[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
He Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deed: and He is the Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving;-
5556 Created Death and Life. Death is here put before Life, and it is created. Death is therefore not merely a negative state. In 2:28 we read "Seeing that ye were without life (literally, dead), and He gave you life; then will He cause you to die, and will again bring you to life; and again to Him will ye return." In 53:44, again, Death is put before Life. Death then is: (1) the state before life began, which may be non-existence or existence in some other form; (2) the state in which Life as we know it ceases, but existence does not cease; a state of Barzakh (23:100), or Barrier or Partition, after our visible Death and before Judgement; after that will be the new Life, which we conceive of under the term Eternity.
5557 Creation, therefore, is not in mere sport, or without a purpose with reference to man. The state before our present Life, or the state after, we can scarcely understand. But our present Life is clearly given to enable us to strive by good deeds to reach a nobler state.
5558 All this is possible, because Allah is so Exalted in Might that He can perfectly carry out His Will and Purpose, and that Purpose is Love, Mercy, and Goodness to His creatures.