Surah At-Tin: A Commentary
“In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful; By the Fig and the Olive, And the Mount of Sinai, And this City of security; We have indeed created man in the best of moulds, Then do We reduce him to the lowest of the low, Except for those who believe and do righteous deeds, for they shall have a reward uninterrupted; Then what can, after this, contradict thee, as to the judgment (to come)? Is not Allah the Best of judges?” (At the end, we reply: Bala! Wa ana ala Zaaleka minash Shahideen - “Indeed, I am among those who witness to this (truthful reality)). (At-Tin 95: 1-9).
In the light of these verses, we see that all that which exists in nature has been created for the fulfilment of man in all aspects. Through divine revelations, we have learnt that Allah has created man in the best of moulds. And we have learnt also that man can also become worst than an animal, or he can perfect himself morally and spiritually in such a way that he reaches a high station and accedes to the presence of Allah. When he succeeds in perfecting himself, he reaches such a state where he is absolutely convinced of the unicity of God (Allah) and he realises that all that this world and the universe contain, and even himself, all belong to Allah. He thus makes much effort to please Allah and come near to Him. When he makes such efforts to accede to Allah, he cultivates love, respect and the fear of Allah (Taqwa) - in his heart; and all this helps him to come out of his animalistic state and become moral and spiritual.
When he finds himself in the state where he develops and maintains morality, he develops an excellent character where he acts with goodness and wisdom and he accomplishes such actions as to help him attain his goal. Nobody besides Allah knows his heart and he cannot hide anything from Allah, and on the Day of Judgement, it is Allah, The Most Wise, and the most Just of all judges - the best Judge - Who shall judge him. If he had no sincerity in his heart and used to do (good) deeds only for the eyes of people, then his punishment shall be grievous and painful for him. But if he was sincere towards Allah and had a pure and clean heart, then his value before the eyes of Allah shall increase and his reward shall be good and eternal (for him to enjoy).
'Freewill' and the Diverging Paths
Allah has given us - mankind - the freedom to choose our paths, i.e., freewill. We can either choose to attach ourselves to this temporal world and become worse than an animal, or we have the choice to forego the attractions of this world and attach ourselves firmly to Allah, whereby we choose to go forward for the moral and spiritual progress of our souls so as to reap Allah (as reward). We shall attain to such high degree of morality and spirituality only by obeying Allah completely and when Allah shall manifest Himself at any time, any hour, we need to grip firm to the rope of Allah and follow His instructions and His guide (and/ or guidance) so that Allah may be pleased with us and we also be pleased with Him (Allah).
Exalted status of the Humans
Man has been bestowed superiority to an animal. Man has the power of reasoning and he has the capacity to take a decision whereas an animal relies only on its (basic) instincts. Therefore, man should use that (God-given) capacity - i.e. his reasoning power/ his intelligence - to take the decision to leave his animalistic state and progress further to reach the stage of purity, morality and spirituality.