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Tafsir as-Saranbi- Surah 14. Ibrahim , Ayah 2
اللَّهِ الَّذِي لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ وَوَيْلٌ لِلْكَافِرِينَ مِنْ عَذَابٍ شَدِيدٍ
Allah the One owns completely and absolutely all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth, and woe to the people of kufr from a severe torment.
We saw in the previous ayah what our purpose in life should be. Such is the purpose intended for all mankind. We were all created to live in the Light. The Light is Islam. Complete submission to Allah (swt) in all aspects of life. Both as individuals and as a society. In our homes. In our families. In our government. In our economy. Everything must be based upon submission to Him. Such is what He (swt) deserves. We also in the previous ayah saw why this was so. He is the Being of Might, the One of complete Sovereignty and Authority. The Pure. The Perfect. The One Who is eternally praised. By all creation. The One Who has given us everything. The One to Whom we owe everything. How can we realize Him and all that He has given us and still not give Him our all? How can we still allow ourselves to forget Him? Is this not just the worst of injustices? We forget Him when we are alone and we forget Him when we are with others. We can converse with others for hours on end and not even remember Him once. We can think about everything there is in creation except Him. We do not even remember Him let alone give Him the slavehood and submission that He deserves. How evil then are we? What ingrates and infidels are we? Yet despite all this, He still loves us. He still wants to save us from ourselves. So in this ayah He gives further motivation. He reminds us of Himself even more. So that perchance the veils will be lifted. So that perchance we would awaken from our slumber. And finally see Him before we see ourselves. For more and more moments of our lives.
First He describes Himself here by the greatest of His Names. Allah. This is the Name with which He describes Him the best. This is the Name which encompasses all of the other Names within it. This is the Name which best captures His Majesty and Perfection and His right upon us to be worshipped and served. Imam Ghazalli (ra) says that this Name unites all attributes of divinity within it. For it means the Perfect. The Pure. The Glorious. The Magnificent. The Tremendous. The Overwhelming. The One Who has no limitations or weakness whatsoever. Nothing can contain Him. Nothing can encompass Him. Not even time and space. And because of this He is the One worthy of complete and utter submission and dedication. Because of your awe for Him you love Him and because of your love for Him you enslave yourself to Him.
This Name "Allah" also means the Truth. The One about Whose Existence there can be no doubt whatsoever. How can anyone doubt Him when His very Name means truth?
And to realize His Truth we only need to look at the universe around us. All of creation, every single thing, is dependent on Him, while He is not relying on anyone or anything. Is this fact alone not enough to show that He Exists? How can a universe filled with limited and dependent things come into being without Him? Did such a universe simply just appear out of nowhere? All the scientists and all the intellectuals, with all the knowledge they have gained over the centuries, still cannot answer this question? They have the audacity to claim that the universe has no creator and yet they cannot explain simply how it came into being. But for us it is simple, it is obvious, the universe came from Him. He is the undeniable Existent. The One Who must exist. Everything else is contingent upon His Existence. And the fact that everything does exist is enough to show that He (swt) Exists. Everything is a Sign for Him.
Just this one Name of His. Allah. The Perfect One. The Pure One. The Truth. The Creator and Sustainer of every single thing. The One Cause for all that is. The Source. Is just this One Name of His not enough for us to give Him what He deserves? How can you know of a Being of such Purity and such Majesty and still live heedless of Him? How can you not fall in love with Him? How can you not yearn to glorify Him because you know that such is what He deserves? The only reason we are so blind to Him is because we do not know Him as He really is. Most of us only know Him as "God" or as the "Creator" but we do know Him as "Allah". Even if we call Him by this Name it is only in terms of the former that we think of Him. We think of Him as that being high up in the sky who started everything. This is how we know Him and so this is why we are so heedless of Him. We do not think of Him as that Perfect, Tremendous and Overflowing Being. We do not see His Majesty and His Glory. We do not feel His Overwhelming Presence so near to us. We think Him to be distant. We think Him to be just another being. Just another entity. The reason for this is because our belief has been corrupted. We have been influenced by the thoughts and ideas of the pagans and the idolaters. They are the ones who may believe in a Divine Being, but they place some kind of limitation and weakness upon Him. This is the greatest of injustice they can do to Him. Because even more than His attribute of being a Creator, even more than His attribute of being a Sustainer and Maintainer, even more than His attribute of Mercy and Love, is His attribute of Perfection. This is the attribute which defines Him the most. That is how Perfect He is. Yet those around forgot this and in time they made us to forget as well. But if only we would ponder on the meaning of this Name of His, then we would remember. Remember Who He truly is and what He deserves.
He then describes Himself as "the One owns completely and absolutely all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth". If you created something out of nothing then would you not be the owner of that thing? If you were the sole cause of a thing's existence, not just at inception but for its entire life, then can you not claim authority over that thing? How strange is it then that so many of us acknowledge Him as Creator and Sustainer over all that is and yet we choose not to acknowledge Him as Owner? As Master and Sovereign? Can you not see how we have been deluded? Is this anything short of madness? Of utter lunacy and foolishness? He does not need to tell us this fact. We should realize it already. But once again in His Mercy and Love for us, He reminds us. That He is our Master and Owner just as He is our Creator and Sustainer.
We all belong completely to Him. And so does everything else in all creation. Now what should the manifestation of this realization be in our lives? Of course it is that we should live only for Him. We should live only to please Him. Our lives are not ours. Rather they are His. So at every moment instead of asking yourself what will please you, you should be asking what would please Him? What can I do right now to serve Him? To earn His Pleasure? These are the thoughts that should fill our minds. This is what it means to be His. And belonging to Him also means that we should be pleased with Him in our lives. Meaning that we should realize how all that happens to us is His creation. He is not a passive God as some claim. He did not just create the universe and let it be. Rather at every moment He is creating. Not only is He creating objects and matter but He is also creating situations and circumstances. So realize that every single thing that happens in your life is His creation. If you lived for Him you would be pleased with what He created.
The only exception is the actions of the human being. This has been an area of some disagreement among our scholars. The correct position, and Allah (swt) Knows best, is that our actions themselves are His creation. Because He has told us explicitly in the Quran that it is so. But the intentions behind our actions are our creation. You see an action has two components. The intention behind the action and the action itself. So for example supposing one day you decided to go to the masjid for Salah. Now that intention which formed in your heart was your creation. He gave you the power, as part of His gift of Free Will to you, to create this intention. But then the actual action which resulted from that intention was His creation. So it was He Who allowed your body to rise. It was He Who moved your legs. Every ounce of Power which you exerted was from Him. Not from your own creation.
When we realize this balance then we should try our best to please Him. We should try our best to act. We cannot be passive. We cannot be lazy. We cannot be fatalistic. He has given us this gift of Free Will. And this is what He is going to judge us on. This is how we can prove ourselves to Him. This is how we can be a true slave to Him. What kind of a slave just sleeps and expects His Master to do everything for Him? Is that a slave? No, such is the very antithesis of slavery. So we have to try our best to serve Him. We have to realize that our intentions are from us. Should we not then try to make them those that He is pleased with? But at the same time we should also realize that our actions themselves are only possible because of Him. We do not even have the power to move a finger. Rather He is the One Who moves our fingers, our hands, our legs. We should thus never become proud because of anything that we do. Instead we should realize that though we had the intention it was all possible only because of Him.
Not only does Allah (swt) own each and every one of us but He also owns this entire universe. Every single thing. Every particle of matter is owned by Him. There is not a single thing in all existence except that it belongs completely to Him. How then can we ever think that this earth is ours to do with as we please? How can we ever think that of anything? Rather we should realize that we will be questioned. Questioned about every single thing on this earth and how we used it. Every single thing that we have, every single thing that we use is only what He out of His Mercy and Love for us has chosen to give us. It is not ours. We did not create it. We are not the ones sustaining it. How dare then we think that it is ours to do with as we please? Our biggest crime is that we have forgotten Him. And as a consequence of this we have also forgotten that everything belongs only to Him. And then as a consequence of this we do not show Him the proper gratitude for all that He has given us. From our bodies to our clothes to our food to our homes to our children to our family to all the good things we enjoy or benefit from everyday of our lives. It is all really His. Recall from the previous ayah how one of His very Names is the One deserving of thanks. So at every moment we should be thanking Him. For every single thing that He has given us we should be expressing our gratitude to Him. We all should be saying "O Allah I realize You have given me all of this. I am not worthy of it. I have done nothing to deserve it. I beg you to allow me to serve you and please you in order that I may show my gratitude. I know that you have given so much and I can never thank you as you deserve to be thanked. But please allow me to do what I can. I promise that I will try to only use all that you have given me in a way that pleases you and only to serve you, please accept my humble effort". This is the thinking we should try to inculcate to be among the grateful.
But what if we choose not to. What if we just take all that He has given us for granted. Without even remembering Him once. Without even thanking Him once. What if we delude ourselves into thinking that this earth and everything on it was just created for us to do with as we please. If we think that we are the masters of this earth. What then will be our situation? He tells us in the last part of this ayah "woe to the people of kufr from a severe torment". Who are the people of kufr whom our Master speaks of here? The word kufr means to cover something, to deny something. Something that you are certain is the truth. Now usually we think that this word refers to the disbelievers. Those who would reject this Message even though they are certain that it is the Truth. But it can also be used to describe those who are ungrateful to Allah (swt). Those who reject all the favors and bounties that He has conferred upon them. Which of His gifts can we deny? Is there anyone who can claim that Allah (swt) is not their Creator Is there anyone who can claim that He is not their Sustainer and Provider? Just imagine if for even one day He were to deprive this entire earth of water. Just imagine if we all woke up one morning to find that there is not even a drop of fresh water. How would we survive? So we are all in utter need of Him. There is no one whosever who would deny this. What then can we say about those who despite this knowledge still choose to live heedless of Him? They know Him. They know how much He has given them. And still they choose to forget Him. Still they violate His Law and do what they know displeases Him. Is this not the very height of ingratitude? How could they take so much from Him and give Him nothing in return. Of all the injustice that man can do the worst is what he does to his Creator. Because He (swt) deserves the very best from us. There is no one who has given as much as He has given us.
So because of such ingratitude, Allah (swt) says that wail is upon them. There is no adequate translation in English for this Arabic word wail. Among the meanings that it gives are extreme pain, extreme grief, and curse. So just look at the power of this ayah. Allah (swt) is promising these people an extreme torment and He is saying that pain, grief and curse will be upon them because of that torment. Does this not show us just how severe and grueling the punishment will be?
If a Being like Him just used the word torment or punishment then we should be afraid. But then if He described that torment as severe we should be all the more afraid. Now just think if He even used the word wail to describe the state of those who received that torment. How afraid then do we have to be? You know what pain feels like. You know how just how unpleasant it can be. When you are in pain you cannot do anything. You cannot even sleep. You would do anything and give anything to rid yourself of it. How then can you ever hope to withstand the torment which He speaks of here? Realize now that the pain which you receive in this world was never meant to torment you. It is either only to give you a sampling, only to give you a taste, or it is actually a mercy. It is so that He can test you and bring you closer to Him through it. But the torment of the next life, the torment of the Fire, that was created for one purpose and one purpose. Only to punish. Only to cause the maximum amount of pain and suffering possible. There is not only the physical pain itself, which is more than you could ever imagine. But there is also humiliation and psychological pain. There is frustration and mental anguish. This is what He is promising for the ingrates. How then can you not be afraid? How then can you not do all that you can to be saved from it? How can you not strive to show your thanks for all He has given you? How can you not do justice to Him?
Now there are some people who claim that Islam has no political dimension. They say that there is no such entity as the Islamic State. They claim that nowhere in the Quran is such an entity ever mentioned. But what they fail to realize is that the Khilafah is naught but the representation of the Divine Law upon the earth. It is the political reality of His complete Mastership and Lordship on the earth. Can we not see from this very ayah how He is the Owner and Sovereign over this entire earth? He tells us here that every single thing in the heavens and the earth belongs completely to Him. If something belongs to someone then should that person not be the one to say how that thing is to be used? How would you like it if someone took your car and drove it to wherever they pleased and they never consulted you? Would you like it if they did that with your car? If they treated it like their own and not yours. So if you admit that this earth belongs completely to Allah (swt) then you must admit that only He can rule it.
Others have claimed that the themes and the ideas in the Quran have changed based on the changing circumstance of the Prophet (saw)'s condition. They claim that in Makkah, when he (saw) did not have any political authority he (saw) never spoke about Khilafah or Jihad. They claim that these themes were only introduced in Madinah after he (saw) gained authority over a people. Of course the evil assumption behind these claims is that the Quran is from the Prophet (saw) and not from Allah (swt). They claim that he (saw) changed its themes and content based upon the situations he faced. But of course this is the furthest from the Truth. And this very ayah is the evidence. This Makkan ayah is a powerful evidence for both Khilafah and Jihad. Allah (swt) tells us here that only He should rule this earth. And He tells us that those who usurp this sovereignty from Him are the worst. And so need to be fought.