Translation & Commentary of Verses from Surah al-Rum (No. 30) [20 – 29]

[20] And among His signs is that He created you of dust then, behold,27 you are men scattered (far and wide).28


27. A hadith preserved by Ahmad, Abu Da’ud and Tirmidhi (who declared it Hasan Sahih), has Abu Musa al-Ash`ari as saying that the Prophet said:

“Allah created Adam from a handful of dust that consisted of material taken from all over the earth. That is how Adam’s progeny came: in varieties as the earth varies: they came as white, red, and black – and between them – wicked and the well-disposed, the pliant and the rough to handle – and between them rotten and good ones.” (Ibn Kathir)

28. Whether for good or bad reason, or for no reason at all, living organisms must migrate. It is firmly planted in their nature. They do not seem to be able to stay in one place for long. Some of them must keep moving out to new lands, no matter at what cost of physical pain bordering to suffering.

From fishes to shrimps, birds to creepers, human beings to insects, they all seem to suffer an urge to venture into new lands. Butterflies have been found at Mount Everest, on their way across the Himalayas. (Au.)

[21] And among His signs is that He created for you, of yourselves, spouses, so that you might repose in them;29 and He placed between you love and tenderness. Surely, in that are signs for a people who reflect.


29. “That is,” writes Mawdudi, “the Creator’s perfect wisdom is that He created human beings in two sexes. In their humanness they are identical to each other, yet with different physical features, different mental and psychological qualities, and different emotions and desires. Yet there is perfect harmony between the two in that each is the counterpart of the other.”

With reference to the repose that one finds in the other, Qurtubi writes that a woman should respond when her husband invites her to the bed; otherwise, she will be putting him into a restless state. The Prophet (saws) has said (as in a hadith of Bukhari): “When a woman spends a night having abandoned her husband’s bed, angels curse her until she returns.”

Majid adds:

“The word connotes companionship and mutual love, which is distinct from mere sexual pleasure. This determines the proper status of the wife in Islam. She is not a handmaid, but a lifelong companion of her husband, his consort. Her function is to be, by her words, acts, or by mere presence, a source of comfort and solace to him. She must constitute the chief consoling, soothing element of his life. And a relation of affection, harmony, and mutual happiness and goodwill ought to subsist between man and wife.

“Contrast this with the attitude of the early Church. ‘We cannot but notice, even in the greatest of the Christian fathers, a lamentably low estimate of women, and consequently of the marriage relationship. Even St. Augustine can see no justification for marriage, except in a grave desire deliberately adopted for having children; and in accordance with this view, all married intercourse, except for this single purpose, is honestly condemned … This idea of the mutual society, help and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity, hardly existed, and could hardly exist.’ (DCA, II, p. 1909)”

[22] And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth,30 and the diversity of your tongues and your colors. In that indeed are signs for the knowledgeable.


30. The coming into existence of the heavens and the earth from nothingness, and their being established on an unchangeable law, functioning of great many forces within them, in harmony and equilibrium, contain many signs of their Creator, One God.

Reflecting over the initial pure energy assuming the form of matter, the transformation of matter into so many elements and then combining themselves into this wonderful world, every unbiased mind is bound to conclude that the whole could not have happened all by itself.

Further, the fact that the most distant part in the cosmos is made up of the same stuff, and follows the same laws, should lead a man to One God who made this possible. Could several gods have achieved this? (Au).

[23] And among His signs is your sleep by night and day, and your seeking of His bounty. Surely, in that are signs for a people who hearken.31


31. Yusuf Ali summarizes the message contained in the above few verses:

“From verse 20 to verse 25 are mentioned a series of Signs or Miracles, which should awaken our souls and lead us to true Reality if we try to understand Allah (swt).

(1) There is our own origin and destiny, which must necessarily be our subjective starting point: ‘I think; therefore I am’: no particular exertion of our being is here necessary (xxx. 20).

(2) The first beginnings of social life arise through sex and love: see iv. 1, and n. 506; to understand this in all its bearing, we must ‘reflect’ (xxx. 21).

(3) The next point is to understand our diversities in speech, color, etc., arising from differences of climate and external conditions; yet there is unity beneath that diversity, which we shall realize by extended knowledge (xxx. 22).

(4) Next, we turn to our psychological conditions, sleep, rest, visions, insight, etc.; here, we want teaching and guidance, to which we must hearken (xxx. 23).

(5) Next, we must approach the higher reaches of spiritual hopes and fears, as symbolized by such subtle forces of nature as lightning and electricity, which may kill the foolish or bring prosperity in its train by rain and abundant harvest; to understand the highest spiritual hopes and fears so symbolized, we want the highest wisdom (xxx. 24).

(6) And lastly, we may become so transformed that we rise above all petty, worldly, ephemeral things: Allah (swt) calls to us and we rise, as from our dead selves to a Height which we can only describe as the Heaven of stability: here no human processes serve, for the Call of Allah (swt) Himself has come (xxx. 25-27).‏”

[24] And among His signs is: He shows you the lightning – generating fear and hope; and He sends down out of heaven water reviving the earth therewith, after its death. In that indeed are signs for a people who think.

[25] And among His signs is that the heaven and earth stand firm by His command. Then, when He calls you, by a single call (coming) from the earth, behold, you shall (all) come forth.

[26] And to Him belongs whosoever is in the heavens and the earth, and all are devotedly obedient to Him.32


32. “All nature in Creation not only obeys Allah (swt), but devoutly obeys Him, i.e., glories in its privilege of service and obedience. Why should we not do likewise? It is part of our original unspoilt nature, and we must respond to it, as all beings do, by their very nature.” (Yusuf Ali)

[27] And He it is who begins the creation, then repeats it, and that is easier for Him.33 To Him belongs the loftiest similitude in the heavens and the earth.34 And He is the All-mighty, the All-wise.


33. Some commentators, such as Qurtubi, have pointed out that since nothing is difficult for Allah (swt), “ahwan” should be understood in the sense of “hayyin” i.e., “easy.”

Others have said, however, that if re-creation is easier, first time creation was not any difficult for Allah (swt). Therefore, the translation as “easier” should be acceptable; in Majid’s words, “(It is) easier from the stand point of man, not of God; for to Him everything is equally easy. (Th.)”

Allah (swt) says in a hadith preserved by Bukhari:

“Son of Adam lays the lie on Me, which is not right of him. He reviles Me, which is not right of him. As for his laying the lie, he says, ‘He will not recreate me as He created me at first’ – although the first creation was not easier for Me than the recreation. As for he reviling Me, it is his saying, ‘Allah took a son,’ – while I am the One, the Eternal; who did not beget nor was begotten, and none is there comparable unto Him.” (IbnKathir)

34. Except for the last sentence, Asad’s following note finely sums up commentaries of the classical commentators. He writes:

“Primarily, the term mathal denotes a ‘likeness’ or ‘similitude,’ and hence is often used in the Qur’an (e.g., in the next verse) in the sense of ‘parable.’ Occasionally, however, it is synonymous with sifah, which signifies the intrinsic ‘attribute,’ ‘quality’ or ‘nature’ of a thing, concept, or living being (cf. the reference to ‘the nature of Jesus’ and ‘the nature of Adam’ in 3: 59).

“With reference to God, who is ‘sublimely exalted above anything that men may devise by way of definition’ … the expression mathal clearly points to a quality of being entirely different from all other categories of existence, inasmuch as there is ‘nothing like unto Him’ (42: 11) and ‘nothing that could be compared with Him’ (112: 4): hence, the rendering of mathal as ‘essence’ is most appropriate in this context.”

And Majid adds the note of warning:

“i.e., none in the heaven and earth is comparable to Him, seeing He is the Creator of all. In speaking of Him and His attributes, we must make use of most noble and magnificent expression we can possibly desire and even then we shall fall far short of the actual reality.”

[28] He strikes for you an example from yourselves: 35Do you have among those your right hands own, partners in what We have provided you, so that you are equal in it, fearing for them as your fear for yourselves? 36 That is how We explain the signs for a people who think.37


35. This is a parable of the idolaters and those who associate partners with Allah (swt). He asks them whether they consider their slaves on equal footing with themselves? Are they equally concerned of them? Do they fear that they might share their wealth after them? In the like manner, Allah (swt) has no partners with a share in His creation. (IbnKathir)

36. One opinion is that it means, “You fear that they might inherit your wealth as one of you inherits others.” Another and more sound opinion is that “You fear that these people (the slaves) might split up your wealth between themselves, as some of you do with others when those others are not circumspect.” This was the opinion of Abu Mijlaz. (Tabari)

In any case, adds Razi, is there any comparison between the relationship between you and your slaves on the one hand, and, on the other, between yourselves and your Lord? The ownership of the slaves you have is transferable, while your slavery to Allah (swt) is in transferable.

Your slaves share all human and spiritual qualities with you, while you share no quality with your Lord. Finally, the slaves you own are but Allah’s bestowal on you. How can you then, if you do not like to be equal to your slaves (despite so many similarities), approve of partners for Allah (swt) in His Divinity?

37. Yusuf Ali expounds the theme of the verse:

“Allah (swt) is far higher above His Creation than any, the highest, of His creatures can be above any, the lowest, of His creatures. And yet would a man share his wealth on equal terms with his dependents? Even what he calls his wealth is not really his own, but given by Allah (swt). It is “his” in common speech by reason merely of certain accidental circumstances. How then can men raise Allah’s creatures to equality with Allah (swt) in worship?‏”

[29] Nay, but the transgressors followed their own caprices, without knowledge. Then who shall guide those whom Allah led into error? And they shall not have any helpers.38


38. When the unbelievers abandoned Allah (swt), by associating partners with Him, He, too, abandoned them, and, in consequence, they shall not find any helpers. (Razi)


About YMD

Past Issues