وَّ الۡخَیۡلَ وَ الۡبِغَالَ وَ الۡحَمِیۡرَ لِتَرۡکَبُوۡہَا وَ زِیۡنَۃً ؕ وَ یَخۡلُقُ مَا لَا تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۹﴾
وَٱلۡخَيۡلَ وَٱلۡبِغَالَ وَٱلۡحَمِيرَ لِتَرۡكَبُوهَا وَزِينَةٗۚ وَيَخۡلُقُ مَا لَا تَعۡلَمُونَ
d. 36:73; 40:81; 43:13. (close)
1532. When God has taken so much care to provide for the physical and material needs of man, the idea cannot be entertained for a single moment that He should have neglected to make a similar provision for his spiritual needs. (close)
1532A. The words may mean that God will bring into existence new means of transport which were yet unknown to man. The prophecy has been wonderfully fulfilled in the form of railway trains, steamships, motor cars, aeroplanes, etc. God alone knows what new means of transport are yet to be invented. (close)
b. 36:73; 40:81; 43:13. (close)
The word زینة (as a source of beauty) literally meaning ornament, is here used in the sense of splendour and pomp. This meaning is in keeping with the significance of the words, that you ride them, thus hinting that their beauty lies in their being used as a means of conveyance. The animals mentioned in this verse are those that are used in warfare and serve to show the power and might of a people in opposition to the enemy.
In this and the preceding three verses, the Quran speaks of two kinds of things created for the good of man: (1) those that are of use to him in his private life; (2) those that serve his political ends. These things have been created to serve the following six purposes; (a) to protect man from the inclemency of weather; (b) to provide him with food; (c) to bring him honour and glory; (d) to carry his burdens; (e) to be used as a means of personal conveyance; and (f) to serve as a source of strength and power for him.
The verse purports to say that when God has taken so much care to provide for the above six physical and material needs of man, the idea cannot be entertained for a single moment that He should have neglected to make a similar provision for his spiritual needs. The verse also hints that although man exacts work from other creatures in spite of the fact that he is not their creator, he denies God (Who does not derive any benefit from him) the right to reform and guide him to a stage where he should constitute an evidence of His Holiness and Sanctity and a means of His glorification.
The expression, And He will create what you do not yet know, embodies a prophecy that God will bring into existence new means of conveyance which were yet unknown to man. This prophecy has been wonderfully fulfilled by the discovery of comfortable and ever-increasing means of conveyance such as railway trains, steamships, motor cars, aeroplanes, etc. God only knows what new means of conveyance are yet to be discovered by man.
As against the six physical objects enumerated above, the six spiritual characteristics that the word of God must possess are the following:
(1) It should protect man from the evil effects of heat and cold, i.e. it should guard him against extremes in everything. Absence of the love of God may be called cold in religious terminology and abusing or persecuting in the name of religion those who differ from us in their views and compelling them to subscribe to our views against their will may represent heat. The word of God inspires man with His love on the one hand and on the other enjoins its followers to be tolerant towards those who hold views different from theirs.
(2) It should serve the purpose of spiritual food, i.e. it should contain all those elements which develop and strengthen the spiritual faculties of man. It should inculcate teachings which tend to suppress and subdue his evil inclinations and propensities and inspire him with spiritual strength and vigour.
(3) It should be a source of beauty and glory i.e. those who act upon it should appear beautiful and dignified in the eyes of others. Their compatriots should feel and admit that the word of God has worked a great revolution in their lives.
(4) It should bear man’s burdens, i.e. it should make him realize his duties and responsibilities and, by freeing him from the shackles of superstitious customs and usages, should enable him to achieve true liberty.
(5) It should serve as a means of conveyance, i.e. it should help man speedily to attain nearness to his Creator by understanding and realizing His attributes, and should save him from a long and fatiguing spiritual journey.
(6) It should impart vigour and strength to man, i.e. by acting upon it, its followers should lead a respectable and honourable life in both worlds, their organization should become strong, and they should win the esteem and regard of nations by living up to their ideals and teachings.
These are the six essential qualities which the word of God must possess and without which it forfeits the title of being called Divine. (close)
وَ عَلَی اللّٰہِ قَصۡدُ السَّبِیۡلِ وَ مِنۡہَا جَآئِرٌ ؕ وَ لَوۡ شَآءَ لَہَدٰٮکُمۡ اَجۡمَعِیۡنَ ﴿٪۱۰﴾
وَعَلَى ٱللَّهِ قَصۡدُ ٱلسَّبِيلِ وَمِنۡهَا جَآئِرٞۚ وَلَوۡ شَآءَ لَهَدَىٰكُمۡ أَجۡمَعِينَ
a. 6:150; 10:100; 11:119. (close)
a. 6:150; 10:100; 11:119. (close)
1811. Important Words:
قصد (qasdun—right) is derived from قصد (qasada) which means, he betook himself to it; he aimed at or sought after it. قصد فی الامر means, he pursued a right or direct course in the affair; he followed the middle and most just way in the affair; he kept within due bounds in the affair. قصد (qasd) therefore means, aim or course of a person or thing that is right; conforming or conformable to the just mean. They say, ھو علی قصد, i.e. he is following a right way or course (Lane & Aqrab).
The words, And upon Allah rests the showing of the right way, mean that God has made it incumbent upon Himself that He should show man the right way; or that God has taken upon Himself that He would show man the right way by following which he may attain to Him. This idea has also been expressed in 92:13 which says, Verily it is for Us to guide. The verse under comment means to say that God alone can show the way which is characterized by moderation and is free from excesses or extremes. Man, unaided by God, cannot devise such a way for himself.
This verse further tells us that, excepting those who enjoy special protection of God, every person has his prejudices and predilections. It is impossible for man to be quite free from bias or favouritism. Man-made laws therefore suffer from the defect that they tend to incline to one extreme or the other and deny some their just rights and give others more than their due. Hence a Law which has equal regard for the rights of all and which gives everyone his due, neither more nor less, can be devised and promulgated by God alone. On the contrary, as man is a slave of his sentiments, laws made by him can have regard only for his own sentiments and susceptibilities and can reflect only his own feelings to the exclusion of the feelings of other people. Only that Law can have due regard for all sorts of temperaments and dispositions and conditions and circumstances which is devised by that Being Who has created all men and Who has full knowledge of their temperaments and circumstances. He alone can maintain the right balance between men of different sentiments and ideas.
It further appears from this verse that when God has arranged to satisfy the physical needs of man, it follows as a corollary that His word should satisfy his spiritual needs also.
The words, And if He had enforced His will, He would have guided you all, suggest that if God had not undertaken to provide guidance for mankind, the only other alternative for Him would have been to make human nature such that man could not pursue a wrong course or deviate from the right path. But God in His infallible wisdom has not chosen to do so. So when He gave man the freedom and the choice to follow the right or the wrong course, He should have also revealed to him His guidance from time to time and should have helped him to avoid the wrong path in his march to the destined goal. (close)
ہُوَ الَّذِیۡۤ اَنۡزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَآءِ مَآءً لَّکُمۡ مِّنۡہُ شَرَابٌ وَّ مِنۡہُ شَجَرٌ فِیۡہِ تُسِیۡمُوۡنَ ﴿۱۱﴾
هُوَ ٱلَّذِيٓ أَنزَلَ مِنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ مَآءٗۖ لَّكُم مِّنۡهُ شَرَابٞ وَمِنۡهُ شَجَرٞ فِيهِ تُسِيمُونَ
b. 2:23; 6:100; 13:18; 16:66; 22:64. (close)
a. 2:23; 6:100; 13:18; 16:66; 22:64 (close)
The Arabs were the first addressees of the Quran and in Arabia water is very scarce. So they have been told in this verse that water which is the source of all life and which brings out food and vegetation for them and their cattle is indeed a great gift of God. And, repeating the argument embodied in the preceding verse, the present verse goes on to say that when God has made ample provision for the physical needs of man, He could not have neglected to provide for his spiritual needs. Also that when man very gladly accepts and uses all the physical provisions made for him, why should he decline to make similar use of God’s spiritual gifts?
The expression لکم (for you) in the verse points to the truth that the whole universe has been created for the service of man because he is the acme and end of all creation. So it is really very strange that God should have omitted to fix a great object for man’s creation or should have neglected to provide means for the fulfilment of that object. This subject has been further developed in the next verse. (close)
یُنۡۢبِتُ لَکُمۡ بِہِ الزَّرۡعَ وَ الزَّیۡتُوۡنَ وَ النَّخِیۡلَ وَ الۡاَعۡنَابَ وَ مِنۡ کُلِّ الثَّمَرٰتِ ؕ اِنَّ فِیۡ ذٰلِکَ لَاٰیَۃً لِّقَوۡمٍ یَّتَفَکَّرُوۡنَ ﴿۱۲﴾
يُنۢبِتُ لَكُم بِهِ ٱلزَّرۡعَ وَٱلزَّيۡتُونَ وَٱلنَّخِيلَ وَٱلۡأَعۡنَٰبَ وَمِن كُلِّ ٱلثَّمَرَٰتِۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَأٓيَةٗ لِّقَوۡمٖ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
c. 6:100; 13:5. (close)
1533. The energy, which makes plants grow, might be latent in the soil, but it does not come into play unless the soil receives water from heaven. Even so man may possess most excellent inherent faculties, but he cannot develop them without the help of Divine revelation. To base man’s spiritual development upon his intellect alone is like saying that the earth can grow plants without the help of water. (close)
a. 6:100; 13:5. (close)
The preceding verse referred to rain which supplied man with drink and helped to grow such plants as feed animals which serve him. In this verse mention has been made of such plants as are used by man himself as food, staples, condiments or dessert. Thus it draws attention to the fact that not only animals but also plants have been created for man and are engaged in serving him.
The verse also points to the great truth that the power of making plants grow might be latent in the soil, but it does not come into play unless the soil receives water from heaven. Even so a man may possess most excellent faculties but he cannot develop them without the help of Divine revelation. To base man’s spiritual development upon his intellect and natural powers alone is like saying that the earth can grow plants without the help of water. The truth is that just as land, however fertile and rich in soil, cannot grow anything without water, similarly human intellect cannot rise to its full spiritual stature without the help of Divine revelation.
The verse also meets a very popular question that may arise here: What new things does a Prophet bring and where is the need of any new Messenger when all the truths that he is supposed to teach are embedded in human nature? It says that the mere existence of a certain thing and its development and growth are two separate things. Just as the latent powers of the soil to grow vegetation remain undeveloped and its richness combined with the soundness of the seed that is thrown on it fails to produce anything without the help of water, similarly the latent and inherent powers and faculties of man fail to find their real development and growth without the help of Divine revelation.
Another point worthy of note in this verse is the order observed in the description of the advantages derived by man from animals and plants. In the case of animals mention was made first of those animals which are used as human food and next of those which serve other purposes (vv. 6, 9). Similarly, speaking of the plants mention has been made in the present verse, first of plants which serve as staple food and then of plants which serve only as condiments and dessert. (close)
وَ سَخَّرَ لَکُمُ الَّیۡلَ وَ النَّہَارَ ۙ وَ الشَّمۡسَ وَ الۡقَمَرَ ؕ وَ النُّجُوۡمُ مُسَخَّرٰتٌۢ بِاَمۡرِہٖ ؕ اِنَّ فِیۡ ذٰلِکَ لَاٰیٰتٍ لِّقَوۡمٍ یَّعۡقِلُوۡنَ ﴿ۙ۱۳﴾
وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ ٱلَّيۡلَ وَٱلنَّهَارَ وَٱلشَّمۡسَ وَٱلۡقَمَرَۖ وَٱلنُّجُومُ مُسَخَّرَٰتُۢ بِأَمۡرِهِۦٓۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَأٓيَٰتٖ لِّقَوۡمٖ يَعۡقِلُونَ
d. 7:55; 13:3; 14:34; 35:14; 39:6. (close)
a. 7:55; 13:3; 14:34; 35:14; 39:6. (close)
In this verse mention has been made of another class of Divine blessings viz. the world of inorganic matter, particularly of those things such as the sun, the moon and the stars which exercise a powerful influence upon the mental development of man, either directly or indirectly through the medium of the animal and vegetable worlds. This is why, after animals and vegetables, mention is here made of inorganic and inanimate things which also help the physical and mental sustenance and development of man. Mention has also been made of night and day, because the benefits that man derives from the alternation of night and day are directly bound with the influences of the sun, the moon and the stars.
One more interesting point to note here is that whereas in the foregoing verses where animals and vegetables have been mentioned God has used the expression خلق (He has created), in the present verse where the sun, the moon and the stars have been mentioned, the expression سخر (He has pressed into service) has been used. This is done to signify that in the case of animals and vegetables which man uses for his benefit he has to put in some effort to derive that benefit from them; therefore in consideration of this element of the personal effort of man the expression خلق (He has created) has been used. But as the advantages he receives from the sun, the moon and the stars and from the alternation of day and night are completely gratuitous and are without any effort on man’s part, the expression سخر (He has pressed into service) has been used
which signifies service without remuneration. Similarly, the use of the expression یعقلون (who make use of their reason) in this verse as against the expression یتفکرون (who reflect) in the previous verse is also significant. The reason for using these two different expressions is that whereas the word فکر (reflection) means mental cogitation relating to matters which are near at hand, the word عقل (reason) signifies mental cogitation relating to things both near and far. As the influence of inorganic matter upon the life and development of man is a thing which requires deep study and close observation to understand, the expression, یعقلون has been used in this verse. But as the phenomena of the animal and vegetable worlds are matters of common observation and can be studied and understood even by men of ordinary intelligence, the expression یتفکرون has been used in the preceding verse. (close)
وَ مَا ذَرَاَ لَکُمۡ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ مُخۡتَلِفًا اَلۡوَانُہٗ ؕ اِنَّ فِیۡ ذٰلِکَ لَاٰیَۃً لِّقَوۡمٍ یَّذَّکَّرُوۡنَ ﴿۱۴﴾
وَمَا ذَرَأَ لَكُمۡ فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِ مُخۡتَلِفًا أَلۡوَٰنُهُۥٓۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَأٓيَةٗ لِّقَوۡمٖ يَذَّكَّرُونَ
a. 13:5; 39:22. (close)
1534. One of the most wonderful features of God’s creation is that no two things or persons are exactly alike. But for this diversity there would have been indescribable confusion and chaos in the world. It would have been difficult to distinguish one thing from another or one person from another person. Similarly, there is such diversity in the dispositions and temperaments of men that it is beyond human power to devise a teaching which may equally suit all natures. No man has full knowledge of the diversity that exists in nature. God alone knows these differences and diversities and, therefore, He alone can give a Teaching which can equally suit and benefit all. (close)
1535. Each of the three words, viz. Yatafakkarun, Ya‘qilun and Yadhdhakkarun which have been placed at the end of vv. 12th, 13th and 14th respectively may be understood not only as especially appropriate to the theme of the particular verse in which it is used, but also as applicable to the general theme dealt with collectively in the three verses, their use in their particular places being determined by the degree of their importance. The word "reflection" has been used first because it constitutes the first means for, and of all moral qualities it is the first to be awakened in, the process of the moral reformation of man. From the habit of reflection grows understanding or 'making use of reason.' At this second stage man accomplishes his moral reformation. After this comes the third stage when temptations have been completely overcome and moral struggle ceases and man 'takes heed' and is self-admonished and the doing of good works becomes a part of his nature. (close)
a. 13:5; 39:22. (close)
One of the most wonderful features of God’s creation is that no two things or persons are exactly alike. But for this diversity there would have been indescribable confusion and chaos in the world. It would have been difficult to distinguish one thing from another or one person from another person. Similarly, there is such diversity in the dispositions and temperaments of men that it is beyond human power to devise a teaching that may equally suit all natures. No man has full knowledge of the diversity that exists in nature. God alone knows these differences and therefore He alone can give a teaching which can suit and benefit all men.
After animals, vegetables and the inorganic creation have been mentioned separately in the preceding two verses, the verse under comment proceeds to mention something common to all creation. A new topic about the difference in various colours is introduced in this verse. Colours, too, cast their influence upon man and work for his benefit. The effect of colour upon the human body and mind is only a recent discovery of science. It is a marvel of the Quran that it made clear reference to this effect more than thirteen centuries before its discovery by scientists. The verse points out that not only different objects in nature but also their distinctive hues and colours serve man’s physical needs. It is no wonder then that God should have made similar or even greater and better provision for his spiritual needs.
The verse also suggests that just as the colours and properties of things are too many and too diverse to be enumerated, so are men’s natures, dispositions and temperaments. It is beyond human understanding to comprehend this diversity of dispositions and natures which knows no limit or bound, much less to provide for the peculiar needs and requirements of each and every man. This applies more particularly to the moral and spiritual needs of man and points to the necessity of guidance from God Who alone has full knowledge of this diversity and knows also how the requirements of every individual can be adequately met.
The verse fittingly closes with the expression لقوم یذکرون (for a people who take heed) because the problem of the diversity of men’s natures and temperaments and the satisfaction of each man’s peculiar needs is so complex that it calls for deep and categorical consideration. Each of the three expressions viz. یتفکرون and یعقلون and یذکرون which have been placed at the end of vv. 12th, 13th, and 14th respectively may be understood not only as especially appropriate to the theme of the particular verse in which it is used, but also as applicable to the general theme dealt with collectively in the three verses, their use in their particular places being determined by the degree of their importance. The word reflection has been used first because it constitutes the first means, and of all moral qualities it is the first to be awakened in the process of the moral reformation of man. From the habit of reflection grows understanding or making the use of reasonat which stage man accomplishes his moral reformation. After this comes the third stage when temptations have been completely overcome and moral struggle ceases and man takes heed and is self-admonished and the doing of good works becomes a part of his nature. (close)
وَ ہُوَ الَّذِیۡ سَخَّرَ الۡبَحۡرَ لِتَاۡکُلُوۡا مِنۡہُ لَحۡمًا طَرِیًّا وَّ تَسۡتَخۡرِجُوۡا مِنۡہُ حِلۡیَۃً تَلۡبَسُوۡنَہَا ۚ وَ تَرَی الۡفُلۡکَ مَوَاخِرَ فِیۡہِ وَ لِتَبۡتَغُوۡا مِنۡ فَضۡلِہٖ وَ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَشۡکُرُوۡنَ ﴿۱۵﴾
وَهُوَ ٱلَّذِي سَخَّرَ ٱلۡبَحۡرَ لِتَأۡكُلُواْ مِنۡهُ لَحۡمٗا طَرِيّٗا وَتَسۡتَخۡرِجُواْ مِنۡهُ حِلۡيَةٗ تَلۡبَسُونَهَاۖ وَتَرَى ٱلۡفُلۡكَ مَوَاخِرَ فِيهِ وَلِتَبۡتَغُواْ مِن فَضۡلِهِۦ وَلَعَلَّكُمۡ تَشۡكُرُونَ
b. 35:13; 45:13. (close)
1536. The sea is a most important source of material benefits to man. It is the great repository of water from which the sun supplies us with rain. It is also a great highway for travel and commerce and an important source of food for man. (close)
a. 35:13; 45:13. (close)
1816. Important Words:
طریا (fresh) is active participle from طری or طرو. They say طری اللحم او طرو i.e. the flesh-meat was or became fresh, juicy or moist. طری also means, it became new; was newly made or done; was renewed. طراہ (tarra-hu) means, he rendered it fresh or juicy. طری الطیب means, he rendered perfume fragrant by admixtures. طری البناء means, he plastered or coated the building with clay or mud. طری therefore means fresh, juicy or moist; (Lane & Aqrab).
مواخر (ploughing) is the plural of ماخرة which is active participle from مخر. They say مخر السابح i.e. the swimmer clave the water with his arms in swimming. مخرت السفینةmeans, the ship clave the water with its stem and ran; clave the water with a noise; ran cleaving the water with a noise; faced the wind in her course; advanced and retired. The primary signification of مخر is the act of cleaving; and it also signifies the making of a noise or sound. ماخرة means, ships cleaving the water with their stems; or thrusting the water with their stems; or the sound of the running whereof, by means of the wind, is heard; or running; or advancing and retiring by means of the wind (Lane & Aqrab).
In the preceding verses mention was made of those things which grew on land or of which man could enjoy the benefit on land. In this verse, however, mention is made of water and things that grow therein. It may be noted that while speaking of the sea the same expression سخر (He has pressed into service) has been used in this verse as in the case of the night and day and heavenly bodies in v. 13, the expression بامرہ (by His command) which occurs in that verse has been dropped in the present verse. This is because heavenly bodies and the alternation of night and day are beyond man’s control and the benefits man derives from them are gratuitous and independent of any labour or effort on his part; therefore when mentioning them the expression, (by His command) has been used. But because for the benefits that man derives from the sea he has to make some effort in the making of boats, etc., this expression has been left out.
The sea is a most important source of material benefits to man. It is the great repository of water from which the sun supplies us with rain. It is also the highway for travel and commerce and an important source of food for man. It is quite obvious that God Who has made such vast provision for the physical needs of man could not have failed to make similar provision for his moral and spiritual needs.
The verse also suggests that although water is so essential for man and is present in such abundance in the sea it is unfit either for drinking or for irrigation purposes unless it is distilled by process of evaporation and is made usable. In the same way the mere existence of moral and spiritual truths in the world can be of no avail to man unless they are purified of all dross and are so assorted and presented as to suit his needs.
The subject of the uses and benefits of water for man began with 11th verse and is continued in the following verses. The theme is developed in all these verses that it is on water that men and animals have to depend for their food and that the sun, the moon, and the stars too have some sort of connection with water. The sun causes the water of the sea to evaporate, and then the same returns to us purified in the form of rainwater. This theme of the various uses of water leads us to a much nobler spiritual theme. It is that although we have water in the sea yet we cannot turn it into clouds. Similarly, though we possess reason and intellect, yet unless the water of revelation comes down from heaven our reasoning faculties alone can be of no avail to us to frame a perfect Law that may conduce to our moral and spiritual well-being. (close)
وَ اَلۡقٰی فِی الۡاَرۡضِ رَوَاسِیَ اَنۡ تَمِیۡدَ بِکُمۡ وَ اَنۡہٰرًا وَّ سُبُلًا لَّعَلَّکُمۡ تَہۡتَدُوۡنَ ﴿ۙ۱۶﴾
وَأَلۡقَىٰ فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِ رَوَٰسِيَ أَن تَمِيدَ بِكُمۡ وَأَنۡهَٰرٗا وَسُبُلٗا لَّعَلَّكُمۡ تَهۡتَدُونَ
a. 13:4; 21:32. (close)
1537. Geology has established the fact that mountains have, to a great extent, made secure the earth against earthquakes. (close)
1538. The word Subul (routes) here does not mean the artificial roads constructed by human hands but natural pathways formed by mountain-passes, rivers and valleys which have served as highways throughout the ages. (close)
a. 13:4; 21:32. (close)
1817. Important Words:
رواسی (firm mountains) is the plural of راسیة which is derived from رسا. The expression رسا الجبل means, the mountain was firmly based, or was firm in its base upon the ground. رست السفینة means, the ship cast anchor, lay at anchor, or rested or became stationary upon the anchor. They say رسوت بین القوم i.e. I effected a reconciliation between the people. راس means, stationary, at rest, fixed, fast, firm, steady, steadfast or stable. جبال راسیة means, firm or steadfast mountains. رواسی means, firm mountains (Lane & Aqrab). See also 7:188.
تمید بکم (quake with you). تمید is derived from ماد which means, (1) it (a thing) was or became in a state of violent motion or commotion; was or became violently agitated; (2) it turned or twisted about or became contorted and convulsed; (3) it (the mirage) was in a state of commotion; it quivered or trembled; (4) he (a man) was or became confounded, perplexed or amazed; (5) he became affected with a heaving of the stomach or a tendency to vomit and a giddiness in the head by reason of intoxication. or of voyaging upon the sea; (6) he inclined from side to side in walking; (7) he walked with an elegant and a proud and self-conceited gait with an affected inclination of his body from side to side; (8) he conferred or bestowed a benefit or benefits, favour or favours; (9) he trafficked as a merchant; and (10) it increased or grew. They say مادت به الارض i.e. the ground went round with him. ماد به البحر means, the sea affected him with a heaving of the stomach. The Quranic expression ان تمید بکم means, lest it should quake with you, be convulsed with you and go round with you and move you about violently (Lane & Aqrab).
By using the expression القی (lit. he has cast) the present verse points to a great geographical truth. The verse purports to say that God has, as it were, scattered all over the earth, rivers, mountains and natural pathways which means that all these things are to be found in all parts of the earth and men derive great benefits from them. Recent geographical researches have substantiated the fact that mountains, rivers and natural pathways are to be found in every region of the earth. That the Quran should have proclaimed this truth at a time when large parts of the earth such as America and South and Central Africa, Australia and many other islands were yet unknown is a strong proof of its Divine source. Elsewhere the Quran has used the expression جعل (He made) for each of the three things namely, mountains (77:28) rivers (27:62) and routes (21:32). This shows that the Quran does not mean that these things have been planted on the earth from outside, as might be suggested by the expression القی (He has placed) but that they form part and parcel of it.
By the word سبل (routes) is here meant not the artificial roads constructed by human hands but natural pathways formed by mountain-passes, rivers and valleys which have served men as highways throughout the ages. It was due to these natural highways that contact between different regions of the earth became possible in the past and this is perhaps one reason why the three things have been mentioned together in this verse.
Mountains, rivers and natural highways have been mentioned in the verse under comment separately from other Divine blessings mentioned in the preceding verses because these natural objects are repositories of other Divineblessings. The mountains are natural reservoirs of water and vegetable wealth; the rivers constitute natural conduits for water without which it would not be available for the use of man throughout the year, and natural pathways make it possible for him to have access to these vast stores of Divine blessings.
The relation of this verse with the preceding verses is that it enumerates some more of the material blessings of God and thus reverts to the theme that God Who bestowed these material blessings upon man could not possibly have neglected to provide for his spiritual needs. Another implication of the verse is that by his efforts man can provide only for his temporary and local needs but for his general and permanent needs God alone can make adequate provision. It purports to say that just as the natural routes of travel are the means of contact and communication between different nations and countries, similarly in the spiritual realm there is need for teachings which should satisfy the spiritual needs of man not only for a specified time or a particular group of men but for different times and for men of diverse natures and temperaments to help them to rise from one stage to another in their spiritual development. These stages constitute landmarks in man’s spiritual development and are marked by the appearance of Prophets. Man can hardly foresee what mental changes the human race is likely to develop in the course of the next few centuries, much less is it possible for him to devise a code which should serve him as a safe guide when these changes occur. Such a code of laws can be provided by God alone. This is why we observe in the history of human philosophy and science the phenomenon of alternate progression and retrogression. But the history of religion reveals the important fact that spiritual teachings know no retrogression but only undergo a continuous process of progressive evolution.
The verse throws light on yet another scientific truth. Geology has established the fact that mountains have, to a great extent, secured the earth against earthquakes. Earthquakes were very frequent before mountains were created. To this great scientific truth the words ان تمید بکم (lest it quake with you) refer. Taking these words in the sense 'that it may go round with you', the verse would mean that God has made on the earth firm mountains, that it may go round with you. This shows that mountains are a help to the earth in moving steadily on its axis. The expression 'going round' also denotes continuation and permanence, and according to this meaning the sentence 'that it may go round with you' would mean that men will continue to live so long as the earth continues to move. The Quran spoke of the earth as 'moving round' long before it was discovered that it was not stationary. Similarly, the truth that mountains formed a great safeguard against earthquakes was first revealed to the world by the Quran at a time when it was unknown even to great scientists.
The verse also points to another geographical truth. Streams and rivers were followed by great pathways in the past, for the latter have much to do with the former. A study of the means of communications in the past shows that originally people settled along the banks of rivers, where they could easily get their necessaries of life. Thus rivers and streams were followed by tracks and ways which men used for their journeys. Moreover, rivers, streams and canals are themselves "ways", for they form the easiest and cheapest way of transporting commodities from one place to another. (close)
وَ عَلٰمٰتٍ ؕ وَ بِالنَّجۡمِ ہُمۡ یَہۡتَدُوۡنَ ﴿۱۷﴾
وَعَلَٰمَٰتٖۚ وَبِٱلنَّجۡمِ هُمۡ يَهۡتَدُونَ
1539. The verse signifies that had the earth been of uniform surface and there had been no ups and downs, no valleys, mountains or rivers, it would have been almost impossible for men to find their way from one place to another. The distinctive physical features of the earth’s surface help men to know their way. Today these landmarks have proved to be of great help in air navigation. The stars also help wayfarers to find their way on land and sea. (close)
علاماة (other marks) being the object of the verb القی (He has placed) in the preceding verse, the present verse means to say that had the surface of the earth presented a uniform surface and had there been no ups and downs, no valleys, mountains or rivers, it would have become almost impossible for men to find their way from one place to another. The distinctive physical features of the earth’s surface help men to know their way. Today these landmarks have proved to be of great help in air navigation. The stars also help wayfarers to find their way on land and sea.
The same is the case with the spiritual journey of man. Different parts of this journey present different characteristics which enable the spiritual wayfarer to know how much distance he has traversed in his journey towards his Eternal Abode and how much of it remains. On his way to the Eternal Abode the Prophets serve as guiding stars for him. Being guided and led by them he safely marches on to his spiritual goal. And, like the stars, the Prophets also are inter-related. Just as the knowledge of the position of one star enables the wayfarer to know the position of another, similarly one Prophet foretells the advent of the Prophet who is to come after him and so on. Thus belief in one Prophet helps man to know and recognize other Prophets and to advance in faith. Moses spoke of the Prophets who were to come after him and the latter foretold the advent of those who in turn were to follow them. Thus all the Prophets guided men to the Holy Prophet of Islam, the Sun and Centre of the spiritual firmament. This is why it is incumbent upon Muslims to believe in them all. (close)
اَفَمَنۡ یَّخۡلُقُ کَمَنۡ لَّا یَخۡلُقُ ؕ اَفَلَا تَذَکَّرُوۡنَ ﴿۱۸﴾
أَفَمَن يَخۡلُقُ كَمَن لَّا يَخۡلُقُۚ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ
To a superficial observer the form of the question embodied in this verse would seem to be rather queer. If a comparison of the relative powers of God and the pseudo-gods was intended by the question, the natural form would have been "Is he who does not create like Him Who creates"? But the fact is that the question does not refer to the relative powers of the True God and the false gods. It only continues the theme of the preceding verses in the present verse, viz. the need for Divine revelation. The pseudo-gods have the power to bestow on man neither material nor spiritual blessings. They can reveal no guidance. But the True God Who creates and bestows all physical and spiritual blessings on man certainly cannot be like the false gods of the idolaters who are quite unable to give any spiritual guidance. Being Almighty the True God can and will continue to reveal guidance to man. This sense of the verse is corroborated by the next verse. This is the significance of the comparison contained in this verse. (close)