Note: this is our 14th post in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma.
Allah says, in Surah ‘Asr:
إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ
إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ
“By Time. Indeed, mankind is at loss. Except for those who have believed, done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” [Asr: 1-3]
Allah swears by time–which shows how enormous and noble this creation is. Time.
Imam Shafi said about this revelation that had it been the only revelation sent to mankind, it would have been enough. What motivated him to say this?
This surah reinforces one of the most beautiful qualities of the Qur’an – profound messages in succinct words. In this surah of only 3 verses, Allah t’ala gives mankind essential direction. Whenever I read this surah, I always reflect on how is paints a crystal clear picture for all of mankind.
The varying cultures of the world have interpreted the reality of life and the reality of time in different ways. A popular belief is that Man struggles against nature to live as long as possible and to enjoy as much as possible. That’s why birthdays are celebrated. It’s one more year that a person has “beat Mother Nature.” This surah however, gives a Muslim their bearings. It’s not about how long you manage to live – because that has been predetermined.
Allah tells us: “By Time, Mankind is at loss.” [Asr: 1-2] Essentially, “we’re on the clock.” From the minute we’re born, there is a timer counting down to the day we will leave this planet. And as a result, we look to succeed in the limited time that we have.
But Allah doesn’t leave Mankind hopeless, just saying “Well, guess what, you’re losing, too bad, so sad, see you later.” (So don’t ever give up hope!) Rather, Allah follows up this statement with “EXCEPT, for those who have believed, done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” [Asr: 3]
So here, then is our recipe for success. This is the blueprint – your road-map to Jannah. Don’t want to be a LOSER? (And being a loser is by default–like a water-slide. You just let go, let the world sweep you buy, and you go down, down, down.) Then follow these simple steps!
- Do righteous deeds
- Advise one another to the truth
- Advise one another to patience.
The first point is very critical. If you want to be successful – we’re being told point blank here – you have to be a believer. On top of that, point number two, your belief must manifest in action. Don’t satisfy yourself by saying it’s in your heart. If it’s really in your heart, it’ll be so powerful that your heart will pump it through every limb of your body and you will radiate actions.
Thirdly, we must call one another to the truth. We must give dawah to those who have not found the correct path to Allah and we must help those who struggle on it. Fourthly, we must be, and must help others be patient. Life can be full of “interesting events and situations that may at first seem unfavourable or displeasing.” Deal with it. The fourth point is so beautiful because it’s such a nice of saying that life won’t be perfect, so train yourself in patience. You’re going to need it. If of course, you don’t want to be a loser.
Again, it’s not enough just to believe and do good deeds–you have to call to the truth, and call to patience.
- Memorize the surah: (Okay, you’ve probably memorized it because it’s so short.) So memorize the accurate translation.
- Use the items as a checklist: At the end of every day, run down this small list, did you do everyone of these? Will you be written amongst the successful?
- Post your reflections. What deep points strike you from what you know about this surah?
- Touched by an Angel: Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma. By Muhammad Alshareef. 2009.