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Surah al-Rahman, Chapter 55, Verses 1 - 32

(The Most Gracious)
Section (juz’): 27
Number of Verses: 78

General Overview of the Chapter

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

The Chapter has seventy eight Verses and it was reveled in Medina.

The designation of the Chapter derives from the first blessed Verse,

"the Most Gracious"

(al-Rahman), one of the Most Beautiful Names and Attributes of Allah.

Imam Kadim (as) said:

"There is a bride [best thing] for everything, and that of the Qur’an is Surah al-Rahman."1

The blessed Verse:

"Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both [jinn and men] deny?"

is reiterated thirty three times which constitutes the most reiteration throughout the Holy Qur’an.

It would be of interest to know that the blessed Verse in questin addresses both jinn and men asking them:

"Which of the innumerable Blessings of your Lord will you deny?”

It is worthy of note that Divine Warnings were reiterated in the preceding Chapter:

("My Torment and Warnings")

and the blessed Chapter in question reiterates Blessings.

The preceding Chapter opened with an account of Resurrection and closed with Divine Omnipotence:

("In a seat of truth, near the Omnipotent Lord")

and the blessed Chapter in question opens with Divine Graciousness and closes with Divine Majesty and Honor

("Blessed is the Name of your Lord, the Owner of Majesty and Honor").

Merits of Recitation of the Chapter

Numerous traditions have been narrated regarding the merits of recitation of the Chapter,2 but we suffice to quote only one tradition.

According to a tradition narrated from the Messenger of Allah (S):

"One who recites Surah al-Rahman shall be granted Divine Graciousness upon his inability to give thanks to Allah for all His Blessings and shall be rewarded for his gratitude against Divine Blessings."3

Generally speaking, the blessed Chapter treats of different material and spiritual Divine Blessings bestowed upon His servants encompassing them all such that the blessed Chapter may bear the designations "Divine Graciousness" or "Divine Blessings," as a consequence of which the blessed Chapter opens with one of the Most Beautiful Divine Names and Attributes,

"the Most Gracious"

(al-Rahman) reflecting Divine encompassing Mercy and it closes with Divine Majesty and Glory.

Surah al-Rahman - Verses 1-2

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

الرَّحْمَنُ

عَلَّمَ الْقُرْآنَ

1. The Most Gracious [Allah]!
2. He taught the Qur’an.

His Messenger (S) is a Mercy;

("And We have sent you not but as a Mercy for the worlds [jinn and mankind],").

His Qur’an is also a Mercy;

("And We send down the Qur’an that which is a healing and a Mercy to those who believe,"4).

The Divine Attribute;

"the Most Gracious"

(al-Rahman) is attested 169 times 114 instances of which are to found in the opening of Chapters

("In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful").

As mentioned above, the blessed Chapter reflects different Divine Blessings, opening with the Divine Attribute;

"the Most Gracious"

(al-Rahman), a secret of His All-Encompassing Graciousness, since were it not owing to this Attribute of His, such Blessings would not have fallen into the shares of His friends and enemies.

The blessed Verses are saying that the Most Gracious Allah taught the Holy Qur’an. Thus, the first and the most significant Blessing is mentioned as teaching the Holy Qur’an. What an appealing and significant expression. If we reflect correctly, the Glorious Qur'an is the source of all Divine Blessings and the means to attain to any Blessing and benefiting from all material and spiritual Blessings.

It is worthy of note that treating of the Divine Blessing of:

"teaching the Qur'an"

is mentioned prior to the creation of man and teaching him, but the natural order would be to first make mention of the reverse order, namely creation of man, the Blessing of teaching man speech, and then teaching him the Holy Qur’an. However, the majesty and glory of the Glorious Qur’an necessitates the order in question.

The other point is that the blessed Verse is a response to Arab polytheists who upon hearing the Noble Prophet (S) calling them to prostrate before the Most Gracious Allah asked:

"What is Graciousness?"

("And when it is said unto them: 'Prostrate yourselves to the Most Gracious Allah!' They say: 'And what is the Most Gracious? Shall we fall down in prostration to that which you command us?' And it increases in them only aversion."5).

The Holy Qur’an is saying that the Most Gracious Allah is One Who taught the Qur’an, created man, and taught him speech.

It is worthy of note that second to "Allah" the Divine Attribute;

"the Most Gracious"

is the most encompassing concept from amongst the Most Beautiful Attributes and Names of Allah, since we know that God Almighty possesses two kinds of Graciousness, general and specific.

The Attribute;

"the Most Gracious"

reflects His All-Encompassing Graciousness.

The Divine Attribute;

"the Most Merciful"

(Rahim) designates His specific Graciousness bestowed upon the faithful and the obedient.

It is seemingly owing to this reason that the Attribute;

"the Most Gracious"

is never applied to anyone other than God Almighty, unless it is accompanied by the word

"servant"

(‘abd), but

"merciful"

may be applied to others, since All-Encompassing Graciousness only belongs to God Almighty. In other words, specific mercy in its feeble form may be found among mankind and other creatures.

According to a tradition narrated from Imam Sadiq (as),

"the Most Gracious"

(Rahman) is All-Encompassing and is solely a Divine Attribute, but

"merciful"

(rahim) is specific. In other words, the former is a specific name but is all-encompassing, namely, it is a Divine Attribute reflecting that His Mercy is All-Encompassing.

But,

"merciful"

is a general name with specific application, namely it may be applied to anyone, but

"merciful"

is general name with specific application, i.e., it is applied to God Almighty and His Creatures.

Likewise, the Noble Prophet (S) is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an as:

"kind and merciful"6

(ra’uf al-rahim), but they designate limited and specific mercy.

Qur’an exegetes are not unanimous regarding the issue as to who received the teaching of the Holy Qur’an. Some maintain that Gabriel, angels, the Noble Prophet (S), and all mankind and even jinn received it.

Since the blessed Chapter in question treats of Divine Blessings bestowed upon jinn and mankind, and the question:

"Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both [jinn and men] deny?"

is attested thirty one times following an enumeration of Divine Blessings, the last interpretation sounds to be more appropriate, namely God Almighty taught jinn and mankind the Holy Qur’an through His Messenger, the Noble Prophet of Islam (S).

Surah al-Rahman - Verse 3

خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ

3. He created man.

Following a treatment of the unique Blessing of teaching the Holy Qur’an in the preceding Verse, the blessed Verse in question says:

"He created man."

It goes without saying that the word "man" (insan) designates mankind rather than Prophet Adam (as), since he rather than the Noble Prophet of Islam (S) will be mentioned in the following Verses, though the Noble Prophet of Islam (S) is a man par excellence.

The All-Encompassing Blessing of speech which will follow serves as another argument substantiating the general application of the word "man." Thus, other interpretations are not seemingly true.

Indeed, creation of man as the most wondrous creature in the world of existence, i.e. the macrocosm included in man, the microcosm, is an unequalled Blessing, since each dimension of his being is a great Blessing.

It is worthy of note that man begins its being as an unworthy semen, narrowly speaking, a microscopic being afloat in that unworthy drop of semen. Nonetheless, the being, thanks to Divine Lordship, proceeds on the path of evolution and development such that he may be promoted to the state of the most exalted and the noblest being in the world of existence.

It is also worthy of note that the name of man follows the Holy Qur’an, since the Holy Qur’an encompasses all the secrets of the world of existence in their codified form and man is the synopsis of these secrets in the form of coming into being and development and each and every man reflects a version of this great and vast world!

Surah al-Rahman - Verse 4

عَلَّمَهُ الْبَيَانَ

4. He taught him speech.

The blessed Verse in question makes a reference to one of the most significant Blessings second to the creation of man, saying:

"God Almighty taught him speech."

The Arabic word bayan:

("speech")

enjoys a wide range of meaning, applied to whatever clarifies something. Thus, it not only encompasses speech but also it connotes script, writing, and different intellectual and logical arguments clarifying complicated and sophisticated issues. The word encompasses all, though the core meaning is speech.7

Since men are habitually inclined toward speech, they underestimate it, but the fact is that speech is one of the most sophisticated and the most delicate of human acts.

It may even be said that nothing is as sophisticated and delicate as speech, since sound production systems work together to produce different sounds. Lungs pump down the air and emit the same in time through larynx.

Vocals tracts reverberate and produce totally different sounds to reflect satisfaction, wrath, requesting assistance, love, and hate. Then such sounds are produced with speed and particular delicacy through the tongue, lips, teeth, and the oral cavity. In other words, the monotonous and prolonged sound emitting from the larynx is fashioned in different forms and measures thereby different sounds are produced.

On the other hand, the coinage of words is raised such that owing to intellectual developments, man coins different words to meet his material and spiritual requirements. It is a source of surprise that there exists no limit as to the quantity of vocabulary and the number of languages spoken in the world is so large that it evades determination.

Novel words and languages are formed in time. Some say that the languages of the world run to three thousand, but some even maintain that the number exceeds the same.8 They were seemingly after enumerating languages, since the number of regional dialects and accents far exceeds the aforesaid numbers as there are many instances in which the inhabitants of two adjacent villages speak two regionally different languages.

Another point is the rules of syntax governing clauses and also expression of arguments and feelings are carried out through intellect and reason as the soul of speech. Thus, speech is peculiar to man.

It is true that many animals produce sounds to communicate but the sounds produced by them is so limited in number and they are rather vague compared to human speech which is of wide application and boundless, since God Almighty has provided man with the required faculty of speech.

Furthermore, with due consideration of the role of speech in the developments of human life and the emergence and developments of civilizations, one may certainly believe that it is solely thanks to this great Blessing that mankind may pass down their knowledge and experience from one generation to the following one and thereby cause the advancement of knowledge and science and the developments in civilizations, religions, and ethics. Put the case that such great Blessing is withheld, human societies will rapidly move towards regression.

If the word:

"speech"

herein be applied to script and writing and even different kinds of arts, its extraordinary role in the life of mankind is furthered clarified. Now it becomes crystal clear why mention is made of God Almighty teaching man speech following the creation of man treated in the blessed Chapter in question which encompasses a compendium of Divine Blessings.

Surah al-Rahman - Verse 5

الشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ بِحُسْبَانٍ

5. The sun and the moon follow their measured out calculation.

The blessed Verse in question treats of the fourth great Divine Blessing bestowed by the God Almighty, the Most Gracious. The blessed Verse is saying that the sun and the moon follow their courses with measured out calculation.

The existence of the sun is one of the greatest Divine Blessings bestowed upon man, since life would be unimaginable in the solar system without the light and heat of the sun. It was mentioned above that any motion on the earth springs from the solar light and heat. Growth of plants and production of provision, precipitation, and blowing of winds are all thanks to this Divine Blessing.

The moon, in its turn, plays a key role in human life. It is the light of his dark nights, its gravity is the sources of ebb and flow in oceans result in life in seas and watering of rivers flowing onto seas. Besides, the fixed course of the twain circulations, that of the moon round the earth and that of the earth round the sun results in the orderly emergence of nights and days, years, months, and seasons.

They make human life order through which man may make use of the same for his commercial, industrial, and agricultural activities. Without such order, human life could never have any order.

It is worthy of note that not only the movement of these celestial bodies are precisely measured out, but also the quantity of their mass and gravity and their distance from the earth and from each other are all well calculated, without which great disruptions would occur in the solar system and consequently in human life.

It is also worthy of note that although the sun is seemingly motionless in the solar system, but it should be kept in mind that it, along with all its planets is moving in the milky way galaxy toward a specific point, the star known as Vega, and such movement follows a certain order and speed.

For further information, one may refer to 36:38—40:

("And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term appointed. That is the Decree of the Omnipotent, the Omniscient. And the moon, We have measured for it mansions to traverse till it returns to like the old dried curved date stalk. It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor does the night outstrip the day. They all float, each in an orbit.").

Surah al-Rahman - Verse 6

وَالنَّجْمُ وَالشَّجَرُ يَسْجُدَانِ

6. And the plants and the trees both prostrate themselves to Him.

According to Raghib’s Mufradat, the Arabic word najm is applied to "star" and "stemless plant." The word originally denotes "rise," and the designation najm is owing to its "rise."

It is common knowledge that all the food used by mankind originally derives from plants, some of which are directly consumed by man and some are used to feed those animals constituting human dietary ingredients. It is applied to sea animals, since they feed on minute plants growing in millions throughout water under sun light floating in between waves.

Thus the word najm is applied to small, creeping plants like pumpkin and cucumber and the word shajar designates types of plants with stems, stalks, and trunks, like crops and fruit bearing trees.

The Arabic verbal form yasjudan; ("the two prostrate themselves") connotes unconditional submission against the rules of creation in vein with human benefits, a Divinely appointed fixed course which they follow without any alteration.

It also alludes to their monotheistic secrets since each leaf or seed contain wondrous Signs of Divine Greatness and Omniscience;

("Each leaf is a book of Divine Omniscience").

Some also maintain that the Arabic word najm may connote stars, but the aforesaid exegesis is more consistent with the contextual meaning of the blessed Verse.

Surah al-Rahman - Verse 7-8

وَالسَّمَاء رَفَعَهَا وَوَضَعَ الْمِيزَانَ

ألَآ تَطْغَوْا فِي الْمِيزَانِ

7. And the heaven: He raised it high, and He set up two Balances.
8. In order that you may not transgress Balance.

Following a treatment of Divine Graciousness and the blessings of teaching, speech, calculation of the sun, the moon, and prostration of creatures which implies Divine relation with man and nature, the blessed Verses in question discuss the manner of man's relation with society.

Maintaining the balance refers to moderation as per which immoderation and inflicting loss is unjustifiable. It is worthy of note that the fifth creature upon which Divine Graciousness and Mercy are bestowed is the heaven that enjoys an exalted state.

The Arabic word sama’ ("heaven, sky") is cognate with sumuw ("exaltedness, height, elevation from the earth") and the clause:

"He raised it high"

may connote the exaltedness of planets, stars, galaxies, and celestial spheres, such that these creatures are both higher and more exalted than the earth, since heavenly bodies are quantitatively and qualitatively higher than the earth and whatever exists on it.

The point is that man is the synopsis of all earthly and heavenly creatures and nobler and more exalted that most of the existent beings.

"He set upon two Balances"

is that setting up the two Balances constitute the sixth Manifestation and Gracious Emanation. Balance is employed for weighing and assaying something by something else like balance and scale, even if the thing happens to be immaterial, like assaying knowledge by something else.

It also connotes the equality and equilibrium between the constituent elements of the thing, as it is said that the constituents of these two things are in equilibrium. Some maintain that balance is used for weighing and assaying and maintaining perceptible and immaterial equilibrium, since balance is a polysemous word with different implications.

Balance may be applied in all matters like beliefs and ethics and whatever may be assayed in everyday and natural issues in human society and civilization so that people may not be wronged in transactions and they may not incur loss and damage but the balance be maintained, namely justice be administered in human society. It may entail what exists in equilibrium like limitation of the irascible and concupiscent faculties.

The blessed Verse 8 provides an interesting conclusion of the same adding that the goal of setting up balance in the world of existence is that you may maintain the balance and refrain from transgressing the bounds. You are also a part of this great world and you may never live inconsistently with it.

There is a system and a balance in this world and you have to have the same. Without such balance and order, the world will perish. If you lack order and balance in your lives, you will tread the path to perdition. The truth behind monotheism is that the prevailing principles of it are all the same everywhere.

Surah al-Rahman - Verse 9

وَأقِيمُوا الْوَزْنَ بِالْقِسْطِ وَلَآ تُخْسِرُوا الْمِيزَانَ

9. And observe the weight with equity and do not make the balance deficient.

Failing to attend to balance, equity, fairness, and justice in respect to the rights of people will lead man to immoderation and injustice. Islam provides people with significant and precise injunctions for the maintenance of justice and balance such that according to traditions, a judge wearing tight shoes is not supposed to issue verdicts lest the tightness of the shoes may affect his judgment and lead him to haste and intemperance thereby he may err as to the administration of justice.

According to another tradition, valuable commerce rests upon truth.

According to a tradition narrated from Imam ‘Ali (as):

"Merchants are wrong-doers and wrong-doers shall abide in Hellfire, unless his transactions be based on truth."9

Imam ‘Ali (as) ordered that adulterated coins be cast into wells so that they may not be used for transactions.10

He walked in the market of Kufa and at times stopped in the middle of the market saying:

"O merchants! Ask God Almighty for good. Find Divine Blessing in being lenient toward people. Refrain from telling lies in transactions. Abstain from injustice. Be not involved in usury. The said tradition is attested in Kafi, Man la Yahdhuruhu al-Faqih, Majalis, and Tahdhib.”

It is worthy of note that the blessed Verse emphasizes maintaining balance and justice saying:

"Observe the weight with equity and do not make the balance deficient."

The word:

"balance"

is attested thrice in these blessed Verses, though it was possible to use pronouns in the second and third instances. It reflects that the word balance (mizan) is employed in three different senses and using pronouns may not do justice in conveying the meanings and the contextual meaning of the Verses also bear witness to the same, since the first instance implies the balance, criterion, and laws set up by God Almighty throughout the world of existence.

The second instance treats of abstention of human beings from disobedience in all the matters concerning individual and social lives which are naturally more limited. The third instance emphasizes the issue of weighing in the narrower sense of the word saying that one may not make the balance deficient in weighing things and the last instance is more restricted in scope.

Thus, there is an interesting consistency in the Verses in the hierarchy of balance from larger circles toward smaller ones. The significance of balance in human life in any of the aforesaid senses is such that taking out the balance in the narrowest sense will entail chaos, problems, and disagreement. The broader the sense, the more disorder will prevail.

Based on the above, it is clarified that the reason behind the interpretation of balance as the presence of Imam (as) is that the presence of the Infallible Imam (as) serves as a criterion for assaying truth and falsehood which may lead to perception of truth and finding guidance. Interpretation of balance to the Holy Qur’an is in this light.

It is, however, worthy of note that all these blessed Verses treat of Divine Blessings reflecting that the existence of balance in the entirety of the world of existence, human society, social relations, commerce, and transactions are all Divine Bounties.

Surah al-Rahman - Verse 10-11

وَالْأرْضَ وَضَعَهَا لِلْأنَامِ

فِيهَا فَاكِهَةٌ وَالنَّخْلُ ذَاتُ الْأكْمَامِ

10. And He created the earth for mankind.
11. Therein are fruits and magnificent date-palms.

The blessed Verses in question descend from the heaven onto the earth, saying:

"God Almighty created the earth for the life of mankind.”

The Arabic word anam is interpreted differently by Qur’an exegetes as mankind, jinn and men, and any animate being. It is worthy of note that the contextual meaning indicates that jinn and men are being herein intended.

The earth which is mentioned herein as a remarkable Divine Blessing is mentioned in other Qur'anic Verses as "cradle" serves as a secure and serene abode whose significance may not be normally perceived by most of us, but an earthquake disturbs everything and volcanic eruption may bury a city beneath magma, fire, and smoke.

Such phenomena indicate that the serene earth is such a great Blessing, particularly if we reflect upon what scientists say concerning the velocity of the earth's rotation on its axis and its circling around the sun, the significance of such serenity despite the staggering velocity, it is further clarified that it entails different types of motion.

The employment of the past verbal forms wadha‘a ("set up") and rafa‘a ("raised") regarding the earth and the heaven both embodies a delicate expression in terms of juxtaposition or contrast and a meaningful allusion to the submission of the earth and its resources against mankind.

As it is reflected in the Holy Qur’an11:

"He it is Who had made the earth obedient to you. Therefore walk in its path and eat of His provision. And to Him shall be the Resurrection."

The blessed Verse 11 treats of the tenth Blessings, namely the provisions, saying that there are fruits and magnificent date palms. The Arabic word fakiha denotes any kind of fruit and some interpret it as any kind of fruit but dates which is unjustifiable. Date palms are mentioned separately, but the repetition may reflect the significance of dates and date palms.

The word akmam is the plural form of kum designating the sheath covering fruits. Kumma denotes sleeve covering arm and hand and kum is the night cap covering the head. The fruit of palm trees is initially covered by a sheath. Then, the fruit splits the sheath. The depiction used herein may refer to its astounding beauty or the benefits concealed in the sheath. It contains juice and essence which are both nutritive and medicinal.

Besides, like a womb, the sheath fosters the fruit for a while and preserves it from blights. The sheath will be removed when the fruit may be exposed to sunshine and air. Above all, the peculiar condition of dates is that it is initially in the sheath and then it splits and forms clusters making it facile to be picked. Were tall date palms like other fruit bearing trees like apple, it would be so hard to harvest the produce.

Surah al-Rahman - Verse 12

وَالْحَبُّ ذُو الْعَصْفِ وَالرَّيْحَانُ

12. And also corns, with leaves and stalks for fodder and sweet-scented plants.

Other earthly benefits include crops, like wheat, barley, millet, and lintel growing from the earth on which man feeds. The Arabic word ‘asf denotes the stalk and leaf of grain preserving it until it grows fully.

After harvesting and flailing, they will be used as fodder. Another benefit of the earth is growing sweet scented plants, but the Arabic word rayhan may be applied to all flowers and sweet scented plants by smelling which man may derive pleasure.

Surah al-Rahman - Verse 13

فَبِأيِّ آلَآء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ

13. Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both [jinn and men] deny?

Reiteration of issues constitutes significant requirements for creating culture.

It is used at times for reminding different Blessings, like the blessed Verse in question:

"Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both deny?"

Repetition may also be used to warn sinners, like

"Woe unto the liars at that time."

It is worthy of note that following an enumeration of different material and immaterial Blessings, the blessed Verse in question thus addresses jinn and men:

"Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both deny?"

Such Blessings are most precious, Blessings encompassing all your lives, each of which serves as a telling token of Divine Omnipotence, Graciousness, and Love. How may one deny them? The rhetorical question is employed herein to bid the addressee to make affirmations as to Divine Blessings bestowed upon jinn and men.

Thus, according to the tradition narrated in the beginning of the exegesis of the Chapter bids us to reply by saying:

"We do not deny any of your Blessings.”

Although the preceding blessed Verses solely make mention of mankind without making the slightest reference to jinn, but the following blessed Verses reflect that the antecedent of the dual pronoun kuma

("both of you")

are jinn and men.

It is worthy of note that by mentioning such rhetorical question, God Almighty makes jinn and men encounter the reality to reflect upon such issues and without recourse to any other injunction ask themselves:

"Could any of these Divine Blessings be denied?"

If the answer is negative, why do they not recognize their Lord? Why do they not make use of showing gratitude toward their Lord as a means of recognizing His Lordship? Why do they not prostrate themselves at His Divine Threshold?

The phrase:

"which of"

(bi-ayya, lit. "to which") indicates that each of these Blessings is a telling token of His Lordship, Graciousness, and Beneficence, let alone all His Blessings.

The least reflection upon the aforementioned twelve Blessings (the Holy Qur’an, creation of man, teaching speech, well measured calculation of time, creation of plants and all kinds of trees, creation of the heaven, predominance of rules, creation of the earth with its characteristics, creation of kinds of fruit, creation of date palm, creation of crops, creation of flowers and sweet scented plants) along with the details, delicacies, and secrets concealed in each of them will suffice to make man show his gratitude toward God Almighty and cause him to search for obtaining knowledge as to the source of all these Blessings.

It is for the same reason that God Almighty asks the rhetorical question following an enumeration of His Blessings. The rhetorical question will be asked thirty one times in the following blessed Verses after enumerating further Blessings.

Surah al-Rahman - Verses 14-16

خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ مِن صَلْصَالٍ كَالْفَخَّارِ

وَخَلَقَ الْجَانَّ مِن مَّارِجٍ مِّن نَّارٍ

فَبِأيِّ آلَآء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ

14. He created man from dry clay like the clay of pottery.
15. And the jinn: He created from smokeless flames of fire.
16. Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both [jinn and men] deny?

The Arabic word salsal denotes "dry clay, argillaceous earth."

Fakhkhar designates

"pottery clay."

Marij indicates

"flame."

Following an enumeration of His Blessings, including making mention of the creation of man in passing, the blessed Verses in question (14-16) make an account of the creation of jinn and man.

It serves as a telling token of His Omnipotence and also provides everyone with lessons, saying:

"He created man from dry clay like clay of pottery."

The word salsal denotes dry, rattling clay. The word fakhkhar is applied to any kind of pottery which rattles upon being touched.

Different Qur’anic Verses and expressions regarding the source of human creation clearly reflect that man used to be earth in the beginning:

("O mankind! If you are in doubt about the Resurrection, they indeed We have created you from dust, then from semen, then from a clot that We may make it clear to you. And We cause whom We will to remain in the wombs for an appointed term, then We bring you out as infants, then that you may reach your age of full strength. And among you there is he who dies and among you there is he who is brought back to the miserable old age, so that he knows nothing after having known. And you see the earth barren, but when We send down water on it, it is stirred and it swells and puts forth every beauteous kind of growth,"12)

Then it is mingled with water and turns into clay:

("He it is Who created you from clay and then decreed a term and there is with Him another appointed term yet you doubt,"13);

("And when your Lord said unto angels: 'I am going to create man from dried rattling clay of foul smelling mud,"14)

Then it became sticky

("Then ask them: 'Are they stronger as creation or those whom We created?' Indeed, We created them of a sticky clay,"15).

Later on it dried up and became rattling pottery clay as mentioned in the blessed Verse in question. How long did these stages take? How long did man stop at each of these stages? What were the factors leading to these transitional states? Our knowledge fails to uncover such secrets as the knowledge thereof rests with God Almighty alone.

What is certain is that such expressions serve as telling tokens of a reality which is significantly linked to educational issues of mankind – the primeval mass forming human body was the most unworthy and the lowliest of all matters to be found on the earth, but God Almighty created such worthy creature out of such unworthy matter such that man became the noblest of His creatures.

It is also worthy of note that the true value of human being is the Divine Spirit as it is reflected in Qur’anic Verses:

("Therefore, when I have fashioned him completely and breathed into him the soul which I created for him, then fall down prostrating yourselves unto him,"16).

Thus, man may find his path towards perfection through the recognition of this truth such that he may know which way he is supposed to tread to find his true value in the world of existence.

The blessed Verse 15 treats of the creation of jinn, saying:

"And the jinn: He created from smokeless flames of fire."

The Arabic word marij is cognate with maraj ("mingling, mixture") which herein connotes different flames of fire, since blazing fire appears in different colors, red, yellow, blue, and white. It is not known either how jinn were created from such colorful flames of fire.

Likewise, other characteristics of jinn are known to us by the True Dawn, namely the Glorious Qur’an, Divine Revelation. Our limited knowledge may never allow us to deny nor to ignore such truths, as they are proven through Divine Revelation, though they defy our knowledge. It is worthy of note that most of the creatures known to us were created out of water, earth, wind, and fire.

The source of human creation was water and earth but that of jinn is wind and fire, even if, like ancients, we regard them simple and element or like modern scientists who regard them to be composite, made up from different constituent elements. Such duality in the origins of creation causes many differences between the twain.

The blessed Verse 16 follows the enumeration of the Blessings one of which was the creation of man. It reiterates the rhetorical question:

"Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both [jinn and men] deny?"

Surah al-Rahman - Verses 17-18

رَبُّ الْمَشْرِقَيْنِ وَرَبُّ الْمَغْرِبَيْنِ

فَبِأيِّ آلَآء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ

17. The Lord of the two easts and the Lord of the two wests.
18. Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both [jinn and men] deny?

The blessed Verse 17 treats of another Divine Blessing saying that God Almighty is the Lord of two easts and two wests. It is true that each and every day in a year's time, the sun rises from a point and sets in another, thus the number of easts and wests run to the number of the days in a year, but taking into account the maximum northern and southern axes of the sun, we notice that other easts and wests fall between the twain.

Such order is the origin of the emergence of the four seasons of the year engendering abundance and it actually emphasizes and completes the contents of the foregoing blessed Verses treating of the well measured calculation of the course of the sun and the moon and the existence of the balance in the creation of the heavens.

Generally speaking, the blessed Verse reflects the precise order of creation, motions of the sun and the moon and the Blessings thereby bestowed upon man.

Some Qur’anic exegetes maintain that the two easts and the two wests herein connote the rising and setting of the sun and the moon, but the first interpretation is seemingly more appropriate, particularly owing to the fact that a number of Islamic traditions make references to the same and instance of which is a tradition narrated from the Commander of the Faithful, Imam ‘Ali (as) as per the exegesis of the blessed Verse in question, he says that the easts of the beginning of winter and summer are discrete.

Do you not see that the sun approximates and distances. It is a reference to the rising of the sun in the heaven in summer and the setting of the sun in winter.17

The foregoing remarks clarify the reason behind Oaths like:

"Therefore, I swear by the Lord of all the points of sunrise and sunset in the east and the west that certainly We are All-Mighty,"18).

The reason is that reference is made to all the easts and wests of the sun during a year, whereas the blessed Verse in question makes a reference to the solar ascending and descending arches.

Again, the following Verse thus addresses jinn and men asking them:

"Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both [jinn and men] deny?"

Surah al-Rahman - Verses 19-21

مَرَجَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ يَلْتَقِيَانِ

بَيْنَهُمَا بَرْزَخٌ لَآ يَبْغِيَانِ

فَبِأيِّ آلَآء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ

19. He let loose the two salty and sweet seas meeting together.
20. Between them is a barrier so that none of them can transgress.
21. Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both [jinn and men] deny?

The Arabic verbal form maraja designates:

"let loose"

and the Arabic noun barzakh denotes "a barrier between two things." Resuming the account of Divine Blessings mention is made of seas, but not all seas. The particular quality of certain seas is an astonishing phenomenon serving as a token of Divine Absolute Omnipotence. It also serves as a means of producing certain things used by men.

Thus, the blessed Verses are saying that He juxtaposed two different seas while they meet; however, there is a barrier between the twain such that one may not agitate and prevail over the other.

As it is reflected elsewhere in the Glorious Qur’an, the twain seas are the salty and the sweet seas:

"And it is He Who let loose the two seas: one palatable and sweet and the other salty and bitter and He set a barrier and a complete partition between them"19.

Qur’anic exegetes disagree as to the location of the two sweet and salty seas and the fact that one does not prevail the other and the nature of the barrier separating the twain.

However, mention was already made of the point in the exegesis of Chapter 25 saying that great sweet rivers flowing into seas and oceans usually form a sea of sweet water beside the coast thus repelling the brine and it would be of interest to know that sweet and salty water, owing to the difference in the degrees of thickness, do not intermingle.

A bird's eye view of discrete salty and sweet waters clearly shows the partition between the twain. When the margins of the twain intermingle, fresh sweet water substitutes the mingled waters, such that the partition between the twain is visible at all times. It is interesting that at the time of flow, the level of oceans is raised, such that sweet water is repelled without being intermingled with the brine.

The blessed Verse 21 is again addressed to God's servants inquiring:

"Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both [jinn and men] deny?"

Surah al-Rahman - Verses 22-23

يَخْرُجُ مِنْهُمَا اللُّؤْلُؤُ وَالْمَرْجَانُ

فَبِأيِّ آلَآء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ

22. Out of both seas come out pearl and coral.
23. Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both [jinn and men] deny?

Resuming the account of Divine Blessings, the blessed Verse 22 is saying that pearl and coral come out of the twain seas. It is worthy of note that interesting adornments are made of pearl and coral. They are also used in medical treatments and they constitute commodities and merchandise as well. Many benefits are accrued out of them. Thus, they are being referred to as two Blessings.

Pearls are transparent and precious things fostered in mothers of pearl in the depth of the seas. The larger they are, the more precious they become. They are also used in many medical treatments. Former physicians made different potions out of them for strengthening the heart, the nervous system and warding off different kinds of breathing ailments, fear, kidney and eye complications, bad breath, kidney and bladder stones, and jaundice.20

Coral is herein interpreted by some exegetes as small pearl, but such interpretation is far from being true. It is an animate being similar to a twig growing in the depth of seas. It was regarded by scientists for some time to be a kind of plant, but later on it became evident that it belongs to the animal world. It sticks to the bottom of the sea and at times covers a vast area to increase in time and form coral islands.

The best kind of coral is red in color and the redder, the more precious it is. Besides serving as adornment, it is applied in medicine and many benefits have been enumerated for the same. Instances of its medical applications include potions made from it which are sued for strengthening the heart, removal of viper's venom, strengthening of the nervous system, treatment of diarrhea and womb bleeding. It is also said that it is useful for treatment of epilepsy.

The following Verse further emphasizes on Divine Blessings saying:

"Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both [jinn and men] deny?"

A tradition narrated from Imam Sadiq (as) regarding the exegesis of the blessed Verse:

"He let loose the two salty and sweet seas meeting together,"

according to which:

"‘Ali and Fatima (as) are two deep seas, none of the twain transgresses the other out of the twain seas pearl and coral, namely Hasan and Husayn (as) came out."21

The same point is also attested in Tafsir al-Manthur22. It may be attested in most of Shi‘i exegetic works, e.g. Tabarsi's Majma‘ al-Bayan and also in Tafsir Burhan, Tafsir Nur al-Thiqalayn, Tafsir Safi, and also in some of Sunni exegetic works with slight variations.

However, it is known that the Glorious Qur’an has different layers thereby one single Verse may have several or tens of meanings. The content of the aforesaid tradition derives from Qur’anic layers and is not inconsistent with the literal meaning of the same.

Surah al-Rahman - Verses 24-25

وَلَهُ الْجَوَارِ الْمُنشَآتُ فِي الْبَحْرِ كَالْأعْلَآمِ

فَبِأيِّ آلَآء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ

24. And His are the ships built, like mountains.
25. Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both [jinn and men] deny?

In the treatment of other Blessings, the Holy Qur’an did not make use of

"His" (lahu),

but regarding ships, Divine Revelation says:

"His are built ships"

intending to say that even the product built by you is also His, since the idea, plan, and the physical strength required for building and making things all spring from Him. Thus, the Holy Qur’an is saying that ships floating in seas with sails resembling mountains are all manifestations of Divine Graciousness. Mujahid is quoted as saying that the Arabic word munsha’at is applied to sailing ships.

The point is that when you see the Signs of Divine Graciousness, Omnipotence, and Greatness, note that Divine Favors include ships made up of pieces of wood upon which you embark and travel in such vast seas. Then, how do you deny your Lord's Bounties and Blessings. Who, other than God Almighty, the Omnipotent, has given you such might and power?

Surah al-Rahman - Verses 26-28

كُلُّ مَنْ عَلَيْهَا فَانٍ

وَيَبْقَی وَجْهُ رَبِّكَ ذُو الْـجَلَآلِ وَالْإِكْرَامِ

فَبِأيِّ آلَآء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ

26. Whatsoever is on the earth is transient.
27. And only the Essence of your Lord full of Majesty and Honor shall remain forever.
28. Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both [jinn and men] deny?

The preceding blessed Verses treated of Divine Blessings and the blessed Verse 26 is saying that the time of benefitting from these Blessings is brief. Seize the opportunity since you are all transient. The contextual meaning of the blessed Verse designates that all things are transient and trifling in their essence, but what remains is Divine Essence which is not subject to transience.

Now, a question arises here: how the question of transience may be regarded as a Divine Blessing? Such transience may not lead to absolute effacement and annihilation, but it is a window to the world of everlastingness, a tunnel or path leading to the abode of everlastingness. The world with all its bounties is a prison to believers and a way out of this world is a way out of the dark and small prison.

The blessed Verse 27 is saying that only the Honorable and Great Essence of you Lord shall remain. The Arabic word wajh literally denotes "face, countenance" perceived in the first encounter with someone, but employed regarding God Almighty, it connotes His Pure Essence.

The blessed Verse 28 addresses creatures once more asking:

"Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both [jinn and men] deny?"

Surah al-Rahman - Verses 29-30

يَسْألُهُ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأرْضِ كُلَّ يَوْمٍ هُوَ فِي شَأنٍ

فَبِأيِّ آلَآء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ

29. Whosoever is in the heavens and on earth begs Him to meet his demands. Every day He is in some affair.
30. Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both [jinn and men] deny?

Invocation may be expressed through verbal or non-verbal language. Man is in need of God Almighty at all times, whether he invokes him to meet his demands or he fails to do likewise.

The point is that God Almighty is in the process of creation at all times and each and every day He plans something anew and his meeting the demands of the needy and those who invoke him to meet their needs is likewise. One day He bestows might upon some people and the other day he ruins them owing to their disobedience and committing sins.

One day He bestows health and youth and the other day He inflicts weakness upon certain people. One day He removes grieves and sorrows from hearts and the another day He causes certain people to feel grief and sorrow.

In short, He creates something anew according to His Wisdom and the best order. Attending to this truth clarifies our constant need for His Pre Essence on the one hand and removes the veils of disappointment, desperation, neglect, and vanity from hearts on the other.

"Every day, He is in some affair."

It is narrated from the Commander of the Faithful, Imam ‘Ali (as) that in one of his sermons he said:

"Praise and eulogy belong to God Almighty Who shall never die, nor shall end the wonders of His creation, since He is in some affair each and every day creating something new from nothing."23

According to a tradition narrated from the Noble Prophet of Islam (S) regarding the exegesis of the blessed Verse in question, God Almighty's affair include absolving people of their sins, removing their pains and sorrows, causing certain people to have a more exalted state, and denigrating some others.24

It is also worthy of note that the Arabic word yawm employed herein is the opposite of "night," since its semantic range encompasses a long period of time and also hours and seconds, connoting that God Almighty is in some affair at any time. The blessed Verse 30, following an account of the constant Blessings and meeting the demands of all creatures including those of the heavens and the earth asks the rhetorical question:

"Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both [jinn and men] deny?"

Surah al-Rahman - Verses 31-32

سَنَفْرُغُ لَكُمْ أيُّهَا الثَّقَلَآنِ

فَبِأيِّ آلَآء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ

31. We shall attend to your records, O you two classes [jinn and men]!
32. Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both [jinn and men] deny?

The Arabic verbal form sanafrughu does not here in connote bringing to an end and completing something, but it designates giving special attention and dealing completely with some significant affair. The blessed Verse 31 is saying that attention shall be paid to the records of all Blessings.

All the preceding blessed Verses so far treat of different material and immaterial Blessings, but the blessed Verse 31 is saying that We shall shortly attend to your records. O jinn and men! God Almighty shall precisely attend to the records of all the deeds, words, and intentions of the jinn and men and Rewards and Chastisements proportionate to their words, deeds, and intentions shall be apportioned to them.

It is also worthy of note that according to the author of Tafsir Majma‘ al-Bayan, since jinn and men are superior to other creatures and possess intellect, free choice, and distinction, they are being referred to as thaqalan.

The blessed Verse 32 reiterates the rhetorical question:

"Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you both [jinn and men] deny?"

  • 1. Wasa’il, vol. 4, p. 451.
  • 2. Tafsir Nur al-Thiqalayn; Tafsir Safi; Tafsir Burhan.
  • 3. Tafsir Nur al-Thiqalayn, vol. 5, p. 187.
  • 4. 17:82
  • 5. 25:60
  • 6. 9:128
  • 7. According to a tradition narrated from Imam Sadiq (as) regarding the exegesis of the blessed Verse

    "He taught him speech,"

    he said:

    "Bayan is applied to the Greatest Divine Name (ism a‘Ûam) through which everything may be comprehended.”

    (Tafsir Majma‘ al-Bayan, under the blessed Verse in question).

  • 8. Farid Wajdi's Encyclopedia, vol. 8, p. 368, s.v. Lugha.
  • 9. Furu‘ Kafi, vol. 5, p. 150.
  • 10. Kafi, vol. 5, p. 160.
  • 11. 67:15
  • 12. 22:5
  • 13. 6:2
  • 14. 15:28
  • 15. 37:11
  • 16. 15:29
  • 17. Tafsir Nur al-Thiqalayn, vol. 5, p. 190.
  • 18. 70:40
  • 19. 25:53
  • 20. Tuhfa Hakim Mu’min; Lughat-nama-yi DihkHuda; etc.
  • 21. Tafsir Qumi, vol. 2, p. 344.
  • 22. vol. 6, p. 42
  • 23. Usul Kafi; Tafsir Nur al-Thiqalayn, Tafsir Burhan, Majma‘ al-Bayan, under the blessed Verse in question.
  • 24. Majma‘ al-Bayan, under the blessed Verse in question; Ruh al-Ma‘ani; Bukhari's Sahih.

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