In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful
1. "Praise the name of your Lord, the Most High,"
2. "He Who has created and fashioned (all things)"
3. "And He Who has determined and guided'"
4. "And He Who brings out the Pasturage,"
5. "Then makes it dried up; dust-coloured.
Glorify Allah, The Most High:
This Sura contains the essence of the Prophet's Doctrine and mission, and begins with the praise of Allah. The very first verse addresses the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and says: "Praise the name of your Lord, the Most High".
Some commentators believe that the word 'name', here, means 'that which is named', while some others have said that 'name', itself, means 'Allah', a name, of course, which refers to 'that which is named'.
In any event, there is not much difference between these two commentaries, when both of them mean that His name would not be mentioned among the names of idols; in the way some idol worshippers wanted to regard His name, adding it along with the names of their own idols, or by those who consider Him material or corporeal.
The term /a'la/ 'the Most High' points to the fact that He is High and the Most High to any other persons or things that can be thought of, or beyond any apparent idolatrous or hidden polytheism.
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Along with these two attributes, viz: 'Lord, the Cherisher', and 'the Most High', five more characteristics are expressed, here, all of which are about His very High Lordship. It says: "He Who has created and fashioned (all things)".
The term / sawwa / is based on / taswiyah / and means 'to proportion, fashion, perfect, make level and equal'. It has such a broad meaning which involves all the regularities of the world, containing the regulations over the stars and celestial bodies, or over the earthly creatures; particularly Mankind, from the view point of body and spirit. Some commentators have meant it to be the special fashioning of Man's eyes, hands, legs, or his body standing erect, but, in fact, it is only a limited example of the vast concept of this term.
On the whole, the regularities of the Universe; from the greatest celestial systems to the simplest matters, such as the grooves in the finger tips; which are pointed out in Sura Qiyamat, No. 75, verse 4: "Nay We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers", all are clear evidences of His Lordship and the affirmation of the one true Allah. This short statement, in itself, contains abundant meanings.
Following the matter of creation and its fashioning, attention is paid to the subject of the laws and decrees that He has ordained for the development, and guidance of the creatures to progress, on the Way. It goes on to say: "And He Who has determined and guided".
The objective point of the term / taqdir /; the root for /qaddara /, is the very proportioning in the whole scheme of development towards the goal that creatures are created for.
And the objective point for the term / hidayat /; the base of /hada/, is 'the divine guidance' in the form of instincts and inner creeds dominating on every creature (irrespective of their inner or outer motives.)
For instance, on the one hand, a mother's breasts and the milk therein are created for the child's nourishment and she has been gifted with strong motherly love, and on the other hand, it includes the instinct of the child moving toward its mother's breast, an instinct which is created in him. This preparation and mutual attraction, on the path to the goal, is seen in all living creatures.
In short, an alert observation upon the structure of any creature and the process it passes through in its life, makes this fact clear that there is an exact scheme in the course of development and, also, a powerful authoritative guidance supporting it and helping the program to be put into effect. This is another sign of His Lordship.
Of course, for human beings, in addition to divine guidance, there is another kind of guidance which is conveyed through revelation and by prophets and is called 'religious guidance'. It is interesting to note that Man's religious guidance is complementary to his divine guidance, in all ways and under all circumstances.
A similar meaning is stated in Sura Taha, No. 20, verses 49-50 where Moses answers Pharaoh who asks: "...Who, then, O Moses, is the Lord of you two?", and he replies: "Our Lord is He Who gave to each (created) thing its form and nature, and further, gave (it) guidance."
Although the meaning of this statement was partly known at the time of Moses or in the days of the revelation of Qur'an, today, with the development of science and Man's knowledge about different kinds of creatures; especially living creatures and plants, it has become more clear than ever before. There are thousands and thousands of books written on the subject of / taqdir / and ' the divine guidance ', and they confess that there are still more unexpressed facts than what have already been stated.
Then, referring to plants, particularly pastures for cattle, it says: "And He Who brings out the Pasturage".
The term /axraja/ is based on /ixraj/ which is used with a sense as if all of these had been inside the land and Allah has brought them out. It is obvious that the nutrition of animals is a preparation for the nutrition of Man and, finally, the result of which eventually comes back round to human beings.
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"Then makes it dried up; dust-coloured."
The term / qutha' / basically means ' stubble, light straw, and dried plants that float over-flood waters ', also, the foam that appears on the surface of a boiling liquid is called /qutha'/. Hence, the word is used for everything that is waste and perishable and, in the current verse, it is used in the sense of 'dead, dried leaves and plants '.
The term / ahwa/ is based on / hawaya / and / huwwa/, and means 'dark green' and 'black coloured'.
Both of them are used in one sense, because the colour of ' dark green ' is usually close to a black colour; and the colour of dried plants gradually turns to black when they are covered over.
The choice of this meaning, even though reference is made to the divine blessings, may be for one of the following reasons:
1. These plants are symbols to tell human beings about the meaning of mortality conveyed in this world.
2. When dried plants are piled up they rot and change into compost which is useful for the growth of plants.
3. Some believe that there is a hint, in this verse, to the formation of underground coal by plants and trees which occurred over millions of years ago.
Of course, the verse can have a collective meaning consisting of all three of the above commentaries.
In any event, the 'dried up dust-coloured' material made from 'pasture' is both a good food for grazing animals in winter and a substance for men to burn, while also being a good fertilizer for farm lands.
In fact, the subject of 'Lord, the Most High', is characterized, well, by the last five characteristics in these verses; the study of which makes Man familiar with His High Lordship.