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Surah ad-Duha (No. 93: 'The Morning Brightness')

Verses 1-5

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the Name of Allah, the All-beneficent, the All-merciful.

وَالضُّحَىٰ

By the morning brightness, (93:1).

وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا سَجَىٰ

by the night when it is calm! (93:2).

مَا وَدَّعَكَ رَبُّكَ وَمَا قَلَىٰ

Your Lord has neither forsaken you nor is He displeased with you, (93:3).

وَلَلْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لَكَ مِنَ الْأُولَىٰ

and the Hereafter shall be better for you than the world. (93:4).

وَلَسَوْفَ يُعْطِيكَ رَبُّكَ فَتَرْضَىٰ

Soon your Lord will give you [that with which] you will he pleased. (93:5).

1. Oaths

A significant portion of the oaths contained in the Qur'an are concerned with the times of day: Daybreak (fajr),1 dawn (subh),2 morning, afternoon ('asr)3, and night (layl).4 More still invoke the Sun and the Moon, which are the symbols of night and day. All of these serve to demonstrate the importance of time:

a. From one perspective, time is the receptacle, in which the deeds that grow a person's wellbeing for the Hereafter are performed. Thus, the more time a person has and the longer he lives, the more magnificent his Hereafter becomes.

b. From another viewpoint, the cycle of night and day, which gives form to time drives a person toward the magnificence of the force that governs time; their continuous cycle draws attention to the Master.

2. Out Of The Darkness

The oaths contained in the Qur'an are joined to the objects that they are sworn upon to affirm, or else the objects chosen to be sworn upon would be random and haphazard. This surah is no exception; Allah swears by

“ …… the morning brightness', (ad-Duha, 93:1).

which is the time when the day emerges, and

“.... the night when it is calm!” (ad-Duha, 93:2).

which is the time darkness covers the land. In these oaths there is a subtle allusion to the fact that the force that alternates night and day is the same force that alternates people's states and conditions. After all, is not the One who brings the land out of the night's darkness into the day’s brightness also, able to transform the heart of His chosen servant, Muhammad (S), from a state of fear because he has not received any revelation from Him ('forsaken you') into the realm of pleasing gifts ('will give you')? It is as though the brightness of the day has come after the darkness of the night!

And is He not also, able to bring the hearts of all His servants out of the darkness of turning away (idhar) from Him to the light of turning toward Him (iqbal)? The same hand that moves the heavens also, moves the hearts! And anyone with a heart or who is willing to listen can understand this and witness it.

3. Out Of The Darkness

The contrast between night and day is used here for a profound reason, namely that Allah is the one who made the night for rest and the day for livelihood, and He also, made the night calm in order that man could rest therein, while making the morning brightness the time when things begin to move and come out from this rest that the night produced.

How contradictory it is, then, when these days we see that people invert this wisdom and take the night as a time for activity and turmoil and the day as a time for sleep and rest, contrary to what the Lord intended, as He said:

“and make your sleep for rest” (an-Naba', 78:9).

and

'and make the day for livelihood.” (an-Naba', 78:11).

4. “Forsaken You”

Concerning the verse

“Your Lord has neither forsaken you nor is He displeased with you” (ad-Duha, 93:3).

scholars have taken two views:

a. When the Prophet (S) did not receive any revelation for a while, this delay made him fear that his Lord had turned away from him or become displeased, and this caused him to devote himself even more to his Lord.

b. That this was the claim of his enemies, who wasted no opportunity to revile the Prophet (S), so, these verses came to reassure his noble heart. The extent of Allah's affection for His chosen prophet is plain to see when we consider that the singular 'you' (anta or ka) is repeated close to fifteen times in this surah, even though the revelation had only been absent - according to the differing accounts - for between two nights and four days.

5. Break In Revelation

This surah, even assuming that it is possible for Allah forsaking or being displeased with His prophet, was revealed after a gap in revelation that distressed the heart of the Prophet Muhammad (S), and also, the verse:

“Had he faked any sayings in Our name...” (al-Haqqah, 69:44).

There is a multitude of verses praising the prophets - especially those with followers at the time of our Prophet (S), such as Jesus (‘a) and Moses (‘a), and countless other indications in the Qur'an which make it clear to all - except perhaps the most obstinate of disbelievers - that the Qur'an is a revelation from Allah. Had the Prophet (S) the capacity to produce anything like the Qur’an’s contents, it would be inconceivable that he should be distressed by any gap in revelation if it was in anyone's hand save Allah's, just as it would be far-fetched to praise past generations if this was not a divine call!

6. Gap In Revelation

Allah guaranteed His prophet that the revelation would continue, as this is something necessary for the divine mission especially when there was something to occasion revelation or a question from someone. Yet despite that, Allah stopped sending revelation to His prophet (S) to the extent that his enemies began to mock him. Even the Prophet (S) himself became perplexed according to whichever interpretation we choose. This shows that this special kindness (lutf), like all other divine gifts, was in the hands of the Lord and He could bestow it whenever He willed.

It has been narrated that the Prophet (S) said to Gabriel (‘a): 'You kept away until I missed you.' Gabriel (‘a) said: 'I missed you more desperately, but I am a servant at His bidding and I cannot descend save by your Lord's command!'5 That verses come down is thus not indicative of Allah’s pleasure, and that they are not withheld is not because of His displeasure. That is why the believer must always act in a manner that is appropriate to the guise of servitude (‘ubudiyyah), and leaves the question of divine effusions, their frequency, quantity and form to the One who bestows all graces.

7. Guiding Others

Those who call others towards Allah must not desire to succeed in their preaching more than their Lord desires for them to! This is because there is a danger that their determination to have gain the results may cause their ego to be attached to this, meaning that their desire to guide others will turn into a desire to validate and glorify themselves, though this may happen in the guise of godliness.

Hence Allah does not disdain stopping the revelation to His Prophet (S), whatever the consequences, even if people begin to claim that Allah is displeased with him and has forsaken him, for Allah is He who:

“had your Lord wished, all those who are on earth would have believed.” (Yunus, 10:99).

But He did not do this, in order to test them:

“that He may test which of you is best in conduct.” (Hud, 11:7).

So, when conducting oneself in the presence of Divine Lordship, the eye of the preacher must be fixed on the call itself and not on those to whom he preaches, for Allah tells His Prophet (S), despite all the miracles and amazing qualities He endowed him with,

“You cannot guide whomever you wish.” (al-Qasas, 28:56).

8. Intercession

The abode of this world is far too small for Allah to make visible all the honours He has bestowed upon His faithful servants because it cannot possibly contain them, not because they are lacking. And that is why Allah says:

“and the Hereafter shall be better for you than the world.” (ad-Duha, 93:4).

However, Allah was not stingy with His Prophet in this world; he granted him all manner of honours: He taught him what he knew not, Allah's grace upon him was magnificent, and He raised up his remembrance ... but He saved His greatest gifts for the Day of Resurrection, and that is what will truly please him. About these gifts, we have traditions from the Prophet’s (S) Household (‘a), including one in which Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is narrated to have said: 'My grandfather's being pleased is that not a single monotheist will enter Hellfire.'6 From Imam al-Baqir (‘a) it is narrated:

'The People of the Qur'an say: 'The verse that gives the most hope is Allah's saying:

“Say 'O My servants who have committed excesses against their own souls, do not despair of the mercy of Allah." (az-Zumar, 39:53).

But we, the People of the House say: 'The verse that gives the most hope is Allah's saying:

“Soon your Lord will give you (that with which] you will be pleased.” (ad-Duha, 93:5).

For by Allah, this is the power of intercession (shafa'ah), which he will be granted for the people of la ilaha ill al/ah until he says: 'I am pleased."7

9. The Prophet’s Ummah

It is truly striking that the divine gift that pleases the Prophet (S) is not something for himself, but something for his ummah, namely that his intercession will extend to even those among them with major sins! This contains a lesson for all the faithful, namely that they should place their concern in the wellbeing of the ummah, because seeking personal advantage is a type of subtle idolatry (shirk khafi), from which the most elect worshippers purify themselves. However, seeking advantages for the human race as a whole is not a form of idolatry; it is actually a corollary of Tawhid and divine love because it flows from the fact that the servant loves to see Allah's authority extended over the earth.

10. Mercy

If the Prophet's (S) eagerness for his ummah was at such a level that he would not be satisfied without the mandate of intercession, while he endured the persecution of his enemies throughout his mission, unceasing in his struggle, then what about Allah's overflowing mercy from which is drawn not only the Prophet's (S) mercy, but all the mercy in existence? And the magnitude of this mercy is so, great that we are told when it spreads out in the Hereafter, it will reach the throat of Iblis; so, what a mercy this is!

11. Intercession

It is possible to establish the mandate of intercession on the basis of these verses without the need for any recourse to narrations. This is because Allah commanded His Prophet (S) to seek forgiveness in this world, saying:

“and plead forgiveness for your sin and for the believers, men and women.” (Muhammad, 47:19).

Pleading forgiveness (istighfar) means asking for Allah's pardon, and there is no doubt that if someone asks for something they will not be satisfied with a rejection. They will only be satisfied by the fulfillment of their request. So, when it is established that the only thing that will please the Prophet (S) is the granting of his request, and from another angle that Allah will give him whatever it is that will please him, we can conclude that this verse establishes his authority of intercession for the sinners, for the intercession is nothing other than Allah granting the request of the one who intercedes.

12. What Pleases The Prophet (S)

It should be pointed out here that what pleases the Prophet (S) is in accord with what pleases Allah:

a. He was pleased with the qiblah in the direction of Mecca, hence why Allah says of Himself:

“We will surely turn you to a qiblah of your liking.” (al-Baqarah, 2:144).

b. He was pleased with the full authority of intercession, which is why Allah says:

“Soon your Lord will give you that with which you will be pleased.” (ad-Duha, 93:5).

To sum up: When the Prophet (S) is pleased with something, even if this is a state that exists within his own soul, it also, corresponds in the Unseen Realm with that which pleases Allah. And putting the two above verses together clearly shows that Allah desires to please His Prophet (S) in ways that cannot even be conceived of, and this is how a lover customarily treats his beloved; and what a level this is!

Verses 6-11

أَلَمْ يَجِدْكَ يَتِيمًا فَآوَىٰ

Did He not find you an orphan, and shelter you? (93:6).

وَوَجَدَكَ ضَالًّا فَهَدَىٰ

Did He not find you astray, and guide you? (93:7).

وَوَجَدَكَ عَائِلًا فَأَغْنَىٰ

Did He not find you needy, and enrich you? (93:8).

فَأَمَّا الْيَتِيمَ فَلَا تَقْهَرْ

So, as for the orphan, do not tyrannize him; (93:9).

وَأَمَّا السَّائِلَ فَلَا تَنْهَرْ

and as for the beggar, do not drive him away; (93:10).

وَأَمَّا بِنِعْمَةِ رَبِّكَ فَحَدِّثْ

and as for your Lord's blessing, proclaim it! (93:11).

13. Tribulation

When we study the lives of the Prophets (‘a) generally, we see that each one of them was tested with trials and tribulations throughout the different stages of their lives. In fact, Allah burdened them with things that clashed with their duties as Prophets - as a basic category - so, they would experience the pain that others felt and sympathise with them. It has been narrated from Imam al-Sadiq (‘a): 'Allah never sent a prophet without first making him a shepherd of cattle to teach him how to be a shepherd of people.'8

This is in addition to the fact that hardship causes a person to turn towards Allah, and this is why the best people are always tested the most; in fact, it is proportional to their level of faith, like the two sides of a scale. And this offers consolation and healing to the hearts of those suffering in hardship, because if tribulation were not a kindness from Allah, He would have not subjected His greatest prophets to it.

14. Tribulation

There are various types of afflictions that a person experiences in financial form (poverty) or psychological form (like being an orphan). A person thus afflicted could also, suffer inwardly from a lack of self-worth, depression or unhappiness with the state of his life, but some people might have the reason to still feel the pain of one who falls into that condition even after they have left it behind. This is what Allah wanted for His greatest prophets (‘a). It is said that Joseph (‘a) would not eat until he was full so, that he would not forget hunger, and it is obvious that the poverty of our Prophet (S) and his experience of being an orphan both fall into this category.

This means that there is no cause for grief when a believer sometimes experiences a tribulation; perhaps Allah wishes to educate him just as He did for His Prophets (‘a).

15. The Prophet’s Orphanhood

It is said that the Prophet's (S) orphanhood was a blessing for him from certain perspectives, even if it cannot be compared to his other blessings, like being chosen by Allah. The orphanhood was beneficial to him in several ways as follows:

a. Directly experiencing the condition of being an orphan, which equipped him to live with the kind of challenges they face.

b. Being an orphan meant that he learned to rely only on his Lord from a young age; and although he was deprived of the care of his parents, he was compensated for this with the care of the Lord of the Worlds, from whom all the care in existence flows.

c. It also, shows that being an orphan is not a barrier to any kind of advancement, whether in the eyes of the creatures or the eyes of the Creator.

d. Allah wanted no one else to be responsible for his care - even when he was young - save to the extent that was necessary for him to live.

16. Guidance

The Lord of the Worlds demonstrates a special concern for explaining His kindness to His servants and making it apparent to them; in fact, if it were not for this kindness, not a single person in the whole of creation would be pure, as Allah says:

“Were it not for Allah’s grace and His mercy upon you, not one of you would ever be pure.” (an-Nur, 24:21).

And it is in this context that He mentions His care for His beloved chosen prophet, Muhammad (S), saying:

“Did He not find you astray, and guide you?” (ad-Duha, 93:7).

so, even you would not had the blessing of guidance were it not for the care of your Lord. In other words, you were astray, not considering this continuous guidance from your youth, and so, Allah's words apply here:

“You did not know what the Book is, nor what is faith.” (ash-Shura, 42:52).

As does His saying:

“and Indeed, prior to it you were among those who are unaware.” (Yusuf, 12:3).

And so, do the words of Moses (‘a):

“I did that when I was astray.” (ash-Shu'ara', 26:20).

And being astray (dalala) here refers to lacking guidance in the matter of exigency when he killed that Egyptian.

17. Need For Others

Allah was the one who enriched his Prophet through the Mother of the Believers, Khadija (sa), and He was the one who looked after him after He lost his father while he was still in his mother's womb through his grandfather, 'Abd al-Muttalib. And then He later looked after him after he lost his mother at the age of six through his uncle Abu Talib. It is clear that this world operates according to cause and effect; even though Allah is free to do as He likes a person shouldn't think that he would receive their sustenance without effort or relying on someone else.

This shows that there is no sense in offering supplications to be without need towards other people, when what is desired is to be needless towards evil persons! The same applies when it comes to meeting one's needs; or else, why did not Allah bring out all the hidden treasures of the earth for His Prophet (S) instead of the wealth of Khadijah (sa)?

18. Petitioner

In order to follow the Prophet's (S) example properly, one must never refuse a petitioner –

“and as for the beggar, do not drive him away” (ad-Duha, 93:10).

whether they ask for money or knowledge, and whether they are truthful or not. Narrations tell us that we must only respond to petitioners with either a pleasant refusal or giving a little. And the verse indicates that we must not treat the orphan harshly –

“so, as for the orphan, do not tyrannize him” (ad-Duha, 93:9).

and the word ‘tyrannize' (qahr) here alludes to a kind of disdain combined with force; a person who has power over his enemy tyrannizes him. So, kindness to orphans is not restricted to mere material generosity, but also, looking after his psychological and spiritual wellbeing, as the inner hurt he feels cannot be healed with money. It is poignant that the Prophet (S) lived in a state of both neediness and orphanhood, and so, he gave thanks for the care and wealth he received by working to look after others and provide for those in a similar condition.

19. Responding To A Petitioner

One can respond to a petitioner after he has requested something, but honouring the orphan does not come after a request, because of his youth and inexperience, and this is why it has a more powerful effect! Narrations that discuss honouring the orphan are truly amazing; for example, to show the place of someone who honours the orphan in relation to him in Paradise, the Prophet crossed his fingers together.9 And let it be known here that honouring the orphan properly means not waiting for him to ask, because the dignity the petitioner loses by asking is worth more than whatever he asks for would give him; what more when the act of giving is accompanied by reproaches and affronts? It is obvious that what 'Abd al-Muttalib and Abu Talib (a2) undertook with regards to the Prophet is certainly worthy of this great reward, because in doing so, they cared for the greatest man who ever lived without him ever having to ask them. And this is especially true considering the great distress this care caused for the Prophet's uncle, Abu Talib.

It is in this context that we say that Allah is most deserving to be given credit for what this surah describes; it was He who found His servant a lost and needy orphan, and His mere awareness of this was sufficient to enrich, guide and care for him, even if without his ever asking for it.

20. Remembering Blessings

Allah's blessings are proclaimed either:

a. Through speech, by making these blessings clear to people to endear them to the Source of all blessings. It has been narrated that Allah said to Moses (‘a): 'Endear me to my creation, and endear my creation to me.' Moses asked: 'My Lord, how should I do that?' He said: 'Remind them of by blessings and gifts so, that they will love me...' This is because reminding people of this makes them more aware of the blessings and benefits Allah has withdrawn on them for reasons which only He is aware of, as well as to encourage them to remember the blessings. This is because forgetting blessings can sometimes lead people to be upset in times of ill fortune, which brings them dangerously close to ingratitude (kufr). This is in addition to encouraging people to follow the example of the righteous, for it has been narrated from Imam al-Husayn (‘a): 'When you do something good, tell your brothers about it so, they can follow your example.'10

b. Or through action. It has been narrated that the Prophet (S) said: 'Verily when Allah blesses a person, He loves to see the effect of His blessing upon him.'11 For when someone displays this blessing in his soul, it is as though he is saying implicitly: 'Look at what Allah blesses His servants with' - without conceit ('ujub), of course! - and this in turn nurtures devotion, which produces this visible blessing.

But something else, entirely different to the aforementioned meaning, might be intended here, that is to proclaim anything that will bring people closer to Allah. Of course, one must seek help from the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon him in order to achieve that, and two of these blessings must be a receptive heart (sharh al-sadr)12 and beautiful speech (husn al-bayan).

  • 1. Surah al-Fajr:
    'By the daybreak' (89:1).
  • 2. Surah at-Takwir:
    'By the dawn as it breathes' (81:18).
  • 3. Surah al-'Asr:
    'By the afternoon!' (103:1).
  • 4. Surah al-Layl:
    'By the night when it covers' (92:1).
  • 5. Majma' al-Bayan 10/764.
  • 6. Majma' al-Bayan 10/765.
  • 7. Shawahid al-tanzil 2/447.
  • 8. 'Ilal al-Shara'i' 1/32.
  • 9. Majma' al-Bayan 10/740.
  • 10. Mafatih al-Ghayb 31/201.
  • 11. Al-Kafi 13/ 22.
  • 12. Literally the Arabic phrase means ‘open breast’. [Note of Al-Islam].