In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace.
13:1 Alif Lam Mim Ra. These are messages of a revelation: and what has been bestowed upon thee from on high by thy Sustainer is the truth – yet most people will not believe [in it]?
See Appendix II.
13:2 It is God who has raised the heavens without any supports that you could see, and is established on the throne of His almightiness; and He [it is who] has made the sun and the moon subservient [to His laws], each running its course for a term set [by Him].5 He governs all that exists. Clearly, does He spell out these messages, so that you might be certain in your innermost that you are destined to meet your Sustainer [on Judgment Day].
Although some commentators are of the opinion that the term kitab (“divine writ” or “revelation”) refers here to this particular surah, Ibn ‘Abbas states emphatically that it denotes the Qur’an as a whole (Baghawi).
13:3 And it is He who has spread the earth wide and placed on it firm mountains and running waters, and created thereon two sexes of every [kind of] plant; [and it is He who] causes the night to cover the day. Verily, in all this, there are messages indeed for people who think!
This passage connects with the concluding verses (102-111) of the preceding surah, and particularly with verse 103, all of which, stress the divine origin of the Qur’an.
13:4 And there are on the earth [many] tracts of land close by one another [and yet widely differing from one another]; and [there are on it] vineyards, and fields of grain, and date-palms growing in clusters from one root or standing alone, [all] watered with the same water: and yet, some of them have We favored above others by way of the food [which they provide for man and beast]. Verily, in all this, there are messages indeed for people who use their reason!
For an explanation of this phrase, see surah 7, note 43. As regards the “raising of the heavens without any supports” visible to man, it should be borne in mind that the noun sama’ denotes, primarily, “something that is above [another thing]”, and is used – mostly in its plural form samawat – to describe (a) the visible skies (as well as, occasionally, the clouds), (b) the cosmic space in which the stars, the solar systems (including our own) and the galaxies pursue their course, and (c) the abstract concept of the forces emanating from God (since He is, in the metonymical sense of this word, “above” all that exists). To my mind, it is the second of these three meanings of samawat to which the ‘above verse refers: namely, to the spatial universe in which all aggregations of matter – be they planets, stars, nebulae or galaxies – are, as it were, “suspended” in space within a system of unceasing motion determined by centrifugal forces and mutual, gravitational attraction.
13:5 But if thou art amazed [at the marvels of God’s creation], amazing, too, is their saying, “What! After we have become dust, shall we indeed be [restored to life] in a new act of creation?” It is they who [thus show that they] are bent on denying their Sustainer; and it is they who carry the shackles [of their own making] around their necks;13 and it is they who are destined for the fire, therein to abide.
This may refer either to the end of the world as we know it – thus indicating the finality of all creation – or, according to ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas (as quoted by Baghawi and Razi), to the “mansions” or stages through which the sun and the moon, like all other celestial bodies, move in time as well as in space.
13:6 And [since, O Prophet, they are bent on denying the truth,] they challenge thee to hasten the coming upon them of evil instead of [hoping for] good although [they ought to know that] the exemplary punishments [which they now deride] have indeed come to pass before their time. Now, behold, thy Sustainer is full of forgiveness unto men despite all their evildoing:15] but, behold, thy Sustainer is [also] truly severe in retribution!
i.e., “so that you might realize that He who has created the universe and governs all that exists is equally able to resurrect the dead, and to judge you in the life to come in accordance with what you did when you were alive on earth”.
13:7 However, they who are bent on denying the truth [refuse to believe and] say, “Why has no miraculous sign ever been bestowed on him from on high by his Sustainer?” [But] thou art only a warmer; and [in God] all people have a guide.
Lit., “and out of all [kinds of] fruits He made thereon (i.e., on earth] pairs (zawjayn ithnayn)”. The term zawj denotes, according to the context, either “a pair” or “one of a pair”. Whenever the dual form zawjan is followed by the additional numerical definition ithnan (“two”), it invariably signifies “a pair comprising both sexes”. Thus, the above phrase states that there are two sexes to every kind of plant: a statement fully in accord with botanical science. (Usually, the male and female organs of reproduction exist together in one and the same flower of a particular plant, e.g., cotton; alternatively, they are placed in separate flowers of one and the same plant, e.g., in most of the Cucurbitaceae; and, in some rare cases, e.g., the date-palm, in entirely separate, uni-sexual plants of the same species.)
13:8 God knows what any female bears [in her womb], and by how much the wombs may fall short [in gestation], and by how much they may increase [the average period]: for with Him everything is [created] in accordance with its scope and purpose.
i.e., regarding the nature of the soil, fertility, and kind of vegetation. The necessity of this interpolation – which, in the consensus of all commentators, conveys the meaning of the above phrase – becomes apparent from the subsequent clauses.
13:9 He knows all that is beyond the reach of a created being’s perception as well as all that can be witnessed by a creature’s senses or mind – the Great One, the One far above anything that is or could ever be!
Lit., “non-clustered” (ghayr sin wan)=i.e., each tree having separate roots.
13:10 It is all alike [to Him] whether any of you conceals his thought or brings it into the open, and whether he seeks to hide [his evil deeds] under the cover of night or walks [boldly] in the light of day.
Cf. 6:99 and 141, where similar stress is laid on the multiformity of plants – and their varying beneficence to man and animal – as some of the signs of God’s purposeful, creative activity.