37 - As Saffat (Those who set up ranks)

4 Tafsir(s) related to verse 37.1


By those who are ranged in ranks — [by] the angels who range their souls in worship or their wings in the air awaiting their orders;

Kashf Al-Asrar

By the row-keepers in rows!

The lords of realization have said various things about which rows of angels these are. One group has said that what is meant is all the rows of the angels adorning the celestial world, through which the seven heavens have become luminous. In each heaven there is one sort and in each class one description. Some are in the station of service with the watchword of veneration, some in the sta- tion of awe with the blanket of watchfulness, some in the state of striving while sniffing the scents of contemplation, some in delight at being attracted by passion for the Friend, some in the market of yearning while whispering secretly with the Friend, some in the dice of love while melting in separation. The chanting of their glorification has deafened the ears of the spheres, their glorify- ing and hallowing have perfumed the world of holiness, and their flashing words have illumined the courtyard of the Throne. All are sitting in the celestial sky in the gardens of approval, all have bound their belts for the Exalted Threshold within the veils of awe. There is no shortcoming in their worship, no fatigue in their obedience, no slackening in their service. They do not disobey God in what He commands them and they do as they are commanded [66:6].

Another group has said that what is meant by these rows is the angels of the Inhabited House specifically, who are in the fourth heaven. They are like the Adamites in this dusty center, who visit the house of the Kaabah every year for one day. The master of the empire, the lord of the Shariah, the foremost of the prophets, said, "On the night of proximity and honor, the night of nearness and familiarity, the night of the miʿrāj, when we were strolling in that towering garden, we reached the fourth heaven and we went to visit the Inhabited House. We saw several thousand of those given proximity next to the Inhabited House. They were all drunk and intoxicated from the wine of union. They were coming from the right and passing to the left, circumambulating and saying 'Here I am,' constantly passing to the left. You would say that their number was more than the stars and greater than the number of leaves on the trees.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

The majority of the commentators are agreed that All these three groups imply the groups of the angels, and the same explanation of it has been reported from 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud, Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, Masruq Said bin Jubair, 'Ikrimah, Mujahid, Suddi, Ibn Zaid and Rabi' bin Anas. Some commentators have given other commentaries also, but this commentary is more in keeping with the context. The words "range themselves in ranks" refer to the fact that all the angels who arc administering the affairs of the universe, are the humble servants of Allah, and are ever ready to carry out any service and implement any command of His. This theme -has been further repeated in verse 165 below, where the angels say with regard to themselves: "We are the ranged servants (of Allah).'

As for "scolding and cursing", some commentators think that it refers to those angels who drive the clouds and arrange the rainfall. Although this meaning is not incorrect either, the meaning which is more relevant to the following context is that among these angels there is also a group of those, who scold and curse the disobedient people and the culprits, and this scolding and cursing is not merely verbal but it rains on human beings in the form of natural disasters and calamities.

"To recite admonition" implies that among these angels there are also those, who perform the service of admonition in order to draw the people's attention.to the Truth. This they do by bringing about natural calamities from which the needful take heed, and by bringing down the teachings to the Prophets, and in the form of revelations with which the pious men are blessed through them.

This is the Truth to impress which an oath has been taken by the angels bearing the above-mentioned qualities. In other words, what is meant to be said is: "The whole system of the universe which is functioning in the service of Allah, and all those manifestations of this universe which bring the evil consequences of deviation from the service of Allah before men, testify that the "Deity" of men is One and only One."

The word "Ilah" applies to two meanings:

(1) The deity who is actually being served and worshiped; and

(2) the Deity Who, in reality, is worthy of being served and worshiped.

Here, the word "Ilah"has been used in the second meaning, for, as far as the first meaning is concerned, men have adopted many other deities. That is why we have translated "Ilah"as the "real Deity".

The Truth that has been conveyed in these verses is: "The Master and Ruler of the Universe is the real Deity of men: He alone can be, and should be the Deity. It would be utterly irrational that the Rabb (i.e.. Master, Ruler, Guardian and Sustainer) of the man should be one but his Ilah (deity) another. The basic reason for worship is that man should naturally bow down before and acknowledge the superiority of him who can bring him harm and good, who can fulfill his needs and requirements, who can make or mar his destiny and has power over his life and survival itself. If man understands this he will automatically understand that to worship the one who has no power and not to worship Him Who has All the powers arc both against reason and nature. The One Who alone is worthy of worship is He Who possesses the powers. As far as the powerless beings are concerned, they are neither worthy of worship, nor is it in any way profitable to worship and pray to them, for it is not in their power to take any action whatever on man's petitions and prayers. To bow before them humbly and to petition them would be as foolish and meaningless an act as to bow before and petition another one who has himself gone before a ruler to make obeisance and submit his petitions.

The sun does not always rise at the same point but at a different point every day. Moreover, it does not rise at one and the same time for the whole world but rises at different times for the different parts of the earth. That is why the plural "Mashariq" (Easts) has been used to indicate the different points at which the sun rises according to the season of the year. The corresponding word “Magharib” (Wests) has not been used because Mashariq itself points to Magharib However, in Surah Al-Ma'arij, the word magharib also has been used along with mashariq: Rabb-al-mashariqi wal-magharib.

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said regarding the interpretation of Allah's saying (By those who set the ranks in battle order): '(By those who set the ranks in battle order) Allah swore by the angels who are, in heaven, aligned in rows like the rows of the believers in prayer.