world for itself, but for man, and He gave man existence that he might worship Him. It is to be concluded from this that man is superior and pre-eminent and not like the animals, and that he is worthy of receiving the jewel of “and again to Him will you return.”
The positioning of the verse’s phrases.
Consider this: the word “all (jamī‘an)” in the first phrase, the word “then (thumma)” in the second, and “seven (sab‘a)” in the third all require investigation. We shall discuss them in three matters:
The First Matter
If you were to ask: This verse indicates that everything on the earth is for man’s use, but how can one conceive of Zayd for example making use of every part of the earth? And how could Habib and ‘Ali derive benefit from a stone at the foot of a mountain in the middle of an island in the Pacific Ocean? And how can ‘Amr utilize Zayd’s property? But this verse and others like it suggest that all of it is for each person without being divided up. Moreover, how with their vastness can the sun and moon and so on be for Zayd and ‘Amr and their main purpose be their tiny benefits? And how can harmful things be useful for human beings? For there is nothing vague or inaccurate in the Qur’an and exaggeration is not in keeping with true eloquence?
You would be told: Consider the following six points which will put such doubts to flight:
The First: As has been mentioned, it is characteristic of life that it makes the particular universal, and the part into a whole, the single into a collectivity, and the restricted absolute, and the individual into a world. Thus, each member of all the species becomes like a living race or people and the world becomes its house, and it comes to have relations with all things.
The Second: As you know, there are in the world a fixed order, and firm arrangement, and elevated principles, and constant fundamental laws, making it like a clock or machine. And just as each cog-wheel, indeed each tooth of each cog, and even every part of each tooth, plays a part however minor in the working order of the machine, so too through the workings of the machine it has an effect on the machine’s utility and its production. In the same way, through its existence [every being] is in some way useful for living beings, the chief and leader of which is the human race.
The Third: As has reached your ears in previous discussions, no [being] obstructs [other beings] in regard to benefiting [from things]. For just as the