Ibn al-Qayyim on Surah al-‘Asr

In his book detailing the oaths made in the Qur’an, ibn al-Qayyim wrote the following regarding surah al-‘Asr:

ومن ذلك اقسامه ( بالعصر ) على حال الإنسان في الآخرة هذه السورة على غاية اختصارها لها شأن عظيم حتى قال الشافعي رحمه الله : لو فكر الناس كلهم فيها لكفتهم

Another example of Allah’s oaths is that He swears by al-‘Asr about the condition of mankind in the hereafter. Despite its brevity, the contents of this surah hold something of tremendous value, so much so that al-Shafi’ee said, “If all of mankind were to reflect on this it would be sufficient for them.”

والعصر المقسم به قيل : هو الوقت الذي يلي المغرب من النهار وقيل : هو آخر ساعة من ساعاته وقيل : المراد صلاة العصر وأكثر المفسرين على أنه الدهر وهذا هو الراجح وتسمية الدهر عصرا أمر معروف في لغتهم قال : ( ولن يلبث العصران يوم وليلة إذا طلبا أن يدركا ما تيمما ) ويوم وليلة بدل من العصران

The ‘Asr that Allah is swearing by here has been said to mean several things:

  • that it is the time of day right before dusk
  • that it is the last part of the day
  • that it is referring to the ‘Asr prayer

But most of the mufassiroon hold that it is referring to time itself, and this is the strongest position. Using the word “‘Asr” to refer to time is something well-known in the Arabic language, as in this line of poetry:

ولن يلبث العصران يوم وليلة ***** إذا طلبا أن يدركا ما تيمما

The two ‘Asrs – day and night – will not persist
if they both seek to attain their goals

and here the words “day and night” are used in place of the two ‘Asrs.

 فأقسم سبحانه بالعصر لمكان العبرة والآية فيه فإن مرور الليل والنهار على تقدير قدرة العزيز العليم منتظم لمصالح العالم على اكمل ترتيب ونظام وتعاقبهما واعتدالهما تارة وأخذ أحدهما من صاحبه تارة واختلافهما في الضوء والظلام والحر والبرد وانتشار الحيوان وسكونه وانقسام العصر إلى القرون والسنين والأشهر والأيام والساعات وما دونها – آية من آيات الرب تعالى وبرهان من براهين قدرته وحكمته

Allah is swearing by al-‘Asr because of its admonishing effect and the amazing features it contains. The days and nights go by in the determined measurements that Allah – the All-Powerful, the All-Wise – has appointed for them, moving in the most perfectly regulated and organized way, for the benefit and well-being of the universe, with each perfectly following the other. Sometimes the day and the night are even in length, while sometime one of them takes from the other. The days and the nights differ in their light and darkness, in their heat and cold, and in the way that the living beings go about their activities or rest. And time can be divided into eras, years, months, days, hours, and so on – which is itself one of the miracles of our Lord and a proof of His might and wisdom. Continue reading

al-Tawheed in Surah al-Burooj: ibn al-Qayyim

In part of his work dedicated to discussing the oaths is the Qur’an, ibn al-Qayyim wrote the highlighted the following point in part of his treatment of surah al-Burooj:

وقد اشتملت هذه السورة على اختصارها من التوحيد

Despite its short size, this surah – surah a-Burooj (85)contains numerous proofs for al-Tawheed:

على وصفه سبحانه بالعزة المتضمنة للقدرة والقوة وعدم النظير

It characterizes Allah as Mighty, a term which encompasses complete ability, power and the absence of any peer. [see 85:8]

والحمد المتضمن لصفات الكمال والتنزيه عن أضدادها مع محبته وإلهيته

It describes Him as being Praiseworthy, which entails attributes of completion and negates any opposite deficient qualities. This also points to His qualities of love and His divine nature. [see 85:8]

وملكه السموات والأرض المتضمن لكمال غناه وسعة ملكه

It mentions His ownership of the heavens and the earth, which indicates a complete lack of need for anyone or anything else, as well as pointing to the expansiveness of His ownership. [see 85:9] Continue reading