The Quran

Commentaries for 2.22

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.22 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Who hath appointed the earth a resting-place for you), a place for dwelling and sleeping, (and the sky a canopy), raised high above; (and causeth water to pour down from the sky), i.e. rain, (thereby producing) through this rain (fruits) different kinds of fruit (as food for you) as sustenance for you and all created beings. (So do not set up rivals to Allah) do not say that Allah has peers, different forms or coequals (when you know) that He is the fashioner of all these things. It is also said that (when you know) means: when you know from your own scripture that Allah does not have a son, coequal or peer.
2.22 Asrar - Kashf Al-Asrar
He who made for you the earth a carpet and the heaven a building, and who sent down from heaven water by which He brought forth fruits for you as provision. So do not set up peers for God knowingly.
The wonders of power and the marvels of wisdom in earth and heaven are evidence of a Lord and Creator and witness to His oneness, knowledge, and ability. He placed those seven green domes upon the wind, one on top of one another, without pillar or joint, as a mark of His power. He placed these seven dust-colored hills on top of the water as a clarification of His wisdom. About the one He says, [“We set in heaven constellations] and We adorned them for the gazers” [15:16] and about the other He says, [“And earth,] We laid it out-what excellent spreaders!” [51:48].
Look then at this likeness: two doves, one black and one white, which have come forth within the space of the blue dome. On the wings of one is Then We effaced the sign of the night [17:12], and on the wings of the other We made the sign of the day, giving sight [17:12]. The black was born of the white, and the white appeared from the black: He rolls up the night in the day, and He rolls up the day in the night [39:5]. He makes the night pass into the day and makes the day pass into the night [22:61]. How pure and faultless is the God who brought forth the brightness of day from the pitch black night and made the darkness of the pitch black night appear from the brightness of day! More wondrous than this is that He placed the brightness of knowing in the center point of the black blood of the heart and the brightness of seeing in the center point of the eye's pupil. Thus will you know that He is the perfectly powerful, the bountiful and bounteous bestower.
This bright day is the mark of the compact of good fortune, and this dark night is the likeness of the days of tribulation. He is saying, “O you who have the good fortune of ease in the day's brightness, do not feel secure, for the darkness of tribulation's night is upon its tracks.
O you who have been without ease in tribulation's night, do not despair, for the bright day is on its tracks.”
Such are the states of the heart: sometimes it is in the night of contraction, sometimes in the day of expansion. In the day of contraction there is awe and confoundedness, and in the day of expansion there is mercy and intimacy. In the state of contraction the servant has nothing but the weeping and the pleading of a wounded heart. In the state of expansion he is all delight and restfulness.
The Pir of the Tariqah said, “O God, if I weep for You, weeping is sweet, and if I delight in You, delight is sweet. O God, I am happy because I am weeping at Your threshold in the hope that one day I will delight in the field of Your bounty, that You will receive me and I may turn myself over to You. If You gaze at me once, I will throw the two worlds into the ocean.”
The lords of the realities have given this verse another commentary and have seen another intimation. They say that God has placed likenesses in this verse. The earth is the likeness of the body, the heaven the likeness of the intellect, the water that comes down from heaven is the likeness of the knowledge that is gained by intellect, and the fruits are the likeness of the servant's beautiful deeds done as the requisite of knowledge. He is alluding to the fact that God is the Lord who created you as a person, form, and body, and adorned the body with the beauty of the intellect. Then by means of intellect He bestowed knowledge, cleverness, and learning. From that knowledge great fruits grew forth. Those fruits are beautiful deeds, within which are found your soul's nourishment and your goodly life [16:97]. Since the Lord shows such loving kindness and mercy to you, why do you associate others in worship of Him and take partners along with Him? So do not set up peers for God knowingly.
2.22 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
He Who assigned to you, created [for you], the earth for a couch, like a carpet that is laid out, neither extremely hard, nor extremely soft so as to make it impossible to stand firm upon it; and heaven for an edifice, like a roof; and sent down from the heaven water, wherewith He brought forth, all types of, fruits for your provision; so set not up compeers to God, that is partners in worship, while you know that He is the Creator, that you create not and that only One that creates can be God.
2.22 Kashani - Kashani
[He Who assigned to you the earth for a couch and heaven for an edifice; and sent down from the heaven water, wherewith He brought forth fruits for your provision] He has assigned the earth to them for a couch so that it might be their resting place and their domicile, and He has assigned [to them] the heaven for an edifice so that it might shelter them, and He has sent down water from the heaven and therewith brought forth plants from the earth so that this might be provision for them [drawing them thereby] to Himself, that they might beware of attributing the act to other than Him and thus rise above associating acts [with any other than Him] when they witness that these are all from God. That is why He mentions what results from these anteceding [graces] using [the coordinating particle] fāÌ, saying: so set not up compeers to God, while you know, what we have mentioned in the way of things given, as though He were saying that He was the one who has performed these acts and so worship can only be truly for Him and should not be assigned to any other than Him. Do not therefore set up a compeer to Him by attributing the act to this [compeer] that this [latter] would then deserve to be worshipped by you and that you then worship this [compeer] even as you are aware of [the transgression involved in] that. Their worship should only be for the Maker. Their Lord is the one who discloses Himself in the form of maker, since every servant only worships what he knows and he can only know God in the measure that he finds divinity in himself. They can only find the Doer, freely chosen [by them] and so they worship Him. The ultimate goal of such worship is to arrive at Paradise, which is the perfection of the world of acts. God has made smooth the earths of their souls and constructed upon them the heavens of their spirits, sending down from these heavens the water of the science of declaring the unity of [His] acts, therewith bringing forth from that earth the plants of submission as well as works, acts of obedience, and virtuous character traits so that from these He might provide for their hearts the fruits of certainty, as well as the states and the stations such as patience, gratitude and reliance.
Having established [His] Oneness, this is used as proof to established the prophethood [of Muḥammad] so that [one's] islām becomes sound thereby, since it cannot be sound except through the two testimonies. For merely declaring [God's] Oneness is to become veiled from the level of differentiation by the union which is pure compulsion that leads to heresy and indifference [to the Law], while mere attribution of the act and the saying to the Messenger is to be veiled by the level of differentiation from the union, that which is pure destiny that leads to magianism and dualism, whereas islām is a path between the two combining our words 'there is no god but God' and our words 'Muḥammad is the Messenger of God' and belief in it as a locus of [divine] self-manifestation for His acts, exalted be He. For the acts of creatures compared to the acts of the Truth are as the body to the spirit. Just as the source of the act is the spirit but cannot be completed except by the body, so too the Originator of the act is [God] the Truth and cannot become manifest through creatures. The mission [of Muḥammad] is necessary because creatures by virtue of their being veiled and distant from the Truth are unable to receive gnosis from their Lord [without it]. There must necessarily be an intermediary who through his Truth-witnessing spirit is in harmony with the Divine Presence and through his creature-familiar soul [is in harmony] with the rank of humankind, so that his heart is able to receive from his spirit lordly words which he casts unto his holy soul so that creatures accept [these] from him on account of the harmonised link [to both the divine and the human].Thus He says:
2.21-22 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Tawhid Al-Uluhiyyah
Allah next mentioned His Oneness in divinity and stated that He has favored His servants by bringing them to life after they did not exist. He also surrounded them with blessings, both hidden and apparent. He made the earth a resting place for them, just like the bed, stable with the firm mountains.
وَالسَّمَآءَ بِنَآءً
(And the sky as a canopy) meaning, `a ceiling'. Similarly, Allah said in another Ayah,
وَجَعَلْنَا السَّمَآءَ سَقْفاً مَّحْفُوظاً وَهُمْ عَنْ ءَايَـتِهَا مُعْرِضُونَ
(And We have made the heaven a roof, safe and well-guarded. Yet they turn away from its signs (i.e. sun, moon, winds, clouds)) (21:32).
وَأَنزَلَ لَكُمْ مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ مَآءً
(And sends down for you water (rain) from the sky) meaning, through the clouds, when they need the rain. Hence, Allah caused the various types of vegetation and fruits to grow as a means of sustenance for people and their cattle. Allah reiterated this bounty in various parts of the Qur'an.
There is another Ayah that is similar to this Ayah (2:22), that is, Allah's statement,
الَّذِى جَعَـلَ لَكُـمُ الاٌّرْضَ قَـرَاراً وَالسَّمَآءَ بِنَـآءً وَصَوَّرَكُـمْ فَأَحْسَنَ صُوَرَكُـمْ وَرَزَقَكُـمْ مِّنَ الطَّيِّبَـتِ ذَلِكُمُ اللَّهُ رَبُّكُـمْ فَتَـبَـرَكَ اللَّهُ رَبُّ الْعَـلَمِينَ
(It is He Who has made for you the earth as a dwelling place and the sky as a canopy, and has given you shape and made your shapes good (looking) and has provided you with good things. That is Allah, your Lord, so Blessed be Allah, the Lord of all that exists) (40:64).
The meaning that is reiterated here is that Allah is the Creator, the Sustainer, the Owner and Provider of this life, all that is in and on it. Hence, He alone deserves to be worshipped, and no one and nothing is to be associated with Him. This is why Allah said next,
فَلاَ تَجْعَلُواْ للَّهِ أَندَاداً وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
(Then do not set up rivals unto Allah (in worship) while you know (that He alone has the right to be worshipped)) (2:22).
The Two Sahihs record that Ibn Mas`ud said, "I said to the Messenger of Allah, `Which evil deed is the worst with Allah' He said,
«أَنْ تَجْعَلَ للهِ نِدًّا وَهُوَ خَلَقَك»
(To take an equal with Allah, while He alone created you.)''
Also, Mu`adh narrated the Prophet's statement,
«أَتَدْرِي مَا حَقُّ اللهِ عَلَى عِبَادِهِ؟ أَنْ يَعْبُدُوهُ وَلَا يُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا»
(Do you know Allah's right on His servants They must worship Him alone and refrain from associating anything with Him in worship.) Another Hadith states,
«لَا يَقُولَنَّ أَحَدُكُمْ مَا شَاءَ اللهُ وَشَاءَ فُلَانٌ، وَلكِنْ لِيَقُلْ: مَا شَاءَ اللهُ ثُمَّ شَاءَ فُلَان»
(None of you should say, `What Allah and so-and-so person wills. Rather, let him say, `What Allah wills, and then what so-and-so person wills.)
A Hadith with the same Meaning
Imam Ahmad narrated that Al-Harith Al-Ash`ari said that the Prophet of Allah said,
«إِنَّ اللهَ عَزَّوَجَلَّ أَمَرَ يَحْيَى بْنَ زَكَرِيَّا عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ بِخَمْسِ كَلِمَاتٍ أَنْ يَعْمَلَ بِهِنَّ، وَأَنْ يَأْمُرَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنْ يَعْمَلُوا بِهِنَّ وَأَنَّهُ كَادَ أَنْ يُبْطِىءَ بِهَا،فَقَالَ لَهُ عِيسَى عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ: إِنَّكَ قَدْ أُمِرْتَ بِخَمْسِ كَلِمَاتٍ أَنْ تَعْمَلَ بِهِنَّ وَتَأْمُرَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنْ يَعْمَلُوا بِهِنَّ فَإِمَّا أَنْ تُبَلِّغَهُمْ وَإمَّا أَنْ أُبَلِّغَهُنَّ، فَقَالَ: يَا أَخِي إِنِّي أَخْشَى إِنْ سَبَقْتَنِي أَنْ أُعَذَّبَ أَوْ يُخْسَفَ بِي قَالَ: فَجَمَعَ يَحْيَى بْنُ زَكَرِيَّا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ فِي بَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ حَتَّى امْتَلَأَ الْمَسْجِدُ، فَقَعَدَ عَلَى الشَّرَفِ فَحَمِدَ اللهَ وَأَثْنَى عَلَيْهِ ثُمَّ قَالَ: إِنَّ اللهَ أَمَرَنِي بِخَمْسِ كَلِمَاتٍ أَنْ أَعْمَلَ بِهِنَّ وَآمُرَكُمْ أَنْ تَعْمَلُوا بِهِنَّ أَوَّلُهُنَّ: أَنْ تَعْبُدُوا اللهَ وَلَا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا، فَإِنَّ مَثَلَ ذلِكَ كَمَثَلِ رَجُلٍ اشْتَرَى عَبْدًا مِنْ خَالِصِ مَالِهِ بِوَرِقٍ أَوْ ذَهَبٍ فَجَعَلَ يَعْمَلُ وَيُؤَدِّي غَلَّتَهُ إِلى غَيْرِ سَيِّدِهِ، فَأَيُّكُمْ يَسُرُّهُ أَنْ يَكُونَ عَبْدُهُ كَذلِكَ، وَإِنَّ اللهَ خَلَقَكُمْ وَرَزَقَكُمْ فَاعْبُدُوهُ وَلَا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا. وَآمُرَكُمْ بِالصَّلَاةِ فَإِنَّ اللهَ يَنْصِبُ وَجْهَهُ لِوَجْهِ عَبْدِهِ مَا لَمْ يَلْتَفِتْ فَإِذَا صَلَّيْتُمْ فَلَا تَلْتَفِتُوا. وَآمُرُكُمْ بِالصِّيَامِ فَإِنَّ مَثَلَ ذلِكَ كَمَثَلِ رَجُلٍ مَعَهُ صُرَّةٌ مِنْ مِسْكٍ فِي عِصَابَةٍ كُلُّهُمْ يَجِدُ رِيحَ الْمِسْكِ وَإِنَّ خَلُوفَ فَمِ الصَّائِم أَطْيَبُ عِنْدَ اللهِ مِنْ رِيحِ الْمِسْكِ. وَآمُرُكُمْ بِالصَّدَقَةِ فَإِنَّ مَثَلَ ذلِكَ كَمَثَلِ رَجُلٍ أَسَرَهُ الْعَدُوُّ فَشَدُّوا يَدَيْهِ إِلى عُنُقِهِ وَقَدَّمُوهُ لِيَضْرِبُوا عُنُقَهُ فَقَالَ لَهُمْ: هَلْ لَكُمْ أَنْ أَفْتَدِيَ نَفْسِي مِنْكُمْ فَجَعَلَ يَفْتَدِي نَفْسَهُ مِنْهُمْ بِالْقَلِيلِ وَالْكَثِيرِ حَتَّى فَكَّ نَفْسَهُ.وَآمُرُكُمْ بِذِكْرِ اللهِ كَثِيرًا وَإِنَّ مَثَلَ ذلِكَ كَمَثَلِ رَجُلِ طَلَبَهُ الْعَدُوُّ سِرَاعًا فِي أَثَرِهِ فَأَتَى حِصْنًا حَصِينًا فَتَحَصَّنَ فِيهِ وَإِنَّ الْعَبْدَأَحْصَنَ مَا يَكُونُ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ إِذَا كَانَ فِي ذِكْرِ الله»
(Allah commanded Yahya bin Zakariya to implement five commands and to order the Children of Israel to implement them, but Yahya was slow in carrying out these commands. `Isa said to Yahya, `You were ordered to implement five commands and to order the Children of Israel to implement them. So either order, or I will do it.' Yahya said, 'My brother! I fear that if you do it before me, I will be punished or the earth will be shaken under my feet.' Hence, Yahya bin Zakariya called the Children of Israel to Bayt Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem), until they filled the Masjid. He sat on the balcony, thanked Allah and praised him and then said, `Allah ordered me to implement five commandments and that I should order you to adhere to them. The first is that you worship Allah alone and not associate any with Him. The example of this command is the example of a man who bought a servant from his money with paper or gold. The servant started to work for the master, but was paying the profits to another person. Who among you would like his servant to do that Allah created you and sustains you. Therefore, worship Him alone and do not associate anything with Him. I also command you to pray, for Allah directs His Face towards His servant's face, as long as the servant does not turn away. So when you pray, do not turn your heads to and fro. I also command you to fast. The example of it is the example of a man in a group of men and he has some musk wrapped in a piece of cloth, and consequently, all of the group smells the scent of the wrapped musk. Verily, the odor of the mouth of a fasting person is better before Allah than the scent of musk. I also command you to give charity. The example of this is the example of a man who was captured by the enemy. They tied his hands to his neck and brought him forth to cut off his neck. He said to them, 'Can I pay a ransom for myself' He kept ransoming himself with small and large amounts until he liberated himself. I also command you to always remember Allah. The example of this deed is that of a man who the enemy is tirelessly pursuing. He takes refuge in a fortified fort. When the servant remembers Allah, he will be resorting to the best refuge from Satan.)
Al-Harith then narrated that the Messenger of Allah said,
«وَأَنَا آمُرُكُمْ بِخَمْسٍ اللهُ أَمَرَنِي بِهِنَّ: الْجَمَاعَةِ وَالسَّمْعِ وَالطَّاعَةِ وَالْهِجْرَةِ وَالْجِهَادِ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ. فَإِنَّهُ مَنْ خَرَجَ مِنَ الْجَمَاعَةِ قِيدَ شِبْرٍ فَقَدْ خَلَعَ رَبْقَةَ الْإِسْلَامِ مِنْ عُنُقِهِ إِلَّا أَنْ يُرَاجِعَ وَمَنْ دَعَا بِدَعْوَى جَاهِلِيَّةٍ فَهُوَ مِنْ جُثَى جَهَنَّم»
قَالُوا: يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ وَإِنْ صَامَ وَصَلَّى؟ فَقَالَ:
«وَإِنَّ صَلَّى وَصَامَ وَزَعَمَ أَنَّهُ مُسْلِمٌ، فَادْعُوا الْمُسْلِمِينَ بِأَسْمَائِهِمْ عَلَى مَا سَمَّاهُمُ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ الْمُسْلِمِينَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ عِبَادَ الله»
(And I order you with five commandments that Allah has ordered me. Stick to the Jama`ah (community of the faithful), listen and obey (your leaders) and perform Hijrah (migration) and Jihad for the sake of Allah. Whoever abandons the Jama`ah, even the distance of a hand span, will have removed the tie of Islam from his neck, unless he returns. Whoever uses the slogans of Jahiliyah (the pre-Islamic period of ignorance) he will be among those kneeling in Jahannam (Hellfire).) They said, "O Messenger of Allah! Even if he prays and fasts'' He said, (Even if he prays, fasts and claims to be Muslim. So call the Muslims with their names that Allah has called them: `The Muslims, the believing servants of Allah.')
This is a Hasan Hadith, and it contains the statement, "Allah has created and sustains you, so worship Him and do not associate anything with Him in worship.'' This statement is relevant in the Ayat (2:21-22) we are discussing here and supports singling Allah in worship, without partners.
Signs of Allah's Existence
Several scholars of Tafsir, like Ar-Razi and others, used these Ayat as an argument for the existence of the Creator, and it is a most worthy method of argument. Indeed, whoever ponders over the things that exist, the higher and lower creatures, their various shapes, colors, behavior, benefits and ecological roles, then he will realize the ability, wisdom, knowledge, perfection and majesty of their Creator. Once a bedouin was asked about the evidence to Allah's existence, he responded, "All praise is due to Allah! The camel's dung testifies to the existence of the camel, and the track testifies to the fact that someone was walking. A sky that holds the giant stars, a land that has fairways and a sea that has waves, does not all of this testify that the Most Kind, Most Knowledgeable exists''
Hence, whoever gazes at the sky in its immensity, its expanse, and the various kinds of planets in it, some of which appear stationary in the sky - whoever gazes at the seas that surround the land from all sides, and the mountains that were placed on the earth to stabilize it, so that whoever lives on land, whatever their shape and color, are able to live and thrive - whoever reads Allah's statement,
وَمِنَ الْجِبَالِ جُدَدٌ بِيضٌ وَحُمْرٌ مُّخْتَلِفٌ أَلْوَنُهَا وَغَرَابِيبُ سُودٌوَمِنَ النَّاسِ وَالدَّوَآبِّ وَالاٌّنْعَـمِ مُخْتَلِفٌ أَلْوَنُهُ كَذَلِكَ إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاءُ
(And among the mountains are streaks white and red, of varying colours and (others) very black. And likewise, men and Ad-Dawabb (moving (living) creatures, beasts) and cattle are of various colours. It is only those who have knowledge among His servants that fear Allah) (35: 27-28).
Whoever thinks about the running rivers that travel from area to area bringing benefit, whoever ponders over what Allah has created on earth; various animals and plants of different tastes, scents, shapes and colors that are a result of unity between land and water, whoever thinks about all of this then he will realize that these facts testify to the existence of the Creator, His perfect ability, wisdom, mercy, kindness, generosity and His overall compassion for His creation. There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah, nor is there a Lord besides Him, upon Him we rely and to Him we turn in repentance. There are numerous Ayat in the Qur'an on this subject.
2.21-22 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
Though the Qur' an invites all human beings to its message, to benefit or not to benefit from it depends on whether the people are really willing and inclined to benefit from it and on Allah's grace accordingly. Therefore, in the preceding verses distinction has been made between the people to show as to which of them can benefit from the guidance of this Book and which cannot. Now, the actual message for which the Qur'an was revealed is presented before all mankind.
From errors of judgement and action in the world and from the punishment of God in the Hereafter.
That is, "When you yourselves admit and acknowledge that all this has been done only by Allah, then you should serve and worship Him alone." "To set up others to equal in rank with Allah" means to hold others besides Allah as worthy of some kind of service and worship. As will be explained by the Qur'an below, there are certain kinds of worship which should exclusively be performed for the sake of Allah; associating others with these is the shirk for the eradication of which the Qur' an was sent down.
2.22 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
He who assigned to you the earth for a couch and heaven for an edifice; and sent down from the heaven water wherewith He brought forth fruits for your provision; so set not up compeers to God while you know. He is made known to them by the mention of the favors He has granted in the creation of the heaven for them as a roof raised saqf marjūʿ the establishment of the earth for them as a couch laid out farsh mawḌūʿ and the bringing forth of plants by the rain for them as a provision gathered rizq majmūʿ. It is said that He freed them from any obligation to simula-cra amthāl by eliminating for them any necessary cause ʿilla. So the heaven is sufficient for them as a covering the earth as a bed the permissible things as provision obedience as a trade worship as an occupation remembrance as an intimate friend and the Lord as a guardian-so set not up compeers with God and do not attach your hearts to others in seeking what you need. The Real سبحانه وتعالى is One alone in creating there is no originator other than Him. When you imagine anything in events beneficial or harmful good or bad as originating from a created thing this is in actuality a kind of idolatry shirk. While you know [refers to the fact] that it is not appropriate to raise the matter of your need with someone who has his own need. The attachment of one in need to another one in need and the reliance of the weak on the weak increases poverty and will not stop harm from taking place.
2.22 Tustari - Al-Tustari
…So set not up compeers (andād) to God…That is, adversaries (aḍdād), and the greatest adversary is the self that incites to evil (al-nafs al-ammāra bi’l-sūʾ), which is only bent on its own pleasures (ḥuẓūẓ) and cravings (munā), without having any regard for guidance from God. Sahl was asked about God’s words: