Allah has subjected everything in the creation to mankind: Tafsir al-Shawkaani

Allah says in the middle of surah Luqman:

أَلَمْ تَرَوْا أَنَّ اللَّـهَ سَخَّرَ لَكُم مَّا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَأَسْبَغَ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعَمَهُ ظَاهِرَةً وَبَاطِنَةً

Don’t you see that Allah has subjected whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth to you and has amply bestowed His favors both apparent and hidden, upon you? … [31:20]

In part of his explanation of this ayah, sheikh Muhammad al-Shawkaani wrote:

 لما فرغ – سبحانه – من قصة لقمان رجع إلى توبيخ المشركين وتبكيتهم وإقامة الحجج عليهم فقال : ألم تروا أن الله سخر لكم ما في السماوات وما في الأرض قال الزجاج : معنى تسخيرها للآدميين الانتفاع بها . انتهى ، فمن مخلوقات السماوات المسخرة لبني آدم أي : التي ينتفعون بها الشمس والقمر والنجوم ونحو ذلك . ـ

After completing the story of Luqman, Allah returned back reprimanding and criticizing the mushrikoon and establishing proofs against them. So He said:

أَلَمْ تَرَوْا أَنَّ اللَّـهَ سَخَّرَ لَكُم مَّا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ

Don’t you see that Allah has subjected whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth to you?

al-Zujaaj said, “The meaning of ‘subjecting them to mankind’ is that they can benefit from them.”

Included in the created things of the heavens which have been subjected to mankind are all the things which they take benefit from, such as the Sun, the Moon, the stars, and so on.

ومن جملة ذلك الملائكة فإنهم حفظة لبني آدم بأمر الله – سبحانه – ، ومن مخلوقات الأرض المسخرة لبني آدم الأحجار والتراب والزرع والشجر والثمر والحيوانات التي ينتفعون بها والعشب الذي يرعون فيه دوابهم وغير ذلك مما لا يحصى كثرة ، فالمراد بالتسخير جعل المسخر بحيث ينتفع به المسخر له ، سواء كان منقادا له وداخلا تحت تصرفه أم لا وأسبغ عليكم نعمه ظاهرة وباطنة أي : أتم وأكمل عليكم نعمه ، يقال : سبغت النعمة إذا تمت وكملت . ـ

And also in that category, there are the Angels, for they protect mankind by Allah’s command.

Included among the created things of the earth which have been subjected to mankind are stones, dirt, plants, trees, fruits, and the living creatures which mankind derives benefit from. Also, there is the vegetation which mankind cultivates, and the domesticated animals that they have, as well as many other things which cannot be enumerated.

So the meaning of their being “subjected” is that Allah made the subjected thing such that it can be of use to the one for whom it was subjugated, and this applies whether the subjected thing is actually predisposed to comply with his orders and under his power to utilize however he may wish or not.

وَأَسْبَغَ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعَمَهُ ظَاهِرَةً وَبَاطِنَةً

and amply bestowed His favors, both apparent and hidden, upon you?

meaning: He has completed and perfected the favors of His which He bestows upon you. One can say “sabaghat the blessings” when they are made complete and perfect.

[Fath al-Qadeer pg 1144]

See also: Four categories of parentage and four categories of offspring: Tafsir ibn Kathir

See also: “Remind them of the Days of Allah”: Tafsir al-Shawkaani

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