.1 This can have two meanings:
(1) That these angels perform the service of communicating messages between Allah and His Prophets.
(2) That it is the duty of these angels to convey and enforce the commands of Allah Almighty throughout the universe.
The object is to impress this truth: The position of the angels whom the polytheists have made their gods and goddesses is no more than of obedient servants of Allah, the One. Just as the servants of a king run about for the implementation of his orders, so do these angels fly about in the service of the real Sovereign of the Universe. These servants have no authority of their own; All powers rest with Allah, Who is the real Sovereign.
2. We have no means of knowing what is the nature of the wings of these angels. But when Allah has used this word, which in human language is used for the wings of birds, instead of any other words, to express and depict the truth, one can certainly conclude that this very word of our language is nearest to the actual meaning. The mention of two and three and four pairs of the wings shows that different angels have been granted different degrees of powers by Allah. They have been equipped with different powers of speed and efficiency as demanded by the nature of service for which they arc employed.
3. These words show that the number of the wings of the angels is restricted to four, but Allah has provided some angels with more wings than four. According to a Hadith related by Abdullah bin Masud, the Prophet (peace be upon him) once saw the Angel Gabriel with six hundred wings. (Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi). Aishah relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had seen Gabriel twice in his real form: he had six hundred wings and had covered the entire horizon (Tirmidhi).
4. This is also meant to remove the misunderstanding of the polytheists, who believed that from among the servants of Allah, someone gave them the provision, someone the children and someone health to their patients. All these superstitions of shirk are baseless, and the pure truth is just that whatever of mercy reaches the people, reaches to them only through Allah Almighty’s bounty and grace. No one else has the power either to bestow it or to withhold it. This theme has been expressed at many places in the Quran and the Ahadith in different ways so that man may avoid the humiliation of begging at every door and at every shrine and may realize that making or marring of his destiny is in the power of One Allah alone and of none else.
5. “He is the All-Mighty”: He is dominant and the owner of Sovereignty: none can stop His judgments from being enforced. Also “He is All-Wise”: every act of His is based on wisdom. When He gives somebody something He gives because it is demanded by wisdom, and when He withholds something from somebody, He withholds it because it would be against wisdom to give it.
6. “Remember Allah’s favor upon you”: Do not be ungrateful: do not forget that whatever you have, has been given by Allah. In other words, this sentence is meant to warn that whoever worships other than Allah, or regards a blessing as a favor done by other than Allah, or thanks other than Allah for a favor received, or prays to other than Allah for the grant of a blessing, is ungrateful.
7. There is a subtle gap between the first and the second sentence, which is being filled by the context itself. To understand this, one may visualize the scene like this: The polytheists are being addressed. The speaker asks the audience: “Is there another creator beside Allah, who might have created you, and might be arranging provisions for you from the earth and heavens?” After this question the speaker waits for the answer. But there is no reply from anywhere. No one replies that there is another one beside Allah, who is their creator and sustainer. This by itself shows that the audience also believe that there is none beside Allah, who could be their creator and sustainer. Then the speaker says: “If so, then He alone can also be the Deity and no one else. How have you been so deceived? Why have you taken these others as your deities, when Allah alone is your Creator and Sustainer?”
8. “If they deny”: If they do not believe that there is no one worthy of worship but Allah, and accuse you of having made a false claim to Prophethood.
9. That is, it is not for the people to give the verdict that whomsoever they call a liar should in fact become a liar. The judgment rests with Allah. He shall in the end decide who was the liar, and shall bring the real liars to their evil end.
10. “The promise” implies the promise of the Hereafter to which allusion was made in the preceding sentence, saying: “And to Allah return all matters.”
11. “Let not deceive you”: Deceive you that the world is an end in itself: that there is no Hereafter when one will have to render an account of one’s deeds: or that even if there is the Hereafter, the one who is enjoying life here will enjoy life there, too.
12. “Great deceiver”: Satan, as is evident from the next sentence. And “deceive you concerning Allah” means:
(1) That he should make some people believe that Allah does not exist at all.
(2) Involve others in the misunderstanding that Allah after having once created the world, has retired and has now practically nothing to do with the universe any more.
(3) Delude others into believing that Allah no doubt is running the universe, but He has taken no responsibility of providing guidance to man: therefore, revelation and prophethood are a mere deception.
(4) Give still others the false hope that since Allah is All- Forgiving and All-Merciful. He will forgive one whatever sins one might have committed, and that He has some beloved ones too: if one remains attached to them, success and salvation are assured.
13. “Those who disbelieve”: those who will refuse to believe in this invitation of Allah’s Book and His Messenger.
14. That is, Allah will overlook their errors and will reward them for their good deeds not merely with what they will just deserve but much more richly and generously.