6 - Al Anam (Cattle)

5 Tafsir(s) related to verse 6.38

Al-Jalalayn

There is no (mā min: min is extra) animal, that crawls, on the earth and no bird that flies, through the air, with its wings, but they are communities like to you, in the way that its creation has been ordained, together with its sustenance and affairs. We have neglected nothing (min shay’: min is extra) in the Book, in the Preserved Tablet (al-lawh al-mahfūz), [nothing] that We have not written; then to their Lord they shall be gathered, and judgement shall be passed upon them, and the hornless sheep shall retaliate against the horned ram, and then it will be said to them [the animals], ‘Be dust’.

Ibn Al Kathir

The Idolators Ask for a Miracle

Allah states that the idolators used to proclaim, "Why does not (Muhammad) bring an Ayah from his Lord,'' meaning, a miracle of their choice! They would sometimes say,

لَن نُّؤْمِنَ لَكَ حَتَّى تَفْجُرَ لَنَا مِنَ الاٌّرْضِ يَنْبُوعًا

("We shall not believe in you, until you cause a spring to gush forth from the ground for us.'') 17:90.

قُلْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَادِرٌ عَلَى أَن يُنَزِّلٍ ءايَةً وَلَـكِنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ

(Say: "Allah is certainly able to send down a sign, but most of them know not.'') Certainly, Allah is able to send an Ayah (sign). But, He decided out of His wisdom to delay that, because if He sends an Ayah of their liking and they still do not believe, this will hasten their punishment as with the previous nations. Allah said in other Ayat,

وَمَا مَنَعَنَآ أَن نُّرْسِلَ بِالاٌّيَـتِ إِلاَّ أَن كَذَّبَ بِهَا الاٌّوَّلُونَ وَءَاتَيْنَا ثَمُودَ النَّاقَةَ مُبْصِرَةً فَظَلَمُواْ بِهَا وَمَا نُرْسِلُ بِالاٌّيَـتِ إِلاَّ تَخْوِيفًا

(And nothing stops Us from sending the Ayat but that the people of old denied them. And We sent the she-camel to Thamud as a clear sign, but they did her wrong. And We sent not the signs except to warn, and to make them afraid (of destruction).) 17:59, and,

إِن نَّشَأْ نُنَزِّلْ عَلَيْهِمْ مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ ءَايَةً فَظَلَّتْ أَعْنَـقُهُمْ لَهَا خَـضِعِينَ

(If We will, We could send down to them from the heaven a sign, to which they would bend their necks in humility) 26:4.

The Meaning of Umam

Allah said,

وَمَا مِن دَآبَّةٍ فِى الاٌّرْضِ وَلاَ طَائِرٍ يَطِيرُ بِجَنَاحَيْهِ إِلاَّ أُمَمٌ أَمْثَـلُكُمْ

(There is not a moving (living) creature on earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are Umam like you.) Mujahid commented, "Meaning, various species that have distinct names.'' Qatadah said, "Birds are an Ummah, humans are an Ummah and the Jinns are an Ummah.'' As-Suddi said that,

إِلاَّ أُمَمٌ أَمْثَـلُكُمْ

(but are Umam like you.) means, creations (or species). Allah's statement,

مَّا فَرَّطْنَا فِى الكِتَـبِ مِن شَىْءٍ

(We have neglected nothing in the Book,) means, the knowledge about all things is with Allah, and He never forgets any of His creatures, nor their sustenance, nor their affairs, whether these creatures live in the sea or on land. In another Ayah, Allah said;

وَمَا مِن دَآبَّةٍ فِي الاٌّرْضِ إِلاَّ عَلَى اللَّهِ رِزْقُهَا وَيَعْلَمُ مُسْتَقَرَّهَا وَمُسْتَوْدَعَهَا كُلٌّ فِى كِتَابٍ مُّبِينٍ

(And no moving creature is there on earth but its provision is due from Allah. And He knows its dwelling place and its deposit (in the uterus, grave, etc.). All is in a Clear Book.) 11:6, there is a record of their names, numbers, movements, and lack of movement. In another Ayah, Allah said;

وَكَأَيِّن مِّن دَآبَّةٍ لاَّ تَحْمِلُ رِزْقَهَا اللَّهُ يَرْزُقُهَا وَإِيَّاكُمْ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ

(And so many a moving creature there is, that carries not its own provision! Allah provides for it and for you. And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.) 29:60Ibn Abi Hatim reported that Ibn `Abbas said about the Ayah,

ثُمَّ إِلَى رَبِّهِمْ يُحْشَرُونَ

(then unto their Lord they (all) shall be gathered.) "Death gathers them.'' It was also said that the Day of Resurrection gathers them, for in another Ayah, Allah said;

وَإِذَا الْوُحُوشُ حُشِرَتْ

(And when the wild beasts shall be gathered together.) 81:5`Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Abu Hurayrah said about Allah's statement,

إِلاَّ أُمَمٌ أَمْثَـلُكُمْ مَّا فَرَّطْنَا فِى الكِتَـبِ مِن شَىْءٍ ثُمَّ إِلَى رَبِّهِمْ يُحْشَرُونَ

(but are Umam like you. We have neglected nothing in the Book, then unto their Lord they (all) shall be gathered.) "All creatures will be gathered on the Day of Resurrection, the beasts, birds and all others. Allah's justice will be so perfect, that the un-horned sheep will receive retribution from the horned sheep. Allah will then command them, `Be dust!' This is when the disbeliever will say,

يَـلَيْتَنِى كُنتُ تُرَباً

("Woe to me! Would that I were dust!'')''78: 40. And this was reported from the Prophet in the Hadith about the Trumpet.

The Disbelievers will be Deaf and Mute in Darkness

Allah said,

وَالَّذِينَ كَذَّبُواْ بِـْايَـتِنَا صُمٌّ وَبُكْمٌ فِى الظُّلُمَـتِ

(Those who reject Our Ayat are deaf and dumb in darkness.) due to their ignorance, little knowledge and minute comprehension. Their example is that of the deaf-mute who cannot hear nor speak, as well as being blinded by darkness. Therefore, how can such a person find guidance to the path or change the condition he is in Allah said in other Ayat,

مَثَلُهُمْ كَمَثَلِ الَّذِى اسْتَوْقَدَ نَاراً فَلَمَّآ أَضَاءَتْ مَا حَوْلَهُ ذَهَبَ اللَّهُ بِنُورِهِمْ وَتَرَكَهُمْ فِي ظُلُمَـتٍ لاَّ يُبْصِرُونَ - صُمٌّ بُكْمٌ عُمْىٌ فَهُمْ لاَ يَرْجِعُونَ

(Their parable is that of one who kindled a fire; then, when it illuminated all around him, Allah took away their light and left them in darkness. (So) they could not see. They are deaf, dumb, and blind, so they return not (to the right path)) 2:17-18, and,

أَوْ كَظُلُمَـتٍ فِى بَحْرٍ لُّجِّىٍّ يَغْشَـهُ مَوْجٌ مِّن فَوْقِهِ مَوْجٌ مِّن فَوْقِهِ سَحَابٌ ظُلُمَـتٌ بَعْضُهَا فَوْقَ بَعْضٍ إِذَآ أَخْرَجَ يَدَهُ لَمْ يَكَدْ يَرَاهَا وَمَن لَّمْ يَجْعَلِ اللَّهُ لَهُ نُوراً فَمَا لَهُ مِن نُورٍ

(Or like the darkness in a vast deep sea, overwhelmed with a great wave topped by a great wave, topped by dark clouds, darkness, one above another, if a man stretches out his hand, he can hardly see it! And he for whom Allah has not appointed light, for him there is no light. ) 24:40This is why Allah said here,

مَن يَشَإِ اللَّهُ يُضْلِلْهُ وَمَن يَشَأْ يَجْعَلْهُ عَلَى صِرَطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ

(Allah sends astray whom He wills and He guides on the straight path whom He wills.) for He does what He wills with His creatures.

Kashani

There is no animal on the earth, to the end [of the verse], but can undergo transfiguration (maskh), being communities like you in terms of veiledness, enmity, and the commission of vices, such as the people of the [breaking of the] Sabbath, who were transfigured into apes and swine. We have not neglected, We have not diminished [anything] of their Book which contains the forms of their deeds, which is the scroll of the soul of the celestial sphere, or the scroll of their intention in which the forms of their deeds are fixed; then to their Lord they shall be gathered, for the recompense, veiled at the source of the nondelimited union. Manifestly it seems that what is meant [here] is that they are communities like you under the care of a Lord in terms of what they need in the way of their [sources of] livelihood, with their provisions sufficiently taken care of by a measure determined by God and [by] His wisdoms. We have not left out anything from the Book of the Preserved Tablet that might benefit them; rather We have fixed therein their provisions, terms of life, deeds and everything which they might need; then to their Lord they shall be gathered to be recompensed for their deeds, as related in a ḥadīth about the gathering of beasts and the mutual retaliation between them for deeds [committed in this life], every one of which is a sign for you [a sign] by which your states, your provisions, your terms of life and your deeds can be known. Heed these [signs] then and do not expend your resolves (himam) and your efforts in the pursuit of provision or to rectify the affairs of the life of this world and then end up forsaking your souls, harming them and being wretched because of them in the Hereafter.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

''Sign" means a tangible miracle. Allah says that the reason why he is not showing a Sign is not that He is unable to do so but for another reason whose wisdom they do not understand. (See E.N. 6).

That is, "If you are really serious in your demand of seeing a Sign in order to judge whether the Message of this Prophet is true or false, you should see and ponder over the innumerable Signs that are found in abundance all around you. For instance, if you consider animal life, you will see that the structure of the bodies of each species of birds and beasts suits its functions immensely well; the qualities and characteristics that have been ingrained in its nature help to fulfill all its needs; the provision of its nourishment has been arranged in a wonderful way; and the course of its life has been so predetermined that it cannot transgress its limits in any way whatever. Allah also sees that each and every animal, nay, even the smallest insect, is being looked after, protected and guided, wherever it be, for the performance of the functions pre-destined for it. In short, you will find that its structure suits it well; it has been given inherent powers that help provide its needs: excellent provisions have been made for its food. The process of its birth, procreation and death has been going on according to a regulated fixed scheme. If you give a careful consideration to this Sign alone, you will realize that the teachings of this Prophet about the Oneness of God and His attributes and the way of life based on these to which he invites you are absolutely we. Yet you neither try to see with open eyes these Signs nor listen to the Message this Prophet is conveying to you. As a result, you have been involved in ignorance and, therefore, desire to see some wonderful miracle for mere pastime. "

This is how Allah lets them go astray: (1) He holds back the opportunity for observing His Signs from the one who chooses to remain in ignorance; (2) He keeps hidden the pointers to the Reality from the one who is a victim of prejudices, even though he should see His Signs, and lets him remain involved in misunderstandings and move farther and farther away from the Reality. On the contrary, He guides the seeker after truth to the Right Way by affording him the opportunity to make use of his knowledge for the purpose of discovering the Reality, and showing him the signs guiding towards it. We daily notice instances of these types. There are millions of people before whose eyes countless Signs are spread in their own persons and in the universe, but they see them like animals and do not learn any lessons from them. Then there are the physicists, chemists, zoologists, botanists, biologists, geologists, astronomers, physiologist, anatomists, historians, archaeologists, social scientists, etc., who observe such Signs as may enlighten the minds and the hearts with Faith, but they seem to see no "Sign" to lead them to the Reality, just because they begin their study with prejudiced minds, merely for the sake of material gains. Not only this, but every Sign leads them to atheism, disbelief, materialism and nature worship. In contrast to them, there are those, who observe the wonders of the universe and the phenomena of Nature with open eyes and open hearts, and find the Signs of God all round them: SO much so that they can see His Sign in each and every green leaf.

In answer to the demand of the disbelievers for a Sign, they were told that there was not one Sign, but innumerable Signs scattered all around them and their attention has been drawn in v. 38 to study the mystery of the life of any bird or beast and they would find Sign of God. Now in v. 40-42, they have been directed to another Sign that they can fmd in their own selves. When some affliction befalls a man or death confronts him with all its dreads, then he sees no refuge in any other than Allah. On such occasions even the most confirmed polytheists forget their gods and invoke Allah's help. Likewise the most obdurate atheists, in their utter helplessness, involuntary pray to Allah for rescue, this Sign-man's own state of mind is being presented here as a pointer to the Reality, for this is a clear proof of the existence of One God, and of the urge of God-worship that has been embedded deep in the heart of every human being. Though it might have been kept suppressed by negligence and ignorance, sometimes it comes to the surface under the stimulus of some misfortune.

Ikrimah, son of Abu Jahl, who was an arch enemy of Islam, was led towards Islam by witnessing such a Sign. When the Holy Prophet conquered Makkah, 'Ikrimah fled to Jaddah and sailed for Abyssinia. During the voyage, there came a furious storm which threatened to sink the boat. At first the passengers began to invoke their gods and goddesses for help. But when the storm became so violent that they feared that the boat was going to sink. they all cried out, "This is not the time to call any open except Allah, because He alone can save us. " This opened the eyes of `Ikrimah and the locked doors of his heart: "If there is none here except Allah to help us, how can there be any to help us in any other place? This is what Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) has been teaching us for the last twenty years any we have been fighting it out with him". That as the most decisive moment in the life of `Ikrimah. He made a solemn pledge with Allah to this effect: "If I escape from this storm, I will directly go to Prophet Muhammad Allah's peace be upon him) to become a follower of his." Allah rescued him from that storm and he fulfilled his pledge. He not only became a Muslim, but spent the rest of his life in the service of Islam by performing Jihad.

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

(There is not an animal in the earth, nor a flying creature flying on two wings) between the earth and sky, (but they are peoples) creations and servants (like unto you) they resemble you in eating, copulation, understanding one another, just as you understand one another: this is a sign for you. (We have neglected nothing in the Book) We have neglected nothing that We have inscribed in the Preserved Tablet; We have mentioned everything in the Qur'an. (Then unto their Lord they) the birds and beasts (will be gathered) with all other created beings on the Day of Judgement.