Reflection No. 238 on Q 53:30 – The Extent of Knowledge

ذَٰلِكَ مَبْلَغُهُمْ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ
Dhalika mablaghahum minal ilm
Such is the extent of their knowledge
 (Suratul Najm, no.53, Āyat 30)

Almighty Allah in the verse before this talks about people who desire only the life of this world. Then in the above verse He points out the limited comprehensiveness of their knowledge – such is the extent of their knowledge. The far reaching, unending horizons beyond this world cannot fit into the comprehension of their knowledge. This short sightedness is a result of knowledge that is limited in its capacity. It is only knowledge of God, of the creation of the human being and the true meaning of life on earth, knowledge of the abode of the hereafter, that stretch the human mind beyond the parameters of worldly life.

Tafsīr-e Namūne gives the following understandings of the limited knowledge referred to in this verse;
– a deviation that allows for idol worship and polytheism
– believing angels to be daughters of God (as in 53:27)
– being enslaved by desires
– satisfaction at the transient and fleeting joys of the world

Allāmah Tabātabā’ī states in Tafsīr al-Mīzān that all knowledge moves towards the object of knowledge to reach it. The knowledge of those who reject God reaches only the outer limits of the world. It stops there and can move no further. Anything beyond that is out of reach for them.

In a dua that the Holy Prophet (s) used to recite often, he says:
اللَّهُمَّ … وَ لاَ تَجْعَلِ الدُّنْيَا أَكْبَرَ هَمِّنَا وَ لاَ مَبْلَغَ عِلْمِنَا
O Allah, let not this world be our biggest concern, nor the extent of our knowledge.
This dua is part of the Amaal for the 15th night of Sha’ban.

When we see people who reject faith and denounce those who follow it we should not become intimidated by them. Instead of retreating and feeling inferior we must realize that such is the extent of their knowledge. It is by the Grace of God that we have been blessed with knowledge of faith, a knowledge that is vast and unlimited. This knowledge does not stop or become stagnant. It keeps advancing and reaching higher, evidence of the human potential that knows no boundaries in its journey towards God.

Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūne; ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Tayyiba Publishers, Amaal of Rajab and Sha’ban