Tafsir of Surah al-‘Asr: Imam al-Sa’di

In the 103rd chapter of the Qur’an, Allah says:

وَالْعَصْرِ‌ * إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ‌ * إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ

By time, * Indeed, mankind is in loss, * Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience. [103:1-3]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote the following commentary on this surah in his well-known book of tafsir:

أقسم تعالى بالعصر، الذي هو الليل والنهار، محل أفعال العباد وأعمالهم . ـ

Allah swears by al-‘Asr [time], which is the night and the day; the location of the slaves’ actions and deeds.

أن كل إنسان خاسر، والخاسر ضد الرابح. والخسار مراتب متعددة متفاوتة: قد يكون خسارًا مطلقًا، كحال من خسر الدنيا والآخرة، وفاته النعيم، واستحق الجحيم ، وقد يكون خاسرًا من بعض الوجوه دون بعض .  ولهذا عمم الله الخسار لكل إنسان، إلا من اتصف بأربع صفات: ـ

He swears that every person is in a state of loss, and being in a state of loss is the opposite of being successful. Those in a state of loss fall into many different levels of loss. It could be that one is in a state of absolute loss, such as the condition of the one who loses both this worldly life and the hereafter and who misses out on the delight of paradise and who deserves the hell-fire. Or, it could be that one is in a state of loss in some ways but not in others.

And so, for this reason, Allah extended the label of being in a state of loss to every single person, except for those who are characterized by these four attributes:

الإيمان بما أمر الله بالإيمان به، ولا يكون الإيمان بدون العلم، فهو فرع عنه لا يتم إلا به. ـ
والعمل الصالح، وهذا شامل لأفعال الخير كلها، الظاهرة والباطنة، المتعلقة بحق الله وحق عباده ، الواجبة والمستحبة. ـ
والتواصي بالحق، الذي هو الإيمان والعمل الصالح، أي: يوصي بعضهم بعضًا بذلك، ويحثه عليه، ويرغبه فيه. ـ
والتواصي بالصبر على طاعة الله، وعن معصية الله، وعلى أقدار الله المؤلمة. ـ

  1. al-Eemaan in what Allah has commanded us to have al-eemaan in. And there is no eemaan without knowledge, for eemaan emanates from knowledge and it is not completed in any other way than by it.
  2. Righteous good deeds, and this encompasses all good actions, both outwardly and inwardly, both those related to the rights of Allah and to the rights of His slaves, both those which are obligatory and those which are recommended.
  3. Mutual advising towards al-haqq, which is al-eemaan and righteous good deeds. Meaning, one of them advises another with that, encourages him in it and incites him towards it.
  4. Mutual advising to have al-sabr (steadfast patience) in performing obedience to Allah, and against committing disobedience to Allah, and in the face of the painful divinely decreed occurrences of Allah.

فبالأمرين الأولين، يكمل الإنسان نفسه، وبالأمرين الأخيرين يكمل غيره، وبتكميل الأمور الأربعة، يكون الإنسان قد سلم من الخسار، وفاز بالربح [العظيم]. ـ

So with these first two affairs, a person perfects himself, and with the latter two affairs he perfects those other than himself. And through the complete fulfillment of these four affairs, a person has protected himself from being in a state of loss, and has achieved a great gain.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 1103]

See also: The Three Categories of Tawheed according to the Qur’an: Imam al-Shinqitee

See also: I will mislead them all, except Your chosen servants: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: “Beautified for people is the love of what they desire”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: “And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: Tafsir of Surah al-Fatihah: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: Idle Wishing – Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: Exerting Oneself and Galvanizing Others – the Best of Conditions: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: Khutbah at the Close of the Year: Imam al-Sa’di

15 thoughts on “Tafsir of Surah al-‘Asr: Imam al-Sa’di

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