Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days) six days of the beginning of this world: each day the equivalent of one thousand years, the first day being Sunday and the last Friday (and His Throne) before the creation of the heavens and earth (was upon the water) and Allah was before the Throne and before water (that He might try you) that He may test you in the interval between life and death, (which of you is best in conduct) which of you is more sincere in his works. (Yet if thou (O Muhammad) sayst) to the people of Mecca: (Lo! ye will be raised again) you will be brought back to life again (after death! those who disbelieve) the disbelievers of Mecca (will surely say: This) which Muhammad (pbuh) is saying (is naught but mere magic) manifest lies which will never happen.
And He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, the first of which was Sunday and the last, Friday — and His Throne, before creating them, was upon the water, borne by the winds — that He might try you (li-yabluwakum is semantically connected to khalaqa, ‘He [Who] created’), in other words, He created them and all that is beneficial and good for you in them, in order to test you: which of you is best in conduct, that is, [which of you] is most obedient to God. And if you were to say, O Muhammad (s), to them: ‘Truly you shall be raised again after death’, those who disbelieve will say, ‘This, Qur’ān that speaks of resurrection — or, [this] that you are saying — is nothing but manifest, clear, sorcery’ (sihrun: a variant reading has sāhirun, ‘sorcerer’, in which case the reference is to the Prophet (s).
And He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, in other words, He created the corporeal world in six directions - and His Throne was upon the water, namely, His Throne which is the First Intellect founded upon the first knowledge and reinforced by it, preceding the corporeal world in terms of existence. If we were to interpret the six days as the period of concealment, as has already been mentioned, and the creation of the heavens and the earth as His concealment, exalted be He, within the differentiations of existents, then the meaning of His Throne being on water would be that it was before the incipience of concealment manifest and known to people, as in when you say, 'I did it knowingly', that is, in the state of its being known to me, or while I had knowledge of it, that is, in full knowledge [thereof]. [This is] similar to when Ḥāritha asked the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace: 'How do you find yourself O Ḥārithaḍ', to which he replied, 'I find myself a believer, in truth'. He [the Prophet] said, 'For every truth there is a reality. So what is the reality of your faith'. He [Ḥāritha] said, 'I saw the people of Paradise visiting each other and I saw the people of Hell-fire howling to one another [in agony]. I saw the Throne of my Lord projecting forth'. He [the Prophet] said, 'You are on the right path. Stick to it'. In many instances in [statements relating to] the divine precepts the primordial substratum (mādda hayūlāniyya) is referred to by the expression 'water'. Among these is the ḥadīth in which it is related that the first thing that God created was a jewel (jawhara). He then gazed upon it with the eye of majesty whereupon it melted in shame, half of it becoming water and the other half fire. If we were to interpret it [water] with reference to this [jewel], it would mean that His Throne was before the heavens and the earth in essence and not in time, with mastery over the substratum, above it in terms of rank. Should you wish to effect a [spiritual] correspondence with [this and] the differentiations of your existence, the the meaning would be: He created the heavens of the spiritual faculties and the earth of the body in six months, being the minimal period of gestation.
His Throne, which is the heart of the believer, was upon the water of the substratum of the body with mastery over it and attached to it formally and in terms of governing it; that He might try you: He has ordained that the ultimate purpose of the creation of things be the manifestation of people's deeds. In other words, We created them so that We might know the differentiated knowledge that ensues from existence, upon which depends [the nature of] recompense in terms of which of you is best in conduct. For, God's knowledge divides into two. One part precedes the existence of a thing [and is inscribed] in the Tablet. The other part comes into existence afterwards through the manifestation loci of creatures. The trial, which is the testing [of people] is this [latter] type.
Allah created the Heavens and the Earth in Six Days
Allah, the Exalted, informs of His power over all things, and that He created the heavens and the earth in six days. He mentions that His Throne was over the water before that, just as Imam Ahmad recorded that `Imran bin Husayn said, "The Messenger of Allah said,
«اقْبَلُوا الْبُشْرَى يَا بَنِي تَمِيم»
(Accept the glad tidings, O tribe of Tamim!) They said, `Verily you have brought us glad tidings and you have given us.' Then he said,
«اقْبَلُوا الْبُشْرَى يَا أَهْلَ الْيَمَن»
(Accept the glad tidings, O people of Yemen!) They said, `We accept. Therefore, inform us about the beginning of this matter and how it was.' He said,
(Allah was before everything and His Throne was over the water. He then wrote in the Preserved Tablet mentioning everything.) Then a man came to me and said, "O `Imran, your she camel has escaped from her fetter.'' I then went out after her and I do not know what was said after I left.'' This Hadith has been recorded in the Two Sahihs of Al-Bukhari and Muslim with a variety of wordings. In Sahih Muslim, it is recorded that `Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`As said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Verily Allah measured the amount of sustenance of the creatures fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and the earth, and His Throne was over the water.) Under the explanation of this verse, Al-Bukhari recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Have you seen what has been spent since the creation of the heavens and the earth Verily it does not diminish what is in His Right Hand (in the slightest) and His Throne was over the water. In His Hand is the Scale and he lowers and raises it.) Concerning Allah's statement,
لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلاً
(that He might try you, which of you is the best in deeds.) This means that He created the heavens and the earth for the benefit of His servants, whom He created so that they may worship Him and not associate anything with Him as a partner. Allah did not create this creation (of the heavens and the earth) out of mere frivolity. This is similar to His statement,
(And We created not the heaven and the earth and all that is between them without purpose! That is the consideration of those who disbelieve! Then woe to those who disbelieve from the Fire!) 38: 27 Allah the Exalted, said,
(Did you think that We created you in play (without any purpose), and that you would not be brought back to Us So Exalted is Allah, the True King: there is no God but He, the Lord of the Supreme Throne!) 23:115-116 Allah, the Exalted, said,
(And I (Allah) created not the Jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone).) 51:56 Concerning the statement of Allah,
(that He might try you,) It means so that He (Allah) may test you. Concerning the statement,
أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلاً
(which of you is the best in deeds.) It is important to note here that Allah did not say, "Which of you has done the most deeds.'' Rather, He said, "Best in deeds.'' A deed cannot be considered a good deed until it is done sincerely for Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, and it must be in accordance with the legislation of the Messenger of Allah. Whenever a deed lacks one of these conditions, then it is null and void.
The Polytheists hasten their Torment by arguing against Resurrection after Death
(But if you were to say to them: "You shall indeed be raised up after death.'') Allah, the Exalted, is saying, "O Muhammad, if you were to inform these polytheists that Allah is going to resurrect them after their death, just as He created them originally (they would still reject).'' Even though they know that Allah, the Exalted, is the One Who created the heavens and the earth, just as He said,
(And if you were to ask them: "Who has created the heavens and the earth and subjected the sun and the moon'' They will surely reply: "Allah.'') 29:61 Even after their awareness of this (Allah's creating), they still reject the resurrection and the promised return on the Day of Judgement. Yet, in reference to ability, the resurrection is easier (for Allah to perform) than the original creation. As Allah said,
(The creation of you all and the resurrection of you all are only as (the creation and resurrection of) a single person.) 31:28 Concerning the statement,
إِنْ هَـذَا إِلاَّ سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ
(This is nothing but obvious magic.) The polytheists say this due to their disbelief and obstinacy. They say, "We do not believe your claim that resurrection will occur.'' They also say, "He (Muhammad) only says this (resurrection of the dead) because he is bewitched, and he wants you to follow him in what his bewitchment tells him. Concerning Allah's statement,
(And if We delay the torment for them till a determined term,) Allah, the Exalted, is saying "If We delay the torment and the destruction of these polytheists until an appointed time and a period determined, and We promise them a specific time period (of life), they would still say, in rejection and haste;
(What keeps it back) They mean by this, "What delays this torment from overtaking us'' Both rejection and doubt are their very nature. Therefore, they have no escape or refuge from the torment.
The Meanings of the Word Ummah
The word Ummah is used in the Qur'an and Sunnah with a number of different meanings. Sometimes when it is used it means a specified period of time. An example is the statement of Allah, the Exalted, in this verse,
إِلَى أُمَّةٍ مَّعْدُودَةٍ
(till a determined Ummah (term),) This is also the meaning in the statement of Allah in Surah Yusuf,
(Then the man who was released, now after Ummah (some time) remembered.) 12:45 The word Ummah is also used to refer to the Imam (leader) who is followed. An example of this is in the statement of Allah,
(Verily, Ibrahim was an Ummah, obedient to Allah, Hanif, and he was not of those who were polytheists.) 16:120 The word Ummah is also used to mean religion and religious creed. This is as Allah mentions concerning the polytheists, that they said,
(And for every Ummah there is a Messenger; when their Messenger comes, the matter will be judged between them with justice, and they will not be wronged.) 10:47 The meaning of Ummah here is those people who have had a Messenger sent among them. The meaning of Ummah in this context includes the believers and the disbelievers among them. This is like what has been recorded in Sahih Muslim,
(By He in Whose Hand is my soul! there is no one of this Ummah, whether he be a Jew or Christian, who hears of me and does not believe in me, except that he will enter the Hell- fire.) In reference to the Ummah of followers, then they are those who believe in the Messengers, as Allah said,
كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ
(You (the followers of Prophet Muhammad) are the best Ummah ever raised up for mankind.) 3:110 In the Sahih the Prophet said,
«فَأَقُولُ: أُمَّتِي أُمَّتِي»
(Then I will say, "My Ummah (followers), my Ummah!'') The word Ummah is also used to mean a sect or party. An example of this usage is in the statement of Allah,
(And of the people of Musa there is an Ummah who lead (the men) with truth and established justice therewith.) 7:159 Likewise is His statement,
مِّنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَـبِ أُمَّةٌ قَآئِمَةٌ
(A party of the People of the Scripture stand for the right.) 3:113
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
This is a parenthetical clause that has probably been inserted in answer to a question, which has not been cited: if the heavens and the earth were created afterwards in six days, what was there before their creation? The answer is: then there was water. It is not possible for us to say what exactly was the nature of that water. It might have been the common fluid known by that name. Or perhaps, the word "water" has been used as a symbol for the fluid state of the matter before it was changed to its present form. As regards "His Throne rested on water," I am of the opinion that it means: "His Kingdom was over water."
This enunciates the purpose of the Creation: Allah created the heavens and the earth for the sake of the creation of mankind and He created mankind to rest human beings by delegating to them the powers of vicegerency and making them morally responsible for using or abusing them, just as they liked. Thus it has been emphasized that the sole purpose of the Creation is the moral trial of man and his consequent accountability to the Creator for the use or abuse of the delegated powers, and the award of rewards and punishments. For without this basic purpose, the whole work of Creation would have become meaningless and useless.
That is, "The disbelievers very foolishly considered the purpose of the Creation to be no more than a pastime in which they themselves were mere playthings. They were so absorbed in their foolish conception that when the Holy Prophet told. them what the real purpose of Creation was and what part they were required to play in it, they would scoff at him, saying, "Your Message is like a piece of sorcery and beyond our understanding."