Surah Ad-Duhaa (The Morning Hours), rich in evocative metaphors, opens with a solemn oath by the particle “By” (Wa) to give pledge to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) at a period in his life when moments of inspiration were at a halt. The imagery drawn from the contrast of the day and night in the first two verses, “By the Glorious Morning Light, And by the Night when it is still,” aim at adjuring man to turn to the higher life. The growing hours of the morning light are the proper type of the growth of the spiritual life compared to the stillness of the night which symbolizes a stagnation of the spiritual life.
According to Scholars, Surah Ad-Duhaa seems to have been revealed in a vague period in the outer life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). In fact, in the early years of his Prophetic Mission there were phases of waiting after inspiration; this gave rise to a sense of loneliness on the Prophet’s mind. Even the Quraish tribe to whom he belonged used to ridicule and jeer at him as “mad” or “old-fashioned”.
Even in these adverse struggles and dilemmas the Prophet’s steady faith in Almighty Allah was never uprooted but it was rather sustained. A particular guarantee is given to the Holy Prophet and a general one is directed to mankind with a message of trust and solace through Verse 3 “Thy Guardian-Lord hath not forsaken thee, nor is He displeased.”
How can Almighty Allah be annoyed and discontented with the man who is preparing for divine task? This religious growth is symbolized by the growing hours of the morning with the assurance that each succeeding instant is better than the former one through Verse 4 “And verily the Hereafter will be better for thee than the present.”
When one’s willpower is acknowledged with the resolution of Almighty Allah, certainly the feelings of insecurity and anguish fade away and are substituted by those of contentment through the good pleasure of the Lord as reveal in Verse 5 “And soon will thy Guardian-Lord give thee (that wherewith) thou shalt be well-pleased.”
By way of illustration, both literally and symbolically, three facts are taken from the outer life of the Holy Prophet(Pbuh) which also metaphorically applies to mankind in general as depicted in Verses 6, 7 & 8 “Did He not find thee an orphan and give thee shelter (and care)? And He found thee wandering, and He gave thee guidance. And He found thee in need, and made thee independent.”
The first fact was that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) was an “orphan” of his father Abdullah before his birth. The ailing health of his mother Amina caused him to be brought up by his nurse Halima. Six years later, after the demise of his mother, he grew up for two years under the care of his aged grandfather, Abdul Muttalib. From then on, his uncle Abu Talib took care of him as his own son.
Figuratively, though he was logically an orphan, yet he received better parental love from all the above persons. Thus, in the spiritual world, with or without the company of one’s parents, one’s provisions and shelter largely come from the grace of the Lord.
The second reality was that the Holy Prophet was born in a period when Mecca was under polytheism and his own family was the custodian of this veneration. The young Prophet, who was wandering in thought, understanding and motive, found his quest of Unity by the guidance of Almighty Allah.
The third fact was that the Holy Prophet though did not inherit any wealth but through the blessings of the Lord inherited spiritual riches in terms of love and knowledge. The sincere and pure love of his wife Khadija made him independent of worldly needs which enabled him to devote all his time to the service of Almighty Allah.
Contrary to his contemporaries, who repressed and treated the orphans harshly, as illustrated in Verse 9, “Therefore, treat not the orphan with harshness”, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) treated all orphans with loving care and esteem.
“Nor repulse the petitioner (unheard)” Verse 10; the attitude of scorning genuine beggars or petitioners without hearing them is incorrect. Hence, without compassion and love, charity is of no moral value. Petitions should be scrutinized and judged on their intrinsic worth.
“But the bounty of the Lord – rehearse and proclaim!” Verse 11. Those who are bountifully endowed with world goods by the Grace of the Lord should proclaim, share and spread them afar; setting an example to his generations, the Holy prophet had always been helpful to orphans, petitioners and victims of poverty.
Contented and reassured in the thought that in the past Almighty Allah had bestowed his loving care on him, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) with certainty put the dark period behind and resolutely followed the Divine Light to help the needy and to proclaim and share the infinite rewards of Almighty Allah.