(28) كَيْفَ تَكْفُرُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَكُنتُمْ أَمْوَاتاً فَأَحْيَاكُمْ ثُمَّ يُمِيتُكُمْ ثُمَّ يُحْيِيكُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ
(29) هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ لَكُم مَّا فِي الأَرْضِ جَمِيعاً ثُمَّ اسْتَوَى إِلَى السَّمَاء فَسَوَّاهُنَّ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ
28. " How can you deny Allah and you were dead and He gave you life, then He will cause you to die, then again restore you to life, and unto Him you will be returned ? " (Therefore, neither your life nor your death is in your will; what you have is Allah's.)
29. " It is He Who created for you all that is in the earth; then turned (His Will) to heaven and fashioned it into seven heavens, for He is All-Knowing of all things."
The Mysterious Bounty of Life !
In these couple of verses, through a series of the Divine blessings and some of the marvelous phenomena of creation, the Holy Qur'an attracts man's attention to the Lord of the world and His Magnificent Sovereignty. It very clearly completes the undisputable evidence set forth for the acknowledgment of Allah's Omnipotence, that was previously cited in verses 21 and 22.
It must be remembered that the correct conception of Allah is the basic need for proper faith. This faith serves as guidance from the main generative source (Allah) for the whole system of religion. The most practical method of acquiring this basic knowledge about the existence of the Essence of Allah is to carefully observe and thoughtfully reflect on the creation which is before our own eyes. This is a point that nobody can deny or express any doubt about. This method is repeatedly impressed and demanded in the Holy Qur'an. The course adopted in the Holy Qur'an to educate man is the most scientific
and the most modern one, i.e. of proceeding from the concrete to the abstract.
At first it inquires : " How can you deny Allah and you were dead and He gave you life,..."
The Qur'an reminds all individuals that formerly they were inanimate like the pieces of stone, wood, and the like of them. The water of life had not been poured on you and the breeze of vitality had not blown through the garden of your being to open the blossom of your lifetime in the realm of your entity.
Now, you are gifted with the bounty of life and you are actually living. Numerous organs and limbs, and various integral systems of sensing to form conceptions are bestowed upon you. Who has given you this very blessing of life and being ? Did you yourself give it to your own self ?
It is clear that every rational person will unhesitately confess that this blessing is not from his own origin, but it has come from a knowing, mighty source, the One Who knows all its secrets and its complicated arrangements;and Who is able to design it totally. In this case there will arise the question of why you deny the One Who has granted you life.
Today, it has been proven by the scientists of the world that there is not anything more complicated than the phenomenom of life. Man has surprisingly gained a great deal of successful progress in the field of science, in general, and experimental natural science, in particular, but the secret of the riddle of life has not been uncovered yet. This subject is so mysterious that it has remained inexplicable for millions of learned individuals whose thoughts and efforts have been left fruitless in conceiving it. Possibly, in the future, under the light of further scientific development, man will gradually become more acquainted with the secrets of life. But the main question is : Can anybody ascribe such an extraordinarily delicate and precise phenomenom, which is full of mysteries and is in need of superior knowledge and power for itself, to the irrational nature, which itself does not have 'life' from its own ?
That is why we say the phenomenom of life, in the world of nature, is the greatest evidence for the affirmation of the existence of Allah about which abundant books have been compiled. The Qur'an, in the above verse, emphasizes on the very matter, too.
After the citation of this bounty, it refers to another vivid example, i.e., the phenomenom of death. It says :
Everybody usually sees that his relatives, kinsfolk, acquaintances, companions, and friends die one after another, and their lifeless bodies are buried in the soil. This actual circumstance is also a station of contemplation : Who took their beings from them ? If their beings were theirs by themselves, they would be eternal. When it is taken from them, it is further proof that life is bestowed upon them by someone else.
True, the ' Bestower of life ' is the ' Bestower of death ', as the Qur'an says : " He Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deed ...", (Sura Al-Mulk, No. 67, verse 2) .
The Qur'an, after providing these two clear statements as proof for the Essence of Allah in order to make the soul of man disposed to grasp other problems, refers to the subject of Resurrection and being restored to life after death. It says : "...then again restore you to life, ..."
This phenomena of life after death, indeed, is not so surprising because it is not unfamiliar and man has formerly seen the same situation in nature. Therefore, regarding the first statement, viz. 'the enlivening of the inanimate', the acceptance of raising the dead after the decomposition of the body, it is not so difficult, but it is easier than the first time He created man; (although the easiness and hardness is meaningless for the Essence Whose Power is infinite) .
It is odd that there have been some people who have been doubtful about man's life after death. They believe that the first life has originated from some inanimate things.
It is interesting that the above verse has made everything, from the beginning to the end, manifest before the eyes of man. In a short argument, it has expressed the advent of life to its last point in this world, death, and then the Resurrection is illustrated for him.
The objective meaning of the phrase " Unto Him you will be returned " is returning to Allah's blessings; that is, you will return to the blessings of Allah in the Hereafter. The witness to this meaning is Sura Al-'An'am, No. 6, verse 36 which says : "... As to the dead, Allah will raise them up; then will they be turned unto Him".
The objective of " Unto Him you will be returned " may be a reality more delicate and fragile than that. It is to say that : all creatures, in the process of development, begin from the station of non-existence, the zero point, and go forth towards 'infinite', which is the Pure Essence of Allah. Thus, the path of development does not end with death, but, in the Hereafter, man will continue his life again, miserably, or prosperously with a higher standard of living to pave the path of his further development.
The Arabic term /kuntum/, (the second person plural) , applied in the above verse, may address the human ego which was not as it is now as a conscious entity. The previous state is termed as 'being dead', brought into the present conscious state, by Allah's means of 'enlivening'. The departure of the conscious self from the body, is termed death appointed by Allah. The state of the human cognitive self, after its departure from the body, is termed as the 'enlivening' and from that state proceeding to the other states, up to the Infinite point of the return to Allah. This shows that once our life begins, there is no reversion or regression. It is the continuous process from one state to the next, dying from the previous state and entering life into the succeeding one. Be the succeeding state pleasant or painful, it is the evolutionary consequence of the preceding state.
Also, this single verse alone denotes the continuous evolutionary transformation and the transcendence of a conscious human entity up to the communion with the Infinite, not in the sense of annihilation or the absorption of the finite into the infinite, but in the sense of the realization of the fact that nothing is real but the One, the Cause of all causes : the Essence of Allah, the Exalted.
* * * *
After mentioning the blessing of life and pointing to the ' Origin and End ', it refers to another Divine bounty from among the immense bounties of Allah. It says : " It is He Who created for you all that is in the earth, ..."
In this manner, it specifies the worthiness of the existence of man and his high mastership over all beings in the earth. It is just this very matter that clarifies for us that Allah has created Man for a very worthy and magnificent affair. It is so important, that everything in the world is created for him! What is he created for? Yes, he is the most excellent being in the world of existence and the worthiest of all. A partial explanation will also be provided when commenting on verses 30-33 of the current Sura.
It is not this verse alone that defines the majestic position of Man but there are also abundant verses in the Holy Qur'an that reveal the same and introduce Man as the main goal of the whole world of creation; for example : " And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on the earth : ...", (Sura Al-Jathiyah, No. 45,verse 13) .
Some further instances from the verses of the Holy Qur'an are as follows :
"...Who hath made the ships subject to you, ...", (14: 32) .
"...And the rivers (also) hath He made subject to you...", (14: 32) .
"...And the Night and the Day hath He also made subject to you." (14:33) .
" It is Allah Who has subjected the sea to you, ...", (45: 12) .
" And He hath made subject to you the sun and the moon, ...", (Sura Ebrahim, No. 14, verse 33) .
On this subject, we will have some explanations later, too, when commenting upon Sura Ar-Ra'd, No. 13, verse 2, and Sura Ebrahim No. 14, verses 32 and 33.
Again, it turns to the concept of monotheism and says :
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The Seven Firmaments :
The word /sama'/, as oppose to /'ard/ 'the earth', in the lexicon means : 'to be lofty, upward'. This is a collective meaning which encompasses numerous concepts,in which some of the dimensions were formerly mentioned. (1) But what is the objective meaning of the phrase 'seven heavens' here?The Islamic scholars and the commentators of the Holy Qur'an have offered different arguments on the subject, but the important idea which seems to be the most correct is that the purpose of 'seven heavens' is its very actual meaning of 'seven firmaments'.
Yet, from the verses of the Qur'an, it is understoond that the whole of celestial bodies : planets and fixed stars that we can see, are totally in the first heaven, and there are six other heavens that are not visible to us and even our modern scientific equipment are not able to show them. Therefore, there are, on the whole, seven firmaments which make up the very 'seven heavens'. (2)
The evidence to this statement is the words of the Qur'an where it says : "...And We adorned the lower heaven with lights,...", (Sura Al-Fussilat, No. 41, verse 12) .
In another occurrence it says : " We have indeed decked the lower heaven with beauty (in) the stars,...",(Sura As-Saffat, No. 37, verse 6) .
These verses clearly indicate that what we see in the sky, which are generally called stars, are completely located in the first heaven. Beyond this heaven, there are six other heavens about whose details we do not have any exact data at present.
The reason why we said that there are six other heavens which are unknown to us yet, and science may realize them in the future, is that human knowledge is still incomplete. The more developed it becomes, the more new surprising facts about the creation it discovers. For instance, the science of astronomy has now reached a point where earthly telescopes are incompetent and satellites equipped with
(1) For the word /sama'/ in the sense of 'atmosphere', look at the commentary on verse 22,sura Baqarah, this vol. , pp. 113-114 (2) An imaginary, approximately similar meaning to this idea is seen in Milton, Pardise Lost, iii 56,481. The same imagery will be found in Dante.
powerful radars and specific means for the purpose, are utilized instead. What the great astronomical observatories and the modern equipment with the help of spacecrafts and scientific excavations have discovered, in the Arc of Descent, is a distance as far as about one thousand million (a billion) light years away from us wherein they have discovered innumerable solar systems other than ours. The astronomers themselves have confessed that this is just the beginning of the way of the world, not the end of it, and the discovery of further such systems is yet expected with the successful invention of or the enhanced structure of stronger telescopes or more advanced means of celestial excavations. Therefore, there is no doubt that, in the future, with the further progress in astronomy and science, other galaxies and firmaments, or the like, might be discovered.