In the phrase “He who (hu\ alladhī),” “He” is the subject and “who” is the predicate, and both are definite, which indicates divine unity and restriction. [That is, the creation of all in the earth is confined to Allah; Allah is the sole Creator.] And this restriction alludes to the restriction expressed by the precedence of “to Him (ilayhi)” in “and again to Him will you return” in the previous verse. [The relative pronoun “who” and relative clause are the predicate and of right should be indefinite.] It’s being definite here indicates that the statement is obvious. [That is, it is clear and obvious that Allah is the Creator of all on the earth.]
The [preposition] “la- of benefit” in “la-kum – for you” indicates that essentially things are permissible and become forbidden only under certain circumstances; for instance, other people’s property is proscribed since it is protected by the Shari‘a; human flesh is proscribed out of respect; poison because of its harm; or carrion because it is unclean.
Furthermore, it suggests the existence of benefit for man in everything, even if he benefits from only one of the many ways a thing may be benefited from, or in only one of many ways; [there is benefit for man] even in the least of things; or at least a thing may be utilized with a view to taking lessons. Moreover, the Most Merciful has many treasuries stored up in the earth, looking to the people of the future.
The precedence of “for you (la-kum)” indicates that man’s utilization [of the earth’s contents] is their primary purpose and main aim.
“What (mā)” is general in order to urge [man] to search out the benefits in everything.
The use of “in the earth (fī’l-arḍ)” rather than ‘on the earth’ for example, indicates that most of the things to be utilized are inside the earth. It also spurs [man] on to investigate what is found there. And the gradual utilization by mankind of the minerals and other substances of the earth suggests that it may contain such materials and elements as foodstuffs and other things that will lighten the burdens of life of the people of the future.
And “all (jamī‘an)” is to rebut the false idea that some things are futile and useless.
In the second phrase, “then (thumma)” indicates a chain of the Most High’s actions and works after creating the earth, [His turning] to the ordering of the heavens. It is also a sign that in regard to human benefits, their ordering is of a lower degree than the earth’s creation. It also infers its occurring later than [the earth’s creation].
“astawā” is a concise usage, meaning ‘arāda an yusawwī – (lit.) He