[transcript] I Swear by Time: a tafsir of surah Al ‘Ashr

time turner

The first thing we gonna talk about today is the fact this is one of the surahs that belongs to a score of surahs that begin with oaths. The rough translation if i was to say “wal ‘ashr”, “I swear by time”. It’s very course translation but still, the point that’s coming across is Allah Himself is taking an oath. He’s swearing by something. What’s the benefit of Allah ‘Azza wa Jalla swearing? There are few;

  1. Acknowledge the _____, the magnificent nature of something

Whenever Allah swears by a something profound and magnificent, something that demands reflection, in other words, Allah is calling the human being’s attention to reflect on the passage of time.

  1. In this surah there’s also the object of the oath, Al ‘Ashr. What’s the subject? Innal insaana lafii khusr. Allah says His swears by time, or by the passage of time, and then He declares that “all human beings are immersed in a state of loss”. So there’s the object being time, and the subject being the loss of the human being. When this happens typically in the Quran and also in ancient Arabic _____, the object is actually a proof of the subject. In other words, if you say human being are in loss, and somebody says “what’s your proof?”, what is the one thing human beings are losing all the time? Time. Huh huh. Right? Well this is asset that we can never keep, we can’t hold on to this hour, this minute, this second. It is leaving us, and it will continue to leave us. It is not something you can store and use later on. Another way of Al ‘Ashr understood is; ‘Ashr is also refers to the life of nations. So when Allah says Al ‘Ashr, it doesn’t refers to the passage of time of a day only, or a life of one person, but the life of an entire nation. And these rises and falls of nations themselves are proof that human beings are in loss.

Then you go further and find that the object of the oath is a witness for the subject of the oath. This is different now, we said two things: the object is a proof of the subject, that’s one thing. The second is the object is a witness for the subject. How we understand that suratul ‘Ashr is Allah is bringing time as a witness to something. What is time supposed to witness? That no doubt human beings are immersed in loss. What is that means? The humanity at large, they are run after things. We run after things that are actually distractions from our real purpose in life. “Alhaakum attakaatsur”, “it deluted you; the want of more, ____ to get more and more”. It distracted you from your real purpose. Now, are we the first people who run after wealth? Or to run after a house? Or to run after getting marry to a beautiful woman? Are we the first to run after these things or were the people before run after these things too? They were. And people run after them thinking that they are going to have success, when they get them they will have success. And Allah made time a witness that people came, and they ran after these things, and they failed. And there other people came, and they ran after these things, and they failed again. And other people came, and did the same thing again; thousands upon thousands of years, hundreds upon hundreds of generations, run after another the same drama over and over again. And one creation of Allah has been watching it happen, it witness to this thing over and over again, it almost ____ when it sees our struggles then says “here we go again”. Here’s another one. So another way, time is a witness to the tragedy of human life, the tragedy of the human being aspirations had it in the wrong direction. So time is being brought as a witness against us, or a witness to the tragedy of the human being.

One of the meaning of ‘ashr is time that is running out, or the last portion of time. Even shalatul ‘ashr is the last part of the day, when time is running out. And classically speaking, ‘ashr was the time in ancient society, especially in arab society, when the merchant, and the traveler, they always in a hurry. Because you know when it’s night fall, there’s a lot of danger, they can’t protect their assets, and things like that. So the most hassle and bustle happens when ‘ashr time. That’s the busiest most urgent time. In other word, the next lesson we’re learning here in the surah as we go on is; whatever Allah has to say, “the time for you and me to react is not a lot of time”. We need to act quickly, because the dawn of our life has set upon us! That’s being captured in just a word Al ‘Ashr; benefit of this oath is a sense of urgency.


Behind the scene

As one project to increase my ability in listening english, this time i posted a transcription of 5 minutes 51 seconds “I Swear”, a tafsir of surah Al ‘Ashr (surah 103) by Nouman Ali Khan. It is a typography of the tafsir series creatively made by Green Bird Media Production. The idea to do transcript as a part of wedneslish is actually came, maybe a month ago. I have several videos which i’ve listened quite often, i’ve tried to catch word by word, and i’ve prepared to transcript those videos, but finally this one came out first.

I started to transcript this yesterday morning, it took about less than one hour to finish the first two paragraphs. At first it quite hard since i haven’t find a good method, but then i get used of it. Then i continued this morning, and alhamdulillah i just need 30 minutes to finish the rest.

At first i tried to type the transcription on my laptop’s notepad & ms word, but in fact it’s really hard as i had to drag the cursor to pause the video, then to point the cursor the continue typing, then to play the video again; found out that it didn’t really effective. So i took my phone and continue typing in there until finished. Way more easy because no need to drag here and there again.

There are four blank spaces above, means unfortunately i still could’t catch the words till this post released. anyone who has watched this video is welcome to give any correction.

Finally, the ultimate purpose about why i post this is of course to take more time to reflect ourselves with the Quran. And i took this surah, because it is time, that witnesses us along in our lifetime. Something that Allah already warned us to be aware to, because our time here in this world have a limit, and we have not much. The dawn of our life has set upon us, and we have to be quick.


2 thoughts on “[transcript] I Swear by Time: a tafsir of surah Al ‘Ashr

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s