¡ By the fig and the olive,
1 For most commentators, the fig and the olive refer to the fruits of the earth, by which God swears due to the blessing and benefits contained in them (Bg, Sh, Ṭb). For others they have a symbolic value: the fig symbolizes the mosque (meaning place of prostration, as there would not have been a building for that purpose at the time of the revelation) in Damascus, which may be a reference to the “mosque” of Noah, where the Ark landed on Mt. Jūdī (see 11:44c), and the olive symbolizes “the Holy House,” that is, the “mosque” in Jerusalem (IK, Sh, Ṭ); or the fig refers to the mount on which Damascus is built, and the olive, the mount on which Jerusalem is built (Q, Ṭb); others say that they refer to the cities themselves (Q). Another interpretation takes the fig as a reference to the “mosque” of the Companions of the Cave (18:9) and the olive as a reference to the “mosque” in Jerusalem (Q), while yet another sees them as two mountains in the Levant (Q). Others say that the fig refers to the leaves of the Garden (7:22), with which Adam and Eve covered themselves, and the olive refers to the blessed olive tree in 24:35 (Q). This last interpretation could be seen as a symbolic foreshadowing of vv. 4-6 in that fig leaves allude to what is lowest in human beings, since they were used to cover their private parts, while the blessed olive tree is seen by many as the symbolic source of the human “light of understanding” or “intellect”; see 24:35c.