The Quran

Commentaries for 21.33

Al Anbiya (The prophets) - الأنبياء

21.33 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And He it is Who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon) He made the sun and the moon subservient. (They float, each in an orbit) each one of them rotate around its orbit.
21.33 Asrar - Kashf Al-Asrar
And He it is who created night and day, and the sun and the moon, each swimming in a sphere.
In the tasting of the folk of recognition, night and day are a mark of the contraction and expansion of the recognizers. Contraction and expansion are the divine decree and royal predetermination. Sometimes He puts them in the grasp of His contraction so that the ruling power of His majesty [wreaks havoc on them, and sometimes He gives them a place on the carpet of His expansion such that the ruling power of beauty] may caress them in virtue of bestowal. It is the stipulation of the man with pain that in the grasp of contraction he be rectified and not protest, and on the carpet of expansion he be courteous and not turn away, for the great ones of the religion have said, “The servant will not find the sweetness of faith until trial comes to him from everywhere.”
And the sun and the moon, each swimming in a sphere. He created the sun and the moon in the constellations of heaven, and they travel on the peak of the spheres. He created the sun neither to increase nor to decrease and the moon to increase and decrease; sometimes it wanes, and sometimes it shines forth. The sun is the mark of the possessor of tawḤīd, who says with the attribute of stability in the presence of stability, “Were the covering to be lifted, I would not increase in certainty.” The moon is the mark of the possessor of knowledge, who walks in the playing field of exertion. He comes by way of gazing and inference and keeps his eyes on obedience and good works, that they might add faith to their faith [48:4].
The possessor of tawḤīd is the lord of pain, and the possessor of knowledge is the lord of deeds. The possessor of deeds gazes on the secondary causes, and the possessor of pain gazes on the Causer and is detached from the secondary causes. The great ones of the religion have said, “Not seeing the secondary cause is ignorance, but remaining with the secondary cause is associationism.”
A recognizer was seen on the shore of the Tigris, saying, “My Master, I am thirsty,” but he passed by without drinking. That exalted man was contemplating the Real and saw neither the Tigris nor its water. When someone is busy with a work, even if the houris of paradise pass by, he will not be aware.
God only knows, sweetheart, if I know night from daynight and day passion has confounded and perplexed me.
21.33 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
And He it is Who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon, each (kullun, the nunation of this [particle] stands in place of the second noun [of the genitive construction] that would have been al-shams, ‘the sun’, or al-qamar, ‘the moon’, or their subsidiaries, namely, al-nujūm, ‘the stars’) in an orbit, a circular [one] like a mill in the sky, swimming, moving with speed, like a swimmer in water. In order to effect the analogy with the latter, the plural person [of the verb employed] for rational beings is used.
21.30-33 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The Signs of Allah in the Heavens and the Earth and in the Night and the Day
Here Allah tells of His perfect might and power in His creation and subjugation of all things.
أَوَلَمْ يَرَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ
(Have not those who disbelieve known) means, those who deny His Divine nature and worship others instead of Him, do they not realize that Allah is the One Who is Independent in His powers of creation and is running the affairs of all things with absolute power So how can it be appropriate to worship anything else beside Him or to associate others in worship with Him Do they not see that the heavens and the earth were joined together, i.e. in the beginning they were all one piece, attached to one another and piled up on top of one another, then He separated them from one another, and made the heavens seven and the earth seven, placing the air between the earth and the lowest heaven. Then He caused rain to fall from the sky and vegetation to grow from the earth. He says:
وَجَعَلْنَا مِنَ الْمَآءِ كُلَّ شَىْءٍ حَىٍّ أَفَلاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ
(And We have made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe) meaning, they see with their own eyes how creation develops step by step. All of that is proof of the existence of the Creator Who is in control of all things and is able to do whatever He wills.
In everything there is a Sign of Him, showing that He is One
Sufyan Ath-Thawri narrated from his father from `Ikrimah that Ibn `Abbas was asked; "Did the night come first or the day'' He said, "Do you think that when the heavens and the earth were joined together, there was anything between them except darkness Thus you may know that the night came before the day. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn `Umar said that a man came to him and questioned him about when the heavens and earth were joined together then they were parted. He said, "Go to that old man (Shaykh) and ask him, then come and tell me what he says to you.'' So he went to Ibn `Abbas and asked him. Ibn `Abbas said: "Yes, the heavens were joined together and it did not rain, and the earth was joined together and nothing grew. When living beings were created to populate the earth, rain came forth from the heavens and vegetation came forth from the earth.'' The man went back to Ibn `Umar and told him what had been said. Ibn `Umar said, "Now I know that Ibn `Abbas has been given knowledge of the Qur'an. He has spoken the truth, and this is how it was.'' Ibn `Umar said: "I did not like the daring attitude of Ibn `Abbas in his Tafsir of the Qur'an, but now I know that he has been given knowledge of the Qur'an.'' Sa`id bin Jubayr said: "The heavens and the earth were attached to one another, then when the heavens were raised up, the earth became separate from them, and this is their parting which was mentioned by Allah in His Book.'' Al-Hasan and Qatadah said, "They were joined together, then they were separated by this air.''
وَجَعَلْنَا مِنَ الْمَآءِ كُلَّ شَىْءٍ حَىٍّ
(And We have made from water every living thing. ) meaning, the origin of every living thing is in water. Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah said, "I said: O Messenger of Allah, when I see you I feel happy and content, tell me about everything.'' He said,
«كُلُّ شَيْءٍ خُلِقَ مِنْ مَاء»
(Everything was created from water.) "I said, tell me about something which, if I do it, I will enter Paradise.'' He said:
«أَفْشِ السَّلَامَ، وَأَطْعِمِ الطَّعَامَ، وَصِلِ الْأَرْحَامَ، وَقُمْ بِاللَّيْلِ وَالنَّاسُ نِيَامٌ، ثُمَّ ادْخُلِ الْجَنَّةَ بِسَلَام»
(Spread (the greeting of) Salam, feed others, uphold the ties of kinship, and stand in prayer at night when people are sleeping. Then you will enter Paradise in peace.) This chain of narration fulfills the conditions of the Two Sahihs, apart from Abu Maymunah, who is one of the men of the Sunans, his first name was Salim; and At-Tirmidhi classed him as Sahih.
وَجَعَلْنَا فِى الاٌّرْضِ رَوَاسِىَ
(And We have placed on the earth firm mountains,) means, mountains which stabilize the earth and keep it steady and lend it weight, lest it should shake with the people, i.e., move and tremble so that they would not be able to stand firm on it -- because it is covered with water, apart from one-quarter of its surface. So the land is exposed to the air and sun, so that its people may see the sky with its dazzling signs and evidence. So Allah says,
أَن تَمِيدَ بِهِمْ
(lest it should shake with them, ) meaning, so that it will not shake with them.
وَجَعَلْنَا فِيهَا فِجَاجاً سُبُلاً
(and We placed therein broad highways for them to pass through,) means, mountain passes through which they may travel from region to region, country to country. As we can see, the mountains form barriers between one land and another, so Allah created gaps -- passes -- in the mountains so that people may travel from here to there. So He says:
لَّعَلَّهُمْ يَهْتَدُونَ
(that they may be guided.)
وَجَعَلْنَا السَّمَآءَ سَقْفاً مَّحْفُوظاً
(And We have made the heaven a roof, safe and well-guarded.) means, covering the earth like a dome above it. This is like the Ayah,
وَالسَّمَآءَ بَنَيْنَـهَا بِأَيْدٍ وَإِنَّا لَمُوسِعُونَ
(With Hands We constructed the heaven. Verily, We are able to extend the vastness of space thereof.) 51:47
وَالسَّمَآءِ وَمَا بَنَـهَا
(By the heaven and Him Who built it.) 91:5
أَفَلَمْ يَنظُرُواْ إِلَى السَّمَآءِ فَوْقَهُمْ كَيْفَ بَنَيْنَـهَا وَزَيَّنَّـهَا وَمَا لَهَا مِن فُرُوجٍ
(Have they not looked at the heaven above them, how We have made it and adorned it, and there are no rifts in it) 50:6. The building and making described here refers to the raising of the dome, as when the Messenger of Allah said,
«بُنِيَ الْإِسْلَامُ عَلَى خَمْس»
(Islam is built on five.) i.e., five pillars, which can only refer to a tent as familiar among the Arabs.
(safe and well-guarded.) means, high and protected from anything reaching it. Mujahid said, "Raised up.''
وَهُمْ عَنْ ءَايَـتِهَا مُعْرِضُونَ
(Yet they turn away from its signs.) This is like the Ayah:
وَكَأَيِّن مِّن ءَايَةٍ فِى السَّمَـوَتِ وَالاٌّرْضِ يَمُرُّونَ عَلَيْهَا وَهُمْ عَنْهَا مُعْرِضُونَ
(And how many a sign in the heavens and the earth they pass by, while they are averse therefrom) 12:105. They do not think about how Allah has created it, so vast and high, and adorned it with heavenly bodies both stationary and moving by night and day, such as the sun which completes its circuit in one day and night, until it completes its allotted time, which no one knows except Allah, Who created it and subjugated it and directed its course. Then Allah says, drawing attention to some of His signs,
وَهُوَ الَّذِى خَلَقَ الَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَـرَ
(And He it is Who has created the night and the day,) meaning, the one with its darkness and stillness, and the other with its light and human interaction; sometimes the one is longer while the other is shorter, then they switch.
وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ
(and the sun and the moon,) the sun with its own light and its own path and orbit and allotted time, and the moon which shines with a different light and travels on a different path and has its own allotted time.
كُلٌّ فِى فَلَكٍ يَسْبَحُونَ
(each in an orbit floating.) means, revolving. Ibn `Abbas said, "They revolve like a spinning wheel, in a circle.'' This is like the Ayah:
فَالِقُ الإِصْبَاحِ وَجَعَلَ الَّيْلَ سَكَناً وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ حُسْبَاناً ذَلِكَ تَقْدِيرُ الْعَزِيزِ الْعَلِيمِ
((He is the) Cleaver of the daybreak. He has appointed the night for resting, and the sun and the moon for reckoning. Such is the measuring of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing.) 6:96
21.30-33 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
From the wording of the Text, it appears that at first the whole universe was a single mass of matter; then it was split into different parts and the earth and the other heavenly bodies were formed. For fuller details, please see Ha Mim (XLI):E.N.'s 13-15
From the wording of the Text, it appears that Allah made water the cause and origin of life. See also An-Nur (XXIV): 45.
For explanation, see E. N. 12 of An-Nahl (XVI).
"Open paths" are the passes between high mountains and the valleys and ravines made by the rivers in the mountainous regions and other natural ways that connect different regions on the earth.
This is a very meaningful sentence. It may mean that the people may find paths for traveling on the earth, and it may also mean that the wisdom that underlies the skill and the system of their creation may guide them to the Reality.
For explanation, see Al-Hijr (XV): E. N's 8 and 10-12.
That is, "Those signs which are in the sky"
The use of the words kullun (all) and yasbahun (float) in the plural (for more than two) indicates that not only the sun and the moon but all the heavenly bodies are floating in their own separate orbits and none of them is fixed or stationary. These verses (30-33) are capable of being interpreted in the modern scientific terms in accordance with the present day conceptions of Physics, Biology and Astronomy.
Here it should also be noted that vv. 19-23 refute shirk while vv. 30-33 present positive proofs of Tauhid. They imply that the creation and regular functioning of the universe clearly show that it is the work of One All-Powerful Creator, and no sensible person can say that it has been created as a there pastime for the sake of fun. When the fact is this and you see proofs of the Doctrine of Tauhid all around yourself, in the earth and heavens, why do you reject the Message of the Prophet and demand other Signs from him?”