55 - Ar Rahman (The beneficent)

3 Tafsir(s) related to verse 55.14

Al-Jalalayn

He created man, Adam, of dry clay (salsāl, a dry hollow mud producing an echo if tapped), resembling the potter’s (fakhkhār, clay that has been baked),

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

The order of the initial stages of the creation of man, as given at different places in the Qur'an seems to be as follows:

(1) Turab, i.e. earth or dust;

(2) Tin, i.e. clay made by mixing water with earth;

(3) tin-i-lazib: sticky clay, i.e. a clay which becomes sticky when left alone for a long time;

(4) hama in musnun, i.e. clay with a stink in it;

(5) salsal-im-min hems in masnun kalfakhkhar. i.e. the rotten clay which when dried becomes like baked pottery;

(6) bashar, i.e.. the one who was made from this last form of the earth, in whom Allah breathed of His Spirit, to whom the angels were commanded to bow down, and from whose species his mate was created;

(7) thumma ja ala nasla-hu min sulala-tin-min-ma 'in mahin: 'then spread his progeny by means of an extract of the nature of a despicable water', for which the word nutfah has been used at other places.

For these stages one may look up the following verses of the Qur'an in sequence: ka-melba/-i Adalla khalaqa-hu min turab (AI-'Imran : 59); bed's khalqal-insan-i min tin (As Sajdah: 7); Inna khalaq-na hum min tin-il-/azib (As-Saaffat: 11): the fourth and fifth stages have been described in the verse being explained, and the later stages in the following verses : Inni khaliq-un bashar an-nun tin. Faidha sa wwaitu-hu wa nafakhtu-fi -hi min-ruhi fa-qa,u-lahu sajidin. (Suad : 71-72); khalaqa-kum min-nafs in wahidatin wa khalaqa nun-ha zauja-ha wa baththa minhuma rijal-an kathir-an wa nisa-an. (An -Nisa':1) ; thumma Ja ala nasla-hu min sulata-tin-min mmaa'-in -mahin. (As-Sajdah: 8); fa-inna khalaq-na-kum min turabin thumma min nutfs-tin. (AI-Hajj:5).

The words in the original are: mim-marij-im-min-nar. Nar signifies fire of a special nature and not the fire which is produced by burning wood or coal, and marij means a pure, smokeless flame. The verse means that just as the first man was created out of earth, then passing through various stages of creation, the clay model adopted the shape of a living man of flesh and blood, and then his progeny spread by means of the sperm-drop, so was the first jinn created from a pure flame of fire, or a fire free of smoke, and then the species of jinn spread from his progeny. The position of the first jinn among the jinn is the same as of Adam (peace be upon him) among human beings. After taking the shape of a living man, the body of Adam and the human beings born of his progeny retained no relationship with the dust from which. they were originally created. Though even now our body is entirely a compound of the earthly substances, these substances have taken the from of flesh and blood and after being made a living body it has become quite a different thing from a mere lump of clay. The same also is true of the jinn. Their being also is essentially fiery. But just as we are not a mere lump of earth, so also they arc not a mere flame of fire.

This verse proves two things. First, that the jinn are not simply spirit, but are material beings of a special nature, but since they have been composed of pure fiery substances, they remain invisible to human beings who have bean created of earthly substances. The same has been referred to in this verse: "Satan and his party see you from where you cannot see them." (AI-A`raf: 27) Likewise, the jinn's being fast-moving, their adopting different shapes and forms easily and their penetrating into different places imperceptibly where things made of earthly substances cannot penetrate, or if they do, their penetration becomes perceptible, all these things are possible and understandable only because they are essentially a fiery creation.

The other thing that we come to know from this verse is that the jinn are not only a creation of a wholly different nature from human beings, but the substance of their creation also is absolutely different from that of man, animal, vegetable and solid matter. This verse explicitly points out the error of the viewpoint of those people who regard the jinn as a kind of human beings. According to their interpretation, the meaning of creating man of the dust and the jinn of the fire is to describe the difference of the temperamental nature of the two kinds of the people; one kind of them are humble by nature, and they are men in the true sense, and the other kind of the people are wicked by nature and fiery in temper, who may better be called devils. This is, however, no commentary of the Qur'an but its distortion. In E.N. 14 above we have shown in detail how the Qur'an itself has fully described the meaning of creating man from the earth. After reading all these details, can a reasonable person understand that the object of all this is only to define the humility of the good men ? Moreover, how can a sound-minded person understand that the meaning of creating man of rotten, dry clay and the jinn of the flame of pure fire is the difference of the separate moral characteristics of the two individuals or groups with different temperaments belonging to the same human species? (For further explanation, see E.N. 53 of Surah Adh-Dhariyat).

Here, in view of the context, It is more appropriate to translate alaa' as 'wonders of power", but in this the aspect of the blessing is also present. Just as it is a wonderful manifestation of Allah's power to have brought into existence marvelous creatures like man from the dust and the jinn from the flame of fire, so for both these creatures this is a great blessing also that Allah not only granted them a body but gave each such a structure and endowed each with such powers and capabilities that they became able to perform unique works in the world. Though we do not know much about the jinn, man is present before us. Had he been given the body of a fish or a bird or a monkey along with the human brain, he could not have with that body used the mental powers to any advantage. Then, is it not a supreme blessing of Allah that He blessed man with the most suitable body also, so that he may exploit the mental powers granted to him efficiently? Consider the hands, the feet, the eyes, the ears, the tongue and the erect stature as against the intellect and reason, and the capabilities of workmanship and artistic skill, and one will feel that the Creator has provided a deep relationship and harmony between them without which the human body would have remained useless. Then, the same thing points out Allah's praiseworthy qualities too. How could the men and jinn of such quality and rank be brought into existence without knowledge, wisdom, mercy and a profound creative power ? For such miracles of creation cannot be performed by accidents and automatic blind and deaf laws of nature.

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

(He created man) i.e. Adam (of clay like the potter's) out of which pottery is made,