“If people deliberate this Surah (Al-Asr), it suffices them.” — Imam Ash-Shafii
The importance of holy Surah like Al-Asr lies in the fact that it delineates the perfect all-embracing system of human life just as the Creator of mankind desires. Throughout all human history, everywhere and at all times, there has been only one system and way that guarantee happiness and prosperity to all mankind in this present world and the world to come. All other systems and ways have all been conducive to loss, wretchedness and perdition.
Allah, All-Mighty, says: “By Al-’Asr (Time)! Verily Man is in loss.” [Qur’an, 103: 1-2]
By virtue of the above Verse, Allah puts forward a Divine Oath by “Time,” in the general sense of the word, to man, whose real existence is based on “Time” as substantiated by a number of days: whenever a day elapses, one part of man’s life and existence does pass away. Whenever a newly-born day dawns, it calls out: “O son of Adam! I am a new creature and a witness upon your deeds. So make the best of me, for I shall never come back until the Day of Judgment.”
Allah, Most Gracious, swears by time to man that he is in inevitable loss in the sense that the elapse of time consumes man’s lifetime, i.e. his capital and the vessel that contains his righteous work, which is, in turn, the price of the Paradise he has been promised.
From the commercial point of view loss is to waste one’s capital without gaining a profit in return. But man is able to avoid such loss if he spends his lifetime on the things for which he has been created, namely belief in Allah and His religion, performing deeds of righteousness, recommending one another to the Truth and recommending one another to Patience. To this effect, Allah, Most Merciful, says: “By Al -’Asr (Time)! Verily, Man is in loss, except such as have Faith, do righteous deeds, recommend one another to the Truth and recommend one another to patience.” [Qur’an, 103: 1-3]
Firstly: “Except such as have Faith”
In fact, Faith is a kind of link between man — the weak, tiny, petty, perishable, limited creature — with his Creator — the Eternal, Absolute, Perfect One — from Whom all things, including man, derive their existence and survival. By such link with the Upper Infinite World man is liberated from the limits of his petty entity to the vastness of the enormous universe, from the limits of his tiny force to the marvelous gigantic forces of the universe, and from the limits of his short life to endless eternities that Allah, Alone, knows. In addition to providing man with magnificent power and ability, such link with his Lord, the Almighty Allah, enables man to attain real happiness to which he aspires, which is a sublime kind of happiness, a great unmatched joy, and a unique intimacy and friendship with life and existence, which is, in turn, an utmost win.
In fact, Monotheism safeguards man from worshipping none but Allah, the Almighty, humbling himself to none but Him, or submitting himself to none but Him. With Monotheism there is only One Power and Only One God (Allah). Monotheism eliminates from human life vain desires and caprices and replaces them with Allah’s Divine Laws and Justice as well as belief in man’s honor and dignity in the sight of his Lord — a prerequisite of Faith which provides man with self-respect, self-exaltation and nobility of character.
Secondly: “And do righteous deeds”
True Faith is a positive dynamic reality; and, therefore, righteous deeds are the natural fruits thereof. No sooner is true Faith firmly established in man’s heart than it seeks to manifest itself through performance of righteous deeds. This is because true Faith is by no means a static inactive thing; otherwise it would be either dead or untrue, just like a natural flower that sends forth its fragrance. If there is no fragrance, the flower is artificial or dead. Similarly, righteous work is not a mere accidental act on the part of man, but rather faith-motivated and purposeful work for which all true believers help and counsel one another. Moreover, true Faith is by no means an inactive or passive attitude towards life. It is not mere devotional seclusion or solitude, but, rather, a righteous purposeful movement, a positive rightly guided action and a balanced establishment of the ideal human civilization on earth in accordance with Allah’s Divine System and Guidance.
Thirdly: “And recommend one another to the Truth”
Establishment of the Truth is something difficult; the obstacles are so many, and so are distractors: desires and caprices, interests, circumstances of environment, pressure of work, traditions, customs, covetousness and greed. That is why “recommending one another to the Truth” becomes necessary to remind, encourage, and immunize a believer, and never letting him/her down or extorting any of his/her rights. Moreover, “recommending one another to the Truth” purifies and safeguards man’s individual tendencies and attitudes, because the Truth can not be established and maintained except in a community of true believers where mutual counseling, cooperation, collaboration, solidarity, help and assistance prevail among its members.
By Faith and righteous deeds man attains self-perfection; and by “recommending others to the Truth” he attains perfection to his community. And since existence of this Muslim nation is based on Allah’s True Religion, which has come to us through authentically communicated revealed Divine Scripture, which is confirmed by the mind, proved by reality, and conformed to by man’s pure original nature. Such Truth has to be firmly established and deeply rooted if the Muslim nation is to maintain its entity, unity and mission. In other words, “recommending one another to the Truth” is a decisive critical issue, because if the Truth does not prevail on earth, Falsehood certainly will. Hence, “recommending one another to the Truth” guarantees preservation of man’s existence and fulfillment of his mission.
Fourthly: “And recommend one another to patience”
It is out of Allah’s Wisdom that He, Most Gracious, made this present world an abode of trial with evil and good, and an abode of conflict between Truth and falsehood. Therefore, “recommending one another to patience” is necessary for being successful in such trial and victorious in such conflict. Hence, it is necessary to recommend one another to patience and perseverance against one’s lusty desires and caprices, Falsehood, hardships and grievances. That is why patience is an effective means for overcoming obstacles, multiplying abilities, and achieving objectives.
- Courtesy of www.islamicbulletin.com