Tafsir of Surah An-Nasr

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Translation: (1) When comes the Help of Allah, and Victory, (2) And thou dost see the people enter Allah’s Religion in crowds, (3)  Celebrate the praises of thy Lord, and pray for His Forgiveness: For He is Oft-Returning (in Grace and Mercy). [Qur’an, Surat Nasr, ayat 1-3]

Sūrat an-Naṣr (Arabic: سورة النصر‎, “Divine Support”) is the 110th sura of the Qur’an with 3 ayat. An-Nasr translates to English as both “the victory” and “the help or assistance”. It is the third shortest Surah after Al-Asr and Al-Kawthar by number of ayat. Surah Al-Ikhlaas (112) actually has fewer words in Arabic than Surah An-Nasr, yet it has 4 ayat.

The Surah praises Allah for leading numerous people to Islam. This Surah is also known as the Victory as in the victory of Islam as it defeated the Pagans of Quraysh. This Surah talks about the battle. It is said that after this battle people realized the Muslims never lost because Allah was on their side and then many people joined Islam. According to Tafsir ibn Kathir, this sura, like Surat Al-Ikhlas, is an equivalent to ‘one fourth of the entire Qur’an’. This Surah was revealed a few months before the Prophet’s (s.a.w) death, and it was the last revealed Surah.

Musnad Ahmed Ibn Hanbal, quotes a hadith, which states that Muhammad (s.a.w) said with reference to this sura:

In truth, the people have entered into the religion of God in crowds and they will also leave it in crowds.

This short surah brings the good news to Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) concerning the advent of victory, the Conquest and peoples’ collective acceptance of Islam. It instructs him to turn towards his Lord in a devoted adoration and a humble request for His forgiveness. The surah also presents the nature and the righteousness of this Faith and its ideology – how high humanity ascends to an ideal and brilliant summit unattainable otherwise than by responding to the call of Islam.

The several traditions regarding the revelation of this surah, we quote that of Musnad Ahmed Ibn Hanbal which goes as follows:
Aisha (r.a) said that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) used to repeat very frequently, towards the end of his life, ‘Exaltations and praises be to Allah, whose forgiveness I ask; I repent of my sins.’ He also said, ‘My Lord told me I would see a sign in my nation. He ordered me to praise Him, the Forgiving, and ask His pardon when I see this sign. Indeed, I have. When the victory granted by Allah and the Conquest come …

Ibn Katheer said in his commentary on the Qur’an:

The Conquest’, it is unanimously agreed, is a reference to the conquest of Makka. The Arab tribes were awaiting the settlement of the conflict between Quraysh and the Muslims, before accepting Islam, saying: ‘If he, Muhammad (s.a.w), prevails over his people, he would indeed be a prophet.’ Consequently, when that was accomplished they accepted Islam in large numbers. Not two years were to pass after the conquest of Makka when the whole Arabian Peninsula was dominated by Islam, and, all thanks to Allah, every Arab tribe had declared its belief in Islam.

Al-Bukhari in his Sahih related

Amr ibn Salamah (r.a) said that when Makka was conquered, every tribe hastened to declare acceptance of Islam to Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w) . They were waiting for it to take place saying, Leave them to themselves. He would indeed be a prophet if he prevailed over them.

Also, Al-Bukhari in his Sahih related

Ibn ‘Abbas says:

 Umar (r.a)used to allow Abdullaah bin Abbaas (r.a) to sit with him in the gathering of the veterans of the battle of Badr. Some of them disliked that the young  Abdullaah bin Abbaas (r.a) sit with them because they had sons his age who were not allowed to sit there. Umar (r.a) was aware of this reservation. One day, he asked those present what the message of Surah Nasr was. While some of them remained silent, others mentioned that it was a command to engage in Allaah’s glorification and Istighfaar when Allaah’s assistance came and when the Muslims conquered foreign territories. Umar (r.a) then asked  Abdullaah bin Abbaas (r.a) if this was the message. When Abdullaah bin Abbaas (r.a) replied in the negative, Umar (r.a) asked him what the message was. Abdullaah bin Abbaas (r.a) told them that the Surah conveyed the message of Rasulullaah (r.a)’s imminent demise. Umar (r.a) mentioned that he had understood the same message.

Al-Hafiz al Baihaqi also attributed to Ibn ‘Abbas (r.a) who according to it said

When this surah was first revealed, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) called Fatimah (r.a) and said, ‘My death has been announced to me.’ She was seen to start crying, then she smiled. She explained later, ‘I cried when he told me of his approaching death. But he said to me, ‘Be restrained, because you will be the first of my family to join me’, so I smiled.’

 

Scholars  mention that when one reaches old age, one should exert oneself in worship in preparation for death.

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