Sūrah Rahmān (Part 1/2)

Sūrah Rahmān (Part 1/2)

Qur'ānic Exegesis

(Tr. by Shehzad Saleem)

Tone of the Sūrah and its Relationship with the Previous one

Some people have regarded this sūrah to be Madīnan. However, in my opinion, not a single verse of it appears to be Madīnan much less the whole sūrah. The whole surah has the same tone and rhythm and a reader clearly feels that it was revealed in one episode.

With regard to its tone, this sūrah belongs to that category of sūrahs which were revealed at the time of the Prophet's Makkan life in which his opponents, in their fury to refute him, had become adamant on a demand: unless a sign of punishment was shown to them, they were not ready to accept the fact that if they rejected the call of this new faith, they would be punished; they were also not willing to accept the fact that a day was to come when they would encounter eternal punishment and everlasting humiliation.

Because of this mentality of stubbornness and obduracy, the verse وَلَقَدْ يَسَّرْنَا الْقُرْآنَ لِلذِّكْرِ فَهَلْ مِن مُّدَّكِرٍ was repeated in the previous sūrah. Now in this sūrah the verse فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ is repeated again and again. Obviously this style of directing attention to one specific thing is adopted when either the addressee is so stubborn that he is not ready to accept anything against his wishes or he is such a dunce that unless he is spoon fed and called to attention on each and every point he cannot be expected to understand any thing rational.

Keeping the mentality of the addressee and his temperament in consideration is essential for any discourse. If a speaker is not able to keep this in consideration, his discourse will not be in accordance with the situation neither will it be eloquent. Those who have no idea of these requirements of a discourse are unable to judge the positive aspects and subtleties of such a discourse. They regard the repetition of a verse to be a needless recurrence, which obviously is a defect of the discourse. Consequently, some foolish people have objected on this recurrence found in this sūrah. The fact is that if they understand the nature of people who this sūrah addresses, they will exclaim that at every instance the recurring verse is fully embedded in its context the way a pearl is embedded in a ring.

In SūrahQamar, the obdurate people of the Quraysh were told to learn a lesson from messengers and the history of their people; why are they adamant to believe only when they see the scourge with their very eyes; it is a great favour of the Almighty that to educate and remind them He has revealed a book which is very appropriate for this objective. Now in this sūrah, this subject is brought up in a new and unique way. They are told that it is the merciful nature of the Almighty because of which He has taught them the Qur'ān. It was a requirement of their nature that for this purpose only the Qur'ān be revealed. If He has taught them the ability of speech, it means that they can understand and make others understand as well. It is a right of this exalted ability that instead of the lash of punishment it be made the means of their education. However, it is their misfortune, that instead of benefiting from God's mercy and favour, they are hastily demanding a new sign. If they want a sign, why do not they deliberate on the signs of the heavens and the earth and the world found inside man and that outside him – all of which they observe daily and which teach them the same lesson which the Qur'ān is teaching? What is the need for some new sign in their presence? After this each and every sign of the heavens and earth is pinpointed and the attention of these obdurate people is directed towards each of them. What more signs do they want? Alas! How many of their Lord's signs will they deny?

Some Difficulties of this Sūrah

As far as the difficulties of the sūrah relating to the style, language and interpretation are concerned, they shall inshallāh be dealt with under the relevant verses of the sūrah. However, there are two things which I would like to clarify here in the introduction so that explaining them again and again is not required. The first of these relates to the research in the word آلَاءand the second of these relates to the nature of address in the verse: فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ.

The word آلَاء is the plural of إِلْىٌ and ألىً and إلىً. All the leading lexicographers and exegetes regard it to mean "favours". However, my mentor, Hamīd al-Dīn al-Farāhī in his Mufradāt al-Qur'ān has differed with this opinion. In his opinion, this word does not merely come in the meaning referred to above; it has a wider connotation. He begins his discussion on this issue with the following words:[1]

Even though there is a consensus that the word آلَاءmeans "favours" however, the Qur'ān and classical Arabic literature does not support this claim. It is evident through a comprehensive analysis of classical Arabic poetry that its real meaning is feats, miracles, marvels of nature and wisdom. However, a greater part of God's miracles and marvels is based on His signs of mercy. For this reason, people concluded that the real meaning of آلَاءis "favours".

In this regard, al-Farāhī has also presented his interpretation of a narrative attributed to Ibn 'Abbās (rta) in which he mentions that this word means "favours". He says that our illustrious scholars of the past would answer a question posed to them keeping in view the occasion and background. They would specify that at a particular instance the word had been used in a particular meaning

After these introductory sentences he has presented corroboratory evidence in support of his view from the works of poets belonging to the age of jāhiliyyah as well as from certain Hamāsī poets. The poets from the age of jāhiliyyah include: Tarfah, Mayyah bint Darār, Muhalhal, Rabi'ah ibn Maqrūm, Ajda' al-Hamadānī, Fudālah ibn Zayd and Khansā'. It is evident from this material that in the works of famous poets of the age of jāhiliyyah – poets whose poetry is regarded to be a source of language and morphology, this word is not merely used to mean "favours"; it has a much wider connotation that includes favours, power, majesty, signs, miracles, marvels, feats and other similar connotations.

It is a source of great pleasure for me that the translators and exegetes of these times are referring to the research of Imām Farāhī (even though without properly citing him). However, since the works of Imām Farāhī are in Arabic, people who do not have a strong grasp of it are misled. It is evident from this discussion that he does not contest that the meaning of this word is "favours"; however, he does contest that this is its only meaning.

All the exegetes are unanimous that the verse فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ addresses both man and jinn. The Qur'ān itself has explained this in various styles in this sūrah. However, two questions arise here. First, just as the message of the Qur'ān is meant for man, is it also for the jinn? If the answer to this question is in the affirmative, then a further question arises: Did the Prophet Muhammad (sws) conclusively convey the truth from the Almighty to the jinn also just as he did to his people?

The answer to this question, in my opinion, is that keeping in view the principles set forth by the Almighty in the Qur'ān regarding sending His prophets and the nature of their responsibility in disseminating their message, it is difficult to say that the Prophet (sws) was also sent towards the jinn and that just as he had conclusively communicated the truth to his people, he had also done so to the jinn. It is mentioned in the Qur'ān in various styles that the prophet sent to a nation is from among them; he speaks in their tongue and is the best representative of their nature; by setting an example, he encourages the good in people and discourages the evil in them and for this reason his life becomes an example for every person. It is obvious that none of these things is possible for the Prophet (sws) viz a viz the jinn.

Moreover, it is also known that he has not informed us of any efforts he made in calling the jinn to faith and in reforming and instructing them just as he did so in the case of his people. What at most can be claimed is that he did meet a group of jinn once or twice or that a group of jinn had heard the Qur'ān from the Prophet (sws) and had expressed their liking for it. It is mentioned earlier in Sūrah Ahqāf and a mention is coming up in Sūrah Jinn that a group of jinn had heard a few verses of the Qur'ān from the blessed tongue of the Prophet (sws) and liked them. At these places too, it is specified that the Prophet (sws) did not directly come to know of this liking; he was informed of it by the Almighty. Such chance meetings are obviously not enough for the dissemination of a message and its conclusive communication which every prophet and messenger did for his people and for which purpose a messenger is in fact sent to his people. If the jinn are addressed in this way in some places in the Qur'ān, it is not because they are its direct addressees; the actual reason, in my opinion, is that just as when the clouds of mercy send down rain which drenches both dry and damp areas, in a similar manner, the mercy of the Qur'ān at times extends to the jinn – specially in those matters of principle which are common between them and man. The concepts of monotheism, the day of judgement, the reward and punishment which will take place on it, the truth, justice and other similar things are absolutely the same in both these creatures. If there is a difference, it relates to those areas which pertain to peculiarities of genre of the two. The real objective of this sūrah, as has been discussed earlier, is to remind unmindful people of the signs of power, wisdom, mercy and providence of God and to jolt and awaken them. For this reason, besides addressing the unmindful among mankind, it also addresses the unmindful jinn. This awe and dread of the discourse, as a result, has spread to the whole world.

It is possible that in the light of this discussion a question arise in someone's mind: Just as prophet and messengers have been sent to mankind from among them, similarly prophets and messengers from among the jinn must have been sent to them and would have taken up the responsibility of reforming and instructing them in their language and keeping in view the characteristics of their genre. I accept the responsibility of this inference. It is in complete accordance with sense and reason and also in absolute harmony with the practice of God regarding His prophets and messengers as enshrined in the Qur'ān at many instances. If the jinn like mankind are creatures who have been given the freedom to exercise their will and who will be held accountable by God for their deeds and will be accordingly rewarded and punished, then it is essential as per the practice of God for their guidance, prophets and messengers must have been sent to them and it is also essential that they must have called them to the truth in their own language. In my opinion, there is not a single verse in the Qur'ān which goes against this inference. On the contrary, there are various verses which clearly go in its favour.

In Sūrah Baqarah, where the incident of Adam and Satan is mentioned, both of them are addressed at the end in the following words:

قُلْنَا اهْبِطُوا مِنْهَا جَمِيعًا فَإِمَّا يَأْتِيَنَّكُمْ مِنِّي هُدًى فَمَنْ تَبِعَهُدَايَ فَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ (2: 37)

We ordered: "Go [out] from here; then if ever comes to you any guidance from Me, then whosoever follows My guidance will have no fear, nor shall they grieve." (2:37)

In the above mentioned verse, just as the Almighty has promised Adam and his progeny that He will send guidance to them, He has also made this very promise with Iblīs and His progeny.

Similarly, it is clearly stated in Sūrah An'ām that messengers were also sent to the jinn:

يَامَعْشَرَ الْجِنِّ وَالإِنسِ أَلَمْ يَأْتِكُمْ رُسُلٌ مِنْكُمْ يَقُصُّونَ عَلَيْكُمْ آيَاتِي وَيُنذِرُونَكُمْ لِقَاءَ يَوْمِكُمْ هَذَا قَالُوا شَهِدْنَا عَلَى أَنفُسِنَا وَغَرَّتْهُمْ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا وَشَهِدُوا عَلَى أَنفُسِهِمْ أَنَّهُمْ كَانُوا كَافِرِينَ(2: 130)

"O Jinn and men! Did there not come to you messengers of your own who proclaimed to you My revelations and warned you of this day of resurrection?" They will reply: "We bear witness against our own souls." And indeed, the life of this world deceived them and they themselves testified against their own selves that they had been disbelievers. (6:130)

The coherence in this sūrah is very evident. The sūrah begins with the declaration that the Qur'ān is a manifestation of the graciousness of the Almighty. The Almighty created man and specially blessed him with the power of speech and comprehension. These grand favours and abilities entail that man should be taught and educated with the most grand heavenly work –the Qur'ān – and not through torment and punishment. It is the extreme misfortune of those who, instead of seeking guidance from it, demand to see the promised doom.

After this, the various signs in the world around man and those within him are pointed to and two of the Almighty's creations – men and jinn– are repeatedly warned and jolted to reflect on them and asked how many such signs would they deny.

First and foremost are mentioned those signs and manifestations which point to the fact that the Almighty greatly cherishes justice and does not approve anything contrary to justice and equity at all in the world He has created.

These are followed by those signs which indicate that the tremendous and extremely vast system of sustenance which the Almighty has established on the earth entails that man shall one day be held accountable for the profound blessings he has been given. Those who deserve to be rewarded shall be rewarded, and those who deserve to be punished shall be punished.

A reference is then made to the fact that it is the Almighty who has created men and jinn from fire and clay and He can easily create them a second time. There is no difficulty for Him in this regard.

This whole Universe is under His control; He is the Lord of the East and the West. Whatever rises, rises with His permission and whatever sets, sets with His permission.

After this, it is asserted that the conflicting elements in the universe are in harmony with one another to fulfil a greater purpose which is over and above their creation. This bears witness to the fact that a sovereign will is dominant over these elements which creates harmony between them and uses them for the collective welfare of the universe. If this were not so, the universe would have been destroyed by a clash between its conflicting elements. That it is surviving is ample testimony to the fact that a single supreme and omnipotent power controls it.

An indication is then made that Allah alone is immortal and all the rest are mortal.

Next it is expressed that all except the Almighty are needy and He is the only one who fulfils their needs. The foolish who ask from others actually receive from Him alone.

An affirmation is then made of the fact that the Day wherein accountability of deeds shall take place is certain to come and on that Day no one –neither man nor jinn– will be able to run away from the Almighty's grasp. On that Day, no evidence will be needed to convict a criminal as his forehead will bear witness to his sins. He will then be grabbed by his forehead and feet and flung into Hell.

Next, the features and characteristics of the Paradise which the muqarrabīn shall receive are delineated, followed by the features and characteristics of the Paradise which the ashāb al-yamīn will be blessed with.

Section I (Verses 1-30)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

الرَّحْمَنُ (1) عَلَّمَ الْقُرْآنَ (2) خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ (3) عَلَّمَهُ الْبَيَانَ (4)الشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ بِحُسْبَانٍ (5) وَالنَّجْمُ وَالشَّجَرُ يَسْجُدَانِ (6) وَالسَّمَاء رَفَعَهَا وَوَضَعَ الْمِيزَانَ (7) أَلَّا تَطْغَوْا فِي الْمِيزَانِ (8) وَأَقِيمُوا الْوَزْنَ بِالْقِسْطِ وَلَا تُخْسِرُوا الْمِيزَانَ (9) وَالْأَرْضَ وَضَعَهَا لِلْأَنَامِ (10) فِيهَا فَاكِهَةٌ وَالنَّخْلُ ذَاتُ الْأَكْمَامِ (11) وَالْحَبُّ ذُو الْعَصْفِ وَالرَّيْحَانُ (12) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (13) خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ مِن صَلْصَالٍ كَالْفَخَّارِ (14) وَخَلَقَ الْجَانَّ مِن مَّارِجٍ مِّن نَّارٍ (15) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (16) رَبُّ الْمَشْرِقَيْنِ وَرَبُّ الْمَغْرِبَيْنِ (17) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (18) مَرَجَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ يَلْتَقِيَانِ (19) بَيْنَهُمَا بَرْزَخٌ لَّا يَبْغِيَانِ (20) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (21) يَخْرُجُ مِنْهُمَا اللُّؤْلُؤُ وَالْمَرْجَانُ (22) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (23) وَلَهُ الْجَوَارِ الْمُنشَآتُ فِي الْبَحْرِ كَالْأَعْلَامِ (24) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (25) كُلُّ مَنْ عَلَيْهَا فَانٍ (26) وَيَبْقَى وَجْهُ رَبِّكَ ذُو الْجَلَالِ وَالْإِكْرَامِ (27) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (28) يَسْأَلُهُ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ كُلَّ يَوْمٍ هُوَ فِي شَأْنٍ (29) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (30)

In the name of God, the Most-Gracious, the Ever-Merciful.

It is the Merciful who has taught the Qur'ān. He created man; taught him speech. (1-4)

The sun and the moon pursue their ordered course. And the stars and the trees also bow down in adoration. And He raised high the sky and placed the balance in it so that you too should not transgress that balance. And weigh justly and do not measure less. (5-9)

And He laid out the earth for His creatures. In it are fruits, dates in coverings, chaff-covered grain and scented flowers – So O Jinn and Men! So which of your Lord's blessings would you deny? (10-13)

He created man from the potter's clay, and the jinn from the flame of fire. So which of your Lord's powers would you deny? (14-16)

He alone is the Lord of both borders of the East and He alone is the Lord of both borders of the West. So which of your Lord's majesties would you deny? (17-18)

He has let loose the two oceans: they meet one another. Yet between them is a barrier which they cannot cross. So which of your Lord's miracles would you deny? (19-21)

Pearls and corals come out from both. So which of your Lord's wonders would you deny? (22-23)

In His control are ships which are like mountains rising above the ocean. So which of your Lord's marvels would you deny? (24-25)

All that lives on the earth is destined to die and only the glorious and majestic person of your Lord will abide forever. So which of your Lord's majesties would you deny? (26-28)

And whatever is in the heavens and the earth ask from Him. At all times, His majesty has a newer manifestation. So which of your Lord's majesties would you deny? (29-30)


الرَّحْمَنُ (1) عَلَّمَ الْقُرْآنَ (2)[2]

The implication of this verse is that it is a special favour of God that He has revealed a thing as blessed and merciful as the Qur'ān for their instruction. Had He wanted, He could have sent punishment as per their demand; however, out of His great mercy He blessed them with a benevolent scripture so that they could read and understand it and in the light of its guidance reform their misguided concepts and deeds. As a result, they would be able to succeed in this world a well as in the next. In short, when the Merciful God has blessed them with His mercy, why do they demand His punishment instead of demanding His mercy.

خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ (3) عَلَّمَهُ الْبَيَانَ (4)[3]

The implication of these verses is that besides God's mercy, the creation of man and his abilities also require that instead of torment, a scripture of guidance be sent down. God created man and taught him speech. This power of speech bears witness that the Creator has made him into a sane and sensible person. He has the ability to hear and understand things and is able to distinguish good from evil. He can communicate this to others also and make them understand as well. When he is blessed with these multifarious abilities, then this clearly shows that God wants that He teach Him through speech and not through the lash which teaches animals.

Here it needs to be appreciated that the ability of speech given to man bears witness to other multifarious abilities found in him. A natural corollary of the faculty of speech is that man has intellect, he can derive principles from components and vice versa and simulate components from principles. He has the ability to reason, to infer and to form opinions. For this very reason, Aristotle regards this ability of man as one which distinguishes him from animals. If he is devoid of this ability, then he is not fit to be called a human being; he is merely an animal which walks on two legs. It is evident from this fact that those who, instead of understanding a reality on the basis of reasoning, insist that they will only believe in it after seeing it are no less than animals even though they may be living in grand houses.

الشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ بِحُسْبَانٍ (5) وَالنَّجْمُ وَالشَّجَرُ يَسْجُدَانِ (6)[4]

Attention is drawn to the signs found in this universe; if signs are required to substantiate the warnings of the Qur'ān, then why should people wait for a new sign; they should just observe the heavens above them; they should see how the sun and the moon adhere to their paths with such punctuality and discipline. There is never even a discrepancy of a second. People should also see how these heavenly bodies are observing the limits set for them by the Almighty. Never does the sun exceed its ordained path to intrude into the path ordained for the moon nor does the moon intrude into the path ordained for the sun (See, the Qur'ān, 36:40). Does not this sign every day teach man the lesson that if the Creator of this universe has subjected such grand creations as the sun and the moon to certain laws, why will He not subject man to His commands? If man breaks these laws and dares spread anarchy in this world, why would He not punish him? It is most befitting for man to abide by the laws He has implemented in every nook and corner of this universe.

After mentioning how the sun and the moon abide by the limits ordained for them and which in religious parlance is called taqwā, mentioned in the verse وَالنَّجْمُ وَالشَّجَرُ يَسْجُدَانِ is the prostration of the stars of the heavens and trees of the earth: they bow down before their Creator and through this practice of theirs call upon man that he too must not be rebellious to his Creator and should worship and bow down before Him in full obedience.

The prostration of the stars and the trees is explained at various places of this tafsīr. Readers can look it up. Citing it here would only needlessly lengthen the discussion.

Some people have interpreted the word النَّجْمُ to mean things like small plants, thorny trees and creepers. Probably, they were not able to understand the purpose of mentioning trees with stars and for this reason they had to make this far-fetched interpretation. The fact of the matter is that there exists great commonality in the attributes of the two. The Qur'ān has mentioned at many places the prostration of both the stars and the trees in various styles. It is because of this harmony between the two that they are mentioned together in this verse as well. It shows how the heavens and the earth are in harmony with one another: the Creator of both is the same before Whom the stars of the heavens and the trees of the earth prostrate. It should remain in consideration that Mujāhid, Qatādahand Hasan interpret the word النَّجْمُin its conventional meaning ie stars. Ibn Kathīrtoo supports their view and has cited the following verse as corroboratory evidence:

أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَسْجُدُ لَهُ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَن فِي الْأَرْضِ وَالشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ وَالنُّجُومُ وَالْجِبَالُ وَالشَّجَرُ وَالدَّوَابُّ (18:22)

Do you not see that those in the heavens and the earth, the sun and the moon and the stars, the mountains and the trees, the beasts, and countless men – all prostrate before God? (22:18)

وَالسَّمَاء رَفَعَهَا وَوَضَعَ الْمِيزَانَ (7)[5]

After directing attention to some prominent signs of the heavens, attention is directed towards the heavens themselves: how the Almighty has raised this unfathomable roof without any columns. No one can have an idea of its vastness. In spite of this immeasurable expanse, such is the nature of the balance found in it that no one can point out any fissure or fault in it. At another place, it is stated:

خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ بِغَيْرِ عَمَدٍ تَرَوْنَهَا وَأَلْقَى فِي الْأَرْضِ رَوَاسِيَ أَن تَمِيدَ بِكُمْ (10:31)

He raised the heavens without visible pillars, and set firm mountains on the earth lest it should fall away with you to one side. (31:10)

In Sūrah Mulk, the words are:

الَّذِي خَلَقَ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ طِبَاقًا مَّا تَرَى فِي خَلْقِ الرَّحْمَنِ مِن تَفَاوُتٍ فَارْجِعِ الْبَصَرَ هَلْ تَرَى مِن فُطُورٍ ثُمَّ ارْجِعِ الْبَصَرَ كَرَّتَيْنِ يَنقَلِبْ إِلَيْكَ الْبَصَرُ خَاسِأً وَهُوَ حَسِيرٌ (67: 3-4)

He Who created seven heavens one above the other. You will not find any fault with what has been created by the Most Gracious. Look about: can you see any flaw? Look again and again. Your look will come back to you worn out and overcome. (67:3-4)

It is evident from the words بَغَيْرِ عَمَدٍ تَرَوْنَهَا that in order to maintain balance in the roof of the sky, the Almighty has used gravitational columns which cannot be observed.

أَلَّا تَطْغَوْا فِي الْمِيزَانِ (8)[6]

The implication is that the placement of a balance in the sky by the Creator, without which it cannot stay in its shape, informs us of the temperament and nature of the Creator: He wants that man too in his circle of authority should give due regard to balance, justice and equity; he should not create any disturbance in this system otherwise the whole system of sustenance will be inflicted with disorder. The implication is that it is to this system of justice and fairness the Qur'ān is calling man – the system of which testimony is found in every nook and corner of the sky spread above. The Qur'ān is warning people that if they transgress the bounds of justice by being blinded by their arrogance and rebelliousness, they will bear its punishment not only in this world but also in the Hereafter. Why is it that they are not being able to understand such a clear thing of which testimony is borne by every nook and corner of the heavens and the earth? Why are they looking for the lash of punishment by disregarding all these telling signs found around them?

وَأَقِيمُوا الْوَزْنَ بِالْقِسْطِ وَلَا تُخْسِرُوا الْمِيزَانَ (9)[7]

The verse above mentioned a principle. Now in this verse an everyday reality which is based on this principle is brought to notice: When the God below whose sky's roof they live owns the balance and loves justice, they too should not lead the life of dishonesty and deceit; they should weigh and measure with full honesty and not weigh less. While commenting on the anecdote of the Prophet Shu'ayb's people, I have alluded to the fact that weighing and measuring less is not just an isolated evil: it is a horrible sign of the disorder that prevails in a society. A further aspect which is highlighted here is that this evil is in fact against the system of balance and justice on which the Almighty has created the heavens and the earth. If a people accept this disorder, then it means that it is after razing the very foundation on which the Almighty has built this world. Obviously, the Almighty will never bear such people in the world He has created.

Here another thing which is worthy of consideration is that the same thing has been stated in a positive and a negative way. A deliberation on the Qur'ān reveals that this style is adopted at instances when not obeying the real directive can lead to very dangerous consequences. It is evident from this that justly weighing and measuring is a directive which has great significance. By its nature, it is a corollary of the system of justice on which the Almighty has created this world. It is also evident from this that a nation which disrupts and disobeys this directive creates disorder in the whole society.

وَالْأَرْضَ وَضَعَهَا لِلْأَنَامِ (10) فِيهَا فَاكِهَةٌ وَالنَّخْلُ ذَاتُ الْأَكْمَامِ (11) وَالْحَبُّ ذُو الْعَصْفِ وَالرَّيْحَانُ (12)[8]

After directing attention towards the grand manifestations of God found in the heavens, attention is now drawn to the resources of providence found in the earth. The word used for the heavens is رَفَعَ and in contrast the word وَضَعَ is very aptly used for the earth. The implication is that the heavens were raised high like a roof and the earth was spread out like a floor so that this arrangement could become a comfortable abode for His creatures. Moreover, just as the heavens were decked with lamps of the sun, the moon and the stars so that this house was provided with light and heat, similarly various types of fruit, grain and flowers were provided so that its residents could obtain their sustenance from them and they satisfy their taste-buds and the flowers become a means of providing them with sweet scent and scenic beauty.

Here besides grain, flowers and fruits are specially mentioned to point to the fact that the Almighty has not merely provided man fodder to fill his belly, He has also catered for his aesthetic taste, for his proclivity towards delicacies and for his desire for embellishment. All this does not bear evidence to His mere providence, it bears witness to the elaborate nature of His providence. Similarly, the attribute ذُو الْعَصْفِ which qualifies الْحَبُّ and the attribute ذَاتُ الْأَكْمَامِ which qualifies النَّخْلُ show His great favour to His creatures. In other words, He has not just tossed grain and fruit towards man; He has elaborately packed each and every grain and fruit in an amazing manner. Obviously, this elaborate arrangement has been made so that man recognizes the obligation he owes to God's sustenance and favours, remains thankful to Him and while leading his life always keeps in consideration the fact that He who has made all this arrangement without man being entitled to it in any way will not let him go scot-free. He will bring about a day in which man is held accountable for his deeds.

Here an important point relating to رَّيْحَانُ is worth mentioning. Some people have interpreted it to mean leaves; however, this word has not been used in this meaning in Arabic nor is there any occasion for it to be used here in this meaning. It seems that these people were confounded by the mention of flowers with grain though there is no connection between the two. This led them to this bizarre interpretation of the word whereas there is a particular reason for this mention, as I have explained above.

فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (13)[9]

This verse will occur repeatedly ahead, and it is the most important verse of the sūrah. For this reason, I have explained the meaning of آلَاء in the introduction to this sūrahas well as the nature of the address to man and jinn found in this verse. However, I will explain one thing here: there is a special reason for mentioning here the rejecters among the jinn with the rejecters among the Quraysh: this campaign of rejection had gained great impetus and the devils among men and jinn had joined hands and were trying their best to defeat the call of the truth. For this reason, the Almighty has addressed them directly and has rebuked them and also challenged them, as will become evident from later verses, that in spite of their profound efforts the true call shall prevail and progress. I have already explained in the introduction to this sūrahthat it was revealed in that phase of the Makkan period in which the Quraysh were at the peak of their obduracy and hostility. Obviously, in that phase, they must have been supported with special help from the devils among the jinn. The situation required that both these creatures be addressed.

Expressing gratitude on favours to someone who has granted these favours and having a sense of accountability on the providence of God are natural requirements of human nature. A person who benefits from the favours of God but does not acknowledge that as a result he owes some obligation to Him or that he will be held accountable for them shows through this attitude that he denies all these favours. The Qur'ān has rebuked the Quraysh and the jinn who behave similarly on this very denial: on every people before them they can witness the favours of their Lord which remind them (ie. the Quraysh and the jinn) of a day of accountability; however, they are adamantly denying them; so which of the favours and majesties of their Lord will they deny?

خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ مِن صَلْصَالٍ كَالْفَخَّارِ (14)وَخَلَقَ الْجَانَّ مِن مَّارِجٍ مِّن نَّارٍ (15) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (16)[10]

These verses by reminding man and jinn of their creation direct their attention to their re-creation: they should not remain under the misconception that their Lord is unable to recreate them after creating them once, and so the issue of a day of accountability is not possible; they should remember that the very material from which He created them is available to Him in full quantity and God's ability to create also exists just as it existed when He created them the first time; so if they cannot deny their first creation, they also do not have any reason to deny their re-creation.

The word صَلْصَال refers to pure mud and فَخَّارِ refers to mud which becomes dry like a potsherd. All the phases through which human life passes until it reaches its culmination in the form of a human being are referred to in the Qur'ān at various places. At one instance, it is said that man is created from a fluid; at another, mud is referred to and, at some others, smelly kneaded clay is alluded to. Similarly, at some places dry mud is mentioned. The final phase mentioned is that from a drop of sperm man's offspring is initiated. These are the evolutionary stages of human life which have already been explained in verse twenty six of Sūrah Hijr. The purpose of mentioning them is to make man observe within his own self the grandeur, power and wisdom of God so that he is able to comprehend that it is God's majesty which extracted him from fluid and mire and then nourished him in the dry and moderate climate of plateaus and then gradually bestowed him a new shape and set up a system in which he could continue to produce offspring. The objective of stating all these facts is to obviously prove that the man's existence – which the Almighty caused to pass through such lengthy processes which culminated in his present form – cannot be purposeless. Simultaneously, another objective is to show that the all-knowing and all-wise God Who can create man from a cell formed from mire can do everything; nothing is beyond Him.

The word مَّارِجٍ in وَخَلَقَ الْجَانَّ مِن مَّارِجٍ مِّن نَّارٍ means "flame" which is the essence of fire. Just as man is created from the essence and substance of mud, in a similar manner, the jinn have been created from the substance of fire. Their phases of creation are not mentioned in detail in the Qur'ān. The reason for this is that these phases are of an entirely different nature comprehending which would have been difficult for man.

After this occurs the repetitive verse which has already been explained above. Here it would mean that when they observe these majesties and manifestations of power and wisdom in their own existence, why then do they regard it to be far-fetched that God will create them again for their accountability; how many more signs of God will they deny and how many new ones will they demand?

رَبُّ الْمَشْرِقَيْنِ وَرَبُّ الْمَغْرِبَيْنِ (17) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (18)[11]

God is the Lord of the East and the West. Neither is there anyone outside His dominion nor does anyone have a share in it. He alone is the owner of all the East and the West. Not an inch of His territory from the heavens and earth is under the control of some else so that he can save the residents of this territory from God's grasp. In Sūrah Ma'ārij, this subject is discussed in the following words:فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِرَبِّ الْمَشَارِقِ وَالْمَغَارِبِ إِنَّا لَقَادِرُونَ عَلَى أَن نُّبَدِّلَ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمَسْبُوقِينَ (70: 40-41)(Nay! I swear by the Lord who is the Master of all the vastness of the East and the West that We can create them in a better form and We are not powerless in this regard, (70:40-41)).

Generally, our exegetes are of the opinion that the duals مَشْرِقَيْنِ and مَغْرِبَيْنِ refer to the east and west of the winters and the summer; this however is merely unnatural. The Qur'ān has used these words in the singular, dual and plural and in all these three forms there is not much difference as far as the meaning is concerned. In the case of dual, the objective is to point to both edges and in the case of plural, the objective is to point to their immeasurable vastness. Examples of such usage of the dual and the plural can be seen in the previous volumes of this tafsīr.

After this occurs the repetitive verse; such is power and majesty of God that both East and West are subservient to Him. If they think that the warning sounded by Him are baseless threats, then how many of God's majesties will they deny?

مَرَجَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ يَلْتَقِيَانِ (19) بَيْنَهُمَا بَرْزَخٌ لَّا يَبْغِيَانِ (20) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (21)[12]

Stated here is an argument in favour of God's tawhīd viz a viz the harmony found between conflicting elements of nature. There seems an apparent conflict and clash in every part of this universe eg the rising and setting of heavenly bodies, the night and the day, the winter and the summer which should not lead a person to think that there exist different intentions and forces in this universe. If a person looks deep into these phenomena, he will find that in every discord exists a deep concord and harmony. Every object together with its opposite comes together to serve a greater cause. This bears witness to the fact that there is a single intention and will which prevails in this universe which wisely uses all the opposing elements of this universe for its collective benefit. The Almighty lets loose two seas. One of them is bitter sour and the other is sweet. Both strike one another but He puts an invisible curtain between them so that they do meet one another and also remain separate in their own nature. The sweet water does not become sour and the sour water does not become sweet. It is evident from this that people who were misled by the apparent conflict between elements and regard this universe to be a place of different wills and intentions and then fashioned their own deities according to their own concepts did not observe the great harmony which is found in every discord and which is the greatest argument of tawhīd.

Then occurs the repetitive verse. The implication is that if even after these signs they are under the misconception that if God seizes them, their deities will save them, then which of God's signs will they deny?

Articles by this author

Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru

Essence of Polytheism (9)

Mawlana Muhammad ‘Ali Jawhar

Essence of Polytheism (8)

Essence of Polytheism (7)

Essence of Polytheism (6)

Essence of Polytheism (5)

Essence of Polytheism (4)

Essence of Polytheism (3)

Essence of Polytheism (2)

Essence of Polytheism (1)

Responsibilities of Muslim Youth

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (10)

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (10)

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (9)

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (8)

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (7)

Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (6)

Responsibilities of Muslim Youth

Mawlana Muhammad ‘Ali Jawhar

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (6)

The Source of Jarh and Ta‘dil in the Qur’an

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (5)

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (4)

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (3)

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (2)

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik

Surah Hujurat (3/3)

Surah Hujurat (2/3)

Surah Hujurat (1/3)

Surah al-Qiyamah (2)

Surah al-Qiyamah (1)

Surah Muddaththir part (2)

Surah Muddaththir part (1)

Surah al-Muzzammil

Gleanings from Tadabbur-i Qur’an

Some Difficulties in Surah Rahman

Collection of the Qur’an: Amin Ahsan Islahi’s View

Sūrah Muhammad (Part 3/3)

Sūrah Muhammad (Part 2/3)

Sūrah Muhammad (Part 1/3)

Sūrah Dukhān (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Dukhān (Part 1/2)

Companions (rta) of the Prophet (sws)

Sūrah Hujurat (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Hujurat (Part 1/2)

Sūrah Tūr (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Tūr (Part 1/2)

Sūrah Najm (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Najm (Part 1/2)

Sūrah Qamar (Part 1/2)

Sūrah Qamar (Part 2/2)

Surah Waqi‘ah (Part 1/2)

Surah Waqi‘ah (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Rahmān (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Rahmān (Part 1/2)

Sūrah Mujādalah (Part 1/2)

Sūrah Mujādalah (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Tahrīm (Part 1/2)

Sūrah Tahrīm (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Qalam (Part 1/2)

Sūrah Qalam (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Jumu‘ah

Sūrah Ma‘ārij (Part 1/2)

Sūrah Ma‘ārij (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Taghābun

Sūrah Munāfiqūn

Sūrah Hāqqah

Interrelation between the Qur’ān,  the Sunnah and the Ḥadīth

Sūrah Nuh

Difference between Hadith and Sunnah

Sūrah Jinn

Authoritativeness of the Akhbar-i Ahad

Sūrah Muzzammil

Sūrah Qiyāmah (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Qiyāmah (Part 1/2)

Causes of Hadith Fabrication

Surah Balad

Riwayah bi al-Ma‘na (Transmission by Meaning)

Surah Mursalat (Part 2/2)

Surah Mursalat (Part 1/2)

Primary Sources of Hadith Study

Sūrah Dahr (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Dahr (Part 1/2)

Companions (rta) of the Prophet (sws)

Sūrah ‘Abas (Part 2/2)

Sūrah ‘Abas (Part 1/2)

Excellence and Inherent Limitations of the Isnād

Surah Takwir

Surah Infitar

Basic Criteria to Sift the Sound from the Unsound Ahadith

Sūrah Mutaffifīn

Sūrah Fajr

Fundamental Principles of Understanding Ahadīth

Sūrah Tāriq

Sūrah Burūj

Sūrah A‘lā

Sūrah Shams

Surah Duha

Surah Tin

Sūrah Bayyinah

Sūrah ‘Alaq

Surah ‘Asr

Surah ‘Adiyat

Surah Kafirun

Surah Nasr

Sūrah Lahab

Sūrah Falaq

Qurayshite Descent: A Condition for the Khalīfah

Conditions and Limits of Obedience to the Rulers

Principles of Interpreting the Qur’ān (Part 2/2)

Principles of Interpreting the Qur’ān (Part 1/2)

The Institution of Consultation during the Reign of Rightly Guided Caliphs

Heads for Zakah Spending

Surah Baqarah (1-39)

Surah Tariq

Purification of Deeds

Usage of some Qur’anic Terms (1)

Surah Qadr


Surah Kawthar

Understanding the Qur’an: Some Initial Conditions

Surah Fil

Surah Quraysh

Surah Alam Nashrah

Surah Humazah

Surah Ma‘un

Surah Nas

The Philosophy of Prayer Timings

Surah Ikhlas

Surah Zilzal

Good and Evil (Part 1/2)

Good and Evil (Part 2/2)

Difference Between Hadith and Sunnah

Errors in the Current Mode of Preaching

An Analysis of the Meanings of the Surahs of Group six (Part 2/2)

An Analysis of the Meanings of the Surahs of Group six (Part 1/2)

Surah Takathur

Surah Qariah

The Concept of Equality Between Man and Woman

Man’s Place in the Universe

Man’s Place in the Universe

A Summary and Analysis of The Meanings of Surah Takveer

A Summary and Analysis of The Meanings of Surah Muddaththir

A Summary and Analysis of The Meanings of Surah Muzzammil

A Summary and Analysis of The Meanings of Surah Ma‘arij

A Summary And Analysis Of The Meanings Of Surah Mulk