Contributed by Jameel Kermalli, USA
Goal and Reason
The main goal of writing this commentary is our current Imam al-Mahdi (ATFS) , whom I would like to thank for all inspirations.
The reason is the following verse:-
Say: “If the ocean were ink (wherewith to write out) the words of my Lord, sooner would the ocean be exhausted than would the words of my Lord, even if we added another ocean like it, for its aid.”
The idea is to understand that the minds of a limited creation cannot and will never apprehend ALLAH – the un-limited. Mir Ahmad Ali (AR) writes:-
The words, signs and mercies of Allah are in all creation, and can never be fully set out in human language, however extended our means may imagine to be.
In Tafsir Jalalyn:-
Say: ‘If the sea, in other words, [if] its waters, were ink (midad is what one writes with) for the Words of my Lord, [Words] that testify to His laws and His marvels, such that these [Words] are written with it, the sea would be spent, in recording them, before the Words of my Lord were spent (read as tanfada or yanfada) even though We brought the like of it, namely, [the like of] the sea, as replenishment’, in order to add it to the other [sea], it would [also] be spent, while they [God’s Words] would not be exhausted (madadan, ‘as replenishment’, in the accusative because it is a specification).
In Tafsir Tustari:-
Say, ‘If the ocean were ink for [writing] the words of my Lord, it would run dry…’
That is, in recording the knowledge of my Lord and His wonders.
Then he said:
His Book is part of His knowledge, and if a servant was given a thousand ways of understanding each letter of the Qur’?n, he would not reach the end of God’s knowledge within it. This is because it is His pre-eternal speech, and His speech is one of His Attributes, and there is no end to any of His Attributes just as He has no end. All that can be comprehended of His speech is as much as He opens to the hearts of His friends.
In the book The Light of The Holy Qur’an:-
The Arabic term /midad/ is applied for the ink which is poured into an inkpot and is used as a means of drawing the pen on the paper.
The objective meaning of the Qur’anic phrase /kalimat-i-rabb/ is either the divine promises and the created things, or the godly philosophies and conceptions, or Divine revelations and whatever has a sign from Allah. Thus, every particle, every atom, and every cell is one of the Words of Allah.
Some other commentators believe that the Jews told the Prophet (S) that Allah had given him wisdom and “…whoever has been given wisdom, indeed has been given abundant good “, (al-Baqarah, No.2, Verse 269) but when they asked him (S) about the spirit, he replied them an ambiguous answer. Then the abovementioned verse was revealed and declared that however much a man may be learned his knowledge is aught before the knowledge of Allah. (Tafsir Qurtubi, pp. 4107 and 4108, and Tafsir-us- Safi, Sura Al-Isra, No. 17, verse 85).
Therefore, this verse and the verse after it are concerned to the whole subjects of this sura. As if the Qur’an intends to say that the information of the events of the Companions of the Cave, Moses, Khidr, and Zul-qarnayn are not so important when the infinite knowledge of Allah is considered.
The holy Qur’an, addressing the holy Prophet of Islam (S) , says:
” Say: ‘If the sea became ink for (writing) the Words of my Lord, the sea would certainly be exhausted before the Words of my Lord were exhausted, even though We brought the like of it to help’. “
In this verse, indeed, the Qur’an attracts the attentions to this fact that you should not think that the world of existence is confined to what you see, or to what you know, or to what you feel. But it is so great and vast that if the water of the seas became ink for writing the names, qualities, specialties, secrets and mysteries of it, the seas would be used up before the whole of the creatures of the existing world could be counted.
It is noteworthy that the abovementioned verse, not only illustrates the infinite vastness of the world of existence in the past, present, and future, but also it is an illustration of the infinite knowledge of Allah, because we know that Allah has encompassed in His knowledge whatever exists, and whatever will come into being, in the expanse of existence. Even more, His knowledge is not separate from the existence of these creatures.
Then, in other words, it can be said that if all the oceans throughout of the world became ink and all the trees became pens they are never sufficiently able to record the number of whatever exists in the knowledge of Allah.
At the end, there is a tradition cited in the commentary book of Ali-ibn-Ibrahim Qummi, and in the commentary book of Al-Burhan, narrated from Abi-Basir, from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) who, concerning the commentary of this verse, said: “I inform you that the Word of Allah has neither an end, nor has it finite, nor does it cause to eternity.”(Tafsir-i-Ali-ibn Ibrahim, vol. 2, p.46, and Tafsir-ul-Burhan, vol. 2, p. 496).
In Tafsir al-Mizan:-
IN BRIEF, ALLAH DOES NOT HAVE 99 NAMES OR 1,000 NAMES,
BUT UNLIMITED NAMES. THE ENTIRE CREATION SINGS HIS NAMES AND PRAISES, AND THESE ARE UN-KNOWN AND UN-ACCOUNTED.