113. Falaq

Syed Abu-Ala' Maududi's Chapter Introductions to the Quran


Although these two Suras of the Qur'an are separate entities and are written in the Mushaf also under separate names yet they are so deeply related mutually and their contents so closely resemble each other's that they have been designated by a common name Mu'awwidhatayn (the two Suras in which refuge with Allah has been sought). Imam Baihaqi in Dala'il an-Nubuwwat has written that these Suras were revealed together that is why the combined name of both is Mu'awwidhatayn. We are writing the same one Introduction to both for they discuss and deal with just the same matters and topics. However they will be explained and commented on separately below.

Period of Revelation

Hadrat Hasan Basri 'Ikrimah 'Ata' and Jabir bin Zaid say that these Suras are Makki. A tradition from Hadrat 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas also supports the same view. However according to another tradition from him it is Madani and the same view is held also by Hadrat 'Abdullah bin Zubair and Qatadah. One of the traditions which strengthens this second view is the Hadith which Muslim Tirmidhi Nasa'i and Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal have related on the authority of Hadrat 'Uqbah bin 'Amir. He says that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peach) one day said to him: "Do you know what kind of verses have been revealed to me tonight? - these matchless verses are A'udhu bi-Rabbil-falaq and A'udhu bi-Rabbin-nas. This Hadith is used as an argument for these Suras to be Madani because Hadrat 'Uqbah bin 'Amir had become a Muslim in Madinah after the hijrah as related by Abu Da'ud and Nasa'i on the basis of his own statement. Other traditions which have lent strength to this view are those related by Ibn Sa'd Muhiyy-us-Sunnah Baghawi Imam Nasafi Imam Baihaqi Hafiz Ibn Hajar Hafiz Badr-uddin 'Ayni 'Abd bin Humaid and others to the effect that these Suras were revealed when the Jews had worked magic on the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) in Madinah and he had fallen ill under its effect. Ibn Sa'd has related on the authority of Waqidi that this happened in A.H. 7. On this very basis Sufyan bin Uyainah also has described these Sura as Madani. But as we have explained in the Introduction to Sura Al-Ikhlas when it is said about a certain Sura or verse that it was revealed on this or that particular occasion it does not necessarily mean that it was revealed for the first time on that very occasion. Rather it sometimes so happened that a Sura or a verse had previously been revealed then on the occurrence or appearance of a particular incident or situation the Holy Prophet's attention was drawn to it by Allah for the second time or even again and again. In our opinion the same also was the case with the Mu'awwidhatayn. The subject matter of these Suras is explicit that these were sent down at Makkah in the first instance when opposition to the Holy Prophet there had grown very intense. Later when at Madinah storms of oppposition were raised by the hyprocrites Jews and polytheists the Holy Prophet was instructed to recite these very Suras as has been mentioned in the above cited tradition from Hadrat Uqbah bin Amir. After this when magic was worked on him and his illness grew intense Gabriel came and instructed him by Allah's command to recite these very Suras. Therefore in our opinion the view held by the commentators who describe both these Suras as Makki is more reliable. Regarding them as connected exclusively with the incident of magic is difficult for to this incident related only one verse (v.4) the remaining verses of Sura al Falaq and the whole of Sura An-Nas have nothing to do with it directly.

Theme and Subject-Matter

The conditions under which these two Suras were sent down in Makkah were as follows. As soon as the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) began to preach the message of Islam it seemed as though he had provoked all classes of the people around him. As his message spread the opposition of the disbelieving Quraish also became more and more intense. As long as they had any hope that they would be able to prevent him from preaching his message by throwing some temptation in his way or striking some bargain with him their hostility did not become very active. But when the Holy Prophet disappointed them completely that he would not effect any kind of compromise with them in the matter of faith and in Sura Al-Kafirun they were plainly told: "I do not worship those who you worship nor are you worshippers of HIm Whom I worship. For you is your religion and for me is mine" the hostility touched its extreme limits. More particularly the families whose members (men or women boys or girls) had accepted Islam were burning with rage from within against the Holy Prophet. They were cursing him holding secret consultations to kill him quietly in the dark of the night so that the Bani Hashim could not discover the murderer and take revenge; magic and charms were being worked on him so as to cause his death or make him fall ill or become mad; satans from among the men and the jinn spread on every side so as to whisper one or another evil into the hearts of the people against him and the Qur'an brought by him so that they became suspicious of him and fled him. There were many people who were burning with jealousy against him for they could not tolerate that a man from another family or clan than their own should flourish and become prominent. For instance the reason why Abu Jahl was crossing every limit in his hostility to him has been explained by himself: "We and the Bani Abdi Manaf (to which the Holy Prophet belonged) were rivals of each other: they fed others we too fed others; they provided conveyances to the people we too did the same; they gave donations we too gave donations so much so that when they and we have become equal in honour and nobility they now proclaim that they have a Prophet who is inspired from the heaven; how can we compete with them in this field? By God we will never acknowledge him nor affirm faith in him". (Ibn Hisham vol. I pp. 337-338). Such were the conditions when the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) was commanded to tell the people: "I seek refuge with the Lord of the dawn from the evil of everything that He has created and from the evil of the darkness of night and from the evil of magicians men and women and from the evil of the envious" and to tell them: "I seek refuge with the Lord of mankind the King of mankind and the Deity of mankind from the evil of the whisperer who returns over and over again who whispers (evil) into the hearts of men whether he be from among the jinn or men." This is similar to what the Prophet Moses had been told to say when Pharaoh had expressed his design before his full court to kill him: "I have taken refuge with my Lord and your Lord against every arrogant person who does not believe in the Day of Reckoning." (Al-Mu'min: 27). And: "I have taken refuge with my Lord and your Lord lest you should assail me." (Ad- Dukhan;20). On both occasions these illustrious Prophets of Allah were confronted with well-equipped resourceful and powerful enemies. On both occasions they stood firm on their message of Truth against their strong opponenets whereas they had no material power on the strength of which they could fight them and on both occasions they utterly disregarded the threats and dangerous plans and hostile devices of the enemy saying: "We have taken refuge with the Lord of the universe against you." Obviously such firmness and steadfastness can be shown only by the person who has the conviction that the power of His Lord is the supreme po

Question whether Mu'awwidhatayn are or are not Quranic

The above discussion is enough to help one understand fully the theme and content of the two Suras but since three points in the books of Hadith and commentary concerning these Suras have been discussed which are likely to create doubts in the minds it is necessary to clear them also here. First whether it is absolutely established that these two Suras are the Qur'anic Suras or whether there is some doubt in this regard. This question arose because in the traditions related from an illustrious Companion like Hadrat Abdullah bin Mas'ud it has been said that he did not regard these two Suras as the Suras of the Qur'an and had eliminated these from his copy of the Mushaf. Imam Ahmad Bazzar Tabarani Ibn Marduyah Abu Ya'la Abdullah bin Ahmad bin Hanbal Humaydi Abu Nu'aim Ibn Hibban and other traditionists have related this from Hadrat Abdullah bin Mas'ud with different chains of transmitters and mostly on sound authority. According to these traditions he not only eliminated these Suras from the Mushaf but it has also been reported that he used to say: "Do not mix up with the Qur'an that which is not of the Qur'an. These two Suras are not included in the Quran. This was only a command enjoined on the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) for seeking God's refuge." In some traditions there is also the addition that he did not recite these Suras in the Prayer. On the basis of these traditions the opponents of Islam had an opportunity to raise doubts about the Qur'an saying that this Book God forbid is not free from corruption. For when according to a Companion of the rank of Hadrat Abdullah bin Mas'ud these two Suras are an annexation to the Qur'an many other additions and subtractions also might have been made in it. To rid the Qur'an of this blame Qadi Abu Bakr Al-Baqillani Qadi Iyad and others took the stand that Ibn Mas'ud was not in fact a denier of the Mu'awwidhatayn being Qur'anic but only refused to write them in the Mushaf. For according to him only that which the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) had allowed should be written in the Mushaf and Ibn Mas'ud did not receive the information that the Holy Prophet had allowed this. But this stand is not correct for according to sound evidence it is confirmed that Ibn Mas'ud (may Allah be pleased with him) had denied that these were Suras of the Qur'an. Some other scholars for instance Imam Nawawi Imam Ibn Hazm and Imam Fakhr- udding Razi regard this as a pure lie and falsehood that Ibn Mas'ud had asserted any such thing. But to reject genuine historical facts without sound evidence is unscientific. Now the question is: How can the blame that attaches to the Qur'an because of these traditions of Ibn Mas'ud correctly refuted? This question has several answers which we shall give below in sequence: (1) Hafiz Bazzar after relating these traditions of Ibn Mas'ud in his Musnad has written that he is solitary and isolated in his this opinion; no one from among the Companions has supported this view. (2) The copies of the Qur'an which the third Caliph Hadrat Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) had got compiled by the consensus of the Companions and which he had sent from the Islamic Claiphate officially to the centres of the world of Islam contained both these Suras. (3) The Mushaf which since the sacred time of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) till today has the seal of consensus of the entire world of Islam contains both these Suras. The solitary opinion of only Abdullah bin Mas'ud in spite of his high rank has no weight against this great consensus. (4) It is confirmed by sound and reliable ahadith from the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) that he not only recited these Suras in the Prayer himself but instructed others also to recite them and taught them to the people as the Suras of the Qur'an. Consider for instance the following ahadith: We have cited on the authority of Muslim Ahmad Tirmidhi and Nasai the tradition of

Question of Holy Prophet's being affected by Magic

The second thing that has arisen in respect of these two Suras is that according to traditions magic had been worked on the Holy Prophet and he had fallen ill under its effect and Gabriel (peace be on him) had instructed him to repeat these Suras to remove the charm. This has been objected to by many rationalists of both ancient and modern times. They say that if these traditions are accepted the whole Shari'ah becomes doubtful. For if the Prophet could be charmed and according to these traditions he was charmed one cannot say what the Prophet might have been made to say and do under the influence of magic by his opponents and what in his teaching may be Divine and what the result of magic. Not only this: they also allege that if this is accepted as true it might well be that the Prophet might have been prompted to make the claim to Prophethood through magic and the Prophet by misunderstanding might have thought that an angel had come to him. They also argue that these traditions clash with the Qur'an. The Qur'an mentions the accusation of the disbelievers who said that the Prophet was bewitched (Bani Isra'il:47) but these traditions confirm the accusation of the disbelievers that the Prophet had actually been charmed and bewitched. For a proper investigation of this question it is necessary that one should first see whether it is established by authentic historical evidence that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) had actually been affected by magic and if so what it was and to what extent. Then it should be seen whether the objections raised against what is established historically do actually apply to it or not. The Muslim scholars of the earliest period were truly honest and upright in that they did not try to corrupt history or conceal facts according to their own ideas concepts and assumptions. They conveyed intact to the later generations whatever was confirmed historically and did not at all care how the material supplied by them could be used by the one who was bent upon drawing perverse conclusions from the facts. Now if something stands confirmed by authentic and historical means it is neither right for an honest and rightminded person that he should deny history on the ground that in case he accepted it it would lead to these evil results according to his thinking nor it is right that he should add to and stretch beyond its genuine limits by conjecture and speculation whatever is established historically. Instead he should accept histroy as history and then see what is actually proved by it and what is not. As far as the historical aspect is concerned the incident of the Holy Prophet's being affected by magic is absolutely confirmed and if it can be refuted by scientific criticism then no historical event of the world can be proved right and genuine. It has been related by Bukhari Muslim Nasai Ibn Majah Imam Ahmad Abdur Razzaq Humaidi Baihaqi Tabarani Ibn Sad Ibn Mardayah Ibn Abi Shaibah Hakim Abd bin Humaid and other traditionists on the authority of Hadrat Aishah Hadrat Zaid bin Arqam and Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas through so many different and numerous channels that forgery is out of the question. Although each tradition by itself is an isolated report (khabar wahid) we give it below as a connected event from the details provided by the traditions. After the peace treaty of Hudaibiyah when the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) returned to Madinah a deputation of the Jews of Khaibar visited Madinah in Muharram A.H. 7 and met a famous magician Labid bin Asam who belonged to the Ansar tribe of Bani Zurayq. They said to him: "You know how Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) has treated us. We have tried our best to bewitch him but have not succeeded. Now we have come to you because you are a more skilled magician. Here are three gold coings accept these and cast a powerful magic spell on Muhammad." In those days the Holy Prphet had a Jewish

Question of Reciting Charms and Amulets in Islam

The third thing that arises in connection with these Suras is whether recitation of charms and amulets has any place in Islam and whether such recitation is by itself efficacious or not. This question arises for in many ahadith it has been reported that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) at the time of going to bed every night especially during illness used to recite the Mu'awwidhatayn (or according to other reports the Mu'awwidhat i.e. Qul Huwa-Allahu Ahad and the Mu'awwidhatayn) thrice blow in his hands and then rub the hands on his body from head to foot as far as his hands could reach. During his last illness when it was not longer possible for him to so do Hadrat Aishah recited these Suras herself or by his command blew on his hands hin view of their being blessed and rubbed them on his body. Traditions on this subject have been related in Bukhari Muslim Nasai Ibn Majah Abu Da'ud and Mu'atta of Imam Malik through authentic channels on the authority of Hadrat Aishah herself beside whom no one could be better acquainted with the domestic life of the Holy Prophet. In this regard one should first understand its religious aspect. In the Hadith a lengthy tradition has been related on the authority of Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas at the end of which the Holy Prophet is reported to have said: "The people of my Ummah to enter Paradise without reckoning will be those who neither turn to treatment by branding nor to enchanting nor take omens but have trust in their Lord." (Muslim). According to a tradition reported on the authority of Hadrat Mughirah bin Shubah the Holy Prophet said: "He who got himself treated by branding or enchanting became independent of trust in Allah." (Tirmidhi). Hadrat Abdullah bin Mas'ud has reported that the Holy Prophet disapproved of ten things one of which was recitation of charsm and amulets except by means of the Mu'awwidhatayn or Mu'awwidhat. (Abu Daud Ahmad Nasai Ibn Hibban Hakim). Some ahadith also show that in the beginning the Holy Prophet had altogether forbidden recitation of charms and amulets but later he allowed it on the condition that is should not smack of polytheism but one should recite and blow by means of the holy names of Allah or the words of the Qur'an. The words used should be understandable and one should know that there is nothing sinful in it and one should not wholly rely on the recitation of charms but on Allah's will to make it beneficial." After the explanation of the religious aspect let us now see what the Hadith says in this regard. Tabarani in As-Saghir has related a tradition on the authority of Hadrat Ali saying: "One the Holy Prophet was stung by a scorpion during the Prayer. When the Prayer was over he remarked: God's curse be on the scorpion: it neither spares a praying one nor any other. Then he called for water and salt and started rubbing the place where the scorpion had stung with salt water and reciting Qul ya ayyuhal-kafirun Qul Huwa Allahu ahad Qul a'udhu bi-Rabbil-falaq and Qul a'udhu bi-Rabbin-nas along with it." Ibn Abbas also has related a tradition to the effect: "The Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) used to recite this invocation over Hadrat Hasan and Husain: U'idhu kuma bi-kalimat Allahit-tamati min kulli shaitan-in wa hammati-wa min kulli ayt-in-lam nati: "I give you in the refuge of Allah's blameless words from every devil and troublesome thing and from every evil look." (Bukhari Musnad Ahmad Tirmidhi Ibn Majah). A tradition has been related in Muslim Muwatta Tabarani and Hakim about Uthman bin al-As ath-Thaqafi with a little variation in wording to the effect that he complained to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) saying: "Since I have become a Muslim I feel a pain in my body which is killing me." The Holy Prophet said: "Place your right hand on the place where you feel the pain then recite Bismillah thrice and A'udhu billahi wa qudratihi min sharri ma ajidu wa uhadhiru ("I seek refug

Relation between Sura Al-Fatihah and the Mu'awwidhatayn

The last thing which is noteoworthy with regard to the Mu'awwidhatayn is the relation between the beginning and the end of the Qur'an. Although the Qur'an has not been arranged chronologically the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) arranged in the present order the verses and Suras revealed during 23 years on different occasions to meet different needs and situations not by himself but by the command of Allah Who revelaed them. According to this order the Qur'an opens with the Sura Al-Fatihah and ends with the Mu'awwidhatayn. Now let us have a look at the two. In the beginning after praising and glorifying Allah Who is Lord of the worlds Kind Merciful and Master of the Judgement Day the servants submits: "Lord You alone I worship and to You along I turn for help and the msot urgent help that I need from You is to be guided to the Straight Way." In answer he is given by Allah the whole Qur'an to show him the Straight Way which is concluded thus: Man prays to Allah Who is Lord of dawn Lord of men King of men Deity of men saying: "I seek refuge only with You for protection from every evil and mischief of every creature and in particular from the evil whisperings of devils be they from among men or jinn for they are the greatest obstacle in following the Straight Way." The relation that the beginning bears with the end cannot remain hidden from anyone who has understanding and insight.