Surah Al Falaq: The Daybreak: Overcoming Envy

Introduction

One of the central theme of this short surah is the all common emotion of envy and jealousy in human affairs. We believe that any good exposition of the emotion from the psychological perspective or of other Abrahamic faiths can serve as a commentary of this surah and we intend to collect a few sources in the commentary section that do that.

Suran Falaq along with the previous and the following surah are also a form a special prayer of protection from all possible evils that any human can face in his or her lifetime.

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues in their recent commentary of the Quran, in introduction to the previous surahSurah Ikhlas:

It has been reported on the authority of the Prophet’s wife ‘A’ishah that the Prophet would recite al-Ikhlas and the two immediately following it, al-Falaq and al-Nas, together while breathing into his palms, and then rub them over himself every night. The three together are thus understood to provide protection.

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

113:1. Proclaim: I seek the protection of the Lord of the break of dawn,

 قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ الْفَلَقِ

113:2. From the mischief of every created thing,

 مِن شَرِّ مَا خَلَقَ

113:3. From the harm of the night when darkness gathers.

 وَمِن شَرِّ غَاسِقٍ إِذَا وَقَبَ

113:4. From the mischief of those who seek to promote discord,

 وَمِن شَرِّ النَّفَّاثَاتِ فِي الْعُقَدِ

113:5. And from the mischief of every hostile envious person.

 وَمِن شَرِّ حَاسِدٍ إِذَا حَسَدَ

Commentary

113:5

Here is a fifty minute podcast from Hidden Brain series in NPR titled: Feeding the Green-Eyed Monster: What Happens When Envy Turns Ugly:

Envy is an unflattering, miserable emotion. It can prompt us to improve our lives — and also cause us to feel resentment, rage, and a desire for revenge.

The benign form of envy drives us positively to work harder to catch up.

But, then there is a malignant or a hostile form of envy, schadenfreude, which is the experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another.  Please listen to the above video for greater understanding of this malignant form.

One of the goals of our commentary is to promote interfaith tolerance and to that goal, we are going to use a sermon of a famous American televangelist Joel Osteen to master jealousy better:

For the Muslim readers, whenever Joel Osteen speaks of the Bible we could choose to substitute it with the Quran and whenever he refers to Jesus we can suitably imply Allah or Muhammad, may peace be on him. By such simple substitution almost all of his presentations become perfectly kosher and halal for the Muslim audience, who can greatly benefit from his oratory and scholarship.

One of the important means to overcome envy is to focus on virtues rather than material gains and on the eternal life in the hereafter rather than temporary gains of our present mundane life. The holy Quran states in Surah Ta Ha:

And do not gaze longingly at what We have given some of them to enjoy, the finery of this present life: We test them through this, but the provision of your Lord is better and more lasting. (Al Quran 20:131)

Most of us, except the best enlightened and the perceptive, have an undue emphasis on our present earthly life: “They know only the outer aspect of the life of this world, and of the Hereafter they are utterly unmindful.” (Al Quran 30:7) As our emphasis changes towards goodness and virtue and eternal things the emotions of envy melt away into non-existence. But, it could be a long process spread over years and decades. This is why God has also taught us the virtue of patience.

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