(ENGLISH) COMMENTARY BY MUHAMMED ESED
( BY MUHAMMED ESED )
95 - AT-TIN
In the name of god, the most gracious, The dispenser of grace: (1)

1 - According to most of the authorities, this invocation (which occurs at the beginning of every surah with the exception of surah 9) constitutes an integral part of "The Opening" and is, therefore, numbered as verse I. In all other instances, the invocation "in the name of God" precedes the surah as such, and is not counted among its verses. - Both the divine epithets rahman and rahrm are derived from the noun rahmah, which signifies "mercy", "compassion", "loving tenderness" and, more comprehensively, "grace". From the very earliest times, Islamic scholars have endeavoured to define the exact shades of meaning which differentiate the two terms. The best and simplest of these explanations is undoubtedly the one advanced by Ibn al-Qayyim (as quoted in Mandr I, 48): the term rahman circumscribes the quality of abounding grace inherent in, and inseparable from, the concept of God's Being, whereas rahrm expresses the manifestation of that grace in, and its effect upon, His creation-in other words, an aspect of His activity.

        
REVEALED after surah 85 ("The Great Constellations"), the present surah formulates a fundamental moral verity, stressing the fact that it is common to all true religious teachings. The "title" - or, rather, the key-word by which it is known - is derived from the mention of the fig (i.e., fig tree) in the first verse.
1. CONSIDER the fig and the olive,
2. and Mount Sinai,
3. and this land secure!(1)

1 - 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 Quran 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.

4. Verily, We create man in the best conformation; (2)

2 - 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 Quranic 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.)

5. and thereafter We reduce him to the lowest of low (3)

3 - This "reduction to the lowest of low" is a consequence of man's betrayal - in another word, 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.

6. excepting only such as attain to faith and do good works: and theirs shall be a reward unending!
7. What, then, [O man,] could henceforth cause thee to give the lie to this moral law? (4)

4 - 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".

8. Is not God the most just of judges?