Verily, man is in loss,
Except those who believe and do righteous deeds and exhort one another
to Truth and exhort one another to patience.
< By Time > That is, the ages during which the deeds
both good and bad of the sons of Aadam `alayhis salam take
place. Maalik said that it refers to the time of `asr prayer, but
the first explanation is more correct. Allah swears by it (time)
that mankind is in loss, that is misfortune and ruin.
< Except those who believe and do righteous deeds > Allah
excludes those of mankind who believe sincerely with all their hearts
and do good deeds with their hands.
< And exhort one another to Truth > That is, in the face
of misfortune or calamity, the things which have been written for
us and the persecution of those who would seek to harm whoever orders
the good and forbids the evil. It is reported that Musailamah (he
was an arch-liar who lived at the time of the Messenger of Allah
sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam and falsely claimed to be a brother-prophet)
was visited by `Amr ibn al-`Aas after the Messenger of Allah sallallahu
`alaihi wa sallam had begun his mission, but before `Amr had embraced
Islaam and Musailamah said to him: "What does your companion
(the Prophet sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam) say about this time?"
`Amr replied: "A soorah has been revealed to him which is concise,
yet elegant." "And what is it?" inquired Musailamah.
"It is: < By time, Verily, man is in loss, except those
who believe and do righteous deeds and exhort one another to Truth
and exhort one another to patience >." Musailamah thought
about this for a while and then he said: "It has been revealed
to me something like that." "What would that be?"
asked `Amr. He replied, "Oh, wabr (Hyrax, an animal described
by ibn Katheer as resembling a cat, having long ears, and a large
breast and being for the rest, very ugly.)! Oh, wabr! You are merely
two ears and a breast and the rest of you is but a hole." Then
he asked: "What do you think, oh, `Amr?" `Amr replied,
"By Allah! Surely you are aware that I know you lie!"
Musailamah intended by the composition of these nonsensical verses
to produce something which was the very antithesis of the clarity
and conciseness of the Quraan; as a result it did not even
convince a pagan idol-worshipper of the time.
According to at-Tabaraani, whenever any two Companions of the Prophet
sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam met, they would not part, until one
of them had recited to the other Soorah Al-`Asr and then delivered
Salaams upon him. Ash-Shaafi`I said: "If the people were to
ponder on this Soorah, it would be sufficient for them." This
is the end of the tafseer of Soorah al-`Asr, all praise is due to
Allah and from Him proceeds all Grace.