Surah Al Falaq (Arabic: الفلق) is a Meccan surah and the 113th chapter of the Qur’an. The title of the Surah in english is “dawn” or “day-break”.
One of the goals of MyIslam site is to make reading the Qur’an in Arabic easy. So, below each ayah you will find transliteration to help with the recitation of Arabic text but we’ve also included the Sahih International translation so that you can gain a deeper understanding of the message of each surah.
Still, for some, the Surah may be difficult to interpret so you can expand your knowledge by reading the different Tafseers or commentaries of Surah Falaq.
Surah Falaq is often recommended for those looking to seek refuge in Allah and away from Shaitan and envious people who wish calamity upon you. Together with Surah Nas these are referred to as al-Mu’awwidhatayn.
Read Surah Falaq With Transliteration and Translation
Bismillah Hir Rahman Nir Raheem
Qul a’uzoo bi rabbil-falaq
1. Say, “I seek refuge in the Lord of daybreak
Min sharri ma khalaq
2. From the evil of that which He created
Wa min sharri ghasiqin iza waqab
3. And from the evil of darkness when it settles
Wa min sharrin-naffaa-saati fil ‘uqad
4. And from the evil of the blowers in knots
Wa min shar ri haasidin iza hasad
5. And from the evil of an envier when he envies.”
Hadiths On Surah Al Falaq
Aisha reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, would get ready for sleep, he would blow into his hands, recite the two chapters of refuge (surah al-falaq and surah an-nas), and he would wipe his hands over his body. 1
In another hadith:
Uqbah ibn Amr Al-Juhani reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Allah has revealed verses the like of which you have never seen: Say, I seek refuge in the Lord of the people(114:1) and: Say, I seek refuge in the Lord of the daybreak.” (113:1) 2
Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, would seek refuge from the devils and the evil eye of mankind until the two chapters of refuge (surah al-falaq and surah an-nas) were revealed, so when they were revealed he took both of them and left everything else. 3
1. Source: Sahih Bukhari 5960 Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Bukhari
2. Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 2902 Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to At-Tirmidhi
3. Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 2058 Grade: Hasan (fair) according to At-Tirmidhi
Tafsir of Surah Al Asr
Here you can read the work of different scholars on interpreting Surah Falaq.
Tafsir of Ibn Kathir Surah Falaq
Imam Ahmad recorded from Zirr bin Hubaysh that Ubayy bin Ka`b told him that Ibn Mas`ud did not record the Mu`awwidhatayn in his Mushaf (copy of the Qur’an). So Ubayy said, “I testify that the Messenger of Allah informed me that Jibril said to him,
(Say: “I seek refuge with the Lord of Al-Falaq.”)(113:1) So he said it. And Jibril said to him,
(Say: “I seek refuge with the Lord of mankind.”) (114:1) So he said it. Therefore, we say what the Prophet said.”
In his Sahih, Muslim recorded on the authority of `Uqbah bin `Amir that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Do you not see that there have been Ayat revealed to me tonight the like of which has not been seen before) They are
(Say: “I seek refuge with, the Lord of Al-Falaq.”)(113:1) and;
(Say: “I seek refuge with the Lord of mankind.”) (114:1)) This Hadith was recorded by Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa’i. At-Tirmidhi said, “Hasan Sahih.”
Imam Ahmad recorded from `Uqbah bin `Amir that he said, “While I was leading the Messenger of Allah along one of these paths he said,
(O `Uqbah! Will you not ride) I was afraid that this might be considered an act of disobedience. So the Messenger of Allah got down and I rode for a while. Then he rode. Then he said,
(O `Uqbah! Should I not teach you two Surahs that are of the best two Surahs that the people recite) I said, `Of course, O Messenger of Allah.’ So he taught me to recite
(Say: “I seek refuge with the Lord of Al-Falaq.”) (113:1) and
(Say: “I seek refuge with the Lord of mankind.”) (114:1) Then the call was given to begin the prayer and the Messenger of Allah went forward (to lead the people), and he recited them in the prayer. Afterwards he passed by me and said,
(What do you think, O `Uqayb Recite these two Surahs whenever you go to sleep and whenever you get up.)”
An-Nasa’i and Abu Dawud both recorded this Hadith.
(Verily, the people do not seek protection with anything like these two:
(Say: “I seek refuge with the Lord of Al-Falaq.”)(113:1) and;
(Say: “I seek refuge with (Allah) the Lord of mankind.”)) (114:1)
An-Nasa’i recorded that `Uqbah bin `Amir said, “I was walking with the Messenger of Allah when he said,
(O `Uqbah! Say!) I replied, `What should I say’ So he was silent and did not respond to me. Then he said,
(Say!) I replied, `What should I say, O Messenger of Allah’ He said,
(Say: “I seek refuge with the Lord of Al-Falaq.”) So, I recited it until I reached its end. Then he said,
(Say!) I replied, `What should I say O Messenger of Allah’ He said,
(Say: “I seek refuge with the Lord of mankind.”) So, I recited it until I reached its end. Then the Messenger of Allah said,
(No person beseeches with anything like these, and no person seeks refuge with anything like these.)”
An-Nasa’i recorded that Ibn `Abis Al-Juhani said that the Prophet said to him,
(O Ibn `Abis! Shall I guide you to — or inform you — of the best thing that those who seek protection use for protection) He replied, “Of course, O Messenger of Allah!” The Prophet said,
(Say: “I seek refuge with the Lord of Al-Falaq.”)( and (Say: “I seek refuge with the Lord of mankind.”)( These two Surahs (are the best protection).) Imam Malik recorded from A’ishah that whenever the Messenger of Allah was suffering from an ailment, he would recite the Mu`awwidhatayn over himself and blow (over himself). Then if his pain became severe, `A’ishah said that she would recite the Mu`awwidhatayn over him and take his hand and wipe it over himself seeking the blessing of those Surahs. Al-Bukhari, Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah all recorded this Hadith.
It has been reported from Abu Sa`id that the Messenger of Allah used to seek protection against the evil eyes of the Jinns and mankind. But when the Mu`awwi- dhatayn were revea- led, he used them (for protection) and aban- doned all else besides them. At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah recorded this. At-Tirmidhi said, “This Hadith is Hasan Sahih.”
(In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Jabir said, “Al-Falaq is the morning.” Al-`Awfi reported from Ibn `Abbas, “Al-Falaq is the morning.” The same has been reported from Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, `Abdullah bin Muhammad bin `Aqil, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi and Ibn Zayd. Malik also reported a similar statement from Zayd bin Aslam. Al-Qurazi, Ibn Zayd and Ibn Jarir all said, “This is like Allah’s saying,
(He is the Cleaver of the daybreak.).” (6:96) Allah said,
(From the evil of what He has created,) This means from the evil of all created things. Thabit Al-Bunani and Al-Hasan Al-Basri both said, “Hell, Iblis and his progeny, from among that which He (Allah) created.”
(And from the evil of the Ghasiq when Waqab,) Mujahid said, “Ghasiq is the night, and `when it Waqab’ refers to the setting of the sun.” Al-Bukhari mentioned this from him. Ibn Abi Najih also reported a similar narration from him (Mujahid).
The same was said by Ibn `Abbas, Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi, Ad-Dahhak, Khusayf, Al-Hasan and Qatadah. They said, “Verily, it is the night when it advances with its darkness.” Az-Zuhri said,
(And from the evil of the Ghasiq when Waqab,) “This means the sun when it sets.” Abu Al-Muhazzim reported that Abu Hurayrah said,
(And from the evil of the Ghasiq when Waqab, ) “This means the star.” Ibn Zayd said, “The Arabs used to say, `Al-Ghasiq is the declination (of the position) of the heavenly body known as Pleiades. The number of those who were ill and stricken with plague would increase whenever it would decline, and their number would lessen whenever it rose.”’
Ibn Jarir said, “Others have said that it is the moon.”
The support for the people who hold this position (that it means the moon) is a narration that Imam Ahmad recorded from Al-Harith bin Abi Salamah. He said that `A’ishah said, “The Messenger of Allah took me by my hand and showed me the moon when it rose, and he said,
(Seek refuge with Allah from the evil of this Ghasiq when it becomes dark.)” At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa’i both recorded this Hadith in their Books of Tafsir in their Sunans. Allah said,
(And from the evil of the blowers in knots,) Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Al-Hasan, Qatadah and Ad-Dahhak all said, “This means the witches.” Mujahid said, “When they perform their spells and blow into the knots.”
In another Hadith it has been reported that Jibril came to the Prophet and said, “Are you suffering from any ailment, O Muhammad” The Prophet replied,
(Yes.) So Jibril said, “In the Name of Allah, I recite prayer (Ruqyah) over you, from every illness that harms you, from the evil of every envious person and evil eye. May Allah cure you.”
In the Book of Medicine of his Sahih, Al-Bukhari recorded that `A’ishah said, “The Messenger of Allah was bewitched until he thought that he had relations with his wives, but he had not had relations with them.” Sufyan said, “This is the worst form of magic when it reaches this stage.” So the Prophet said,
(O `A’ishah! Do you know that Allah has answered me concerning that which I asked Him Two men came to me and one of them sat by my head while the other sat by my feet. The one who was sitting by my head said to the other one, `What is wrong with this man’ The other replied, `He is bewitched.’ The first one said, `Who bewitched him’ The other replied, `Labid bin A`sam. He is a man from the tribe of Banu Zurayq who is an ally of the Jews, and a hypocrite.’ The first one asked, `With what (did he bewitch him)’ The other replied, `With a comb and hair from the comb.’ The first one asked, `Where (is the comb)’ The other answered, `In the dried bark of a male date palm under a rock in a well called Dharwan.’) `A’ishah said, “So he went to the well to remove it (the comb with the hair). Then he said,
(This is the well that I saw. It was as if its water had henna soaked in it and its palm trees were like the heads of devils.) So he removed it (of the well). Then I (`A’ishah) said, `Will you not make this public’ He replied,
(Allah has cured me and I hate to spread (the news of) wickedness to any of the people.)”
This is the end of the Tafsir. All praise and thanks are due to Allah, the Lord of all that exists.
This and the next Surah were revealed on the same occasion, and in the same event, as will be explained in the ’cause of revelation’. Hafiz Ibn-ul-Qayyim has, therefore, written their commentary together. He writes that their blessings and benefits are abundant. All of the people require them and no one can dispense with them. They are very efficacious remedy for sorcery or magical spell, evil eye, and for all of the physical and spiritual calamities. In fact, if its reality is grasped fully, people will understand that they require it more than their breath, food, water, clothing and everything else.
Cause of Revelation
Musnad of Ahmad records that a Jewish person cast a magical spell on the Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) ، as a result of which he fell ill. Jibra’il (علیہ السلام) came to him and informed him that a particular Jew had cast a spell on him, that he had tied knots in his hair to accomplish this objective, and it is thrown into a particular well. The Holy Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم sent some of his Companions to bring it from the well Jibra’l (علیہ السلام) had described. The Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) untied the knots, and he was instantly cured. Jibra’il (علیہ السلام) informed him of the name of the Jew and the Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) knew the culprit, but it was not in keeping with his compassionate disposition to avenge anyone in his personal matter. Therefore, this was never brought to the attention of the Jew guilty of the black magic, nor did any sign of complaint ever appear on the blessed face of the Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) . Being a hypocrite, he regularly attended the Holy Prophet’s (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) gatherings.
The details of this incident are recorded in Sahih of Bukhari on the authority of Sayyidah ` A’ishah (رض) that a Jewish man cast a magic spell on the Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) ، as a result of which he sometimes felt confused whether or not he had done something. One day the Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) said to Sayyidah ` A’ishah (رض) that Allah has shown him what his illness was and added: “Two men came to me in my dream. One of them sat by my head side while the other sat by my feet, and the following conversation ensued:
Question: ‘What is wrong with this man?’
Answer: ‘He is bewitched.’
Question: ‘Who has bewitched him?’
Answer: ‘Labid Ibn A` sam. He is a member of the tribe of Banu Zuraiq who is an ally of the Jews, a hypocrite.’
Question: ‘With what did he bewitch him?’
Answer: ‘With a comb and hair from the comb.’
Question: ‘Where is the comb?’
Answer: In the dried bark of a male date palm under a rock in a well called Dharwan.’ ”
Sayyidah ‘A’ishah (رض) says that the Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) went to the well to remove the comb with the hair and said: “This is the well I was shown in my dream.” He removed it from the well. Sayyidah ` A’ishah (رض) asked the Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) . “Will you not make this public?” He replied: “Allah has cured me and I hate to cause harm to anyone.” This implies that the Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) did not want to be the cause anyone’s molestation, death or destruction, because this is what would have exactly happened if the incident was publicised.
According to a narration in Musnad of Ahmad, this illness of the Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) lasted for six months. According to other narratives, some of the Companions knew that this wicked act was performed by Labid Ibn A’sam, and they courteously said to the Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) : “Why should we not kill this wicked person?” He made the same reply to them as he did to Sayyidah ` A’ishah (رض) . According to Imam Tha` lab s narration, a Jewish boy was the attendant of the Messenger of Allah (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) ، the hypocritical Jew flattered the boy and talked him into getting for him strands of the Prophet’s (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) hair from his comb, and a few of its teeth. Having obtained these items, he tied eleven knots on a string and a needle was stuck into each knot. Labid then placed this spell in the spathe of a male palm tree, and buried it under a stone in a well. On this occasion, the two Surahs were revealed, comprising eleven verses. The Messenger of Allah (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) recited one verse at a time and untied one knot each time, until all the knots were untied, and he felt freed from the tension of the witchcraft. [ All these narratives have been adapted from Ibn Kathir.]
Magic and its effect on the Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم)
Some people are surprised that the Messenger of Allah (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) should be affected by black magic. This is because some people do not have a complete grasp of how magic operates. It actually operates under physical causes, and the Messenger of Allah (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) was not immune to the influence of physical causes, as for instance feeling the burning or heating sensation of fire, and feeling the cooling sensation of water; or certain natural factors causing fever or body temperature to rise; or other factors causing aches and pains, and other illnesses. The Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) ، or any other prophet for that matter, was not immune to the effects of such natural or physical causes. They can be affected by the hidden operations of magic which are no less natural or physical. Please see Surah Baqarah, Ma’ ariful Qur’an, Vol. 1/ pp 264-278 for fuller explanation, especially p. 276 on ‘Magic and Prophets’.
Mu’awwadhatain are Surahs that afford protection against physical and spiritual afflictions
It is a settled doctrine of every believer that Allah is the intrinsic cause of every gain and loss in this world as well as in the next world. Without the Divine will not a jot of gain or loss can be caused to anyone. The only way to fortify against all physical and spiritual injuries and harm is for man to place himself under the protection of Allah, and by his actions he should attempt to make himself capable of entering the Divine shelter.
Surah Al-Falaq directs how to seek the Divine protection against worldly calamities, and Surah An-Nas tells the way to seek Divine protection against the calamities of the Hereafter.
Virtues of Mu’awwadhatain
Sahih of Muslim records a Tradition on the authority of Sayyidna ‘Uqbah Ibn ` Amir (رض) who reports that the Messenger of Allah (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) said: “Do you not see that there have been revealed to me verses tonight the like of which has not been seen before? Those are Surah Al-Falaq and Surah An-Nas.” According to another narration, the like of Mu’awwadhatain has not revealed even in Torah, Injil, or Zabar or anywhere else in the Qur’an. Another narration of Sayyidna ‘Uqbah Ibn ` Amir (رض) reports that the Messenger of Allah (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) taught him Mu’awwadhatain while they were on a journey. Then he recited them in the maghrib salah and said: “Recite these two Surahs whenever you go to sleep and whenever you get up.” [ Nasa’i ] According to another report, the Messenger of Allah (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) has advised people to recite these two Surahs after every salah [ Transmitted by Abu Dad and Nasa’i ].
Imam Malik (رح) recorded from Sayyidah ` A’ishah (رض) : “whenever the Messenger of Allah (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) suffered from an ailment, he would recite the Mu’awwadhatain, blow over his hands, and then wiped his whole body with those hands. When his pain became acute on his death-bed, I would recite the Mu’awwadhatain, blow over his hands, and then he wiped them over himself, because my hands could not be the fitting substitute for his blessed hands. [ All these narratives have been adapted from Ibn Kathir ].
Sayyidna ` Abdullah Ibn Khubayb (رض) reports that it was raining one night and the sky had become intensely dark. We went out looking for the Messenger of Allah (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) ، and when he was found, he said: “Say.” He asked: “What should I say?” He said: “Recite قُلْ هُوَ اللَّـهُ أَحَدٌ and Mu’awwadhatain. Reciting them thrice in the morning and thrice in the evening will fortify you against all kinds of perturbations.”
In sum, it was the practice of the Messenger of Allah (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) and his Companions to recite these two Surahs to protect themselves against all types of privations, trials and tribulations of life in this world, as well as of life in the next world.
Lexicological Analysis of important words and interpretation of the Surah
Verse [ 113:1] قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ الْفَلَقِ (Say, “I seek refuge with the Lord of the Daybreak.” ) The word falaq means ‘to split or cleave’ and here it is used in the sense of ‘break of dawn’. In another verse, a similar quality of Allah is used in [ 6:96] فَالِقُ الْإِصْبَاحِ. ([ He is ] the One who causes the dawn to break). Of all the Divine attributes, this particular attribute is used presumably because the darkness of night often causes evils and difficulties, and the daylight removes them. This attribute of Allah points to the fact that anyone who seeks protection in Allah, He will remove all afflictions from him. [Mazhari]
The word Sharr: ` Allamah Ibn Qayyim’s Exposition
Verse [ 113:2] مِن شَرِّ مَا خَلَقَ (From the evil of everything He has created.) ` Allamah Ibn Qayyim expounds that the word sharr (evil) is employed in two different senses: [ 1] pain, loss, injury, trouble, grief, distress and affliction which affect man directly, and they are by themselves troubles and afflictions; and [ 2] the factors that cause losses, injuries and afflictions. The second type covers unbelief, idolatry and all sins. The things from which the Qur’an and Sunnah require man to seek refuge in Allah are either of these two types. The Traditional supplication that is masnun after salah includes seeking of refuge from four things: [ 1] punishment of the grave; [ 2] punishment of the Hell-Fire; [ 3] hardships and privations of life; and [ 4] trials and tribulations of death. Of these, the first two are afflictions and punishments in their own right, and the last two are causes of afflictions and punishments.
Verse [ 113:2] (From the evil of everything He has created) covers the evil of the entire creation. This verse was sufficient to guard against all mischief and calamities. But three particular forms of evil have been singled out to seek protection which often cause calamities and afflictions.
The first thing singled out appears in verse [ 113:3] وَمِن شَرِّ غَاسِقٍ إِذَا وَقَبَ (and from the evil of dark night when it penetrates.) The word ghasiq is derived from ghasaq (to become dark or intensely dark). Thus Sayyidna Ibn ` Abbas (رض) ، Hasan and Mujahid رحمۃ اللہ علیہما say that the word ghasiq stands for ‘night’. The verb waqaba is derived from wuqub which means for utter darkness ‘to overspread completely and intensely’. The verse means: ‘I seek refuge in Allah from the night when its darkness has completely and intensely overspread’. The word ‘night’ has been specifically mentioned because this is the time when Jinn, Shaitans, harmful insects, animals and reptiles appear. Thieves and robbers emerge at this time to carry out their crimes of stealing and other acts of wickedness. The enemies attack at this time. Black magic has the worst effect when it is intensely dark at night. As soon as the dawn approaches, the effects of all these things disappear and fade away. [ Allamah Ibn Qayyim ]
Verse [ 113:4] وَمِن شَرِّ النَّفَّاثَاتِ فِي الْعُقَدِ (and from the evil of the women who blow on the knots.) The word naffathat is derived from nafth which means ‘to blow’. The word ‘uqad is the plural of ‘uqdah which means ‘a knot’. The magicians usually tie knots on a string or piece of thread, recite magical incantations or formulae and blow on them as they do so. The phrase النَّفَّاثَاتِ فِي الْعُقَدِ (…the women who blow on the knots) refers to female magicians. It is possible that the pre-adjectival noun of the adjective naffathat be nufus [ souls ]. Thus this verse may be translated as ‘the evil souls who blow on knots’. This translation would include men and women who carry out this evil practice. But most probably its pre-adjectival noun is ‘womenfolk’. Women have been specifically mentioned perhaps because generally womenfolk have the natural disposition to carry out the evil practice of witchcraft; or probably because Labid Ibn A` sam, whose black magic was the cause of revelation of this Surah, got this most heinous act done by his daughters. Hence, the act of witchcraft is ascribed to them.
The reason why protection is sought against magicians is firstly that the cause of revelation of these two Surahs was the incident of magic. Secondly, people are normally unaware of the act of magicians, and they do not pay attention to getting themselves exorcised. They are under the impression that it is some kind of medical ailment and try to get themselves medically cured. In the meantime the magical effect continues to grow worse.
The third thing from which people are asked specifically to seek protection is hasid [ jealous ] and hasad [ jealousy ]. This has been specified for the same reasons as given above, because black magic was worked on the Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) on account of jealousy. The Jews and the hypocrites could not bear to see the rapid progress and expansion of Islam. They could not defeat him in outer combat; therefore they tried to satisfy their jealousy by performing witchcraft on him. There were uncountable number of green-eyed monsters against the Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) . That is the major reason why protection was sought against them. Jealousy of the jealous one gives him restless days and sleepless nights. He is at all times after causing loss to his envied person. Therefore, the harm he wishes to inflict is severe.
Hasad [ Jealousy ] and Ghibtah [ Envy ]
The Arabic word hasad, the English equivalent of which is ‘jealousy’, is invariably used in the bad sense. It generally means to desire the deprivation of the other man rather than one’s own acquisition of any bliss that he may possess. Simply put, Hasad means that a person should feel unhappy at the better fortune and good quality that Allah has granted to another, and wishes that it should be taken away from the other person and given to him, or at least the other should be deprived of it. Hasad in this sense is totally forbidden and a major sin. This is the first sin that was committed in the heaven and also the first one committed on the earth. The Iblis was jealous of ‘Adam in the heaven and the latter’s son Qabil was jealous of his brother Habil on earth. [ Qurtubi ].
Ghibtah, on the other hand, means to desire for oneself the same blessing as the other man has, without any idea of the latter’s losing it. This is not only permissible but also desirable.
Summary and Conclusion
Apart from the general protection that is sought in this Surah, protection is sought from three specific evils. These are mentioned separately in verses three, four and five. Furthermore, in the first and the third specific evils particular restrictions are placed. The first specific evil ghasiq [ darkness ] is restricted by the phrase إِذَا وَقَبَ “when it penetrates”.
The third specific evil hid is restricted by the phraseإِذَا حَسَدَ when he envies”. The practice of witchcraft is left unrestricted because its harmful effect is general. The harmful effect of darkness is felt when there is total absence of light, plunging the night in intense and utter darkness. Likewise, jealousy may not cause harm to its object until the jealous one takes a practical step with word or deed to satisfy his heart. For until he takes a practical step, his being unhappy may be harmful to himself, but it is not harmful for the other person so that he may seek refuge from it. Hence, restrictions are placed on the first and the third specific evils.
The Commentary on
This surah, along with the following one, Mankind, contains a directive from God primarily to His Prophet and secondly to the believers at large, to take refuge in Him and seek His protection in the face of any source of fear, subtle or apparent, known or unknown. It is as if God — limitless is He in His glory — is unfolding His world of care, and embracing the believers in His guard. He is kindly and affectionately calling on them to resort to His care through which they will feel safe and at peace. It is as if He is saying to them: I know that you are helpless and surrounded by foes and fears. Come to Me for safety, contentment and peace. Hence, the two surahs start with, “Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of the Daybreak,” and, “Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind.”
Several accounts have been handed down concerning the revelation and popularity of these two surahs. They all fit in neatly with the above interpretation that God, the Most Merciful, offers His care and shelter to His faithful servants. God’s Messenger loved these two surahs profoundly, as is clearly apparent in his traditions.
Uqba ibn `Amir, a Companion of the Prophet, reports that the Prophet said to him: “Have you not heard the unique verses that were revealed last night, “Say: ‘I seek refuge in the Lord of the Daybreak,’ and ‘Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind.’“ [Related by Mālik, Muslim, al-Tirmidhī, Abū Dawud and al-Nasa’i.]
Jābir, the Prophet’s Companion, said: “God’s Messenger said to me once, ‘Jābir! Recite!’ and I asked, ‘What shall I recite?’ He replied, ‘Recite, ‘Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of the Daybreak,’ and ‘ Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind.’ So I recited them and he commented, ‘Recite them [as often as you can] for you shall never recite anything equivalent to them.’“ [Related by al-Nasa’i.]
Dharr ibn Ĥubaysh said that he had inquired from Ubayy ibn Ka`b, the Prophet’s Companion, about al-Mu`awwadhatayn, a name that refers to these two surahs together, saying, “Abū al-Mundhir! Your brother, Ibn Mas`ūd says so and so. (For some time Ibn Mas`ūd was under the false impression that these two surahs were not part of the Qur’ān, but he later admitted his mistake.) What do you think of that?” He replied, “I asked God’s Messenger about this and he told me that he had been instructed to say the text of these surahs and he had carried out the instruction. We surely say the same as God’s Messenger had said.” [Related by al-BukHarī.] All these reports throw powerful light on that underlying factor of God’s kindness and love to which the two surahs draw attention.
Protection against Evil God — limitless is He in His glory — refers to Himself in this Surah as the Lord of the daybreak. The Arabic term, falaq, simply means ‘daybreak’, but it could be taken to mean ‘the whole phenomenon of creation,’ with reference to everything springing forth into life. This interpretation is supported by God’s saying in Surah 6, Cattle: “It is God who splits (fāliq) the grain and the fruit- stone. He brings forth the living out of that which is dead … He is the One who causes the day to break (fāliq). He has made the night to be [a source of] stillness, and the sun and the moon for reckoning.” (6: 95-96) If the meaning ‘daybreak’ is adopted, refuge is being sought from the unseen and the mysterious with the Lord of the daybreak, who bestows safety as He kindles the light of day. If, however, fāliq is taken to mean ‘creation’, then refuge from the evil of some creature is being sought with the Lord of all creation. In both cases, harmony with the theme of the Surah is maintained.
“From the evil of anything that He has created.” (Verse 2) The phrase contains no exceptions or specifications. Mutual contact between various creatures, though no doubt advantageous, brings about some evil. Refuge from it is sought with God by the believers in order to encourage the goodness such a contact produces. For He who created those creatures is surely able to provide the right circumstances that lead them on a course where only the bright side of their contact prevails.
“From the evil of darkness [i.e. gHasiq] when it gathers [i.e. waqab].” (Verse 3) From a linguistic point of view, gHasiq, means ‘substantially pouring out’ and waqb is the name given to a little hole in a mountain through which water issues forth, while waqab is the verb denoting such an action. What is probably meant here is the night, with all that accompanies it when it rapidly engulfs the world. This is terrifying in itself. In addition it fills our hearts with the possibility of an unknown, unexpected discomfort caused by a savage beast, an unscrupulous villain, a striking enemy or a hissing poisonous creature, as well as anxieties and worries [which may lead to depression and uneasiness], evil thoughts and passions that are liable to revive in the dark, during one’s state of solitude at night. This is the evil against which the believer needs God’s protection.
“From the evil of conjuring witches,” (Verse 4) refers to various types of magic, whether by deceiving people’s physical senses or by influencing their will-power and projecting ideas onto their emotions and minds. The verse specially refers to a form of witchcraft carried out by women in Arabia at the time who tied knots in cords and blew upon them with an imprecation.
Magic is the production of illusions, subject to a magician’s designs, and it does not offer any kind of new facts or alter the nature of things. This is how the Qur’an describes magic when relating the story of Moses in Surah 20, Ta Ha: “They [Pharaoh’s magicians] said, Moses, Will you throw down your gear first or shall we be the first to throw?’ He said: ‘Throw down yours.’ And by the power of their magic, their cords and staffs appeared to him as though they were running. Moses conceived a secret fear within him. But We said: Fear not! You shall have the upper hand. Throw that which is in your right hand! It will swallow up that which they have made. That which they have made is but the deceitful show of witchcraft. Come where he may, a magician shall never be successful.’“ (20: 65-69). Thus, their cords and staffs did not actually turn into snakes but it seemed so to the onlookers, Moses included, to the point where he felt uneasy inside. He was restrained by the transformation of his own stick into a real snake, by God’s doing, to destroy the phoney ones.
This is the nature of magic as we ought to conceive it. Through it a magician is capable of influencing other people’s minds, causing them to think and act according to his own suggestions. We refrain from going any further with this. It is indeed an evil from which God’s protection needs to be sought.
A few unsupported reports, some of which have been quoted by authentic sources, allege that after the Prophet had settled in Madinah, Labīd ibn al-A`şam, a Jew, put a magic spell on him that affected the Prophet for several days or months so that, according to some versions, he felt he was having marital relations with his wives when he was not; or, according to others, thought of having done something when he had not. According to these reports, by reciting this Surah and the next one, Mankind, he was released from such a state.
But surely these stories contradict the very idea of the Prophet’s infallibility in word and deed and do not agree with the belief that all his actions are indicative of the Islamic way of life for all Muslims. Above all, they conflict with the Qur’ānic statements emphatically denying his being influenced by any kind of magic whatsoever, as claimed by some opponents of Islam. Hence, we dismiss such stories, on the grounds that the Qur’an is the ultimate arbiter, and that singularly narrated traditions are left out in matters concerning faith. These stories have not had proper backing, which is an essential qualification for a tradition to be accepted as authentic. What weakens such stories even further is that the two surahs were revealed in Makkah while these stories relate the incident as having occurred some years later, in Madinah!
“And from the evil of the envious when he envies.” (Verse 5) Envy is the evil, begrudging reaction one feels towards another who has received some favour from God. It is also accompanied by a very strong desire for the end to such favours. It is also possible that some harm to the envied may result from such a baseless grudge. This may either be the outcome of direct physical action by the envier, or from suppressed feelings alone.
We should not be uneasy to learn that there are countless inexplicable mysteries in life. There are several phenomena for which no account has been offered up till now. Telepathy and hypnosis are two such examples.
We should not try to deny the psychological effects of envy on the envied person just because we cannot ascertain how this takes place by scientific means and methods. Very little is known about the mysteries of envy and the little that is known has often been uncovered by chance and coincidence. In any case, there is in envy an evil from which the refuge and protection of God must be sought. For He, the Most Generous, Most Merciful, who knows all things, has directed the Prophet and his followers to seek His refuge from such evil. It is unanimously agreed by all Islamic schools of thought that God will always protect His servants from such evils, should they seek His protection as He has directed them to do.
Al-Bukhari relates that `A’ishah said: “The Prophet would blow into both hands when getting into bed to sleep, and recite: ‘Say: He is God, the One…’ and, ‘Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of the Daybreak…’ and, ‘Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind,’ and, starting with his head, he would run his palms over his face and the front part of his body, before running them over the rest of his body. He did this three times.” [Also related by Abū Dawud, al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasa’i.]
As qul (say) is a part of the message which was conveyed to the Prophet (peace be upon him) by revelation for preaching his prophetic message, its first addressee is the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself but after him every believer is also its addressee.
The act of seeking refuge necessarily consists of three parts:
- The act of seeking refuge itself.
- The seeker of refuge.
- He whose refuge is sought.
Seeking refuge implies feeling fear of something and seeking protection of another, or taking cover of it, or clinging to it, or going under its shelter for safety. The seeker after refuge in any case is the person, who feels that he cannot by himself resist and fight the thing that he fears, but stands in need of refuge with another for protection. Then the one whose refuge is sought must necessarily be a person or being about whom the seeker after refuge believes that he or it alone can protect him from the calamity. Now, one kind of refuge is that which is obtained according to natural laws in the physical world from a perceptible material object or person or power, for example, taking shelter in a fort for protection against the enemy’s attack, or taking cover in a trench or behind a heap of earth, or wall, for protection against a shower of bullets, or taking refuge with a man or government, for protection from a powerful tyrant or taking refuge in the shade of a tree or building for protection from the sun. Contrary to this, the other kind of refuge is that which is sought in a supernatural Being from every kind of danger and every kind of material, moral or spiritual harm and injury on the basis of the belief that that Being is ruler over the physical world and can protect in supersensory ways the one who seeks His refuge. This second kind of refuge is the one that is implied not only in Surah Al-Falaq and Surah An-Nass but wherever in the Quran and the Hadith mention has been made of seeking refuge with Allah, it implies this particular kind of refuge, and it is a necessary corollary of the doctrine of Tauhid that this kind of refuge should be sought from no one but Allah. The polytheists sought this kind of protection, and seek even today, from other beings than Allah, e.g. the jinn, or gods and goddesses. The materialists also turn for this to material means and resources, for they do not believe in any supernatural power. But the believer only turns to Allah and seeks refuge only with Him, against all such calamities and misfortunes to ward off which he feels he has no power.
For example, about the polytheists it has been said in the Quran: And that from among men some people used to seek refuge with some people from among the jinn (Surah Al-Jinn, Ayat 16).
And explaining it in E.N. 47 of Surah Al-Jinn we have cited Abdullah bin Abbas’s tradition that when the polytheistic Arabs had to pass a night in an uninhabited valley, they would call out, saying: We seek refuge of the lord of this valley (i.e. of the jinn who is ruler and master of this valley). Contrary to this, about Pharaoh it has been said: When he witnessed the great signs presented by the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), he showed arrogance on account of his might. (Surah Adh- Dhariyat, Ayat 39).
As for the attitude and conduct of the God-worshippers the Quran says that they seek Allah’s refuge for protection against the evil of everything that they fear, whether it is material or moral or spiritual. Thus, about Mary it has been said that when God’s angel appeared before her suddenly in human guise (when she did not know that he was an angel), she cried out: I seek the merciful God’s refuge from you, if you are a pious man. (Surah Maryam, Ayat 18).
When the Prophet Noah (peace be upon him) made an improper petition to Allah, and was rebuked by Allah in response, he immediately submitted: My Lord, I seek Your protection lest I should ask of You anything of which I have no knowledge. (Surah Hud, Ayat 47) When the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) commanded the children of Israel to sacrifice a cow, and they said that perhaps he was having a jest with them, he replied: I crave Allah’s protection from behaving like ignorant people. (Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayat 67).
The same is the case with all the acts of seeking refuge which have been reported in respect of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the books of Hadith. For instance, consider the following prayers that the Prophet (peace be upon him) made:
Aishah has reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to pray, saying: O God, I seek Your refuge from the evil of the works which I did and from the evil of the works which I did not do. (i.e. if I have done a wrong, I seek refuge from its evil results, and if I have not done a work which I should have done, I seek refuge from the loss that I have incurred, or from that I should do what I should not do). (Muslim).
Ibn Umar has reported that one of the supplications of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was to the effect: O God, I seek Your refuge from being deprived of a blessing that You have bestowed on me and from being deprived of the well-being that You have granted me and I seek refuge lest Your wrath should descend on me suddenly, and I seek refuge from every kind of Your displeasure. (Muslim).
Zaid bin Arqam has reported that the Messenger (peace be upon him) of Allah used to pray: O God, I seek Your refuge from the knowledge which is not beneficial, from the heart which does not fear You, from the soul which is never satisfied, and from the prayer which is not answered. (Muslim).
Abu Hurairah has reported that the Messenger (peace be upon him) used to pray: O God, I seek Your refuge from hunger, for it is a most evil thing with which one may have to pass a night, and I seek Your refuge from dishonesty, for it is sheer evil-mindedness. (Abu Daud).
Anas has reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to pray: O God, I seek Your refuge from leprosy and madness and all evil diseases. (Abu Daud).
Aishah has reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to pray in these words: O God, I seek Your refuge from the mischief of the fire and from the evil of affluence and poverty. (Tirmidhi, Abu Daud).
Shakal bin Humaid requested the Prophet (peace be upon him) to teach him some prayer. He told him to say: O God, I seek Your refuge from the evil of my hearing, from the evil of my sight, from the evil of my tongue, from the evil of my heart, and from the evil of my lust, (Tirmidhi, Abu Daud).
Atlas bin Malik has reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to say: O God, I seek Your refuge from helplessness, indolence, cowardice, old age and stinginess, and I seek Your refuge from the torment of the grave and from the mischief of life and death, (and according to a tradition in Muslim also) from the burden of debt and that the people should overpower me. (Bukhari, Muslim).
Khawla bint Hukaym Sulamiyyah says that she heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) as saying that the one who halts at a new stage (during the journey) and says: I seek refuge in the blameless words of Allah from the evil of the creatures, will not be caused any harm until he departs from that stage. (Muslim).
We have related these few prayers of the Prophet (peace be upon him) from the Hadith, which show that the believer should seek Allah’s refuge from every danger and evil and not the refuge of anyone else, nor he should become self sufficient of Allah and place reliance only on himself.
The word used in the original is Rabbil-Falaq. Falaq actually means to split and to pierce through. A great majority of the commentators have taken it to mean bringing out the light of dawn by splitting the darkness of night, for in Arabic falaq-as-subh is often used for the breaking of dawn, and also in the Quran the words Faliqul- isbah (He Who causes the dawn to appear by splitting the darkness of night) have been used for Allah. (Surah AlAnaam, Ayat 96).
Another meaning of falaq is also to create ot to bring into being, for everything created in the world appears by splitting something. All vegetation sprouts by splitting open the seed and the soil; all animals come out either from the womb of mother or by breaking open the egg, or some other obstruction. All springs gush out by splitting open the rock or soil. The day appears by piercing through the curtain of the night. The drops of rain pierce through the clouds and fall on the earth. In short, everything in the world comes into being as a result of breaking and splitting another thing; so much so that the earth and the heavens also in the beginning were one mass, then they were broken and parted. (Surah Al-Anbiya, Ayat 30).
Thus, according to this meaning the word falaq is common to all creations. Now, if the first meaning is adopted, the verse would mean: I seek refuge with the Lord of rising dawn, and according to the second meaning, it would mean: I seek refuge with the Lord of all creation. Here the attribute of Rabb has been used for Allah instead of His proper Name, for Allah’s attribute of being Rabb, i.e. Master, Sustainer and Provider, is more relevant to seeking and taking of His refuge. Then, if Rabb-ul-falaq implies Lord of the rising dawn, seeking His refuge would mean: I seek refuge with the Lord Who brings out the bright daylight from the darkness of night so that He may likewise bring well-being for me from all kinds of physical and psychical dangers. If it is taken to mean Rabb al-khalaq the meaning would be: I seek refuge with the Lord of all creation, so that He may protect me from the evil of His creation.
In other words: I seek His refuge from the evil of all creatures. A few things in this sentence deserve consideration.
First, that the creation of evil has not been attributed to Allah, but the creation of creatures has been attributed to Allah and of evil to the creatures. That is, it has not been said: I seek refuge from the evils that Allah has created, but that: I seek refuge from the evil of the things He has created. This shows that Allah has not created any creature for the sake of evil, but all His work is for the sake of good and a special purpose. However, from the qualities that He has created in the creatures to fulfill the purpose of their creation, sometimes evil appears from some kinds of creatures in most cases.
Second, that even if this one sentence was given and no mention made of seeking Allah’s refuge separately from the evils of some particular kinds of creatures in the following sentences, this one sentence alone would have sufficed to express the intent, for in it Allah’s refuge has been sought from the evil of all creatures. After this general prayer for refuge making mention of seeking refuge from some particular evils by itself gives this meaning: Though I seek Allah’s refuge from the evil of everything created by Allah, I stand in great need of Allah’s refuge from the particular evils that have been mentioned in the remaining verses of Surah Al-Falaq and Surah An-Nass.
Third, that the most suitable and effective prayer for seeking refuge from the evil of the creatures is that refuge should be sought with their Creator, for He is in any case dominant over His creatures and is aware of their evils, which we know, as well as of those which we do not know. Hence, His refuge is the refuge of the supreme Ruler Whom no power can fight and oppose, and with His refuge we can protect ourselves from every evil of every creature, whether we are aware of it or not. Moreover, this contains the prayer for refuge not only from the evils of the world but also from every evil of the Hereafter.
Fourth, that the word sharr (evil) is used for loss, injury, trouble and affliction as well as for the means which cause losses and injuries and afflictions; for example, hunger, disease, injury in accident or war, being burnt by fire, being stung or bitten by a scorpion or snake, being involved in the grief of children’s death and similar other evils which are evils in the first sense, for they are by themselves troubles and afflictions. Contrary to this, unbelief, polytheism and every kind of sin and wickedness, for instance, are evils in the second sense, for they cause loss and affliction, although apparently they do not cause any trouble at the moment, rather some sins give pleasure and bring profit. Thus, seeking refuge from evil comprehends both these meanings.
Fifth, that seeking refuge from evil also contains two other meanings. First, that man is praying to his God to protect him from the evil that has already taken place; second, that man is praying to his God to protect him from the evil that has not yet taken place.
After seeking Allah’s refuge generally from the evil of the creatures, now prayer is being taught for seeking refuge from the evil of some special creatures in particular. The word ghasiq in the verse literally means dark. Thus, at another place in the Quran it has been said: Establish the salat from the declining of the sun to the darkness of the night, ila-ghasaq-il-lail. (Surah Bani lsrail, Ayat 78), and waqab means to enter or to overspread. Prayer has been taught to seek refuge in particular from the evil of the darkness of night, for most of the crimes and acts of wickedness are committed at night, harmful animals also come out at night, and the night was a very dreadful thing in the time chaos prevailed in Arabia when these verses were revealed. Raiders came out in the dark of night and plundered and destroyed settlements. The people who were thinking of putting the Prophet (peace be upon him) to death, also made their secret plans at night, so that the murder could not be detected. Therefore, command was given to seek Allah’s refuge from the evils and calamities which descend at night. Here, the subtle relation that exists between seeking refuge from the evil of the dark night with the Lord of breaking dawn cannot remain hidden from anybody having insight and understanding.
A difficulty is confronted in the explanation of this verse in view of several authentic traditions. Aishah has reported: Once during a moon-lit night, the Prophet (peace be upon him) took hold of my hand and pointing to the moon said: Seek Allah’s refuge, for this is al ghasiq idha waqab. (Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Nasai, lbn Jarir, Ibn al-Mundhir, Hakim, Ibn Marduyah). To explain this some scholars said that idha waqab here means idha khasaf, i.e. when the moon is eclipsed. But in no tradition has it been mentioned that when the Prophet (peace be upon him) pointed to the moon, it was in eclipse. In the Arabic lexicon also idha waqab cannot mean idha khasaf. In our opinion the correct explanation of this Hadith is that since the moon rises in the night (in the daytime it does not shine even if it is there in the sky), what the Prophet (peace be upon him) meant was this: Seek God’s refuge from the night, the time when it (the moon) appears, for the light of the moon is not as helpful for the one who resists as for the one who attacks, and not as helpful for the victim of the crime as for the culprit. On this very basis the Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said: When the sun has set, devils spread on every side. Therefore, gather your children together in the house and keep your animals tied down until the darkness of night disappears.
The word uqad in naffathat fil-uqad is plural of uqdah, which means a knot that is tied on a string or piece of thread. Nafath means to blow. Naffathat is plural of naffathah, which may mean the men who blow much, and if taken as a feminine gender, women who blow much; it may as well relate to nufus (human beings) or to jamaats (groups of men), for both nafas and jamaat are grammatically feminine. Blowing upon knots, according to most, rather all, commentators imply magic, for the magicians usually tie knots on a string or thread and blow upon them as they do so. Thus, the verse means: I seek refuge with the Lord of rising dawn from the evil of magicians, male and female. This meaning is also supported by the traditions which show that when magic was worked on the Prophet (peace be upon him), Gabriel had come and taught him to recite the Muawwidhatayn, and in the Muawwidhatayn this is the only sentence which relates directly to magic. Abu Muslim Isfahani and Zamakhshari have also given another meaning of naffathat fil-uqad, which is that it implies the deceitfulness of women and their influencing men’s resolutions, views and ideas and this has been compared to a magic spell, for in the love of women man starts behaving as if he was under a spell. Though this explanation is interesting, it runs counter to the commentary given by the earlier scholars; and it also does not correspond to the conditions in which the Muawwidhatayn were sent down as we have shown in the Introduction.
About magic one should know that in it since help is sought of the satans and evil spirits or stars to influence the other person evilly, it has been called kufr (unbelief) in the Quran: Solomon was not involved in kufr but the satans who taught magic to the people. (Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayat 102).
But even if it does not contain any word of kufr, or any polytheistic element, it is forbidden and unlawful and the Prophet (peace be upon him) has counted it among the seven heinous sins which ruin the Hereafter of man. In Bukhari and Muslim a tradition has been related from Abu Hurairah, saying that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Avoid seven deadly sins: associating another with Allah, magic, killing a soul unjustly which Allah has forbidden, devouring interest, eating the orphan’s property, fleeing from the enemy in the battlefield, and slandering simple and chaste Muslim women with un-chastity.
Hasad means that a person should feel unhappy at the better fortune, superiority or good quality that Allah has granted to another, and should wish that it should be taken away from the other person and given to him, or at least the other one should be deprived of it. However, hasad does not mean that a person should wish that he too should be blessed with the bounty that the other one has been blessed with. Here, Allah’s refuge has been sought from the evil of the jealous one when he feels jealous, and takes a practical step with word or deed to satisfy his heart. For until he takes a practical step, his being unhappy may by itself be bad but it is not an evil for the other person so that he may seek refuge from it. When such an evil appears from a jealous person the best thing would be to seek Allah’s refuge from it. Besides this, there are a few other things which are also helpful for obtaining immunity from the evil of the jealous person. First, that one should have trust in Allah and the faith that unless Allah so wills no one can harm him in any way. Second, that one should have patience over what the jealous person says and does and should not start behaving impatiently so as to be degraded morally to the level of the jealous person. Third, that one should in any case maintain dignity and practice piety even if the jealous person behaves frivolously, being fearless of God and shameless of the people. Fourth, that one should free his mind of every thought about the jealous person and should disregard him altogether, for making him a subject of one’s thought is a prelude to being influenced by him. Fifth, that one should do the jealous person a good turn as and when one can, not to speak of treating him evilly, no matter whether this good behavior mitigates his jealousy or not. Sixth, that one should understand rightly and remain steadfast to the doctrine of Tauhid for the heart which enshrines Tauhid, cannot be affected by anyone else’s fear except the fear of Allah.