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Lesson from Surah Al Asr

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Lesson from Surah Al-Asr – Nouman Ali Khan
This short surah teaches humanity four of the most important values we need to instill to improve ourselves: belief, action, truth, and steadfastness.
This Surah is one of the earliest surahs of the Quran to be revealed. It was revealed to Prophet Muhammad S.A.W in the earliest period of his prophethood in Makkah. It is also one of the shortest surahs of the Glorious Qur’an as it has only three verses, the first of which is comprised of only one word “Wal-Asr”. However, it is one of the most comprehensive surahs of the Glorious Qur’an.
The Quran is like a tree, and this short surah is its seed. Like a seed that contains the total potentiality of a whole tree, Surah Al-Asr contains the essence of the Quran. This is why there are some reports that states the Companions of Prophet Muhammad would never part without reciting the Surah Al-Asr to each other.
The wording of this surah is very simple and easy to understand. The Glorious Qur’an is the masterpiece of Arabic literature and can be understood easily by all. This short surah is the best example of the most lucid surahs of the Holy Qur’an. Though it is very complete and all-embracing, not a single high-sounding or elusive word has been used in it. Its words are familiar even to those who do not know Arabic.
A simple translation of the surah is as follows:
1. By Time,
2. Verily all human beings are in loss,
3. Except those who have iman and have per­formed Righteous deeds, and have emphasized to each other the teaching of ‘Truth’ and (the value of) ‘Patience’ (perseverance and constancy).
The three verses in this surah form one complete sen­tence. The first verse “Wal-Asr” is an oath. So Allah is swearing by time. Allah can swear by anything He wants, as He can use anything to be His witness. However, we as Muslims, are not allowed to swear by anything or anyone except by Allaah, His Names or His Attributes. The second verse describes a general rule. That human are in a state of loss. The oath is a way for Allah to emphasize that mankind is in a state of loss unless they possess the four qualities that are later mentioned in the surah.
The third verse describes an exception from that general rule which is those that have iman. Iman consists of five parts, that is; statement of the heart, statement of the tongue, action of the heart, action of the tongue, action of the limbs.
Combined together, all the three verses constitute a single statement. Although this Surah consists of very few words, its meaning is so vast that the great Islamic scholar Ash-Shafi’i said: “If the people were to ponder on this Surah, it would be sufficient for them.” [Tafsir Ibn Kathir]

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