In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
(1. Alif Lam-Mim Ra. These are the verses of the Book (the Qur'an), and that which has been revealed unto you from your Lord is the truth, but most men believe not.)
We talked before, in the beginning of Surat Al-Baqarah (chapter 2) about the meaning of the letters that appear in the beginnings of some chapters in the Qur'an. We stated that every Surah that starts with separate letters, affirms that the Qur'an is miraculous and is an evidence that it is a revelation from Allah, and that there is no doubt or denying in this fact. This is why Allah said next,
(These are the verses of the Book), the Qur'an, which Allah described afterwards,
(and that which has been revealed unto you), O Muhammad,
(from your Lord is the truth,) Allah said next,
(but most men believe not.) just as He said in another Ayah,
(And most of mankind will not believe even if you desire it eagerly.) (12:103) Allah declares that even after this clear, plain and unequivocal explanation (the Qur'an), most men will still not believe, due to their rebellion, stubbornness and hypocrisy.
(2. Allah is He Who raised the heavens without any pillars that you can see. Then, He rose above (Istawa) the `Arsh (Throne). He has subjected the sun and the moon, each running (its course) for a term appointed. He manages and regulates all affairs; He explains the Ayat in detail, that you may believe with certainty in the meeting with your Lord.)
Allah mentions His perfect ability and infinite authority, since it is He Who has raised the heavens without pillars by His permission and order. He, by His leave, order and power, has elevated the heavens high above the earth, distant and far away from reach. The heaven nearest to the present world encompasses the earth from all directions, and is also high above it from every direction. The distance between the first heaven and the earth is five hundred years from every direction, and its thickness is also five hundred years. The second heaven surrounds the first heaven from every direction, encompassing everything that the latter carries, with a thickness also of five hundred years and a distance between them of five hundred years. The same is also true about the third, the fourth, the fifth, the sixth and the seventh heavens. Allah said,
(It is Allah who has created seven heavens and of the earth the like thereof.) (65:12) Allah said next,
(...without any pillars that you can see.) meaning, `there are pillars, but you cannot see them,' according to Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, and several other scholars. Iyas bin Mu`awiyah said, "The heaven is like a dome over the earth,'' meaning, without pillars. Similar was reported from Qatadah, and this meaning is better for this part of the Ayah, especially since Allah said in another Ayah,
(He withholds the heaven from falling on the earth except by His permission. ) (22:65) Therefore, Allah's statement,
(..that you can see), affirms that there are no pillars. Rather, the heaven is elevated (above the earth) without pillars, as you see. This meaning best affirms Allah's ability and power.
Allah said next,
(Then, He rose above (Istawa) the Throne.) We explained the meaning of the Istawa' in Surat Al-A`raf (7:54), and stated that it should be accepted as it is without altering, equating, annulling its meaning, or attempts to explain its true nature. Allah is glorified and praised from all that they attribute to Him.
(He has subjected the sun and the moon, each running (its course) for a term appointed.) It was said that the sun and the moon continue their course until they cease doing so upon the commencement of the Final Hour, as Allah stated,
(And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term (appointed).) (36:38) It was also said that the meaning is: until they settle under the Throne of Allah after passing the other side of the earth. So when they, and the rest of the planetary bodies reach there, they are at the furthest distance from the Throne. Because according to the correct view, which the texts prove, it is shaped like a domb, under which is all of the creation. It is not circular like the celestial bodies, because it has pillars by which it is carried. This fact is clear to those who correctly understand the Ayat and authentic Hadiths. All the (praise is due to) Allah and all the favors are from Him. Allah mentioned the sun and the moon here because they are among the brightest seven heavenly objects. Therefore, if Allah subjected these to His power, then it is clear that He has also subjected all other heavenly objects. Allah said in other Ayat,
(Prostrate yourselves not to the sun nor to the moon, but prostrate yourselves to Allah Who created them, if you (really) worship Him.) (41:37) and,
(And (He created) the sun, the moon, the stars subjected to His command. Surely, His is the creation and commandment. Blessed is Allah, the Lord of all that exists!) (7:54) Allah's statement next,
(He explains the Ayat in detail, that you may believe with certainty in the Meeting with your Lord.) means, He explains the signs and clear evidences that testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Him. These evidences prove that He will resurrect creation if He wills, just as He started it.
(3. And it is He Who spread out the earth, and placed therein firm mountains and rivers and of every kind of fruit He made Zawjayn Ithnayn (two in pairs). He brings the night as a cover over the day. Verily, in these things, there are Ayat (signs) for people who reflect. ) (4. And in the earth are neighboring tracts, and gardens of vines, and green crops (fields), and date palms, growing into two or three from a single stem root, or otherwise, watered with the same water; yet some of them We make more excellent than others to eat. Verily, in these things there are Ayat (signs) for the people who understand.)
After Allah mentioned the higher worlds, He started asserting His power, wisdom and control over the lower parts of the world. Allah said,
(And it is He Who spread out the earth) made it spacious in length and width. Allah has placed on the earth firm mountains and made rivers, springs and water streams run through it, so that the various kinds of fruits and plants of every color, shape, taste and scent are watered with this water,
(and of every kind of fruit He made Zawjayn Ithnayn.), two types from every kind of fruit,
(He brings the night as a cover over the day.) Allah made the day and night pursue each other, when one is about to depart, the other overcomes it, and vice versa. Allah controls time just as He controls space and matter,
(Verily, in these things, there are Ayat for people who reflect.) who reflect on Allah's signs and the evidences of His wisdom. Allah said,
(And in the earth are neighboring tracts,) Meaning, next to each other, some of them are fertile and produce what benefits people, while others are dead, salty and do not produce anything. This meaning was collected from Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Ad-Dahhak and several others. This also covers the various colors and types of diverse areas on the earth; some red, some white, or yellow, or black, some are stony, or flat, or sandy, or thick, or thin, all made to neighbor each other while preserving their own qualities. All this indicates the existence of the Creator Who does what He wills, there is no deity or lord except Him. Allah said next,
(and gardens of vines, and green crops (fields), and date palms...) Allah's statement, next,
(Sinwanun wa (or) Ghayru Sinwan.) `Sinwan' means, growing into two or three from a single stem, such as figs, pomegranate and dates. `Ghayru Sinwan' means, having one stem for every tree, as is the case with most plants. From this meaning, the paternal uncle is called one's `Sinw' of his father. There is an authentic Hadith that states that the Messenger of Allah said to `Umar bin Al-Khattab,
(Do you not know that man's paternal uncle is the Sinw of his father) Allah said next,
(watered with the same water; yet some of them We make more excellent than others to eat.) Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet commented on Allah's statement,
(yet some of them We make more excellent than others to eat.)
(The Dagal, the Persian, the sweet, the bitter...'') At-Tirmidhi collected this Hadith and said, "Hasan Gharib.'' Therefore, there are differences between plants and fruits with regards to shape, color, taste, scent, blossoms and the shape of their leaves. There are plants that are very sweet or sour, bitter or mild, fresh; some plants have a combination of these attributes, and the taste then changes and becomes another taste, by Allah's will. There is also some that are yellow in color, or red, or white, or black, or blue, and the same can be said about their flowers; and all these variances and complex diversities are watered by the same water. Surely, in this there are signs for those who have sound reasoning, and surely, all this indicates the existence of the Creator Who does what He wills and Whose power made distinctions between various things and created them as He wills. So Allah said,
(Verily, in these things there are Ayat for the people who understand.)
(5. And if you wonder, then wondrous is their saying: "When we are dust, shall we indeed then be (raised) in a new creation'' They are those who disbelieved in their Lord! They are those who will have iron chains linking their hands to their necks. They will be dwellers of the Fire to abide therein forever.)