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Surah Tin, Chapter 95

(The Fig)
Number of Verses: 8

Contents of Surah Tin

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful

The theme in this Surah, indeed, pivots on the subject of the creation of Man; the finest mould, and the processes of his development and his lowliness. The subject begins with some comprehensive oaths at the beginning of the Surah, and then, after enumerating some of the sources of Man's victory and salvation, it concludes with the emphasis on Resurrection and the absolute Sovereignty of Allah.

The holy Prophet (S) is narrated to have said:

"Allah will endow, in this world, the two qualities of safety and certainty to the person who recites it (Surah Tin). and when he dies, He will give him rewards equal to the reward of fasting one day (multiplied) by the number of all those who have recited this Surah.”1

This Surah has been revealed in Mecca.

The evidence is the verse, itself:

"And this city of security (Mecca)”,

containing the demonstrative adjective

'this'

which refers to something near.

Surah Tin, Verses 1-8

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful

وَالتِّينِ وَالزَّيْتُونِ

وَطُورِ سِينِينَ

وَهَذَا الْبَلَدِ الْأَمِينِ

لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ فِي أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ

ثُمَّ رَدَدْنَاهُ أَسْفَلَ سَافِلِينَ

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فَلَهُمْ أَجْرٌ غَيْرُ مَمْنُونٍ

فَمَا يُكَذِّبُكَ بَعْدُ بِالدِّينِ

أَلَيْسَ اللَّهُ بِأَحْكَمِ الْحَاكِمِينَ

1. “By the Fig and the Olive,”
2. “And (Mount) Tur of Sinin,"
3. “And this city of security (Mecca),"
4. “We have indeed created man in the best of moulds,"
5. “Then We render him the lowest of the low,"
6. “Save those who believe and do righteous deeds, for them is a reward unending.”
7. “What then makes you reject thereafter the Last Judgement?"
8. “1s not Allah the Most Just of judges?"

We Have Created Man In the Finest of Moulds

There are four meaningful oaths at the beginning of this Surah to be as an introduction to an important statement.

It says:

"By the Fig and the Olive,"
"And (Mount) Tur of Sinin,"
"And this city of security (Mecca),"

The term /tin/ means ‘fig', and the term /zaytun/ means 'olive'; the same fruit that is the source of a useful oil.

The oaths are to these two well-known fruits or to something else. There is much difference of opinion among the commentators as to the exact meaning.

Some, of course, say that they mean the same two fruits that contain the extraordinary nutritive and creative properties. Some others believe that they refer to the two mountains on which the two cities of Damascus and Jerusalem are located, since these two sacred cities are the lands where many great prophets of Allah have appeared. These two oaths coordinate with the third and fourth oaths that refer to the other sacred lands.

Some have also said that these two mountains are called

/tin/ ‘fig'

and

/zaytun/ ‘olive',

because the fig trees are cultivated on one and olives on the other.

Again, some believe that

/tin/ ‘fig'

refers to the time of Adam when he and Eve clothed themselves with the leaves of the fig tree, in Heaven; and

/zaytun/ 'olive'

refers to the last stage of the deluge at the time of Noah when he sent a pigeon out to search for a piece of land appearing after the flood and it came back bringing a small branch from an olive tree by which Noah understood that the flood was over and dry land had appeared, (hence, the olive branch is a symbol of peace and security).

Furthermore, some think that the term

/tin/ ‘fig'

refers to Noah's Mosque which was built on Mount Judi of the Ararat range; and that

/zaytun/ ‘olive'

refers to Jerusalem.

The appearance of the verse, at first glance, denotes to the two known fruits, but with paying close attention to the following oaths they are apt to be two mountains or two sacred centers that are respected.

There is a tradition from the Holy Prophet (S) which says that Allah selected four cities, among all cities, and He stated these first three verses about them:

"By the Fig and the Olive,"
"And (Mount) Tur of Sinin,"
"And the city of security (Mecca),"

that /tin/ is Medina, /zaytun/ is Jerusalem, /tur-i-sinin/ is Kufa, and

/hath-al-balad-il-amin/ (the city of security)

is Mecca.2

The purpose of using the term /tur-i-sinin/ as rendered by some commentators, seems to be

/tur-i-sina/ (the Mount of Sina)

where olive trees, full of fruit, are found.

Sina is interpreted as a Mount full of bounties, or full of trees, or beautiful; it is the same Mount that Moses used to visit to perform his supplications.

Some, also, believe that it is a mountain near Kufa and in the land of Najaf.

Some have cited that /sinin/ and /sina/ are one in the same which mean 'bountiful'.

It is certain that 'the city of security' refers to Mecca, a land which was known as a secure region even in pagan times. Its sacred character was always respected, and no fighting was allowed in its territory even against criminals and murderers; so, when they reached there they were in complete security.

This land is considered especially important in Islam; so important that its animals, trees and birds should be left in complete security; even more so is the state of people.

It is noteworthy that the word

/tin/ ‘fig'

is mentioned only in this Surah, which is only once in the whole Qur'an, while the word /zaytun/ ‘olive' is seen in six clear occurrences of all the verses of Holy Qur'an and once it is mentioned by implication where it says; "Also a tree springing out of Mount sinin, which produces oil, and relish for those who use it for food”.

Even if we render these two oaths (about Tin and Zaytun) to their first common meanings, i.e. the known

‘fig'

and

'olive',

They are meaningful oaths, because: the fig is a very good, nutritious food; a suitable morsel for anyone and any age; free from skin, stone, or commercial additives.

Scientists of nutrition say that the fig can be used as a natural sugar for babies. Sportsmen and also those who are weak or are decrepit, due to old age, can use the fig for food.

It is said that Plato liked figs so much so that some have called it a friend of philosophers; Socrates knew the fig as an absorber of useful materials, in the body, and a repulsor of harmful ones.

Galen arranged a special diet of figs for athletes. In ancient Rome and Greece, too, the champions were given figs to eat.

Scientists, experts on nutrition, say that the fig is full of various vitamins and sugar. It can be used as a remedy for some diseases, particularly when the fig and honey are equally mixed which can be very useful in curing stomach ulcers. Eating dried figs is useful in strengthening the memory. In brief, because of having mineral elements which cause the balance between the bodily faculties and the blood, the fig has been introduced as a food appropriate for all at any age and in any condition.

A tradition narrated from Imam Ali-ibn-Musa-ar-Riza (S) says:

“The fig removes the bad smell of the mouth. It strengthens the gums and bones, causes the hair to grow, puts an end to some ailments so that medicine is not needed.”

Then he added:

“The fig is the most comparable things to the fruits of heaven.”3 4

Now, let us consider the

'olive'!

Food specialists and some scientists who have spent a large part of their lives studying the various properties of fruits, think of the olive and its oil as being of extraordinary importance. They believe that those who wish to be always healthy should use this elixir of life.

Olive oil is a close companion of the liver in Man. Furthermore, for treating the troubles of the kidneys, biliary calculus, renal colic, hepatic colic, and for treating constipation, olive oil is very effective.

Olive oil also contains a variety of vitamins, besides having phosphorus, sulphur, calcium, iron, potassium and manganese.

Ointments made of olive oil and garlic are recommended useful for some rhematism ailments. The crystals of cholesterol in the gall bladder may be dissolved by a diet of olive oil.

It is narrated from Amir-al-Mo'mineen Ali (as) thus:

"(the people of) the house where vinegar and olive oil are used in their meal will not be in poverty, and this has been in the prophets' meal.”

A tradition narrated from Imam Ali-ibnMusa-ar-Riza (S) says:

"Olive oil is a good food stuff. It makes the smell of the mouth sweet, removes phlegm, makes the colour of the face cheerful, strengthens the nerves, puts an end to sickness and weakness, and quenches the fire of wrath.”

Let us conclude this subject with a tradition from the holy Prophet (S) who said:

"Have olive oil in your food and grease your body with it since it is from a Holy Tree.”

After mentioning these four significant matters, it refers to what the oaths are for; thus:

"We have indeed created man in the best of moulds.”

The term /taqwim/ means to form something into an appropriate shape in a moderate regulation: the broadness of the meaning refers to the fact that Allah has created malt proportionately in all respects; both from the bodily point of view and from the spiritual and rational point of view, because He has settled all faculties in him and prepared him appropriately to cover a great path towards development.

Although man is a 'microcosm', He has set the 'macrocosm' in him and has promoted him to such a high position that it is said:

"We have honored the sons of Adam...”5,

and man about whose creation He says:

"…So blessed be God, the Best to create!”6.

But, if the same 'man', with all his privileges, deviates from the path of truth he will fall so deep as unto 'the lowest of the low' and will be abased to the lowest possible position.

Hence, in the next verse, it says:

“Then We render him the lowest of the low.”

As it is known, there are always deep valleys beside high mountains. Similarly, for Man's exalted position as Allah's vicegerent, there is a greivous lowness. And why not? If Man uses his faculties aright and follows Allah’s law, he will reach the high and noble destiny intended for him.

But, if he rebels against Allah, and using his talents and faculties, follows after evil, he will fall even lower than the beast;

‘the lowest of the low'.
Save those who believe and do righteous deeds, for them is a reward unending.”

The term /mamnun/ is based on /man/ which, here means ‘broken off’ or deficiency', hence, the term /qayru mamnun/ is rendered as 'an uninterrupted reward without any deficiency'. Some have interpreted it as 'the lack of obligation', but, the first meaning seems more suitable.

Some have commented on the sentence,

“Then We rendered him the lowest of the low"

with the sense of 'weakness and extreme feebleness of mind due to old age', but, this does not fit with the exception in the next verse. Therefore, with regard to all the verses before and after it, the first commentary seems more proper.

The next verse, addressing ungrateful Man who is careless about the signs and evidences of the Resurrection, inquires:

"What then makes you reject thereafter the Last Judgment?"

The structure of your body, on the one hand and the structure of the endless universe, on the other, all indicate that the fleeting life of this world cannot be the final goal of the creation or of this splendid, vast universe.

All of them are preliminary to a wider and more complete world; and as the Holy Qur'an points out 'the first form of creation' warns you of that:

"And you certainly know already the first form of creation: Why then do you not celebrate His praises?"7

Every year, plants, in nature, and before our very eyes become renewed and remind us of the scene of death and rebirth, again and again. Each of the uninterrupted stages during the developing period of a foetus is counted as a new resurrection and a new life, and yet, how is it that Man can deny the Reckoning Day?

Considering what was stated in the above, it is clear that the addressee, in this verse, is Man, collectively. The possibility that the addressee is the Messenger of Islam (S) with the meaning of 'having the evidences of the Resurrection, who or what if able to deny you' seems improbable.

And, also, it becomes clear that the objective meaning of the word /din/, here is not 'religion’; it means 'the Day of Reckoning'. The following verse also attests to this idea.

"Is not Allah the Most Just of judges?"

So, if we take the word /din/ with the whole meaning of 'religion’, this verse means: 'Are Allah's laws and decrees not wisest of all?, or ‘Allah's creation of Man is full of knowledge and wisdom in all respects.’

But, as it was said before, the, first meaning seems more fitting.

According to a tradition from the holy Prophet (S), whenever he recited Surah Tin and after reciting the verse:

"Is not Allah the Most Just of judges'!"

He used to say:

"Yes, and I am the witness to this (that Allah is the Most Just of judges.”)

Supplication

O Lord! We also confess that You are the Most just of judges.

O Lord! You created us in the best of moulds. Please help us to be the best, and most successful in our deeds and manners.

O Lord! Going on the path of faith and doing righteous deeds is not possible save with Your Grace; please bestow Your Grace on us.

  • 1. Majma-'al-Bayan,vol, 10, p, 510.
  • 2. Nur-uth-Thaqalayn, Commentary, vol. 5, p 606, Tradition 4.
  • 3. Kafi, vol. 6 p. 358. Behar-al-Anwar, vol. 66. p. 184
  • 4. The First University and the Last Prophet, vol. 9, p, 90
  • 5. Surah Bani Isra-il, No. 17, verse 70
  • 6. Surah Mo’minun, No. 23 verse 14
  • 7. Surah Waqi’ah, No. 56, verse 62

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