1. Say: " I seek refuge with (Allah) the Lord of mankind,
2. "The King of mankind,
3. "The Ilah (God) of mankind,
4. "From the evil of the whisperer (devil who whispers evil in the hearts of men) who withdraws (from his whispering in one's heart after one remembers Allah)
5. "Who whispers in the breasts of mankind,
6. "Of jinns and men."
This surah is dedicated to protect you from the one who is most jealous, Iblis - Shaytaan himself. The actual word Shaytaan means to be consumed with rage. It is through this rage that he inspires this jealousy amongst humans through his whispering or waswasa. The evils mentioned in the previous surah - surah al falaq were beyond our control: blowing on knots, use of magic etc but the evils mentioned in Surah Naas is one - the whispering of shaytaan. We are liable for this because it is our responsibility to control it. The whispering of shaytaan harms your deen whereas the evils mentioned in surah falaq: jealousy, blowing on knots and magic harms your dunya. Yet we call on Allah 3 times in Surah Naas and only once in Surah al falaq. Allah begins surah naas by the word Qul - Say! or Declare it! You are already obeying Allah when you recite this surah for we are asking for his protection. If one is disobedient to Allah, there is no need to seek his protection. You've slammed your ego and shown your humility in front of Allah.
Why does Allah command us to say seek protection from the Lord of mankind? Because it is the people who are the ones that need protection in this surah. We declare Allah's protection from the Lord of the people who do evil. And of all the names of Allah, Allah chose the word rabb in this first ayat of Surah Naas. It should also be mentioned that the first name Allah used to introduce himself to Musa [as] and Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] was also rabb. The following 2 ayats also elaborate further. So we begin by seeking refuge with the Lord of mankind, King of mankind and then the God of mankind. An analogy of these terms can be seen as follows. In Arabic the term rabb can also be used to refer to as owner or one who takes care of you. Thus, this would be the first person you'd most likely turn to if you had a problem. If the problem was one of a larger scale you may be compelled to turn to the King or authorities for help. But finally if you have a problem so big, no one on earth can solve it you to turn to God.
Today we are not living in a time where people declare themselves Gods over others [like Pharoah once did] but we are living in times where people declare themselves Gods over themselves. They declare themselves their own master, the king of the house. We are living in times where we are becoming mini-pharoahs.
As soon as the human being forgets Allah, Shaytaan takes a step forward. When you remember Allah, he takes a step backwards. Shaytaan never stops either! Remember Shaytaan himself recognised the Lordship of Allah but wants the human being to forget. There is a constant shaytaan assigned to you known as qareen he whispers whenever he gets the opportunity. Allah's messenger Muhammad [pbuh] was given help against his Qareen who then became Muslim. It's people's skepticism of the sunnah that is Shaytaan's waswasa or whispering against the Prophet [pbuh].
Shaytaan is that powerful that he can create whispering and mischief among the Ansaar - those who actually saw the Prophet [pbuh] then surely he can have his power over us. The adjective khannaas used to describe Shaytaan's whispering implies he can do more evil than whispering. We are seeking refuge from the evils of the whisperer who keeps stepping back (v4). You'd think that he'd give up, but no he continues whispering constantly and does so for a living. Making wudhu or abolution is a physical cleansing and protection against Shaytaan and the reciting of the Qur'an is the spiritual cleansing and protection against Shaytaan.
Verse 5 highlights that Shaytaan whispers in the breasts of men. It's important to mention here that Allah chose the word breasts and not the word qalb for heart. The heart is locked, we have the key to open our hearts. But Shaytaan has been granted the power and permission to wait in the chests of mankind until they forget their Lord. When Shaytaan makes way into your heart, evil deeds start looking beautiful and become more tempting. Evil deeds will look ugly when you have imaan in your heart. In short, Allah gave shaytaan access to the chest but we have control over our hearts. The final verse highlights that Jinn take the primary role as the whisperer and that Shaytaan would go to people as well to get to you too.
[This post was a write up of my notes from Nouman Ali Khan's Tafseer of Surah Naas - click here for audio]