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Commentary of Surat ur-Rahman on advent of Zaman - Versese 1-10

1 The Beneficent God,

2 Taught the Qur'an.

3 He created man,

4 Taught him the clear evidence.

Ar-Rahman (the Merciful) is one of the key attri­butes of Allah. Every attribute is an aya a sign indicating the oneness of Allah. Everything in creation is permeated with and connected to Him.

In order for the rahma (mercy) of the Rahman to be understood, appreciated and experienced, knowledge has been given to man. One cannot understand something unless it is experienced. The most valuable knowledge in life's journey is the knowledge of the Qur'an. Man's link to God is through the Qur'an, through the Book, through the knowledge that will enable him to see the all-encompassing mercy. The meaning of the hadith (tradition) that Muhammad, salla-llahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam (peace and blessings be upon him and his family), was created before the creation of Adam, is that the light of the path existed before Adam. After the Qur'an, man, bani Adam was created. So knowledge - the light of Islam, the light of the Qur'an - existed before khalaqa-i- insan (He created man).

The Creator contains the knowledge of what He will create. The highest creation is the Muhammadi being, the perfect being. The knowl­edge of this final product, the ultimate being, the khalifa (deputy) of Allah, was with the one and only Knower, with the Alim. The light of Muhammad was there when Adam was still between water and clay. The purpose of creation was to create the per­fect man, the last of the prophets, the one after whom nothing new could be added.

Every aspect of the Creation has the label of the Creator on it. Creation is in His name. By His decree His rahma is manifested as the knowledge of the Qur'an. His rahma then becomes the creational act - khalaqa-l- insan - making wider ripples through the `evidence'. Bayan is the clear evidence which emanates from what is most subtle, penetrating the gross physical manifestations towards which rnan orients his perception. This is the knowledge of witnessing. Every­thing that is seen bears witness to the cause of its creation and to its being subject to the decree of the Beneficent.

The knowledge of the Qur'an is the knowledge of tawhid (divine unity), In this instance, rahma may also mean the tawhid of the Wahid, the One. Access to Him is through the knowledge of His decree, which is the Book. Creation took place according to the decree. The bayan is an outcome of the nature of that creation.

Man seeks evidence for everything. He is always seeking knowledge. He seeks to know the cause, effect and proof of things. Nothing is haphazard, everything- leaves its trace. Man is the trace of the Creator; he is His evidence. Everything in His existence is an ayatu-llah (sign of Allah). If man knows himself, then he has known the meaning of guardianship or lordship, rububiyya. Man arafa nafsahu fa-qad arafa rabbahu. "He who knows himself has known his Lord" (hadith)

5 The sun and the moon follow a reckoning.

6 And the herbs and the trees adore (Him).

The physical vehicle of man depends upon the mixture of minerals, proteins and all other elements subtly interconnected with the entire cosmic balance. Life cannot exist without the sun. When the sun begins to disappear, life will begin to cease in its different forms, and after a short period of time will end totally. The sun is self-effulgent while the moon is a faithful reflector, though it too has its influence over life.

As Reality is self-evident, so is Allah self-evident. Reality's reflector is the Prophet, salla-llahu `alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, Both the sun and the moon have a beginning and an end, like the two sides of a coin. The cosmic journey had its start and will have its end. But beginning and ending have one nature - the coin is one coin. The subject is one subject but there are two aspects to it, facing each other. This is the condition of the journey in this universe; it is also the condition of the self-generating light and its reflection.

"And the herbs and the trees adore (Him)." Najm means herbs or grasses, and also means a star. Najama is to appear, to become clear, evident. `Ilmu-n-nujim is the science of astrology, of predicting the future. Najjam is an astrologer, Shajar is a plant that has a saq, a trunk or stem. The plants themselves do sajda ( prostration). All of creation does sajda - those that have a visible body supporting them and those that are creeper-like; those that have the characteristic of uprightness and those that do not; those who do iqama, who stand up acknowledging their Creator, and those who crawl from one misery to another. Whether an entity looks dependent and is striving upwards like the shajar (tree), or is afloat like the najm (star), appearing independent, it is in prostration.

Sajada also means to adore. Entities adore, prostrate, and are under the control of the one Reality. It makes no difference whether they are celestial entities or terrestrial entities, they are all under the haymana of Allah (guardianship or control). They are under the control of the one and only Controller - they have no option but to be in sujud (prostration).

7 And the heaven, He raised it high, and He set up the balance,

As part of creation the heavens are uplifted. The cosmos is expanded and the balance of its destiny has been set by al-mizan (the balance). The entire cosmic creation is based on the balancing forces that hold it together, keeping it, as well as one's inner loftiness and spirit, in dynamic flux.

Imam Husayn, alayhi-s-salam, was asked about ar-Rahman in the first aya of this sura , He said, "The Giver of the ruh ( soul, spirit) will also give the raha (rest and comfort)." One will be given according to the extent to which he lifts him­ self up through the balance of shari`a and haqiqa, the outward path and the inner truth. Everything is in balance. Balance does not only mean justice, it also means that every aspect of this creation, heavenly or otherwise, affects its opposite.

Transgression is against both oneself and everyone else, because there is no otherness. If someone unjustly destroys another human being, he symbolically destroys the entire creation, which includes himself. Every human being contains the meaning of everything. To reestablish the balance, the killer himself has to be destroyed. From the point of view of haqiqa, killing one thing is killing everything. As upholders of shari'a, men must act accordingly: the killer's punishment is the same as his crime.

Because he has destroyed himself in the mean­ing sense, so too must he be destroyed in the physical sense.

If love is destroyed in the meaning sense, then one had better destroy it in the physical sense and part company. If there is no love or respect between two people, it will be reflected: the inner will emerge in the outer.

Man cannot take something from one side of a balance without the other side being imbalanced. It may be so subtle that he does not see it, but nothing goes unheeded by Allah. Smallness, as far as the balancing act in creation is concerned, is as significant as bigness. Look at the size of the atom bomb compared to the destruction that it does. What is the size of love? Man is not the judge or the balancer, Allah is. He measures everything in His judgement. What is the quality of a ruh? Is someone's ruh better than someone else's?

Man expects equity which means that, potentially, everyone has the same base. He does not accept someone being placed higher than himself. There is equity but there is no equality. One fellow spends his life polishing his heart, doing good deeds, while another does not. In using his aql (faculty of reason) man can understand that equality does not exist.

For example, every finger is different from every other finger. They are not equal, but there is equity among them in that they can perform similar functions. Each finger can potentially have the same effect, though each is unique. If someone builds a house while you spend your time listening to the birds, in the end you will not have a house and he will not be an expert in bird calls. Having a house is not equal to being able to distinguish bird calls, they are different. But you will accept this inequality because you have enjoyed listening to the birds. There is no equality here, but there is equity.

Spiritually, everyone has the same possibility of dying into Reality, of knowing Allah. How can anyone say that his heart is better than someone else's? There is no equality because not every potential will be realized. Not everyone will be in complete abandonment; not every­one will be pure of heart.

Man's potential is restricted within the bounds of certain circum­stances. For example, a person may have only one leg as the result of an accident or birth defect. Within these bounds, however, there is no restriction in the degree to which one may abandon, the degree to which one may believe, the degree to which one may live in ihsan (state of doing good deeds). During life's journey one's intentions may be increasingly purified. If this were not the case where would the rahma of Allah be? If there is jabr (predestined, inescapable decree of fate), there is no rahma. The rahma of Allah is the freedom of man's spiritual progress by his abandonment.

In this life people are either on higher or lower spiritual and material planes. This is the outcome of the interaction of man's will with the creational laws and realities, some of which he may never overcome. Someone who has lost a leg cannot grow another one. It is a limitation, but which is more important, a physical limitation or a spiritual limitation?

Through knowledge of the Book of creation, through the Qur'an, the Rahman has given man the possibility of rising towards Allah to the ultimate degree. Reaching this goal is by means of avoiding other-than­ Allah. That is the freedom man has, otherwise he is limited. Everyone has a limitation, every prophet has a limitation, every seeker has a limitation. Where man is not limited is in the degree to which he can depend on Allah, abandon into Allah, and have no thought except of Allah and no expectation than of Allah. To unify one's destiny with Allah's will - that is freedom.

Man will sometimes accept situations that do not allow him the possibility of absolute taqwa (fearful awareness), of being a true khalifa (representative) of Allah, because that is the mark of his humanity. It is the Creator's mark upon man. He therefore has to strive. The path is clear. It is the path of Islam based on the knowledge of the Qur'an, which is the manifestation of Allah's rahma.

8 That you may not exceed in the measure.

9 And keep up the balance with equity and do not make the measure deficient.

Tagha is to overflow, to go beyond bounds. Taghiya is a despot or tyrant. Tyranny is gross. There are many subtler forms of transgression which are more difficult to discern and which one must get rid of so that one does not cut across the laws of Reality. Allah's way is the perfect mizan (balance), free of transgression.

Aqimu is from aqama, to establish, keep in order, make right. Wazn is weight or the importance given to things. Qist is allotment, a portion of what is due, justice, equity. Allah says that He has established the balance. As the representative of Reality, man has to be faithful to Allah, Who has established the perfect balance.

"And do not make the measure deficient." Khasara is to lose. If man loses the balance he has lost himself because he has allowed the lower self to act according to its orientation of imbalance and kufr (denial). It is denial of the Rahman. Suddenly he finds that creation has toppled him over, leaving him no access to the purpose of creation, which is the knowledge of Qur'an.

One of the Imams said: "When a man is in darkness, the Qur'an becomes to him like a dark tomb or derelict house: it gives him no nourishment or support." This is the case with the majority of mankind; they have lost the mizan. Al-Mizan is also the name of the Qur'an.

If man insures that he does not upset what is already in balance, then he is unlikely to do himself injustice. He is then closer to being a living Qur'an. Allah is telling man to give value to balance. Man should be concerned, conscientious, aware and in dhikr (remembrance). Does he know what he is doing and why? Does he know his own inten­tion? Are his intention and action unified? Man should question and follow his heart and `aql as one path.

The Prophet, salla-llahu `alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, said: "Anger corrupts iman (trust, faith) as vinegar corrupts honey." Man builds things, but corrupts them because he does not give priority and impor­tance to patience. What weight does man give to the meaning of "and do not make the measure deficient?" The balance is that which is absolutely right. Man is moving along the path from the womb to the tomb. Balance is about recognizing that one is the barzakh (interspace). One is in this world but not of this world. Man has come only to go. The balance is being both here and with Allah, alive and yet, with every closing of the eye, willing to be under six feet of dust.

10 And the earth, He has set it for living creatures;

Adapted from the book: "The Mercy of Qur'an and the Advent of Zaman" by: "Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri"

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