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      Tafseer - Explanation of the Qur'aan

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Isti’aadhah (Seeking Refuge) - “A’udhoo billahi min ash-Shaytaan ar-rajeem.”

Meaning of the word a`oodhu (I take refuge)  - Al-Haafidh ibn al-Qayyim, (rahimahullah), explained the meaning of a`oodhu (I take refuge) in a beautiful way. He said:

“Know that the verb `aadha and its derivatives carry the meaning of being careful and alert, guarding and fortifying (strengthening), being rescued (saved) and victorious. Its essential meaning is to flee from that which you fear will harm you to that which will safeguard you from it. This is why the one you seek refuge with is named m`aadh and malja` (the source of refuge and recourse).

Therefore the meaning of a`oodhu is “I take refuge, guard myself and take precaution.” [1]

Meaning of the Word Shaytaan - It is said that the word ‘Shaytaan’ is derived from shatana, which means to be distanced (detached, separated), and indeed Shaytaan is far removed from any good whatsoever. [2].

 The Ruling of Isti’aadhah (Seeking Refuge) - “A’udhoo billahi min ash-Shaytaan ar-rajeem.”

 It is legislative to recite Isti’aashah in every Rak’aah of all sorts of prayers, as Allah ordered in His Book: [3]

"When you wish to read the Qur`aan then seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Shaytaan. Indeed he has no power over those who believe and put their trust only in their Lord. His power is only over those who follow him and join partners with Him." [Soorah An-Nahl (16): 99-100]

The majority of scholars are of the opinion of that isti`aadha is recommended and not obligatory. However it is reported from `Ataa bin Abee Rabaah that it is obligatory to say it within the prayer and outside the prayer when one desires to recite the Book of Allaah. [Tafseer Ibn Katheer]

It is reported by many sources that the Prophet of Allah practiced this act of seeking refuge:

Abu Sa`eed al-Khudree narrated that “When the Messenger of Allaah (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) stood at night [for prayer, he would commence the prayer] by saying the takbeer and then saying, "Subhaanak Allaahumma wa bihamdika, wa tabarrakasmuka, wa ta`aalaa jadduka, wa laa ilaaha ghayruk." (You are glorified O Allaah and praised! Your Name is Blessed; Your Majesty is Exalted and none has the right to be worshipped save You.) Then he would say "laa ilaaha illAllaah" three times, then , "Allaahu Akbar" three times and then say "A`oodhu billaahi as-Samee` al-Aleem min ash-Shaytaanir Rajeem – min hamzihi wa nafkhihi wa nafthihi" (I take refuge with Allaah, the All-Seeing, the All-Knowing from the accursed Shaytaan: from his madness, arrogance and poetry.) [Saheeh Abu Daawood’ no. 701]

Naafi` bin Jubair narrated from his father, who said: “I saw the Messenger of Allaah (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) saying when he entered into prayer, "Allaahu Akbar Kabeera" three times, "Alhamdulillaahi Katheera” (Praise and thanks be to Allaah, again and again) three times and "Subhaan Allaahi Bukratan wa Aseela"(Glorified is Allaah, morning and evening) three times. Then he said, "Allaahumma innee A`udhubika mina ash-Shaytaan, min hamzihi wa nafkhihi wa nafathi" (O Allaah! I take refuge with You from Shaytaan – from his madness, arrogance and poetry) [Sahih ibn Maajah’ no.658 and ‘Irwaa`’ [2/55]

A Virtue of Isti’aadah   

Means of relieving Anger - Reported Sulaymaan ibn Sarad (radiyallahu anhu) that: “Two men abused each other in the presence of the Prophet while we were sitting with him. One of the two abused the other while in a state of rage, his face red. The Prophet (SAW) said, "I know a statement that if he were to say, what he is experiencing would leave him. If only he were to say, ‘I take refuge with Allaah from the accursed Shaytaan.’" [Saheeh Bukhaaree [Eng. Trans. 8/87 no. 136]

[1] There are two opinions concerning the basis of this verb. The first is that it is derived from the meaning of as-satar, covering or protection, and the second is that it is derived from the meaning of luzoom al-mujaawara, firmly adhering (clinging, sticking) to that which adjoins it. (1) As for the first opinion then the Arabs used to say with regards to a house that is in the shade of a tree - `uwwadha. Therefore when this house did `aadha with this tree by being built under its shade the Arabs named it `uwwadh. The same applies to the one who takes refuge for he seeks protection and cover from his enemy with the one he seeks refuge with. (2) As for the second opinion then the Arabs used to say regarding flesh that was stuck to a bone and could not be removed, `uwwadha, because of its refusal to be dislodged from the bone. The same applies to the one taking refuge for he sticks firmly to the one he is seeking refuge with and refuses to be distanced. Both of these opinions are correct for seeking refuge includes both.

[2] It is also said that the name is derived from shaata, which means to burn because he is made from fire. Others said that both meanings are correct. However the first meaning is more correct.

[3] Allah explained to us the extreme enmity of Shaytaan with His words: “ "Indeed Shaytaan is an open enemy to you so take him as an enemy. He invites his followers only that they may become the denizens of the blazing Fire." [Faatir (35): 6] "Will you then take him and his offspring as friends and protectors besides Him while they are open enemies to you? Wretched it is as an exchange for the wrong-doers." [Al-Kahf (18): 50] Indeed Shaytaan took an oath saying: "By Your Might! I will surely misguide them all, except Your chosen slaves amongst them." [Saad (38): 82-83]  It is for this reason that we have been encouraged to seek refuge with Allaah from the accursed Shaytaa

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