57:1 Whatsoever is in the heavens and the earth glorifies God.
The maker of the world and the world’s folk, the nurturer of mankind and jinn, the creator of earth and heaven, the wonder-worker of the emplaced and place, reports that everything in heaven and earth, whether wind, fire, water, mountains, seas, sun, moon, stars, trees, and all animate and inanimate things, praise Him for purity, mention His name with honor, and testify to His oneness. This glorification and tawḥīd throw tumult into the Adamic’s heart and are rejected by intellect, but the religion of the submission accepts them and the Creator of the creatures testifies to their correctness. Whenever success-giving is someone’s companion and felicity his helper, he will accept them, unperceived, with spirit and heart and will come forth with reverence, surrender, and attestation. Then tomorrow, he will find his place in the gathering place of the sincerely truthful and the assemblies of the friends on the seat of everlasting exaltedness.
Beware, O chevalier! Take care not to give one iota of innovation access to your heart. When you hear something that your intellect does not perceive, suspect only your intellect. Do not take the road of extra interpretation, because going after extra interpretation is a tested poison. It is to remove a thorn from the foot with a thorn. A knowing man will not test poison, for that would be to hurry to his own destruction. He will not pull a thorn from his foot with a thorn, for he knows it would only increase the pain.
That chevalier said it beautifully:
Seek not the road of tawḥīd with intellect,
scratch not the spirit’s eye with a thorn.
By God, can anyone ever
take benefit from God without God?
As trainer and leader on the path of the religion—
consider none better than the Qur’an and the reports.
Only the hand of Muḥammad’s heart
can undo the locks on the treasury of secrets.” [DS 201-2]
57:2 To Him belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth.
The seven heavens and the seven earths are His kingdom and property. They are kept by His help, penetrated by His will, and driven by His decree. All creatures are incapable, and He is powerful and potent. All are weak, and He is subjugating and strong. All are ignorant, and He is knowing and knowledgeable. The artifacts and determined things are a mark of His power, the beings and newly arrived things are the explication of His wisdom, the existents and the known things are the proof of His existence. The increase does not befall Him, nor does decrease come upon Him. He is the powerful, eternal, knowing, wise, the God of all.
57:3 He is the First, the Last, the Outward, and the Inward, and He is the knower of everything.
He is the First, for He knew the nonbeings, the Last for He knows what He knew, the Outward through what He made, the Inward, hidden from imaginations. He is the First: He was before every created thing, without beginning. He is the Last: He will be after everything, without end. He is the Outward: He stands over everyone, without anyone to overpower or prevent. He is the Inward: He knows all hidden things, without a veil. He is the First through beginninglessness, the Last through endlessness, the Outward through unity, and the Inward through eternity. He is the First through awesomeness, the Last through mercy, the Outward through proofs, the Inward through blessings. He is the First through bestowal, the Last through recompense, the Outward through laudation, the Inward through loyalty. He is the First through guidance, the Last through sufficiency, the Outward through rulership, the Inward through kind favor. He is the First of every blessing, the Last of every tribulation, the Outward of every argument, the Inward of every wisdom.
In terms of allusion, He is saying, “O child of Adam, in relation to you the people of the world, are four groups: A group who are useful to you at the beginning of the state and the first of life, and they are parents. A group who are useful to you at the end of life and the weakness of old age, and they are children. The third is the group of friends, brothers, and all the Muslims who are with you outwardly and show tenderness. Fourth is the group of wives and women, who are your inner, inside realm and are useful to you.”
When a man journeys in firstness, lastness charges forth, and when he journeys in the attribute of outwardness, inwardness gives his capital over to plundering. The poor Adamite! He is confounded between the two attributes and senseless between the two names. Bewilderment upon bewilderment, thirst upon thirst— sometimes doubt becomes certainty, sometimes certainty doubt. His presence is exaltation and majesty, His carpet unneediness—a hundred thousand caravans have been waylaid in this road. And He is the knower of everything. Of everything, He is a knower who is work-doing, right-working, and care-giving. He sees everything, knows every word, and is aware at every moment. In the next verse He adds bounty and generosity:
57:4 And He is with you wherever you are.
“My servants! My creatures! Wherever you are, I am with you through solicitude, mercy, and kind favor. Wherever in the world, there is someone poor, wounded by offenses, helpless in the hand of an adversary, I am his patron. Wherever there is someone with a ruined life, made indigent by the passing days, I am looking after him. Wherever there is someone burnt, struck by grief, I am the happiness of his spirit. Wherever there is someone weeping in shame, his head turned while not having anyone, I am his proof. I am the Lord who is far from the path of retribution. I lift up all those thrown down and fleeing, for I am clement and ever-merciful to the servants.”
57:9 Surely God is to you clement, ever-merciful.
Part of His clemency and mercy was that the servant was in the concealment of nonexistence and He was taking care of his work with perfect bounty and generosity. The servant was in the concealment of nonexistence and He chose him over the whole world. Part of His mercy is that He gives the servant the success to be on guard against the hidden sorts of associationism and the subtle sorts of eye service. He said, “I am clement and ever merciful” so that the disobedient would not despair and would have strong hope in His bounty and generosity.
Yaḥyā ibn Muʿādh Rāzī said, “You were gentle to Your friends, so they recognized You. Had you been gentle to Your enemies, they would not have refused You.” You made the jasmine of Your gentleness grow in the garden of the hearts of Your friends such that, by means of Your gentleness and bounty, the Abode of Peace was their place. But, One group reached the spheres, another the pit— alas at Your threats toward a handful of dust! On the heads of one group He placed the crown of generosity:
57:12 Their light running before them, and on their right hands.
On another group He placed the brand of deprivation:
57:13 And a wall will be set up between them, inside of which is mercy and outside of which is chastisement.
Pharaoh’s sorcerers dwelt in nothing but unbelief and sin, but it is said that sorcery has no effect unless a man is polluted. When the wind of good fortune blew from the direction of gentleness and generosity, it left neither sorcery nor any sorcerer, neither unbelief nor any unbeliever. In the morning they were busy with the sin of unbelief and denial, and in the evening they were at the side of faith and asking forgiveness. Shaykh Abū Saʿīd Abu’l-Khayr said, “Whoever picks up a burden from the garden of solicitude will put it down in the playing field of friendship. Whoever sucks milk from the breast of kind favor will be nurtured in the embrace of protection.” Master Abū ʿAlī said, “Whoever is given familiarity in the morning can hope for forgiveness in the evening.”