Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Chapter 2, Verse 117
He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth, and when He decrees something, He says to it:, ‘Be,’ and it is. (Chapter 2:Verse 117)
In the previous verse we discussed how the claim that God has a son is mere fabrication. In this verse God turns your attentions towards some of His powers and attributes. ‘Originator of the heavens and the earth’ informs you that He created the heavens and the earth and all they contain. This creation was done from nothing, without any example, mold, or model which existed earlier. There was no sky, earth, angels, jinn or humans. God Almighty created each and brought them into existence sharing similar traits, looks, size and abilities.
Take the example of a manufacturer of drinking glasses. He or she creates a mold first, then the molten glass is poured into it. This process ensures that all the glasses are similar. Likewise, the mass production of anything in the world requires a mold first. A baker who bakes breads may not use a mold, but he or she imitates what has been done before. That is why there is always a difference between the weight, shape and the roundness of each loaf.
Allah, on the other hand is the creator of humans from Adam (peace be upon him) to the last human before the day of judgment. The miracle of God's creation is that we are all similar to each other in our, built, shapes, hands and eyes and all other body parts. Yet, and despite the similarity in creation, we are all uniquely different from one another. Each of our organs performs its task and gives us life. Through science we have discovered that each has his or her own unique fingerprint, retina, and voice prints. We have individual scents, unique DNA distinguishing each one of our cells from everybody else's, and so on. But this similarity was not the result of a mold, nor the result of randomness, rather it was the result of God’s order ‘be.’ To give you proof that these differences are all by design -not chance-, God creates identical twins as if they are the result of a single mold. This shows the absolute ability of our Lord. He says:
Another of His signs is the creation of the heavens and earth, and the diversity of your languages and colours. There truly are signs in this for those who have knowledge. (30:22)
Since the beginning of time, each one of the billions of humans created is different from those who have preceded, from those yet to come, and from those who are present. We all look alike, yet uniquely different. The preciseness and ingenuity in creation is the meaning of the word 'Originator.’ It is evidence of God’s power, wisdom, and competence. God's attributes of perfection will continue through the day of judgment, when, after we die and our bodies disperse into dust, God will raise us from our exact elements, to the exact form we had in this world. He says:
We know very well what the earth takes away from them: We keep a comprehensive record. (50:04)
Hence, God created us with His absolute power and He will re-create us with His absolute power down to the last cell and atom. Can there be more ability beyond this? Even a highly skilled handyman, or a perfectly tuned machine cannot recreate a product with a 100% accuracy down to the atom. God Almighty will resurrect you with the word 'Be'. He says: 'and when He decrees something, He says to it:, ‘Be,’ and it is.'
The verb 'decree' is translated from the Arabic origin ‘qada ÞÖì.’ This word is mentioned in many verses of the Quran and it carries a slightly different meaning each time. But the difference in meaning can be understood from the context of the verses. Let's look at a few examples:
In the verse below referring to the rituals of pilgrimage -hajj-, ‘qada ÞÖì’ is translated into 'to complete' or 'to finish':
When you have completed your rites, remember Allah as you used to remember your forefathers – or even more. (2:200)
In another verse, it is translated into 'to decide', or 'to rule':
So decide whatever you will: you can only decide matters of this present life- (20:72)
In another verse, it means: to issue a ruling. God says:
When God and His Messenger have decided on a matter that concerns them, it is not fitting for any believing man or woman to claim freedom of choice in that matter: whoever disobeys God and His Messenger is far astray. (33:36)
In another place God illustrates the picture of the disbelievers while they burn in hell and ask to be relieved from the punishment by causing them to die. He says:
They will cry, ‘Malik, if only your Lord would finish us off,’ but he will answer, ‘No! You are here to stay.’(43:77)
Here, the verb is translated into 'kill us' or 'finish us'. While in the following verse it means 'when all things are over' or 'all things have been decided':
When everything has been decided, Satan will say, ‘God gave you a true promise. I too made promises but they were false ones: I had no power over you except to call you, and you responded to my call, so do not blame me; blame yourselves. I cannot help you, nor can you help me. I reject the way you associated me with God before.’ A bitter torment awaits such wrongdoers. (14:22)
Yet, in the next example it means to complete or finish a certain period of time:
Once Moses had fulfilled the term and was travelling with his family, he caught sight of a fire on the side of the mountain (from 28:29)
And lastly, we see 'qada' translated into 'to be judged':
Every soul that has done evil, if it possessed all that is on the earth, would gladly offer it as ransom. When they see the punishment, they will repent in secret, but they will be judged with justice and will not be wronged. (10:54)
As you can see, the verb ‘qada’ has several meanings which can be identified from the context. However, there is one meaning which combines all others: it is ‘ruled or decided.’ It always carries a meaning of decisiveness and finality in it. Therefore, ‘when He decrees as matter’ means that when Allah has made a decision then it happens.
Let's take a moment to pay attention to the wording of the verse ‘When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, "Be," and it is.’ this reflects that all matters are within God's knowledge, but they have not yet reached or been revealed to us. This is evident from the phrase 'He says to it.' In other words, if something does not exist, you cannot talk to it, or address it. However, when Allah creates something He says to it, or addresses it directly. You can only address something if it is already in existence. This informs us that since eternity, Allah has the knowledge of everything and everyone till the end of time. All matters are within God's knowledge, and, in time, He may reveal them to us with the word 'Be'.