the angels, although He was in no need of officers or ministers. This meant that the angels had to declare how they would meet [human beings].”
The speech [in these two phrases] is a conversation in the form of consultation, [and its purpose is] to teach [these to] the people, for the Most High is far above [any need of] them.
[The angels] ask: “Will You place therein..?” in order to learn the reason, for the Most High had informed [them] about it but had withheld the reason. This was the cause of their surprise and it led to their question. That is, their asking: “What is the wisdom in [men] being placed [on the earth]?” Thus, they wanted to learn the result or effect rather than the cause, not to deny or object to it, for they are without sin.
And “the placing” [of mankind on the earth] hints that man’s characteristics, and theoretical origins and descent, and circumstances are not the imperatives of nature, but have all been ‘placed’ by One who places.
The repetition of “in it (fī-hā)” despite their proximity is for clarity and implies: What is the reason for placing mankind [on the earth] as a spirit breathed into the earth’s body to quicken it, when on the other hand men will be the cause of its corruption and death?
The use of the [relative pronoun] “one who (man)” indicates that rather than the human character, it is the rebellion of creatures against the Most High that troubles [the angels].
And the use of “cause corruption (yafsudu)” rather than ‘rebel’ indicates that rebellion eventually spoils the order of the world. And the use of the imperfect tense indicates that what is detestable about it is its constant repetition. [The angels] had knowledge of this either through the Most High informing [them], or through studying the Preserved Tablet, or because they had knowledge of human nature and the unrestricted powers lodged in it. Corruption is caused through the unrestrained use of the power of animal appetites, while bloodshed and tyranny result from the aggression of the power of anger.
“Therein (fī-hā):” that is, [they cause corruption in the earth] despite it being a mosque founded on consciousness of Allah and fear of Him (taqwā).
The [conjunction] “and” joins two despicable acts [causing corruption and shedding blood], for corruption leads to the spilling of blood.
And the choice of “shed blood (yasfiku)” rather than ‘kill’ is because to shed blood is to kill unjustly. And murder is not jihād in Allah’s way. Also, the [just] killing of one person for the good of the community is like killing a wolf to save the flock.