In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace.
95:1 Consider the fig and the olive.
The “fig” and the “olive” symbolize, in this context, the lands in which these trees predominate: i.e., the countries bordering on the eastern part of the Mediterranean, especially Palestine and Syria. As it was in these lands that most of the Abrahamic prophets mentioned in the Qur’an lived and preached, these two species of tree may be taken as metonyms for the religious teachings voiced by the long line of those God-inspired men, culminating in the person of the last Judaic prophet, Jesus. “Mount Sinai”, on the other hand, stresses specifically the apostleship of Moses, inasmuch as the religious law valid before, and up to, the advent of Muhammad – and in its essentials binding on Jesus as well – was revealed to Moses on a mountain of the Sinai Desert. Finally, “this land secure” signifies undoubtedly (as is evident from 2:126) Mecca, where Muhammad, the Last Prophet, was born and received his divine call. Thus, verses 1-3 draw our attention to the fundamental ethical unity underlying the teachings – the genuine teachings – of all the three historic phases of monotheistic religion, metonymically personified by Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. The specific truth to be considered here is referred to in the next three verses.
95:2 And Mount Sinai…
i.e., endowed with all the positive qualities, physical as well as mental, corresponding to the functions which this particular creature is meant to perform. The concept of “the best conformation” is related to the Qur’anic statement that everything which God creates, including the human being or self (nafs), is “formed in accordance with what it is meant to be” (see 91:7 and the corresponding note 5, as well as in a more general sense – 87:2 and note 1). This statement does not in any way imply that all human beings have the same “best conformation” in respect of their bodily or mental endowments: it implies simply that irrespective of his natural advantages or disadvantages, each human being is endowed with the ability to make the, for him, best possible use of his inborn qualities and of the environment to which he is exposed. (See in this connection 30:30 and the corresponding notes, especially 27 and 28.)
95:3 And this land secure!
This “reduction to the lowest of low” is a consequence of man’s betrayal – in other words, corruption – of his original, positive disposition: that is to say, a consequence of man’s own doings and omissions. Regarding the attribution, by God, of this “reduction” to His Own doing, see note 7 on 2:7.
95:4 Verily, We create man in the best conformation.
i.e., to the validity of the moral law – which, to my mind, is the meaning of the term din in this context – outlined in the preceding three verses. (For this specific significance of the concept of din, see note 3 on 109:6.) The above rhetorical question has this implication: Since the moral law referred to here has been stressed in the teachings of all monotheistic religions (cf. verses 1-3 and note 1 above), its truth ought to be self-evident to any unprejudiced person; its negation, moreover, amounts to a negation of all freedom of moral choice on man’s part and, hence, of justice on the part of God, who, as the next verse points out, is – by definition – “the most just of judges”.
95:5 And thereafter We reduce him to the lowest of low
95:6 Excepting only such as attain to faith and do good works, and theirs shall be a reward unending!
95:7 What, then, [O man] could henceforth cause thee to give the lie to this moral law?
95:8 Is not God the most just of judges?