Surah Fajr Tafsir (Exegesis) by Nouman Ali Khan

What do we learnt from the Previous Surah from before (surah Ghashiyah)?
It is to us they will return, and it is upon us to judge them.
(Ghashiyah 88: 25-26)

The people who get questioned on that Day are destroyed, and only the people who do not have Hisaab/Questioning will be safe.

The one who is given the book in their right hand - the angels will let them pass through without a hard time.

Why did the people of the past take oaths, and why does Allah take Oaths in the Qur'an?
1 - To get attention in speech.
2 - The Object being sworn/oathed by has a relation to the Subject to come.

The oaths in this surah continue with the pattern of previous oaths which show the different signs of Allah's wonders in the sky. (I.e. The stars, the sunrise, the red glow of the sun when it sets, the still night etc.)

Ayah 1:

Transliteration: wal Fajr.
Translation: [I swear] By the break of Day

Fajr - the time when the night has been ripped, and the light begins to come through into the sky.

Fajr (and other similar root words to it) = to tear/rip open something completely.
So the earliest time when the light tears through the darkness of the night - Fajr has begun.
Allah does an oath by this time of the Day.

This is the time of life. Animals and birds start chirping. The world is given life once again after its death.

(Surah Duha - wal layli idha saja - By the Night when it is Saja [still/not moving at all.])
It is only the believer who wakes up willingly by choice at this time to worship Allah, his Master, whereas the disbelievers/sinners remain asleep. And the animals wake up without choice. This makes the believing slave of Allah have a high rank in His sight.

At this time - the hearts are the closest and most in fear in the presence of their Lord. Why?
1 - The slave has woken up for no reason of the world except for Allah's sake.
2 - When Allah swears by the morning - He is swearing by death and life. Because the night
sleep is a sign of death, and the waking up is like the Ressurection after that death.

This is affirmed by the du'a we recite from the Sunnah after waking up; Alhamdulillah aladhee ahyana ba'da ma amaatana wa ilayhin-nushoor.(the praise is for Allah who brought us to life after our death, and to Him is our gathering.)

So waking up is a reminder of the final Ressurection on Judgment Day.
3 - Darkness is removed. Since this surah is a Makki surah (revealed in Makkah when the
Muslims faced hardship). The Fajr morning light is a sign of the upcoming victory of Islam after the hardships (darkness) faced by the Muslims.

Just like the morning light (of Tawheed/monotheism) removes the darkness of shirk (polytheism) and oppression.

This is why Fajr is sworn by.

Ayah 2:


Transliteration: wa layaalin 'ashr
Translation: And I swear by Ten Nights.

[wa layaal IL (alif,lam) 'ashr - and I swear by THE ten nights" is not mentioned.

The lack of 'AL [THE] means its NOT limited to just one set of 10 nights, it could be more than one set of 10 nights. As we will see;
'10 nights' are important to ponder over because; Allah swore by them, and because they are part of the lesson of the Surah.

What are 'Ten nights'? 2 Opinions;
1 - The Last 10 Nights of Ramadan (when fasting takes place.)
2 - The First 10 Nights of Dhul Hijjah (the month in which Hajj takes place).

There other minority opinions (i.e. Some say Muharram) but these are the main two.

(The vast majority of sahaba [Companions of Allah's Messenger],tabi'oon [followers of the
companions] and mufassiroon [exegesists/interpreters of the Qur'an] have held either of the
above 2 opinions.)

The First or Last 10 days of any month are the most visible when you see the shifting of the moon. The major changes are known by looking at the sky, just like you look at the sky for Fajr.
Islahi - changing of the nights shows us the inevitable.

So when you see the Fajr light - you know for sure that the day is going to come. The same way if you see the moon, you know the month is going to go ahead and the moon full.

So if you want to know the victory of Islam coming, just pay attention to the Fajr dawn, and the moon as it becomes full gradually. Because surely, light doesn't come except after the darkest part of the night.

The barakah / blessings are at the highest within these nights, and the rewards are the greatest.

This is why fasting, 'ibaadah (worship), sacrifice [in Dhul Hijjah] etc. Are within these nights.

This surah ends; ya ayatuhan-nafs ul muttma'inna, Irji'ee ilaa Rabiki raadiyatan mardiyatan fadkhulee janatee. (oh soul at rest, come to your Master, pleased and pleased with (by Allah) and enter my Paradise. (Ayah [89]:30) - because this person did good for the pleasure of Allah, causing Allah to be pleased with it, and as a result He entered this person into Paradise.

The Days when entering Paradise is easiest to earn.

Ramadan - Laylat-al-Qadr. - when Revelation (wahy) began. The Qur'an was revealed on this night.

The Messenger of Allah opened/took Makkah on the Day of Hajj in Dhul Hijjah. A sign of the fulfillment of his mission.

So the entire Life of Allah's Messenger is covered within these sets of 10 nights.

The dawn of Islam is near, and that was achieved within the Opening of Makkah in Dhul Hijjah on the day of Hajj.

The Fajr gives life to the dead, a sign of the Day of Ressurection. And what was one of the signs of the Day of Ressurection? The coming of Allah's Messenger Muhammad (sal Allah alaihi wasalam).

So the Fajr mentioned in the 1st ayah - a reminder of the Ressurection Day connects with the next aayah (Ayah 2) covering the life of Allah's Messengers beginning of the message, and the end of his message and the upcoming victory of Islam.

Al Aloosi: Some say these are the ten nights of Dhul Hijjah and others say they are the 10 nights of Ramadan.

hadeeth fi bukhari; ma min iyamin 'amal as-salih, ahuba lillahi fee hinna ayaam, ya'ni 'ashru dhul hijjah...
(there are no days which are more beloved to Allah than the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah) [Bukhari]

Ayah 3:


Transliteration: wash-shaf'i wal witr.
Translation: And I swear by the even and the odd.

shaf' = to be with someone. (i.e. Shafa'ah "I'm with him/on his side.") One part of another. One with the other.

watr = odd. (i.e. The witr prayer is in odd numbers of raka'ats).

A view by many Sahaba (companions of Allah's Messenger):
ash-shaf' - all of the creation of Allah in pairs. Male & female, night & day, darkness and light,
big and small etc.

watr - only Allah alone. Since only Allah is One and there is none like or comparable to Him.
So Allah swears by the creation and Himself.

Others have connected it to the previous oaths. Some nights are odd and sometimes the nights are even. Some months are odd, some months are even.

But regardless - they are blessed months.

Qatada: ash-Shaf' - refers to everyday of the month (because every day contains a Day and a Night). Except the last day of the month which contains no night (since the night of that day fits into the new month).

[This is because the Maghrib (sunset) of a day is the night for the oncoming day, i.e. On

Thursday Maghrib time = the Night of Friday. After Fajr - it is Friday daytime. At Friday maghrib (sunset) time - it is Saturday night. Etc.]

Related to this view is ash-Shaf' referring to all the days of the world because they are similar in pattern, and the Watr being the Final Day of Ressurection when everything will be different to the norms of other days of the world.

Another Deep interpretation is;
Every one of those two things within the pair need to be appreciated individually, and through looking at them individually - you see how they work together evenly for such beauty and harmony.

i.e. The night is an odd, the day is an odd. These two together are an even. The beauty of the day for our work and lively matters is something to appreciate, and the night for rest should also be appreciated. But we would not be able to appreciate them both fully unless we had two of them.

The Earth, the Sky. The male and the female. Slave and Master. Hell and Paradise. We cannot appreciate one without the other.

Similarly, this Worldly life would be out of balance if it didn't have another to balance it. So just like everything else - Allah has made a balance for it - a Judgment Day to balance out the injustices and justice done in this life. He has made the Afterlife for Punishment and Reward.

An opinion which has been criticized by many scholars, but it's interesting;

ash-shaf' - the 2 haramain of Masjid al Haram in Makkah and Masjid an-Nabawi in Medinah.

watr - Bayt al Maqdis (Masjid al Aqsa in Jerusalem).

Ayah 4:

Transliteration: wal layli idha yasrI [kasra/zeyr (i sound) at the end].
Translation: I swear by the night as it strolls away.

Normally in the arabic language, we would expect the word to be Yasree (with a Ya at the end).

But instead, there is just a kasra at the end - YasrI.

yasri - It means to take a stroll at night time.

al Akhfash was a Scholar on Hadeeth (muhadith) was asked; how come Allah removed the Ya from yasri?

He was a tough teacher and said to him, come back after a year and I will tell you. The student came back in a year and asked the same question. So the al Akhfash replied;

The night does not take a scroll. Rather, the stroll is taken - by people - in the night.

This implies that people don't have power over time, rather Allah has power over time, and humans - with the limited abilities given to them - use the different times for their benefit. So humans have to adapt to the environment, and they should not be arrogant because they themselves cannot control the time of the universe around them.

This oath (ayah 4) is connected to Ayah 1.

Ayah 2 and Ayah 3 are connected to each other.
Ayah 4 and Ayah 1 are connected. How?

The Fajr in the 1st ayah represented the Ressurection Day, the same way we wake from our sleep.

The night taking a stroll (the world coming to an end) is a sign of the approaching of the Fajr (which signifies the Day of Ressurection).

And the aayaat in between Ayah 2 and 3 signify the life of Allah's Messenger.

Oaths Summarised:
Ayah 1 - signifies the Ressurection, the same way we wake up from our sleep.

Ayah 2 and 3 - signifies the coming of Allah's Messenger and him being victorious. He is one of the great signs of the end times.

Ayah 4 - the night taking a stroll signifies the world coming to an end.

Are you neglecting Fajr Prayer ?

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