Surah Nas

Surah Nas

Table of Contents

Surah Nas (سورة الناس) or Mu‘awwazah (مُعوَّذة) or Mushaqshaqah (مُشَقشَقة) as it is also known is the last chapter of the Quran . We can say that this chapter touched on two topics: seeking refuge in God and the description of devilish temptations.

Facts about Surah Nas

The 114th and last chapter of the Quran, Surah Nas or Mu‘awwazah or Mushaqshaqah as it is also referred to, explains how God is a refuge for man in three aspects and also talks about the devil tempting man and what method he uses to do so. The chapter teaches us important lessons on how to fight against the evil that is Satan and his ways.

114 Surah no.

Juz’ 30 Place

It could be either Makki/Madani

21 Order of revelation

6 No. of verses

20 No. of words

78 No. of letters


Arabic Text and Translation of Surah Nas


بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيم

In the name of Allah, the most compassionate, most merciful

قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ النَّاسِ ﴿1﴾

Say, ‘I seek the protection of the Lord of humans,

مَلِكِ النَّاسِ ﴿2﴾

Sovereign of humans,

إِلَـٰهِ النَّاسِ ﴿3﴾

God of humans,

مِن شَرِّ الْوَسْوَاسِ الْخَنَّاسِ ﴿4﴾

From the evil of the sneaky tempter

الَّذِي يُوَسْوِسُ فِي صُدُورِ النَّاسِ ﴿5﴾

Who puts temptations into the breasts of humans,

مِنَ الْجِنَّةِ وَالنَّاسِ ﴿6﴾

From among the jinn and humans.’ 1

The topics discussed in this article are the following:

Benefits of Reciting Surah Nas

The Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his household) is narrated to have said that whoever recites this chapter and Surah Falaq (the chapter before this one) it will be as though he has recited all the books that God has revealed. He also advised his companions to recite them before going to bed and upon waking up.2

God is a Refuge and Haven according to Surah Nas

قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ النَّاسِ ﴿1﴾

Say, ‘I seek the protection of the Lord of humans,

مَلِكِ النَّاسِ ﴿2﴾

Sovereign of humans,

إِلَـٰهِ النَّاسِ ﴿3﴾

God of humans,

The word ‘a‘uzu’ (أعوذ) means to protect oneself and stay away from evil through seeking refuge in someone who can repel that evil.3

God is a refuge from three aspects according to Surah Nas:

  • As the Lord of man
  • The sovereign of man
  • As his God and object of worship

Reciting Surah Nas in Times of Distress

Man’s nature is such that when he faces some evil and danger and is unable to turn it away from himself, he takes refuge in someone who can help him do so; at such times he turns to one of three refuges: to a Lord who manages his affairs and who he turns to for all his needs. At such a time also, when a danger threatens his survival, he turns to him to help him.

The second refuge is someone who has sufficient authority and power and whose judgment stands and whoever takes refuge in him he is able to protect him from any danger. The third refuge is a God who is the true being worthy of worship. The requisite of the worshipfulness of a God, particularly the God who is one and has no partners is to make His servant sincere only towards Him; i.e. a servant who desires none but Him and does not turn to anyone except Him for his needs; will nothing except God’s will and acts only according to what He wishes.4

The Repetition of the Word ‘Nas

In these first three verses, the word ‘nas’ (ناس), i.e. humans or man, has been repeated three times. This is to show that God’s Lordship, Sovereignty and Divinity are general and is not particular only to certain people, groups or races.5

Allah is the Lord, Sovereign and Worshipped God in Surah Nas

According to the verses of Surah Nas, as well as other verses of the Quran, Allah is man’s only Lord, Sovereign and God.

If something threatens him and he needs a Lord as refuge, Allah is man’s only Lord and there none besides Him; if he needs the refuge of a powerful sovereign, Allah is the only real sovereign of the world and kingdom and judgment belongs to Him and if he needs to seek refuge in a God, Allah is the only God worthy of worship and any other worshipped deity is false and fake. Each of these aspects is independently sufficient as refuge. 6

Why is Surah Nas in this order?

A question might come to one’s mind here and that is, in Surah Nas, why is first Lordship, then Sovereignty and finally Divinity mentioned in relation to God.

The answer might be that seeking refuge in the Lord is closer and more tangible to man’s innate nature. For example, when a child feels in danger, he/she would first cry out for his/her mother.

In the next level man would turn to someone who has power and finally to the one who is the source of life and mercy.7

Mastership

In continuance of the reasons for the order of mention of these three attributes, one can also look at the issue of ‘wilayah’ (ولایة) or mastership.

Lordship is the closest attribute to man and the wilayah or mastership in that is particular because the attention that God gives to man’s upbringing and training is more than that of other creatures.

A sovereign, however, is more distant than the Lord and its mastership and the mastership of a sovereign is more general. For example, if a person has a father, he would not turn to a king. It is only when he loses his father that he might turn to one and then too would have access to the king himself.

Divinity is the level where the servant does not turn to God for his needs anymore because worship rises from inner sincerity; not material nature and this is the highest relationship between man and God, i.e. servitude.8

Satan’s Whisperings in Surah Nas

مِن شَرِّ الْوَسْوَاسِ الْخَنَّاسِ ﴿4﴾

From the evil of the sneaky tempter

الَّذِي يُوَسْوِسُ فِي صُدُورِ النَّاسِ ﴿5﴾

Who puts temptations into the breasts of humans,

مِنَ الْجِنَّةِ وَالنَّاسِ ﴿6﴾

From among the jinn and humans.’

 ‘Was-waas’ (وسواس) and ‘Khannas’ (خنّاس)

The word ‘was-waas’ (وسواس) means inner whisperings that are like a soft sound in our ears.9

The word ‘khannas’ (خنّاس) is from the word ‘khunus’ (خنوس) and means to hide and retreat. Satan is himself hidden and so is what he does; if his whisperings and temptations were public he would not be able to have mastery over people. He, however, is successful in doing so because he manifests through the garb of justification and pretence.

According to a narration from Ali ibn Abi Taleb (peace be on him), Satan mixes the truth and falsehood through pretence and in this way prevails over his followers.10

Khannas, therefore, is referring to Satan.

Why Satan is called ‘Khannas’ in Surah Nas

Some have said that the reason why he is referred to by this name is because he is continuously tempting man and as soon as man remembers god he hides and retreats. Again, as soon as man becomes heedless of God, he once again comes forwards and starts tempting him.11

The Place of Satanic Whisperings

According to verse five of Surah Nas, the heart is the place where Satan whispers his temptations; because in general, sense and perception is attributed to the heart. The Quran also says in this regard elsewhere:

…وَلَـٰكِن تَعْمَى الْقُلُوبُ الَّتِي فِي الصُّدُورِ ﴿46﴾

… but it is the hearts in the breasts that turn blind! 12

Tempters among Jinn and Men

This sentence is describing the sneaky tempters mentioned in verse four of Mu‘awwazah and is indicating that some people become so deviated that they becomes satanic themselves and are included in the devils.13

How the Devil Tempts

In one of his sermons, Ali bin Abi Taleb (peace be on him) says:

If wrong had been pure and unmixed it would not be hidden from those who are in search of it. And if right had been pure without admixture of wrong those who bear hatred towards it would have been silenced.

What is, however, done is that something is taken from here and something from there and the two are mixed! At this stage Satan overpowers his friends and they alone escape for whom ‘virtue has been apportioned by Allah from before.

Lessons to be Learnt from Surah Nas

Some lessons that we can draw from Surah Nas or Mushaqshaqah are the following:

  1. It is not possible to fight evil without God’s help
  2. The sinners should not lose hope because is everyone’s Lord, not just of the believers
  3. Man must consider himself to be under God’s training, accept His authority and make Him be the sole object of his worship
  4. The greatest of dangers are the hidden ones which in this case are inner temptations.

Summary of Surah Nas

Surah Nas focuses on two main topics: the three aspects in which God is man’s refuge, i.e. as his Lord, sovereign and object of worship; and Satan’s whisperings and how he tempts man.


References

  1. Qarai translation.
  2. Al-Islam
  3. Tabatabai, M. H. (1374). Tafsir al-Mizan. (Transl. by Seyed Muhammad Baqir Musavi Hamedani). Jamiat al-Modarresin Publications. Vol. 20, p. 680
  4. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 687
  5. Qaraati, M. Tafsir Nur. Commentary of Surah Nas.
  6. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 687-688
  7. Qaraati, M. Tafsir Nur. Commentary of Surah Nas.
  8. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 688.
  9. Ibid. p. 689
  10. Qaraati, M. Ibid.
  11. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid.
  12. [22: 46]. Qarai translation. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 690
  13. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid.
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