Verses from Surah al-Mu’minoon (12-20)

[12] Surely, We created man from the quintessence of clay.14


4. “Extract” is the literal meaning of the textual “sulaalah.” However here it means, precisely, (as in Ibn Jarir), an extract that had residuals of all kinds of dust taken from the earth, hence quintessence (Au.).

Hence the Prophet’s words, in various books including Abu Da’ud and Tirmidhi who rated it Hasan Sahih, “Allah created man from a handful that He took from the whole of the earth. So his progeny came out in accordance with the earth: some red, others white, yet others black, some in between them; and some good, some evil” (Ibn Kathir).

However, “sulaalah” could also mean, depending on usage, “semen drop” (Ibn Kathir).

Asad adds: “The frequent Qur’anic reference to man’s being ‘created out of clay,’ .. point to the fact that his body is composed of various organic and inorganic substances existing on or in the earth, as well as to the continuous transmutation of those substances, through the intake of earth-grown food, into reproductive cells (Razi) – thus stressing man’s humble origin, and hence the debt of gratitude which he owes to God for having endowed him with a conscious soul.”

[13] Then We placed him as a sperm drop in a safe lodging.

[14] Then We fashioned the sperm drop into a leech-like structure, then of that leech-like structure We made a chewed-like substance. Then out of the chewed-like substance We created the bones.15 Then We clothed the bones with flesh.16 Then We developed him into a new creation.17 So, blessed is Allah, the Best of creators.18


15. Ibn `Abbas has said that the allusion by “bones” is to the backbone. A Sahihhadith says, “Every bone of Adam’s son is destroyed except for the tailbone. He is created from it and will be resurrected from it” (Ibn Kathir).

The hadith is another proof of the Prophet’s authenticity. Today’s embryology confirms that the first bone to develop in the fetus is the tail bone. As for resurrection from the tail bone, other reports from the Prophet specify it as an atom of that bone from which resurrection will take place (Au.).

16. This single verse is enough to prove the authenticity of this revelation. At a time when the general belief was that the male deposited a tiny baby in the womb, which grew into a child – a belief that remained current until some 200 years ago – there is no way the Prophet could have obtained the information stated herein. It was left to modern science, armed with most modern microscopes and other research equipments, to confirm, after a thousand and two hundred years, that the information is accurate. For details see note 9 of Surah al-Hajj (Au.).

17. The Salaf such as Ibn `Abbas, `Ikrimah, Mujahid, Sha`bi and others are in agreement that the words, “then We developed it into a new creation” allude to the blowing of the spirit. However, a second opinion of more or less the same authorities as above is that the allusion is to subsequent development: infancy, childhood, teenage, youth, etc. (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

18. Many commentators report that `Abdullah b. Sa`id b. ibn Abi Sarh was one of those whom the Prophet used for writing down the revelation as it came. When Allah revealed this verse, Ibn Abi Sarh interjected at this point by saying, “so blessed is Allah, the best of creators.” At that, the Prophet said, “Yes, that is how it is revealed.” That led Ibn Abi Sarh to believe that if Muhammad received revelation, he too could receive.  He apostatized and fled to Makkah. Many scholars say he entered into Islam again at the fall of Makkah, but a few say he died an unbeliever. Most commentators however, discount the story since this chapter is Makkan while revelations were written down only in Madinah. The story therefore, stands discredited.

Asad comments on the term ‘best of creators’: “As Tabari points out, the Arabs apply the designation ‘creator’ to every artisan (saani`) – a usage also current in European languages with reference to the ‘creation’ of works of art and imagination.”

[15] Then, after that, at length you will die.

[16] Finally, on the Day of Judgment you will be raised again.

[17] And We have indeed created above you seven paths.19 And We were not heedless of creation.20


19. Ibn Kathir points out that often in the Qur’an when Allah mentions the creation of man, He also mentions the creation of the heavens and the earth.

As for the word “taraa’iq”, ‘paths’ is only one of the several possible meanings. Ibn Zayd interpreted it as “heavens.” That is, the seven heavens (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). The linguist Abu `Ubaydah has said: “taaraqta as-shayy” means you placed some of a thing over others. The heavens have been called “tara’iq” since they are one upon another in layers. But the possibility exists that it is ‘paths’ that is meant (Qurtubi). Zamakhshari is divided between “layers” and “paths.”

An additional implication is that by “taraa’iq” the allusion is to the paths of the cosmological objects (Alusi).

20. That is, He is aware of what goes in or what goes out. The seven layers do not prevent Him from knowing what goes on anywhere within or without them (based on Ibn Kathir).

[18] And We sent down out of heaven water21 (according) to a measure. Then We lodged it in the earth, while We are easily22 capable of taking it away.23


21. Although he was in the 13th Christian century, Imam Razi knew that water from the seas rises above into the atmosphere (leaving behind the impurities), where, with time, it condenses, and then as it gets weightier is brought down as rain.

From across the continent (Spain),Qurtubi had the same statements to make.

22. The “laam” of “la-qadirun” is laam al-ta’keed. Here it has been expressed with “easily” – in effort to express, in an indirect manner, Allah’s Power (Au.).

23. Allah is capable of taking away the rain itself to other areas, or the rain water to flow away entirely instead of staying on the surface of the earth, or go down deep for man to be able to reach (Ibn Kathir).

Yusuf Ali elaborates on the rain cycle: “Normally the rain comes well distributed; it soaks into the soil; the moisture is retained for a long time in all high grounds; it soaks and penetrates through many layers of soil and forms the architecture of physical geography; the retentive powers of higher soil enables rivers to flow perennially even where, as in India, the rainfall is seasonal and confined to a few months in the year. Another form in which water comes down from the sky according to due measure is in snow and hail: these also have their place in the economy of air and soil. Were it not for snow and glaciers in the higher mountain regions, some of the rivers would fail in their abundant flow. As wonderful as the supply of water and moisture is its drainage. It returns to the sea and air in all sorts of ways, and the formation of mist and clouds repeats the cycle. Were it not for the drainage and the clearance of the waters, we should have floods and water logging, as happens when the normal process of nature is temporarily obstructed. The same thing happens when the rain comes down and in other than due measure. These abnormal conditions also have their value. But how grateful should man be for Allah’s gifts in the ceaseless process of nature on such an enormous scale!”

In our times (2010) so much rain fell within a day or two in Pakistan that an area equal to Britain was under water for several weeks. It was followed by rains in Australia where an area equal to France and Germany combined together was under water for a couple of weeks.

[19] Then We brought forth for you therewith gardens of date-palm and vines24 wherein are many fruits for you, of which you eat. 


24. The two trees, of dates and grapes, have been chosen for mention because the Arabs of that time were familiar with them, and accorded them preference over most other fruits (Ibn Jarir).


[20] And (We brought out) a tree25 which springs forth from Mount Sainaa’26; it produces oil and seasoning27 for those who eat.28


25. The allusion is to the olive tree (Ibn Jarir).

26. “And (We brought out) a tree which springs forth from Mount Sainaa’”: This is another way of saying, “issues forth from a mountain which gives forth trees.” Further, (Sinai of English) is pronounced both as Sainaa’ as well as Seenaa’ in Arabic (as also “Seeneen”: Zamakhshari). And, some, like Ibn `Abbas and Mujahid, have thought that at this point the allusion by the word “Saina’” is to the blessed nature of the Mount. There have been other interpretations too (Ibn Jarir). According to Ibn Zayd, Tur is the name of a chain of mountains that extends from Egypt to Ayla (`Aqaba) – Qurtubi.

It is also thought that the textual “toor” stands for a mountain that is covered by trees. If it is entirely rocky supporting no plant life then it is known as “jabal” (Ibn Kathir).

27. The textual word “sibgh” lends several connotations. When it is said, “sabagha-at-ta`aama” it would mean he rendered the food savory; or, he colored it; or, offered something as seasoning for the food presented, e.g., sauce or vinegar. Tropically, as E.W. Lane has pointed, it meant to the Arabs ‘altering of a thing.’ Thus, with a single word, the Qur’an alluded to various uses of the olive (Au.).

28. In a report preserved by Ahmad, the Prophet has recommended the consumption of olive oil and its use for cooking purposes for, as he said, “It is from a blessed tree” (Ibn Kathir).

Medically it is quite well established that olive oil produces less cholesterol in the body and hence causes less heart attacks. People of the geographical area where it is consumed report less occurrence of cancer also. A thorough research is still due (Au.).

Mawdudi writes: “(Olive oil is) the most popular product in all the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. The olive tree lasts for one and a half to two thousand years. (Older commentators say “several thousand years”: au.). Olive trees live for so long that on the basis of the height and breadth of some in Palestine it is estimated that they date back to the days of the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him).

The olive tree is mentioned here in association with Mount Sinai. This is presumably because the original habitat of the olive tree is Mount Sinai which in turn is the most prominent place in that region.”

It might also be noted here that that the present day Israeli government, mercilessly uproots olive trees in occupied Palestine, and prevents the Palestinians – through a variety of governmental decrees – from planting new ones, right at a time the West hypocritically sheds tears at the uprooting of any tree anywhere in the world. Such is their hatred of Islam and Muslims. At the moment (2011), they are almost going nuts from the fear of Islam and Muslims (Au.).

(To be continued)

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