The word “ittaqu” translated here as ‘fear’ means ‘fear acting against your Lord’. Perhaps, this is why the Prophet sallallahu aalyhi wa sallam used to recite this ayah as part of his address while solemnizing a marriage.
Here, the form of address in the ayah is worth attention. It says “O mankind” which includes all human beings, men or women, and whether they are present at the time of the revelation of the Qur’an or shall continue to be born right till the Day of Resurrection.
Then along with the word ‘ittaqu’ the word used is “Rabb” (Lord) which has been selected out of the most fair names of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. This is to point out that the fear of Allah has a justification and wisdom of its own. The Being totally responsible for man’s nurturing and upbringing certainly deserves all the awe one is capable of. The very thought that anyone could rise in antagonism and defiance against Allah is terribly dangerous.
Immediately after, the text brings into focus the most exalted majesty of the Lord by saying that He created all human beings in His wisdom and mercy.
He chose to have one way and one form when he created all human beings from the one and only human being that is Adam aalyhi sallam and thus He tied all of them in a strong bond of brotherhood. So, it is not only the fear of Allah and the fear of Akhirah (the Hereafter) which demand man’s allegiance to the Lord of all creation, but this bond of brotherhood between human beings also requires that rights of humanity – of mutual sympathy, well-being and collective good – be fully discharged. And between one man and another, let there be no one high or low in race of cast, in color or language, and that all such distinctions be never made the criterion of good or bad, nobility or meanness.
Therefore, it was said,الَّذِى خَلَقَكُمْ مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالاً كَثِيراً وَنِسَآء meaning “Who has created you from a single soul and from it created its match and spread from the two, many men and women.”
This verse serves as an introduction to commandments which are going to appear in the Surah. The purpose here is to dissuade human beings from becoming the usurpers of Divine rights. By telling that they all are the children of the same father, the wonderful humane dimension of love, mutual sympathy and concern was given as the working hypothesis of common living. This was done so that the mutual rights of relatives, orphans and married couples could be fulfilled right from the heart at the very grass-root level.
Towards the end of Ayah 1, the exhortation to fear Allah has been beamed at man from yet another angel. Isn’t it that man demands his rights from others in the name of Allah and exacts what he wants from them? It means that one who expects other to fear Allah should do that himself as well. The last word, “wal-arham” is there to warn that any shortcoming in taking good care of near relations, whether from the side of one’s father or mother should be avoided.
The second ayah emphasizes the rights of orphaned children and establishes rules to protect their property.