“And for that He created them…”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

Allah says in His Book in surah Hud:

وَمَا كَانَ رَ‌بُّكَ لِيُهْلِكَ الْقُرَ‌ىٰ بِظُلْمٍ وَأَهْلُهَا مُصْلِحُونَ * وَلَوْ شَاءَ رَ‌بُّكَ لَجَعَلَ النَّاسَ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً ۖ وَلَا يَزَالُونَ مُخْتَلِفِينَ * إِلَّا مَن رَّ‌حِمَ رَ‌بُّكَ ۚ وَلِذَٰلِكَ خَلَقَهُمْ ۗ وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَةُ رَ‌بِّكَ لَأَمْلَأَنَّ جَهَنَّمَ مِنَ الْجِنَّةِ وَالنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِينَ

And your Lord would not have destroyed the cities for injustice while their people were reformers. * And if your Lord had willed, He could have made mankind one community; but they will not cease to differ. * Except whom your Lord has given mercy, and for that He created them. But the word of your Lord is to be fulfilled that, “I will surely fill Hell with jinn and men all together.” [11:117-119]

Imam al-Qurtubi, in his book of tafsir, wrote about these ayaat:

قوله تعالى‏{‏وما كان ربك ليهلك القرى‏}‏ أي أهل القرى‏.‏ ‏}‏بظلم‏}‏ أي بشرك وكفر‏.‏ ‏}‏وأهلها مصلحون‏}‏ أي فيما بينهم في تعاطي الحقوق؛ أي لم يكن ليهلكهم بالكفر وحده حتى ينضاف إليه الفساد، كما أهلك قوم شعيب ببخس المكيال والميزان، وقوم لوط باللواط؛ ودل هذا على أن المعاصي أقرب إلى عذاب الاستئصال في الدنيا من الشرك، وإن كان عذاب الشرك في الآخرة أصعب‏.‏

And Allah’s statement,

وَمَا كَانَ رَ‌بُّكَ لِيُهْلِكَ الْقُرَ‌ىٰ

And your Lord would not have destroyed the cities

meaning: the people of the cities

بِظُلْمٍ

for injustice

meaning: for shirk and kufr

وَأَهْلُهَا مُصْلِحُونَ

while their people were reformers

meaning that among them there were some gave each other their rights. Meaning that He would did not destroy them for kufr alone until they add corruption to that, such as the people of Shu’aib when they undervalued the weight and measure [in their financial transactions], or the people of Lut for their sodomy. And this shows that disobedience is more conducive to an eradicating punishment in the life of this world than al-shirk, even though the punishment of al-shirk is more severe in the hereafter. 

وفي صحيح الترمذي من حديث أبي بكر الصديق رضي الله عنه قال‏:‏ سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول‏:‏ ‏(‏إن الناس إذا رأوا الظالم فلم يأخذوا على يديه أوشك أن يعمهم الله بعقاب من عنده‏)‏‏.‏ وقد تقدم‏.‏

And in al-Tirmidhi there is a saheeh hadeeth from Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq who said:

I indeed heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying, “When the people see the wrongdoer and they do not take him by the hand, then soon Allah shall envelope you in a punishment from him.”

[al-Tirmidhi #2168, saheeh], as has been mentioned before.

وقيل‏:‏ المعنى وما كان ربك ليهلك القرى بظلم وأهلها مسلمون، فإنه يكون ذلك ظلما لهم ونقصا من حقهم، أي ما أهلك قوما إلا بعد إعذار وإنذار‏.‏ وقال الزجاج‏:‏ يجوز أن يكون المعنى ما كان ربك ليهلك أحدا وهو يظلمه وإن كان على نهاية الصلاح؛ لأنه تصرف في ملكه؛ دليله قوله‏{‏إن الله لا يظلم الناس شيئا‏}‏يونس‏:‏ 44‏]‏‏.‏

And some say that the meaning here is that your Lord would not destroy the town for injustice while its people are Muslims, for verily that would be unjust to them and would negate their rights – meaning I will not destroy a people except until after warning them.

And al-Zujaaj said: It is possible that the meaning is that your Lord would not destroy anyone and by doing so be unjust to them, even if they were at the height of uprightness and goodness, because He is fully able to dispose of His dominion without constraints. And the proof of this is His statement:

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَظْلِمُ النَّاسَ شَيْئًا 

Indeed, Allah does not wrong the people at all … [10:44]

وقيل‏:‏ المعنى وما كان الله ليهلكهم بذنوبهم وهم مصلحون؛ أي مخلصون في الإيمان‏.‏ فالظلم المعاصي على هذا‏.‏

Others said that the meaning here is that Allah does not destroy them for their sins while they are reformers – meaning mukhlisoon [sincerely devoted] in al-eemaan. So according to this interpretation, the “injustice” means their disobedience.

قوله تعالى‏{‏ولو شاء ربك لجعل الناس أمة واحدة‏}‏ قال سعيد بن جبير‏:‏ على ملة الإسلام وحدها‏.‏ وقال الضحاك‏:‏ أهل دين واحد، أهل ضلالة أو أهل هدى‏.‏ ‏

Regarding the statement of Allah:

وَلَوْ شَاءَ رَبُّكَ لَجَعَلَ النَّاسَ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً

And if your Lord had willed, He could have made mankind one community.

Sa’eed ibn Jubayr said: upon the religion of Islam alone.

Al-Dhahhaak said: The people of one religion alone, whether a people of misguidance or a people of guidance.

 ‏ولا يزالون مختلفين‏}‏ أي على أديان شتى؛ قاله مجاهد وقتادة‏.‏ ‏{‏إلا من رحم ربك‏}‏ استثناء منقطع؛ أي لكن من رحم ربك بالإيمان والهدى فإنه لم يختلف‏.‏

وَلَا يَزَالُونَ مُخْتَلِفِينَ

But they will not cease to differ

meaning upon a variety of religions, as Mujaahid and Qataadah said.

إِلَّا مَن رَّحِمَ رَبُّكَ

Except whom your Lord has given mercy

and this is the type of exception which breaks from the previous meaning, taking on the meaning of: however, those whom your Lord has turned to in His mercy by granting them eemaan and guidance – they will not differ.

وقيل‏:‏ مختلفين في الرزق، فهذا غني وهذا فقير‏.‏ ‏{‏إلا من رحم ربك‏}‏ بالقناعة؛ قاله الحسن‏.‏

And some said it means: differing in provision, so that this one is rich and this one poor. “Except whom your Lord has given mercy” by giving them contentment. And this is the statement of al-Hasan al-Basri.

 ـ{‏ولذلك خلقهم‏}‏ قال الحسن ومقاتل، وعطاء ويمان‏:‏ الإشارة للاختلاف، أي وللاختلاف خلقهم‏.‏ .ـ

لِذَٰلِكَ خَلَقَهُمْ

And for that He created them

Al-Hasan, Muqaatil, ‘Ataa’ and Yamaan said: this is referring to differing – meaning that it was for differing that He created them.

وقال ابن عباس ومجاهد وقتادة والضحاك‏:‏ ولرحمته خلقهم؛ وإنما قال‏{‏ولذلك‏}‏ ولم يقل ولتلك، والرحمة مؤنثة لأنه مصدر؛ وأيضا فإن تأنيث الرحمة غير حقيقي، فحملت على معنى الفضل‏.‏

Ibn ‘Abbaas, Mujaahid, Qataadah and al-Dhahhaak said: it means ‘and for His mercy He created them’. For He said “and for that [masculine]”, and did not say, “and for that [feminine]”, and al-rahmah is feminine because it is in the base form. And also, the feminization of al-rahmah is not it’s true nature, for it carries the meaning of virtue.

وقيل‏.‏ الإشارة بذلك للاختلاف والرحمة، وقد يشارك بـ ‏{‏ذلك‏}‏ إلى شيئين متضادين؛ كقوله تعالى‏{‏لا فارض ولا بكر عوان بين ذلك‏}‏البقرة‏:‏ 68‏]‏ ولم يقل بين ذينك ولا تينك، وقال‏{‏والذين إذا أنفقوا لم يسرفوا ولم يقتروا وكان بين ذلك قواما‏}‏الفرقان‏:‏ 67‏]‏ وقال‏{‏ولا تجهر بصلاتك ولا تخافت بها وابتغ بين ذلك سبيلا‏}‏الإسراء‏:‏ 110‏]‏ وكذلك قوله‏{‏قل بفضل الله وبرحمته فبذلك فليفرحوا‏}‏يونس‏:‏ 58‏]‏ وهذا أحسن الأقوال إن شاء الله تعالى؛ لأنه يعم، أي ولما ذكر خلقهم؛

And some said that “for that” refers to both differing and mercy, and they share in “that” as two opposite things. This is like the statement of Allah

لَّا فَارِضٌ وَلَا بِكْرٌ عَوَانٌ بَيْنَ ذَٰلِكَ

neither old nor virgin, but median between that [2:68]

and He did not say ‘between those two’.

And He said,

وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا أَنفَقُوا لَمْ يُسْرِفُوا وَلَمْ يَقْتُرُوا وَكَانَ بَيْنَ ذَٰلِكَ قَوَامًا

And those who, when they spend, do so not excessively or sparingly but are ever, between that, moderately [25:67]

And he said,

وَلَا تَجْهَرْ بِصَلَاتِكَ وَلَا تُخَافِتْ بِهَا وَابْتَغِ بَيْنَ ذَٰلِكَ سَبِيلًا

And do not recite loudly in your prayer or quietly but seek between that an [intermediate] way [17:110]

And that is like His statement,

قُلْ بِفَضْلِ اللَّـهِ وَبِرَحْمَتِهِ فَبِذَٰلِكَ فَلْيَفْرَحُوا

Say, “In the bounty of Allah and in His mercy – in that let them rejoice” [10:58]

And this is the best of the opinions [about this matter] if Allah the Exalted wills, because it is general – meaning regarding what He mentioned of creating them.

وإلى هذا أشار مالك رحمه الله فيما روى عنه أشهب؛ قال أشهب‏:‏ سألت مالكا عن هذه الآية قال‏:‏ خلقهم ليكون فريق في الجنة وفريق في السعير؛ أي خلق أهل الاختلاف للاختلاف، وأهل الرحمة للرحمة‏.‏

And Imam Maalik pointed to this in what is narrated from him from Ashhab. Ashhab said: I asked Maalik about this ayah and he said, “He created them so that there would be a group in al-Jannah and a group in the blazing fire” – meaning He created the people of differing for differing, and the people of mercy for mercy.

وروي عن ابن عباس أيضا قال‏:‏ خلقهم فريقين، فريقا يرحمه وفريقا لا يرحمه‏.‏

And it is narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas also that he said, ” He created them as two groups; a group to whom He would give mercy and a group to whom he would not give mercy.”

 قال المهدوي‏:‏ وفي الكلام على هذا التقدير تقديم وتأخير؛ المعنى‏:‏ ولا يزالون مختلفين إلا من رحم ربك، وتمت كلمة ربك لأملأن جهنم من الجنة والناس أجمعين؛ ولذلك، خلقهم‏.‏

 Al-Mahdoui said, “In this statement, there is some rearrangement of the typical order of words” – i.e.

And they will not cease to differ * except those on whom your Lord has mercy

and your Lord will fulfill the word [i.e. decree] to fill Jahannam with Jinn and mankind together

and for that purpose he created them.

وقيل‏:‏ هو‏.‏ متعلق بقوله ‏{‏ذلك يوم مجموع له الناس وذلك يوم مشهود‏}‏هود‏:‏ 103‏]‏ والمعنى‏:‏ ولشهود ذلك اليوم خلقهم‏.‏

And some say: This is related to His statement:

ذَٰلِكَ يَوْمٌ مَّجْمُوعٌ لَّهُ النَّاسُ وَذَٰلِكَ يَوْمٌ مَّشْهُودٌ

That is a Day for which the people will be collected, and that is a Day [which will be] witnessed [11:103]

And the meaning is: and they were created to witness that Day.

وقيل‏:‏ هو متعلق بقوله‏{‏فمنهم شقي وسعيد‏}‏هود‏:‏ 105‏]‏ أي للسعادة والشقاوة خلقهم‏

And it is said: This is related to His statement:

فَمِنْهُمْ شَقِيٌّ وَسَعِيدٌ

And among them will be the sorrowful and the joyful [11:105]

meaning: He created them for joy [in the hereafter] or for sorrow.

قوله تعالى‏{‏وتمت كلمة ربك‏}‏ معنى {‏تمت‏}‏ ثبت ذلك كما أخبر وقدر في أزله؛ وتمام الكلمة امتناعها عن قبول التغيير والتبديل‏.‏ {‏لأملأن جهنم من الجنة والناس أجمعين‏}‏ ‏{‏من‏}‏ لبيان الجنس؛ أي من جنس الجنة وجنس الناس‏.‏ ‏}‏أجمعين‏}‏ تأكيد؛ وكما أخبر أنه يملأ ناره كذلك أخبر على لسان نبيه صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه يملأ جنته بقوله‏:‏ ‏(‏ولكل واحدة منكما ملؤها‏)‏‏.‏ خرجه البخاري من حديث أبي هريرة وقد تقدم‏.‏

Regarding His statement:

وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَةُ رَبِّكَ 

But the word of your Lord is to be fulfilled

The of meaning of “fulfilled” is He confirms that just as He informed us and decreed it. And the completion of the Words prohibitions them from accepting [any] change or alternation.

ـ {‏لأملأن جهنم من الجنة والناس أجمعين‏}‏ ‏{‏من‏}‏ لبيان الجنس؛ أي من جنس الجنة وجنس الناس‏.‏ {‏أجمعين‏}‏ تأكيد؛ وكما أخبر أنه يملأ ناره كذلك أخبر على لسان نبيه صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه يملأ جنته بقوله‏:‏ ‏(‏ولكل واحدة منكما ملؤها‏)‏‏.‏ خرجه البخاري من حديث أبي هريرة وقد تقدم‏.‏

لَأَمْلَأَنَّ جَهَنَّمَ مِنَ الْجِنَّةِ وَالنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِينَ

That I will surely fill Hell with jinn and men all together

With” is used to clarify the type [of things which will fill Hell] – meaning from the category of Jinn and from the category of mankind. “Altogether” of course, and He informs us that He will fill His fire just as we were informed on the tongue of His prophet (ﷺ) that He would fill His Jannah by his statement, “And each one of you would be full” al-Bukhari recorded it [#7449] from the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah as has been mentioned previously.

[Jaam’i li-Ahkaam al-Qur’an 9/101-103. Originally published on January 26th 2015, and edited on April 2nd 2018.]

See also: “For that He created them”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The purpose of Allah’s creation: Imam al-Shinqitee

See also: The supplications of four prophets for or against their people: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: “All that  which they used to enjoy shall not benefit them”: Tafsir al-Baghawi

See also: The Orator of the Anbiya: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The Deen is Built on Two Foundations: Dhikr and Shukr – Ibn al-Qayyim

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6 thoughts on ““And for that He created them…”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

  1. Pingback: “All that which they used to enjoy shall not benefit them”: Tafsir al-Baghawi | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: The purpose of Allah’s creation: Imam al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: “And We have not created the heaven and the earth and all that is between them without purpose!” : Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: The Deen is Built on Two Foundations: Dhikr and Shukr – Ibn al-Qayyim | Tulayhah

  5. Pingback: I did not Create the Jinn and Mankind Except to Worship Me: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  6. Pingback: “For that He created them”: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

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