knows what creatures do not know, and God forbid, the angels have no doubts concerning this. In which case, the “inna” throws light on a sequence of [unstated] phrases which, conformably with the well-trodden path of rhetoric, the Qur’an summarizes succinctly. That is, there is much good and many advantages in mankind, and there is sinfulness but this is minor. It would be opposed to wisdom to abandon the former due to the latter. Humanity also holds a mystery, and this qualifies man for the vicegerency. The angels were heedless of it, but man’s Creator had knowledge of it. There is also an instance of wisdom in the [creation] of human beings that renders them superior to [the angels]; the angels did not know this, but the One who created it did.
The “inna”s [confirmatory] meaning may also refer to a statement implied by any one of the sentence’s words rather than to one specific word. Here it looks to a phrase implied by “you know not;” that is, ‘you have no certain knowledge of it.’
Also, “I know what you know not (innī a‘lamu mā lā ta‘lamūn)” is by way of mentioning something necessary and willing its natural consequence. That is, something exists that you have no knowledge of. For the Most High’s knowledge is necessary for everything. The absence of [His] knowledge indicates the non-existence of the thing known. As the Most High says: “Is it that you will inform Him of something He knows not on the earth?”(13:33) That is, it is not possible [for something unknown by Allah] to exist. And the existence of knowledge is evidence for the existence of the thing known.
[In another place the Qur’an] verifies and confirms this succinct reply, saying: “Allah is indeed all-knowing, all-wise.” His actions lack nothing as regards wisdom and benefit. Hence, beings are not restricted to the knowledge of creatures, and the absence of knowledge does not indicate their non-existence.
When Allah the Most High created pure good, that is, the angels, and pure evil, that is, the devils, and that which was neither good nor evil, that is, the animals, being the Munificent Bestower of Bounties, His wisdom necessitated the existence of a fourth category that embraced both good and evil. [That is, human beings.] Thus, if the [human] powers of anger and animal appetites submit to the power of intellect, through effort and striving man rises higher than the angels. But if the reverse is the case, he falls lower than the beasts, for he has no excuse.