The Quran

Commentaries for 55.14

Ar Rahman (The beneficent) - الرحمن

55.14 Abbas - 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,
55.14 Jalal - 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),
55.14-25 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The Creation of Humans and Jinns
Allah mentions that He created mankind from clay, like that used in pottery, and created the Jinns from the tip of the flame of a smokeless fire. This was said by Ad-Dahhak from Ibn `Abbas. It was also said by `Ikrimah, Mujahid, Al-Hasan and Ibn Zayd. Al-`Awfi reported from Ibn `Abbas, "From the best part of the fire, from its smokeless flame.'' Imam Ahmad recorded that `A'ishah said that Allah's Messenger said,
«خُلِقَتِ الْمَلَائِكَةُ مِنْ نُورٍ، وَخُلِقَ الْجَانُّ مِنْ مَارِجٍ مِنْ نَارٍ، وَخُلِقَ آدَمُ مِمَّا وُصِفَ لَكُم»
(The angels were created from light, the Jinns from a smokeless flame of fire, and `Adam from what was described to you.) Muslim also collected this Hadith. Allah's statement:
فَبِأَىِّ ءَالاءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ
(Then which of the blessings of your Lord will you both deny) was explained above.
Allah is the Lord of the Two Easts and the Two Wests
Allah said,
رَبُّ الْمَشْرِقَيْنِ وَرَبُّ الْمَغْرِبَيْنِ
((He is) the Lord of the two easts and the Lord of the two wests.) meaning the sunrise of summer and winter and the sunset of summer and winter. Allah said in another Ayah,
فَلاَ أُقْسِمُ بِرَبِّ الْمَشَـرِقِ وَالْمَغَـرِبِ
(So, I swear by the Lord of all the points of sunrise and sunset in the east and the west.)(70:40), referring to the different places from which the sun rises and then sets on people every day. Allah said in another Ayah,
رَّبُّ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ لاَ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ فَاتَّخِذْهُ وَكِيلاً
(The Lord of the east and the west; none has the right to be worshipped but He. So take Him alone as a trustee.)(73:9), referring to the different places of sunrise and sunset and the benefits that this variation brings to the created, mankind and Jinns,
فَبِأَىِّ ءَالاءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ
(Then which of the blessings of your Lord will you both deny)
Allah created Different Types of Water
Allah said,
مَرَجَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ يَلْتَقِيَانِ
(He has Maraja the two seas), or let them loose, according to Ibn `Abbas. Allah's statement,
(meeting together.) Ibn Zayd said, "He prevents them from meeting by the dividing barrier He placed between them to separate them.'' The two seas are the fresh and salty waters, the former coming from running rivers. We discussed this topic in Surat Al-Furqan when explaining Allah's statement;
وَهُوَ الَّذِى مَرَجَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ هَـذَا عَذْبٌ فُرَاتٌ وَهَـذَا مِلْحٌ أُجَاجٌ وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَهُمَا بَرْزَخاً وَحِجْراً مَّحْجُوراً
(And it is He Who has let free the two seas: one palatable and sweet, and the other salty and bitter; and He has set a barrier and a complete partition between them.)(25:53) Allah said,
بَيْنَهُمَا بَرْزَخٌ لاَّ يَبْغِيَانِ
(Between them is a barrier which none of them can transgress.) meaning, He has placed a barrier of land between these two types of waters, so that they do not transgress upon each other, which would spoil the characteristics they were created with. Allah said,
يَخْرُجُ مِنْهُمَا الُّلؤْلُؤُ وَالمَرْجَانُ
(Out of them both come out pearls and Al-Marjan. ) pearls are well-known. As for Marjan they say it means small pearls. Mujahid, Qatadah, Abu Ruzayn, Ad-Dahhak said it, and it has also been reported from `Ali. It was also said that it means large, precious pearls, this was mentioned by Ibn Jarir from some of the Salaf. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded from Ibn `Abbas who said, "When it rains, the oysters in the sea open their mouths. What falls in them, the drops, turns into pearls.'' Its chain of narrators is Sahih. Since this type of adornment is a favor from Allah to the people of earth, He reminded them of it,
فَبِأَىِّ ءَالاءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ
(Then which of the blessings of your Lord will you both deny) Allah said,
وَلَهُ الْجَوَارِ الْمُنشَئَاتُ
(And His are Al-Jawar Al-Munsha'at), meaning the ships that float,
فِى الْبَحْرِ
(in the seas), Mujahid said, "Whatever ship hoists a sail, it is from Munsha'at, if it does not hoist a sail, it is not from the Munsha'at.'' Qatadah said, "Al-Munsha'at means created.'' Others said that it is Al-Munshi'at meaning, "launched.''
(like A`lam.) This means, they are like mountains with their great size, and it also refers to the trade and commercial services they make possible, transporting cargo from one area to another and from one province to another. Ships provide various benefits for people, including transporting different types of goods they need. Therefore,
فَبِأَىِّ ءَالاءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ
(Then which of the blessings of your Lord will you both deny)
كُلُّ مَنْ عَلَيْهَا فَانٍ - وَيَبْقَى وَجْهُ رَبِّكَ ذُو الْجَلْـلِ وَالإِكْرَامِ فَبِأَىِّ ءَالاءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ
55.14-16 Maududi - 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.