[2:26] God is not ashamed to strike a similitude even of a gnat, or anything above it.
Being ashamed, for God Most High, means the relinquishment (tark) [of His free agency]. When He describes Himself as being ashamed of something, it means He does not do that, and when it is said, 'He is not ashamed', it means He does not mind doing that.
Creation, in relation to the existence of the Real, is in actuality less than a speck of dust in the air (habāÌ fī hawāÌ) because this is the perishing of one limited thing in another. Therefore the two - the throne and the gnat - are the same in His power. The creation of the throne is not too troublesome or difficult for Him, nor is the creation of the gnat too insignificant or easy for him. He (s) is too holy to be attached to difficulty or ease. Since the matter can be described in this way, He is not ashamed to strike a similitude of the gnat, just as He is not ashamed to strike a similitude of the throne and what is below it.
It is said one aspect of the similitude of the gnat is the fact that when it is hungry, it becomes strong and flies. When it is satiated, it splits open and dies. Similarly, Surely mankind goes too far, for he thinks himself self-sufficient [96:6-7].
It is said or anything above it means a [larger] flying insect (dhubāb). One aspect of the allusion [here] is the insolence of the fly in that it keeps returning no matter how much it is driven away. If that [quality] was in the lion, no human being would be safe from him. But when He created power in the lion, He created in him an aversion to humankind. When He created the insolence in the fly, He created weakness in him, calling attention through this to the perfection of His wisdom and the effectiveness of His power.
[2:26 cont'd] as for the believers, they know it is the truth from their Lord; but as for the disbelievers, they say, 'What did God desire by this for a similitude?'
As for those for whom the eyes of their innermost consciousnesses have been opened, they do not look to others or to traces (āthār) unless it is with a view to crossing over (iʿtibār) or to increase the effectiveness of the faculty of insight (ibtiṣār). But for those whose eyes are like a drunken man's by virtue of their heedlessness, the similitudes only increase their ignorance and doubt.
[2:26 cont'd] Thereby, He leads many astray and thereby guides many; and thereby He leads none astray but the wicked.
This book is a healing and mercy for some people and a trial and misfortune for others. Those who acknowledged Him on the Day of the Covenant by the lights of solicitude when they heard His words, 'Am I not your Lord?' [7:172], remembered, at the time of the arrival of the intermediary (ṣ), the preexistence of His promise and the precedence of His love, so they increased greatly in their insight. [But] those whom He marked with the ignominy of separation and made speak that day about the Reckoning and the Terror only increased their denials when the prophetic call arrived. The one with true proofs would not be hidden from them today if they had not already strayed. Because of that, God Most High said, 'and thereby He leads none astray but the wicked'.