40. The word 'day' in the above verse has been used either in the usual sense
of the twenty-four hour unit of time, or in a more general sense of 'period'
of time such as in the following verses of the Qur'an:
Verily a Day in the sight of your Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning (al-Hajj 22: 47).
The angels and the Spirit ascend unto Him on a Day the measure of which is fifty thousand years (al-Ma'arij 70: 4). For further explanation see (Fussilat 41, nn. 12-15.)
41. It is quite difficult to appreciate fully the exact nature of the Qur'anic
statement: '(Allah) ascended the Throne.' One possibility is that after the
creation of the universe God focused His effulgence at a particular point in
His Kingdom which is known as the Throne, from where He showers the blessings
of life and power, and governs the whole universe.
It is possible that the word 'Throne' stands for dominion and authority and that God's ascending the Throne signifies His actual taking over the reins of the universe after having created it. Whatever the exact meaning of the expression '(Allah) ascended the Throne', the main thrust of the verse is that God is not just the creator of the universe, but is also its sovereign and ruler; that after creating the universe He did not detach Himself from, nor become indifferent to, His creation. On the contrary, He effectively rules over the universe as a whole as well as every part of it. All power and sovereignty rest with Him. Everything in the universe is fully in His grip and is subservient to His will. Every atom is bound in obedience to Him. The fate of everything existent is in His Hands. Thus the Qur'an undermines the very basis of the misconception which leads man at times to polytheism, and at others to self-glorification and so to rebellion against God. This is the natural corollary of considering God divorced from the affairs of the universe. In such cases, there are two possibilities. One, that beings other than God are considered to have the power to make or mar man's destiny. Here, man is bound to turn to those beings in devotion and subservience. The second possibility is for man to consider himself as the master of his own destiny. Here, man considers himself independent of, and indifferent to, any higher being.
It is significant that the words and figures of speech employed by the Qur'an to denote the relationship between God and man are closely related to kingship, dominion, and sovereignty. This is too conspicuous a fact to be missed by any careful student of the Qur'an. It is strange, however, that it has led some superficial critics and persons of biased outlook to conclude that the Qur'an reflects the milieu in which man's outlook was dominated by monarchical concepts, and that therefore its 'author', who in their view was the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him), presented God as a sovereign ruler, an absolute monarch.
Quite contrary to this is the fundamental truth which the Qur'an emphatically affirms - God's sovereignty over the heavens and the earth. It negates, with equal emphasis, that sovereignty belongs to anyone else. Such a doctrine demolishes the very assumption on the basis of which the above erroneous conclusion was derived. The Qur'anic concept of God's sovereignty is in sharp contrast to the idea that creatures of God may lay claim to sovereignty and kingship. In contrast to the weak, mortal kings of the world, God is eternal and all-powerfuL This undermines the very basis of the misconceived criticism that Islam has a monarchical basis since no hunian being can conform to the Islamic description of the sovereign. All sovereignty vests in the One True God. Hence, all those who claim total or partial sovereignty either for any person or group of people are merely cherishing an illusion. It is evident, therefore, that it is totally inappropriate for man, who is a part of the universe created and governed by God, to adopt any other attitude than that of acknowledging God as the only object of worship and as the only sovereign in a societal and political sense.
42. This is an elaboration of the idea propounded in the note immediately above explaining the meaning of God's ascension to the Throne. To reiterate, God is not merely the sole creator but also the only One Who commands and governs. He has not detached Himself from His creation, leaving it to the care of others who might rule over it as they please. Nor has He granted independence to His creation or any part of it so that they might function as they, wish. On the contrary, His grip over the entire universe is very firm. He rules over it according to His sovereign will. If we find alternation taking place between day and night, it is a result of God's command. God has full power both to hold that process in abeyance, or to alter the very system which causes the alternation. The heavenly bodies - the sun, the moon, and the stars - are all absolutely powerless. They are totally subservient to God's overpowering will, and have been yoked to function according to His command.
43. The word barakah signifies growth and increase. The notions of elevation and greatness as well as of permanence and stability are also an essential part of the word's meaning. Besides these the word inalienably carries nuances of goodness and beneficence. To say that God is full of barakah means that His goodness knows no bounds; that endless beneficence emanates from Him; that He is the Exalted One Whose loftiness knows no end; that His beneficence and loftiness are permanent, and thus they will never vanish or suffer decline. (For further elaboration see Tafhim al-Qaradn, (al-Furqan 25: nn. 1 and 19.)
44. The command not to make mischief in the earth means not to vitiate the
right order of life. What basically, constitutes 'mischief-making' is to surrender
oneself to one's lusts, to commit acts in subservience to other human beings
and to subscribe to base morals, social orders, civilizations, principles and
laws derived from sources other than God's Guidance. This is the essential mischief
from which innumerable evils issue and which the Qur'an seeks to eradicate.
The Qur'an also emphasizes that sound order is the original condition, and disorder
and mischief occurred later as accidents resulting from man's ignorance and
transgression. In other words, man's life on earth did not start with ignorance,
savagery, polytheistic beliefs, rebellion against God and moral disorder whereafter
reforms were gradually introduced. On the contrary, man's life began with good
order and was later corrupted because of man's perversity and folly. God sent
Prophets from time to time in order to eradicate the disorder that had set in
and to restore the original, good order. These Prophets constantly ehorted people
to refrain from disrupting the original order and creating mischief.
Thus the Qur'anic view on this question is altogether different from that of the proponents of the false doctrine of evolution, who postulate that man has gradually come out of darkness into light; that life has advanced in a unilinear fashion, towards increasinly better conditions. The Qur'an rather postulates that human life began in the full light of Divine Guidance, that the original state of affairs was in accord with the Right Way prescribed by God. The blame for corruption goes to man who, failing victim to Satan's allurements, veered towards darkness and corrupted the right order of human life again and again. As for God, He continually sent Prophets in order to summon men from darkness to light, and to ask them to eschew evil and wickedness. (See Towards Understanding the Qur'an, (al-Baqarah 2, n. 230, pp. 165-6 - Ed.)
45. This clearly shows what the expression 'mischief-making' in the verse
signifies. It consists of man's turning to others than God as his guardian,
patron and helper, and calling them to his aid and support. To bring about reform,
therefore, consists of man's turning exclusively to God as his guardian and
'Calling upon Allah with fear and longing' conveys the idea that man should fear God alone, and to Him alone he should look for the fulfilment of his wishes. While calling upon God man should realize that he is totally dependent on God's favour and that he can attain success only if God helps and guides him to it. Similarly, man should also bear in mind that once he is deprived of God's support, he is doomed to utter failure and undoing.
46. It is necessary to grasp the subtle point made here in order to appreciate
the full purport of what is being said. The reference to rain and its advantages
is intended to bring into focus God's power, and to affirm life after death.
Moreover, it is also intended to draw attention in allegorical, albeit graphic,
terms to the blessings of prophethood, and how it helps men to distinguish between
good and evil, between pure and impure. The intimation of Divine Guidance through
the Prophets is compared to the movement of winds, the appearance of rain-laden
clouds, and the fall of life-sustaining raindrops. In the same way as rainfall
causes dead earth to be revived and makes the hidden treasures of life burst
forth from its womb, so the impact of the teachings of the Prophets also brings
dead humanity back to life, causing the hidden goodness in men to burst forth.
This allegory also hints at another important fact. In the same way that only fertile soil profits from rainfall, so only men of a righteous nature can profit from the blessings of prophethood. As for the wicked, they are like wasteland. Rainfall can cause such a land to bring forth only thorny bushes and cacti. Similarly, when the wicked come into contact with the teaching of the Prophets, the hidden evils of their nature come into full play.
This allegory is followed by a well-sustained account with illustrations from history showing that whenever the Prophets preach their Message, men Split into two camps. The righteous receive the blessings of prophethood and flourish, bringing forth the fruit of their goodness. As for the wicked, once the criterion provided by the Prophets is applied their impurities are fully exposed. This enables human society to purge itself of impurities in the same way as the goldsmith purges precious metals of alloy.