We have learned that whenever Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala begins a Surah an oath this indicates significance of the matter. As we read in the overview the explanation to why Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala swears by figs and olives, and places are numerous.
About the tin and zaytoun, Al-‘Awfi reported from Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu that At-Tin refers to the Masjid of Nuh ‘alayhi salaam that was built upon Mount Al-Judi. Mujahid said, “It is this fig that you have.”’ Qatadah and others said, “It is the Masjid of Jerusalem (Bayt Al-Maqdis).” Mujahid and ‘Ikrimah said, “It is this olive which you press (to extract the oil).”’
About Toor, Ka‘b Al-Ahbar and several others have said, “It is the mountain upon which Allah spoke to Musa.” While al-balad al-ameen refers to the secure city of Makkah. This was said by Ibn ‘Abbas, Mujahid, ‘Ikrimah, Al-Hasan, Ibraheem An-Nakha`i, Ibn Zayd and Ka‘b Al-Ahbar. There is no difference of opinion about this.
Some of the Imams have said that these are three different places where Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala sent a Messenger from the Leading Messengers, who delivered the Great Codes of Law. The first place is that of the fig and the olive, which was Jerusalem. Here, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala sent ‘Eesa bin Maryam ‘alayhi salaam. The second place is Mount Sineen, which is Mount Sinai where Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala spoke to Musa bin ‘Imran ‘alayhi salaam. The third place is Makkah, and it is the city of security where whoever enters is safe. It is also the city in which Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was sent.
It has been said that these three places are also mentioned at the end of the Torah. The verse says, “Allah has come from Mount Sinai (meaning the one upon which Allah spoke to Musa bin ‘Imran); and shined from Sa`ir (meaning the mountain of Jerusalem from which Allah sent ‘Eesa); and appeared from the mountains of Faran (meaning the mountains of Makkah from which Allah sent Muhammad).”
Thus, He mentioned them in order to inform about them based upon their order of existence in time. This is why He swore by a noble place, then by a nobler place, and then by a place that is the nobler than both of them.
Man became lowly Even Though He was created in the Best Form
After swearing by a noble place, then by a nobler place, and then by a place that is the nobler than both of them, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala draws our attention to man.
Man was created in the best image and form, standing upright with straight limbs that He beautified. Here we learn about Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala’s special care for man. He was given a special status among all other creations. But when man deviated from his upright nature and turned away from the belief in Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala, he became the lowest of the low. Having laid down the way, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala left man to choose whether to follow it or not.
When man uses the powers of his body and mind in evil ways Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala grants him the power to do only evil and causes him to reach the lowest ebb of degradation. This is a truth which one commonly observes in human society. People become so overwhelmed by greed, selfishness, lustfulness, addiction to intoxicants, meanness, rage and fury and such other traits that morally they are actually reduced to the lowest of the low. Consider only one example: When a nation is blinded by its hostility to another country it surpasses all savage beasts in barbarity. A wild beast preys upon its victim only for the sake of food, it does not resort to a general massacre; but man resorts to massacre of his own kind. The beast only uses its claws and teeth but man who has been created in the best of molds invents the gun, rifle, tank, aircraft, atom and hydrogen bombs and countless other weapons by his intellect so that he can instantly destroy whole populations. The beast only kills or inflicts a wound but man invents such painful methods of torturing men like himself as cannot even be -imagined by a beast.
Here, the animals become superior to man because they never violate their nature. They praise Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala and fulfill their function on earth as they are guided to do. But man who has been given the fairest form and abilities denies his Lord and so sinks right down. This occurs when he deviates from the guidelines that Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has defined for him.
It was also said that the, “Then We reduced him to the lowest of the low,” means extreme old age when man cannot benefit himself or anyone else. But extreme old age cannot be a cause for someone’s punishment because no one chooses to be in a miserable state.
“Except for those who believe and do good deeds…” for these are the one who stick to their upright nature, consolidate it with emaan and righteous deeds. They will elevate to high levels and enjoy never-ending reward.
Here, we see the natural results of two widely different lines of action. Thus, the importance of emaan in human life becomes clear. Emaan is the elevating path through which upright human nature ascends to its ultimate perfection. It is the rope stretched between man and his Maker. It is the light showing him where to step along the elevating path. When the rope is cut and the light put out, the inevitable result is the fall down the steep path into the lowest of the low.
Then Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala says, “What causes you to deny?” Meaning you know the beginning, and you know that He Who is able to begin the creation is also able to repeat it which is easier. So, what makes you deny the final return?
He is the best of judges, Who does not oppress or do any injustice to anyone. And from His justice it is established the Judgment. He will give retribution to the person who was wronged in this life against whoever wronged him.
We are taught in a hadeeth related by Abu Huraira radhiAllahu ‘anhu that when one reads this Surah one should answer the rhetorical question, “Is not Allah the Most Just of judges?” by saying: Balaa! Wa ana ‘ala dhalika min-ash-shahideen “Indeed, and I am a witness to that.”
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