Allah mentions the mighty signs and immense blessings to be found in His subjection of night and day, which follow one another; the sun and moon, which revolve; the stars, both fixed and moving through the skies, offering light by which people may find their way in the darkness. Each of (these heavenly bodies) travels in its own orbit, which Allah has ordained for it, and travels in the manner prescribed for it, without deviating in any way. All of them are under His subjugation, His control and His decree, as Allah says:
(Indeed, your Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days, and then He rose (Istawa) over the Throne. He brings the night as a cover over the day, seeking it rapidly, and (He created) the sun, the moon, the stars (all) subjected to His command. Surely, His is the creation and commandment. Blessed is Allah, the Lord of all that exists!) (7:54) Thus Allah says;
(Surely, in this are proofs for people who understand.) meaning, they are indications of His immense power and might, for those who think about Allah and understand His signs.
(And whatsoever He has created of varying colors on the earth for you. ) When Allah points out the features of the skies, He also points out the wondrous things that He has created on earth, the variety of its animals, minerals, plants and inanimate features, all having different colors and shapes, benefits and qualities.
(Verily, in this is a sign for people who reflect.) meaning (those who remember) the blessings of Allah and give thanks to Him for them.
(14. And He it is Who subjected the sea (to you), that you may eat from the fresh tender meat, and that you bring forth out of it ornaments to wear. And you see the ships plowing through it, that you may seek from His bounty and that you may perhaps be grateful.) (15. And He has driven firm standing mountains into the earth, lest it should shake with you; and rivers and roads, that you may guide yourselves. (16. And (by the) landmarks; and by the stars, they guide themselves.) (17. Is then He Who creates the same as one who creates, not Will you not then reflect) (18. And if you would try to count the favors of Allah, you would never be able to count them. Truly, Allah is Forgiving, Most Merciful.)
Allah tells us how He has subjected the seas, with their waves lapping the shores, and how He blesses His servants by subjecting the seas for them so that they may travel on them, and by putting fish and whales in them, by making their flesh permissible to eat - whether they are caught alive or dead - at all times, including when people are in a state of Ihram. He has created pearls and precious jewels in the oceans, and made it easy for His servants to recover ornaments that they can wear from the ocean floor. He made the sea such that it carries the ships which plow through it. He is the One Who taught mankind to make ships, which is the inheritance of their forefather Nuh. He was the first one to travel by ship, he was taught how to make them, then people took this knowledge from him and passed it down from generation to generation through the centuries, so that they could travel from country to country and from place to place, bringing goods from here to there and from there to here. Thus Allah says:
(that you may seek from His bounty and that you may perhaps be grateful.) - for His bounty and blessings. Then Allah mentions the earth and how He placed in it mountains standing firm, which make it stable and keep it from shaking in such a manner that the creatures dwelling on it would not be able to live. Hence Allah says,
(And the mountains He has fixed firmly.) (79: 32).
(and rivers and roads) meaning He has made rivers which flow from one place to another, bringing provision for His servants. The rivers arise in one place, and bring provision to people living in another place. They flow through lands and fields and wildernesses, through mountains and hills, until they reach the land whose people they are meant to benefit. They meander across the land, left and right, north and south, east and west - rivers great and small - flowing sometimes and ceasing sometimes, flowing from their sources to the places where the water gathers, flowing rapidly or moving slowly, as decreed by Allah. There is no god besides Him and no Lord except Him. He also made roads or routes along which people travel from one land or city to another, and He even made gaps in the mountains so that there would be routes between them, as He says:
(And We placed broad highways for them to pass through.) (21:31)
(And landmarks) meaning, signs like great mountains and small hills, and so on, things that land and sea travelers use to find their way if they get lost.
(and by the stars (during the night), they (mankind) guide themselves.) meaning, in the darkness of the night. This was the opinion of Ibn `Abbas.
Then Allah tells us of His greatness, and that worship should be directed to Him alone, not to any of the idols which do not create but are rather themselves created. Thus He says
(Is then He, Who creates, the same as one who does not create Will you not then reflect)(16:17). Then He shows His servants some of the many blessings He granted for them, and the many kinds of things that He has done for them. He says;
(And if you would try to count the favors of Allah, you would never be able to count them. Truly, Allah is Forgiving, Most Merciful.) (16:18) meaning that He pardons and forgives them. If He were to ask you to thank Him for all of His blessings, you would not be able to do so, and if He were to command you to do so, you would be incapable of it. If He punishes you, He is never unjust in His punishment, but He is Forgiving and Most Merciful, He forgives much and rewards for little. Ibn Jarir said: "It means that Allah is Forgiving when you fail to thank Him properly, if you repent and turn to Him in obedience, and strive to do that which pleases Him. He is Merciful to you and does not punish you if you turn to Him and repent.''
(19. And Allah knows what you conceal and what you reveal.) (20. Those whom they invoke besides Allah have not created anything, but are themselves created.) (21. (They are) dead, not alive; and they do not know when they will be resurrected.) Allah tells us that He knows what is hidden in people's hearts as well as what is apparent. He will reward or punish everyone for their deeds on the Day of Resurrection. If their deeds are good then they will be rewarded, and if their deeds are evil, then they will be punished.
Then Allah tells us that the idols which people call on instead of Him cannot create anything, they are themselves created, as Al-Khalil (Ibrahim) said:
("Do you worship that which you (yourselves) carve While Allah has created you and what you make!'') (37:96).
((They are) dead, not alive) means, they are inanimate and lifeless, they do not hear, see, or think.
(and they know not when they will be resurrected.) meaning, they do not know when the Hour will come, so how can anyone hope for any benefit or reward from these idols They should hope for it from the One Who knows all things and is the Creator of all things.
(22. Your god is one God. But for those who believe not in the Hereafter, their hearts are in denial, and they are proud.) (23. Certainly, Allah knows what they conceal and what they reveal. Truly, He does not like the proud.)
Allah tells us that there is none to be worshipped besides Him, the One, the Unique, the Lone, the Self-Sufficient. He tells us that the hearts of the disbelievers deny that and are astonished by that:
("Has he made the gods (all) into One God! Verily, this is a curious thing!'') (38:5).
(And when Allah alone is mentioned, the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter are filled with disgust, and when those besides Him are mentioned, behold, they rejoice!) (39:45).
(and they are proud) meaning they are too proud to worship Allah, and their hearts reject the idea of singling Him out, as Allah says:
(Verily! Those who scorn My worship they will surely enter Hell in humiliation!) (40:60) So here, Allah says;
(Certainly), meaning truly,
(Allah knows what they conceal and what they reveal.) meaning He will requite them for that in full.
(Truly, He does not like the proud.)
(24. And when it is said to them: "What is it that your Lord has revealed'' They say: "Tales of the men of old!'') (25. They will bear their own burdens in full on the Day of Resurrection, and also the burdens of those whom they misled without knowledge. Evil indeed is that which they shall bear!)
Allah informs us that when it is said to those liars,
("What is it that your Lord has revealed'' They say,) not wanting to answer,
("Tales of the men of old!'') meaning nothing is revealed to him, what he is reciting to us is just tales of the men of old, taken from the previous Books. As Allah says,
(And they say: "Tales of the ancients, which he has written down, and they are dictated to him morning and afternoon.'') (25:5) i.e., they tell lies against the Messenger and say things contradicting one another, but all of it is false, as Allah says,
(Look at the parables they make of you, so they have gone astray, and they are not able to find the right way.)(17:48) Once they have gone beyond the bounds of the truth, whatever they say will be in error. They used to say that he (the Prophet ) was a sorcerer, a poet, a soothsayer, or a madman, then they settled on an idea proposed by their leader, an individual known as Al-Walid bin Al-Mughirah Al-Makhzumi, when:
(He thought, and plotted. So let him be cursed, how he plotted! And once more let him be cursed, how he plotted! Then he thought. Then he frowned and he looked in a bad tempered way; then he turned back, and was proud. Then he said: "This is nothing but the magic of old.'') (74:18-24) meaning something that had been transmitted and passed down. So they dispersed having agreed on this opinion, may Allah punish them.
(They will bear their own burdens in full on the Day of Resurrection, and also of the burdens of those whom they misled without knowledge.) meaning, `We decreed that they would say that, so they will carry the burden of their own sins and some of the burden of those who followed them and agreed with them,' i.e., they will be held guilty not only for going astray themselves, but also for tempting others and having them follow them. As it says in a Hadith:
(Whoever invites people to guidance, he will receive a reward like that of those who follow him, without diminishing their reward in the least. And whoever invites people to misguidance, he will bear a burden of sin like that of those who follow him, without diminishing their burden in the least.) Allah says;
(They shall bear their own loads, and other loads besides their own; and they shall be questioned about their false allegations on the Day of Resurrection.) (29:13) Al-`Awfi reported from Ibn `Abbas that it is like the Ayah:
(That they may bear their own burdens in full on the Day of Resurrection, and also of the burdens of those whom they misled without knowledge.) (16:25) Allah says,
(They shall bear their own loads, and other loads besides their own) (29:13). Mujahid said: "They will bear the burden of their own sins, and they will bear the sins of those who obeyed them, but that will not lessen the punishment of those who obeyed them at all.''
(26. Those before them indeed plotted, but Allah struck at the foundation of their building, the roof fell down upon them from above them, and the torment overtook them from directions they did not perceive.) (27. Then, on the Day of Resurrection, He will disgrace them and will say: "Where are My (so-called) partners, those over which you caused so much discord'' Those who have been given the knowledge will say: "Indeed it is a Day of disgrace and misery for the disbelievers.'')