Tafsir Surat ash-Shams
Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani
Audhū billāhi min al-Shaytān al-rajīmBismillāh al-rahmān al-rahīmNawaytu al-arbā`īn…
We arrived to the verse, وَالْقَمَرِ إِذَا تَلَاهَا “wal qamari idhā talāha.” We have said in the previous session that as it is in the English commentary, “By the sun and its splendor…by the night when it conceals it” and we have explained about the light of the sun, that source of energy, for which the moon becomes like a mirror reflecting that light. When everything becomes dark, the moon appears. We have explained that extensively.“wal qamari idhā talāha”  – “By the moon as she follows him.” By that Allāh swt is showing us His Greatness beginning with the sun, as it is the greatest sign that humankind can see with the naked eyes and it is a source of energy and a source of light. So Allāh began this Sūrah by swearing an oath by the sun. He then continued, “By the moon,” which followed the same path. However the moon cannot produce energy - instead it reflects the light of the sun. From the day that Allāh swt created the moon, until Judgment Day, the moon remains the moon, and it will never change. It is still going, accompanying all time, and accompanying this universe from its beginning to its end.And most of the scholars said the moon described [the one referenced in this verse]:قَدْ جَاءكُم مِّنَ اللّهِ نُورٌ وَكِتَابٌ مُّبِينٌ “qad jā’akum min Allāhi nūran wa kitābin mubīn”
“There hath come to you from Allāh a (new) light and a perspicuous Book,” [5:15]That light is symbolizing the Prophet (s). And the moon, was created by Allāh for people, when there is darkness, they are able to see, else they well be lost. In the day you can see the sun. During the night you can see the moon. So the day gives you the source of life, which is only in the hand of the Creator. The source of life is not in the hand of creation. So the source of entry that gives life, because of the sun, without the sun you cannot live. So that energy, that power, is in the hand of the Creator.The moon is not giving you the energy and not giving you the life, but it is informing you by reflection that there is a sun there, and you can see it in the daytime. So at night, when we are seekers in the way of Allāh swt, when you are asking to go in that Way, ma`rifatullāh, to know Allāh swt – we are blind. Tell me, can you see beyond that wall? No, you cannot. It is impossible for you to be able to see.When someone is even in that room if there is no light, no electricity, you want to walk, what do you do? You extend your hands, to feel or sense the way to the door so you can go out.If you find yourself in a tunnel and you want to reach the shore of the safety on the other side an there is no light you are in a situation that you cannot see. You send a light. That light which it reflects to you is ma`rifatullāh. When you know ma`rifatullāh, everything becomes clear. So that, when you are on your way, and obstacles face you as you seek to reach the state of perfection, you have to take these veils from your eyes, one by one, in order to see. So you need that knowledge. Who gave you that knowledge? It is that moon, which comes in the nighttime. When daytime arrives it means you have reached ma`rifatullāh. While you are crossing that way, you need a dalīl, a guide. That is the hadrat al-muhammadīyya, the Presence of the Prophet (s). He reflects to you the light that he already received and he will shine it on you when you need it. When do you need it? When you are seeking that way.That is why He said, “The moon does not appear except at night.” It does not give any benefit except at night. It means, “O My servant, seek in My Way.” You are going to face obstacles, you are going to face devils opposing you on the ًWay. You will need light to guide you. That light comes from Muhammad (s).Adam (as) was in
Paradise. Shaytān, the devil, came and whispered in his ears. As a result of that, Allāh was unhappy with him and sent him to earth as punishment. Why, if the devil can whisper in the ears of Adam (as) can he not whisper in our ears? He does not need to whisper, it is so easy.They say about the very famous walī Bayāzīd al-Bistāmī – who was even praised by the one who described and praised tasawwuf according to his own understanding, the founder of the ideology of Wahabism before Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab – Ibn Taymiyya, who mentioned Bayāzīd Bistāmī in his two volumes of his Majma`a fatāwa, at-tasawwuf and `ilm as-sulūk. He praised him and said he was a walī . Given his attitude to many things in Islam, it was extraordinary for him to say that.He was on hajj and he went to Madina for zīyāra. He is a walī , meaning he could see with his spiritual eyes. He inherited from that moon, the Prophet (s). So he saw Shaytān, the devil, running after people. That is a story from the biography of Sayyidinā Bayāzīd.He saw Iblīs and said, “What are you doing here? You are a cursed one.” Iblīs replied, “I am busy.” He asked, “With what are you busy?” Iblīs said, “Many of the visitors here are so far from perfect that I just need to whisper in their ears. But it is more simple, I don’t need to even whisper.” Bayāzīd said, “And what are you doing?” Iblīs replied, “I am riding on them. I put a bridle on them and ride them.”So something came to the heart of Bayāzīd. Even a walī is not ma`sūm. He may fall into sins, but sins not done intentionally. He might do them by mistake and at least you excuse him from what he falls into. No one is ma`sūm except the Prophet (s). Even the Sahāba were not ma`sūm.So a little bit of pride came to his heart. He said, “Yā Iblīs! Do you also have a bridle for me?” What he meant was, “You cannot dare to approach me.” He said, “Yā Bayāzīd. For you I don’t even need a bridle. I will ride you without one.” Because that one word of his dropped Bayāzīd, causing him to fall into the weakness of the ego, causing distance to him from the light of the moon. Everything must be balanced. If that smallest hafwa, in Arabic, that stumble, caused him to fall into such a grave position, what then do you think about us?So Iblīs left and Bayāzīd cursed him. After one or two weeks, it began raining very hard in Madina, `alā sākinihā afdal as-salāt was-salām. And the streets there do not absorb the rain. And there is hikmat - wisdom - in that. People are in need of water, and what is not absorbed people collect.It was raining, raining and raining and the streets were flooded. People were everywhere unable to cross the streets or walk. And old people men, women, etc. were there not knowing what to do.There was an old man among them, walking with a stick, trying to walk through that heavy flood, and he was about to die. And the people were afraid to go and help him as it was a dangerous situation - he might fall and drown. So who gave himself up? Awlīyā’ullāh - Bayāzīd. He said, “Yā ākhī what is your problem?” The old man said, “I am afraid to fall in the flood and drown.” Bayāzīd said, “Come and I will carry you.” He carried him very far through the flooded streets and deposited him safely on dry ground. Then the man said, “Ah Bayāzīd, did I not tell you I will ride you without a bridle?”The meaning of that story is that Iblīs is after us, at all times and places. That means every moment, you must be awake.You are awake during the daylight. And at night you must seclude yourself. And if you want to move, you must seek a light. When you are a seeker in the Way, and you want to reach ma`rifatullāh, at the beginning there are many obstacles. It is in such situations that the moon appears to give you guidance to help you reach the shore of safety.So the moon is reflecting the light of the sun in dark nights for the seekers of the Way that are asking to reach the station of heavenly Lordship’s perfect perfection through their life – to reach that level.How can one reach that? One must follow the one human reality that has been perfected in all perfections. Since Allāh created it, that reality, until the end – Judgment Day. And that reality is the locus and focus of concentration of all the Beautiful Divine Names and Attributes. It is that reality which can be dressed and to which will be opened from the knowledge of these Attributes and Names, that will be dressed on that human reality who is perfected perfect in all the Names and Attributes.That is why to be perfected, you will reach a high level, you will be mentioned in a Presence better than your presence. That is why the dhākirūn-Allāh – those who remember Allāh - will be mentioned in a Presence better than our presence. It means in the Presence of Allāh and that is where the believers are mentioned.The indication of one’s reaching that station of highly perfected perfection is to be mentioned in that Presence. And who is mentioned in that Presence? Whose name is raised with the name of the Creator? The name of Muhammad (s), where Allāh said, “lā ilāha ill-Allāh Muhammadun Rasūlullāh.”That is why he is mazhar tajallī haqīqat al-ilāhīyya. He is the “appearance of the manifestation of the Reality of the Heavenly Light of the Creator” Who dressed him with different perfections coming from Allāh’s Attributes. That is why the Prophet (s) is described in Quran as:عَلَيْكُم بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَؤُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ - “bil mu’minīn rā’ūfun rahīm” – “[9:128]He described him (s) as rā’ūfun rahīm, meaning he (s) is inheriting from Allāh’s Attributes; those with which Allāh is dressing him.And his appearance, Allāh wanted the Prophet (s) to appear as the moon appeared in the universe. He wanted the light of the Prophet (s) to appear different than the light of the other prophet. That is why He did not say, “`Isā Rasūlullāh,” or, “Mūsā Rasūlullāh.” He made everyone say, “Muhammadun Rasūlullāh.” That is all prophets as well.He brought all the prophets and brought forth before them the essence of the Prophet, and ordered them to follow him. And he (s) said, آدم فمن دونه تحت لوائي ولا فخر “Adam and whoever is other than him are under my flag on Judgment Day.” And he (s) said, أنا سيِّدُ ولَدِ آدمَ يومَ القيامةِ ولا فخرَ، - “I am the master of the children of Adam on Judgment Day and I say it without pride.” Allāh raised him (s). Allāh made him to be seen. “lā ilāha ill-Allāh Muhammadu Rasūlullāh.”That is the Moon for the universe, the Moon of the Reality of Creation. He made him (s) the focus of all creation. That creation, all of it knows about Muhammad (s), because he is the reflector of the light of ma`rifatullāh.So those seekers who are seeking in different, inda salookihm was saylihim fil `aalam – as they seek and move in different levels and states into the universe, Allāh gives them:يَا مَعْشَرَ الْجِنِّ وَالْإِنسِ إِنِ اسْتَطَعْتُمْ أَن تَنفُذُوا مِنْ أَقْطَارِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ فَانفُذُوا لَا تَنفُذُونَ إِلَّا بِسُلْطَانٍ“Yā ma`ashar al jinni wal ins in ista`tatum an tanfudhū min aqtār as samāwāt wa al-ard fanfudhū lā tanfudhūna illa bi sultān.“O ye assembly of Jinns and men! If it be ye can pass beyond the zones of the heavens and the earth, pass ye! not without authority shall ye be able to pass!” [55:33]O jinn and mankind - if you want to penetrate through the atmosphere, or different levels of the universe or beyond the universe, you need a Sultan. Who is that Sultan? It is the Moon which is guiding the seeker. Without that light how can you move?So those seekers who are seeking in different levels, uplifting themselves against the desires of their egoes and reaching a situation that they can go beyond the cage of the body; they are able to move beyond the universe. Then they are coming down into the world of worlds, the world of creation, back. [This is a continuous cycle of] ascending up and descending down, through their lives and through their selves. Those are the ones that Allāh swt gave them to understand the human reality from the One that Allāh granted him to be the representative of humanity completely; that is Muhammad (s). Those begin to learn from that knowledge which the Prophet (s) is sending to their hearts from Allāh swt. And he (s) will bring them to a situation of complete annihilation of ma`rifatullāh, fanā’un fillah.How does one reach fanā’un fillah? What is the description for us of that station in ash-Shams? SūratHe did not say “wal-qamari” first and then, “Ash-Shams.” That is because the sun is the source of the moon’s light. When the sun is up the reflection of the moon disappears. When you reach the light of the sun, the moon annihilates, disappears, and reaches the maqām al-fanā’. Why did scholars describe the moon as the Prophet (s), and in the tafsir he is the Reality of the light? It means the light of the moon annihilates, dissolves and disappears in the light of the sun - “yafna fī al-shams.” The moon is the symbol of the Prophet (s) and the stars are the symbol of the awlīyā’ullāh. If the moon disappeared in the light of the sun, then the awlīyā’, the stars, also disappear in the light of the sun.That is the reality of the station of fanā’un fillāh. That is not wahdat al-wujūd. We don’t believe in that. There is no wahdat al-wujūd. There is no unity with Allāh. That is impossible; that is harūm to speak on.Can you become one with Allāh, hāshā? You should ask United Airlines. You cannot even unite with your wife or husband, to agree on everything. How can you become one with the Creator? Can you create? You become annihilated in His Bahr al-Qudra, not with His Essence. There is no unification or union with His Essence. How would the Creator become created? There is no way for that to happen, so that is a wrong understanding. We do not accept that, although the Wahabis say we believe in wahdat al-wujūd because they want to attack us.[What about Shaykh al-Akbar?] He never said [that about wahdat al-wujūd]. What he had in his manuscript they added to whatever they wanted. Yadasu `alayh. There was one copy on the east coast and one on the west. And they added on to it. And there was no way to communicate like we have today, [to explain the discrepancies]. In all his books he never mentioned that belief.[What about when He become the eyes that you see with, the ears you hear with?]That does not mean you become Allāh. It means Allāh will give you a power to see.Mā zāla `abdī yataqarabu ilayya bin-nawāfil hatta uhibah. Fa idhā ahbabtahu kuntu sama`u alladhī yasma`u bihi wa basarahu alladhī yubsiru bihi, wa yadah alladhī yubtishu bihi wa lisanahu alladhī yatakallamu bih.” – “My servant does not cease to approach Me through voluntary worship until I will love him. When I love him, I will become the ears with which he hears, the eyes with which he sees the hand with which he acts and the tongue with which he speaks.” “I will become the eyes he can see with” means, “We will give power that he can see with.” It does not mean you will have His Eyes. But you will be given a power to be able to see.Many people make that mistake. No one can be united with Allāh. It is not our belief, that. But our belief is that the creator, the creation. Lā ilāha ill-Allāh. He is the Creator. Muhammad ur-Rasūlullāh symbolizes the creation. So all for whom Muhammad (s) has been sent, including the Prophet (s) himself, are to be servants to Allāh swt. There is no unity there. It is a separation. “Lā ilāha ill-Allāh” is an Unseen Treasure, ghayban mutlaq, Absolute Unseen.So in what is annihilation then? Not annihilation in the Essence, which they call “annihilation in Allāh” That is haram, hāsha. We cannot say that. It is annihilation in the Attribute of Power, because Allāh said, إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ “innā lillāhi wa innā ilayhi raji`ūn” – “because when we die, we go back to where we were created, that is the annihilation in our origin, in Bahr al-qudrā, the Ocean of Power.Similarly, annihilation in the Prophet (s) means you completely give yourself up in love of the Prophet (s). The annihilation in the shuyukh means you will prefer anything for your Shaykh so that he will guide you to reality of the Prophet and Prophet (s) will guide you to Bahr al-Qudra, annihilation.That is why in the daytime the moon disappears. During the day, the sun is out and the stars disappear. That means there is no existence before Allāh’s Existence. That means everything is `abd. Even the sun, but we are speaking here symbolically.So the moon, although it disappears when the sun is up, shining, the moon disappears, but it only disappears only when the sun is shining. But the light of the moon is still there, it is still shining. The light of the stars is still there. But they do not stand up as existing in front of what is greater than them. Allāhu Akbar. No one can stand up and say, “I am existing.” That is like standing up here and saying, “I am the boss, I am the greatest.” Though you still have that light. But because of that light you know you are nothing. Tiny miney. You are nothing. This earth compared to the universe, might not be a dot. And you compared to the earth might not be a dot. So how are you standing up and saying “I am”.And many people say, “By Allāh’s favor on us, we are Muslim saying, “lā ilāha ill-Allāh Muhammadun Rasūlullāh.”Others are saying, “There is no God, aliens created us.” Where are those aliens then? Some say, “Monkeys created us.” Others say, “UFOs created us.” Later they might say that dinosaurs created us. They are falling more and more into the trap of Shaytān.So although you are not in existence, that light is still there. That is why when Allāh gave that understanding to the Prophet, the Perfect Perfected Reality, he brought him to the Presence of Allāh in the Isrā’ and Mi`rāj. [At such a station] you are not going to say, “I exist.” Instead you will say, “Existence belongs to Allāh alone.” That is why Sayyidinā Muhammad (s) was called `abd.سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَى بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلاً - “subhāna alladhī asrā bi-`abdihi laylan ...”“Glory to the One Who did take His servant for a Journey by night …” [17:1]He understood his position, as `Abdullāh. We say it with our tongue but not by our actions; not by our heart. You have to show it by action. To show it by action you must be submitting to Allāh’s Will. To submit to Allāh’s Will, means no objection. What comes, comes, what goes, goes.There was one Sahabi in the time of the Prophet. He said, “If Allāh gave me the whole dunya in the morning and takes it from me in the evening, or if I have nothing in the morning and the whole dunya in the evening, it is not different to me.” That means he was balanced. When someone is balanced, he does not exceed the limits.But today, when someone becomes a doorkeeper for the president, he begins to think he is something great. And if he becomes president, or if he becomes the king, he wants people to worship him. Now they even name the country with their own name. Who gave them the authority to name the nation after them. Do you own the land? Allāh owns you and owns everything. How is Allāh going to give these people and everyone like us; how is He going to call us to His Presence, to call us to approach that Reality, when we are not yet understanding ourselves, and we still think that we are something.There is no one who is something in Allāh’s Presence. Even the prophets are afraid. Even Sayyidinā Muhammad (s), though Allāh raised him [to the highest maqām], is still afraid.Don’t fight. It is not going to benefit. Don’t criticize - it is not going to benefit. Don’t complain… what is written is written for you. What is destined for you is destined for you.Allāhuma salli `alā Sayyidinā Muhammad hatta yardā Sayyidinā Muhammad.So when that light annihilates in the light of the sun, that means the light of the Reality of the Perfect Perfected human being is annihilating in the light of that Divine Presence, of Allāh’s Presence, completely, until there will be no athar, no trace. At that time you can reach the maqām at-tawhīd. Then you will be able to understand the reality of “lā ilāha ill-Allāh.” Then you are a real muwahhid. You are pure in your tawhīd.Now they tell you all kinds of issues regarding tawhīd, tawhīd al-ilūhīyya, tawhīd ar-rubūbīyya, and they don’t understand anything from tawhīd. That means when your existence is completely submitted and gone, in fact, at that time you will understand the maqām at-tawhīd. That means, “When I called you to ascend to My Presence,” and He is the only one who reached the maqām at-tawhīd. That is why Allāh placed “Muhammadu Rasūlullāh” because he will never transgress that limit. That is why he said:قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَاللّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ“In kuntum tuhibūn Allāha fat-tabi`ūnī yuhbibkumullāh wa yaghfir lakum dhunūbakum.”“Say: ‘If ye do love Allāh, Follow me: Allāh will love you and forgive you your sins: For Allāhn is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’" You know in the old airports, when you land there is a car that comes and written on it is a sign which says, “Follow me.” The airplane has to follow. It cannot say, “No.” Like a train. There is a main engine and all the wagons are hooked behind. “In kuntum tuhibūn Allāh… Allāh will love you. When? “When you follow my footsteps.”If you want to reach maqām at-tawhīd, and you cannot reach it, only the Prophet can reach it, but you will be able to follow the traces, and you will continue perfecting it and perfecting it, and you might reach what Allāh has for you, you might reach 90% or 95% or 99%. Only the Prophet (s) reached the complete perfection of maqām at-tawhīd and that is why Allāh called him to His Presence in Isrā’ and Mir`aj.Allāhuma salli `alā Sayyidinā Muhammadin wa `alā āli Sayyidinā Muhammad.So when you reach that level you will never lose it. You will be always like a light. That is why the Prophet (s), when he reached the station of “Muhammadun Rasūlullāh,” he is always “Muhammadun Rasūlullāh.” He is always in that position. He won’t be there now and not there later. Not one other prophet has been mentioned like that other than Sayyidinā Muhammad(s).So when they reach that level, when the awlīyā’ullāh follow the footsteps of the Prophet (s) [they reach the station described as]:مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ رِجَالٌ صَدَقُوا مَا عَاهَدُوا اللَّهَ عَلَيْهِ فَمِنْهُم مَّن قَضَى نَحْبَهُ وَمِنْهُم مَّن يَنتَظِرُ وَمَا بَدَّلُوا تَبْدِيلاً – “min al-muminīna rijālun sadaqū mā `aahadūllāha `alayh. Fa minhum man qadā nahbahu wa minhum man yantazhir wa mā badalū tabdīla.”“Among the Believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allāh.” [33:23]They are following the footsteps of Sayyidinā Muhammad (s). Allāh will give them and keep them with that light. Then they become light for others, they become reflectors. Some planets, have more than one moon. Jupiter has how many? Whatever they have. You become a moon to the moon. The moon is one. That is Sayyidinā Muhammad (s). He reflects from the Divine Presence and those who are also reflecting become moons as well. And Allāh’s swt extreme generosity never ends. May Allāh forgive us, and may Allāh bless us and next time we continue. Verse 3 and 4, inshā’Allāh.
 Talaha comes from the word tala, to read. It means the Prophet (s) is reading the Sun, or reading the information from the Sun. “Behold! Allah took the covenant of the prophets, saying: "I give you a Book and Wisdom; then comes to you an apostle, confirming what is with you; do ye believe in him and render him help." Allah said: "Do ye agree, and take this my Covenant as binding on you?" They said: "We agree." He said: "Then bear witness, and I am with you among the witnesses." [3:81] Musnad Ahmad. Musnad Ahmad. A slightly different wording from a similar narration found in Sahīh al-Bukhārī.