Surah Al Lail (also spelt Surah Layl) is the 92nd Surah of the Qur’an consisting of 21 ayat or verses. It is classified as a Meccan Surah and the English meaning of Lail is “The Night”.
This Surah was one of the first ten to be revealed to Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). The Surah contrasts two types of people, the charitable and the miserly, and it describes each of their characteristics. It distinguishes between two different ways of life and shows us their ultimate end. It gives us a simple blueprint for a life of ease and success.
Below you can read the Surah in it’s entirety. One of the goals of the My Islam site is to make it easy to read and understand the Qur’an. So after every ayah in Arabic text we’ve provided the transliteration and Sahih international English translation. At the end of the Surah lail we’ve provided four different tafsirs you can read to gain a more comprehensive view of this Surah.
Read Surah Layl with Translation and Transliteration
Bismillah Hir Rahman Nir Raheem
In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious and The Most Merciful
Wallayli itha yaghsha
1. By the night when it covers
Wannahari itha tajalla
2. And [by] the day when it appears
Wama khalaqa aththakarawal-ontha
3. And [by] He who created the male and female,
Inna sa’yakum lashattaa
4. Indeed, your efforts are diverse.
Fa ammaa man a’taa wattaqaa
5. As for he who gives and fears Allah
Wa saddaqa bil husnaa
6. And believes in the best [reward],
7. We will ease him toward ease.
Waamma man bakhila wastaghna
8. But as for he who withholds and considers himself free of need
9. And denies the best [reward],
10. We will ease him toward difficulty.
Wa maa yughnee ‘anhu maaluhooo izaa taraddaa
11. And what will his wealth avail him when he falls?
Inna ‘alainaa lal hudaa
12. Indeed, [incumbent] upon Us is guidance.
Wa inna lanaa lal Aakhirata wal oolaa
13. And indeed, to Us belongs the Hereafter and the first [life].
Fa anzartukum naaran talazzaa
14. So I have warned you of a Fire which is blazing.
La yaslaha illaal-ashqa
15. None will [enter to] burn therein except the most wretched one.
Allathee kaththaba watawalla
16. Who had denied and turned away.
Wa sa yujannnabuhal atqaa
17. But the righteous one will avoid it –
Allazee yu’tee maalahoo yatazakkaa
18. [He] who gives [from] his wealth to purify himself
Wa maa li ahadin ‘indahoo min ni’matin tujzaaa
19. And not [giving] for anyone who has [done him] a favor to be rewarded
Illab tighaaa’a wajhi rabbihil a ‘laa
20. But only seeking the countenance of his Lord, Most High.
21. And he is going to be satisfied.
Tafsir of Surah Lail
Here you can read from four different Tafsir of Surah Lail including the popular tafsir by Ibn Kathir. Why read tafsir? The word by word translation explain the ayah but to fully understand the message and teachings of the Surah it helps to see the connection to other Surahs. The commentaries provide examples of relevant hadith as well as the historical context and purpose of revelation. We should continue to read Qur’an but to also make it a life-long study.
Surah Al Lail Tafseer by Ibn Kathir
The statement of the Prophet to Mu`adh has already preceded, where he said,
(Why did you not pray with (the recitation of) (Glorify the Name of your Lord the Most High) (87), and (By the sun and Duhaha) (91), and (By the night as it envelops) (92))
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
(By the night as it envelops.) meaning, when it covers the creation with its darkness.
(By the day as it appears.) meaning, with its light and its radiance.
(By Him Who created male and female.) This is similar to Allah’s saying,
(And We have created you in pairs.) (78:8) It is also similar to saying,
(And of everything We have created pairs.) (51:49) And just as these things that are being sworn by are opposites, likewise that which this swearing is about are opposing things. This is why Allah says,
(Certainly, your efforts and deeds are diverse. ) meaning, the actions of the servants that they have performed are also opposites and diverse. Therefore, there are those who do good and there are those who do evil. Allah then says,
(As for him who gives and has Taqwa.) meaning, he gives what he has been commanded to give and he fears Allah in his affairs.
(And believes in Al-Husna.) meaning, in the compensation for that. This was said by Qatadah. Khusayf said, “In the reward.” Then Allah says,
(We will make smooth for him the path of ease.) Ibn `Abbas said, “Meaning for goodness.” Thus, Allah says,
(But he who is greedy) meaning, with that which he has.
(and thinks himself self-sufficient,) `Ikrimah reported that Ibn `Abbas said, “This means he is stingy with his wealth and considers himself to be in no need of his Lord, the Mighty and Majestic.” This was recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim.
(And denies Al-Husna.) meaning, the recompense in the abode of the Hereafter.
(We will make smooth for him the path to evil.) meaning, the path of evil. This is as Allah says,
(And We shall turn their hearts and their eyes away, as they refused to believe therein for the first time, and We shall leave them in their trespass to wander blindly.) (6:110) And there are many Ayat with this meaning, proving that Allah rewards those who intend good with success, while whoever intends evil is abandoned, and all of this is in accordance with a preordained decree. There are also many Hadiths that prove this.
Imam Ahmad recorded from Abu Bakr that he said to the Messenger of Allah , “O Messenger of Allah! Do we act according to what has already been decided, or is the matter just beginning (i.e., still undecided)” He replied,
(Indeed it is according to what has already been decided.) Then Abu Bakr said, “Then what (good) are deeds, O Messenger of Allah” He replied,
(Everyone will find it easy to do such deeds that will lead him to what he was created for.)
Al-Bukhari recorded from `Ali bin Abi Talib that they (the Companions) were with the Messenger of Allah at the cemetery of Baqi` Al-Gharqad for a funeral, when the Prophet said,
(There is none among you except that his place has already been written, a seat in Paradise and a seat in the Hellfire.) They said, “O Messenger of Allah! Should we depend on this” He replied,
(Perform deeds for everyone will have the deeds of what he was created for (Paradise or Hell) made easy for him.) Then he recited the Ayah
(As for him who gives and has Taqwa, and believes in Al-Husna. We will make smooth for him the path of ease.)” until the Ayah:
(the path to evil) He (Imam Al-Bukhari) also recorded another similar narration from `Ali bin Abi Talib in which he said, “We were at a funeral in the cemetery of Baqi` Al-Gharqad when the Messenger of Allah came and sat down. So we came and sat around him and he had a stick with him. Then he bowed his head and he began to scratch the ground with his stick. He then said,
(There is not anyone among you — or is not a single soul (that has been created) — except that his place has been written in Paradise or in the Fire, and it has been written that he will be miserable or happy.) A man said, “O Messenger of Allah! Should we just depend on what has been written for us and give up performing deeds For whoever of us is of the people of happiness then he will be of the people of happiness, and whoever among us is of the people of misery then he will be of the people of misery.” The Prophet replied,
(Those people who are the people of happiness, they will have the deeds of the people of happiness made easy for them. And those people who are the people of misery, they will have the deeds of the people of misery made easy for them.) Then he recited the Ayah:
(As for him who gives and has Taqwa, and believes in Al-Husna. We will make smooth for him the path of ease (goodness). But he who is greedy and thinks himself self-sufficient, and belies Al-Husna. We will make smooth for him the path to evil.)) The other compilers of the Group have also recorded this Hadith.
Imam Ahmad recorded from Ibn `Umar that `Umar said, “O Messenger of Allah! Do you think that the deeds that we do are a matter that is already predetermined or are they something just beginning or new” The Prophet replied,
(It is something that has already been predetermined. Therefore, work deeds, O son of Al-Khattab! For verily, each person will have things made easy for him. So whoever is from the people of happiness, then he will work deeds for happiness, and whoever is from the people of misery, then he will work deeds for misery.)” This Hadith has been recorded by At-Tirmidhi in the Book of Al-Qadar and he said “Hasan Sahih.” Another Hadith Narrated by Jabir Ibn Jarir recorded from Jabir bin `Abdullah that he said, “O Messenger of Allah! Are we performing deeds for something that has already been predetermined or is the matter based upon what we are just doing (now)” The Prophet replied,
(It is a matter that has been predetermined.) Then Suraqah said, “Then what is the purpose of deeds” The Messenger of Allah then said,
(Everyone who does deeds will have his deeds made easy for him.) Muslim also recorded this Hadith. Ibn Jarir recorded from `Amir bin `Abdullah bin Az-Zubayr that he said, “Abu Bakr used to free servants upon their acceptance of Islam in Makkah. He used to free the elderly and the women when they accepted Islam. So his father said to him, `O my son! I see that you are freeing people who are weak. But if you freed strong men they could stand with you, defend you and protect you.’ Abu Bakr replied, `O my father! I only want — and I think he said — what is with Allah.’ Some people of my family have told me this Ayah was revealed about him:
(As for him who gives and has Taqwa, and believes in Al-Husna. We will make smooth for him the path of ease.)” Then Allah says,
(And what will his wealth avail him when he goes down) Mujahid said, “This means when he dies.” Abu Salih and Malik said — narrating from Zayd bin Aslam, “When he goes down into the Fire.”
(Truly, on Us is (to give) guidance.) “This means, We will explain what is lawful and what is prohibited.” Others have said that it means, “Whoever traverses upon the path of guidance, then he will reach Allah (i.e., in the Hereafter).” They consider this Ayah like Allah’s saying,
(And upon Allah is the responsibility to explain the Straight path.) (16:9) This has been mentioned by Ibn Jarir. Allah said;
(And truly, unto Us (belong) the last (Hereafter) and the first (this world).) This means, `they both belong to Us and I (Allah) am in complete control of them.’ Then Allah says,
(Therefore I have warned you of a Fire Talazza.) Mujahid said, “Blazing.” Imam Ahmad recorded from Simak bin Harb that he heard An-Nu`man bin Bashir giving a sermon, in which he said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah giving a sermon, in which he said:
(I have warned you of the Fire.) And he said it in such a voice that if a man was in the marketplace he could hear it from where I am standing now. And he said it (with such force) that the garment that was on his shoulder fell down to his feet.” Imam Ahmad recorded from Abu Ishaq that he heard An-Nu`man bin Bashir giving a sermon, in which he said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah saying,
(Verily, the person to be punished lightest of the people of the Fire on the Day of Judgement will be a man who will have placed on the soles of his feet two coals that will cause his brain to boil.)” Imam Al-Bukhari also recorded this narration. Muslim recorded that Abu Ishaq narrated from An-Nu`man bin Bashir that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Verily, the lightest punishment received by the people of the Hellfire will be a man who will have two sandals whose straps will be made of fire that will cause his brain to boil just as a cauldron boils. Yet he will not think that anyone is receiving a torment more severe than him, even though he will be receiving the lightest punishment of them.) Allah says,
(None shall enter it save the most wretched.) meaning, none will enter surrounded by it on all sides except the most wretched. Then Allah explains who this (the most wretched) is by His saying,
(Who denies) meaning, in his heart.
(and turns away.) meaning, from acting with his limbs and performing deeds according to their pillars. Imam Ahmad recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said,
(All of my followers will enter Paradise on the Day of Judgement except for whoever refuses.) They (the Companions) said, “Who would refuse, O Messenger of Allah” He replied,
(Whoever obeys me, he will enter Paradise, and whoever disobeys me, then he has refused.) Al-Bukhari also recorded this Hadith. Allah then says,
(And those with Taqwa will be far removed from it.) meaning, the righteous, pure, most pious person will be saved from the Fire. Then He explains who he is by His saying,
(He who gives of his wealth for self-purification.) meaning, he spends his wealth in obedience of his Lord in order to purify himself, his wealth and whatever Allah has bestowed upon him of religion and worldly things.
(And who has (in mind) no favor from anyone to be paid back.) meaning, giving his wealth is not done so that he may gain some favor from someone wherein they return some good to him, and therefore he gives to get something in return. He only spends his wealth
(to seek the Face of his Lord, the Most High) meaning, hoping to attain the blessing of seeing Him in the final abode in the Gardens of Paradise. Allah then says,
(He, surely, will be pleased.) meaning, indeed those with these characteristics will be pleased.
Many of the scholars of Tafsir have mentioned that these Ayat were revealed about Abu Bakr As-Siddiq. Some of them even mentioned that there is a consensus among the Qur’anic commentators concerning this. There is no doubt that he is included in the meaning of these Ayat, and that he is the most deserving of the Ummah to be described with these characteristics in general, for indeed, the wording of these Ayat is general. As in Allah’s saying,
(And those with Taqwa will be far removed from it. He who gives of his wealth for self-purification. And who has (in mind) no favor from anyone to be paid back.) However, he (Abu Bakr) was the first and foremost of this Ummah to have all of these characteristics and other praiseworthy characteristics as well. For verily, he was truthful, pious, generous, charitable, and he always spent his wealth in obedience of His Master (Allah) and in aiding the Messenger of Allah . How many Dirhams and Dinars did he spend seeking the Face of His Most Noble Lord. And did not consider any of the people as owning him some favor that he needed to get compensation for. Rather, his virtue and kindness was even shown towards leaders and chiefs from all the other tribes as well. This is why `Urwah bin Mas`ud, who was the chief of the Thaqif tribe, said to him on the day of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, “By Allah, if I did not owe you a debt, which I have not paid you back for, I would have responded to you (i.e., your call to Islam).” Abu Bakr As-Siddiq became angry with him for saying such a thing (i.e., I owe you something). So if this was his position with the chiefs of the Arabs and the heads of the tribes, then what about those other than them. Thus, Allah says,
(And who has (in mind) no favor from anyone to be paid back. Except to seek the Face of his Lord, the Most High. He, surely, will be pleased.) And in the Two Sahihs it is recorded that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Whoever equipped two riding animals in the way of Allah, the Gatekeepers of Paradise will call to him saying, “O servant of Allah! This is good.”) So Abu Bakr said, “O Messenger of Allah! The one who is called from them will not have any need. Will there be anyone who will be called from all of them” The Prophet replied,
(Yes, and I hope that you will be one of them.) This is the end of the Tafsir of Surat Al-Layl, and all praise and thanks are due to Allah.
[92:1] I swear by the night when it covers (the sun),
[92:2] and by the day when it is unveiled,
[92:3] and by the One who created the male and the female,
Commentaryإِنَّ سَعْيَكُمْ لَشَتَّىٰ (your efforts are diverse….92:4). This statement is like the statement in Surah Inshiqaq, verse : إِنَّكَ كَادِحٌ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ كَدْحًا ‘0 man, you have to work hard constantly to reach your Lord. [84:6] ‘ which has already been explained in that Surah. The sense is that man, by his nature, is used to making efforts for one objective or another. But the nature and the results of these efforts are different. Some people work hard for an objective that brings eternal happiness to them, and others work hard for an objective that makes them suffer eternal perdition. It is reported in a Tradition that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Each morning when a man gets up, he goes to conduct his business and keeps himself busy. His business is either successful and emancipates himself from Hell, or unsuccessful and his efforts become the cause of his destruction.” Therefore, a wise person should first apply his mind to think whether his efforts will pay dividends, and he should never undertake those efforts that bring about temporary comfort and pleasure, but eternal perdition and grief. The Two Diverse Types of Human Efforts Divide Humankind into Two Groups The Qur’an further shows that, broadly speaking, the humankind may be divided into two opposing groups in terms of their opposing efforts. Each of the two groups are characterised by three qualities. The first group is a successful one, and its three characteristics are:  they give in charity in the cause of Allah;  fear Allah and avoid violating the injunctions of Allah in every aspect of life; and  believe in the ‘best word’. The ‘best words’ refer to the credo of ‘there is no god but Allah’ [as Ibn ` Abbas, Dahhak have explained]. Testifying to the kalimah signifies ‘to profess the True Faith’. Faith or belief is the essence of all actions, and comes first in order of rank, but on this occasion, it is mentioned last, probably because the main theme in this context is that of physical exertion, efforts and actions. ‘Iman or faith, on the other hand, pertains to the heart. It signifies the acceptance and confirmation of Allah and His Messenger ﷺ with one’s heart. Confession of this must be made by means of reciting kalimah shahadah ‘testimony of faith’. Obviously, none of these things involve physical exertion or effort, nor are they generally counted as actions. The second group is [ the unsuccessful one ] and its three characteristics are:  they are misers to such an extent that they even fail to pay the zakah and other obligatory alms;  they deem themselves self-sufficient rather than obeying Allah; and  they reject the ‘best word’ [ that is, the kalimah of ‘Iman ]. Referring to the first group, the verse says: [92:5] As for the one who gives (in charity) and fears Allah, [92:6] and believes in the best (religion), [92:7] We will facilitate for him the way to extreme ease (i.e. the comforts of Paradise). فَسَنُيَسِّرُهُ لِلْيُسْرَىٰ (We will facilitate for him the way to extreme ease [ i.e. the comforts of Paradise ]….92:7). The word yusra literally denotes ‘ease and comfort’ or a thing in which there is no difficulty, but here it refers to “Paradise”. Likewise, referring to the second group it says: فَسَنُيَسِّرُهُ لِلْيُسْرَىٰ (for him We will facilitate the way to extreme distress…92:10). The opposite of yusra is ` usra which literally denotes ‘extreme distress, referring to “Hell”. The two statements signify that those who exert their efforts in the first three acts, that is, spending in the cause of Allah, fearing Allah and testifying to the kalimah, Allah. will pave their way to extreme ease, that is, to deeds that will lead them to the comforts of Paradise. On the other hand, those who exert their efforts in the latter three acts, Allah will pave their way to extreme distress, that is, make easy for them to perform deeds that will lead them to Hell. By right, here it should have been said that the deeds of Paradise or Hell are made easy for them, because ‘easy’ or ‘difficult’ qualify deeds, and not persons or people. But the Qur’an says that the people or the people themselves will be made easy to do the deeds. This probably implies that the first group will be predisposed to behave in a particular way that behaving otherwise will make them feel uneasy. The second group will be predisposed to behave in a way that will make them feel comfortable to do deeds of Hell, and they will feel uneasy doing deeds of Paradise. Each of these two groups will have their own nature and predisposition, and will find it easier to behave in that particular way. A Hadith confirms that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: اعملوا فکل میسر لما خلق لہ، امّا من کان من اھل السّعادۃ فییسّرلعمل السّعادۃ، وامّا من کان من اھل الشّقاوۃ فییسّر لعمل اھل الشّقاوۃ “Perform deeds, for everyone will have the deeds of what he was created for [ Paradise or Hell ] made easy for him. Those people who are the people of happiness, they will have the deeds of the people of happiness made easy for them. And those who are the people of misery, they will have the deeds of the people of misery made easy for them.” But both these things are the results of the use of the God-given choice and free will. Therefore, man is rewarded or punished. Thereafter the unfortunate inmates of Hell are warned, thus: [92:8] But the one who is miser and deems himself self-sufficient, [92:9] and rejects the best (religion), [92:10] for him We will facilitate the way to extreme distress. [92:11] And his wealth will not help him when he will fall down (into Hell). وَمَا يُغْنِي عَنْهُ مَالُهُ إِذَا تَرَدَّىٰ (And his wealth will not help him when he will fall down…92:11). The word taradda literally denotes ‘to fall into a pit and perish’. The expression ‘When he fall’ signifies that when Divine decree regarding his destruction comes into operation, nothing – not even his wealth – will save him, whether in grave after his death, or on the Day of Judgment, when he will be falling into the abyss of Hell. [92:12] Of course, it is undertaken by Us to guide, [92:13] and in Our control is the Hereafter and the worldly life. [92:14] So I have warned you of a blazing fire. [92:15] None will enter it but the wretched one لَا يَصْلَاهَا إِلَّا الْأَشْقَى الَّذِي كَذَّبَ وَتَوَلَّىٰ (None will enter it but the wretched one who rejected [the truth] and turned away….92:16). This describes the fire of Hell. It is quite clear that only a kafir will reject Allah and His Messenger. Apparently, it seems that a sinful believer who does not reject the truth will not enter Hell, whereas the Qur’an and Hadith are replete with clear texts that a sinful believer will enter Hell, unless he had repented, or someone interceded for him, or was forgiven out of pure Grace. He will abide in Hell until he has received punishment for the sins he has committed. After paying for his sins, he will be taken out of Hell, and through the blessings of his faith, he will be admitted into Paradise. Apparently, the wordings of the verse are contrary to this interpretation. Therefore, it is necessary that the interpretation of the verse under comment be brought in line with other Qur’anic verses and authentic Ahadith. It’ s plain and simple interpretation would be that this verse refers to entering the Hell for good, which is peculiar to the unbelievers. They will be tortured eternally in the Hell-fire. The sinful believers, on the other hand, will receive punishment for their sins and will eventually – at some time or the other – be taken out of Hell. Other scholars of Tafsir have given some other interpretations too, which can also be appropriate. Tafsir Mazhari has come up with another explanation according to which ‘the wretched one’ and ‘the most God-fearing one’ should not be taken in its general sense. Both words refer particularly to people who lived during the blessed time of the Holy Prophet ﷺ . From amongst them, no Muslim, who lived at that time, will enter Hell through the blessings of the Holy Prophet’s ﷺ company, even though he might have committed some sins incidentally. All of The Blessed Companions will be Saved from the Ordeal of Hell The reason for this is that the Companions rarely ever committed sins. Furthermore, even if they did commit sins, they must have repented by dint of the fear of the Hereafter – as their living conditions indicate . If any of them committed a sin, his good deeds are so many that they can wipe out the sin as the Qur’an says: إِنَّ الْحَسَنَاتِ يُذْهِبْنَ السَّيِّئَاتِ ‘…Surely good deeds erase bad deeds [11:114] ‘ Adopting the company of the Holy Prophet ﷺ is an act that can outweigh all other good deeds. The Holy Prophet ﷺ is reported to have said regarding the righteous members of the community: ھم قوم لا یشقیٰ جلیسھم ولا یخاف انیسھم ‘The one who sits with them is never deprived, and the one who feels happy in their company is never unsuccessful.’ [Sahihain] Obviously, a person who sits in the company of the Holy Prophet ﷺ and is his intimate associate cannot be wretched. Therefore, there are express texts available in the authentic Traditions that all the noble Companions are safe from the punishment of Hell. The Qur’an itself bears testimony that – وَكُلًّا وَعَدَ اللَّـهُ الْحُسْنَىٰ …and to each Allah has promised good [4:95] ‘ Husna in this statement refers to ‘Paradise’. In another verse, the Qur’an says: إِنَّ الَّذِينَ سَبَقَتْ لَهُم مِّنَّا الْحُسْنَىٰ أُولَـٰئِكَ عَنْهَا مُبْعَدُونَ Surely, those for whom the good (news) from Us has come earlier shall be kept far away from it. [21:101] Husna in this statement also refers to ‘Paradise’. The pronoun ‘it’ in the phrase ‘from it’ refers to ‘Hell’, signifying that they will be far away from Hell. A Tradition says that ‘Hell-Fire will not touch him who has seen me’. [Tirmidhi transmitted it from Jabir]. [92:16] who rejected (the truth) and turned away (from it). [92:17] And saved from it will be the most God-fearing one, وَسَيُجَنَّبُهَا الْأَتْقَى الَّذِي يُؤْتِي مَالَهُ يَتَزَكَّىٰ (And saved from it will be the most God-fearing one who gives his wealth [ in charity ] to become purified,….92:17-18). This verse describes the reward of the most God-fearing person, as opposed to the punishment of the most wretched in the preceding verse. The word atqa is the superlative form and signifies a man of taqwa, that is, the most God-fearing person, who spends his wealth in obedience of his Lord in order to purify himself from sins, will be kept far away from the fire of Hell. The wordings of the verse give good news, in general, to anyone who spends in Allah’s cause in a state of faith, but the occasion of revelation indicates that atqa refers to Sayyidna Abu Bakr As-Siddiq ؓ in particular. Ibn Abi Hatim reports from Sayyidna ‘Urwah ؓ that seven Muslims had been enslaved by the Makkan disbelievers. When they became Muslims, they were persecuted in a variety of ways. Sayyidna Abu Bakr ؓ spent a great amount of his money, and purchased them and set them free. Verses [17-21] were revealed on this occasion. [Mazhari] [92:18] who gives his wealth (in charity) to become purified, وَمَا لِأَحَدٍ عِندَهُ مِن نِّعْمَةٍ تُجْزَىٰ (while no one has conferred any favour on him for which he would give a return,…92:19) Sayyidna Abu Bakr ؓ did this great favour by spending abundant wealth. The emancipated slaves had not done him any favour in the past, so that one could say that he was returning their favour. He took this step for one purpose only as the verse says: إِلَّا ابْتِغَاءَ وَجْهِ رَبِّهِ الْأَعْلَىٰ (but [ he gave his wealth in charity ] only to seek the Countenance of his Lord, the Most High….92:20). Mustadrak of Hakim records that it was a usual practice of Sayyidna Abu Bakr that he used to purchase Muslim slaves from the disbelievers and set them free whenever he found them in their bondage. Generally, these people were weak and helpless. Abu Qahafah ؓ ، the father of Abu Bakr ؓ ، said to him: “Since you are emancipating slaves, why do you not set free strong and brave people, so that they may assist you in fighting the enemies and protect you.” He replied: “My purpose of emancipating them is not to expect any benefit in return. My only purpose is to seek the pleasure of Allah.” [Mazhari] وَلَسَوْفَ يَرْضَىٰ (And surely he will soon be happy…92:21). Whoever spends in Allah’s way with pure and good intentions of pleasing Allah, and not for any personal worldly gains, will acquire the pleasure of Allah in the Hereafter by achieving the wonderful and eternal blessings of Paradise. It is confirmed that these verses were revealed about Sayyidna Abu Bakr ؓ . Therefore, this last verse of the Surah is a great and splendid news and honour for him given in this very world by Allah. [92:20] but (he gave his wealth in charity) only to seek the Countenance of his Lord, the Most High. [92:21] And surely he will soon be happy. Al-hamdulillah The Commentary on Surah Al-Lail Ends here
But as for him who is a miser and deems himself self-sufficient, and rejects the truth of the ultimate good, We shall smooth the way to affliction. What will his wealth avail him when he goes down [to his grave]. (Verses 8-11)
He who sacrifices nothing of himself or his wealth, professes that he is in no need of His Lord or His guidance and disbelieves in His message and religion, makes himself vulnerable to evil. For so doing he deserves that everything should be made hard for him. Hence, God makes easy his path to affliction, and withholds from him all kinds of help. God makes every stride he takes really hard, drives him away from the path of right guidance, and leaves him to traverse the valleys of misery, although he may imagine himself to be taking the road to success. How greatly mistaken he is! He loses balance: thus he tries to avoid falling only to go down heavily, and finds himself further away from the path set by God, deprived of His pleasure. When he eventually goes down to his grave, he can make no use of the wealth he has hoarded. It is that very wealth that has caused him to imagine himself in no need of God or His guidance. “What will his wealth avail him when he goes down [to his grave].” (Verse 11) Facilitating evil and sin is the same as facilitating the way to affliction, even though the sinful may be successful and prosperous in this life. For is there any affliction worse than hell? Indeed, hell is affliction itself?Thus the first part of the surah ends having made clear that there are only two ways for all mankind at all times and in all places. All humanity forms into two parties, under two headings, however numerous their colours and forms may be. And Different Ends
The second part states the fate of each group. It emphasizes firstly that the end and reward of each group is fair and inevitable, for guidance has been provided and warnings have been issued: “It is for Us to give guidance, and Ours is the life to come, and this first life. I warn you, therefore, of the raging fire, which none shall have to endure but the most hapless wretch, who denies the truth and turns away. Kept away from it will be him who is God-fearing, who gives away his money to purify himself not in recompense of any favours done him by anyone but only out of a longing for the countenance of his Lord, the Most High. He shall indeed be well pleased.” (Verses 12-21)One aspect of God’s grace and mercy to His servants is that He has taken it upon Himself to provide clear guidance that is readily acceptable to human nature, and to explain it as well through His messages and messengers, and by means of the signs He has provided. Thus, no one has a valid argument for deviation, and no one will suffer injustice: “It is for Us to give guidance.” (Verse 12) Then follows a straightforward statement of the essence of power which has control over man and everything around him, from which he can have no shelter: “and Ours is the life to come, and this first life.” (Verse 13) By way of elaboration on the two facts just mentioned, namely, God’s provision of guidance and that to Him belongs this life and the hereafter, i.e. the realms of action and reward, there is a reminder to us that He has given clear warning to us all: “I warn you, therefore, of the raging fire.” (Verse 14) It is only the most wretched of mankind who are thrown in this fire. Indeed there is no wretchedness worse than suffering in hell: “None shall have to endure [id but the most hapless wretch.” (Verse 15) We then have a definition of such a wretched person. It is he “who denies the truth and turns away.” (Verse 16) He denies this message and turns away from divine guidance. He does not answer his Lord’s beckoning so that He may guide him as He has promised any who come towards Him with an open mind. “Kept away from it will be him who is God-fearing.” (Verse 17) A person who fears God will be the happiest, in contrast to the most hapless wretch. The surah similarly gives a definition of such a person. He is the one “who gives away his money to purify himself” (Verse 18) He has no vain motive or need to satisfy any snobbery. He spends it voluntarily not out of any indebtedness, seeking gratitude from no one. His only objective is the pleasure of his Lord, the Most Exalted: “Not in recompense of any favours done him by anyone but only out of a longing for the countenance of his Lord, the Most High.” (Verses 19-20) What can the righteous person expect in return for spending his money in selfpurification, and for seeking the pleasure of his Lord? The reward which the Qur’ān states is indeed surprising, and very unfamiliar: “He shall indeed be well pleased.” (Verse 21) It is the pleasure that fills the believer’s heart and soul, animates everything in his life, and radiates to all around him. What a reward, and what grace! “He shall indeed be well pleased.” He will be satisfied with his religion, his Lord and his destiny. He will be content with whatever befalls him of comfort or discomfort, and whether he is poor or wealthy. He will be free of anxiety and hard feelings. He does not worry about his burden being too heavy or his goal being too far. This satisfaction is in itself a reward, great beyond description. Only the person who sacrifices himself and his wealth for it and who seeks to purify himself and to win God’s pleasure deserves this reward. It is God alone who can pour such a reward into those hearts which submit to Him with all sincerity and pure devotion. Having paid the price, the believer “shall indeed be well pleased.” At this point, the reward comes as a surprise, but it is a surprise awaited by the one who attains the standard of the righteous, whose main qualifications are spending for self-purification and seeking God’s pleasure. Such a person will be well pleased and well satisfied.
Surah Lail Tafseer By Abul A’la MaududiThe Surah takes its name from the word wal-lail with which it opens.
Period of Revelation
Its subject matter so closely resembles that of Surah Ash-Shams that each Surah seems to be an explanation of the other. It is one and the same thing which has been explained in Surah Ash-Shams in one way and in this Surah in another. This indicates that both these Surahs were sent down in about the same period.
Theme and Subject Matter
Its theme is to distinguish between the two different ways of life and to explain the contrast between their ultimate ends and results. In view of the subject matter this Surah consists of two parts, the first part consisting of vv. 1-11 and the second of vv. 12-21.
In the first part, at the outset it has been pointed out that the strivings and doings that the individuals, nations and groups of mankind are engaged in in the world, are, in respect of their moral nature, as divergent as the day is from the night, and the male from the female. After this, according to the general style of the brief Surahs of the Quran, three moral characteristics of one kind and three moral characteristics of the other kind have been presented as an illustration from among a vast collection of the strivings and activities of man, from which every man can judge which style of life is represented by one kind of the characteristics and which style of life by the other kind. Both these styles have been described in such brief, elegant. and pithy sentences that they move the heart and go down into memory as soon as one hears them. Characteristics of the first kind are that one should spend one’s wealth, adopt God-consciousness and piety, and acknowledge the good as good. The second kind of the characteristics are that one should be miserly, should least care for God’s pleasure and His displeasure, and should repudiate what is good and right. Then it has been stated that these two modes of action which are clearly divergent, cannot be equal and alike in respect of their results. But, just as they are divergent in their nature, so they are divergent in their results. The person (or group of persons) who adopts the first mode of action, Allah will make easy for him the correct way of life, so much so that doing good will become easy for him and doing evil difficult. On the contrary, he who adopts the second mode of life, Allah will make easy for him the difficult and hard way of life, so much so that doing evil will become easy for him and doing good difficult. This passage has been concluded with a most effective and touching sentence, saying: “This worldly wealth for the sake of which man is even prepared to risk his life will not go down with him into the grave; therefore, what will it avail him after death?”
In the second part also three truths have been stated equally briefly. First, that Allah has not left man uninformed in the examination hall of the world, but He has taken on Himself the responsibility to tell him which one is the straight and right way out of the different ways of life. Here, there was no need to point out that by sending His Messenger and His Book He has fulfilled His this responsibility, for both the Messenger and the Book were present to afford the guidance. Second, that the Master of both the world and the Hereafter is Allah alone. If you seek the world, it is He Who will give it, and if you seek the Hereafter, again it is He Who will give it. Now, it is for you to decide what you should seek from Him. The third truth that has been stated is that the wretched one who rejects the good, which is being presented through the Messenger and the Book, and turns away from it, will have a blazing fire ready for him. As for the God fearing person who spends his wealth in a good cause, without any selfish motive, only for the sake of winning his Lord’s good pleasure, his Lord will be pleased with him and will bless him with so much that he will be well pleased with Him.
This is that for which an oath has been sworn by the night and the day, and the creation of the male and the female. It means to say: Just as the night and the day, and the male and the female, are different from each other, and their effects and results are mutually contradictory, so are the aims and objects for which men are endeavoring and struggling, different in their nature and contradictory with regard to their results. In the following verses, it has been told that all these divided endeavors are divided into two main kinds.2. This is the first kind of endeavors, which includes three things, and a little consideration shows that they comprehend all virtues: (1) That Man should refrain from wealth-worship, but should spend whatever Allah has given him generously in rendering Allah’s and His servants’ rights, for good works and for helping others; (2) that he should fear God and refrain from things which cause His displeasure in his moral, social, economic and other dealings with the people; (3) that he should believe in goodness. Goodness is a comprehensive word, which includes goodness of belief, morals and acts. Goodness of belief means that one should give up polytheism; atheism, and disbelief, and affirm faith in Tauhid, the Hereafter, and Prophethood. Affirming belief in goodness of morals and acts is that one should not be doing good and right merely unconsciously, outside a definite system, but one should acknowledge as right and sound the system of goodness which God has sent, which combines every kind of goodness in all its forms and aspects into a system comprehensively called the Divine Shari’ah. 3. This is the result of the first kind of endeavoring and struggling. The easy way implies the way which is in accordance with human nature, which is in accordance with the will of the Creator, Who has created man and the whole _ universe. It is a way in which man has not to fight his conscience, in which he does not have to force his faculties of mind and energies of body into doing works for which they are not given but to do things for which they have actually been given him. It is a way in which man has not to experience war, resistance and conflict on every side, which he has to experience in a life full of sin, but a human society in which at every step he experiences peace and concord, appreciation and honor. Obviously, the person who spends his wealth for public welfare, treats every other person kindly and well, whose life is free from crime, sin and immorality, who is righteous and fair in his dealings, who neither cheats others nor proves false in his promises, from whom no one apprehends dishonesty, injustice and excess, and with whose character no one finds any fault, will in any case be honored and respected in any society, however, corrupt and depraved it may be. Hearts will be attracted towards him in esteem and regard; his own heart and conscience will be satisfied, and he will attain to dignity in society which no immoral person can ever attain. This same thing has been expressed in Surah AnNahl, thus: “Whoever does righteous deeds whether male or female, provided that he is a believer, We will surely grant him to live a pure life in this world (v. 97)”, and in Surah Maryam, thus “The Merciful ,will fill with love the hearts of those who believe and do righteous deeds (v. 86). This then is the way in which there is nothing but joy and tranquility for man, for the world till the Hereafter. Its results are not transient and temporary but eternal and everlasting. Concerning this Allah says “We shall facilitate for him the easy way.” It means to say “When after affirming goodness he decides that this way alone suits him, and the evil way does not suit him, and when by making sacrifices and adopting the life of -taqwa practically he proves that he is true in his affirmation, Allah will make easy for him to walk this way. Then, to commit evil will become difficult for him, and to do good easy. When unlawful wealth comes before him, he will not regard it as a good bargain, but consider it a hot piece of burning coal, which he cannot hold in his hand. When opportunities for sin appear before him, he will not rush to seize them as opportunities for pleasure and enjoyment, but will look upon them as gates to Hell and will flee them. The Prayer will not be hard for him, and hem will have no internal peace until he has performed it at its appointed time. He will not feel hurt when paying the zakat, but will regard his wealth as impure until he has paid out the Zakat from it. In short, at every step, Allah will favor him with His grace and help him to follow this way; conditions will be made favorable for him and he will be helped out of every difficulty. Now, the question arises that in Surah Al-Baled above this very way has been called an uphill road, and hire it has been described as an easy way How can the two things be reconciled? The answer is that before a man has adopted this way, it appears to be a steep, uphill road, for ascending which he has to fight his desires, his materialistic members of the family, his relatives, his friends and those with whom he has social and other dealings, and above all Satan, for each one of them obstructs his way, and makes it seem dreadful. But after man has affirmed goodness and resolved to follow this way, and giving away his wealth in the cause of God and adopting the way of taqwa, has practically strengthened his resolve, ascending the steep road becomes easy and slipping into the abyss of moral depravities becomes difficult for him. 4. This is the second kind of human endeavoring, which in every part of it is different from the corresponding part of the first kind. Niggardliness (bukhl) is not merely the niggardliness because of which people generally regard a person as niggardly if he hoards money: neither spends it on himself nor on his children, but bukhl here implies to refrain from spending in the cause of Allah and public welfare. According to this, niggardly is every person who spends generously, rather squanders money, on his self, for his own ease and comfort, interests and enjoyments, but, as. for a good cause, spends nothing, or, if at all he spends anything, ii is for display, or to win a reputation and name, or to have access to officers, or to obtain some benefit and gain. Independence of God implies that one should make worldly, material benefits only the object of all one’s endeavors and strivings and being independent of God should least care to see what pleases Him and what displeases Him. As for belying goodness, it is in sharp contrast to believing in goodness in every detail, therefore, it need not be explained here as it has already been explained above. 5. This way has been called the hard way, for although the one who follows it, does so for the sake of material benefits, worldly enjoyments and superficial successes, yet while following it he is always at war with his nature his conscience, the laws made by the Creator of the universe and the society in Which he lives. When he transgresses all moral limits of truth, honesty, nobility, purity and chastity and endeavors to satisfy his interests and desires in every way, when the people feel harmed by him rather than benefiting from him, and when he encroaches upon the rights of others and violates people’s honor, he feels disgraced in his own eyes and has to clash at every step with the society in which he lives. If he is weak, he has to suffer every kind of punishment on account of his conduct, and if he is wealthy, strong and influential, the world may lie low before him, but no one cherishes any good wishes, any feeling of honor and love for him; so much so that even his associates and companions regard him as a wicked man. And this thing is not only restricted to individuals, even when a strong and powerful nation transgresses the bounds of morality and adopts an immoral conduct, in arrogance of pride and wealth, it earns on the one hand, the enmity of the outside world: on the other, its own society falls a victim to all sorts of crime, prevalence of suicide, intoxication, venereal diseases, destruction of family life, waywardness of the new generation, class conflict and ever-increasing injustice and tyranny. So much so that when it falls from its position of prestige, it leaves nothing behind except curses and condemnation for itself in the history of the world. As for saying that “We shall facilitate for him the hard ways”, it means: He will be deprived of the grace to follow the way of good, gates of evil will be opened up for him, means and resources for the same will be provided for him, doing evil will become easy, and doing good will become toilsome and risky for him. This same theme has been expressed at another place in the Qur’an, thus: “So whomever Allah wills to guide aright, He makes his breast wide open to Islam, and whomever He wills to let go astray, he makes his breast narrow and squeezes it so tightly that ( at the very idea of Islam) he begins to feel as though his soul were climbing up towards the sky.” (Al-An`am :125) . At another place it has been said: “No doubt, salat is a hard task but not for the obedient servants.” (Al Baqarah: 46). And about the hypocrites it has been said: “When they come to offer the salat, they come reluctantly and they expend in the way of Allah with unwilling hearts.” (At-Taubah: 54), and that: “There are such among them, who regard what they expend in the way of Allah as a penalty.” (At-Taubah: 98). 6. In other words it means that he has to die one day and leave behind in the world whatever he had amassed for his ease and enjoyment. If he did not earn and send forward something for the Hereafter, what would this wealth avail him? He will not take his palatial residence, his majestic conveyance, his property and wealth into the grave. 7. That is, Allah as the Creator of man has on the basis of His wisdom, His justice and His mercy, taken of Himself the responsibility not to leave him uninformed in the world, but to tell him what is the right way and what are the wrong ways, what is good and what is evil , what is lawful and what is unlawful, what attitude and conduct will make him an obedient servant and what attitude and conduct will make him a disobedient servant. This same thing has been expressed in Surah An-Nahl; thus: “Allah has taken upon Himself to show the Right Way, when there are also crooked ways.” (v.9) (For explanation, See E.N. 9 of AnNahl). 8. This statement has several meanings and all are correct: (1)”That from the world till the Hereafter, you are nowhere beyond Our grasp, for Ours are both this and the next world;” (2) “that both this world and the Hereafter are in any case under Our sovereignty, whether you follow the way shown by Us or not. If you adopt error, you will not harm Us but only yourselves; and if you adopt the right way, you will not do any good to Us, but will do good only to yourselves. Your disobedience cannot cause any decrease in Our sovereignty and your obedience cannot cause any increase in it;” (3) “that We alone are Master of both the worlds. If you seek the world, We alone can grant it; and if you seek the well being of the Hereafter, We alone have the power to bestow it too,” This very theme has been expressed in Al-`Imran: 145: “Whoso makes effort with the intention of the reward of this world, We will reward him in this world, and whoso makes effort with the intention of the reward of the Hereafter, We shall grant him thereof”, and the same has been expressed in Ash-Shu`ara: 20, thus: “Whoever seeks the harvest of the Hereafter, We do increase his harvest; and whoever seeks the harvest of this world, We do give him of it here, but in the Hereafter he will have no share at all.” (For explanation, see E.N. 105 of Al`Imran, E.N. 37 of Ash-Shura). 9. This does not mean that no one will enter the fire except the most wretched one, and no one will be saved from it except the most pious one but the object is to describe the extremely contradictory fate of the two extremely contradictory’ characters. One of them is the person who belies the teachings of Allah and His Messenger and turns away from obedience; the other one is the person, who not only believes but also spends his wealth in the cause of Allah sincerely, without any desire for display and reputation, only in order to be regarded as a pure man in His eyes. Both these types of character were present in the Makkah society of that day. Therefore., without mentioning any name, the people have been told that the man of the first type of character only will burn in the fire of Hell and not the man of the second type of character; the man of the second type of character only will be kept away from it and not the man of the first type of character. 10. This is further explanation of the sincerity of the pious man. He was not indebted in any way to the people on whom he spends his wealth so that he may be doing so in order to repay for favors received, or may be giving gifts and holding banquets to them in order to further benefit from them, but he is helping such people only in order to seek the goodwill of his Lord, the Supreme. He was neither indebted to them before, nor he expects any favors from them in the future. Its best illustration is the act of Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddiq (may Allah bless him), He would purchase and set free the poor slaves and slaves-girls who accepted Islam in Makkah and were cruelly treated by their masters on that account. Ibn Jarir and Ibn ‘Asakir have related, on the authority of Hadrat ‘Amir bin ‘Abdullah bin Zubair, that when Hadrat Abu Bakr’s father saw him spending money to purchase the freedom of the poor slaves and slave-girls, he said to him: “Son, I see that you are getting the weak people free; had you spent this money on the freedom of strong, young men, they would have become your helpers and supporters.” Hadrat Abu Bakr replied: “Dear father, I only seek the reward that is with Allah.” 11. This verse can have two meanings and both are correct: (1) “That Allah certainly will be well pleased with him;” and (2) “that Allah soon will bless this man with so much that he will be happy.”