result and ‘wage’ of creation. But [this wage is not the reward for worship;] the reward is purely a favour of Allah the Most High.
Because of the uncertainty of [who or what is governed by] “those [who] (alladhīna)” it is as though hinting: “Nothing is now known of those who came before you and have died and departed. You are tottering on the brink of the grave, so take a lesson and don’t be deceived by this world. Be steadfast in worship, the means to everlasting happiness.”
Concerning “so that you might remain conscious of Him (la‘allakum tattaqūn);” “la‘alla” signifies hope, and when it precedes something desirable it is used to increase eagerness, and when it precedes something repugnant, its function is to put [the listener] on his guard. Here, the hope cannot refer literally to the Speaker [that is, to Allah], so it is either metaphorical, or refers either to the addressee or to observers or listeners.
If if refers to the Speaker, it is an allegorical metaphor (isti‘āra tamthêliyya). [For instance,] if one equips a person with the gear for a job, one hopes and expects that he will do it. In the same way, Allah has decked out humanity with the potentiality to be perfected, and the capacity [to perform the religious] obligations, and the means of will.
The metaphor indicates too that the purpose (ḥikma) of man’s creation is fear of Allah and consciousness of Him (taqwā). It also infers that worship results in the degree (al-martaba) of fear of Allah. So too it is a sign that the fear of Allah is the highest degree.
Moreover, in the style of kings, the metaphor suggests encouragement and the holding out of hopes and [the making of] certain promises.
If [the hope signified by la‘alla] refers to those addressed, it is as though saying: “Worship seeking [to aspire to] the fear of Allah, between fear and hope.” This implies that man should not feel confident about his worship. It suggests too that he should not suffice with his [present degree of worship], but should confirm the saying “it is incumbent on you to act without cease” and look beyond the degree at which he is found [and aspire to more].
And if [the hope signified by la‘alla] refers to observers and listeners, it is as though whoever observes human beings equipped with such abilities and potentialities will hope and expect worship from them – just as a person who sees the claws and fangs of a predator will expect it to be rapacious. It indicates too that worship is required by man’s inborn nature.
Since the fear of Allah results from the worship of all the classes [of men] mentioned previously, the words “they may fear Allah (tattaqūn)” allude to all [types and] levels of taqwā. That is, taqwā [preventing] the