An Example of Commentary on the Qur'an with the Aid of the Qur'an
- :Allamah Tabatabai
On four occasions in the Qur'an God says, "Allah is the creator of all beings," XXXIX: 62. The meaning is clear on each occasion; God is stating that everything man may possibly imagine in the world has been created by him and is sustained by Him. However, one should not ignore the fact that in hundreds of verses the Qur'an affirms the existence of cause and effect and attributes the action of every doer to the immediate cause.
Thus the effect of the burning of fire is a direct result of the fire itself, the growing of plants, the action of the plants, the falling rain caused by the state of the sky; the actions which man chooses to undertake are, according to the Qur'an, the result (and consequent responsibility) of man. We may also say that the doer of any action is the one responsible for that action, but God is the giver of existence, the Creator of deeds and the owner of deeds. Keeping in mind this general relationship between the Creator and His creation, we may read in chapter XXXII: 7 "Who made all things beautiful and good which we created.
" When we join this verse to the previous one we see that beauty and goodness necessarily accompany His creation and so anything, which has existence in the cosmos, is also good and beautiful. We should not forget, however, that in many verses, the Qur'an affirms the existence of good and its opposite, evil, useful things and harmful things, beauty and ugliness; and it enumerates many bad actions, wrong doers and bad events These are all, however, negative aspects of the human character and are mentioned as a measure of man; they are relative and not intended as proof that the creation of man basically bad.
For example, the snake or the serpent harmful but only to man and animals who suffer the effects its sting; to stones and earth it is harmless. Bitter taste ar foul smell is unpleasant, but only to the human sense of task and smell, not to all animals. Certain behaviour may at time~ appear wrong but this is often the result of observing human behaviour in relation to one particular society of men; i another society or circumstance it may not be considered wrong.
Indeed, if we dispense for a moment with those negati~ aspects of man's character which are secondary or relative I the miracle and perfection of His creation, we witness only it beautiful symmetry and proportion of the cosmos in ii entirety and the amazing beneficence of the Creator.
Word is not able to describe this beauty since they themselves ai part of this world of beauty. In reality the above-mentioned verses awake man to a awareness of the relative nature of beauty and ugliness; the invite him to a comprehension of absolute beauty and prepaid him for an understanding of creation as a whole. In fact, their are Qur'anic verses which explain or comment upon it different aspects of creation in the universe, either as isolate individual examples or as groupings and classes.
Each creation, whether a single manifestation or joined to a large~ structure and patterning, is a sign and indication of Which ever way we regard creation, it all points to existence of God. This way of understanding or seeing the universe and its signs, leads to an appreciation of the stupendous beauty which encircles the whole world and allows us to realize that it is H beauty, emanating from the domain of His power, and made visible in the signs of the skies and the earth. Each aspect the cosmos lends beauty and dimension to everything surrounding it, yet at the same time it is insignificant in relation to the whole.
The Qur'an affirms in other verses that perfection and beauty manifest himself from the domain of his power thus He says in chapter XL: 65 "He is the Living One. There is god save Him," and in 11:165 ". power belongs completely God," and in IV:l39, "Truly all power belongs to God," and "I am the knower, the All-Powerful " On another occasion we read "And He is the Hearer, the Seer," and in XX: eight, "Allah! There is no god save Him. His are the most beau4ful names. " We realize from these verses that the beauty, which manifests itself in the visible world, has its reality in the domain of His power and grandeur. All other beauty, all other power, is illusory or metaphorical of His power. In affirmation of this explanation, the Qur'an states that the beauty and perfection created by man is limited and temporal but that of God boundless and eternal. God emphasizes that all creation is from Him and under His power. In chapter LIV: 49, "Truly we have created everything by measure" and in the chapter XV: 21, "And there is not a thing with us but there are stores of it. And we do not send it down except in appointed measure.
" Careful observation reveals that the Book itself declares its own perfection and beauty, that it encompasses all aspects of creation and the Creator, and that there is no fault or shortcoming in it. Such is the perfection of the Qur'an, which itself is one of the signs of God, that it makes the reader forget himself in rapturous appreciation of its beauty.
This we read in 11:165 "Those who believe are stauncher in their love of God. " Love, of its very nature, demands the self and the giving over of the self to God. It demands the handing over of one's affairs completely to Him and allowing Him to be one's Lord: "And Allah is the protecting Friend of the believers," 111:68 This idea is also contained in 11:257, which declares, "God is the Protecting Friend of I/rose who believe. He brings them out of darkness into light," and also in VI: 122, "Is he who was dead and We have raised him to life and set for him a light in which he walks among men . . .
"Likewise, we read in LVIII: 22, "As for such, He has written faith upon their hearts and has strengthened them with a spirit from Him. " This spirit, this new life and light, is given by God to the i~~an who perceives reality and truth and who understands the path of happiness and well being in society. In another verse in LVII: 28, He explains the effect of such light: "0 you who believe! Be mindful of your duty to God and put faith in His messenger. He will give you twofold of His mercy and will appoint for you a light in which you shall walic. " Again, in another verse, He makes a commentary on "faith in the Prophet" by explaining it as submission and obedience to Him; chapter 111:31, "Say (0 Muhammad, to mankind): If you love God follow me; God will love you.
" The nature of this path is explained in chapter VII: 157, Those who follow the messenger the Prophet, who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospels (which are) with them. He will rejoin in them that which is right and forbid them that which is wrong. He will make laulul for them all good things and prohibit for them only the foul; and He will relieve them of their burden and the fitters they used to wear. Still more vividly, the path is explained in another verse, which is also a commentary on the previous verse XXX:
30, So let your purpose (0 Muhammad) for the din (of Islam) as a man by nature upright - the nature of God on which he has created man. There is no altering God's creationThat is the right way of life, but most men to not know. ."The right way of life, or din refers to the correct path for society to follow for its well-being and happiness. According to this verse, the way of Islam is also the way desired by the Creator for man.
In other words, the legislative framework given to man by God is the very framework, which is appropriate for the creature man. This divine law is in complete harmony with the nature of man, living a life of piety and obedience. God says in another verse XCI: 7-8, "And a soul and Him who perfected it. And inspired it (with conscience of) what is wrong for it and (what is) right. " The Qur'an is the only revealed book, which equates the happiness and well being of man with a pure and sincere way of life. Moreover, unlike other religions, Islam does not separate worship of God from the actual programmed of living; it establishes the word din to mean not only religion but also life in general as well, the actual day to day routine of man, both on a personal and social level.
The Qur'an establishes a programmed of living which is in accord with the functioning and the reality of the cosmos, and the Qur'an mentions many of the benefits and virtues to be expected by the man of God and the lovers of Truth, including a certainty of faith and tranquility of the heart.
Adopted from the book: "Quran per Islam" by: "Allamah sayyid Mohammad Hossein Tabatabai"
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