Although scholars such as Mujahid, Qatadah and Muqatil regard it as a Madani Surah, a great majority of the commentators are of the opinion that it is a Makki Sürah. Its subject matter also testifies that it must have been revealed during the early stage at Makkah, when the message of Islam was being presented in a brief but highly impressive way so that the listeners who heard these verses once could not forget them even if they wanted to, because these verses will be committed to memory right away.
Major Issue, Divine Law and Guidance:
• The formula for the way to salvation is to become a believer, do good deeds, be truthful and patient, and advise the same to others.
This Surah is a matchless example of comprehensiveness and brevity. A whole world of meaning has been compressed into its few brief words, which are too vast in content to be fully expressed even in a book. The way towards true success for mankind is clearly stated, as is the way towards ruin and destruction. Imam Shaf'e has said, "if the people comprehend this Surah well, it alone would suffice them as guidance." How important this Surah was in the sight of the companions can be judged from the tradition cited from Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Hisn Ad-Darimi Abu Madinah, according to which, whenever any two of them met, they would not part company until they had recited Surah Al-'Asr to each other.
(This narration is taken from Tabarani)
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This brief surah summarizes the essence and outcome of all human activity for all time. God says: “By the ﬂight of time, man is in total loss” (1–2).
Time goes on, and people live and die, generation after genera- tion, and era after era. People of the same generation may live under similar circumstances and traditions, but their destinies may go in totally different directions, depending on their moral and religious beliefs. The moral quality of human life is far more important, and the truth is no less honorable or illustrious if it is recognized by a minority.
Those who deny the sovereignty and power of God shall end up as fuel of hell in the hereafter, whereas the believers who, despite the odds, persevere in upholding the truth shall be the real and ﬁnal winners in the ordeal of life.
True believers are few and far between, and in some generations of human history may even seem odd, but they are promised great rewards. The surah singles them out: “Except for those who have faith and do good works; who exhort each other to uphold the truth and to perseverance” (3).
This surah became a motto, a pledge of loyalty and brotherhood, among the Companions of the Prophet. It was traditional, according to reports, for Muhammad’s Companions to recite this surah toge- ther before they shook hands and departed. The renowned scholar, al-Sh¥ﬁ¢Ï, was reported to have said: “If this was the only surah to have been revealed, it would have been sufﬁcient.”
To persevere for the sake of the truth could expose one to perse- cution and hardship, and therefore to uphold the true faith and triumph with it requires persistence, tenacity, and a strong will.
إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ
إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ