Tafseer of Surah Asr

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ ألرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

وَالْعَصْرِ ‎﴿١﴾‏ اِنَّ الْاِنسَانَ لَفِى خُسْرٍ ‎﴿٢﴾‏ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ اٰمَنُوْا وَعَمِلُوْا الصّٰلِحٰتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بالصَّبْرِ ‎﴿٣﴾‏

By the oath of time; indeed man is in loss, except those who have believed and done righteous deeds and they encouraged each other towards the truth and encouraged each other towards perseverance (and steadfastness in refraining from sins).

وَالْعَصْرِ ‎﴿١﴾‏ اِنَّ الْاِنسَانَ لَفِى خُسْرٍ ‎﴿٢﴾

By the oath of time; indeed man is in loss

This surah is a short surah, but contains an extremely important message for man. The great importance of its message can be gauged by the fact that there were two Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) who had an arrangement between themselves that whenever they would meet, they would not separate until they recited this surah to one another so that they could remind each other of its important message.

Hazrat Imaam Shaafi (rahimahullah) is reported to have said that the contents of this surah are so dynamic and comprehensive that had nothing else (of the Quraan Majeed) been revealed, this surah alone would have been sufficient for the guidance of the entire Ummah.

If we examine the oath with which this surah commences, and the contents of this surah which follow, we will find that there is a very close relationship between them.

First Allah Ta’ala takes an oath on time, and then Allah Ta‘ala speaks about man being in a loss. Hence, Allah Ta‘ala impresses upon us that man can only protect himself from loss and acquire success if he values and safeguards his time – which in reality is the capital of his life.

The one who values and appreciates time, his life will become profitable and he will gain excellent returns for his capital. Conversely, the one who wastes his time, he is wasting his capital, thus he is in a genuine loss.

The very distinct and outstanding difference between the capital of time and other forms of capital is that if any other capital is lost, it can be regained. However, once time is lost, it can never be regained.

Whatever one wishes to accomplish, for the present or the future, has to be done within the confines of time. Yet, time in its very nature never waits, rather it is ever-moving. Hence, if one wishes to be successful, he should value every moment of his life.

وَالْعَصْر‎﴿١﴾‏ اِنَّ الْاِنسَانَ لَفِى خُسْرٍ‎﴿٢﴾

By the oath of time; indeed man is in loss

The Hadith says that every person gets up in the morning and sells himself to aqcuire either good or evil. In other words, he either invests his time in doing good works to earn the reward of Allah Ta‘ala and Jannah in the Hereafter, or he invests his time in carrying out evil actions to earn the punishment of Allah Ta‘ala in this world and Jahannum in the Hereafter.[1]

Thus, it is left to the individual to decide what he wants for himself – the goodness of this world and the hereafter, or the difficulty of this world and the hereafter.

Time is not a commodity or asset that a person can preserve in his vaults. Wealth such as gold, silver etc. can be preserved, but time is like a melting block of ice on a hot day which cannot be preserved or set aside for another occasion. Therefore, the message this surah conveys to man is to appreciate his time and utilize it properly and fruitfully.

The dying person also asks for additional time and extention in his life. When he begins to see the culmination of all his life’s efforts, then he desires that he be granted extra time so that he may be able to do good deeds. However, he will not be granted any additional time in the world. Hence, man should appreciate every moment of his life, and he should not allow any moment of his life to go wasted without doing good deeds and preparing for the life of the Hereafter.


[1]  عن أبي مالك الأشعري، قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: الوضوء شطر الإيمان، والحمد لله تملأ الميزان، وسبحان الله والحمد لله تملآن أو تملأ ما بين السموات والأرض، والصلاة نور، والصدقة برهان، والصبر ضياء، والقرآن حجة لك أو عليك، كل الناس يغدو فبائع نفسه فمعتقها أو موبقها. هذا حديث صحيح (سنن االترمذي، الرقم: 3517)

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