Islamic Studies

By the Night When It…

One of the beauties of the Quran is the fact that it is concise in its words, yet loaded in meanings, subtleties and reasons that can be observed by the shepard or nomad according to his understanding, or the scholar of language or philosophy according to his or hers. Sometimes, verses which we have recited time and time again since our childhood, can open up new worlds of understanding and appreciation for the Quran.

Let us look into the book of Allah and look at one of these gems through observing thee Chapters of the Quran: Ash-Shams, Al-Lail, and Ad-Duhaa

There are three surahs which come one after the other, which mention the coming of night early in their verses, seemingly in the same way:

Let us look at just the first four verses of each Surah:

Ash-Shams (The Sun)
1. By the Sun and his (glorious) splendour;
2. By the Moon as she follows him;
3. By the Day as it shows up (the Sun’s) glory;
4. By the Night as it conceals it;

Al-Lail (The Night)
1. By the Night as it conceals (the light);
2. By the Day as it appears in glory;
3. By (the mystery of) the creation of male and female;-
4. Verily, (the ends) ye strive for are diverse.

Ad-Duha (The Morning Hour)
1. By the Glorious Morning Light,
2. And by the Night when it is still,-
3. Thy Guardian-Lord hath not forsaken thee, nor is He displeased.
4. And verily the Hereafter will be better for thee than the present.

Before we get to the point, let us place these chapters of the Quran in context. God is swearing by these celestial objects and events as signs of His Glory and witnesses to His Majesty, before laying out the points, stories, and messages He wishes to convey to us. The magnificent objects and events which have put human beings to awe before the scientific age, and continue to do so after – are signs of His power – and God swears by them to show the importance of the message He is conveying to us.

In the first one listed here, Ash-Shams – the chapter is largely about the purification of the soul, and how the lack of it led to the destruction of a nation which refused to obey the commands of its Messenger, and killed a she-camel which was deemed sacred and a miracle from God. This action of theirs, along with many others, resulted in their absolute annihilation from the face of the Earth.

As for the second – Al-Lail – this chapter is about a number of issues, concerning the choices which human beings make and how these choices will affect their ultimate standing with God and on the Day of Judgement. It describes the state of human beings when presented with various situations and how it affects their relationship with God, as well as some descriptions of the People of Hell and how they will be punished, as well as the People of Paradise and how they are welcomed into God’s pleasure and garden as a result of their sincerity and striving for Good.

The last one we listed here – The Morning Light – is a chapter was which was revealed during a time in the Prophet’s (saw) life where the revelation had ceased for an amount of time, so that he could rest, since receiving revelation was a physically and spiritually taxing experience. Some of his enemies began to taunt him, saying that God had abandoned him and no longer favored him, and that he would no longer receive the revelation. This chapter came, as a gentle, calming, yet powerful comfort to the Prophet (saw), showing him that God loved him, and would take care of him, and would continue to entrust him with the great message that had been placed on his shoulders. It was as a cool drink, a comforting touch, a sweet repose, in the timeline of the Prophethood for our Messenger (saw). The entire Surah is as follows:

1. By the Glorious Morning Light,
2. And by the Night when it is still,-
3. Thy Guardian-Lord hath not forsaken thee, nor is He displeased.
4. And verily the Hereafter will be better for thee than the present.
5. And soon will thy Guardian-Lord give thee (that wherewith) thou shalt be well-pleased.
6. Did He not find thee an orphan and give thee shelter (and care)?
7. And He found thee wandering, and He gave thee guidance.
8. And He found thee in need, and made thee independent.
9. Therefore, treat not the orphan with harshness,
10. Nor repulse the petitioner (unheard);
11. But the bounty of the Lord – rehearse and proclaim!

Now let us get to the point:

In the first two chapter (Ash-Shams and Al-Lail, respectively) – the following verses are used:

By the night when it conceals it (the Sun)
By the night when it conceals (Light, Day, in general)

They are from the words غشي or غشو – which denote covering up, concealing, and creating a sense of darkness. They would inspire a sense of awe in the heart of how the night comes to take away the light of day and conceal the power of the sun with its darkness.

However, when we look at the verse in which the Night is mentioned in the last Surah, that Surah that came to comfort, console, and give peace to the Prophet – Allah still swears by the Night…but how?

And by the night when it is Tranquil/Calm

Allah swears by the EXACT same thing…the Night. But in two chapters where the punishment of Allah is mentioned or where awe is being inspired, he mentioned the Night’s quality in its ability to conceal Light and cause Darkness.

But in the surah where He is comforting His beloved Prophet (saw), he mentioned night… اذا سجي from سجو – to be calm, quiet, tranquil.

How Allah (swt) changes the entire way that our heart perceive the mention of Night, by changing this one word – because in two surahs He wished to inspire awe in us, and in the last – peace and tranquility – as he comforts his Messenger with the greatest comfort possible – “Your Lord has not forsaken you (is with you), nor does He hate you” in the face of distress and difficulty.

Praise be to Him who sent down to His slave The Book, and did not create any crookedness in it.

Wa salaam
Abdul Sattar

About the author

Abdul Sattar Ahmed

Abdul Sattar Ahmed

Abdul Sattar Ahmed is a young IT professional from Chicago, IL. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2006 with a Bachelors in Finance with a second Major of Management Information Systems. He was a member of Young Muslims of North America for over ten years, serving in roles at the local, regional, and national levels with a focus on the organization’s educational program.

He currently works in the Software Engineering field in Chicago, and is receiving training in the Islamic sciences part-time at Dar ul Qasim Institute and the Islamic Learning Foundation’s Chicago Campus, and studies Islamic subjects independently with other scholars. He is a board member of the Islamic Learning Foundation and teaches Arabic and Islamic studies there under the lead of his teachers. His interests include software development, the study of the Qur’an, Islamic education, law, and history.

Add Comment

Leave a Comment