Rafed English

Commentary of Surat ur-Rahman on advent of Zaman - Versese 11-20

11 Therein are fruit and palms having sheathed clusters,

Allah set up the earth in order that man, who is in continuous flux and disturbance, should come to recognize his origin, to recog­nize how he has fallen from before time into fitra (innate character), and to recognize how he has come into being from non­being. As part of His mercy, he has been dropped into janna (the garden) in the same way as his forefathers were. When Adam came out from the crack of non-time, Allah told him that this garden had been given to him so that he could have maqarr (a place of stability, such as a house). Qarra the root of maqarr, means to settle. He who has settled admits to the mercy of the Creator. Everything points to the Rahman.

Life is characterized by motion and can only be experienced in time. When time stops, life stops. That is al-qiyamatu-s-saghira (the small Day of Reckoning). On that day there is no time left to change the balance of the accumulated good and bad actions. People who have come close to death through accidents and have returned, say that on the Day of Reckoning a film of one's life is played to them in a split second.

If man is to qualify for knowledge of Allah, it will be by his knowledge of the Rahman, which is attained by upholding the mizan -the Qur'an. Man's qualification for admittance to the rahma of the knowledge of the Qur'an is dependent upon his leaving himself behind when he enters the Qur'an, because the Qur'an is like the room of Allah: it is where Allah's laws and knowledge are kept. Man can only come to Allah with taqwa. He can only approach Him with abandon­ment and the right attitude, waiting to see the mercy, trusting that there is nothing other than the mercy of Allah, praying that he will see it manifest to him in the form of knowledge which can be transferred into behavior. That is the qualification; otherwise the study of the Qur'an remains "Islamic Studies." Everything goes back to Allah. Every knowledge takes man back to where it emanated from, its root and source.

Al- ard (the earth) is necessary for man and is part of the garden. Ardiyya, which means foundation or ground floor, provides man - who is in continuous turmoil biologically, physiologically, mentally and spiritually - the possibility of remem­bering the beyond-time. In the Qur'an Allah says: Alastu birabbikum; "Am I not your Lord?" By forgetting everything else, the innate, fitra, remembrance that there is only Allah will come to man. On the and man is able to recognize that all the creatures fulfill their natures and have come from One Creator.

Fakiha is fruit. Fukaha is something that is pleasant or gives amusement. Pleasures are diversions from the unde­sirable, bringing man tranquility and balance. The normal state of a person of abandonment is joy. But if a person has not totally abandoned into Allah, experiencing joy, then he seeks pleasures. They are things that make man less mentally agitated and fulfill his physical desires so that he begins to pay attention to his inner fulfillment.

The physical description of the garden is a mithal (metaphor): metaphor): the Qur'an indicates to man the meaning of the end by describing its pleasures. Man seeks fruit not because there is something spiritual about the fruit itself, but because he is made more spiritual after he has satisfied his appetite by it. His origin is spiritual, but he has exaggerated his physical and mental needs. When they are removed, he finds himself to be well. It is the state that the garden brings about that is important, not the detailed description of it; but there are details for every person's needs. ". . . and palms having sheathed clusters." The creation manifests in clusters. From the one branch come the many. Allah's mercy is abundant in every form.

Life is transient and in perpetual change and therefore unstable. How can one take man's changing moods and desires seriously? What man desires now has nothing to do with what he desired fifteen years ago. Yet he has the audacity to claim he is the same person that he was fifteen years ago. After many years his knowledge, his experiences, habits and attitudes, are all different. On the other hand, how can anyone say that he has changed if he does not recognize and admit that there is something within him that never changes? How can man get up in the morning and say that he has slept well or badly unless there is something within him that never sleeps? "Slumber does not overtake Him nor sleep." (suratu-l-Baqara: 255) How can man say he has been very angry unless there is something within him that is most compas­sionate? What man wants most earnestly is that which is forever, a!-Baqi (the Everlasting). Everyone is on that path whether he likes it or not, whether he sees it now or later.

Man has been brought to this earth to be tested as part of his tarbiya (upbringing). He is being brought up to recognize what is transient and what is not, what is permanent and what is not, what is meaningful and what is not. Whatever is of change is from his nafs (lower self). The reason man does not see the hand of Allah behind everything is that he interferes and interjects the projec­tions of his self. If he were to put himself aside, there would only be the one and only Reality.

The fall from the state of the garden came about because of the rise of consciousness - because Adam questioned. If man desires to be in the garden he should not question, but he should make use of his `aql. As a result, he will receive answers to his questions. When man enters the garden in this life he does not care for the garden of the next because he has tasted it already. The desire for the garden falls from his heart. Then there is no desire except the desire to see the face of Allah in every direction towards which he turns.

12 And the grain with (its) husk and fragrance.

13 Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?

Big things come from little things. Habb is a seed. The literal meaning of habb is the seed that comes from grasses. There are many different types of vegetation and their meanings are linked to the nourishment which they provide. The living, sentient creatures and the vegetable kingdom are interdependent. The highest creature, man, depends on those that are lower because he originates from dust. Yet, he loves the higher because of its subtlety. There is something in him that always makes him love subtler meaning. The Prophet, salla-llahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, loved prayer, perfume and women. He loved what is most subtle, the prayer, as well as what is more gross and phys­ical, the companionship of women. Once man's physical needs are fulfilled, he seeks higher satisfaction in meanings. If man is fortunate, he reaches physical fulfillment, which then leads him to question mean­ings. Most people at the point of death have only achieved small, short-term, physical goals which are empty of meanings.

Wherever man looks there is the sign of the Rahman, even in what man considers to be an affliction. All events occur according to the laws that govern existence which are from the Law-Giver. Man may not like an event, but that is because of himself. What man wants will not necessarily happen, but what Allah wants will happen. If what man wants is what Allah wants, then there is perfect harmony; then he is saved. If there is disharmony, then all that man can do is to be in istighfar ( asking for forgiveness), because he has acted incongruously with Allah's laws.

Everything man considers to be a sign is actually a double sign. The fact that it was there and yet remained undiscerned by him is a sign that he was asleep. Whatever a man experiences that leads him to a new understanding that was already within him but not perceived, is because he did not have the requisite knowledge and wisdom to per­ceive it. Suppose someone did not know the meaning of fear until he was twenty-three, when he fell down a crevice. The meaning of fear was in his being, but he had not yet experienced it. You may not have experienced injustice, but the injustice of man has existed since the creation of Adam. With man came his injustice, which the mala'ika (angels) were afraid would corrupt the earth. Whatever you experience, feel or think, that is your biography; it is of no interest to anybody else because it is common to all of mankind. The seeker is only interested in Allah, the Real.

Whatever a man now understands, other people have understood before him. Whatever he now perceives has been perceived by others before him, though every man will contend that he is the first to have perceived it. He follows what Iblis ( satan) said: "I am better than them." It is the rise of the ego and the fall of man.

14 He created man from dry clay like earthen vessels,

15 And He created the jinn of a flame of smokeless fire.

16 Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?

Man is created from hard clay, salsal. His existential situation is based on a firm structure. Man's firmness is an echo of his subtlety. His real nourishment is of a most subtle nature. The subtlest of nourishments turns the heart when it is open, and not in desire or depression. The more open man's heart is, the more it can express that openness - as long as it is in a firm and solid container. The greater the value of a thing, the harder and the more secure its shell.

The double meaning of the signs denotes duality. Everything in existence has its mirror image. For ins (, man) there is jinn ( unseen beings). Man is the visible creature of the two, Uns means intimacy, solace, companionship. Nasiya is also related to ins, and means to forget. Nisa' (women) from the same root, are those who make men forget Allah. The meaning of nisa' is related to uns, because women do give solace.

Jinn are entities which do not manifest in a physically solid state. They are created from smokeless fire because smoke is a condensation of matter and as such has density. Jinn have their bounds in the same way as ins have theirs. Thus, there is an interface between jinn and man.

The jinn are hidden, invisible. The word jinn is related to janna, that which is hidden, the garden whose foliage is so dense that one cannot see the ground. jinn are created of smokeless fire, The subtle source of both jinn and ins is light, nur "Allah is the light of the heavens and earth," (suratu-n-Nur: 35). As light descends, as it becomes physicalized or as it becomes possible for it to be manifest or reflected, it takes the form of jinn and ins.

Whatever one looks at is a sign, whether jinn or ins, How can man deny these bounties? Every sign is a bounty, every sign is a provision. What man now seeks is the confidence of knowing that at all times the Rahm6n is behind each reflection in creation. It is said that if a Muslim reads suratu-r-Rahman every day at fajr (daybreak), he will never be afflicted or, if he is afflicted in the eyes of others, he himself will only see the rahma of the Rahman, The reader becomes what is read: if he truly reads then he will have recognized what he has read.

Wherever one turns, there is the generosity and ni'ma (blessing) of Allah. But man takes it for granted and does not recognize that all is from Allah. He forgets and becomes distracted because he connects to what is in front of him.

Because man is the highest of all creations, he has in himself the ability to tune in to different wavebands, He can tune in to jinn but that is a transgression and is not allowed, It is like spying on someone. If a person wants to be known, he presents himself openly. Why tune to his transmitter when his house is shut to you? A man of submission and reality, being given this gift, should use it entirely to serve Allah. Nabiyyu-llah (Prophet of Allah) Sulayman, `alayhi-s ­salam, had the power to connect with animals. When travelling with his army he could hear the ants talking of his approach.

Man cannot tolerate what goes on in his mind or in the minds of others. If he were to hear of what was going to happen to him in the future, he might wish to shoot himself. Every system has its limitations, which are at the same time its constriction and its bounty. The fact that there is the visible and the invisible is a bounty. Everything within its container is a reflection of perfection. If man accepts the limitations he can begin to reflect perfection.

17 Lord of the two risings and Lord of the two settings.

18 Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?

"Lord of the two risings and Lord of the two settings." Gharaba, the root of maghribayn, means to go away. One of the meanings that Amiru-l-Mu'minin 'Ali gave for this aya was concerning duality, such as that of the seasons. He said: "The shuruq (sunrise) of winter is different from the shuruq of summer, and the ghurub (sunset) of summer is different from the ghurub of winter."

There is a summer and there is a winter; they both have meaning. In winter everything is dormant, while in summer life is in full bloom. The sun of winter is different from the sun of summer. 'Ali, alayhi-s­salam, also said: "Every day has its burj (its sign of the zodiac), and there are three hundred and sixty buruj (plural of burj)." For every day there is a new shuruq and a new ghurub. The sun has its circuit. The rising of the sun on this life brings light, and light is only meaning­ful if it gives man knowledge. If there is light outside and the eyes are closed, the light is of no use.

There is a rise of consciousness both for this life and for the next. For each there is one shuruq, there is a coming out. This is, of course, also true of ghurub. The people of irfan ( gnosis) and tasawwuf (sufism) often refer to the two risings as the risings of knowledge in the heart and aql, and the two settings as the settings of the nafs As there comes the rising of the `aql, reason, there is disappearance of association.

There are also risings for different creatures, the ins and the jinn, each seeing a different sun rising and setting. There can be no rising without a setting. Whatever manifests, whatever one can discern, is one side of a two-sided coin. Once there is a creational situation there are two aspects to it. At the beginning there is one, at the end there is one, and in between there are two.

19 He has made the two seas to flow freely - they meet:

20 Between them is a barrier which they cannot pass.

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

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