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This comes from the comprehensiveness of the Quran’s wording. Certainly, this comprehensiveness is apparent in the previous Words, as well as in the verses whose meanings are quoted in this Word.

As pointed out in the hadith, Each verse has outer meanings, inner meanings, limits and a point of comprehension. And it also has boughs, branches and twigs, the wording of the Quran is such that each phrase, word and letter, even each diacritical stop, has many aspects. It gives to each of those it addresses his share through a different door.

For example, And the mountains masts (al-Naba’, 78.7) is a phrase meaning, ‘I have made the mountains like masts and stakes for that earth of yours’.

The share of an ordinary man in the meaning of this phrase is that he sees the mountains that seem as if driven into the ground, and thinking of the benefits and bounties thereof, offers thanks to his Creator.

The share of a poet is that he imagines the earth as a ground, on which is pitched in a sweeping ark the dome of the heavens as a mighty blue tent adorned with electric lamps, and he sees the mountains skirting the base of the heavens as the pegs of the tent. He worships his Majestic Creator in amazement.

The share of a desert-dwelling literary man is that he imagines the face of the earth as a vast desert, and the mountain chains as a great multitude of nomads’ tents: as if the soil layer had been stretched over high posts and the pointed tips of the posts had raised up the ‘cloth’ of the soil, which he sees as the habitation of numerous different creatures looking one to the other. He prostrates in amazement before his Majestic Creator, Who placed and set up so easily those imposing and mighty things like tents on the face of the earth.

The share of a geographer with a literary bent is that he thinks of the earth as a ship sailing in the ocean of air or of ether, and the mountains as masts driven into the ship for its balance and stability. Before the All-Powerful One of Perfection Who has made that vast earth like a well-built, orderly ship on which He makes us travel through the regions of the universe, he declares: ‘Glory be to You, how magnificent Your creation is!’

The share of a philosopher or historian of culture is that he sees the earth as a house, the pillar of whose life is animal life in turn supported by air, water, and earth--the conditions of life. Mountains are essential for air, water, and earth, for they are the reservoirs for water, the combs for the air--by precipitating the noxious gases, they purify the atmosphere--and the preserver of earth--they preserve it from being transformed into a swamp, and against the encroachment of the sea. Mountains are also treasuries for other necessities of human life. In perfect reverence he offers praise to the Maker of Majesty and Munificence, Who has made those great mountains as masts for the earth, which is the house of our life, and appointed them as the keepers of the treasuries of our livelihood.

The share of a naturalist scientist is: The quakes and tremors which occurred as the result of certain formations and fusions in the heart of the earth stabilized with the emergence of mountains. Their emergence was also the cause of the earth’s stability on its axis and in its orbit and its not deviating in its annual rotation as a result of the earthquakes. The wrath and anger of the earth is quietened through its breaking through the vents of mountains. The scientist would come to believe, and would declare: ‘There is a wisdom in everything God does.’

The heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them. (21:30)

‘Of one piece’ in the verse would mean to a learned man who has not studied materialist philosophy that when the heavens were clear and without clouds, and the earth, dry and with no traces of life, and incapable of giving birth, God opened up the heavens with rain and the earth with vegetation, and created all living beings through some sort of marriage and impregnation. He understands that all these things are the work of such an All-Powerful One of Majesty that the face of the earth is merely a small garden of His and the clouds, which veil the face of the skies, are sponges for watering it, and the learned man therefore prostrates before the tremendousness of His Power.

To an exacting sage it means: while at the beginning of the creation the heavens and the earth were a formless mass, each consisting of matter like wet dough with no produce or creatures, the All-Wise Creator separated them and rolled them out, and giving each a comely shape and a beneficial form, made them the origins of multiform, adorned creatures. The sage is filled with admiration at the comprehensiveness of His Wisdom.

A modern philosopher or scientist understands from it that while at first the sun, the earth and other planets which comprise the solar system were all fused together like a mass of dough, the All-Powerful and Self-Subsistent One rolled out the dough and placed the planets in their respective positions. He left the sun where it was and brought the earth here, and spreading soil over the face of the earth and watering it with the rain He poured from the skies, and illuminating it with the light of the sun, He made the world habitable by living forms and placed us in it. The philosopher-scientist is saved from the swamp of naturalism, and declares: ‘I believe in God, the One, the Unique!’

The sun runs its course to a resting-place for it. (36:38)

The particle li (written as the single letter lam), translated here as ‘to’, expresses the meanings of ‘toward, in’, and ‘for’. Ordinary readers take it in the meaning of ‘toward’ and understand that the sun, which is a moving lamp providing light and heat for them, will certainly conclude its journeying and, arriving at its place of rest, take on a form which will no longer be beneficial for them. Thinking of the great bounties which the Majestic Creator bestows on them through the sun, they declare: ‘All glory be to God! All praise be to God!’

A learned person also takes li in the meaning of ‘toward’. However, he thinks of the sun not only as a lamp, but also as a shuttle for the textiles of the Lord to be woven in the loom of spring and summer, as an ink-pot whose ink is light for the letters of the Eternally-Besought-of-All inscribed on the pages of night and day. He also reflects on the order of the world, of which the apparent movement of the sun is a sign and to which it points. Then he would declare before the All-Wise Maker’s art: ‘What wonders God has willed!’, and before His Wisdom: ‘May God bless it!’, and prostrate.

For a geographer-philosopher li means ‘in’ and suggests: through Divine command and with a spring-like movement on its own axis, the sun orders and propels its system. Before his Majestic Creator, Who created and set in order a mighty ‘clock’ like the solar system, he would exclaim in perfect amazement and admiration: ‘All greatness is God’s, and all power!’, and abandoning materialistic philosophy, embrace the wisdom of the Quran.

A precise and wise scholar considers li as both causal and adverbial in meaning, and understands that since the All-Wise Maker operates behind the veil of apparent causality, He has tied the planets to the sun by a law of His called gravity, and causes them to revolve with distinct but regular motions in accordance with His universal wisdom, and in order to produce gravity, He has made the sun’s movement on its own axis an apparent cause. That is, the meaning of a resting-place is that ‘the sun moves in the place determined for it for the order and stability of its own (solar) system’. For like the Divine laws, that motion produces heat, and heat produces force, and force gravity, the sun’s is a law of Divine Lordship. Thus, on understanding such an instance of wisdom from a single letter of the Quran, the wise scholar would declare: ‘All praise be to God! It is in the Quran that true wisdom is to be found. Human philosophy is worth almost nothing.’

The following idea occurs to a thinker of poetic bent from this li and the stability mentioned: ‘The sun is a light-diffusing tree, with the planets being its moving fruits. However, unlike trees, the sun is shaken so that the fruits do not fall. If it was not shaken, they would fall and be scattered.’ He may also imagine the sun to be an ecstatic leader of a circle reciting God’s Names. He recites in ecstasy in the center of the circle and leads the others to recite. In another treatise of mine, I expressed this meaning as follows:

The sun is a fruit-bearing tree; it is shaken so that its traveling fruits do not fall.

If it rested, no longer shaken, the attraction would cease, and those attracted to it would weep through space.

They are those who will prosper. (2:5)

This verse is general and unspecified, it does not specify in what way they will prosper, so that each person may find what he pursues in it. The sense is compact, so that it may be comprehensive. For the aim of some of those whom it addresses is to be saved from the Fire. Others think only of Paradise, some desire eternal happiness. Yet others seek only God’s good pleasure, while others pursue the vision of God. And so on. In numerous other places also, the Quran does not narrow or specify the sense so that it can be inclusive. It leaves certain things unsaid, so that it can express many meanings. Thus it says, who will prosper. By not specifying in what way they will prosper, it means:

Muslims! Good tidings to you!
God-fearing one! You will be saved from Hell.
righteous one! You will enter Paradise.
one with knowledge of God! You will gain God’s good pleasure.
lover of God! You will be rewarded with vision of God.

And so on. This is only one of numerous examples of the comprehensiveness of meaning of each of the Quran’s phrases, words, and even single letters.


How do you know that the Quran contains and intends all those meanings?

Answer: Since the Quran is an eternal discourse speaking to, and teaching, all mankind, coming as they do through all ages and of different levels and capacity, it will certainly contain and intend all those numerous meanings according to each capacity and level, and make allusions to them. In Signs of (the Quran’s) Miraculousness, it is proved, according to the rules of Arabic grammar and the principles of the sciences of rhetoric and semantics and eloquence, that the words of the Quran include and intend various meanings as in the examples above. According to the consensus of Muslim jurists, interpreters of the Quran, and scholars of religious methodology, and as their own differences of interpretation bear witness, all the aspects and meanings understood from the Quran are acceptable as among the meanings of the Quran provided they are in accordance with the rules of the Arabic language and the principles of religion, and in conformity with the sciences of semantics, rhetoric and eloquence. The Quran has placed a sign for each of those meanings according to its degree. It is either literal or allusive. If allusive, there is another sign from either the preceding context or the following context or another verse to point to the meaning. Thousands of commentaries on the Quran written in volumes from twenty to eighty are decisive evidence for the extraordinary comprehensiveness of the Quran’s wording. Anyway, if in this Word we were to show how each type of meaning works according to certain rules, the discussion would be extremely lengthy. Referring the reader to Signs of Miraculousness for a part of such discussion, I will not go into it any further here.

Recommended Reading:
The extraordinary comprehensiveness of the knowledge of the Quran

Last Updated on September 30, 2000

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