Interpretation of Sura al-Fatir - Verse 1
Satan as its enemy
Allah alone, the Creator, the Deputor of Angels – Who adds to His creation whosoever He pleases – None can ever go against the Will of Allah - The disbelievers warned against severe punishment and the believers given the glad tidings of the Great Reward awaiting them
In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful
1.“(All) praise belongs to Allah, the Originator of the heavens and the earth, Who appointed the angels messengers having wings two, three, and four. He adds to creation what He pleases; verily Allah is All-Powerful over every thing.”
The Qur’a-nic word /fa-t?ir/ means: ‘Originator’, and the Arabic word /’ajnih?ah/ is derived from /jina-h?/ in the sense of ‘wing’ which allusively means power. In Persian it is also said ‘the wing of so and so is burnt or broken’ which indicates he has no power.
Similar to Suras: Al-Hamd, Saba’, and Al-Kahf, this Sura begins with the praise of Allah, too. His praise is for the sake of the creation of the vast world of existence. Concerning the fact that all bounties and merits of existence originate from His Exalted Being, the Qur’a-n says:
“(All) praise belongs to Allah, the Originator of the heavens and the earth, …”
The Qur’a-nic word /fa-t?ir/ is derived from /fut?u-r/ originally means ‘to cleave’ and since the creation of creatures is like cleaving the darkness of nothingness and it is the appearance of the light of existence, this meaning has been used in relation to creation particularly in regarding to the modern science which says that at the beginning the totality of the world of existence had been a single mass which has gradually split and some parts have separated from it. The application of the word Fa-t?ir for the Pure Essence of Allah produces a new and clearer concept.
Yes, we do praise Him for His creative Power, because whatever exists is from His side and none has anything from him except Allah.
And in view of the fact that the management of this world, because of the fact that this world is the world of means, has been given to the angels, the verse immediately speaks about their creation and the considerable power that Allah, the Almighty, has bestowed on them. It says:
“… Who appointed the angels messengers having wings two, three, and four. …”
Then the verse continues saying:
“… He adds to creation what He pleases; verily Allah is All-Powerful over every thing.”
Allah (s.w.t.) adds to the creation whatever His Will and His Wisdom require including wings and other things. In this regard, the verse is absolute and it contains any kind of adding, irrespective of tallness of the body, moderation in face and bodily power and good intellect, and other merits. Some of the commentators say that the purpose of ‘adding to creation’ is: beautiful face, nice voice, and fair hair.
There are many verses in the Qur’a-n that are about the angels’ attributes, specialties, missions, and duties. Even the Qur’a-n has considered the faith in angels in the row of the faith in Allah, prophets, and heavenly Books, and this is an evidence upon the fundamental importance of this subject. The Holy Qur’a-n says: “The Messenger believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers. (They) all believe in Allah, His angels, His Books and His messengers. …” 2
No doubt the angels are among the Unseen things for proving which by these attributes and specialties there is no way save the traditional proofs, and because of belief in Unseen, we must accept them.
On the whole, the Qur’a-n explains the specialties of the angels as follows:
1- The angels are some wise and intellectual beings of the honourable servants of Allah. “… but (angels) are (His) honoured servants.” 3
2. They obey Allah (s.w.t.) and never commit sin. “They do not precede Him in speech, and (only) according to His commandment do they act.” 4
3. They have been given many important and various duties from the side of Allah: Some of them bear the ‘Arsh (throne): “… bear the throne of Your Lord above them.” 5 A group of them manage the affair: “And those who manage the affair.” 6
A group of them are the angels of taking souls: “… until when Our messengers came to them to take them away, …” 7
A group of them are the recorders of the deeds of men: “And surely there are Watchers over you,” “Honourable scribes:” “They know (and understand) whatever you do.” 8
A group of them are the protectors of man from dangers and evil events: “… and He sends guardians (to watch) over you until when death comes to one of you, …” 9
A group of them are ordered to punish the disobedient people: “And when Our messengers (the angels) came to Lot, he was grieved for them and felt straitened to protect them. He said: ‘This is a distressful day’.” 10
A group of them are Divine helpers to the believers in battles: “O you who believe! Remember Allah’s blessing upon you when hosts came against you, so We sent upon them a strong wind and hosts, that you saw not, and Allah sees what you do.” 11
And, finally, a group of them are the bringers of revelation and heavenly Books from Allah for Divine prophets: “He sends down the angels with the inspiration of His commandment upon whomever of His servants He wills …” 12
4- They are always busy glorifying Allah, as Sura Ash-Shura-, No. 42, verse 5 says: “… and the angels celebrate the Praise of their Lord and seek forgiveness for those who are on the earth, …”
Yes, because of talent and potentials of development that man has, he is higher than and superior to the angels so much so that all angels, with no exception, once for the sake of the creation of Adam fell in prostration and Adam became their teacher. (Sura Al-Baqarah, No. 2, verses 30-34)
6- Some angels appear for prophets and even other than the prophets in the form of human beings, as we recite in Sura Maryam that the great angel of Allah came to Mary as a handsome man: “… Then We sent unto her Our Spirit (Holy Spirit) that presented himself to her a perfect man”.
In other occurrences of the Qur’a-n we recite that angels appeared in the form of some men before Abraham and Lot, (Sura Hu-d, No. 11, verses 69 and 77). It is understood from the verses of this Sura that the people of Lot, too, saw them in the form of some handsome men, (Sura Hu-d, No. 11, verse 78).
Is the appearance in the form of man a concrete fact? Or is it in the form of presentation and interfering in the perceptive faculty? The outward of the verses of the Qur’a-n implies to the first meaning, though some great commentators have chosen the second meaning.
7- It is understood from Islamic narrations that the number of angels is so large that they can never be compared with all human beings. Once Imam S?a-diq (a.s.) was asked whether the number of the angels is larger or that of the human beings, he said: “By Allah in whose hand is my soul! the angels in heavens are more than the (number of) whole atoms of the dust of the earth, and there is no place in heaven but an angel is busy glorifying and praising Him therein.” (Biha-r-ul-’Anwa-r, Vol. 59, P. 126).
8- They neither eat nor drink nor marry. Imam S?a-diq (a.s.) in a tradition said: “Verily the angels neither eat, nor drink, nor marry, and they do live only by the breeze of the (Divine) ’Arsh!)” (Biha-r-ul-’Anwa-r, Vol. 59, P. 174)
9- They have neither sleep nor negligence, nor laziness. Ali (a.s.) in a tradition said: “There is no cessation between them, nor there is negligence with them, nor there is sin among them… sleep does not overtake them, their wisdom never involves in mistake and forgetfulness, their bodies do not tend to laziness, and they do not lie in the loins of fathers and in the wombs of mothers.” (Biha-r-ul-’Anwa-r, Vol. 59, P. 175)
10- They have different proper positions and ranks. Some of them are always in the state of ‘bowing’ while some others are in the state of prostration.
The Qur’a-n, from the tongue of the angels, says: “There is not (any one) of us but for his is an assigned place.” “And verily we are they who range ourselves in order;” “And verily we are they who celebrate His glory!” (Sura As-Sa-ffa-t, No. 37, verse 164-166)
Imam S?a-diq (a.s.) says: “Verily Allah has some angels who are (in the state of) bowing until the Day of Hereafter, and verily Allah has some angels who are (always in the state of) prostration until the Day of Hereafter.” (Biha-r, Vol. 59, P. 174)
For more information about the specialties of the angels and their classes, you may refer to the books entitled: As-Sama-’-i-wal-‘A-lam, Biha-r-ul-’Anwa-r, Abwa-b-ul-Mala-’ikah, Vol. 59, P. 144-326. also, Nahj-ul-Bala-qah, sermons number one and ninety one, Sermon ’Ishba-h?, sermons 109, and 171.
Having these attributes mentioned for the angels in mind, are they abstract or material?
Certainly, with these specialties, they cannot be formed from the dirty elemental matter, but it does not matter that they have been created from some tender matters, some things beyond this ordinary matter which we are acquainted with. Of course, we know the angels as those who are introduced by the Qur’a-n and by the certain Islamic narrations, and we know them as a great part of the high and outstanding beings of Allah, without considering any rank for them save the rank of servitude, and we do not know them as the partner of Allah in creation or worship, because this is absolutely polytheism and infidelity.
By the way, in many phrases of the Torah the angels are introduced as gods, which is blasphemous and this is one of the signs of the distortion in the present Torah. But the Qur’a-n is pure and far from these meanings, since it has not considered any rank for them except servitude and worship, and executing the commands of Allah; and, as we said before, it is understood from the different verses of the Qur’a-n that the rank of a complete man is higher than and superior to the angels.
2. Sura Al-Baqarah, No. 2, verse 285
3. Sura Al-'Anbiya-', No. 21, verse 26
4. Sura Al-'Anbiya-', No. 21, verse 27
5. Sura Al-Ha-qqah, No. 69, verse 17
6. Sura Na-zi'a-t, No. 79, verse 5
7. Sura Al-'A'ra-f, No. 7, verse 37
8. Sura Al-'Infit)a-r, No. 82, verses 10-12
9. Sura Al-'An'a-m, No. 6, verse 61
10. Sura Hu-d, No. 11, verse 77
11. Sura Al-'Ah)za-b, No. 33, verse 9
12. Sura An-Nah)l, No. 16, verse 2
Adopted from the book : "The Light of the Holy Qur'an; Interpretation of Surah al-Fatir" by : "Sayyid Kamal Faghih Imani and a Group of Muslim Scholars"
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