The author here gives expression to the Fatimi view that al-ʿAql al-Awwal realised that he was powerless to know the Creator and was the first to exercise tawhīd (the Oneness of Allah). He comprehends his own limitation that the created had no power ever to comprehend the Creator. As the first in Creation, he comprehends, that he being the created could not himself be the Creator. He comprehends himself by himself, as, he is the first and the highest in perfection and he has none to emulate.
In contrast, al-Nafs al-Kulliya being the second, comprehends himself only by the light of the First.
From this verse we also get the two shades of meaning of the term al-ʿaql, namely, comprehend and constrict. Al-ʿAql al-Awwal comprehending his limitations contained himself and so retained his position.
Al-ʿAql al-Awwal is the ultimate in purity of source and serenity of origin, indicating thereby, that purity and serenity are necessary pre-conditions to the attainment of the highest perfection. In the same way, purity of character, serenity of life and a devotion to the dictates of Allah are imperative, if man would seek to strengthen and develop to the highest pitch, the potentiality he has for acquiring higher knowledge and perfection.