Surah Asr – Tafseer

عَصۡرِ Asr means time. Asr is also the waqt or Prayer time, when we remain damn busy as compared to all other Prayer times, that turns sunlight down to the end of time (i.e Margrib and Isha waqt). So, this is the time that appears to runs out really fast.

The word Asr also originates from another word اَعۡصِرُ Aseer. This word is used in Surah Yousuf Ayat 36 which means squeezing out juice from – that means this time runs out of our hand in a manner that we can not stop it from flowing out.

وَٱلۡعَصۡرِ Wal Asr means- Allah swears by this time. It means Allah has put strong emphasis on this (Time) and mentions that, Human being is in خُسۡ Khusr. Khusr means immersed in loss and destruction. So, it indicates that we are constantly losing Time and along with it, we are also getting immersed in continual loss getting further and further away from true success.

Another implication of this may be that, Time itself is a constant witness over the Human Beings, which is watching Human beings over generations wasting their time running just towards money, property and power, making these their ultimate goal and losing true success in life. 

However, Allah(swt) mentions that, there is an exception for this continual loss:

He(swt) mentions 4 things – and with the combination of all of them, we can make an exception to the continual loss as mentioned above. If anyone considers anything else like property, power, entertainment etc to be assets of success and runs towards it or even achieves all of these things, he is still in a state of continuous loss. So, the only exceptions are those people who will meet these four conditions and can save themselves from the loss and thus achieving true success:

  1. إِلَّا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُو Illallazina Aamanu – means except those who have Imaan – those who believe in Allah (swt). Even though there are 6 pillars of Imaan but most important of these is the belief in Allah(swt). Another most important part of Iman is that, believing in the day of Judgement – so the poverty, problems and difficulties of this world becomes tolerable if we can concentrate on the fact that there is an hereafter. We can even resist ourselves from unethical income and illicit temptations.

وَ Wa means And – that means only having Imaan will not be sufficient

  1. عَمِلُواْ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَـٰتِ Aamilus swalihaat – means except those who do righteous deeds. They will have Imaan in their Hearts and will do Righteous deeds in their actions. Righteous deeds covers both doing good deeds and abstaining from doing bad deeds. Only Allah(swt) rightly decides what is good and what is bad as our sense of morality changes from person to person, time to time and place to place.

Again وَ Wa or And means just doing good deeds by ownself will not be sufficient.

  1. تَوَاصَوۡاْ بِٱلۡحَقِّ Tawasaubil Haq – means – those who recommend others to do righteous deeds. It is not sufficient to do good deeds alone – we must also invite others towards the truth by encouraging them to be righteous – means to help them grow their Imaan and advise them to do good deeds and forbid bad deeds. We must try to attain collective taqwa or consciousness of Allah and obey Him and avoid doing forbidden things. Failing to go for a collective approach will never inspire others and we will become more selfish – it will also pose the risk that the misguided people can influence to convince the good people to become bad over time.

Again وَ Wa indicates that even all of above are not enough and we need all of these 4 conditions to fall under the exception

  1. تَوَاصَوۡاْ بِٱلصَّبۡرِ Tawasaubis Sabr – means those who enjoin others to sabr. The word sabr is generally translated as Patience but is much more wider in its meaning. It includes forbearance, endurance, steadfastness, perseverance and restraint. Therefore, if someone is tested with any calamity, we should encourage that person to have patience with sabr and expect reward from Allah(swt) by acting righteously, being resistant over forbidden things and actions, and most importantly be able to accept the decree of Allah(swt). We must repeatedly remind one another that everything happens with the permission and decree of Allah(swt). Perseverance means when things get wrong we should still hang on and keep moving, we must inspire each-other to develop this attitude of not getting depressed and frustrated.

There is a very interesting point in this Surah. If a person spends his/her time just doing nothing, not even doing a sin or harming another, he/she is still considered to be in a state of continual loss as well.

Role of Shaitan

The only purpose of life for Shaitan is to mislead more and more people to the ultimate loss by leading them to hellfire. So, in this scenario the Shaitan will do these 4 things:

  • Primarily he tries to destroy our Imaan;
  • If Shaitan fails to corrupt our Iman then he tries to convince us that, as long we have imaan, we have nothing to be worried about. Thus he will resist us from acting righteously;
  • If Shaitan fails in destroying our belief and righteousness, then he tries to make us more selfish to carry on doing good deeds by ourselves and not care to convince, encourage and support other people;
  • When Shaitan fails in all of the above attempts, then finally he tries to waste our time. He will then just want us to spend our time simply by chilling out and doing nothing. Shaitan will whisper in our minds that: “at least I am not doing something wrong”. Another trap of Shaitan is to make us neglect the value of time, but this Surah reminds us to realize its importance.

So, at first Shaitan tries to destroy our Imaan and Amal and then he tries to prevent the message of the truth from getting spread and also try to prevent us from supporting one another to stick to the path of the truth. If he fails on all of his attempts, he finally tries to kill our valuable time.

Example Scenario

This surah also creates an illusion of a situation. Consider that, we are sleeping in a huge ship. One after another, we are being awakened randomly. Our entire memories are erased so we don’t know how and why we are inside this ship. You came to find out that the ship is actually drowning and it will explode once it reaches the end of the ocean and we don’t have much time left to survive. You can only survive, if you can get into a safe chamber of this ship.

All of the other members of this ship have already started chillin over time, thinking that nothing is going to happen to them and that there is no true purpose of getting into this ship – so they have started partying – living the best time to get the most enjoyment out of it.

On the other hand, you have figured out that there is a safe chamber, which is far away from the party or disco room and can only be accessed with the below conditions:

  1. Leave the party and rush into there
  2. Have to work hard to reach it
  3. Need multiple fingerprints to open the gate – so you have to take more people with you over there, in order to save yourself

So, you need to encourage others to leave their party and work hard to reach out to this safe room and collectively have access to this room using multiple fingerprints, which is the only shelter. You will also have to make your followers believe that they have to work hard with patience and can party later after getting saved in the safe room. They will never follow you if you can’t convince them and make them believe the severity of the issue.