Surah Nas (Mankind) is the final (114th) surah of the Qur’an and the second of the two muwwazatayn (the two protectors). Surah Nas consists of six verses made up of 20 words (80 letters). Surah Nas is classified as a Meccan surah and is linked with the previous surah Falaq with emphasis on seeking protection from evil. In addition, in the preceding surah, Allah was referred to as Lord of Falaq (meaning creation and physical dangers affect all), whereas here He is referred to in relation to mankind. Mankind has been specifically mentioned because the protection of Iman is related only to human beings.
Surah Nas in one of the muwwazatayn which are recited either as two surahs (Falaq and Nas) or in addition to surah Ikhlas. The reasons for revelation, the ahadith mentioning surah Nas and the benefits of surah Nas, namely protection from evil, are the same as surah Falaq.
Say, “I take refuge with the Lord of humankind,
- Thomas Cleary
Here Allah is commanding his beloved Messenger ﷺ to say “I seek protection, security and refuge in the lord of the people”. RabbinNas is explained as the lord of people, the one who created, nurtured and ruled the affairs of mankind. He is the lord who created mankind and gave them life out of nothingness and bestowed upon them different types of blessings. Mankind is specifically mentioned in this ayah, and even though His greatness goes beyond him being the Lord of the entire universe, by saying “lord of the people” is an ennoblement and honoring for mankind. In this regard, Allah subjugated for humans what is in the creation and He assisted them with intellect and knowledge. Further, He made the angels of the enclosure of holiness bow down to mankind (in the loins of Prophet Adam) and therefore humans are considered to be the most superior of created beings. In fact, in all of the first three ayahs of this surah, the word Nas is specifically repeated as use of the genus (mankind) rather than the pronoun in order to honor and show great consideration about the affairs of mankind by their lord Allah.
RabbinNas refers to the developer, nourisher and sustainer of mankind. He benefits them and rids harm from them. Mankind is in the greatest need of sustenance and development during childhood, at which point the child realises Allah as the sustainer and nourisher. He is the Rabb of the children. As Allah nourishes in the first part of a human’s life, it is thus mentioned first in this surah. At this time, a human recognises Allah’s attribute of Rabb more than any other attribute.
“the ruler of humankind,
- Thomas Cleary
He is the king of all the creation, both of those that rule and the ones that are ruled, with complete ownership exhaustively. He rules and regulates their actions and manages their affairs. Therefore He honours or debases them, provides or takes away from them. This is the meaning of Malik of mankind.
Malik refers to the ruler and sovereign of mankind. As a person grows older, his need for physical growth and nourishment recedes, and as he enters and involves himself in society as a fully-grown adult, he begins to require rules and regulations to guide his involvement and interaction, for example guidelines for trade, marriage, divorce and religious rituals etc. In his youth he is careless and can go off the rails, and thus needs a ruler. Thus, at this stage of his life, his greatest contact with his Lord is Allahas ruler and law giver. Hence, it is the child who recognises the attribute of Rabb, mentioned in the first ayat. Whereas the youth recognise the attribute of Malik, mentioned here in the second ayat.
“the God of humankind,
- Thomas Cleary
He is the only one worshipped by people and there is no lord apart from him. Qurtubi said that Allah says IlaahinNas after MalikinNas because amongst people there are kings, so Allah reminds them that He is their king. Amongst people there are those who worship other than Allah, so Allah reminds them, with IlaahinNas, that he is their lord as well.
IlaahinNas refers to the deity and object of devotion. As each human passes further through life and into his later years he begins to retreat from society, either because of physical deterioration or simply through contentment or disillusionment with the world. As he withdraws from society and becomes ever aware of his mortality, he begins to increase his reflection and remembrance of Allah and devotes more time to worship. Now his relationship with Allah as the centre of devotion and worship.
As he is the Rabb, Maalik and Ilaah, he is the one you must seek refuge in and turn to and not to kings and people of high ranks. The mentioning of the three different attributes of Allah tells us that irrespective of the stage of life each human is at, he needs to protect himself from the Devil, who can and will attack at any stage of life, either through the exuberance of youth, or the pragmatism of adulthood, or in the remissive years of one’s later life.
The three attributes may refer to the maturity and state of one’s Iman and belief. Initially a person becomes aware of his Rabb’s apparent blessings (of food, shelter, health etc), before then becoming aware of Allah’s attributes of Maalik sovereignty. Following this, he then discovers that He is above everything else in greatness and majesty, and in whose reflection the intellect is limited and he submits to Him as his Ilaah (deity).
“from the ill of flighty suggestion
- Thomas Cleary
This ayah is about the evil of shaytaan who incites man to carry out acts of disobedience. Waswasa is defined as the inner voice, or the silent speech which the heart can hear but the ear cannot. From this we realise that the inner voices we hear in our heart and mind are not just trivial but are being planted and we need to be wary of them.
Khannas is when the shaytaan disappears and delays his influence when the servant remembers his lord and when the servant becomes heedless then the whispering of shaytaan returns back to him. This is explained in the hadith that indeed shaytaan places his snout in the heart of the son of Adam, so when mentions Allah, the shaytaan retreats and when he forgets Allah, shaytaan seizes his heart and whispers to him.
“that whispers in people’s hearts
- Thomas Cleary
Due to his malice, he throws into the hearts of men different types of whispers and insinuations. Qurtubi said that his whispering is a calling to shaytaan’s obedience with silent speech, the subject of which reaches the heart without the hearing of sound.
Tafseer Ruh ul Bayan highlights that Allah did not say ‘into the hearts’ but said ‘into the chest’. This is because the chest is the porch to the heart and the house of the heart. The porch is the space between the door and the house. It means the devil enters the house and porch of the heart and from there enters into the heart whatever it wishes.
“from demonic and human sources.”
- Thomas Cleary
These shayateen who whisper into the chests of humans are from the jinn and from mankind. This verse tells us that the Devil has followers amongst the jinn and humans who undertake his evil work for him. Thus, one needs to be aware of this and seek Allah’s protection from them. The devils amongst jinn put waswasa in hearts whilst the human shaytans come to a person openly if the listener scolds them, they run away but if he shows the slightest interest the ‘friend’ increases the waswasa. Some scholars say that human devils are worse than the jinn devils because you do not see the jinn entering the waswasa whereas with the human devils you do.