Tafsir of Surah al Nas - Man (Surah 114)
Translated by Abű Rumaysah
“Say: I take refuge with the Lord of mankind, the King of mankind, the God of mankind,” this chapter deals with seeking refuge with the Lord and King of mankind, the God of mankind, from Shaytan who is the source of all evil. “From the evil of the stealthy Whisperer, beating a retreat, who whispers in people’s breasts,” some of the multifarious facets of his evil are that he whispers into the hearts of man, adorns evil, presenting it to them in an alluring guise, and incites them towards performing it. He is always whispering but beats a retreat when the servant remembers Allah, seeking His assistance in repressing him. Therefore, it is incumbent upon a person to turn to Allah for aid, to take refuge with Him, and to seek recourse with His Lordship. All of mankind fall under the realm of His Lordship, rububiyyah, and sovereignty; He has taken hold of every creature by the forelock.
Man must also take recourse with His Divinity, uluhiyyah, for it was for His worship that he was created. This worship, however, cannot be perfected until and unless he represses the evil of his enemy who desires to cut him off from his goal, obstructing him from it, and who wants him to follow him, thereby becoming a denizen of the Scorching Blaze.
Whispering could occur from jinn or from man and this why Allah says, “(coming) from the jinn and man.”
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, Lord of the worlds, in the beginning and in the end, inwardly and outwardly.
Allah, Most High, says concerning seeking refuge,
Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy upon him, explained the meaning of taking refuge in a beautiful way. He said in Bada´i al-Fawa´id, vol. 1, pp. 439-441, Know that the verb `adha and its derivatives carry the meaning of being careful and wary, guarding and fortifying, being rescued and victorious. Its essential meaning is to flee from what you fear will harm you to that which will protect you from it. This is why the one you seek refuge with is named ma`adh and malja` (the source of refuge and recourse). A hadith mentions that,
Therefore the meaning of a`udhu is: I take refuge, guard myself and take precaution. There are two opinions concerning the etymology of this verb. The first is that it is derived from the meaning of satar, covering or protection, and the second is that it is derived from the meaning of luzum al-mujawara, firmly adhering to that which adjoins it. As for the first opinion, the Arabs used to say that a house built in the shade of a tree has`uwwadha. Therefore, when this house did the act of `adha with this tree by being built under its shade, the Arabs said it`uwwadh. The same applies to the one who takes refuge: he seeks protection and cover from his enemy with the one he resorts to for refuge. As for the second opinion, the Arabs used to say regarding flesh that was stuck to a bone and could not be removed, `uwwadha, because of its refusal to be dislodged from the bone. The same applies to the one taking refuge for he sticks firmly to the one he is seeking refuge with and refuses to be distanced. Both of these opinions are correct, seeking refuge covers both meanings. The person taking refuge seeks protection with the one he is seeking refuge with and sticks firmly to him. His heart attaches itself to him and holds firm just as the child sticks close to its father when threatened by an enemy. The same applies to the one taking refuge for he flees from his enemy who desires his destruction to his Lord, throwing himself between His hands, holding firmly to Him, sticking close to Him and resorting to Him. Now, know that the reality of seeking refuge that is takes place in the heart of the believer surpasses, and is beyond, these descriptions. These only serve as examples and representations. As for what takes place in the heart of its taking refuge, holding fast to, and throwing itself before its Lord, its need of Him and its submission and humility before Him, all of this is beyond description. In a similar vein, love and fear of Him can only be described in a deficient way because they can only truly be understood through experience. This is similar to the case of a person trying to describe the pleasure of sexual intercourse to someone who is impotent and feels no sexual urges. No matter how much you describe it and how many examples you give, never will he truly understand it. However, were you to describe it to one who does have these urges and has had intercourse, he will understand your descriptions completely. If it is asked: When one is commanded to take refuge with Allah why does the form of the command carry a sin and ta? For example in His saying,
Yet one says, ‘I take refuge’ (a`udhu) and ‘I took refuge’ (ta`awwadhtu) without including the sin and ta? The reply is: the sin and ta are grammatically used to denote a person’s seeking something. Therefore when one says, ‘asta`idhu with Allah’ he is saying, ‘I seek refuge with Him.’ When he says, ‘astaghfirullah’ he is saying, ‘I seek Allah’s forgiveness.' Now, when the person says, ‘I take refuge (a`udhu) with Allah,’ he is actually implementing and actualising what he seeks since he sought refuge and protection with Allah. There is a clear difference between actually taking refuge and seeking refuge. Therefore, because the one who is seeking refuge is actually recoursing to Allah and holding firmly to Him, he says the verb that denotes this rather than saying the verb that denotes that he only seeks this. The opposite is true for the saying, ‘astaghfirullah’ (I seek the forgiveness of Allah) for in this case the person is asking Allah to forgive him. Therefore, when he says, ‘astaghfirullah’ he is implementing what he desires because the meaning of this statement is, ‘I ask Allah to forgive me.’ This then is the best way of seeking refuge and it was for this reason that the Prophet (SAW) used to say, “I take refuge with Allah from the accursed Satan” and, “I take refuge with Allah’s perfect words” and, “I take refuge with the might and power of Allah,” in each case saying, ‘a`udhu’ rather than ‘asta`idhu.’ Indeed this is what Allah taught him to say with His words,
Employing the word ‘a`udhu’ rather than ‘asta`idhu.’