The tafsir of Sura al Duha was the subject of the very first Halaqa I ever went to, a few days after my reversion, and holds a special place in my heart. Although this sura is directed at a specific instance in the life of the Prophet sallalahu allayhi wa salaam, the general meaning is very apparent to me, and is a great source of comfort in times of distress.
1) By the white forenoon
At the time, all I realized about these opening oaths was that it was Allah swearing by His creation, which he does to emphasize the seriousness of the oath. Now, I can see how this description relates to the rest of the sura and to my own life. When I think back to the early days following my reversion, I perceive brightness everywhere, I remember days full of light, excitement and apprehension, in my mind everything is glossed with a vivid light, even the events that occurred at night, and this light is comparable to the forenoon, the brightest part of the day, where everything is vivid and clear. This light can also apply to the lightness I felt within me, in my breast, as my breast had been expanded, with the love of this glorious deen. The goodness in me had triumphed and overcome the darkness and permeated every part of my being. Alhamdulillah, after the darkness of jahiliya that I was engulfed in Allah had guided me! Just as after the darkness of night comes the forenoon.
In relation to the rest of the sura, this oath emphasizes the glory of the things Allah has done for us, specifically for His Rasool sallallahu allayhi wa salaam, and generally for all of mankind. It emphasizes the light and goodness of submitting to Islam and trusting Allah, and knowing he will always be with you. It highlights the favours he has bestowed upon us all.
2) And by the night when its darkness intensifies,
This oath is a polar opposite to the first, it can be inferred from it that the oath is also being sworn by all states of light in between, the whole spectrum of light, the whole existence of light, of the wonder that Allah has given us the night for rest and the day for work. It reminds us that we worship Allah in the light and in the darkness, in times of goodness and of strife, in the middle of the day and the darkest part of the night.
This ayah reminds me of the darkness of my times in jahiliya, of the crimes against my own soul and against Allah that I had committed, the gloomiest most depressing times in my life, when the darkness was bearing down on me. It speaks of how without Islam there is no light, how one cannot see the reality of this life, as one cannot see in the darkest part of the night. It reminds me how blind I was, until I entered Islam.
3) Thy Rabb has neither forsaken thee or hates thee.
n this ayah I see all the ways Allah has guided me throughout my life, how He was always there, keeping me away from the worst of dangers, the worst of sins, how no matter how I transgressed he never bid me farewell but led me by the hand, step by step, subtly and in wondrous ways, ways that I could never have foreseen. It reminds me of the tremendousness of his majesty, of the intricacy of his plans. This ayah calms me, it reassures me, it impacts me with the knowledge that as Long as I do not forget Allah, and carry on striving, that He will be there for me, cherishing me and nurturing me, overlooking my progress, and cheering me on. I know that my the very of virtue of reading or reflecting on this ayah that I have not forgotten Allah, so I am secure He won’t dessert me
4) And the akhira will be better for you than that which is first
As a Muslim I know that it doesn’t matter what calamities I am faced with in this life, if I remain steadfast in my ibadah and have sabr, then my reward will be in the everlasting, hereafter. This ayah reminds me of the temporary nature of this world, and the goal for which I am striving for. It reminds me of the glory of jannah and the terror of hell fire, it reminds me why I reverted, and of Allah’s promises to his believing servants.
5) And that your Rabb will give to you until you are pleased.
The satisfaction and pleasure of being a Muslim is what I feel from this verse. It strengthens the feeling of having tawaaqal and knowing the promises of Allah that occurred in the preceding verse. I am pleased with Allah as my Lord, Islam as my deen and Muhammad sallalahu allayhi wa salaam as my Prophet. This verse solidifies those feelings within me, and causes my breast to lighten as I read the words. It impacts me with a deep feeling of pleasure and contentment. I am content with Islam. I am content with the lightness of feeling that comes with Islam, in comparison to the heaviness and darkness of my life before Islam, which wasn’t even my life, I see that as another person, I cannot empathize with or recognize that person. This connects with the oaths in the first two ayahs.
6) Did he not find thee an orphan and He gave support and care to you?
Of course he did! I am not a literal orphan, but my mother is. I had a skewed concept of family. My parents are divorced and I constantly felt family was something missing in my life, and looked in the wrong places to find that sense of belonging and stability and love. Allah has provided me with that which I lacked, he has enjoined me with my husband, and provided us with children to care for mashallah. Allah provided me with the means of being cared for and the means with which to care for others. I have the whole Ummah as my family now.
7) Did He not find you lost and He guided you?
Of course I was lost! I was screaming out for the need for directions, I needed someone to find me. I didn’t know which path to travel, my mind swayed from here to there. Allah provided me with this moment of clarity. I could see in my mind, just for a second, my whole life before me on a forked path. On one side was if I stayed a kafir, I could see a lifestyle of glamour and glitz, travel, romance, high paid career, but that emptiness I felt would always be there, following me, I would never be fulfilled. On the other path I saw my life as a Muslimah. Modest, nothing to show off about, just stable, married with kids, living in a modest manner, facing hardships, but inside the emptiness was gone. I had found what I was searching for. Subhanallah, it occurred in an instant, but that day I got up and went to the mosque and said my shahadah. Surrounded by brightness, my whole body was trembling with God consciousness, when I got there all I could say to the sister was “I want to take my shahadah” I did not have the energy for introductions or explanations, my whole self was focused on this one thing. She said when she saw me she thought I had been mugged because I was shaking so much! Truly Allah guided me.
8) Did he not find you impoverished, and enriched you?
Of course! He enriched me with ilm, with love, with everything I could ever want or need. I could write a whole dissertation on how Allah has enriched me!
9) As for the orphan do not overcome and humiliate him.
This reminds me of the state I was in, and how I should not be proud or judgmental over others, and how I should not treat them harshly but with compassion, the way my Rabb treated me. It also reminds me that we do not know the state in which we will die, or the state in which others will die.
10) And as for the asker do not rebuke harshly!
Before Islam I had nothing, and now I have so much, so those that come asking, or in need, I should treat them gently, the way people treated me, and the way my Rabb treated me. It also reminds me that some people do treat others harshly, so Allah blessed me through providing people around me that didn’t treat me that way.
11) And as for the blessings of your Rabb proclaim it!
This is a reminder for me to want for other people what I wanted for myself, to be thankful to Allah and to make duua my family are guided. It is a command to me to spread Islam and show others the beauty and perfection in it. It causes me to reevaluate my actions, and remember to have good character, to demonstrate to others what Islam is about and what it can give to you. When I read this I feel like going to the rooftops and shouting out! That is the picture it creates in my mind, me on a roof shouting out the beauties of Islam!
This Sura is a sura full of hope, when I feel depressed, or uncertain, I come to this sura, to show me even the Prophet Muhammad sallalahu allayhi wa salaam, felt like this sometimes. It fills me with renewed optimism for the future, and makes me more aware of Allah’s closeness to me. It also reminds me of those first days as a new Muslim, filled with anticipation and wonder, feeling apprehensive yet looking forward to the days and months and years to come, which is something I had never been able to do before. It makes my whole being feel light and airy. It makes me remember all the things Allah has done for me, which are amazing and I could never repay him for. It makes me reflect on the changes in my life and how far I have come.
In Islam there is always hope.