Tafseer

Tafseer Surah Saff, Verse 1

سَبَّحَ لِلَّـهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

“Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth exalts Allah, and He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.”

(Surah Saff, 61:1)

The following is a translation of Dr Fadhel al Samarrai’s Tafseer of Surah Saff.

  1. سَبَّحَ لِلَّـهِ

The meaning of Al-Tasbeeh is Tanzeeh (exaltation). Literally it means not attributing any characteristics or notions that are not befitting to the divine nature of Allah (swt). The meaning of the verse is that everything that exists in the heavens and the earth exalts Allah (swt), whether we understand the manner in which this exaltation takes place or not.

The verb of ‘Tasbeeh’ has been mentioned in the Noble Qur’an as a transitive verb directly connecting to its object, and also as a verb indirectly connecting to its object via the preposition laam.

Examples of the verb directly connecting to its object are His (swt) saying:

وَسَبِّحُوهُ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا

“And exalt Him morning and evening.”

(Al-Ahzaab, 33:42)

and His (swt) saying:

وَمِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَسَبِّحْهُ وَإِدْبَارَ النُّجُومِ

“And in a part of the night exalt Him and when the stars fade out.”

(At-Tur, 52:49)

Examples of the verb being transitive indirectly via the medium of the preposition laam is the first verse of this chapter and similarly the opening verse of Surah Al-Hadeed and Surah Al-Hashr. Another example is Allah (swt) saying:

وَإِن مِن شَيءٍ إِلّا يُسَبِّحُ بِحَمدِهِ

“And there is not a thing except that it exalts [Allah] by His praise”

(Al-Isra, 17:44)

The meaning of سَبَّحَه is to exalt him and the meaning of سَبَّحَ له means that he glorified him for his sake so that the preposition laam informs of the reason and cause for exaltation. So التسبيح is the action and تسبيح له is for the action of exaltation for his sake, just as you would say: صلّى (he prayed) and صلّى له (he prayed for his sake) and نسك (he was devout) and نسك له (he was devout for his sake). There is no benefit in any action unless it is done for the sake of Allah (swt). Therefore, every action and worship will not benefit the believer unless it is performed only for Allah (swt). Otherwise it will be misguidance and the action null and void.

He (swt) said:

قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّـهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds.”

(Al-Anaam, 6:162)

So, whoever exalts out of showing off then he did not exalt Allah (swt), and whoever prayed out of showing off then he did not pray to Allah (swt). Therefore, tasbeeh (exaltation) requires that it is for Him (swt) alone like the rest of the worships. So tasbeeh is the action and tasbeeh means that the intention is pure and the action is for Allah (swt).

It came in Al Bahrul Al Muhit: “And the laam in Lilahi is either in the position of laam as in نصحت لذيد (I advised Zaid), it is said سَبَّحَ الله (he exalted Allah) also it is said: نصحت ذيدا, so it came to strengthen the reaching of the verb to the object, or the laam is for reason i.e. I said tasbeeh for the sake of Allah i.e. for purely seeking his pleasure.”

It is noticed in the Noble Qur’an that the verbسَبَّحَ  is used with and without the preposition laam, depending on whether the subject of the verb has intellect (aqeel) such as human beings and angels, or no intellect (ghayr-aqeel) such as animals and the heavens and earth.

So for the subject which has no intellect the verb سَبَّحَ is always used with the preposition laam, and for the subject which has intellect the verb سَبَّحَ can be used with or without the preposition laam.

He (swt) said:

سَبَّحَ لِلَّـهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

“Whatever is in the heavens and earth exalts Allah, and He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.”

(Al-Hadeed, 57:1)

and He (swt) said:

تُسَبِّحُ لَهُ السَّمَاوَاتُ السَّبْعُ وَالْأَرْضُ وَمَن فِيهِنَّ

“The seven heavens and the earth and whatever is in them exalt Him.”

(Al-Isra, 17:44)

The above two verses with the preposition laam are used for both those with intellect and those without intellect.

And He (swt) said:

أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّـهَ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالطَّيْرُ صَافَّاتٍ

“Do you not see that Allah is exalted by whomever is within the heavens and the earth and [by] the birds with wings spread [in flight]?”

(An-Nur, 24:41)

In the above verse those with intellect are mixed with those without intellect such as the birds.

And He (swt) said:

يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ فِيهَا بِالْغُدُوِّ وَالْآصَالِ

“exalting Him within them in the morning and the evenings”

(An-Nur, 24:36)

And He (swt) said:

فَالَّذِينَ عِندَ رَبِّكَ يُسَبِّحُونَ لَهُ بِاللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَهُمْ لَا يَسْأَمُونَ

“Then those who are near your Lord exalt Him by night and by day, and they do not become weary.”

(Fussilat, 41:38)

In the above two verses the preposition laam is used for those subjects with intellect only.

As for being transitive by itself i.e. without the preposition laam, then it is not mentioned except for those subjects with intellect. Allah (swt) said:

لِّتُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّـهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَتُعَزِّرُوهُ وَتُوَقِّرُوهُ وَتُسَبِّحُوهُ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا

“That you [people] may believe in Allah and His Messenger and honor him and respect the Prophet and exalt Allah morning and afternoon”

(al-Fath, 48:9)

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اذْكُرُوا اللَّـهَ ذِكْرًا كَثِيرًا وَسَبِّحُوهُ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا

“O you who have believed, remember Allah with much remembrance. And exalt Him morning and afternoon.”

(Al-Ahzab, 33:41-42)

In conclusion, the act of tasbeeh (exaltation) for the subject which has no intellect the verb سَبَّحَ is always used with the preposition laam, and for the subject which has intellect the verb سَبَّحَ can be used with or without the preposition laam.

There is another interesting use of this verb when it is used with and without the preposition laam. When it is used with laam then it has a more general and expansive meaning of exaltation either from those who exalt or from the times in which exaltation happens.

So when Allah (swt) said:

سَبَّحَ لِلَّـهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

“Whatever is in the heavens and earth exalts Allah, and He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.”

(al-Hadeed, 57:1)

and when He (swt) said:

تُسَبِّحُ لَهُ السَّمَاوَاتُ السَّبْعُ وَالْأَرْضُ وَمَن فِيهِنَّ

“The seven heavens and the earth and whatever is in them exalt Him.”

(al-Isra, 17:44)

This is more general and comprehensive than when the verb is directly transitive i.e. without the preposition laam, to one or to a group which is limited in scope of exaltation.

For example, Allah (swt) said:

وَمِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَسَبِّحْهُ وَأَدْبَارَ السُّجُودِ

“And [in part] of the night exalt Him and after prostration”

(Qaf, 50:40)

And He (swt) said:

اذْكُرُوا اللَّـهَ ذِكْرًا كَثِيرًا وَسَبِّحُوهُ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا

“Remember Allah with much remembrance. And exalt Him morning and afternoon.”

(al-ahzab, 33:41-42)

So in the above two verses the verb is directly transitive to its object, so we notice that the exaltation is restricted to part of the night, the morning and the afternoon.

That is sufficient explanation that the verb with laam is used for those with intellect and those without intellect. As for being transitive directly then it is not used except for those with intellect and for including the period of exaltation.

If the period of exaltation is mentioned while the verb of tasbeeh is being used with the preposition laam, then the mentioned time is more expansive and general.

When Allah (swt) uses the verb directly without the preposition laam as in His (swt) saying:

وَتُسَبِّحُوهُ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا

“and exalt Allah morning and evening”

(al-Fath, 48:9)

And in His (swt):

وَسَبِّحُوهُ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا

“And exalt Him morning and evening.”

(al-Ahzab, 33:41-42)

in contrast to using the verb with the preposition laam, when He (swt) said:

يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ فِيهَا بِالْغُدُوِّ وَالْآصَالِ

“exalting Him within them in the mornings and the evenings”

(an-Nur, 24:36)

we notice that the plural form of أَصِيل (aseel / morning) was used. That is الْآصَال (mornings / isaal) and also the plural form of غدوة (evening) was used, that is غُدُوِّ (evenings).

And He (swt) said:

وَمِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَسَبِّحْهُ وَأَدْبَارَ السُّجُودِ

“And [in part] of the night exalt Him and after prostration”

(Qaf, 50:40)

And He (swt) said:

وَمِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَسَبِّحْهُ وَإِدْبَارَ النُّجُومِ

“And in a part of the night exalt Him and after [the setting of] the stars”

(at-Tur, 52:49)

And He (swt) said:

وَمِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَاسْجُدْ لَهُ وَسَبِّحْهُ لَيْلًا طَوِيلًا

“And during the night prostrate to Him and exalt Him a long [part of the] night”

(al-Insan, 76:26)

Therefore in the above three verses, He (swt) said ‘part of the night’ with the partitive particle من. Then He (swt) mentioned another time which is not long and it is ‘and after [the setting of] the stars’ or ‘after prostration’ even though the verse in Sura Al Insaan, the day was not mentioned whereas He (swt) mentioned it when He (swt) said:

فَالَّذِينَ عِندَ رَبِّكَ يُسَبِّحُونَ لَهُ بِاللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَهُمْ لَا يَسْأَمُونَ

“Then those who are near your Lord exalt Him by night and by day, and they do not become weary.”

(41:38)

So He said ‘by night and by day’ absolutely without any restriction and He (swt) did not mention من which indicates on part. Rather it was mentioned with the preposition ‘ba’ that gives the meaning of an adverb of time. Then He (swt) said:

وَهُمْ لَا يَسْأَمُونَ

“and they do not become weary”

to indicate on continuity and prolonging of exaltation.

Indeed the tasbeeh has been mentioned in various situations, so it was mentioned with the past tense verb such as سبَّح لله and it was mentioned with the imperfect tense verb such as يُسَبِّح لله, and it was mentioned with the command such as ‘exalt the name of your lord the most high’ and His saying ‘exalt him morning and afternoon’. It was also mentioned with the Ism Al-Masdar (verbal noun) and it is Glory (Subhan), and that is to include all times and to encompass them. So the past tense encompassed past tense, and the imperfect tense encompassed the present and future, and the command informs of a request for exaltation in the future. The verbal noun is not restricted to a time or a doer so it is in the form of absolute occurrence, meaning it indicated upon the occurrence of tasbeeh whether someone glorified him or not. In other words, all times are included. It also informs the worthiness of continuity of glorification whether there is someone glorifying or not.

It came in Tafseer Al Kabeer:  then Indeed He (swt) said in some of the chapters سبَّح لله and in someيُسَبِّح  and in some ‘sabbih’ with the command form in order that you know Allah’s magnificence always without any interruption, because the past tense verb indicates on the past tense, and the imperfect tense verb indicates on the future tense and the command indicates upon the present.

There is another point that is related to the surahs that open with past tense verbs and those that open with present tense verbs. Those that open with the past tense verb mention fighting and jihad as opposed to those chapters that open with the present tense verb. In other words, سبَّح لله, the mention of fighting is mentioned as opposed to the surah that opens with the present tense verb. So He (swt) said in Sura Al Hadid:

لَا يَسْتَوِي مِنكُم مَّنْ أَنفَقَ مِن قَبْلِ الْفَتْحِ وَقَاتَلَ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ أَعْظَمُ دَرَجَةً مِّنَ الَّذِينَ أَنفَقُوا مِن بَعْدُ وَقَاتَلُوا

“Not equal among you are those who spent before the conquest [of Makkah] and fought [and those who did so after it]. Those are greater in degree than they who spent afterwards and fought.”

(al-Hadeed, 57:10)

and it was mentioned in Sura Al Hashr the expulsion of the Kuffar from their fortress and it repeated the mention of fighting (see verses, 10,12 and 13 for example).

And He (swt) said in this chapter Surah Saff:

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِهِ صَفًّا كَأَنَّهُم بُنْيَانٌ مَّرْصُوصٌ

“Allah loves those who fight in His Way in ranks like well-built walls.”

and mentioned Al Jihad with His saying:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا هَلْ أَدُلُّكُمْ عَلَىٰ تِجَارَةٍ تُنجِيكُم مِّنْ عَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّـهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَتُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ بِأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنفُسِكُمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ.

“You who have iman! shall I direct you to a transaction which will save you from a painful punishment? It is to have iman in Allah and His Messenger and do jihad in the Way of Allah with your wealth and your selves. That is better for you if you only knew.”

All these surahs begin with the past tense verb سَبَّحَ.

We also observe that in some verses the relative pronoun مَا is repeated, so He (swt) says:

سَبَّحَ لِلَّـهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ

and it is not repeated in other verses, where He (swt) says:

سَبَّحَ لِلَّـهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَ الْأَرْضِ

When مَا  is repeated in the verses then what follows the verses is speech about the people of the earth, and when مَا is not repeated then there is no mention about the people of the earth. Indeed after this verse it mentioned a matter related to the people of the earth, so He (swt) said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِمَ تَقُولُونَ مَا لَا تَفْعَلُو

“You who have iman! why do you say what you do not do?”

therefore, مَا is repeated, because it is appropriate.

  1. لِلَّـهِ

The prepositional phrase لِلَّـهِ was brought before the subject (fa’el):

مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ

This is because the prepositional phrase لِلَّـهِ is the most important element of the sentence, since the focal point of the sentence is about Allah (swt), and not the subject of the sentence which He (swt) deserves exaltation from. Because of this He (swt) also mentioned some of His (swt) attributes:

وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

Allah (swt) mentioned after it:

كَبُرَ مَقتًا عِندَ اللَّهِ أَن تَقولوا ما لا تَفعَلونَ

“Most hateful it is with Allah that you say that which you do not do.”

(as-Saff, 61:3)

And then He (swt) mentioned:

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِهِ صَفًّا كَأَنَّهُم بُنْيَانٌ مَّرْصُوصٌ

“Verily, Allah loves those who fight in His Cause in rows (ranks) as if they were a solid structure.”

(as-Saff, 61:4)

Therefore Allah mentioned what He loves and what He hates, therefore  what was important and what is a priority was brought forward.

  1. مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ

‘Whatever is in the heavens’ (مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ) was brought forward over ‘whatever is in the earth’ (فِي الْأَرْضِ) because the inhabitants of the heavens were first in exaltation before the inhabitants of the earth. When Allah (swt) intended to create Adam, the Angels said:

أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَن يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَاءَ وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ ۖ قَالَ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

“They said, “Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?”

(al-Baqara, 2:30)

Therefore what was first was brought forward.

There is another matter here, and that is what continuously exalts was also brought forward. So whatever is in the heavens continuously exalts.

He (swt) said:

يُسَبِّحُونَ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ لَا يَفْتُرُونَ

“They exalt [Him] night and day [and] do not slacken.”

(al-Anbiya, 21:20)

It should not be claimed that the relative pronoun مَا is for those without intellect, so it does not include the Angels. The relative pronoun مَا is for those without intellect in essence and also used for the attributes of those with intellect, such as His (swt) saying:

وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا

“And [by] the soul and He who proportioned it And inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness”

(ash-Shams, 91-7,8)

Therefore it explains the usage of the relative pronoun مَا.

  1. وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

Al Azeez is the Dominant and none can overcome him. Hakeem can be on the pattern of faeelan from Al Hukm (Judgment) and it can be from Al Hikma (wisdom).

Al Azeez is when he judges, that He (swt) has the utmost might and power. The Al-Azeez maybe be a judge and he may not be a judge, and it is mentioned here with the combination of Might and Judgment, which is the utmost perfection.

Al Hakeem is from Hikam which is also the utmost perfection, because it completes His (swt) might with wisdom, as the Aziz maybe be reckless and that would be a deficiency in him.

The strongest opinion is that both meanings are intended. Allah (swt) is a Judge from the word Al Hukm and He (swt) is wise from the word Hikma. Therefore He (swt) is Al-Aziz Al Hakim who possesses wisdom.

And He (swt) said:

وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

“And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.”

With the definite article AL to indicate there is no Al-Aziz in reality except Him (swt) and  there is no Hakim and Hakeem in reality except Him (swt), because no one can attain Might and Wisdom except if it is given to him by Allah (swt):

قُلِ اللَّـهُمَّ مَالِكَ الْمُلْكِ تُؤْتِي الْمُلْكَ مَن تَشَاءُ وَتَنزِعُ الْمُلْكَ مِمَّن تَشَاءُ وَتُعِزُّ مَن تَشَاءُ وَتُذِلُّ مَن تَشَاءُ ۖ بِيَدِكَ الْخَيْرُ ۖ إِنَّكَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

“Say, “O Allah, Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will. You honor whom You will and You humble whom You will. In Your hand is [all] good. Indeed, You are over all things competent.”

(aal-Imran, 3:26)

And His (swt) saying:

يُؤْتِي الْحِكْمَةَ مَن يَشَاءُ

“He gives wisdom to whom He wills”

(al-Baqara, 2:269)

Allah’s saying وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ  indicates on monotheism and nullification of polytheism because there is no one Mightier than Him (swt), and there no one Judge except Him (swt). So this verse indicates on the tawheed of Allah (swt) and His (swt) perfect attributes and He (swt) is free from any defects.

It also informs that whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth belongs to Him (swt), and that they all submit to Him (swt) willingly or by force.  As for submission of what is in the heavens and earth it is a submission by force and worship. So submission by force, His (swt) saying: وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ  is an indication of this. Allah (swt) attribute Al Qahar also indicates to this. The submission by worship to Him (swt) who is the only one deserving of it is indicated by his saying سَبَّحَ لِلَّـهِ. Therefore this indicates His (swt) absolute perfection.

It came in the Tafseer of Al Razi: Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth exalts Allah (swt) i.e. everything that is in the heavens and the earth testify to his lordship and oneness and other praiseworthy attributes and Al-Aziz is the one who is mighty when he overpowers, and he is the one overpowers anything, whatever thing is the other, and no one else can overpower him. And Al Hakeem is the one who judges upon something when he decrees it, and He is the one who judges upon the other, anything that is the other, and no one is able to judge upon him, therefore his saying – سَبَّحَ لِلَّـهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ – therefore indicates upon lordship and oneness.

Indeed these noble names connect with what is mentioned in the chapter generally, that the atmosphere of might, judgment and wisdom is widespread within it.

Indeed His saying (swt):

وَاللَّـهُ مُتِمُّ نُورِهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْكَافِرُونَ

“But Allah will complete His Light even though the disbelievers hate (it)”

is connected to his name of Might and Al Hakeem from the meaning of Hukm (judgement) and that none can do that except the Almighty and The Judge.

Also His (swt) saying:

لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ

“that He may make it overcome the religions, all of them, though the polytheists may be averse”

and His (swt) saying:

نَصْرٌ مِّنَ اللَّـهِ وَفَتْحٌ قَرِيبٌ

“help from Allah and a victory near at hand”

and His (swt) saying:

فَأَيَّدْنَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَىٰ عَدُوِّهِمْ فَأَصْبَحُوا ظَاهِرِينَ

“then We aided those who believed against their enemy, and they became uppermost”

Indeed no one is able to do this except the one who is Al Aziz and Al Hakeem.

And His (swt) saying:

يُرِيدُونَ لِيُطْفِئُوا نُورَ اللَّـهِ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ

was connected to his name Al Hakeem from Hikma, because the light of Allah (swt) is only guidance and guidance is from Hikma (wisdom) and He is the one who guides. Indeed He is Al Hakeem (wise).

Also His (swt) saying:

هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَىٰ وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ

“He is the one Who sent His Apostle with the guidance and the true religion”

was connected to it, and Al Huda is from Hikma (wisdom) and Al Haq only indicates upon Al Hakeem.

Also His (swt) saying:

هَلْ أَدُلُّكُمْ عَلَىٰ تِجَارَةٍ تُنجِيكُم مِّنْ عَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ

“shall I lead you to a merchandise which may deliver you from a painful chastisement?”

was connected to it and what indicates upon it is wisdom.

And His (swt) saying:

ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

“that is better for you, if you did but know!”

Allah (swt) knows. He (swt) is Hakeem because wisdom requires ilm (knowledge), and the one who does not know, then he is not wise, and that is from the subtleties of these connections.

This entry was posted in: Tafseer