Surah Falaq (Daybreak) is the third of the 4 Quls and one of the muwwazatayn (the two protectors). Surah Falaq is the 113th surah of the Qur’an consisting of five verses made up of 23 words (71 letters).
The reason why Surah Falaq was revealed
During the time of the Prophet ﷺ there was a Jew by the name of Labid bin Asam who attempted to carry out magic on the Prophet ﷺ. The muwwazatayn were revealed in response to this and the magic did not affect the Prophet ﷺ in its entirety as it effects normal people. The only reason why some effect was observed on the Prophet ﷺ was to show the people the benefit of reading surah Falaq and Naas for protection against such magic.
Benefits of Surah Falaq
The verses are prayed for protection against every evil from human and jinn. It is a protection against envy and the whispering of shaitan, as reflected by the verses themselves. Mother of believers, Aisha J reported that the Prophet ﷺ would recite surah Falaq and surah Naas, blow upon his hands and pass them over his head, face and front of his body. When he ﷺ was too ill, Aisha J would recite them and take the Prophet’s ﷺ hands and pass them over his body.
By reciting the three Quls (surah Ikhlas, surah Falaq and surah Nas) three times a Muslim will be protected throughout the day and during the afternoon. These verses will suffice him for his needs, too.
Hadith on Surah Falaq
- Uqba I was taught by the Prophet ﷺ to recite these two surahs whenever you lie down and whenever you rise (Tirmidhi, Nasai).
- Uqba I narrates that once when he was with the Prophet ﷺ and he put his hands on his ﷺ feet and pleaded, “Teach me Surah Hud and Surah Yusuf.” The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said “You will not read anything more virtuous and near to Allah than Al Falaq (Nasai).
- Abu Saeed Khudri I narrates that the Prophet ﷺ used to seek protection from the evil eye of jinn and humans by reciting other verses of the Qur’an, but after the muwwazatayn were revealed, he began reciting them and stopped all others for protection.
Say, “I take refuge in the Lord of dawn
- Thomas Cleary
The word falaq literally means to tear something apart and the intended meaning here is “daybreak” because the day break away from the night. In this Ayat, Allah is saying to the noble Messenger ﷺ say “I seek refuge, protection and cling to the all-powerful, Allah, who broke the night and separated from it the day and he is the lord of whole of the universe and originator of all the creation.
Daybreak and dawn are also associated with and are a simile for relief and freedom, so when seeking physical well-being we are taught by this surah to seek refuge in the Lord or Creator of relief. The scholars of Islam state that the coming of dawn changes heaviness into lightness and sorrow into happiness. Experience bears witness that the one in pain in the early part of the night finds relief towards the end of the night (Tafseer Ruhul Bayan).
Another reason for the morning being special and blessed is that it is the time when the angels of the night and day meet on the Earth. It is a prosperous time with greater hope that supplications will be accepted.
“from the ill of what is created,
- Thomas Cleary
Here the noble Messenger ﷺ is commanded to say that he seeks refuge from the creator. Namely, from the evil of everything that possesses evil from the entire creation because there is absolutely no helper against it except for the one who created it in the first place. He has dominion over it, disposer of its matters and he is the who can change their states.
In this realm there are two types of being: the creator and the created. There is only one creator, the Almighty Allah and everything else is His creation. So, in this verse we seek Allah’s protection from the evil of every being save Him.
“and from the ill of darkness when it’s gloomy,
- Thomas Cleary
Gaasiq is the part of the night when its darkness is intense. The word gasaq is used in another part of Qur’an Allah says “aqimasalaata lidulooki shamsi ila gasaqilayl” which is translated as “establish your prayers from the setting of the sun to the darkness of the night”. Much of evil is carried out in the night when it is dark and we are told to protect ourselves from this. People are more vulnerable at night and evil such as thefts, murders and rape happen most often in the night. Some scholars of Islam differ and state that gaasiq refers to the moon or stars and others say it refers to the night in a general sense. Waqab means to enter or to overcome, so here it is the description of the night when it overcomes. The night is such that it covers everything and everything disappears under its darkness and man does not know the whereabouts of his enemies during this darkness.
“and from the ill of those who curse,
- Thomas Cleary
The word Nafaathaat in this verse is known as a hyperbolic participle (Ism Mubaalagah) and is a plural of Nafaatha which means to blow with a little spittle from the mouth. Uqad is the tying of knots. What is intended in this verse is description of people who cast spells, they recite words, tie knots in a piece of string and blow upon it. This verse reveals that there is evil in the words of magicians. Also, by implication there must also be good outcomes of blowing after reciting the name of Allah, so reciting verses and tying knots is permissible (Tafsir Nur ul Irfan). Further, Tafsir Qurtubi discusses at length the permissibility reciting the Qur’an and then Nafath (blowing with a little spittle).
There is discussion amongst the scholars about why the word comes in the feminine form. Three possible explanations are:
- Most magic was done by women hence the word comes as a feminine for to describe the doer of the evil action. Or specifically Labid’s daughters (rather than Labid himself) who performed magic on the Messenger of Allah ﷺ (Tafsir Nur ul Irfan).
- The word is feminine because it’s a description of an implied word Nufoos. It is rule of Arabic grammar that non-human plurals can have feminine adjectives. Nufoos is a non-human plural and Nafaathaat is its adjective describing it therefore inclusive of both men and women who carry of this evil action.
- The word is a hyperbolic participle and the letter “taa” at the end of Nafaathaat is not for femininity but comes in this form due to it being a hyperbolic participle and it is inclusive of both men and women. This is akin to the word “Alaama” (which means highly learned scholar) having the letter “taa” at the end of the Arabic word and is not for femininity but due to it being on the form of a hyperbolic participle and inclusive of men and women.
“and from the ill of the envious when he envies.”
- Thomas Cleary
Hasad is translated as envy and is one of the diseases of the heart and the envier is an enemy of the blessings of Allah (Risala Qushariya). It means ‘to wish for another’s blessing or virtue to be transferred to you or, (at least), the other be deprived of it. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said “Do not envy one another, do not have enmity towards one another, be, oh servants of Allah, bothers to one another” (Bukhari and Muslim). Further the Prophet ﷺ said “beware of envy because it consumes your virtuous deed as fire consumes wood” (Abu Dawood).
Hasad is mentioned because it is the worst and lowest level of human character. The Prophet ﷺ said, “There are three whose supplication is not accepted: the one who eats haram, the one who backbites a lot and the one who has hasad in his heart for the Muslims. The Prophet ﷺ also said “the believer is happy whilst the hypocrite is envious,” and, “No one’s heart will combine Iman and hasad” (Tafseer Qurtubi). Imam Alusi said regarding this verse about those who show the envy that they harbour towards the other and they work towards bringing about some evil. They originate harm by action and words against the one they envy.
Qabeel murdered Habeel because of hasad while Abu Jahal and the other Quraysh refused to accept the Prophet ﷺ because of hasad. In the famous Tafseer Jalalayn it states that the Jews of the time were envious of the Prophet ﷺ, and that Lubeed was also Jewish. This surah tells us that magic and hasad are two very evil acts because they are specifically mentioned after the seeking of protection from general evil.
In summary, surah Falaq highlights that magic and envy are extremely evil acts because they are specifically mentioned after the seeking of protection from general evil.