Once I was traveling to my island from Eydhafushi in a small dinghy. I was sitting by its side, so I could see the surface of the sea up close. I have seen the sea up close many times before, of course, but that day was different.
Gazing into the deep blue sea, I was suddenly hit with something obvious but also something I had never given much thought: the tremendous volume of the seas and oceans. In simpler terms, the sea has a lot of water. I mean, a lot. Next time you go to the beach or travel by sea, take a good look. Take a good look at a small area from the surface of the sea and try to imagine the volume of liquid beneath, then try to estimate the amount between that area and the next island (conveniently, Maldives is very suitably placed on the earth for this), not that it is easy to get an idea about how deep the oceans can get.
That day, gazing into the deep blue sea, I was reminded of the words of Allah: “Say, “If the sea were ink for [writing] the words of my Lord, the sea would be exhausted before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even if We brought the like of it as a supplement.”” [al-Kahf, 109].
If all the oceans of the world—Indian, Pacific, Atlantic, all the oceans of the world, and not just ‘Kaashidhoo Kandu,’—were converted into ink and then used to write the words of the Lord of that oceans and everything else in this universe, it would be insufficient. Even if another batch of ink similar to that it is brought as a supplement.
Let’s talk about the Qu’aan. It was 23 years’ worth of Allah’s words. For someone reading or memorizing, it sure seems a lot. Indeed, it’s an incredible amount of His Words. But for someone paying to print a copy of it, it doesn’t seem a lot. I mean, it wouldn’t need a lot of ink to make a copy of the Qur’aan. Or, if you were to write the Qur’aan yourself in a notebook, you wouldn’t need any more than a dozen pens, max. Besides, it is just a single volume with just 600 pages. And there are even pocket-sized versions with readable font sizes.
If the Qur’aan can be written with just a small portion of that ink, and the whole—no, but double!—of the earth’s oceans as ink would be insufficient to write the rest of the Words of Allah and His Knowledge, how great do you imagine Him to be? How mighty would He be and how vast His Knowledge would be? No, no one can grasp or comprehend Him, for He is far greater than anything the humans’ minds can come up with, as stated by Sheikh as-Sa’di, may Allah have mercy on him, in his tafseer.
Allah says in another verse: “And if whatever trees upon the earth were pens and the sea [was ink], replenished thereafter by seven [more] seas, the words of Allah would not be exhausted. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.” [Luqman, 27]
A similar verse, but this time instead of two, seven more seas are mentioned further emphasizing the gist of what we are trying to establish here. In addition, another illustration is mentioned in this verse, namely that if all the myriad trees—from the beginning to the end of the world—are used as pens to write the Words of Allah and to enumerate all of His Knowledge, using all the seas and ocean—seven times over—as ink, it still won’t be enough.
Sheikh as-Sa’di commented on the verse from the chapter al-Kahf (after mentioning this verse from Luqman) saying that this is [stated] as a way of bringing around the meaning closer to minds [so as to make it easy to understand]. He elaborated, stating that all these things (i.e. the trees and the seas) are creations and all creations will eventually perish and cease to exist. But as for the Words of Allah, they are one of the Attributes of Him, and none of His Attributes are created, hence there is no limit or end to them. The verse doesn’t mean that if someone comes up with eight seas it’ll be enough. No. Even if all the knowledge of every creation in this Universe from the beginning to the end are combined, it will be—compared to the Knowledge of Allah—less than the amount a bird’s claws pick up after being dipped into the sea is compared to the sea itself. (I hope you got that. If not, try reading it again). Do you know how great we estimate our knowledge to be? Ever heard someone talk about how much information is on the Internet?
Despite all that, “mankind have not been given of knowledge except a little” [al-Isra’, 85].