Surah al-Zumar, Verses 56 - 75
أَنْ تَقُولَ نَفْسٌ يَا حَسْرَتَی عَلَی مَا فَرَّطْتُ فِي جَنْبِ اللَّهِ وَإِنْ كُنْتُ لَمِنَ السَّاخِرِينَ
56. Lest a person should say “Alas, my grief that I was undutiful to Allah and I was indeed among those who mocked [His Verses].”
The Day of Resurrection is the Day of Regret. Underrating Divine Injunctions, and worse than that, mocking them all spring from neglect.
Following the emphatic injunction as to repentance and compensation for the past wrong deeds, the blessed Verse in question is saying that these injunctions have been sent down lest on the Day of Resurrection one may say:
“Woe to me that I failed to act upon Divine Command and I mocked His Verses and Messengers.”
The word hasra is employed in the sense of sorrow and grief caused by past regrettable acts. In his Mufradat, Raghib says that the word derives from hasr indicating pull way or remove garment but it figuratively connotes regret about and grieve for the past acts as if the veils of ignorance have been removed.
When man is raised on the Day of Resurrection and perceives the consequences of his transgressions of bounds, neglects, sins, underrating serious affairs, will cry out “Woe to me!” A dire sense of grief and regret wraps up his heart and expresses himself with such interjections.
Exegets differ as to the meaning of
and present many a suggestion.
The word is literally employed in the sense of side and it applies to anything located at the side of something else, in the same manner that yamin and yasar signify right and left sides of the body respectively, but owing to generalization, they imply anything located at the left and right sides.
also ad hoc designate all the affairs beside Him, e.g. His Command, Obedience to Him, Closeness to Him, The Divine Books sent down by Him.
Thus, the sinful regret about and grieve for their undutifulness against Allah and particularly lay emphasis on mocking Qur’anic Verses and Divinely appointed Messengers, since their wrong acts mainly stem from their neglect and derision which in turn spring from ignorance, vanity, and bias.1
أَوْ تَقُولَ لَوْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ هَدَانِي لَكُنْتُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِينَ
أَوْ تَقُولَ حِينَ تَرَی الْعَذَابَ لَوْ أَنَّ لِي كَرَّةً فَأَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
57. Or [lest] he should say [out of profound grief]: “If only Allah has guided me, I should indeed have been among the righteous.”
58. Or [lest] he should say when he sees the torment: “If only I had another chance [to return to the world] then I should be among the good doers.”
On the Resurrection Day, sinners aim to acquit themselves of their sins. On the Day of Resurrection the sinful wish that they could return to the world in order to do good [to himself and others].
The blessed Verse in question says:
Such words are apparently uttered upon reckoning, noticing that some people proceed toward Paradise enjoying all Bounties for their righteous good deeds. He also wishes that he could accompany them to Paradise.
Verse 60 is saying that upon experiencing Divine Chastisement, he wishes that he could return to the world to become one of the righteous. Upon treading the way to Hell, he notices the blazing fire and the excruciating torment, he sighs wishing that he could be permitted to return to the world and compensate for his sins through committing righteous deeds and become one of the good doers.
Thus, each of the three words are uttered at certain times: noticing the Resurrection he regrets his past deeds; perceiving the rewards of the righteous, he wishes that the same were in store for him; experiencing Divine Chastisement, he wishes that he could return to the world and compensate for his past deeds.
بَلَی قَدْ جَاءَتْكَ آيَاتِي فَكَذَّبْتَ بِهَا وَاسْتَكْبَرْتَ وَكُنْتَ مِنَ الْكَافِرِينَ
59. Yes! Indeed, there came unto you My Verses but you denied them and were vain and were among disbelievers.
The sinful express some words on the Day of Resurrection:
1. Confessing to neglect
2. Confessing to derision
3. Wishing for guidance
4. Wishing for returning to the world.
God Almighty accepts his confessions but concerning the third word, the blessed Verse in question says that God Almighty provided you with Guidance but he denied it.
An answer provided for the fourth word is to be found elsewhere:
A reply is provided for the second word as per which Divine Verses came unto him; however, he denied them and was vain and one of the disbelievers. He is saying that had Divine Guidance came unto him, he would have been one of the righteous.
What is Divine Guidance but some many Divine Books, God’s Messengers, Divine Verses and Signs of Truth in horizons and souls? He saw and heard them all but what was his reaction toward them but denial, vanity, and disbelief?
Would it be possible that God Almighty chastises anyone without warning them? Was he different from the guided in terms of Divine Guidance? Therefore, he is to blame for his evil deeds. Vanity and denial of Divine Verses and Signs are the main reasons that lead to disbelief and faithlessness.
No answer is suggested for the first word, since it is an inevitable reality – they have to regret and grieve for their past vicious deeds. Regarding the third word, i.e., request for being returned to the world, numerous answers are provided, e.g.:
Furthermore, the reply suggested for the second word may make a reference to the reply provided for this question as well – what is the goal of returning to the world? Is it anything other than being warned against vicious deeds?
It is worthy of note that God Almighty had already warned them and such further warnings would be futile. Experiencing torment in the Hereafter is their sudden awakening which will be rendered futile upon their return to the world.
In the same vein, the Holy Qur’an makes mention of polytheists entangled in the agitated sea invoking God with sincere devotion but upon stepping on the shore they consign everything to oblivion:
وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ تَرَی الَّذِينَ كَذَبُوا عَلَی اللَّهِ وُجُوهُهُمْ مُسْوَدَّةٌ أَلَيْسَ فِي جَهَنَّمَ مَثْویً لِلْمُتَكَبِّرِينَ
60. And on the Day of Resurrection you will see those who lied against Allah – their faces will be black. Is there not in Hell an abode for the vain?
Lying against Allah are of diverse kinds:
1. Associating other objects of worship with Him
2. Likening God Almighty to something
3. Regarding angels as God’s offspring
4. Attributing one’s vicious act to God Almighty
5. Pretending to be God or Divinely appointed Messenger
6. Making distortions and innovations in Divine Commands.
It is narrated in traditions that forging traditions and narrating them from the Infallible Imams (as) are on a par with lying against God Almighty, since the Infallible Imams narrate from the Noble Prophet (S) and the Prophet (S) imparts Divine Word.5
Pursuant to the words of the lying polytheists and the arrogant on the Day of Resurrection regretting about their past vicious deeds and their request as to being returned to the world to compensate for their past deeds which is a futile and unacceptable request, the blessed Verses in question treat of the same question saying:
Although the meaning of
is broad in its semantic range, but it is ad hoc applied to associating partners with God and claiming that angels, Jesus Christ (as), and the like are His offspring.
The word mustakbir indicates arrogant, but it is herein employed to refer to those who waxed arrogance against Divinely appointed messengers calling people to the Religion of Truth and their denial of them. The liars’ blackened face on the Day of Resurrection reveals their disgrace and humility.
It is well known that secrets will be manifest and man’s thought and deeds will be embodied on the Day of Resurrection. Those who have black hearts and their deeds were dark like their thought will be seen with dark and blackened faces on that Day.
In other words, what is concealed shall be manifest and faces shall reflect hearts as a consequence of which those with black hearts shall appear with blackened faces and those whose hearts are illuminating shall appear with bright faces on that Day.
It is mentioned elsewhere in the Holy Qur’an6:
According to a number of traditions narrated from the Shi’i Imams (as), lying against Allah will lead to blackness of face on the Day of Resurrection is broader in its semantic range as per which it includes false claims to the leadership of the Muslim community (umma).
In the same vein, in his I’tiqadat, Shaykh Saduq narrates from Imam Sadiq that upon being asked as to the interpretation of the blessed Verse in question, he replied:
“It refers to one who pretends to be the Imam.”
He was asked regarding such person whether he happens to be a descendant of ‘Ali and Fatima (as), to which he replied:
“Even if he happens to be of such descent.”7
It clearly bears testimony to the fact that false claim to Divine leadership and Imamate is an instance of lying against God. In the same vein, those who lie against the Noble Prophet (S) and the Infallible Imams will be on a par with those who lie against Allah.
Thus, it is reported in another tradition narrated from Imam Sadiq (as):
“Whoever transmits a tradition from us, we will ask him some day regarding its truth.
If he happens to be in the right and he is one of us, he has attributed a true word to God Almighty and His Messenger (S), but if he lied against us, he has lied against God and His Messenger (S), since when we report a tradition, we do not say such and such a person reported thus, but we say God or His Messenger (S) said it.
Then he recited the Verse:
The tradition clearly bears testimony to the fact that the Shi’i Imams (as) transmitted nothing of their own, but all the sound traditions narrated on their authorities trace back to Prophetic traditions.
The fact in question is worthy of note for all Muslim scholars; therefore those who do not acknowledge their Imamate are supposed to acknowledge the veracity of their transmissions as Prophetic traditions.
In the same vein, another tradition is narrated from Imam Sadiq (as) in Kafi as per which:
“The tradition narrated by each of the Imams is another tradition and our tradition is that of the Messenger of God (S).”9
It is worthy of note that Qur’anic Verses clearly refer to the fact that disbelief mainly stems from vanity, as the Qur’anic Verse10 says:
Thus, the arrogant may not dwell nowhere but in Hell.
According to a Prophetic tradition:
وَيُنَجِّي اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا بِمَفَازَتِهِمْ لا يَمَسُّهُمُ السُّوءُ وَلا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
61. And Allah will deliver those who are the righteous with their success, untouched by evil in the least, nor shall they grieve.
Fear of God leads to deliverance and the God fearing entertain no grief.
The blessed Verse in question treats of the righteous and their happiness on the Day of Resurrection as opposed to the arrogant and the vain, saying:
Their deliverance and success are explicated with two terse clauses:
They live in a world devoid of anything but good, purity, and happiness. The brief expression actually encompasses all Divine Bounties.
اللَّهُ خَالِقُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُوَ عَلَی كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَكِيلٌ
لَهُ مَقَالِيدُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآياتِ اللَّهِ أُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ
62. Allah is the Creator of all things and He is the Guardian, Preserver, and Controller of all things.
63. To Him belongs the keys of the heavens and the earth. And those who disbelieve in Divine Signs and Verses, such are they who will be the losers.
The real monotheist believes in all dimensions of Divine Unity: Unity in Creatorship, Unity in Lordship, and Unity in worship.
The following Verse says:
In other words, all existent beings need Him in creation and survival.
The first and the second clauses refer to Unity in Creatorship and Unity in Lordship respectively.
It is noteworthy that even most of the polytheists admitted Unity of Creatorship, as it is reflected in Verse 38 of the Chapter in question:
However, they had gone astray concerning Unity of Lordship, since they regarded idols as their guardians, preservers and disposers of their affairs and sought refuge in them in hardships.
The Holy Qur’an actually makes a reference to such belief saying that disposing the affairs of the world as well as its preservation and protection are at the hand of its Creator, as a consequence of which, people are supposed to seek refuge in Him at all times.
In his Lisan al-’Arab, Ibn Mansur makes mention of different senses for the word wakil, e.g. guardian, preserver, and disposer of affairs. Thus, it becomes evident that idols lead to neither gain, nor loss. They neither solve problems, nor do they make problems. They are weak and useless objects incapable of doing anything.
is employed by some adherents of the school of predestination as an argument for their false belief, saying that their acts are referred to in the Verse in question, hence, Allah is the Creator of such acts, even if people physically carry out such acts.
Their gross mistake stems from their inability to comprehend that Divine Lordship as to man’s acts has nothing to do with his free will, since Divine Will and human will are not parallel but rather interrelated lengthwise; in other words, man’s acts are related to God and to himself.
On the one hand, all things in the world of existence are encompassed by Divine Omnipotence hence his acts are created by Him, since He provides man with power, intellect, free will, and the required means to act. Consequently, man’s acts may be ascribed to Him.
He wills that man enjoys free will to act. He provides man will the means required for acting upon his will. Yet, man is free to choose his acts, as a consequence of which such acts are ascribed to him and he is responsible against them.
One who claims that man is the creator of his own acts and God has nothing to do with them is a polytheist, since he believes in two creators, the Great Creator and the small creator.
If one claims that God is the Creator of his acts and he has nothing to do with it, he has gone astray since he has denied Divine Wisdom and Justice.
Would it be possible that man be responsible for His Acts? If so, responsibility, obligation, the Hereafter, reckoning, chastisement and reward would be meaningless.
Therefore, the standard Muslim dogmas based on Qur’anic Verses demonstrate that all human acts are ascribed both to Him and man and such ascription is not inconsistent in the least, since the relation between the two is not parallel but lengthwise.
قُلْ أَفَغَيْرَ اللَّهِ تَأْمُرُونِّي أَعْبُدُ أَيُّهَا الْجَاهِلُونَ
وَلَقَدْ أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ وَإِلَی الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكَ لَئِنْ أَشْرَكْتَ لَيَحْبَطَنَّ عَمَلُكَ وَلَتَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ
64. Say: “Do you order me to worship other than Allah? O you fools!”
65. And indeed it has been revealed to you as it was to those [Messengers] before you: “If you join others in worship with Allah, surely your deeds will be in vain and you will certainly be among the losers.
The Verses in question are mainly addressed to the Noble Prophet (S) but all people are also involved in such affairs; yet, God Almighty addresses the Prophet (S) owing to the significance of the issue indicating that even if the Prophet (S) disbelieves for a single moment, his deeds will be in vain and he will be among the losers.
Thus, Verse 65 draws a neat distinction between belief and disbelief, saying:
Therefore, disbelief leads to two consequences which may affect Divinely appointed Messenger in case of their disbelief: vanity of deeds and being a loser in one’s life. The former refers to futility of righteous good deeds owing to disbelief since such acts will solely be acknowledged if one believes in Divine Unity.
Disbelief is likened to a blazing fire burning the tree of human deeds, a lightening setting ablaze all the crops of his life, a tempest rendering human deeds futile, as mentioned elsewhere in the Holy Qur’an12:
According to a prophetic tradition:
“God Almighty reckons the deeds of all servants unless they disbelieve; surely they shall be sent to Fire without reckoning.”13
Disbelievers will be among losers since they lose their most valuable possessions, i.e., intellect and life, in this spacious market of mundane world and fail to purchase anything except for regret and grief.
A question arises here: Would it be possible that Divinely appointed eminent prophets turn to disbelief as a consequence of which the Verse in question treats them in such harsh tone?
The answer to this question is crystal clear: they shall never turn to disbelief even if they enjoy the free will to do so and infallibility is not on a par with the loss of free will.
It is to be noted that their excellence of knowledge and their immediate and constant nexus with the Origin of Divine Revelation hinders them to entertain disbelief for one single moment. Would it be imaginable that an intelligent physician aware of the effects of a fatal poisonous substance entertains the thought of its consumption?
The Verse aims to warn people of the great risk of entertaining disbelief so as to inform them that God Almighty warns His Messengers about disbelief. It reminds one of the Arabic proverb:
“I mean you, but O neighbor! Listen to it!”
According to a tradition narrated from Imam ‘Ali ibn Musa al-Rida, inquired by Ma’mun concerning the Verses in question, he said:
“Such Verses refer to the Muslim community, even if the Messenger of God (S) is addressed herein.”14
بَلِ اللَّهَ فَاعْبُدْ وَكُنْ مِنَ الشَّاكِرِينَ
وَمَا قَدَرُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ قَدْرِهِ وَالْأَرْضُ جَمِيعاً قَبْضَتُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَالسَّمَاوَاتُ مَطْوِيَّاتٌ بِيَمِينِهِ سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَی عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ
66. Nay! But worship Allah alone and be among the grateful.
67. They did not appreciate Allah as such as is due to Him, though on the Day of Resurrection the whole of the earth shall be subject to His Omnipotence and the heavens will be rolled up in His Hand. Glorified is He and Exalted is He above all that they associate as partners with Him.
Monotheism is the best manner of deliverance from loss and harm; likewise one may show his gratitude toward God Almighty is to worship Him.
Thus the blessed Verse lays further emphasis:
Precedence of Allah is for specification (hasr), i.e., you are solely supposed to worship the Pure Essence of Allah. What follows is the Divine Injunction to gratitude since showing gratitude for Divine Bounties bestowed upon man may serve as a means of knowing God and rejection of any kind of polytheism and disbelief.
Gratitude for Divine Bounties is in human primordial natural disposition, but it is supposed to follow the provider of bounties. Consequently, it leads to the acknowledgement of Divine Unity and thus idols which provide man with no bounty are abandoned.
Verse 67 treats of another exposition for rejection of polytheism and disbelief regarding it mainly to stem from not knowing God deservingly as a consequence of which his Sacred Name was relegated to those of idols:
Polytheism and disbelief mainly spring from lack of appreciating God Almighty as such.
One who knows that His Existence is Boundless, He is the Creator of all creatures and they are at all times in need of His Source of Emanation and Divine Bounty, He is the Dispenser of the world of existence and He is the One Who solves all problems, He is the Provider of all existent beings and intercession depends on His Permission and Command, may not turn to another being.
It is worthy of note that duality is not applicable to God Almighty since two boundless beings are not reasonably possible.
To express Divine Omnipotence and Glory, the Verse in question employs a figurative expression saying:
The word qabda is applied to what is grasped by hand and it is usually used figuratively in the sense of absolute power and sway in the same manner that it is said in daily speech that such and such city or such and such property are in hand of so and so.
The word matwwiyat is taken from tayy which literally denotes “to be enclosed” and at times it connotes “transience of life” or “passing by something.”
The aforesaid expression is more clearly attested elsewhere in the Holy Qur’an15:
It is to be noted that one who has rolled up a scroll holding it in his hand wields perfect sway over it.
The choice of the word:
is due to the fact that right hand is usually used by most of the people for carrying out tasks of significance since they feel that it is stronger than the left one.
In short, all these similes and expressions connote absolute sway of the Creator over the world of existence in this world and the Hereafter so that all men comprehend that in the Hereafter, the key to deliverance and the solution of problems is in the Hand of God Almighty lest they turn to idols and other objects of worship for intercession and any other support.
Are not the earth and the heavens under His Sway? Why do they make mention of the Hereafter? The reply to these questions is that on that Day, Divine Omnipotence shall be more manifest than any other time as It shall be evident to such extent that all men shall clearly perceive that all things belong to Him and they are under His Sway.
Furthermore, on the Day of Resurrection, some men may turn to others besides God Almighty for deliverance, in the same manner that Christians raise the question of deliverance for worshipping Jesus Christ (as). It is in this vein that the Verse treats of Divine Omnipotence on the Day of Resurrection.
The above clearly bears testimony to the fact that all these expressions are figurative and it is because of the brevity of words in our daily life that we have to express such exalted meanings with such small words.
Only very simple and narrow minded people may entertain Divine anthropomorphism in their minds. Since words fail to convey Divine Glory, one has to make use of such words in their figurative meanings with their broader semantic range.
It is noteworthy that a clear but terse conclusion closes the Verse:
Had man not pass judgments with his limited thought concerning His Glorified and Pure Essence, he would have never turned toward polytheism and idolatry.
وَنُفِخَ فِي الصُّورِ فَصَعِقَ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَنْ فِي الْأَرْضِ إِلَّا مَنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ ثُمَّ نُفِخَ فِيهِ أُخْرَی فَإِذَا هُمْ قِيَامٌ يَنْظُرُونَ
68. And the Trumpet Shall be blown and all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth shall swoon away [and die], except him whom Allah wills. Then it shall be blown a second time and they shall suddenly rise up, looking [around].
All men die upon the blowing of the Trumpet; thus, the exception attested in the clause:
makes a reference to Divine Omnipotence. In other words, God Almighty wields absolute sway over the world of existence and when all die, He keeps alive those whom He wills. According to a number of traditions, [Archangels] Jibra’il, Israfil, and Mika’il, and also martyrs are mentioned among those who shall stay alive.16
The preceding Verses treated of the Day of Resurrection and blessed Verse in question pursues the same question and makes mention of many a characteristic thereof.
It opens with the end of the world, saying:
The Verse proceeds with saying:
The Verse clearly indicates that a sudden happening shall occur at the end of the world and the beginning of Resurrection. All animate beings immediately die at the end of the world and following an interlude, all human beings shall be suddenly raised and await Reckoning upon Resurrection.
The Holy Qur’an expresses these two incidents as:
serving as an elegant metaphorical expression connoting sudden and simultaneous incidents, since nafkh denotes “blowing” and sur is employed in the sense of trumpet or a hollow horn usually used for setting caravan and or army to get underway or march or making them stop.
It is worthy of note that the two differed in tunes. The expression also connotes the ease of carrying out the task indicating that God Almighty raises all with one single Command likened to blowing of the trumpet used for getting the caravan underway.
It has been repeatedly mentioned above that our words are invented for our limited daily life hence they fail to precisely convey the truths of the metaphysical world upon the end of this world and the beginning of the other world as a consequence of which we have to attend to the existing evidence and use ordinary words in a broader semantic range.
It is worthy of note that diverse expressions are attested in the Holy Qur’an as to the end of this world and the beginning of the world to come.
In this vein, different Verses (more than ten Verses) treat of:
In one instance 17 mention is made of nuqira fi al-naqur which bears the sense of blowing the trumpet and the like:
is also attested in 101:1-3.
The same theme is also expressed by the word:
as in 36:49:
which treats of the shout heard at the end of the world which takes men unawares.
Verse 53 of Chapter 36 treats of the shout heard on the Day of Resurrection upon hearing which all men shall raise and they shall be brought before the Just Lord:
The aforesaid Verses indicate that a very harsh shout shall make all the beings of the heavens and the earth die and it shall be the:
They shall all come back to life by a very harsh shout by the time of Resurrection and it shall be the:
What is precisely the manner of the twain shouts? In what manner do they impress the beings?
Nobody save God Almighty knows the answer to this question. Treating of the Trumpet to be blown by Israfil at the end the world, a number of traditions indicate that all the beings of the heavens die upon blowing the Trumpet and God Almighty issues the Command of his death bidding him to die and he shall die.18
The majority of Qur’anic exegets interpret nafkh fi al-sur as
as mentioned above. These are delicate expressions concerning the manner of the end of the world and the beginning of Resurrection. The question raised at the close of the Verse concerns the number of blowing the Trumpet.
The majority of exegets maintain that it is blown twice and the blessed Verse in question apparently makes a reference to the same.
Taking into account other Qur’anic instances regarding the same indicates the same, such that the first blowing is termed:
and the second one:
referred to in Qur’anic Verses some of which were mentioned above, the former and the latter are termed:
It is true that there shall not be more than the twain.
Another Qur’anic evidence may be produced for the matter at hand, namely:
The second earthquake shall occur raising servants as peers.
وَأَشْرَقَتِ الْأَرْضُ بِنُورِ رَبِّهَا وَوُضِعَ الْكِتَابُ وَجِيءَ بِالنَّبِيِّينَ وَالشُّهَدَاءِ وَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُمْ بِالْحَقِّ وَهُمْ لا يُظْلَمُونَ
69. [On that Day] the earth will shine with the Light of its Lord and the Book of deeds will be placed [forward] and the Prophets and the witnesses will be brought forward and it will be judged between them with truth and they will not be wronged.
denotes either the Light of Truth and Justice with which God Almighty illuminates the earth on that Day or a Light other than the one shed by sun and moon to be Divinely created on that Day.
The exegetic work Atyab al-Bayan reads:
“Since the light of sun and moon is not apparent,
indicates the Light shed by believers,”
then this Verse in cited as evidence thereof:
The blessed Verse in question resumes the discussion concerning Resurrection, saying:
Different interpretations have been suggested as to the “shining” with Divine Light, the most significant of which are the following:
1. Some exegets maintain that Divine Light indicates Truth and Justice with which God Almighty illuminates the face of the earth.
In his Bihar al-Anwar ‘Allama Majlisi says:
“That is, the earth shall be illuminated with Divine Justice on the Day of Resurrection, since Justice is the Light of the earth.”21
Some other exegets maintain that the Prophetic tradition:
“Wrong doing manifests itself as darkness and shadows on the Day of Resurrection”
substantiating the suggestion in question.22
In his Kashshaf, Zamakhshari suggests the same meaning, saying:
“On that Day, the earth shall be illuminated by the administration of justice and fair arbitration of records of righteous and vicious deeds.”
2. Some other exegets hold that it is a reference to a Light other than that of sun and moon which shall be created by God Almighty particularly for that Day.
3. The eminent author of [the exegetic work] Tafsir al-Mizan [‘Allama Tabataba’i] says:
“Illumination of the earth by Divine Light is regarded as one of the characteristics of the Day of Resurrection which is uncovering veils and manifestation of the truth behind things and human deeds including good, evil, obedience, disobedience, truth, and falsehood,”
following which Verse 22 of Chapter 50 is quoted to substantiate the suggested meaning:
It is true that Divine Light on that Day encompasses all things, but the emphasis laid on the earth refers to the fact that it makes a reference to the state of people on earth on that Day.
It is to be noted that the aforementioned interpretations are not inconsistent; however the first and the third interpretations sound more appropriate.
The blessed Verse in question indubitably refers to Resurrection and interpreting it in a number of traditions narrated from the Noble Prophet’s (S) Household (as) [Ahl al-Bayt] to Imam Mahdi’s (as) Rise at the end of the world is in fact a kind of comparison and likening, emphasizing that upon his Rise, incidents resembling Resurrection shall occur and he will administer justice as per the nature of the world as the rightful Imam (as), the Successor to the Noble Prophet of Islam (S), and the Vicegerent of God Almighty on the earth.
Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar narrates from Imam Sadiq (as):
“Upon the Rise of our Riser, the earth shall be illuminated by Divine Light and Lord’s servants shall not be in need of sun shine and darkness shall wither away.”
The second clause of the blessed Verse in question treats of the record of deeds, saying that on that Day, the record of deeds shall be put forward and man’s deeds shall be reckoned;
Such records embrace all the significant and non-significant deeds and according to the Holy Qur’an23:
The following clause of the blessed Verse in question treating of witnesses further adds:
Prophets shall be summoned to talk to sinners concerning the fulfillment of their Prophetic Missions:
Witnesses shall be called to the Just Tribunal to bear witness. It is true that God is Omniscient, but the testimony of witnesses shall be required for laying emphasis on Divine Justice. Who are these witnesses?
Qur’anic exegets are not unanimous on the issue. Some regard the good, the pure, and the just among communities who bear witness to Prophetic Missions and some regard the deeds of the people contemporaneous with Prophets.
The Infallible Imams (as) are regarded as the forerunners of the witnesses.
Substantiating their arguments by the Qur’anic Verse:25
some other exegets interpret witnesses as angels bearing testimony to man’s deeds. Yet, there are exegets who interpret the word alluding to bodily members, space, and time of obedience and disobedience as witnesses on the Day of Resurrection.
However, the word
is apparently employed in its broad semantic range and each of the exegets refer to one of the aspects thereof.
The fourth clause says:
The fifth clause further adds:
It is evident that when God Almighty wields sway, the earth is illuminated by the Light of His Justice, the record precisely reflecting man’s deeds is put forward, and the Prophets and just witnesses make their presence, the Judgment shall be based on Truth and Justice and wrong doing may not find its way there.
وَوُفِّيَتْ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَا عَمِلَتْ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يَفْعَلُونَ
70. And each person shall be paid in full of what he did and He is Best Aware of what they do.
Divine Chastisement and Reward shall be paid in full.
The sixth clause that completes the foregoing discussion is to be found in the blessed Verse in question:
It is neither the Chastisement nor the Reward of the deeds which shall be given to man but the deeds themselves.
It shall be the best Chastisement and the best Reward that they shall be paid in full and they shall accompany man at all times. Who is able to administer justice so precisely but One Whose Knowledge encompasses everything.
Thus, the seventh and the last clause says:
There is even no need for witnesses, since His Omniscience far exceeds all witnesses. Yet, Divine Favor and Justice require the presence of witnesses. This is the Day of Resurrection for which we have to prepare ourselves.
وَسِيقَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِلَی جَهَنَّمَ زُمَراً حَتَّى إِذَا جَاءُوهَا فُتِحَتْ أَبْوَابُهَا وَقَالَ لَهُمْ خَزَنَتُهَا أَلَمْ يَأْتِكُمْ رُسُلٌ مِنْكُمْ يَتْلُونَ عَلَيْكُمْ آيَاتِ رَبِّكُمْ وَيُنْذِرُونَكُمْ لِقَاءَ يَوْمِكُمْ هَذَا قَالُوا بَلَی وَلَكِنْ حَقَّتْ كَلِمَةُ الْعَذَابِ عَلَی الْكَافِرِينَ
قِيلَ ادْخُلُوا أَبْوَابَ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا فَبِئْسَ مَثْوَی الْمُتَكَبِّرِينَ
71. And those who disbelieved will be driven to Hell in groups till when they reach it the gates thereof will be opened and its keepers shall say: “Did not the Messengers come unto you from yourselves reciting to you the Verses of your Lord warning you of the Meeting of this Day?” They will say: “Yes, [the Messengers came unto us and recited Divine Verses unto us],” but the Command of Divine torment has been justified against disbelievers.
72. It will be said [unto them]: “Enter the gates of Hell to abide therein and what an evil abode of the arrogant.”
Driving sinners toward Hell is a humiliation different from other Chastisements. The blessed Verses in question resume the discussions on Resurrection providing details concerning what was already said concisely in the foregoing Verses regarding the Rewards and Chastisements of believers and unbelievers.
Verse 71 opens with the people of the Hell, saying:
Who will drive them to Hell? The answer is that the angels responsible for inflicting torments will drive them to the gates of Hell.
A similar expression is to be found elsewhere in the Holy Qur’an26:
indicates that they will be driven in small and scattered groups toward Hell. The word siqa is taken from s-w-q (“to drive”).
The blessed Verse 71 further adds that they proceed toward Hell till they reach it. Then, the gates of Hell will be opened and the guardians of Hell will reproach them thus:
The expression clearly reveals that prior to their arrival, the gates of Hell are shut in the same manner that the gates of prisons are closed but upon the arrival of new comers, they open to them all of a sudden and the sudden opening of the gates inspires more fear and awe in their hearts.
Prior to anything else, the people of Hell bombard them with reproaches saying that all the means of guidance was prepared for you. Messengers from among yourselves used to recite to you Divine Verses and constantly warned you to follow the Straight Path.
What did happen that such misfortune befell you? Such words uttered by guardians of Hell will be among the most excruciating pains by which they will be welcomed upon their entering Hell.
Their reply is a painful brief sentence:
Consequently, the Command of Divine torment will be justified against disbelievers.
Some Qur’anic exegets regard the phrase:
an allusion to Divine Word upon Adams Fall onto the earth or upon Satan’s decision as to deceiving the Children of Adam, as reflected elsewhere in the Qur’an27:
Thus, they confess that they disbelieved the Prophets and Divine Verses and naturally a better fate may not be in store for them.
It is also possible that:
indicates that at times, owing to committing many a sin and bearing animosity, grudge, and prejudice against Truth, man’s heart is sealed and he may not return in which case the Command of Divine torment will be justified against him.
It is to be noted that such misfortune stems from man’s deeds and there is no room for predestination and lack of human free will.
The brief dialogue at the gates of Hell comes to its end by saying unto them:
As mentioned above,
may refer to those set in conformity with human deeds and each and every group will be driven to Hell as per their acts.
Likewise, the gates of Paradise conform to deeds.
The name of a gate of Paradise, “the gate of warriors” (bab al-mujahidin) is mentioned by Imam ‘Ali (as):
“Verily, jihad is one of the gates of Paradise.”29
It would be of interest to note that from amongst all human vices, the angels of torment driving man to Hell lay emphasis on arrogance which bears testimony to the fact that disbelief and sin mainly spring from arrogance and disobedience against the Truth.
Arrogance casts thick veils over man’s eyes and deprives him of perceiving the illuminating countenance.
Likewise, it is narrated from Imam Sadiq and Imam Baqir (as):
“One who entertains the slightest degree of arrogance in his heart may not enter Paradise.”30
وَسِيقَ الَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا رَبَّهُمْ إِلَی الْجَنَّةِ زُمَراً حَتَّی إِذَا جَاءُوهَا وَفُتِحَتْ أَبْوَابُهَا وَقَالَ لَهُمْ خَزَنَتُهَا سَلامٌ عَلَيْكُمْ طِبْتُمْ فَادْخُلُوهَا خَالِدِينَ
73. And those who kept their duty to their Lord will be led to Paradise in groups till when they reach it and its gates will be opened and its keepers will say peace be upon you! You have done well, so enter here to abide therein!
Purity is the prerequisite to being admitted to Paradise which has come into being owing to either someone’s primordial natural disposition or repentance.
According to a narration narrated from Imam ‘Ali (as) in Kitab al-Khisal,
“Paradise has eight gates, each of which is for a certain group: one for Prophets and sincerely devout believers, one for martyrs and good doers, five for my adherents (shi’a), and one for Muslims who bear no grudge against me.”31
The blessed Verse in question resumes the discussion on the hereafter. The preceding Verses treated of the manner by which believers enter Hell but the Verse in question expresses the way righteous believers enter Paradise so that the comparison sheds further light on the issue.
The Verse opens with saying that those who feared God shall be taken to Paradise in groups.
taken from s-w-q (“drive, lead”) in the clause:
arises a question attracting the attention of many an exeget, since the expression is employed when something is carried out without enthusiasm and inclination.
It is true about the people of Hell but why is it used for the people of Paradise who enthusiastically proceed toward Paradise?
Some exegets suggest that the enthusiasm of meeting their Lords has attracted their attention to such an extent that they do not heed anything besides him, even Paradise. Some maintain that they are alighted on mounts taking them to Paradise in no time.
All these suggestions are consistent and stand to reason, but it is worthy of note that the best interpretation may be the fact that the more the righteous are eager to enter Paradise, Paradise and angels of Mercy are more eager to admit them to their everlasting abode.
Likewise, a host may at times be so eager to meet his guest that he will take him faster than the guest proceeding toward him.
It is noteworthy that the word:
indicates that the people of Paradise proceed toward their everlasting abode in different groups revealing the hierarchy of their spiritual states.
Upon reaching Paradise, they notice that the gates have been already opened to them.
Then the guardians and keepers of Paradise, the angels of Mercy say unto them:
It would be of interest to note that upon reaching Hell, the gates open where as the gates had been already open for people of paradise.
Having already been open makes a reference to the respect paid to the people of Paradise, like a host who has opened the gate of his house and willingly awaiting to meet his guest. The angels of Divine Mercy act accordingly.
The preceding Verse treated of the people of Hell who are reproached by the angels of torment upon their arrival censuring them that despite the availability of the means of guidance, such misfortune befell them. However, the people of Paradise are welcomed by greetings and words revealing respect and homage following which they will be invited to enter their everlasting abode!
The verbal form:
is taken from t-’-b (“be good, be pleased”), which following greetings is used in the sense of “be pleased, be happy,” in other words, thus the angels say unto them:
However, many an exeget consider the clause to be in the indicative mood taking it to mean that the angels say unto them:
“You have been purified of any impurity. Faith and righteous good deeds have purified your hearts and souls. You are absolved of your sins.”
Some of the exegets even cite a narration according to which there is a tree at the gate of Paradise underneath which there is a fountain of pure water from which believers drink and thus purify themselves inwardly.
They wash themselves in another spring and thus cleanse themselves outwardly.
Then the keepers of Paradise say unto them:
“peace be upon you! You have done well, so enter here to abide therein!”32
It is to be noted that
is mentioned for peoples of Hell and Paradise so as the former know that there is no deliverance and the latter may not entertain any concern regarding the transience of Divine Bounties.
وَقَالُوا الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي صَدَقَنَا وَعْدَهُ وَأَوْرَثَنَا الْأَرْضَ نَتَبَوَّأُ مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ حَيْثُ نَشَاءُ فَنِعْمَ أَجْرُ الْعَامِلِينَ
74. And [the people of Paradise] will say: “Praise be to Allah Who has fulfilled His Promise to us and has made us inherit the land. We can dwell in Paradise where we will.” How excellent a reward for good doers!
It is the permanent disposition of the people of Paradise to say:
following enjoyment of Divine Bounties.
The blessed Verse in question mentions four terse clauses revealing their utmost satisfaction:
The Verse further adds:
ad hoc designates “the land of Paradise” and
indicates that so many bounties are bestowed upon them for little efforts. It is common knowledge that inheritance refers to something fallen into someone’s share without taking troubles. It may also allude to the fact that everyone has a place in Paradise and a place in Hell.
When he turns into one of the people of hell for his vicious deeds, his place in Paradise will be assigned to others, but if one becomes one of the people of Paradise, his place in Hell will remain there for those doomed to Hell.
It may also indicate that they may use it freely in the same manner that one may make use of his inheritance as he wish.
The clause actually reveals the fulfillment of Divine Promise which is also mentioned in 19:63,
The third clause thus indicates their free will in making use of their Lord’s vast Paradise:
Different Qur’anic Verses indicate that there are many a Garden in Paradise and the expression
refers to the same. People of Paradise dwell in them according to their spiritual states and stations. Thus they may freely select their abodes in the vast Gardens of Paradise.
They never opt for stations more exalted than theirs nor do they request the attainment to the same.
Finally, thus they say in the last clause:
Good doers are those who act upon Divine Commands. It reveals that such rewards are bestowed because of past righteous good deeds.
Such excellence stems from faith and good deeds. Who asks the last clause, God Almighty or the people of Paradise?
Qur’anic exegets maintain that both are possible but it would be more consistent with other clauses in the same Verse if we considered it as an expression of surprise uttered by the people of Paradise.
وَتَرَی الْمَلائِكَةَ حَافِّينَ مِنْ حَوْلِ الْعَرْشِ يُسَبِّحُونَ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ وَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُمْ بِالْحَقِّ وَقِيلَ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
75. And you will see the angels surrounding the Throne, glorifying their Lord with praises. And they will be judged with truth and it will be said: “All the praises are to Allah, the Lord of the world.”
derives from h-f-f (“surround”) and ‘arsh is the seat of Divine Omnipotence and Will. Angels are prepared to act upon Divine Commands;
glorifying their Lord at all times.
The closing Verse of the Chapter in question is an address to the Noble Prophet (S), saying:
Making a reference to the angels surrounding Divine Throne either indicates their preparation for acting upon Divine Commands or alludes to the cherished spiritual state of those close to Divine Threshold on that Day. The three interpretations are not inconsistent, but the first interpretation sounds more appropriate.
Thus the blessed Verse in question proceeds:
Since they serve as tokens of Divine Lordship and glorification of His Pure Essence with all praises, thus the Verse closes:
Who says it? People of Paradise? The righteous? All of them? Seemingly, the last choice is more appropriate since the wise and those close to Divine Threshold glorify God Almighty with praises and thanks.
O Lord! Unanimously with all angels and your obedient servants, we all thank you for the Bounties that You have bestowed upon us, particularly studying the Verses of Your Holy Qur’an saying: “Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the World.
- 1. As per many a tradition narrated from Shi’i Imams (as), “beside Allah” is interpreted as “Shi’i Imams,” for instance a tradition narrated from Imam Musa ibn Ja’far (as) mentioned in Usul Kafi interprets “Alas, my grief that I was undutiful to Allah” as: “‘Beside Allah’ indicates the Commander of the Faithful, Ali (as) and also his eminent successors to the last of them [i.e., Imam Mahdi (as)].” It is also reported from Imam Sadiq (as) in ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim’s exegetic work that “We are ‘beside Allah.’” See Tafsir Nur al-Thiqalayn, vol. 4, p. 495.
- 2. 6:28
- 3. See also the Holy Qur’an, 23:100.
- 4. 29:65
- 5. Tafsir Burhan.
- 6. 3:106-107
- 7. Nur al-Thiqalayn [Exegesis], vol. 4, p.496.
- 8. Majma’ al-Bayan, under the Verse in question.
- 9. Kafi, vol. 1, the chapter on the transmission of books and traditions (Bab Riwayat al-Kutub wa ‘l-Hadith), vol. 14.
- 10. 2:34
- 11. ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim’s Tafsir (“Exegesis”), apud Nur al-Thiqalayn, vol. 4, p. 496; the same theme in Tafsir Safi, under the Verses in question.
- 12. 14:18
- 13. Nur al-Thiqalayn, vol. 4, p. 497.
- 14. Ibid.
- 15. 21:104
- 16. al-Mizan and Durr al-Manthur [exegetic works].
- 17. 74:8
- 18. ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim’s Tafsir [“Exegesis”], apud Nur al-Thiqalayn.
- 19. 27:87
- 20. 57:12
- 21. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 6, p. 321.
- 22. Ruh al-Ma’ani and Ruh al-Bayan, under the Verses in question.
- 23. 18:49
- 24. 7:6
- 25. 50:21
- 26. 50:21
- 27. 2:39
- 28. 32:13
- 29. Nahj al-Balagha, Sermon 27.
- 30. Kafi, vol. 2, Chapter on Arrogance (Bab al-Kibr), tradition 6.
- 31. Tafsir al-Mizan.
- 32. Tafsir Qurtubi, vol. 8, p. 574.
- 33. 9:72