We said, “O Fire! be thou cool, and (a means of) safety for Abraham!”
This verse contains three subtle points:
First: Like every element in nature, fire performs a duty under God’s command. It did not
burn Abraham, upon him be peace, for God commanded it not to do so.
Second: One type of heat burns through coldness. Through the phrase, Be peaceful, God
Almighty commanded the cold: “Do not burn him.” An interpreter of the Qur’ān remarks:
“If He had not said ‘Be peaceful!, it would have burned him with its coldness.” Fire can simultaneously burn and be cold. Science has discovered a fire called “white heat” which does not radiate its heat. Instead, by attracting the surrounding heat, it causes the surrounding area to become cold enough to freeze liquids and, in effect, burns them through its cold. (Hell, which contains all degrees and sorts of fire, may well also have this intense cold.)
Third: Just as there is an immaterial substance like faith, and an armor like Islam, which
Surah 21 Al-Anbiya (The Prophets) will remove the effects of Hellfire and prevent them from harming us, there must be a physical substance that will protect against and prevent the effects of fire. As the fire did
not burn Abraham’s body or clothes, people can make a similar armor to protect them
Thus, the verse suggests:
O nation of Abraham. Be like Abraham, so that your garments may be your guard against
the fire, your greatest enemy, in both worlds. Coat your spirit with faith, and it will be your
armor against Hellfire. Moreover, earth contains substances that will protect you from fire’s
evil. Search for them, extract them, and coat yourselves with them.
As an important step in our progress, humankind discovered a fire-resistant substance. But
see how elevated, fine, and beautiful a garment this verse indicates, one which will be woven
on the loom of purity of faith in and submission to God, and which will not be torn for all
eternity (The Words, “The 20th Word,”)
Unal, Ali (2006). The Quran with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English. (surah 21 verse 69) http://www.islamicweblibrary.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/The-quran-with-annotated-interpretation-.pdf.