أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّـهَ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ بِالْحَقِّ ۚ إِن يَشَأْ يُذْهِبْكُمْ وَيَأْتِ بِخَلْقٍ جَدِيدٍ
Alam tara annallāha khalaqas-samāwāti wal-ardha bil-haqq. In yasha’ yudh-hibkum waya’ti bi-khalqin jadīd
Have you not regarded that Allah created the heavens and the earth with justice? If He wishes, He will take you away, and bring about a new creation.
(Sūrat Ibrāhīm, No 14, Āyat 19)
Almighty Allah addresses Prophet Muhammad sallal-lāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wasallam in this verse but is asking a general question to mankind, do they not see (know) that Allah ‘azza wajall has created everything in Truth? There is no falsehood in it, not in the purpose of creation nor in the act itself. Allāmah Tabātabā’ī in al-Mīzān says an action that is based on truth has a goal that the action fulfills. This is in contrasts with an action based on falsehood that has no goal for the action, no specific focus that the action seeks to fulfill. The action based on truth works its way towards achieving its goal, moving towards the perfection that was initially planned for it. Everything in creation has a goal and works its way towards becoming perfect, from the tiny seed that grows into a tree to the embryo that eventually becomes a human being. This important concept is repeated often in the Quran. Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā says: We did not create the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them for play. We did not create them except with the truth; but most of them do not know (Q44:38-39).
According to Tafsīr-e Namūneh the word ‘Haqq’ can be understood in different ways:
1. A wise and orderly system. Allah says: It is He who made the sun a radiance and the moon a light and ordained its phases that you might know the number of years and the calculation [of time]. Allah did not create all that except with the Truth (Q10:5).
2. The Being who acts wisely and rightly. It is a name of the Almighty, as in the verse: That, then, is Allah, your true Lord (Q10:32).
3. The correct reality of a matter. Allah says: Then Allah guided those who had faith to the truth of what they differed in (Q2:213).
4. A speech or action that is appropriate and necessary. When talking about punishment Allah says: And if We had pleased We would certainly have given to every soul its guidance, but the word from Me was true: I will certainly fill hell with the jinn and humans (Q32:13).
Creation of the universe was not aimless. It was also not because He needed creation, or that He was He lonely and wanted company. It was not a plaything or a pastime, nor to make up for something He lacked. All those reasons are below the greatness of Allah (swt) who has no needs to be fulfilled. After establishing that creation is based on truth – a reality that refers to the nurturing of human beings towards perfection – Almighty Allah presents the fact that if He wishes He can replace people with others. He could bring a group of people that would accept and follow the truth. That is not something difficult for Him to do, as the following verse says: And this is not difficult for Allah (Q14:20). Whoever can create, can easily do away with that creation.
Truth and reality are the foundations of creation. As believers we must abide by them under all circumstances. As we begin the Islamic New Year and remember the lessons that Imam al-Husayn ‘alayhis-salām taught us practically by sacrificing for the Truth, giving everything he had with him in the way of Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā.
Sources: Shaykh Tabarsī, Tafsīr Majma‘ al-Bayān, Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh.