Tafsir Surat ash-Shams

Let us proceed with some explanation of the verse, “Was-shamsi wa duhaaha” “By the sun and his glorious splendor.” Why did Allah swt choose to begin this surah by mentioning the sun? Because as everyone knows, the scientists say that if there was no sun there would be nothing living on earth. The sun is a major source of life. And Allah wants to show us His greatness through the foremost signs in the heavens, from which He then moves down to our life here on earth. Therefore He began with, “was-shamsi wa duhaaha” which He followed with an oath, “by the moon which follows him,” followed by an oath with the day and then one with the night. He described a complete picture of life in the first three verses of this surah. The sun, the moon, the day in which we live and the night in which we sleep. He then goes on to show the relationship between heaven and earth saying: “By the firmament and its wonderful structure, and by the earth and its expanse.” Then He comes to us, human beings, swearing an oath by the soul and the proportion and order given to it. So when Allah swt says, “By the sun and its splendor,” He is swearing by the sun. What do we understand from “the sun.” When we pray salaat al-Fajr, the sun is not visible. We don’t see the sun at that time, but we see its light. How is the sun known? By its light. He followed the mention of the sun by mention of its light. Ishraq is the time when the sun rises and becomes visible. That is the time in which one prays salat al-ishraq. You are praying to Allah at that time remembering His greatness in His creating that source of light for you. That is why awliya follow the Sunnah to pray ishraq. The dawn of the sun is one of Allah’s Signs for which you bow down, thanking Allah for the source of light and energy that made all life possible on earth. And then He said, “By the sun and its splendor.”  What does splendor mean? Duhaaha does not mean simply splendor. It comes from dahwa, which is the appearance in the sky of the light of the sun and its establishing its strength, as when a star appears in a meeting he grabs the interest of all the attendees who say, “You are the spotlight, the guest of honor”. It means the main attraction. The sun as it appears in the sky, dominates the whole sky becoming ‘Sultan of the sky.’ Nothing else appears there any longer. Do you see anything else there? That means through the strength of its light it becomes sultan. The appearance is for the sun. Do you see anything else? Look at the sun for two minutes, then turn away your eyes, you see nothing but darkness for your eyes have been blinded. After we pray salaat al-ishraq, we then pray salaat ad-duha, which is when the sun has ascended higher in the sky, at mid-morning. Then, when the sun is at the zenith we pray salaat adh-dhuhr. In between we pray salaat ad-duha. The highest peak of the sun is at the zenith. At that time the sun is at the height of its strength in the sky, just as the moon is when it is full. Ad-dahwa, and ad-duha, are two words that describe nur ash-shams, the light of the sun. When that light appears, every shadow disappears when the sun reaches duha, the zenith. That is why at the zenith, if you put up a stick, you see no shadow. The sun is in control of the day, dominating everything. Nothing remains outside its control. You need to understand that this verse is not speaking of something ordinary. Who is putting that sun in its place with its tremendous light, coming into existence millions of years ago, as the source of light, giving life to everything without discrimination, and through its relationship with the earth causing the day and night to be two signs, ayataan, two miracles of Allah’s Greatness. One sign is His making the earth turn around itself, making day and night. Why not the sun turning about the earth? Who made the sun fixed and the earth moving?  Is not there something behind this elegant design? That is Allah’s greatness, saying, “Take an example from My creation. Look at the sun and its strength and its domination.” Nothing can stand in front of the sun. If you look at it through a powerful telescope it burns everything. Even shining the sun’s light through a magnifying lens, will burn. Who made that source of energy? How much oil are they producing to make energy here, and they are afraid that after 100 or perhaps even 20 years it will finish. Allah was not afraid that the sun will finish. That is the power of يَقُولَ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ – “kun fa yakoon,” – “Be! And it is.” [36:82] When He says, “Be!” then it will be. When He says, “Stop,” it will stop. Tasbih ash-shams, the sun’s praising of Allah, is what keeps its light and its energy continuously emanating. That power comes from its praising Allah swt. We cannot hear that praise, but the Prophet (s) can hear it. Its praising it is its source of existence, of life. When Allah wants it to cease, He orders it to stop praising and when it stops, it goes out.

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