Praise be to Allaah.
Soorat al-Insaan begins
with a gentle rhetorical question which alerts man to the fact that he was
nothing before he was created, and Who is the one Who created him and made
him something worth mentioning after he had been nothing. It comes in the
form of a question so as to attract the listener’s attention and make him
listen out for the words that come after it. So Allaah says (interpretation
of the meaning):
“Has there not been over
man a period of time, when he was not a thing worth mentioning?”
The words insaan
(man) in this verse includes all of mankind, because all of mankind are
created; they came into existence after they did not exist and were not a
thing worth mentioning, as Allaah said to the Prophet Zakariya (peace be
upon him) (interpretation of the meaning):
“He said: ‘So (it will
be). Your Lord says: It is easy for Me. Certainly I have created you before,
when you had been nothing!’”
Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahmaan
al-Sa’di (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
In this soorah Allaah
mentions the first state of man, and his beginning, middle and end. He says
that for a long time – which is before man was created – he was nothing, and
was not even worth mentioning. End quote.
al-Rahmaan fi’l-Tafseer Kalaam al-Mannaan (p.
Al-‘Allaamah al-Taahir Ibn
‘Ashoor (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
What this means is: Does
every man who exists realize that he was non-existent for a long time, and
he was not a thing worth mentioning, i.e., he had no name and he was not
spoken of. The word insaan (man) is used to refer to mankind in
general, as in the verse “Verily, man is in loss, Except those who
believe …” [al-‘Asr 104:2-3].
i.e., has there not been
over every man a period of time when he was not a thing? Dahr
(translated here as “a time”) refers to a long time. End quote.
Perhaps this view, which
was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas and Ibn Jurayj, is more sound than the view
that it is Adam in particular who is referred to by the word insaan (man).
The context is general in meaning, and points to the general meaning of the
verse that comes after it, in which Allaah says (interpretation of the
meaning): “Verily, We have created man from Nutfah (drops) of mixed semen
(sexual discharge of man and woman), in order to try him, so We made him
hearer and seer” [al-Insaan 75:2]. It is known that it is the sons of
Adam who are created from “Nutfah (drops) of mixed semen”, so this
indicates that what is meant by the word insaan in the first verse is all of
This statement that man had
no prior existence has to do with the creation of man and reality. In this
sense the statement includes all of mankind, even the Messengers and
Prophets. All of them were non-existent, then Allaah created them.
With regard to the
knowledge of Allaah, all of mankind are known in Allaah’s eternal knowledge,
and are recorded in al-Lawh al-Mahfooz, but the Messengers and Prophets have
a special mention in the highest degrees, so they are the best of mankind,
and their being mentioned in the knowledge of Allaah is appropriate to the
high status of Prophethood and Messengership which Allaah has bestowed upon
And Allaah knows best.