success and failure and want to bring aamanu waaamilus-saalihaat and twaasi bil haqq and tawaasi bis sabr in our lives for survival and not for success! The Quran tells you elsewhere what to do for success but here open the four doors of the faith, good deeds, haqq and sabr and get out as quickly as you can to save your skin, so to speak! Subhaanallaah! As we have seen, the last aayaah of the Surah Al-Asr talks about four exceptions. But whats the common thing, whats the rule of the Surah? Whats the norm of the Surah? For example, everybody came for Jumuah today except brother Abdul. So here is the rule or here is the norm: everybody came for Jumuah today. And whats the exception? That is: brother Abdul. How many are in everybody? Many many. How many are in brother Abdul. One. Now let us look at the Surah. Whats the rule? Surely mankind is in loss. Whats the exception? Except those who believe and do good and remind each another to Truth and remind each another to patience. How many are there in the rule? The whole mankind. How many are there in the exception? Very few. Brothers and sisters, we have to seriously think about this. Thats why the message of this Surah is the bare minimum for survival. It offers the tool kit for survival. May Allaah (SWT) count us in the exception. Ameen. Again as we saw before, the last aayaah of the Surah Al-Asr talks about four exceptions: (i) Those who believe, and (ii) those who do good, and (iii) those who enjoin one another to alHaqq, and (iv) those who enjoin one another to as-Sabr. Allaah (SWT) time and again refers to illalladhina aamanu waaamilus-saalihaat but only here in this Surah He refers to two additional things and that is: wa tawsaw bi al-haqqi, wa tawsaw bi as-sabr that is twaasi bil haqq and tawaasi bis sabr. And all four exceptions are connected with wa meaning

and and not by aw meaning or. Those who have taken programming or logic know that the whole statement will only be true if all four options are connected by an and operator. All four are absolutely positively had to be carried out if you are going to be counted in that exception. There are no choices no omissions no ors. There is a severe warning in this about utter loss for all humanity. The language indicates that the salvation hangs in balance. Brothers and sisters it tells us the comprehensiveness, the fullness, the completeness of this last aayaah. Subhaanallaah! One last thing that I would like to offer is the imagery, the mental picture, of this Surah. It goes something like this: Imagine that you are unconscious and are drowning in the vast ocean. Time is running out. You are unconscious and you dont know how to swim. All odds are against you. What do you need to do first? Wake up. Maybe with His Grace, somehow you wake up and realize your situation. You start making all kind of movements up and down and sideways and so forth whatever helps you to stay afloat, you try it. You start thinking about the nice dreams and fancy rides and luxuries that you were dreaming while being unconscious and start realizing that that was better than waking up. Is that true? No. Because eventually you would have drowned any way. So the time is indeed running out. Somehow you come up to the surface thinking that the worst is over. But wait a minute. You felt you are being dragged at your feet. You realized that you were chained at your feet with your cousin and he is unconscious and drowning. What do you do? You are desperately trying to wake him up. Somehow he wakes up but he doesnt want to cooperate with you. He wants to go back to sleep just like you wanted to go back. You try hard to bring him to senses and try to teach him how you are managing to stay afloat. And then he realizes that he along with you are being dragged at his feet by an auntand you get the picture. Thats the reality of Surah Al-Asr. Your waking up is your getting Iman, your illalladhina aamanu. Waking up your cousin is your wa 'amil as-sliht. Helping him to bring to senses and teach him how to stay afloat is your wa tawsaw bi al-haqq. And when he wants to back to sleep and he doesnt want to listen, and keep on reminding him the consequences is your wa tawsaw bi as-sabr. And someone else is chained to you and that person is chained to someone else and so on also reminds us the constant ongoing process of having wa tawsaw bi al-haqqi wa tawsaw bi assabr. So what this tells us is this: Being good on your own is not good enough. Observing only illalladhi aamanu waaamilus-saalihaat on your own is not good enough. You will not be saved from this ocean of dunya unless and until you perform all four acts, without fail, as a good sailor, just to save yourself! This is not about saving your cousin or aunt or dad and mom, it is about you! Subhaanallaah! The central theme of the previous Surah is Takathur, wants and desires, more and more, the show-off while the central theme of this Surah is Khusr, the loss as we saw it. Here the khusr means loosing both the capital and the interest! In inna al-insna la f khusr, we learn the word khusr. As a matter of fact, there are two other variations of this word that exist in the Quran. They are khusr, khasaaraa and khusraan. All three words refer to loss. So why the word khusr is being used here? Lets see: - Khusr: - Khasaaraa: You start with no loss but when you loose, its like loosing interest plus capital. Its loss upon the existing loss (e.g. the wrong doers, those who persecute believers. Why? Well they were in kufr to begin with. So they start with the

pre-existing loss to begin with; and then Allaah punish them. Allaah increase them in one thing, and thats nothing but punishment. Thats loss upon loss, the Khasaaraa.) - Khusraan: Its the ultimate loss (seeratul mubaalaghaah, the superlative form). For example: Rahm is mercy in general but Rahmaan is endless mercy, the excessive mercy unimaginable mercy. Thats superlative of Rahm by adding aan. Same thing here: Khusr + aan = Khusraan = excessive or ultimate loss. This is applicable to those who lost both the dunyaa and aakhiraah. Thats the ultimate loss, the excessive loss!

So when Allaah (SWT) uses the word, khusr, we are not starting out with loss but we end up getting into loss on our own! Subhaanallaah! Studying of the Quran academically is one thing where you know the meaning of each and every word, and grammar and nuances and so forth as opposed to getting a big picture. Having knowledge is important but it is not the only thing. Basically whats important is to know how Allaah (SWT) is talking to us. Talking with big words and fancy language and showing off the knowledge is easy but internalizing the message is not easy. Surah al-Asr is about this Dunya where time is running out. In the next Dunya meaning in the Hereafter, the time is not running out. The next life is timeless regardless of Jannah or Jahannam! But look at the ironywhat has become us? Our salat have become hit and run. We barely hit the ground reciting wal asr .wa tawsaw bi as-sabr and run, day in and day out, as if time is running out! The other scenario is where some of our homes have this Surah framed on the wall next to the Entertainment Center. We watch TV, movies, games, and so forth for hours and hoursnothing happens to the time thenbut as soon as the salat times come, we hit the ground reciting wal asr and run, as if time is running out! Subhaanallaah! Lets ponder on one thing: Why is this Surah at the heart of the message of the Quran? This Surah represents the last oath of Allaah in the Quran. After wal-Asr there are no more oaths taken by Allaah in the remainder of the Quran as if the time is running out! The central message of the Suarh is Man is in the loss! Isnt it the central message of the Quran, provided for the four exceptions? The first exception is about having Imaan in Allaah (SWT), which is talked about in much of the Quran, which is what brought to us by Rasulullah (S). The rest of the three exceptions are good deeds, tawaasi bil Haqq and tawaasi bis Sabr, which are all part of aammal and can be lumped as good deeds. They represent what? Seerah of Rasulullah (S)! Also he is the seal of the Prophets, meaning the last Prophet. No more of them are coming, as is time is running out for the humanity! The Surah offers the summary of our Deen, al-Islaam! Subhaanallaah! Subhaanallaah! The Surah starts with an oath by Allaah (SWT). Its Wal-Asr. The coarse translation of this is By the Time! One thing to remember is whenever Allaah (SWT) takes an oath meaning swears in by the name of something that He created, it is always magnificent in nature and it is hugely relevant. Here that something is time itself. We have tendency to curse the time, e.g. what a bad day today! or last year was lousy and so forth. But Rasulullah (S) has told us in a hadith not to curse the time because Allaah Himself is Ad-Dahr; He indeed is Timeless! Also any time an oath is cited in the Quran, it has an object of the oath (mukhsam bihi) and a subject of the oath (mukhsam alaihi). For example: I swear by

Allaah, I did not do that. Here the object is Allaah and the subject is I did not do that. Similarly in Wal asr, Innal Insaan lafi khusr, the object of the oath is Al-Asr and subject of the oath is Innal Insaan lafi khusr. Speaking in English, object is the Time and subject is Man is in loss! How does that help us? Well, the object is used as a proof or dalil of the subject. Translation: Time is a proof that the human being is in loss! What can be more true then this? We are constantly loosing time. Time is an asset that you cannot store to be used later no matter who you are or how big a gun you are! Also the object is a witness to the subject, meaning if you wan to prove that the man is in loss, call time as a witness. The history is full of such examples. Are we the first people who have run after the Takathur (desires) and have lost out? No, generations after generations have done the same thing except a very few and they all turned out to be losers. Time is a witness to that. You need a proof? Look at the pyramids and ruins of the Roman empires and so forth. These monuments are the witnesses of the losers of the history in the form of time. Here we see asr as a zamaan, duration of time! Subhaanallaah! In old days, especially in the Arab Society, most of the business activity used to take place around the asr time. Why? Because the time is running out, the day is about to get over, and after that there is no security of your stuff after dark. So they used to increase their trade activity so that the deal can be completed before the day ended. So the asr time was a bust time. Here the broader meaning of asr is urgency. The sunset of our life always looms over us. So if you want to close the deal of your life, meaning straightening out yourself and make amends with Allaah (SWT), the time is now not later! Subhaanallaah! One scholar of the Quran has compared the struggle of human being with selling of the ice in the olden days when no freezers were available to store the ice. Any ice you have, you have to sell it; otherwise you loose everything. There is no value left for the left over because there wont be anything left to begin with. If we dont do the right thing at the right time, the time is running out like ice is melting away. And on the Day of Judgment, we are going to be big losers! How profound! Subhaanallaah! The four components of the last aayaah, al-Imaan, Aammalaatus-Saalihaat, tawasi bilHaqq and tawasi bis-Sabr, are actually one. They are all connected. The first and foremost is al-Imaan and the remaining three are part of Imaan. If you have Imann, the other three are bound to happen. And if you dont have the three, you dont have Imaan. For example, if you have no Imaan or weak Imaan, your righteous deeds are going to be absent or they are not going to be so righteous. And if your deeds are weak, you are not going to urge others to be on the truth, and if you are not sharing the truth, you dont need to have patience. Also its only when you try to talk about the truth, the others are running out of patience! It happens to all of us all the times! As long as youre not trying to show-off, and your intentions are pure, you are OK. So dont get discouraged. Its all part of tawaasi bil haqq and tawaasi bis-Sabr. Its ironic that you are trying to remind about al-Haqq, and they run out of as-Sabr! Subhaanallaah! Now are we getting sense why this short surah is heavy in the meaning? Imam Shaafii and others have said that if Allaah had not given us the whole Quran but this one Surah, it would have been sufficient! Thats why the sahaabaa (R) would not part each other without reciting this Surah! This is the basic overview of the Surah al-Asr. Lets pray to Allaah (SWT) that we take lessons from the Surah, internalize them and live up to its meaning. Ameen, Allaahumma Ameen.

Aayaat-by-aayaat meaning and commentary:

No simple literal translation can capture the magnificence or the delicate nuances of these Arabic verses of the Surah. Every word has multiple levels of meaning, and each line brings new insights and inspirations with every reading. By the way, this is true for the whole Quran not just for this Surah. To begin to discover the deeper meanings of these verses, let's look at the deeper meanings of the words, line by line: bismillh ir-rahmn ir-rahm bismillh = for the glory of Allh, in the name of Allh, by means of the Light of Allh Root: There are three parts to this beautiful phrase: 1) bi : by, for, by means of, with the aid of, through (pointing towards the idea of what happens next) 2) ism : name, reputation, glory (root indicates light, vibration, essence) 3) Allh, the Creator, the Magnificent, the Sustainer, the Nourisher. ir-rahmn = the beneficent, the merciful, the compassionate, the One who continually showers all of creation with blessings, nourishment and prosperity Root: r-h-m: womb, kinship, mercy, compassion, tenderness requiring the exercise of beneficence. ir-rahm = the compassionate, the merciful, the One who gives even more to those who live in loving harmony and righteousness Root r-h-m: womb, kinship, mercy, compassion, tenderness requiring the exercise of beneficence. Wa al-'asri


wa = and, and also, while, whilst, but, together, with al-'asr = time passing, time that cannot be recaptured, the flight of time, succession of the ages, the days of the Prophet, late in the day, afternoon, ages of the nations, night and day, late day to sunset, end of era, salatul-asr, guard your middle prayer, all time or portion of the time, life time of Rasulullah (S), times during which all activities are done, and so forth. Asr literally means to squeeze or to drench. For example, you squeeze the juice out of a fruit. The juice in Arabic is called aasir. When the women reach maturity, they are called asaraat as if their youth has been squeezed out or when it rains, as if the water has been squeezed out from the clouds. Example: wa anzalnaa minal musiraati maa-an thajjaajaa (Surah Nabaa). Asr is the time or period of time in which someone passes away or an era that comes to an end or a nation is ruined. It shows the tragedy of the human history. Human being is in loss, and the time to change is NOW! How does it apply to us? Well, think about this: How many hours in a day are used to pay the bills of this dunya, this world, and how many are used for the aakhiraah? You think where is the time? Brothers and sisters, most of our days are full of routines you get up, take shower, offer salat, go to work, come home and eat and go to bed if we can change one routine and start remembering Allaah, we have changed one part of our life! Dont we change ourselves in

Ramadaan or hajj and so on? That conviction is required. Then and then we can prepare for the aakhiraah simultaneously. Subhaanallaah. Think about this way: At work your boss assigned to do 4 tasks out of which you like 2 and you are good at. The other 2 are not your cup of tea and you hate them. The boss comes back after a week and asks about the status. You have completed 2 and brag about them that how good you have done. You stay mum about the other 2 and he finds out that you have not touched them. Do you think he is going to be happy? Would you able to save your job or promotion? Probably not. If you had attempted all 4 and you were good only at 80% level, it would have been better for you! The same way here, Allaah (SWT) demands 4 things from and all 4 are required to survive. And you dont have too much time to begin with! Thats basically the message of the aayaah # 1.

II. Inna al-insna la f khusrin inna = (introductory particle) behold, verily, truly, surely This is used in Arabic when the listener has doubt about what you are saying. When you want to assure the listener that what you are presenting is true, you used the word inna.

al-insn = one having attachments, man, mankind, human being Root: a-n-s: to be sociable, familiar, polite, friendly, keep company, be on intimate terms Al-insaan is used to cover the whole humanity. Its applicable to all human beings. If simple insaan was used it leads to diffusion of responsibility but thats not the case. It refers to each and every one of us.

la = (intensifying particle) truly, verily f = (prep) in, at, on, near, by, within, concerning, regarding, according to khusr = loss, damage, deception, straying from the right path, punishment for a sin Root: kh-s-r: to wander from the right path, to be deceived, to miss the right path, to err, to become lost, to suffer loss, lose, perish, suffer damage We already saw the different kinds of losses; and the most appropriate here is khusr where we are not at loss to begin with but we end up becoming losers where we loose principal and interest as if, except those who observe those 4 conditions. The whole second aayaah uses different tools of the language to emphasize the point, and the point is that each and every one of us is indeed at loss. Grammatically it is the strongest form the sentence construction. How? Lets see: (i) Its a noun-based sentence, which is strongest from the language viewpoint, (ii) The word inna offers added assurance. (iii) Al-Insaan covers all human being. (iv) la fi is used in lieu of fi khusr. The Laam in la fi is called the laam of taqid, the laam of emphasis. Thats saying as if inna inna or indeed, indeed two times. Some times this laam is called the laam of oath to show the gravity. e.g. la qad khalaqnal insaan and not just qad khalaqnal insaan. (v) And it is la fi khusr not la fi khasiraa meaning in loss. (vi) The last word of the aayaah is

Khusrin Inna al-insna la f khusrin indicating a tanween. A tanween is generally used to show the mubaalaghaah meaning hyperbole or superlative nature. (vii) All these things are added with the oath of Wal-Asr at the beginning with a manifestation of anger on the part of Allaah (((SWT). Did we get it? How many different ways, Allah (SWT) is trying to remind us our chances which we are indeed at loss! So this loss business is huge and humongous and one has to take it very seriously. Imam ibn Taymiyya explains the loss this way: Humanity is kept away from accepting the truth, al-Haqq, by 2 things: (1) subuhaat that is doubt, and (2) sahawaat that is temptation or desire. When you ask someone to accept the truth of Islaam, they excuse either by doubt or desire. They make argument like this: How do you know your faith is the only true faith? Thats doubt. Or they will make an argument something like this: I know everything is OK but I cannot give the party or pork, and so forth. Thats desire, temptation. Most people have problem with temptation but then the Shaitan takes control of their mind and seeds doubt in their minds. So then it becomes an intellectual problem, the problem of the mind. And where does the doubt live? In mind. Or the spiritual problem or the problem of the heart, where desire lives. Either way it represents a huge loss. And to protect ourselves from such loss we need tawaasi bil haqq and tawaasi bis-sabr. Tawaasi bil haqq removes the doubt and tawaasi bis-sabr removes temptation. Subhaanallaah! Human beings are so occupied with personal things that they dont have time to look at the big picture. Everyone and I mean everyone - rich or poor, black or white or brown or yellow, young or old has to toil to survive, barely survive. Everyone has unique problems. Dont think that rich have made it! They have different set of problems! They all are in loss in worldly terms. They fail to see the loss thats coming. The loss of job or health and so forth is nothing. We normally blow out of proportion such losses. Why? Well, normally people fail to see three things: (1) Creation of Allaah (SWT), (2) Lessons of History, and (3) Signs of Revelation. If we reflect on the creation of Allaah (SWT), we can realize where we are heading. If we reflect on the lessons of history, we realize how many of us have come and gone and to what end? And if we reflect on the signs of revelation, we realize the truth. The Quran is not going to teach you how to write your resume but if you want to bring your moral compass in order, go to the Quran. The failures of seeing these things bring the biggest disaster for us. Brothers and sisters, the only solution for our salvation is the last aayaah of the surah.

III. Ill al-ladhna man wa 'amil as-slihti wa tawsaw bi al-haqqi wa tawsaw bi assabr Actually the whole surah is linguistically one statement, and as we saw earlier the last aayaah offers the exception and we also saw that the exceptions are always in minority most of the times. The majority rules and the majority set the trends, etc. So to go against the majority is a test. Its not easy. Its a profound problem.

ill = but, except, if not al-ladhna = those who, whoever

man = they believe, they have trust in, they have confidence in Root: a-m-n: to trust, be secure, be in safety, have confidence in, believe in wa = and, and also, while, whilst, but, together, with 'amil = workers, doers Root: 'a-m-l: to make, work, operate, construct, practice as-sliht = righteous deeds, good works Root s-l-h: to be righteous, good, sound, upright wa = and, and also, while, whilst, but, together, with tawsaw = they enjoin each other, urge one another, admonish each other Root w-s-y: to enjoin, recommend, urge, advise, admonish, prescribe, direct, encourage bi = by, for, by means of, with the aid of, through; also gives causative meaning to a verb al-haqq = the truth, that which is real, proper and authentic Root h-q-q: to be right, true, genuine, real, proper, suitable, authentic wa = and, and also, while, whilst, but, together, with tawsaw = they enjoin each other, urge one another, admonish each other Root w-s-y: to enjoin, recommend, urge, advise, admonish, prescribe, direct, encourage bi = by, for, by means of, with the aid of, through; also gives causative meaning to a verb as-sabr = patience, steadfastness (constancy), bearing calmly, perseverance, Root s-b-r: to be patient, enduring, steadfast, contented The first of the four exceptions listed in this aayaah is to have the Imaan in Allaah (SWT). However, there is no qualification of Imaan specified here. For example, it does not list the requirements of the pillars of Imaan that I believe in Allaah, and His Angels, and His Books, and so forth Speaking of Imaan, whats the seat of Imaan? Its the heart! The primary function of the Imaan is to have the tranquility of the heart! Everything else is secondary. What I mean is that if you dont have Imaan, you may be either missing or deficient in the remaining three components. We need to work on those things first so that we can strengthen our Imaan. Otherwise we may be longing for something other than Allaah (e.g. dunya) and may end up losers! Next comes the aammal as-saalihaati. Aamaal means deeds and aamilu means doers of deeds. As-Saalihaati means good deeds. So aamilu as-saalihaati means doers of good deeds. Lets look at the word Aamaal, the deeds from which the aamilu comes. Deeds or actions are of two types: conscious and unconscious or non-conscious. Conscious deeds are those


for which we have had pre-thought, we had thought about that or planned about, e.g. driving, meeting some one and so forth. Unconscious deeds are those which we end of doing without any prior thinking, e.g. breathing. We naturally do it. In the context of this surah, we are responsible for all our conscious deeds. Also aamilu as-saalihaati uses broken plural, which generally feminine. If we had saalihah with a ta-marbutah at the end, it could mean many, many deeds. Instead, Allah (SWT) uses saalihaati meanin just few good deeds. Our deen is not made of endless list of things; we have just few things to and few things not to do. Thats all. Also As-Saalihaati meaning good or correct actions indicates transitive and intransitive nature of the sentence. In simple terms, transitive can lead to understand that for correct good deeds the consequences are also good while intransitive can lead to understand that the person who does such deeds becomes good or you do good deeds and you end up being a good person. The third component of the aayaah is tawaasi bil-Haqq.

Interpretation: Armed with these definitions and your own inner guidance, you can create your own poetic rendering of surah al-'Asr... just go through the surah word-by-word, inserting the definition of each word that seems to speak to your heart. *Inspired by Br. Noaman Ali Khan