In the Name of Allah, All-Compassionate, All-Merciful
- The All-Beneficent (Allah)!
- He has taught (you mankind) the Qur'an (by His Mercy).
- He created man.
- He taught him al-bayan.
- The sun and the moon run on their fixed courses.
- And the najm and the shajar both prostrate.
- And the heaven He has raised high and He has set up the balance.
- In order that you may not transgress the balance.
- And observe the weight with equity and do not make the balance deficient.
- And the earth He has put down (laid) for the creatures.
- Therein are fruits, date-palms producing sheathed fruit-stalks.
- And also corn with (its) leaves and stalk for fodder and sweet-scented plants.
- Then which of the Blessings of your Rabb will you both deny?
Allah, the Exalted, informs us of His Bounty and His Mercy to His creation in that He sent down to His slaves the Qur'an and made memorising it and understanding it easy for whomsoever He has blessed; this is why He, the Exalted, says:
"The All-Beneficient (Allah)! He has taught (you mankind) the Qur'an (by His Mercy). He created man. He taught him al-bayan."
According to Al-Hasan al-Basri, this means He taught him correct pronunciation, while Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah and others held that it means that Allah, the Exalted, taught man the difference between good and evil; but the saying of Al-Hasan is better and stronger, for Allah, the Exalted, is referring in these verses to His having taught man the Qur'an, which includes the correct manner of recitation and this can only be achieved by making the pronunciation and enunciation easy for His creatures.
"The sun and moon run on their fixed courses," that is, they both run in courses allotted for them for which they never deviate, as Allah, the Exalted, says:
"It is not permitted for the sun to overtake the moon nor for the night to outstrip the day; each of them swims in a fixed orbit." [Al-Qur'an 36:40] and:
"He is the Cleaver of the daybreak (from the dark): He makes the night for rest and tranquillity and the sun and the moon for the reckoning (of time): Such is the judgement and ordering of (Him), the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing." [Al-Qur'an 6:96]
It is reported from 'Ikrimah that he said: "Were Allah, the Exalted, to place the sight of all living creatures in the eyes of one slave, and He were to reveal just one of the seventy veils from before the sun, he would not be able to look towards it; and the light of the sun is just one seventieth part of the light of the Kursi [It has been authentically narrated that the Kursi is the resting place of the Feet of Allah – in a manner befitting His Majesty] and the Kursi is one seventieth part of the light of the 'Arsh (Allah's Throne); and the light of the 'Arsh is just one of the seventieth part of the light of the cover. See then, the sight Allah will place in the eyes of His slave, that he may see the countenance of his Rabb (on the Day of Resurrection)?" [Narrated by Ibn Abi Hatim]
"And the najm and shajar both prostrate." Ibn Jarir (at-Tabari) says: "The scholars of tafsir have differed as to the meaning of the word najm, while they are in complete agreement that the word shajar means that which grows on a trunk (i.e. trees)." It is reported from Ibn Abi Talhah on the authority of Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, that he said the word najm means that which grows on the ground – that is, from plants. [According to Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani, Ibn Abi Talhah did not hear from Ibn 'Abbas, therefore any narrations from him must be considered mursal (i.e. incomplete)]
Sa'id ibn Jubayr also said this, as did As-Suddi and Sufyan ath-Thawri and this was the preferred opinion of Ibn Jarir. Mujahid held that the word najm refers to stars in the heaven, as did Al-Hasan and Qatadah and this saying is the most apparent – and Allah knows best, for Allah, the Exalted, says:
"Do you not see that all those in the heavens and all those on the earth and sun and the moon and the stars and the mountains and the shajar and the beasts and many of mankind prostrate themselves to Allah (in worship) … " [Al-Qur'an 22:18]
"And the heaven He has raised high and He has set up the balance." This means that He established the balance of justice, as in His Words:
"We have sent Our Messengers with clear proofs, and We sent down with them the Book and the balance, that the people may deal in fairness … " [Al-Qur'an 57:25] – And He, the Exalted, said likewise here:
"In order that you may not transgress the balance." That is, He created the heavens and the earth in truth and justice, that all things may exist in truth and justice; and this is why He, the Exalted says:
"And observe the weight with equity and do not make the balance deficient." That is, do not give inadequate weight, but weigh truly and fairly, as Allah, the Exalted, says:
"And weigh with scales true and upright." [Al-Qur'an 26:182]
"And the earth He has put down (laid) for the creatures." That is, just as He raised the heaven, He placed the earth and flattened it out and fixed it firmly with the lofty mountains I order that those upon it may thrive, and they are the creatures of the earth in all their shapes and kinds, colours and tongues from all countries and all quarters. According to Ibn 'Abbas, Mujahid, Qatadah and Ibn Zayd, "creatures" refers to all of creation.
"Therein are fruits." That is, fruits of all kinds, colours, tastes and fragrances.
"Date palms producing sheathed fruit-stalks." He has singled out the date palm for special mention because of its nobility, its innumerable benefits, whether fresh or dry. As for the sheath mentioned in the verse, according to Ibn Jurayj, on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, it refers to the covering of the pollen spadix of the palm tree. This has been said by several of the scholars of tafsir and it is that in which the bunches of dates develop, first unripe, then ripening, until they become fully ripe, and their benefits are manifest. Ibn Abi Hatim said, on the authority of Ash-Sha'abi, that Caesar wrote to 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him: "I inform you concerning my Messengers, that they have come to me from you, claiming that with you is a tree which was created in a form in which no kind of goodness has been left out: It emerges like the ears of a donkey; then it splits open like a pearl oyster; then it becomes green, like an emerald; then it becomes red, like a ruby; then it ripens and becomes likes the sweetest faluzaj (a sweet made from flour and honey) ever eaten; then it dries, and it becomes a protection (from hunger) for the one who is at home and a provision for the traveller. And if my Messengers have told me the truth, then I do not see a tree except as a tree of Paradise." 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, replied to this letter saying: "From Allah's slave, 'Umar, Commander of the Faithful, to Caesar, the King of Rome: (I confirm) that your Messengers have told you the truth: This tree is with us and it is the tree which Allah, the Exalted, grew over Maryam (Mary), when she gave birth to her son 'Isa, upon him be peace, so fear Allah, the Exalted, and do not take 'Isa as a deity besides Allah, the Exalted, because:
'The likeness of 'Isa (Jesus) with Allah is as the likeness of Âdam: He created him from dust, then (He) said to him: 'Be!' and he was. (This is) the truth is from your Rabb, so be not of those who doubt.' [Al-Qur'an 3:59-60]"
It was also said that the sheath refers to the palm fibre which is on the neck of the palm tree; and this is the saying of Al-Hasan and Qatadah.
"And also corn with (its) leaves and stalk for fodder and sweet-scented plants." 'Ali ibn Abi Talhah said, on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, that the verse means: And also corn and straw, while Al-'Awfi reported, also on authority of Ibn 'Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Arabic word 'asf used in the verse means: the green leaves of the crops (who heads have been cut off) – this is known as 'asf when it dries. Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak and Abu Malik also said that it means straw. As for the word rayhan used in the verse, Ibn 'Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, Mujahid and a number of others said it means leaves, while Al-Hasan said: "It is the very same rayhan (sweet basil) which is with you." 'Ali ibn Abi Talhah reported, on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, that it refers to green crops. This means – and Allah knows best – that the first word (al-habb) refers to grains such as corn and barley and such like, while the word rayhan refers to the covering of the ear of corn of any other grain, when it is still green. It was also said that 'asf means that green crops when they first appear and that the rayhan is the leaves of the plant when the grains appear on them, as Zayd ibn 'Amr an-Nufayl said in his poetic verses:
And say to him: "Who causes the grain to sprout in the earth, then it gives forth foliage which grows, and corn is produced from it in its head?"
In that are signs for those who are heedful.
"Then which of the Blessings of your Rabb will you both deny?" That is, which of Allah's Blessings will you reject, O, you two communities of mankind and jinn? This was said by Mujahid and a number of others and the context of the verses which follow supports this interpretation: that the Blessings upon you are apparent and you are flooded with them, so much so that you cannot deny them and so we say, as did the believers among the jinn: "O Allah! We do not deny any of Your Blessings; to You is due all praise." Ibn 'Abbas used to say: "None of them, O Rabb!" That is, we do not deny any of them. Imam Ahmad reported, on the authority of Asma' bint Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with them both, that she said: "I heard Allah's Messenger, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, say, when he was reciting in prayer, and while the polytheists were listening: 'Then which of the Blessings of your Rabb will you both deny?' "
(t) Abridged and Translated by Sameh Strauch, revised by Ibrahim M. Kunna and Abu Aya Sulayman 'Abdus-Sabur
(p) Published by International Islamic Publishing House (IIPH)
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