Surah Shams, also known as Surah Ash-Shams, is the 91st chapter of the Quran. It is a relatively short surah, consisting of just 15 verses, but it carries profound lessons and spiritual insights.
Surah Shams begins by drawing attention to the powerful phenomenon of the sun, which is the central motif of this chapter. Allah says, “By the sun and its brightness, and the moon when it follows it, and the day when it displays it, and the night when it covers it” (Quran 91:1-4). These verses emphasize the magnificence and regularity of the celestial bodies as signs of Allah’s creation and His control over the universe.
The surah then introduces the idea of the human soul and its potential for both good and evil. Allah says, “By the soul and He who proportioned it, and inspired it with discernment of its wickedness and its righteousness”. This highlights the innate nature of the human soul, which is given the capacity to recognize between right and wrong. It serves as a reminder that individuals have the responsibility to choose their actions wisely.
The surah goes on to present historical examples of communities and individuals who rejected divine guidance and faced severe consequences. The people of Thamud and their destruction are mentioned, as well as the people of ‘Ad and their punishment. These narratives serve as cautionary tales, urging people to reflect on the consequences of their actions and the importance of following the path of righteousness.
Surah Shams then presents the key message and central theme of the chapter. Allah declares, “Successful indeed is the one who purifies it (the soul), and failed is the one who corrupts it” (Quran 91:9-10). This verse encapsulates the essence of the surah—highlighting the significance of self-purification and the consequences of moral corruption. It emphasizes the eternal value of spiritual development and the need to strive for righteousness.
The surah concludes by reinforcing the importance of accountability and divine justice. It states, “Then as for he who transgressed, and preferred the life of this world, then indeed, Hellfire will be his refuge. But as for he who feared the position of his Lord and prevented the soul from [unlawful] inclination, then indeed, Paradise will be his refuge” (Quran 91:12-15). This final passage underscores the ultimate outcome of one’s choices and actions, highlighting the eternal rewards or punishments that await in the hereafter.