إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَالِمُ غَيْبِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ إِنَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ
38. “Verily Allah is the Knower of the unseen of the heavens and the earth; surely He knows all that is in the breasts (hearts).”
The belief in the fact that Allah knows everything is the best hindrance of man from committing wrong. This verse answers to the request of the disbelievers who want to return from Hell to the world.
The first sentence, in fact, works as a proof over the second sentence. It means: how is it possible that Allah to be unaware of the secrets of inside the hearts while He is aware of the whole secrets of the earth and the heavens and the unseen of the world of existence?
Yes, He knows that if the request of the people of Hell were answered positively and they could return to the world, they would continue the same evil deeds they had before.
This meaning is clearly mentioned in Surah Al-’An‘am, No. 6, verse 28 which says:
Moreover, the verse is a warning unto all believers so that they try to purify their sincere intentions and they do not keep anyone in their mind save Allah, because if there is the least insincerity in their intention and motive He, Who is aware of all the Unseen things, surely knows it and compensates it accordingly.
هُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَكُمْ خَلآَئِفَ فِي الأَرْضِ فَمَن كَفَرَ فَعَلَيْهِ كُفْرُهُ وَلاَ يَزِيدُ الْكَافِرِينَ كُفْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبّـِهِمْ إِلاَّ مَقْتاً وَلاَ يَزِيدُ الْكَافِرِينَ كُفْرُهُمْ إِلاَّ خَسَاراً
39. “He is the One Who appointed you viceroys in the earth, so whoever disbelieves, his disbelief shall be against him, and their unbelief does not increase the infidels with their Lord in anything except hatred; and their unbelief does not increase the infidels but loss.”
Stating the dangers of sins is a factor to restrain the sinner from committing it.
Following the discussions which were upon the previous verses about the fate of infidels and polytheists, in the verse under discussion they are called to account in another way, and the nullification of their style has been made manifest by some clear proofs.
The Arabic word /xala’if/, whether it means the viceroys and vicegerents of Allah on the earth or it means the vicegerents of the former nations, (though the second meaning seems more appropriate here), indicates to the utmost grace of Allah upon human beings for whom He has provided all of the facilities of living.
Allah (s.w.t.) has given wisdom, understanding, thought, and intelligence to man. He has bestowed kinds of bodily powers on him. He has filled the surface of the earth with different sorts of bounties, and He has taught man the way of using these facilities. Yet, how has man forgotten his main benefactor and refers to the superstitions and artificial objects of worship?
In fact, this sentence is the statement of ‘the Unity of Lordship’ which itself is a clear proof over ‘the Unity of worship’.
This sentence, however, is a warning unto all human beings that they should know that their course is not eternal and everlasting. In the same way that they became the vicegerents of the former nations, after a few days these people will also pass away and some others will succeed them.
Therefore they must be careful what they do in their short lifetime. They must consider their future fate, and that what kind of record will they leave in the history of the world from them?
That is why the verse immediately says:
However, their disbelief does not add to them except loss.
It continues saying:
In fact, the last two sentences are as a commentary upon the sentence:
because this sentence implicitly says that the infidelity of a person results a loss upon him. Then the Qur’an brings two kinds of reasoning for this subject.
The first is that disbelief and infidelity with their Lord, Who is the giver of all bounties, does not result aught save Divine Wrath and punishment.
The other is that, besides the Divine Wrath, this infidelity does not give anything to them except loss. They lose their lifetime and the capital of their own existence and take wretchedness, degradation, and darkness for it. What a loss is greater than this?
And either of these two proofs is enough for condemning this incorrect style.
The repetition of the Arabic term /layazid/ (does not increase), which is in present tense, is an indication to the continuation of action and points to this fact that man is naturally looking for increase and excess.
If he paves the path of Monotheism, he will have the increase of happiness and perfection, but if he paves the path of disbelief, he will obtain the increase of Wrath of Allah and loss.
قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ شُرَكَآءَكُمُ الَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ أَرُونِي مَاذَا خَلَقُوا مِنَ الأَرْضِ أَمْ لَهُمْ شِرْكٌ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ أَمْ ءَاتَيْنَاهُمْ كِتَاباً فَهُمْ عَلَي بَيّـِنَتٍ مّـِنْهُ بَلْ إِن يَعِدُ الظَّالِمُونَ بَعْضُهُم بَعْضاً اِلاَّ غُرُوراً
40. “Say: ‘Have you seen your associates on whom you call, apart from Allah? Show me what they have created in the earth; or have they a partnership in (the creation of) the heavens? Or have We given them a Book so that they follow a clear argument from it? Nay, the unjust promise each other nothing but delusions.”
Islam is a logical religion. It awakens conscience of people by asking questions.
The Prophet of Islam (S) had a duty to speak with the opponents of Islam.
This verse is another decisive answer to the polytheists. It tells them that if a person follows something, or loves it, he must have a reasonable reasoning from intellect for it, or a reasoning from conclusive tradition, but you have neither of these two, and you have no support save delusion and pride.
The verse says:
Yet, what is the reason of the polytheists’ worship? The act of being object of worship is a secondary thing to creative power. Now that you know that the creator of the heavens and the earth is only Allah, and there will be no object of worship except Him, because the Unity of divinity is always a reason upon the Unity of worship.
Now that it was proved that there is no intellectual reasoning for your claim, do you have any reasoning from tradition with you?
Or do you have a heavenly Book for it?
The verse says:
No, they have no clear proof from the Divine Books with them. Therefore, their capital for it is nothing save guile and delusion.
In this regard, the verse says:
In other words, if the idolaters, and other polytheists of any kind and group, claim that the idols have a kind of power on the earth to provide their needs, they should deliver an example of their earthly creation.
And if they believe that these idols are the manifestation of the angels and heavenly sacred beings, as it was the belief of a group of them, they must show their participation in creation of the heavens.
And if they believe that these are not some partners in the creation, and only the rank of intercession has been given to them, as some of the polytheists believed, they must bring a proof from the heavenly Book for proving this claim.
Now that they have none of these proofs, then they are some unjust deceivers who tell each other false words.
It is notable that the purpose of ‘the earth and the heavens’ here is the entire creations on the earth and in the heavens, and the application of the word creation due to the earth and having a partnership in the creation of the heavens, points to this fact that ‘the partnership in the heavens’ should be by the way of creation.
And, the application of the Arabic word /kitaban/, in an indefinite form and also concerned to Allah, is a hint to the fact that there is the least reasoning for their claim in neither of the heavenly Books.
The Arabic word /bayyinah/ points to this fact that the clear reasoning can be found in heavenly Books.
The application of the Qur’anic plural word /zalimun/ (the unjust) is another emphasis on this meaning that ‘polytheism’ is a clear ‘injustice’.
The application of ‘the promises of delusion’ is a hint to this fact that the polytheists used to take these superstitions and delusions from each other in the form of some hollow vain promises, and some of them transfer them to some others in the form of gossips and baseless imitations.
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُمْسِكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ أَن تَزُولاَ وَلَئِن زَالَتَآ إِنْ أَمْسَكَهُمَا مِنْ أَحَدٍ مِن بَعْدِهِ إِنَّهُ كَانَ حَلِيماً غَفُوراً
41. “Verily Allah holds the heavens and the earth lest they remove (from the orbit); and did they remove, none would hold them after Him; verily He is the Forbearing, the Forgiving.”
The situation of the heavens and the earth, as well as their motions and orbits, are with the will of Allah, and it is He Who protects them in every moment.
The words in this holy verse are about the sovereignty of Allah over the whole heavens and the earth. In fact, next to the negation of the partnership of the artificial objects of worship in the world of existence, it proves the Unity of divinity and Lordship.
Not only the creation at the beginning is done by Allah, but also their maintenance providence and protection are in His infinite Power.
Moreover, in any moment they have a new creation, and the grace of being comes down to them from that bountiful source a moment after another, so that if their communication with that great source is ceased for a short moment, they will face with destruction.
It is true that the verse emphasizes on the subject of the protection of the superior system of existence, but, as it has been proved in the philosophical discussions, all beings are in need of the Origin for their permanence in the same form that they are for their temporal origination.
And, thus, the protection of the system is not anything except the continuation of new creation and Divine emanation.
It is worthy to note that, without being fastened by anything, the celestial spheres have been rotating for millions of years in their places with the same orbs that have been decided for them without the least deviation, the example of which is seen in solar system.
Our globe, the earth, rotates in its orb round the sum for millions or milliards of years with an exact order, which originates from the equilibrium of the power of polarization, and it obeys the command of Allah.
Then, as an emphasis, the verse says:
Neither your idols, nor the angels, nor anything other than them is able to do this job.
In order not to shut the door of repentance to deviated polytheists and let them return in any stage they are, at the end of the verse the Qur’an says:
Because of His forbearance, Allah does not hasten in punishing them, and because of His forgiveness, He accepts their repentance, with its conditions, in any case and stage it is. Thus, the ending part of the verse refers to the situation of polytheists and that His Mercy encompasses them at the time of repentance and returning.
Some commentators have taken these two attributes in relation to maintenance of the heavens and the earth, because their destruction is an affliction and a punishment, and Allah, because of His Forbearance and Forgiveness, does not let people get this punishment and affliction, though the sayings and deeds of many of them require that this chastisement should be sent down, as Surah Maryam, No. 19, verses 88 to 90 say:
During the length of the history of human beings this event has repeatedly happened that some of the astronomers have foreseen that, in its way, a particular comet, or other than it, may pass by the earth and probably it crashes this globe.
These predictions have worried the thoughts of all people in the world.
In these circumstances this feeling appears for everybody that in this problem nobody can do anything, because if, for example, so and so celestial globe comes towards the earth and, under their gravity they crash each other, there will remain no trace from the thousand-year-old civilization of mankind, and even from other living creatures on the earth; and no power, except the Power of Allah, can prevent this event.
In these cases everyone feels absolute need unto absolute Self-Sufficient Allah; but when those probable dangers are removed, forgetfulness encompasses human beings.
Not only the crash of the celestial spheres and planets cause calamity, but also a slight deviation of a planet, like earth, from its orb may bring forth a calamity.
وَأَقْسَمُوا بِاللَّهِ جَهْدَ أَيْمَانِهِمْ لَئِن جَآءَهُمْ نَذِيرٌ لَّيَكُونُنَّ أَهْدَي مِنْ إِحْدَي الأُمَمِ فَلَمَّا جَآءَهُمْ نَذِيرٌ مَّا زَادَهُمْ إِلاَّ نُفُوراً
42. “And they swore by Allah with the strongest oaths that if a Warner came to them, they would be more rightly guided than any one of the nations; but when a Warner came to them, it increased them naught but aversion (unto the truth).”
The polytheists believed in Allah and sanctified Him and used to swear by Him, but upon the occasion of revelation of -ul-Ma‘ali, Mafatih-ul-Qaybthis holy verse it is cited in Durr-ul-Manthur, Rauh and other commentary books that: whenever the Arab polytheists heard that some of the former nations, such as the Jews, had rejected the Divine prophets and killed them, they said that they were not like them.
If the messenger of Allah came to them, they would be the best rightly guided of the nations. But when the world illuminating sun of Islam appeared in the horizon of their land and the Prophet of Islam (S) with the greatest heavenly Book came to them, not only they did not accept it, but also tried to reject it and to play kinds of tricks against it.
The abovementioned holy verse was sent down and blamed them for these empty baseless claims.
(Most of the commentary books, has been mentioned under this verse.)
The verse says:
The Arabic term /’ayman/ is the plural form of /yamin/ which means ‘oath’. Originally it means ‘right hand’, but since at the time of taking oath and promising people they shake hands with their right hands and take an oath, this word has gradually been used in the sense of oath.
The Arabic word /jahd/ is derived from /jihad/ in the sense of ‘struggle and effort’. Therefore, the application of the Arabic phrase /jahd-a-’aymanihim/ refers to the strong oath.
Yes, when they were observing the former events recorded in the pages of the history, saying about disloyalties, ingratitude actions, hindrances and crimes of the former nations, specially the Jews unto their prophets, they wondered very much, while they had every kind of claim and boast about themselves.
But when their own trial practically came forth and they wanted to practise it, they showed that they were of the same kind, as the Qur’an in this verse declares:
We must be also attentive to this matter. God forbids those who are waiting for the advent of Hadrat Mahdi (May Allah hasten his glad advent) and say that if he (as) comes they will do so and so, but when he (as) comes they stand against him.
اسْتِكْبَاراً فِي الأَرْضِ وَمَكْرَ السّـِيئِ وَلاَ يَحِيقُ الْمَكْرُ السَّيّـِئُ اِلاَّ بِاَهْلِهِ فَهَلْ يَنظُرُونَ إِلاَّ سُنَّتَ الأَوَّلِينَ فَلَن تَجِد َلِسُنَّتِ اللَّهِ تَبْدِيلاً وَلَن تَجِدَ لِسُنَّتِ اللَّهِ تَحْوِيلاً
43. “On account of their arrogance in the earth, and devising evil; but evil devising encompasses only the devisers themselves; so do they expect anything except the way of (Allah against) the former people? For never shall you find any alternation in the course of Allah and never shall you find in the course of Allah any change.”
The origin of escape and hatred from the way of prophets is either arrogance or evil devising. (Perhaps arrogance is from the side of obstinate pagans and evil devising from the side of hypocrites.)
This holy verse is an explanation over what was said in the previous verse. The verse implicitly says that their being aloof from the Truth was for the sake that they paved the path of arrogance in the earth and they never accepted to surrender to the truth. And, also, it was for the sake that they used to commit devising evil, but the evil devising afflicts none but those who do it.
The verse says:
The Arabic sentence /la yahiq/, derived from /haq/ means: ‘it does not descend down, does not overtake, and does not overcome’.
This points to the fact that applying devises may temporarily reach others, but finally they come forth against the devisers themselves and will make them disgrace before the servants of Allah, and will make them shameful in front of Allah; and this is the same evil fate that the pagans of Mecca encountered.
In fact, the verse implies that they did not suffice only to get aloof from this great Divine Prophet, but also they took help from their entire ability and power in hurting him; and the main motive of it was arrogance, pride, and the lack of humility before the truth.
In the continuation of the verse, the Qur’an threatens this arrogant, deceitful and treacherous group by an expressive awakening sentence, and says:
This short sentence is a hint to the whole evil ends of the haughty, and disobedient former nations, such as the people of Noah, ‘Ad, Thamud, and Pharaoh, each of whom were afflicted with a great calamity, and the Qur’an has frequently pointed to some parts of their painful and evil fates.
Here, by this very short sentence, the Qur’an illustrates all of them in front of the eyes of this group.
Then, for a more emphasis, it adds:
أَوَلَمْ يَسِيرُوا فِي الأَرْضِ فَيَنظُرُوا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ وَكَانُوا أَشَدَّ مِنْهُمْ قُوَّةً وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُعْجِزَهُ مِن شَيْءٍ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَلاَ فِي الأَرْضِ إِنَّهُ كَانَ عَلِيماً قَدِيراً
44. “Have they not travelled in the earth and seen how was the end of those before them while they were stronger than them in power? Nor is Allah to be frustrated by anything whatever in the heavens or on the earth; verily He is Knowing, Powerful.”
None should become proud of his power since there have been many more powerful people than them who have been destroyed; and nothing can overcome the Will of Allah.
This verse invites the guilty polytheists to study the traces of the former nations and the fate which they afflicted with. This is for the sake that whatever they have studied in the history about those nations, they would see by their eyes in the lands belonging to them, and they would observe those things among their effects so that they actually see what they have studied in the statements.
If they think that they are stronger than those nations, they are in an earnest error, because the Qur’an continues saying:
The people of Pharaoh who had taken the land of Egypt under the control of their own power, the people of Namrud who were governing over the land of Babylon and some other countries all were so strong that the idolaters of Mecca, compared with them, were counted naught.
Moreover, the more men are powerful, comparing the power of Allah, their power is naught, because nothing in the heavens nor in the earth can escape from the realm of His Power, and will not frustrate Him.
The verse says:
Allah is both Knowing and Powerful. Neither does anything remain concealed from His sight nor anything is difficult for His Power, nor can anybody overcome Him.
If these blind-hearted, arrogant and deceitful persons think that they can escape from the grips of His Power, they are in error, and if they do not leave their committing ugly deeds, at last they will confront the same fatal end of the former arrogant ones.
We repeatedly recite in the verses of the Qur’an that Allah invites the faithless and disobedient persons ‘to travel in the earth’ and see the traces of the nations who have afflicted the Divine chastisement.
In Surah Ar-Room, No. 30, verse 9 we recite:
These are those who had a stronger power than these and changed the earth, and they made it more populated than the amount these have done.
Their prophets came to them with clear proofs, but they continued their own egotism, and were encompassed with painful divine punishment. Never did Allah injustice to them, but they were unjust to themselves.
This verse from Surah Ar-Room continues saying:
These frequent emphases of the Qur’an are some proofs upon the extraordinary effect of these observations in the selves of human beings. They must go to see by their eyes that which they have studied in the history or heard from people.
They should go and see the former destroyed land of the Pharaohs, the ruined castles of the ancient kings, the scattered graves of Caesars, the rotten bones of people such as Numrud, and the afflicted lands of the people of Lut and Thamud from near and close distance, they can hear the advice of these silent people and pay attention to the cry of those who are buried under the dust, and watch by their eyes what will finally happen to them.
وَلَوْ يُؤَاخِذُ اللَّهُ النَّاسَ بِمَا كَسَبُوا مَا تَرَكَ عَلَي ظَهْرِهَا مِن دَآبَّةٍ وَلَكِن يُؤَخّـِرُهُمْ اِلَي أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّي فَاِذَا جآءَ أَجَلُهُمْ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِعِبَادِهِ بَصِيراً
45. “And if Allah were to seize the people (to punish them) for what they have earned, He would not leave on the back of it any creature; but He gives them respite till an appointed term. So when their term expires, then verily Allah is seeing with respect to His servants.”
Allah is patient and He forgives people and gives them respite, and does not immediately punish the wrong doers in this world for their evil actions.
Allah’s giving respite to the sinners is a wisely action.
The abovementioned verse, which is the last verse of Surah Fatir, concludes the earnest discussions and serious threats previously mentioned in this Surah with Allah’s grace and mercy upon the people on the earth, in the same manner that this Surah began with the Mercy of Allah on humankind.
Thus both the beginning and the end of the holy Surah are consistent in stating the Mercy of Allah.
More over, the previous verse which threatened the guilty faithless persons to the evil fate of the formers brings this question forth for many of them, as well as others, that if the manner of treatment of Allah is the same about all of the arrogant ones, then why He does not punish this arrogant polytheistic nation.
In answer to this question, the Qur’an says:
In that case, there will be sent down so many frequent punishments, and lightning, earthquakes and tempests will destroy the unjust ones in a form that the earth will not be a suitable place for anyone to live on.
Yet, the verse continues saying:
But this patience and respite of Allah has an account. It lasts until when their appointed term has not come, but when their appointed term reaches, He will recompense everybody, as the verse says:
He (s.w.t.) both sees their deeds and is aware of their intentions.
Here, there arise two questions the answer of which is made manifest by what was said.
The first is that: Does this general command envelop Divine prophets, friends of Allah, and righteous ones, too?
The answer of this question is clear, because these kinds of ordinances refer to almost the mass of people and the decisive majority of them, and surely the Divine prophets, Imams, and righteous ones, who are in minority, are out of this circle. Shortly speaking, every ordinance has an exception and such ones are as exceptions of this ordinance.
The second is that: Does the application of the Qur’anic term /dabbah/ (creature), mentioned in the above verse, refer to non-human creatures, too? That is, will they be destroyed as the result of the punishment upon human beings?
The answer to this question will be made clear in regard to this point that the philosophy of the existence of other living creatures is for the benefit of men from them, and when the human generation is whipped out, their existence will not be necessary.
The Arabic word /dabbah/ is derived from /dabib/ in the sense of ‘to work slowly’, but from the philological point of view it refers to any living creature, and sometimes the Arabic word /dawab/ is used for the animals fit for riding, in particular.
At last, we put an end to this discussion with a tradition from the Prophet of Islam (S) which has been recorded upon the commentary of this verse.
According to this tradition, the Prophet (S) says:
“Allah, the Mighty, the Glorious, has implicitly said:
‘O’ the children of Adam! It is by My will and desire that you have been created free and you can wish for yourself whatever you wish; and it is by My Will that you have possessed a kind of will that you can decide for yourself whatever you will.
You have got strength by means of the bounties I gave you and you have committed sins; and it was by means of My Power and Safety that I gave you and you could do the obligations I commanded you.
Therefore, due to your good actions, I am prior to you yourself, but due to your sins, you are prior to Me. By means of the bounties I have given you, the good things ceaselessly come to you from My side, and the vice and wretchedness always come to you from yourself because of your treacheries.
I have never neglected you for warning and advising and I did not punish you immediately at the time of your pride and negligence, but I gave you enough respite that you might repent and improve yourselves.”
The verse says:
Then, the Prophet (S) said that this is the same thing that Allah says:
O’ Allah! Appoint us among those who come forth before lasting the respites and return to You, and enlighten their dark past course by the light of good deeds and attracting Your consent.
O’ Allah! If Your Grace had not encompassed us, the fire from inside of our evil deeds would have swallowed us into its bottom; and if the ray of the light of Your forgiveness had not been showered on our heart, the army of Satan would have occupied it.
O’ Allah! Protect us from any kind of polytheism, and lit the torch of sincere Faith and Unity in our heart, and increase the light of piety in our speech and deeds.
- 1. Nur-uth-Thaqalayn, Vol. 4, P. 370