Surah an-Naas: some benefits of repetition and conciseness and the applicability to arrogance

In a previous article, we looked at the incredible profoundness of the first 3 ayaat of Surah an-Naas. What follows is more reflection over these same ayaat in an attempt to explore further the beauty and significance thereof.

The first thing that strikes one about these ayaat is how concise they are, and how they follow a common structure, which also happens to rhyme:

رَبِّ النَّاس
The Rabb of mankind

مَلِكِ النَّاس
The Malik of mankind

اِلٰهِ النَّاس
The Ilaah of mankind

*see previous article for discussion on the meaning of the above terms

This commonality and conciseness serves to produce various effects on the listener.

The phrases are short and quick, so one’s mind is not likely to drift off from the point of discussion, and rather remains focused on the subject of the 3 ayaat – Allah ‘azzawajal and His authority over mankind. Having the words in quick succession somewhat assimilates all 3, presenting like a single message despite consisting of 3 separate ayaat. This is important because the message delivered by these ayaat (that Allah ta’ala is the رَبّ , مَلِك , إِله)
is one that is not to be forgotten, one that is to be emphasised and one that is necessary to be pointed out to man when we endure our various spiritual battles against a lack of hope, weakness, discouragement, apathy and loss of faith during difficult times, etc. – all of which can creep in with the waswasah of the Shaytaan.

The use of the terms allows one to see them in a progressive nature, as was discussed in the previous article.

The repeated use of sentence structure with النّاس at the end emphasises the words that differ each time – and in this case, they are attributes of Allah ta’ala: رَبّ , مَلِك , إِله . This provides greater hope and assurance to the listener, in light of the rich meanings of these terms (as discussed in the previous article), by emphasising them in the ayah and also shows how mankind is limited and constantly defined by the same term, whereas Allah is not – rather He encompasses many attributes and is not limited or lacking in any aspect.

What’s more is that some grammarians suggest a relationship between the words النَّاس and نسين (nisyan, meaning forgetful) as mankind often forgets the remembrance of Allah ta’ala and consequently goes towards sin, following the temptations baited by the shaytaan.

 

Remediating the nafs against arrogance

All 3 of the attributes of Allah ta’ala which are mentioned are attributes of authority. These attributes express authority over man – firstly intrinsically (in and of themselves), and secondly in the phraseology which puts forth these attributes as being titles of Allah ta’ala in relation to mankind. By the latter, I mean that “Rabb of mankind” is said instead of “your Rabb”; “Malik of mankind” is said instead of “your Malik”.
How is it that one can proclaim titles of his Lord, one after the other, progressively increasing in the authority that they express over him, and yet still remain arrogant? When stating that Allah ta’ala has authority over him in ways that are so essential for his continued existence and so overpowering over his own capabilities, how does one not humble himself before his Creator?
These ayaat humble the mind of those that reflect on this concept.

The repetition in illustrating Allah’s authority over mankind by use of these varying titles in a measured and concise pace put the listener’s mind in a state of humility and servitude, where one becomes subjugated before the significance of Allah ta’ala to his very own existence. They include mention of how we are dependant upon Allah ‘azzawajal in various ways, ranging from the fulfilment of our most essential and basic needs, to the governing of our lives and the setting forth of rules and regulations, to seeking His help regardless of the extent of the problem and seeking His help as a confidante who has the absolute capability to resolve our problems and allow us to become successful despite our shortcomings.

These characteristics of the ayaat may initially seem insignificant, yet they combine to make it so profound and effective. As has been discussed, many lessons can be learned from this Surah which can benefit various aspects of our lives and our character as believers.

It was mentioned in another article how arrogance was one of the Shaytaan’s primary qualitites, and subhaanAllah, this Surah through which we seek refuge from the Shaytaan through invocation also has within it a remedy for this very problem.

May Allah tala make us of those who benefit from reflecting on the Quran.

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