Optimism in Surah Ad-Duha

Author : Dr. Mohammad bani Taha

Date Added : 03-03-2024

Optimism in Surah Ad-Duha


All perfect praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.


In this world, there are trials, afflictions, and hardships, from which hardly anyone is exempt, whether on an individual or collective level. In this era, Muslims have been afflicted with various calamities and numerous adversities. As the poet said:


How could I look at Islam in a land And find it like a bird with clipped wings?


The most dangerous aspect of calamity is to resign oneself to it and surrender to it, which are the inevitable results of despair that can lead to psychological suicide, which is more dangerous than physical suicide. Therefore, the religious texts and practical examples from the Prophet's biography converge to reject despair and call for optimism and hope in the future. This ensures lifting the one afflicted by calamity from a state of negative frustration and transferring them to a circle of positive optimism, especially when they know that the best of humanity have been tested with afflictions. Imam al-Bukhari, may Allah have mercy on him, included in his Sahih a chapter: 'The most severely tested people are the Prophets, then the next best, and the next best.([1]).


Among these texts is Surah Ad-Duha, where the Quran is described as a healing and mercy sent down by Allah to strengthen His Messenger and the believers. Compassion and encouragement for optimism are evident in Surah Ad-Duha through the following points:

1-Regarding the reason for revelation: The Surah was revealed, as most interpreters mention, after a period of cessation of revelation to the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), during which the polytheists criticized him for it. It is known that one of the greatest afflictions is the affliction of religion, represented by the cessation of revelation. Therefore, the Surah was revealed laden with a call for optimism, to expose the falsehood of the polytheists' claims, and to console and strengthen the Prophet (peace be upon him).


2-In terms of the timing of its revelation: It was revealed at the beginning of the Islamic call, at a time when the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and his companions were enduring the severest forms of psychological and physical torment from the polytheists. This magnificent Surah was revealed to give them glad tidings of what was to come and to instill in their souls optimism and hope.


3-In terms of its sequence of revelation ([2]): Surah Ad-Duha is the eleventh Surah to be revealed and it consists of eleven verses. It comes after Surah Al-Fajr and before Surah Ash-Sharh. The words "Ad-Duha," "Al-Fajr," and "Ash-Sharh" are all filled with meanings of optimism, joy, and hope, instilling a sense of anticipation for what is to come. Additionally, Ad-Duha comes after Al-Fajr in chronological order, where the dawn breaks forth in Al-Fajr, and the brightness becomes clear and radiant during Ad-Duha.


4-Order in the Quran: The Surah preceding Surah Ad-Duha in the Quran is Surah Al-Lail, which concludes with the verse: "(And soon will your Lord give you so that you shall be well pleased)." It is an invitation to optimism and hope for what is to come. Similarly, in Surah Ad-Duha, Allah says: "(And your Lord will give you, and you will be satisfied.)" The promised recipients of this satisfaction, praise be to Allah, are Mohammad (peace be upon him) and his Ummah (followers). As for the Surah following it, it is Surah Ash-Sharh, which carries the meaning of relief and the removal of distress.

5-After Surah Al-Lail (The Night) comes Surah Ad-Duha (The Morning Brightness), where "Ad-Duha" - the brightest part of the day - symbolizes relief and the lifting of distress, while "Al-Lail" (The Night) symbolizes constriction, worry, and hardship. As the poet Imru' al-Qais said:


The night has spread its darkness like the waves of the sea, Covering me with various kinds of worries to test me.

O prolonged night, won't you depart? For the morning brightness is not like you in any way.


Therefore, after hardship comes ease, just as relief follows hardship.


6- Surah Ad-Duha (The Morning Brightness) begins with an oath by the morning brightness, symbolizing relief and the lifting of distress, before the oath by the night, which symbolizes constriction, worry, and hardship. This order in the Quranic text reflects the natural sequence of events, where relief follows hardship. However, the Surah instills a spirit of optimism and hope, encouraging believers to remain hopeful even in difficult times. Despite this reversal in order, the arrangement of the Surahs in the Quran follows the conventional pattern, with Ad-Duha following Al-Lail (The night), just as ease follows hardship.


7-Some commentators have interpreted the oath by the morning brightness in Surah Ad-Duha as representing heat, toil, and fatigue, while the oath by the night represents stillness, rest, and relaxation. They view this oath as reflective of the overall mood of the Surah, which brings a great message of comfort to the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), assuring him that what lies ahead is better than what has passed. It's like transitioning from the toil and effort of the morning to the ease and rest of the night ([3]).


8-Here, the night is described as "prolonged" or "stretched out," indicating the intensity of worries and sorrows. However, relief will surely come just as the day follows the night. Throughout this, Allah does not forsake His believing servant, as He says, "Your Lord has not taken leave of you, [O Mohammad], nor has He detested [you]" (Quran 93:3). Therefore, one should remember Allah's promise that "And the Hereafter is better for you than the first [life]. And your Lord is going to give you, and you will be satisfied" (Quran 93:4-5). This should keep one hopeful that what lies ahead is better, preventing them from falling into the depths of despair and hopelessness that lead to spiritual decay and loss.


9-The addition of the letter "lam" to the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, in the verse "And the Hereafter is better for you than the first [life]" (Quran 93:4) signifies exclusivity, indicating that everything related to the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, in terms of his religion and his community, must inevitably lead to what is better. Ibn Ashur, may Allah have mercy on him, said: "The 'lam' in the phrase 'for you' (Lak) signifies exclusivity, meaning that the good is exclusively for you. This encompasses everything related to the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, in his person, his religion, and his community. It is a promise from Allah to spread the religion of Islam and to enable his community to attain the blessings that the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, hoped for them ([4])."


10-In the verse (And your Lord is going to give you, and you will be satisfied), Allah combines both the emphasis and delay to assure that a person is certain that relief from Allah is inevitable, even if it's delayed ([5]).


11-In the narration attributed to Harb ibn Sarijah Al-Bazzar, he asked Abu Ja'far Mohammad ibn Ali ibn al-Husayn (commonly known as Imam Baqir), saying: "May I be your ransom, what do you think about this intercession that the people of Iraq talk about, is it rightful?" Abu Ja'far replied, "Intercession of what?" Harb said, "Intercession of Mohammad (peace be upon him)." Abu Ja'far replied, "By Allah, yes, by Allah, yes." He then continued by narrating from his uncle, Mohammad ibn Ali ibn Al-Hanafiyyah, who narrated from Ali ibn Abi Talib that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "I will intercede for my nation until my Lord says, 'Are you pleased, O Mohammad?' and I will say, 'O Lord, I am pleased.'" Then Ali came forward and said, "You, the people of Iraq, claim that the most hopeful verse in the Book of Allah is {Say, 'O My servants who have transgressed against themselves'} [Az-Zumar: 53] until the end of the verse. I said, 'Indeed, we say that.' He said, 'But we, the people of the household, say: The most hopeful verse in the Book of Allah is {And your Lord is going to give you, and you will be satisfied} [Ad-Duha: 5].([6]).


12-Indeed, the letter "ك" (kaaf) has been omitted in the phrase "وما قلى" (And He has not forsaken you) in the Quranic verse. This omission changes the meaning from "He has not forsaken you" to "And He has not despised you" or "And He has not shown aversion to you." The reason for this omission is to avoid attributing feelings of disdain or aversion to the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), as it would be inappropriate and incongruent with his honorable status. Instead, the verse emphasizes Allah's continuous support and care for His Messenger.



13-Indeed, Allah the Almighty showers His Messenger, peace be upon him, with abundant blessings to serve as a role model for every person undergoing trials. It's essential for individuals to reflect on the past kindness of Allah in their lives, encompassing all circumstances from abundance to poverty and from loss to guidance. One transitions from being orphaned to being sheltered, from being misguided to being guided, and from poverty to richness. Just as Allah showed kindness to you in the beginning, He will not abandon you in the end.


14-In this Surah, the majestic name of Allah is not mentioned explicitly; rather, the term "Rabb" (Lord) is used, which carries connotations of kindness, mercy, love, and care. This choice of wording emphasizes the nurturing aspect present in this Surah, filling the soul with joy, happiness, and optimism.

15-The Takbir (saying "Allahu Akbar") at the beginning of chapters, as in some recitations, starts from Surah Ad-Duha. This Takbir symbolizes joy, happiness, and delight due to the glad tidings contained in this chapter about the future, filling the soul with optimism and hope.


In conclusion, the meanings encapsulated in Surah Ad-Duha indicate its profound significance, radiating hope and optimism. There is no room for despair or despondency once one reflects on its verses. The afflicted and those facing tribulations find themselves recharged with positivity, as hope is instilled within them, reassuring them that better times lie ahead.


As the poet Al-Tughrai said: "Adorn your soul with hopes, for through them, Life would have been narrow if not for the expanse of hope.



([1]) Sahih al-Bukhari, 7/115.

([2]) Tafsir al-Bayan for the Noble Qur'an, 1/79.

([3]) Abu Abd al-Mu'izz, Explanatory Interpretation of Surah Ad-Duha, a published paper dated 4/12/1433 AH / 19/10/2012 CE, Scientific Forum for Tafsir and Qur'anic Sciences, p. 2.

They argued for this opinion that the intention behind "Ad-Duha" (the forenoon brightness) and "Al-Lail" (the night) here is the circumstances, not the time, where "Ad-Duha" entails exertion, fatigue, and seeking sustenance, while "Al-Lail" entails tranquility, stillness, and rest. Interpreting "Ad-Duha" and "Al-Lail" in terms of time contradicts the eloquent meaning of the surah in transitioning from adversity to betterment, where "Ad-Duha" represents clarity and brightness, and "Al-Lail" represents darkness and worries.

I say: This objection is resolved when we understand that mentioning "Ad-Duha" first, with its positive connotations, is in harmony with the spirit of optimism conveyed by this verse, by highlighting the mention of relief before hardship, thus keeping the individual hopeful for what is better, as stated by Allah: "So whoever does an atom's weight of good will see it, and whoever does an atom's weight of evil will see it." (Quran 99:7-8)

([4]) At-Tahrir wa at-Tanwir, 30/397.

([5]) Tafsir al-Nasafi, 3/654.

([6]) Al-Tawhid by Ibn Khuzaymah, 2/673.