The 4 Themes of Surah Al-Fajr

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By the Daybreak is how Surah Fajr begins in the Quran.

Allah takes an oath by the time of Fajr which is particularly interesting. Fajr time signals the start of a new day. It signifies the time when birds and animals wake up, and so do those who want to seek the pleasure of their Lord. Some scholars have said that this oath refers to Islam, and how Islam came and tore apart darkness, like the first light at Fajr tears apart the darkness of the sky! Allah then continues to take three more oaths

2 by the Ten Nights 3 by the even and the odd, 4 by the passing night 5 is this oath strong enough for a rational person?

Allah takes an oath on the ten nights of Dhul Hijjah, by the even (all of creation) and the odd (Allah Himself) and also by the passing of the night (which signifies the powerlessness of humans in controlling nature). And then Allah asks if this oath is in and of itself strong enough for a rational person!

Allah shows His majesty and power in the breaking of dawn, in that He can choose nights to be greater than other, in that while everything else is even, He is One and Only, and that He controls when the night arrives and leaves and then He moves into the main portion of the Surah!

Oppression will not go unpunished

The Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wasallam said, There is no wrong action which Allah ) is swifter to punish in this world in addition to the punishment which He has stored up for the wrongdoer in the hereafter than injustice and cutting off ties of kinship. [1]

Thus, oppression and injustice is a serious sin that will not go unpunished. In fact it is a darkness, and Allah takes oaths by the passing of the night, by Fajr and by the fact that He is One when everything and everyone else is in pairs. Then He gives examples of how He has destroyed oppression in the past

6 Have you considered how your Lord dealt with [the people] of Ad 7 of Iram, [the city] of lofty pillars, 8 whose like has never been made in any land, 9 and the Thamud, who hewed into the rocks in the valley, 10 and the mighty and powerful Pharaoh? 11 All of them committed excesses in their lands, 12 and spread corruption there: 13 your Lord let a scourge of punishment loose on them.

And then Allah reminds us that even today, He does not let go of oppression and that He knows it all and all that is occurring on earth is actually part of His wisdom— 14Your Lord is always watchful

Hasty Nature of Man

However, in general man is hasty. Imam Ahmad therefore points out that Allah mentioned Sabr (patience, perseverance) ninety times in the Quran- mentioning its rewards, exhorting people to be patient and giving examples of how patience pays dividends in life and the hereafter! In Surah Fajr Allah gives an example of the hastiness of man

15 [The nature of] man is that, when his Lord tries him through honour and blessings, he says, ‘My Lord has honoured me,’ 16 but when He tries him through the restriction of his provision, he says, ‘My Lord has humiliated me.’ 17 No indeed! You [people] do not honour orphans, 18 you do not urge one another to feed the poor, 19 you consume inheritance greedily, 20 and you love wealth with a passion.

Allah mentions how man when tested with good thinks Allah has honoured him, while in difficulty thinks Allah has humiliated him. However, Allah uses the word ibtalaa for both honour and blessings and also restriction of provision, thus proving that while bad times are a test, good times are a test too! In fact the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam was narrated to say that he feared more for his ummah that Allah would open up riches of the land for them rather than fearing for his ummah hardships!

Allah then gives further examples of how man is hasty- declines to feed the poor, doesn’t take care of the orphans, consumes inheritance very greedily and loves wealth with a great passion! Allah mentions all of this because when we hear of Firawn, Ad, Thamud we do not think we have anything to relate to. Yes, their oppression was simply at another level, but we are also being oppressors by harming orphans, the poor, eating wealth illegally etc.

Allah gives warning

21 No indeed! When the earth is pounded to dust, pounded and pounded, 22 when your Lord comes with the angels, rank upon rank, 23 when Hell is that Day brought near– on that Day man will take heed, but what good will that be to him then? 24 He will say, ‘Would that I had provided for this life to come!’ 25 On that Day, no one will punish as He punishes, 26 and no one will bind as He binds.

Allah reminds us of the Day of Judgement, and reminds us of how the Earth as big as it is will be pounded to dust, as mentioned in Surah Kahf, “We shall reduce all this to barren dust” [2]. Allah mentions when He will come with mightly Angels also arriving at the scene in rows upon rows, and all that we have done will be laid bare for all to see. Hellfire will be brought near, and on that Day when man will see hell, will he remember, but it would all be in vain! He will wish that he would have spent some of his time preparing for the life to come, and then Allah reminds of how severe will be His punishment on the Day of Judgement.

All of this is a reminder to not be hasty, to not be running only after the dunya like those destroyed nations mentioned earlier, so that we may save ourselves.

As always, Allah gives us a way out

After the very sobering reminder of the destruction of oppressive nations, of how we might just become oppressors ourselves and of how harsh and painful the Day of Judgement will be, Allah gives the lifeline, to a specific type of person-

27 ‘[But] you, soul at peace 28 return to your Lord well pleased and well pleasing; 29 go in among My servants; 30 and into My Garden.’

While Allah mentions before hasty people, He now mentions “soul at peace” because the soul which worships and obeys Allah will be at peace as Allah mentions in Surah Rad, “truly it is in the remembrance of God that hearts find peace.[3]” And for those who worship Allah, are not hasty and are rather in peace with themselves, their Lord, their families and everything around them, Allah calls them in the first person to come pleasing to Him, into His Garden among His beloved servants!

The Quran is a book full of gems that can change our lives. Now it is Ramadan, which is a month of great barakah. You too can learn to understand the Quran, and benefit from it and understand it. Perhaps then you would not be reading this article, but rather writing one like it or even better! Join one of the UnderstandQuran courses, whether you are just learning to read the Quran, learning 50% of Quranic words or if you are placed better than going forwards to the 70% of Quranic words course!

[1] Narrated by Imam Ahmad

[2] Quran Ch-18 V-8

[3] Quran Ch-13 V-28

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