Both these surahs are a supplication for the completion of the Qur'an and form a pair in every respect. That is why they are jointly called the mu'awwadhatayn. However, the style of the first surah is predominantly argumentative while in the second one there exists a strong element of appeal to invoke the mercy of the Almighty. Both are addressed to the Prophet (sws) and it is evident from their subject-matter that they were revealed after the Prophet's (sws) migration to Madinah when beholding the success of the Prophet's preaching mission, the Jews and the Quraysh, as well as the jinn and men from the progeny of Satan, were preparing to launch an offensive against him.
The theme of both surahs is to urge the Prophet (sws) that to safeguard himself and his mission, he should seek refuge of the Almighty from all the calamities of the world and from the harm that can be inflicted by all creatures, since it is He alone who can actually give refuge to people from all harm and calamities.
A little deliberation shows that this subject-matter of these surahs directs the attention of every keen reader to Surah al-Fatihah, the opening surah of the Qur'an, in which a person acknowledges monotheism and earnestly prays to his Lord to show him the right path. The Qur'an is actually a reply to this prayer as it explains this right path until it reaches its completion through the most comprehensive expression of monotheism in Surah al-Ikhlas. After that, come these surahs in which a person once again, through the attributes of the Almighty, prays for his protection from every bandit present on the path of monotheism and for his safety in the ups and downs of this path. The affinity this closing part of the Qur'an has with its beginning cannot remain hidden to any person of insight.
بِسۡمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیۡمِ
قُلۡ اَعُوۡذُ بِرَبِّ الۡفَلَقِ ۙ﴿۱﴾مِنۡ شَرِّ مَا خَلَقَ ۙ﴿۲﴾وَ مِنۡ شَرِّ غَاسِقٍ اِذَا وَقَبَ ۙ﴿۳﴾وَ مِنۡ شَرِّ النَّفّٰثٰتِ فِی الۡعُقَدِ ۙ﴿۴﴾وَ مِنۡ شَرِّ حَاسِدٍ اِذَا حَسَدَ ﴿۵﴾
In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful.
Pray [O Prophet!]: "I seek refuge with the Lord who brings forth from the harm of all that He has created [especially] from the harm of darkness when it overspreads, and from the harm of those who blow upon knots and from the harm of every envious creature when it envies. (1-5)
بِسۡمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیۡمِ
قُلۡ اَعُوۡذُ بِرَبِّ النَّاسِ ۙ﴿۱﴾مَلِکِ النَّاسِ ۙ﴿۲﴾اِلٰہِ النَّاسِ ۙ﴿۳﴾مِنۡ شَرِّ الۡوَسۡوَاسِ ۬ۙ الۡخَنَّاسِ ۪ۙ﴿۴﴾الَّذِیۡ یُوَسۡوِسُ فِیۡ صُدُوۡرِ النَّاسِ ۙ﴿۵﴾مِنَ الۡجِنَّۃِ وَ النَّاسِ ﴿۶﴾
In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful.
Pray [O Prophet!]: "I seek refuge with the Lord of mankind, the King of mankind, the God of mankind from the harm of the Prompter [of vice] who withdraws [after his prompting], who prompts evil suggestions in the hearts of people, [and is] from among the jinn and mankind." (1-6)
19th March 2010
(Translated from Al-Bayan by Dr Shehzad Saleem)
.The actual word is: قُلۡ. It is evident from the subject-matter of the surah that this word should be translated the way it has been above.
. Ie., seek the refuge of the Almighty who brings forth the dawn from the night, the sprout from the seed, the child from the womb and the springs from the mountains. The Prophet (sws) is directed to pray to the Almighty because it is only He Who can give refuge and it is the requisite of His tawhid as well that only He be sought refuge with.
. The word شَرٌّ here refers to "sufferings," "harms" and "calamities." God has not created any creature for such evils. Whatever He has created primarily has a noble purpose. Evil sometimes emanates from certain potentials found in people. The most apt and effective refuge from these evils is the very being who is the Creator of all things. Hence, another person can only give such refuge to people when he is more powerful than their Creator. Obviously, no man of understanding can accept this fact. Hence, it would be mere foolishness if a person tries to find refuge with someone other than God from the harms of creatures created by God. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
… Only one utterance as this is enough to close many doors which lead to polytheism. It also roots out duality and the concept that good and evil have separate Gods and kingdoms. Polytheistic nations while thinking that each calamity per se can cause benefit or harm start beseeching it. The truth of the matter is that a calamity has no independent existence; it is actually a manifestation of the various creations of God which comes into being by God's leave and casts its effects by His directive and it is only His help which can be instrumental in shielding a person from it. Hence the real haven and sanctuary is God Almighty. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 9, 661)
. This is because thieves, murderers, enemies and deadly insects all try to take advantage of the night. It becomes further evident from this that the existence of evil is not absolute that people should believe in separate creators for good and evil and invoke them. It is the affects of the things created by God that become a source of harm and damage for others. Hence to remain protected from them one should seek refuge with God and not others.
. The actual words are: النَّفّٰثٰتِ فِی الۡعُقَدِ. They qualify the noun النّفوس (souls) that is suppressed here. The expression signifies sorcery because conjurers generally tie knots in thread and then blow on them. Such people existed a lot among the Jews and also among the soothsayers of the Arabs. It is evident from this verse that these disciplines also have some reality in them. Thus, people are asked to seek refuge with God from their evil. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
It is the practice of God to deal with people the way they deal with themselves: If a person fosters a strong relationship with God and his heart remains replete with His remembrance and if he protects himself from superstitious beliefs and always turns to God when he encounters hardships, then the Almighty does not allow Satan to get the better of him. If some accidental harm does come his way, he is able to save himself by diverting his attention to God.
On the other hand, if a person is superstitious and credulous and instead of relying on sense and reason relies on speculation and conjecture and if instead of deeply trusting God clings to doubts and skepticism, then such a person is often lured by devils among the jinn and men, who then escort him to all sorts of evil. The only way to protect oneself from this evil, according to this surah, is to remain in the asylum of the Almighty. Whenever a person feels that his heart is getting inclined to evil, he should immediately seek refuge with Him. The best way to do this is to recite these two last surahs of the Qur'an. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 9, 663)
. Ie., when an envious person in frenzy of his envy launches an all out onslaught. Though the word حَاسِد is general and implies generality yet it is evident from the Qur'an that it refers to Satan who has declared with full fervour and force that he will lead away people from the path of monotheism. Hence, preachers of the message of truth should in particular remain aware that it is they who are his real targets, and he adopts every measure to harm them. This aspect will become amply evident in the next surah.
. These three attributes of God necessitate one another because He Who is the Lord of people is only worthy of being called their king and be regarded as their God. The implication is that people should seek refuge with the being who as their Lord, King and God has full power over them; He is capable of providing refuge to them against the greatest of their enemies and none in fact exists besides Him with whom refuge can be sought by anyone.
. Though it has not been stated in words, it is quite evident from the attributes mentioned and referred to later that it is Satan who is referred to here. The verse describes Satan's special technique through which he lures people. It is also evident from the Qur'an that this is Satan's sole weapon through which he realizes his objective. God has not given him the power to forcibly lead people astray. He entraps them through false promises, presents the wickedest of things in a very attractive form, assumes the role of a well-wisher and gives earnest suggestions and advice. Yet, he cannot go beyond this. The Qur'an has assured servants of God who are not influenced by his suggestions that he will not be able to harm them in any way.
. Whether it is the jinn or men who induce these latent suggestions in people, their general psyche is that once a person is caught in their web of deception, they totally absolve themselves of the consequences and leave people to themselves. Such satans can always be seen among human beings. It is evident from the Qur'an that the satans from among the jinn too are no different. The word خَنَّاسِ depicts this very character so that people always keep the insincerity and treachery of Satan in mind. Thus, at another instances, the Qur'an states that he is an eternal deceiver (khadul), all his promises are mere deception and in the Hereafter too he will absolve himself of all consequences and abandon his followers.
. The actual words are: صُدُوۡرِ النَّاسِ. They, however, refer to the hearts that beat in the chests.
. This verse informs us of the fraternity of Satan. The implication is that Satan is not an independent being created by God to lead people astray. The fact of the matter is that all those who adopt this attitude from among the jinn and mankind become Satan.