*1 That is, the teaching of this Qur'an is not the production of a man's mind but its Teacher is the Merciful God Himself. Here, there was no need to tell as to whom AIIah had imparted this Qur'anic teaching for the people were hearing it from the tongue of the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings). Therefore, the situation by itself made it evident that the teaching had been imparted to Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings). To begin the discourse with this sentence is meant,,first of aII, to tell that the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) himself is not its author, but its Teacher is AIlah Almighty. Furthermore, there is another object also to which the word Rahman (Merciful) is pointing. If the purpose was only to say that that teaching is from Allah, and not the production of the Prophet's mind, there was no need to use an attribute of AIIah instead of His proper name, acid for that purpose any attribute from among the Divine attributes could have been adopted, But when, instead of saying that AIIah, or the Creator, or the Providence, has taught this, it was said: 'The Merciful (Ar-Rahman) has taught this Qur'an,' it by itself gave the meaning that the revelation of the Qur'an for the guidance of mankind was nothing but Allah's mercy and grace, As He is most kind and Merciful to His creation, He did not like that He should leave them wandering in the darkness, and His mercy demanded that He should send down this Quran to bleu them with the knowledge on which depends their right guidance and conduct in the world and their success and well-being in the Hereafter, "(55:3) has created man,2
*2 In other words, as Allah is the Creator of man, and it is the Creator's responsibility to provide guidance to His creation and show it the way by following which it may fulfil the object of its erection, the revelation of this Qur'anic teaching from Allah is not only the demand of Allah's mercifulness but also the necessary and natural demand of His being the Creator. Who else would provide guidance to the creation if not the Creator ? And if the Creator did not provide guidance, who else could? And what greater defect could there be for a creator that he should not teach his creation the method of fulfilling the object, for which it has been created? Thus, in fact, the arrangement and' provision of the teaching for tnan by Allah is not anything strange; it would be strange if no such arrangement had been made at all, Allah has not just left alone whatever He has created in the Universe, but has given it the most appropriate structure by which it may play its role in the system of nature and has taught it the method of playing that role effectively and successfully. Thus, each single hair and each single cell of man's own body has been born with the knowledge of how it has to carry out the task in the human body for which it has been created, Then, after aII how could man himself remain deprived and independent of his Creator's teaching and guidance? This theme has been presented in the Qur'an at different places in different ways, In Surah Al-lail; 12, it has been said; "Indeed, it is for Us to toll the Way" in surah An-Nahl: 9, it is said Allah has taken upon Himself to show the Right Way, when there exist erooked ways too:12 In surah Ta Ha (vv: 47-50) it has been stated that when the Pharaoh heard the prophetic message from the Prophet Moses and asked who was his Lord who had sent him as a Messenger to him, the Prophet replied: "Our Lord is He Who has given a distinctive form to everything and then guided it aright. " That is, He has taught it the method by which it could carry out and fulfil the object of its creation in the system of existence. This is the reasoning by which an unbiased mind is satisfied that the coming of the Prophets and the Books from AIIah for the instruction of man is the very demand of nature.(55:4) and has taught him articulate speech.3
*3 One meaning of the word bayan, as used in the original, is the expressing of one'e own mind, i e. speaking and expressing one's thoughts and intentions. Its other meaning is to make distinction between things, which here signifies the distinction between good and evil, virtue and vice. According to those two meanings this brief sentence completes the above reasoning. Speech is the distinctive quality which distinguishes man from the animals and other earthly creatures, It is not merely the power of speech, but there are working behind It the faculties of reasoning and intellect, understanding and discernment, will and Judgement, and other mental powers without which man's power of speech could not operate at all. Therefore, speech is in fact an express symbol of man's being an intelligent being who has been endowed with freedom and authority, and when AIIah has blessed man with this distinctive quality, evidently the nature of instruction for him also cannot be the same a: would be suitable for the guidance of other creatures. LIkewise, another distinctive quality of vital Importance in man is that AIlah has placed in him moral sense by virtue of which he can naturally distinguish between good and evil, truth and falsehood, Justice and injustice, right and wrong, and this intuition and sense does not leave hlm even when he degrades himself to the lowest state of error and ignorance. The Inevitable demand of these two distinctive qualities is that the method of instruction for man's conscious and voluntary life should be different from the innate, natural mode of instruction under which the fish has been taught to swim, the bird to fly, and the eye in the human body itself to wink and see, the ear to hear and the stomach to digest, Man in this sphere of his life himself recognizes the means like the teacher, the book, the school, the verbal and written instruction and reasoning and discussion as the modes of instrutction, and does not regard the innate knowledge and intelligence as enough. Why should It then appear arrange that for fulfilling the responsibility that falls upon the Creator of educating man, He has made the Messenger and the Book the means of his education and instruction ? The mode of education has to suit the nature of the creation, And very rationally so; The "Qur'An" alone cart be the means of educating the creation that has been taught 'bayan"(speech) and not my other means that might salt the creatures which have not been taught the speech(55:5) The sun and the moon follow a reckoning,4
*4 That is, "It is a powerful law and unalterable system that binds the great planets together. Man is able to calculate and measure time, days, dates, and crops and seasons only because no change takes place in the rule that Has been laid down for the rising and setting of the sun and of its passing through different stages. The innumerable creatures found on the earth are staying alive only because the sun and the moon have been accurately and precisely placed at particular distances from the earth and any increase or decrease in this distance is made in the right measure, in a particular order; otherwise if their distance from the earth increased or decreased haphazardly, no one, could possibly survive here. Likewise, the perfect relationship and harmony that has been established between the movements of the moon round the earth and the sun, has made the moon a universal calendar, which announces the lunar date every night to the whole world with perfect regularity.(55:6) and the stars5 and the trees all prostrate themselves, 6
*5 The word used in the original is an-najm, the well-known meaning of which is the star; but in the Arabic lexicon this word is also used for the plants and creepers which do not have a stem, e.g. vegetable, melons, water melons, etc. The commentators have disputed the sense in which this word has been used here. Ibn 'Abbas, Sa'id bin Jubair, Suddi, and Sufyan Thauri have taken it in the meaning of stemless vegetation, for just after it the word ash-shajar (the tree) has been used and this meaning is more relevant to it. On the contrary, Mujahid, Qatadah and Hasan Basri have expressed the opinion that an-najm here does not imply the plants of the earth, but the stars of the sky, for this is its well-known meaning. On hearing this word, the mind first turns to this very meaning, and the mention of the sun and the moon has been followed by the stars very naturally and relevantly. Though the majority of the commentators and translators have preferred the first meaning, and it cannot be held wrong either, we hold Hafiz Ibn Kathir's this opinion as sound that in view of both the language and the subject-matter the second meaning seems to be preferable. At another place in the Qur'an (AI-Hajj: 18) also mention has been made of the stars and the trees prostrating themselves, and there the word nujum (pl. of najm) cannot be taken in any other meaning than of the stars. The words of the verse are: Alam fara annallaha yasjudu lahu man fis sma wat-i wa man fil ardi wash-shamsu wal-qamaru walnujumu wal jibalu wash-shajaru wad-da wabbu wa kathir-um-min-annasi. . . . (AI-Hajj: 18). In this verse nujum (stars) have been mentioned along with shams (sun) and qamar (moon), and shajar (trees) along with mountains and animals and it has been said that they all bow down to AIIah.
*6 That is, "The stars of the heavens and the trees of the earth, alI are subject to Allah's Command and obedient to His Law. They cannot exceed the rule that has been set for them." What is meant to be impressed in these two verses is that the whole system of the Universe has been created by Allah and is fimctioning in His obedience. Nothing front the earth to the heavens is independent, nor functioning under another's godhead, nor has anyone any share in God's Kingdom, nor has anyone the position that it should be made a deity. AII are servants and slaves: the Master is One Almighty Lord alone. Hence, Tauhid alone is the Truth which is being taught by this Qur'an. Apart from this, any one who is involved in polytheism and denial of God is, in fact, at war with the whole system of the Universe.(55:7) and He has raised up the heaven and has set a balance7
*7 Almost aII the commentators have interpreted mizan (balance) to mean justice, and '...set the balance" to imply that AIIah has established the entire system of the Universe on justice. Had there been no harmony and balance and justice established among the countless stars and planets moving in space, and the mighty forces working in this Universe, and the innumerable creatures and things found here, this life on earth would not have functioned even for a moment. Look at the creatures existing in the air and water and on land for millions and millions of years on this earth. They continue to exist only because full justice and balance has been established in the means and factors conducive to life; in case there occurs a slight imbalance of any kind, every tract of lift would become extinct.(55:8) that you may not transgress in the balance,
*8 That is, "As you are living in a balanced Universe, whose entire system has been established on justice, you also should adhere to justice. For if you act unjustly within the sphere in which you have been given authority, and fail to render the rights of others, you would indeed be rebelling against the nature of the Universe; for the nature of this Universe does not admit of injustice and perversion and violation of the rights. Not to speak of a major injustice, even if a person fraudulently deprives another of an ounce of something, by giving him short measure, he disturbs the balance of the entire Universe.-This is the second important part of the Qur'anic teaching that has been presented in these three verses. The first teaching is Tauhid and the second is justice. Thus, in a few brief sentences the people have been told what teaching has been brought by the Qur'an which the Merciful God has sent for the guidance of man."(55:10) And He9 has set up the earth for all beings.10
*9 Now from here to verse 20, mention is being made of the blessing and bounties of God and of those manifestations of His might by which both man and jinn are benefiting, and whose natural and moral demand is that although they have the option to believe or not to believe, they should adopt the way of their Lord's service and obedience willingly by their own free choice.
*10 The word wade ` in the original means to compost, make, prepare, keep. and inscribe, and anam the creatures, which includes man and all other living things. According to Ibn 'Abbas, anam includes every thing which has a soul. Mujahid takes it in the meaning of the living creatures. Qatadah, Ibn Zaid and Sha'bi say that all living things are anam. Hasan Basri says that both the men and the jinn are included in its meaning. The same meanings have been~given by the lexicographers. This shows that the people who deduce from this verse the command of making land the state property, are in error. This is an ugly attempt to introduce alien theories forcibly into the Qur'an which arc neither supported by the words of the verse nor by the context. Anam is not used only for human society but it includes aII other creatures of the earth as well, and setting of the earth for anam dces not mean that it should be the common property of aII. Besides, the context here also dces not indicate that the object of the verse is to state some economic principle. This, in fact, is meant to impress the truth that AIIah made and prepared this earth in such a way that it became a fit abode for every kind of living being. It has not become so by itself, but by the will and power of the Creator. He in His wisdom placed it at a suitable distance and created such conditions on it which made it possible for the different species to exist and stay alive on it. (For explanation, see E.N.'s 73, 74 of An-Naml, E.N.'s 29, 32 of Ya Sin, E.N.'s 90, 91 of Al-Mu'min, E.N.'s 11 to 13 of Ha Mim As-Sajdah, E.N.'s 7 to 10 of Az.Zukhruf, E.N. 7 of AI-Jathiyah).(55:11) Therein are fruit and palm-trees with their dates in sheaths,
*11 That is, grain for men and husk for the animals.(55:13) Which of the bounties of your Lord12 will you twain – you men and jinn – then deny?13
*12 The word alaa' in the refrain as repeated over and over again in the subsequent verses has been translated differently at different places. Therefore, it would be useful to understand at the outset how vast this word is in meaning and what different shades of meaning it contains. The lexicographers and commentators generally have explained alaa' to mean "blessings" and "bounties". The translators also have given this same meaning of this word, and the same has been reported from Ibn 'Abbas, Qatadah and Hasan Basri. The major argument that supports this meaning is the Holy Prophet's own statement that the jinn on hearing this verse being recited would respond to it, saying La bi-shai in-min-ni maatika Rabba-na nukadhdhib: "O our Lord, we do not deny any of Your blessings." Therefore, we do not subscribe to the view of some present-day scholars, who say that alaa' is never used in the meaning of the blessing. Another meaning of this word is power and wonders of power, or excellent manifestations of power. Ibn Jarir Tabari has reported that Ibn Zaid took the words fa-bi-ayyi alaa i Rabbi kuma in the meaning of fa bi-ayyi qudrat-Allah. Ibn Jarir himself has taken alaa' in the meaning of power and might in his commentary of vv. 37-38. Imam Razi also has made this observation in his commentary of vv.14-16: "These verses do not describe the blessings but the powers of AIIah, and in the commentary of vv. 22-23, this; "These describe the wonders of power and not the blessings." Its third meaning is virtue, praiseworthy qualities, and prefections. Though this meaning has not been mentioned by the lexicographers and commentators, this word has often been used in this meaning in Arabic poetry. ( Examples omitted). Thus, we have taken this word in its vastest meaning and translated it suitably keeping in view the context in which it occurs. However, at some places the word alaa ' may have several senses in one and the same place, but due to limitations of translation we have had to adopt only one meaning. For example, in this verse after making mention of the creation of the earth and of making the best arrangements for the supply of provisions to the creatures, it has been said: 'Which of the alaa' of your Lord will you deny?" Here, alaa' has not been used in the meaning of the blessings only but also in the meaning of the manifestations of AIIah Almighty's power and His praiseworthy attributes. It is a wonder of His might that He fashioned this earth in such a marvellous manner that countless species of creatures live here and an endless variety of fruits and grain are grown on it. And it is due to His praiseworthy qualities that He not only created these creatures but also made arrangements for their sustenance and the supply of provisions for them; and the arrangements also so perfect that their food is not only nutritious but also pleasing to the taste and sight. In this connection, reference has been made to only one excellence of AIlah Almighty's workmanship for the sake of example, viz., the creation of the date-palm fruit in sheaths. Keeping this one example in view one may consider what excellences of art have been devised and shown in the packing of banana, pomegranates, orange, coconut and other fruits, and how each of the different sorts of the grains and pulses which we so thoughtlessly cook and eat, are produced hotly packed and covered in ears and pods and clusters.
*13 "Denying" implies the several attitudes that the people adopt in respect of AIlah Almighty's blessings and manifestations of His might and His praiseworthy attributes. For example, some people do not at all admit that the Creator of aII things is Allah Almighty. They think that aII this is a mere byproduct of the matter, or an accidental happening, which is un-related with any wisdom and skill and workmanship. This is open denial. Some other people do admit that the Creator of these things is Allah, but regard others beside Him also as associates in Godhead: they render thanks to others for His blessings: they adore others although they eat His provisions. This is another form of denial. Obviously, it would be the height of ingratitude if a person while admitting that a certain person had done him a favour rendered thanks to another, who had not in fact dent him that favour, for this act of his would be an express proof that he regarded the other person as his benefactor whom he was rendering the thanks. There are still others. who acknowledge Allah alone as the Creator of all things and the Bestower of all blessings, but do not admit that they should obey the Commands of their Creator and Sustainer and follow His injunctions. This is another form of ingratitude and denial of the blessings, for the person who behaves so denies the right of the Bestower of the blessing although he acknowledges the blessing itself. Some other people neither disavow the blessing nor deny the right of the Bestower of the blessing, but in practice there is no appreciable difference between their conduct and the conduct of a denier. This is not verbal denial but denial in practice.(55:14) He has created man from dry, rotten clay like the potter's,14
*14 The order of the initial stages of the creation of man, as given at different places in the Qur'an seems to be as follows: (1) Turab, i.e. earth or dust; (2) Tin, i.e. clay made by mixing water with earth; (3) tin-i-lazib: sticky clay, i.e. a clay which becomes sticky when left alone for a long time; (4) hama in musnun, i.e. clay with a stink in it; (S) salsal-im-min hems in masnun kalfakhkhar. i.e. the rotten clay which when dried becomes like baked pottery; (ti) bashar, i.e.. the one who was made from this last form of the earth, in whom Allah breathed of His Spirit, to whom the angels were commanded to bow down, and from whose species his mate was created; (7) thumma ja ala nasla-hu min sulala-tin-min-ma 'in mahin: 'then spread his progeny by means of an extract of the nature of a despicable water', for which the word nutfah has been used at other places. For these stages one may look up the following verses of the Qur'an in sequence: ka-melba/-i Adalla khalaqa-hu min turab (AI-'Imran : 59); bed's khalqal-insan-i min tin (As Sajdah: 7); Inna khalaq-na hum min tin-il-/azib (As-Saaffat: 11): the fourth and fifth stages have been described in the verse being explained, and the later stages in the following verses : Inni khaliq-un bashar an-nun tin. Faidha sa wwaitu-hu wa nafakhtu-fi -hi min-ruhi fa-qa ,u-lahu sajidin. (Suad : 71-72); khalaqa-kum min-nafs in wahidatin wa khalaqa nun-ha zauja-ha wa baththa minhuma rijal-an kathir-an wa nisa-an. (An -Nisa':1) ; thumma Ja ala nasla-hu min sulata-tin-min mmaa'-in -mahin. (As-Sajdah: 8); fa-inna khalaq-na-kum min turabin thumma min nutfs-tin. (AI-Hajj:5).(55:15) and has created the jinn from the flame of fire.15
*15 The words in the original are: mim-marij-im-min-nar. Nar signifies fire of a special nature and not the fire which is produced by burning wood or coal, and marij means a pure, smokeless flame. The verse means that just as the first man was created out of earth, then passing through various stages of creation, the clay model adopted the shape of a living man of flesh and blood, and then his progeny spread by means of the sperm-drop, so was the first jinn created from a pure flame of fire, or a fire free of smoke, and then the species of jinn spread from his progeny. The position of the first jinn among the jinn is the same as of Adam (peace be upon him) among human beings. After taking the shape of a living man, the body of Adam and the human beings born of his progeny retained no relationship with the dust from which. they were originally created. Though even now our body is entirely a compound of the earthly substances, these substances have taken the from of flesh and blood and after being made a living body it has become quite a different thing from a mere lump of clay. The same also is true of the jinn. Their being also is essentially fiery. But just as we are not a mere lump of earth, so also they arc not a mere flame of fire. This verse proves two things. First, that the jinn are not simply spirit, but are material beings of a special nature, but since they have been composed of pure fiery substances, they remain invisible to human beings who have bean created of earthly substances. The same has been referred to in this verse: "Satan and his party see you from where you cannot see them." (AI-A`raf: 27) Likewise, the jinn's being fast-moving, their adopting different shapes and forms easily and their penetrating into different places imperceptibly where things made of earthly substances cannot penetrate, or if they do, their.penetration becomes perceptible, all these things are possible and understandable only because they are essentially a fiery creation. The other thing that we come to know from this verse is that the jinn are not only a creation of a wholly different nature from human beings, but the substance of their creation also is absolutely different from that of man, animal, vegetable and solid matter. This verse explicitly points out the error of the viewpoint of those people who regard the jinn as a kind of haman beings. According to their interpretation, the meaning of creating man of the dust and the jinn of the fire is to describe the difference of the temperamental nature of the two kinds of the people; one kind of them are humble by nature, and they are men in the true sense, and the other kind of the people are wicked by nature and fiery in temper, who may better be called devils. This is, however, no commentary of the Qur'an but its distortion. In E.N. 14 above we have shown in detail how the Qur'an itself has fully described the meaning of creating man from the earth. After reading aII these details, can a reasonable person understand that the object of aII this is only to define the humility of the good men ? Moreover, how can a sound-minded person understand that the meaning of creating man of rotten, dry clay and the jinn of the flame of pure fire is the difference of the separate moral characteristics of the two individuals or groups with different temperaments belonging to the same human species? (For further explanation, see E.N. 53 of Surah Adh-Dhariyat).(55:16) Which of the wonders of your Lord's power16 will you twain – you men and jinn – then deny?
*16 Here, in view of the context, It is more appropriate to translate alaa' as 'wonders of power", but in this the aspect of the blessing is also present. Just as it is a wonderful manifestation of Allah's power to have brought into existence marvellous creatures like man from the dust and the jinn from the flame of fire, so for both these creatures this is a great blessing also that Allah not only granted them a body but gave each such a structure and endowed each with such powers and capabilities that they became able to perform unique works in the world. Though we do not know much about the jinn, man is present before us. Had he been given the body of a fish or a bird or a monkey along with the human brain, he could not have with that body used the mental powers to any advantage. Then, is it not a supreme blessing of AIIah that He blessed man with the most suitable body also, so that he may exploit the mental powers granted to him efficiently? Consider the hands, the feet, the eyes, the ears, the tongue and the erect stature as againts the intellect and reason, and the capabilities of workmanship and artistic skill, and one will feel that the Creator has provided a deep relationship and harmony between them without which the human body would have remained useless. Then, the same thing points out Allah's praiseworthy qualities too. How could the men and jinn of such quality and rank be brought into existence without knowledge, wisdom, mercy and a profound creative power ? For such miracles of creation cannot be performed by accidents and automatic blind and deaf laws of nature.(55:17) Lord of the two easts and of the two wests is He.17
*17 'Both the Easts and both the Wests" may mean the two points of sunrise and the two points of sunset on the shortest day of winter and the longest day of summer as well as the easts and the wests of the two hemispheres of the earth. On the shortest day of winter the sun rises and sets making a small acute angle: on the contrary, on the longest day of summer-it rises and sets making a wide obtuse angle. Between them its points of rising and setting go on shifting every day, for which at another place in the Qur'an (AI-Ma'arij: 40) the words Rabbul-mashariq wal-magharib have been used. Likewise, at the time the sun rises in one hemisphere of the earth, it sets in the other hemisphere, thus producing two easts and two wests of the earth. There arc several meanings of calling AIIah Lord of both the Easts and both the Wests. Firstly, that it is by His Command that the system of the rising and setting of the sun and their changing pattern during the year is fimctioning. Second, that AIIah alone is the Master and Ruler of the earth and the sun; had they their own separate lords, this regular system of the rising and setting of the sun on the earth could not have functioned and continued to function permanently. Third, that the Master and Sustainer of both the Easts and both the Wests is One Allah alone; to Him belong the creations living between them. He alone is nourishing them, and it is for their sustenance that He has established this wise system of the rising and setting of the sun on the earth.(55:18) Which of the powers of your Lord18 will you twain – you men and jinn – then deny?
*18 Here also, although in view of the context, "power" seems to be a more conspicuous meaning of alaa', yet, besides, the aspect of "blessing" and 'praiseworthy qualities" also is present in it. It is a great blessing that Allah Almighty has prescribed the rule of the rising and setting of the sun, for by means of it the changes of the crops and seasons arc regulated with which countless interests of the men and animals and vegetables are attached. Likewise, it is Allahs mercy and providence and wisdom that He has made these arrangements by His power to meet the respective needs and requirements of the creatures He has created on the earth.(55:19) He unleashed the two seas so that they merge together,
*19 For explanation, see E. N . 68 of Surah AI-Furqan.(55:21) Which of the wonders of your Lord will you twain – you men and jinn – then deny?
*20 According to Ibn 'Abbas, Qatadah, Ibn Zaid and Dahhak (may AIIah bless them), marjan implies small pearls, but according to Hadrat 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud, this word is used for corals in Arabia.
*21 Literally: "From both these seas come out..." The objectors say that pearls and corals come out only from salt waters. How is it then that they are stated to come out from both the sweet and salt waters ? The answer is that the seas contain both the sweet and the salt waters; therefore, whether it is said that these things come out from the combination of both, or from both kinds of waters, it would be one and the same thing. And it may well be that further investigations might reveal that both these things originate in the sea at the place where springs of sweet water gush outs from the sea bed; and in their birth and development combination of both kinds of the water plays its part. Near Bahrain which has been famous for its pearl-fisheries for centuries, there exist springs of sweet water at the bottom of the Gulf.(55:23) Which of the wonders of your Lord's power will you twain – you men and jinn – then deny?22
*22 Here also though the aspect of power in alaa' is conspicuous, the aspect of the blessing and praiseworthy qualities also is not hidden. It is a blessings of God that these valuable things come out from the sea, and it is His Providence that for the satisfaction of the aesthetic taste of the creatures whom He had blessed with the taste for beauty and the lout and longing for adornment, He created ali sorts of these beautiful things in His world.(55:24) His are the ships,23 towering on the sea like mountains.
*23 "His are the ships...": Ships became possible only by His power. It is He Who blessed man with the capability and skill that he may build ships for crossing the oceans; it is He Who created on the earth the material from which ships could be built; and it is He Who subjected water to the laws by which it became possible for the mountain-like ships to sail on the surface of the surging oceans.(55:25) Which of the favours of your Lord will you twain – you men and jinn – then deny?24
*24 Here, the aspect of the blessing; and bounty is conspicuous in alaa', but the explanation given above shows that the aspect of power and good qualities also is present in it.