In the name of God, the Lord of Grace, the Most Merciful
It is God who creates you in a state of weakness, and then after weakness He brings about strength in you, and then after strength He brings about your weakness and old age. He creates what He wills; and He alone has all knowledge and power. When the Last Hour strikes, the evildoers will swear that they had not tarried on earth longer than an hour. Thus they used to delude themselves. But those who were endowed with knowledge and faith will say: “Indeed, you have tarried, in accordance with God’s decree, until the Day of Resurrection. This is, then, the Day of Resurrection, but you did not know it.” And so on that day their excuse will be of no avail to those wrongdoers, nor will they be allowed to make amends. (The Byzantines, Al-Room: 30: 54-57)
Having shown us numerous signs of God’s power and limitless range of His creation, the surah now takes us on a new round, requiring us to look within ourselves, contemplating the different stages of our life on earth. This is a prelude to a fresh reference to the next life and the close link between the two: “It is God who creates you in a state of weakness, and then after weakness He brings about strength in you, and then after strength He brings about your weakness and old age. He creates what He wills; and He alone has all knowledge and power.”
They see the beginnings in their own life, and they see the end brought to them in a vivid image as though it were happening before their very eyes. They only need to have a receptive mind to gather the inspiration behind these verses.
“It is God who creates you in a state of weakness.” Literally, this is given in Arabic as “it is God who creates you from weakness,” which suggests to the Arabic reader that weakness is the substance from which man is made. The weakness in man’s formation meant here has several aspects to it. It includes the physical weakness of the single, tiny cell that makes the foetus, which goes through several stages, remaining weak throughout all of them. This weakness continues during childhood, until the person reaches adolescence and the prime of youth. Another weakness is that of the substance from which man is made, which is clay. Had it not been for the breath of God’s spirit, man would have remained in the physical image of clay or in an animal image. Both of these are very weak compared to man. There is also the psychological weakness that makes man yield to desire, passion and lust. It is again the breathing of God’s spirit into him that gives him the ability and resolve to resist such emotions. Without this spirit man would have been weaker than animals that behave according to their natures.