What Is Meant by the Temporal Surahs in the Quran, and Is There Such a Thing in the Book of Allah Almighty?

Answered by Shaykh Anas al-Musa


What is meant by the Temporal Sura in the Quran, and is there such a Thing in the Book of Allah (Most High)?


In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Perhaps the questioner means the Sura named after time and periods. There are eight Sura with this meaning. Allah (Most High) swears by time in six of them, and the other two mention time within the Sura.

Suras in which Allah Swears by Time

The Sura where Allah (Most High) swears by time are ’Asr, Fajr, Lail, Duha, Shams, and Najm.

Allah (Most High) says in Sura ’Asr: “By the ˹passage of˺ time! Surely humanity is in ˹grave˺ loss.” [Quran, 103:1-2] In Sura Fajr, He swears, saying: “By the dawn, and the ten nights.” [Quran, 89:1-2] In Surat Najm, He says: “By the stars when they fade away!” [Quran, 53:1] and in Sura Duha, He says: “By the morning sunlight, and the night when it falls still!” [Quran, 93:1-2] In Sura Lail, He says: “By the night when it covers” [Quran, 92:1]

The Mention of Time in a Sura’s Title

As for Sura Jumu’a and Sura Qamar, Allah (Most High) did not swear by Friday or the moon in them. Rather, He mentioned in Sura Jumu’a the day of Friday and some of the rulings related to this blessed day, saying: “O believers! When the call to prayer is made on Friday, then proceed ˹diligently˺ to the remembrance of Allah and leave off ˹your˺ business. That is best for you if only you knew.” [Quran, 62:9] Likewise, in Sura Qamar, the moon is mentioned in the context of the nearing of the Hour, as He says: “The Hour has drawn near and the moon was split ˹in two˺.” [Quran, 54:1]

Here are some observations related to the questioner’s query:

Nobility and Importance of Time

Allah (Most High)’s swearing by time signifies its nobility and importance.

Cursing Time

It was customary among Arabs to curse time during calamities, disasters, and misfortunes that befell them, such as death, aging, loss of wealth, etc. They would say, “Damn the time!” and similar expressions of cursing time. Therefore, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Do not curse time, for Allah is time.” [Muslim]

Time is a Creation of Allah

In the hadith qudsi, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Allah (Most High) says: ‘The son of Adam offends me; he curses time, yet I am time; in My control is the night and the day.’” [Muslim] “Time” has no action or effect. It is a creation among Allah’s (Most High) creations, and the only doer and influencer is Allah (Most High) alone. The meaning of “Allah is time” is that He is the doer of incidents and the creator of beings.

Time Mentioned within Sura

If the questioner means by the temporal Sura that time is mentioned in the Quran within its Sura, even if the Sura are not named after it, then it is indeed frequently found in the Quran. For example, the day of Saturday is mentioned in Sura A’raf when Allah says: “Ask them ˹O Prophet˺ about ˹the people of˺ the town which was by the sea, who broke the Sabbath. During the Sabbath, ˹abundant˺ fish would come to them clearly visible, but on other days, the fish were never seen. In this way, We tested them for their rebelliousness.” [Quran 7:163]

Night and day, as well as morning and evening, are also mentioned, as He says: “Those who spend their wealth in charity day and night, secretly and openly—their reward is with their Lord, and there will be no fear for them, nor will they grieve.” [Quran 2:274]

And He says: “He is the One Who calls back your souls by night and knows what you do by day.” [Quran, 6:60]

And He says: “It is the same ˹to Him˺ whether any of you speaks secretly or openly, whether one hides in the darkness of night or goes about in broad daylight.” [Quran, 13:10]

And He says: “You ˹Meccans˺ certainly pass by their ruins day and night. Will you not then understand?” [Quran, 37:137-138]

And He says: “And patiently stick with those who call upon their Lord morning and evening, seeking His pleasure” (Quran, 18:28), among many other examples.

Our Lord, exalted be He, also swears in Sura Muddathir by the moon, the night, and the morning, saying: “But no! By the moon, and the night as it retreats, and the day as it breaks!” [Quran, 74:32-34]

Lessons from the Focus on Time in Sura ’Asr

Finally, I remind myself and the honorable questioner of Sura ’Asr. This short Sura is full of lessons, and in it our Lord swears by time, saying: “By the ˹passage of˺ time! Surely humanity is in ˹grave˺ loss, except those who have faith, do good, and urge each other to the truth, and urge each other to perseverance.” [Quran 103:1-3]

Al-Asr refers to the era or the time people go through, alluding to its lessons, alternations of night and day, changes of darkness and light, shifts of events and regimes, situations, and interests—all indicating the existence of the Creator, exalted be He, His oneness, and the perfection of His power.

In Allah’s swearing by “’Asr,” there is an indication that the remaining lifetime of this world is like the time from ’Asr (afternoon) until Maghrib (sunset). Therefore, one must engage in a trade that incurs no loss, for time is running out, and it might not be possible to make up for what is missed. [Tafsir al-Munir]

And may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon our master and prophet Muhammad, and upon his family and companions.

[Shaykh] Anas al-Musa
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani 

Shaykh Anas al-Musa, born in Hama, Syria, in 1974, is an erudite scholar of notable repute. He graduated from the Engineering Institute in Damascus, where he specialized in General Construction, and Al-Azhar University, Faculty of Usul al-Din, where he specialized in Hadith.

He studied under prominent scholars in Damascus, including Shaykh Abdul Rahman al-Shaghouri and Shaykh Adib al-Kallas, among others. Shaykh Anas has memorized the Quran and is proficient in the ten Mutawatir recitations, having studied under Shaykh Bakri al-Tarabishi and Shaykh Mowfaq ‘Ayun. He also graduated from the Iraqi Hadith School.

He has taught numerous Islamic subjects at Shari‘a institutes in Syria and Turkey. Shaykh Anas has served as an Imam and preacher for over 15 years and is a teacher of the Quran in its various readings and narrations.

Currently, he works as a teacher at SeekersGuidance and is responsible for academic guidance there. He has completed his Master’s degree in Hadith and is now pursuing his Ph.D. in the same field. Shaykh Anas al-Musa is married and resides in Istanbul.