87 - Al Ala (The most high)

5 Tafsir(s) related to verse 87.1


Glorify the Name of your Lord, that is, exalt your Lord above what does not befit Him (ism [in isma rabbika, ‘the Name of your Lord’] is extra), the Most High (an adjective qualifying rabbika, ‘your Lord’),


Glorify the name of your Lord Most High,He said:It [means] to proclaim His transcendence (tanzīh) above having rivals (aḍdād) and equals (andād). This is its outward meaning. In its inner meaning, it is to witness Him (mushāhadatuhu) through remembrance (dhikr) during the ritual prayer without witnessing anything else.His words, Exalted is He:

Ibn Al Kathir

The Command to pronounce Tasbih and its Response

Imam Ahmad recorded from Ibn `Abbas that whenever the Messenger of Allah would recite

سَبِّحِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ الاّعْلَى

(Glorify the Name of your Lord, the Most High.) he would say,

«سُبْحَانَ رَبِّيَ الْأَعْلَى»

(Glory to my Lord, the Most High.) Ibn Jarir recorded from Ibn Ishaq Al-Hamdani that whenever Ibn `Abbas would recite

سَبِّحِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ الاّعْلَى

(Glorify the Name of your Lord, the Most High.) he would say, "Glory to my Lord, the Most High,'' and whenever he would recite

لاَ أُقْسِمُ بِيَوْمِ الْقِيَـمَةِ

(I swear by the Day of Resurrection.) (75:1) and then reach the end of it

أَلَيْسَ ذَلِكَ بِقَـدِرٍ عَلَى أَن يُحْيِىَ الْمَوْتَى

(Is not He able to give life to the dead) (75:40) he would say, "Glory to You, of course.'' Qatadah said,

سَبِّحِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ الاّعْلَى

(Glorify the Name of your Lord, the Most High.) "It has been mentioned to us that whenever the Prophet of Allah used to recite it he would say,

«سُبْحَانَ رَبِّيَ الْأَعْلَى»

(Glory to my Lord, the Most High.)''

The Creation, the Decree, and the bringing forth of Vegetation

Allah says,

الَّذِى خَلَقَ فَسَوَّى

(Who has created, and then proportioned it.) meaning, He created that which has been created, and He fashioned every creation in the best of forms. Then Allah says,

وَالَّذِى قَدَّرَ فَهَدَى

(And Who has measured; and then guided.) Mujahid said, "He guided man to distress and happiness, and he guided the cattle to their pastures.'' This Ayah is similar to what Allah has said about Musa's statement to Fir`awn,

رَبُّنَا الَّذِى أَعْطَى كُلَّ شَىءٍ خَلْقَهُ ثُمَّ هَدَى

(Our Lord is He Who gave to each thing its form and nature, then guided it aright.) (20:50) meaning, He decreed a set measure and guided the creation to it. This is just as is confirmed in Sahih Muslim on the authority of `Abdullah bin `Amr that the Messenger of Allah said,

«إِنَّ اللهَ قَدَّرَ مَقَادِيرَ الْخَلَائِقِ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَخْلُقَ السَّمَواتِ وَالْأَرْضَ بِخَمْسِينَ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ وَكَانَ عَرْشُهُ عَلَى الْمَاء»

(Verily, Allah ordained the measure of all creation fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and the earth, and His Throne was over the water.) Concerning Allah's statement,

وَالَّذِى أَخْرَجَ الْمَرْعَى

(And Who brings out the pasturage,) meaning, all types of vegetation and crops.

فَجَعَلَهُ غُثَآءً أَحْوَى

(And then makes it dark stubble.) Ibn `Abbas said, "Dried up and altered.'' It has been narrated that Mujahid, Qatadah and Ibn Zayd, all made similar statements.

The Prophet does not forget the Revelation

Allah says,


(We shall make you to recite,) meaning, `O Muhammad.'

فَلاَ تَنسَى

(so you shall not forget (it),) This is Allah informing and promising him (the Prophet ) that He will teach him a recitation that he will not forget.

إِلاَّ مَا شَآءَ اللَّهُ

(Except what Allah may will.) Qatadah said, "The Prophet did not forget anything except what Allah willed.'' It has been said that the meaning of Allah's statement,

فَلاَ تَنسَى

(so you shall not forget,) is, "do not forget'' and that which would be abrogated, is merely an exception to this. Meaning, `do not forget what We teach you to recite, except what Allah wills, which He removes and there is no sin on your leaving it off (not retaining it).' Concerning Allah's statement,

إِنَّهُ يَعْلَمُ الْجَهْرَ وَمَا يَخْفَى

(He knows what is apparent and what is hidden.) meaning, He knows what the creatures do openly and what they hide, whether it be statements or deeds. None of that is hidden from Him. Then Allah says,

وَنُيَسِّرُكَ لِلْيُسْرَى

(And We shall make easy for you the easy.) meaning, `We will make good deeds and statements easy for you, and We will legislate such Law for you that is easy, tolerant, straight and just, with no crookedness, difficulty or hardship in it.'

The Command to remind

Allah then says,

فَذَكِّرْ إِن نَّفَعَتِ الذِّكْرَى

(Therefore remind in case the reminder profits.) meaning, remind where reminding is beneficial. From here we get the etiquette of spreading knowledge, that it should not be wasted upon those who are not suitable or worthy of it. The Commander of the believers, `Ali said, "You do not tell people any statement that their intellects do not grasp except that it will be a Fitnah (trial) for some of them.'' He also said, "Tell people that which they know. Would you like for Allah and His Messenger to be rejected'' Allah said:

سَيَذَّكَّرُ مَن يَخْشَى

(The reminder will be received by him who fears,) meaning, `he whose heart fears Allah and who knows that he is going to meet Him, will receive admonition from what you convey to him, O Muhammad.'

وَيَتَجَنَّبُهَا الاٌّشْقَى - الَّذِى يَصْلَى النَّارَ الْكُبْرَى - ثُمَّ لاَ يَمُوتُ فِيهَا وَلاَ يَحْيَا

(But it will be avoided by the wretched, who will enter the great Fire. There he will neither die nor live.) meaning, he will not die and thus be allowed to rest, nor will he live a life that is beneficial to him. Instead, his life will be harmful to him, because it will be the cause of his feeling of the pain of torment and various types of punishments what he is being punished with. Imam Ahmad recorded from Abu Sa`id that the Messenger of Allah said,

«أَمَّا أَهْلُ النَّارِ الَّذِينَ هُمْ أَهْلُهَا لَا يَمُوتُونَ وَلَا يَحْيَوْنَ، وَأَمَّا أُنَاسٌ يُرِيدُ اللهُ بِهِمُ الرَّحْمَةَ فَيُمِيتُهُمْ فِي النَّارِ فَيَدْخُلُ عَلَيْهِمُ الشُّفَعَاءُ فَيَأْخُذُ الرَّجُلُ الضِّبَارَةَ فَيُنْبِتُهُمْ أو قال: يَنْبُتُونَ فِي نَهْرِ الْحَيَا، أو قال: الْحَيَاةِ، أو قال: الْحَيَوَانِ أو قال: نَهْرِ الْجَنَّةِ فَيَنْبُتُونَ نَبَاتَ الْحِبَّةِ فِي حَمِيلِ السَّيْل»

(Concerning the people of the Fire who are deserving of it, they will not die nor will they live. Regarding the people that Allah wants mercy for, He will cause them to die in the Fire. Then He will allow the intercessors to come to them, and a man will take his groups of supporters and plant them (or he said (they will be planted) in the River of Al-Haya (or he said (Al-Hayah, or Al-Hayawan, or Nahr Al-Jannah). Then they will sprout up like the sprouting of the seed on the moist bank of a flowing stream.) Then the Prophet said,

«أَمَا تَرَوْنَ الشَّجَرَةَ تَكُونُ خَضْرَاءَ، ثُمَّ تَكُونُ صَفْرَاءَ، ثُمَّ تَكُونُ خَضْرَاءَ؟»

(Haven't you all seen the tree that is green, then it turns yellow, then it turns green (again)) Abu Sa`id then said that some of those present said, "It is as if the Prophet used to live in the desert wilderness (i.e., due to his parables of nature).'' Ahmad also recorded from Abu Sa`id that the Messenger of Allah said,

«أَمَّا أَهْلُ النَّارِ الَّذِينَ هُمْ أَهْلُهَا فَإِنَّهُمْ لَا يَمُوتُونَ فِيهَا وَلَا يَحْيَوْنَ، وَلَــكِنْ أُنَاسٌ أو كما قال تُصِيبُهُمُ النَّارُ بِذُنُوبِهِمْ أو قال: بِخَطَايَاهُمْ فَيُمِيتُهُمْ إِمَاتَةً حَتْى إِذَا صَارُوا فَحْمًا أُذِنَ فِي الشَّفَاعَةِ، فَجِيءَ بِهِمْ ضَبَائِرَ ضَبَائِرَ فَبُثُّوا عَلى أَنْهَارِ الْجَنَّةِ فَيُقَالُ:يَا أَهْلَ الْجَنَّةِ أَفِيضُوا عَلَيْهِمْ، فَيَنْبُتُونَ نَبَاتَ الْحِبَّةِ تَكُونُ فِي حَمِيلِ السَّيْل»

(Concerning the people of the Fire who will be dwellers of it, they will not die in it nor will they live. However, there will be a group of people - or as he said -( whom the Fire will burn due to their sins - or he said - (their wrongdoings. So, He will cause them to die until they become burnt coal. Then the intercession will be allowed and they will be brought group after group, and they will be scattered over the rivers of Paradise. Then it will be said: "O people of Paradise! Pour down upon them.'' Then they will sprout like the growing of the seed that is upon the moist bank of the flowing stream.'' Then, a man from among the people present said, "It is as if the Messenger of Allah used to live in the desert wilderness.'' Muslim also recorded this Hadith.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

Literally: "Purify the name of your Lord, the Highest." This can have several meanings and all are implied:

(1) Allah should be remembered by the names which fit Him, and no such name should be used for His exalted Being which, with regard to its meaning and sense, does not fit Him, or which reflects some aspect of deficiency, lack of reverence, polytheism about Him, or which refers to some wrong belief in respect of His Being, attributes, or works. For this purpose, the safest way is that only such names be used for Allah, which He himself has mentioned in the Qur'an, or which are a correct translation of these names in other languages.

(2) Allah should not be remembered by the names as are used generally for the created beings, or the created beings should not be called by names as are specifically meant for Allah. And if there are some attributive names which are not specifically meant for Allah, but may also be used for the created beings, such as Ra'uf (Kind), Rahim (Compassionate), Karim (Generous), Sami` ( I Hearing), Basir (Seeing), etc. one should exercise due care not to use them for man as they are used for Allah.

(3) Allah should not be mentioned in a way or in a state which reflects lack of respect for Him; for example, to mention His name when engaged in mockery or jest, or when in the lavatory, or while committing a sinful act, or before the people who might behave insolently in response or in assemblies where the people are engaged in absurd things and might laugh off His mention, or on an occasion when it is feared that the hearer will hear it disdainfully. About Imam Malik, it is related that when a beggar begged him for something and he did not have anything to give, he would not turn away the beggar, saying that Allah would help him, as is commonly done by the people, but he would excuse himself in some other way. When asked why he did so, he replied: "When the beggar is not given anything and one makes an excuse, it inevitably displeases him. On such an occasion, I do not like to mention Allah's name, for I do not like that somebody should hear His name in a state of annoyance and displeasure."

In the Hadith, it has been reported from Hadrat `Uqbah bin `Amir Juhani that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) had enjoined recitation of Subhana Rabbi yal-A Ya in the sajdah on the basis of this very verse, and the recitation of Subhana Rabbi yal-'Azim in ruku ` on the basis of the last verse of Surah AI-Waqi'ah, viz. Fa-sabhih bi-isrni-Rabbi-kal- Azim." (Musnad Ahmad, Abu Da'ud, lbn Majah, Ibn Hibban, Hakim, Ibn al-Mundhir).

That is, He created everything, from the earth to the heavens, in the universe, and gave whatever he created the right proportion and balance and gave every creature the best conceivable form and shape. The same thing has been expressed in Surah As-Sajdah, thus: "Who gave everything He created the best form" (v. 7) Thus, the creation of everything in the world giving it due order and proportion, is an express sign of the truth that some Wise Designer is its Creator. Had the creation of the countless things in the universe been the result of a chance accident, or the work of many creators, there could be no order and balance, no beauty and inner coherence among the many things existing in the world.

"Set a destiny": determined beforehand what would be the function of a certain thing in the world, and for that purpose what would be its size, its form and shape, its qualities, its place of location, and what opportunities and means should be provided for its survival, existence and functioning, when it should come into being, and when and how it should cease to be after completing its part of the work. Such a scheme for a thing is its "destiny" (taqdir). And this destiny Allah has set for everything in the universe and for the entire universe as a whole. This means that the creation has not come about without a pre-conceived plan, haphazardly, but for it the Creator had a full plan before Him, and everything is happening according to that plan. (For further explanation, see E.N.'s 13, 14 of Al-Hijr. E.N. 8 of AI-Furgan, E.N. 25 of AI-Qamar. E.N. 12 of 'Abasa).

That is, nothing was just created and left to itself, but whatever was created to perform a certain function, it was also taught the method of performing that function. In other words, He is not merely the Creator but Guide too. He has taken the responsibility to give guidance to whatever He has created in a particular capacity to fit its nature and to guide it in the way suitable for it. One kind of guidance is for the earth, the moon, the sun, and the stars and planets, which they are following in performing their role. Another kind of guidance is for water, air, light and the solid and mineral elements, and they are performing the same services for which they have been created accordingly. Still another kind of guidance is for vegetables, according to which they take root and spread in the earth, sprout up from its layers, obtain food from wherever Allah has created it for thetas, produce stem, branches, leaves, blossom and fruit, and fulfill the function which has been appointed for each of them. Still another kind of guidance is for the countless species of animals of the land, and water, and for each member of the species, the wonderful manifestations of which are clearly visible in the life of the animals and in their works, so much so that even an atheist is compelled to concede that different kinds of animals possess some sort of inspirational knowledge which man cannot obtain even through his instruments, not to speak of his senses. Then, there are two different kinds of guidance for man, which correspond to his two different capacities. One kind of guidance is for his animal life, by which each child learns to suck milk spontaneously on birth, by which the eyes of man, his nose, ear, heart, brain, lungs, kidney, liver, stomach, intestines, nerves, veins and arteries, all are performing their respective functions, without man's being conscious of it, or his will having anything to do with the functions of these organs. This is the guidance under which all physical and mental changes pertaining to childhood, maturity, youth and old age go on taking place in man, independent of his will, choice, even his consciousness. The second kind of guidance is for his intellectual and conscious life, the nature of which is absolutely different from the guidance for unconscious life, for in this sphere of life a kind of freedom has been transferred to man, for which the mode of guidance meant for voluntary life is not suitable. For turning away from this last kind of guidance, man may offer whatever arguments and excuses he may like, it is not credible that the Creator Who has arranged guidance for everything in this universe according to its capacity, might have set for man the destiny that he may appropriate numerous things in His world freely, but might not have made any arrangement to show what is the right way of using his choice and what is the wrong way. (For further explanation, see E.N.'s 9, 10, 14, 56 of An-Nahl, E.N. 23 of Ta Ha, E.N.'s 2, 3 of Ar-Rahman, E.N. 5 of Ad-Dahr)

The word mar`a as used in the Text means the fodder for animals but the context shows that here it does not imply mere fodder but every kind of vegetation that grows out of the soil.

That is, "He does not only bring about spring but autumn as well. You witness both the manifestations of this power. On the one side, He causes lush green vegetation to grow, the freshness of which pleases the hearts and, on the other, He renders the same vegetation pale, dry and black rubbish, which is blown about by winds and swept away by floods. Therefore, no one here should be involved in the misunderstanding that he will only experience spring and will never see autumn." This same theme has been expressed at several other places in the Qur'an in other ways. For example see Yunus: 24, Al-Kahf: 45, Al-Hadid: 20.

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said concerning the interpretation of Allah's saying (Praise the name of thy Lord the Most High): '(Praise the name of your Lord the Most High) He says: pray, O Muhammad, by the command of your Lord the Most High, Who is Higher than all things; it is also said that this means: remember, O Muhammad, the divine Oneness of your Lord; and it is said this means: say, O Muhammad, in your prostration “praise be to my Lord the Most High”,