(Translated from Tadabbur-i Qur'a#nby Shehzad Saleem)
Central Theme and Relationship with the Previous Sūrahs
This is the seventh sūrah of this group and on it ends its Makkan sūrahs. It summarizes the whole discussion regarding reward and punishment mentioned from Sūrah Qāf till Sūrah Rahmān. In these previous sūrahs, all the details on this topic have been stated in the light of arguments based on human intellect and human nature as well as on the world within a person and that outside him. In this sūrah, instead of explaining these arguments, the Quraysh have been informed of the real result: the Day of Judgement is an indubitable event and there is not the slightest uncertainty in it. They shall necessarily encounter a world in which the values and standards of respect and humiliation will be entirely different from what they are witnessing this world. In the coming world, respect and success shall be reserved for those who had adhered to faith and righteous deeds. They will attain the positions of the (muqarrabūn) favoured ones and the ashāb al-yamīn (companions of the right hand). All the successes of Paradise shall be reserved for him. As for those who regarded this world to be everything and were infatuated by it, they will be regarded among the ashāb al-shimāl (companions of the left hand) and shall have to face the eternal punishment of Hell.
Analysis of the Discourse
The sūrah begins with the assertion that the Day of Judgement is certain to come. There is no doubt about its arrival. The Day shall evaluate a person according to his faith and deeds; it shall upgrade many a people and downgrade many. As a result of this assessment, people shall be divided into three categories on that day: the ashāb al-yamīn, the ashāb al-shimāl and the sābiqūn al-awwalūn.
Those nearest to the Almighty will be the sābiqūn al-awwalūn. The details of the gifts and favours of their Lord which they shall receive in Paradise are recounted together with the qualities of the sābiqūn al-awwalūn which actually entitled them to be regarded among this group.
The second place shall be occupied by the ashāb al-yamīn. A delineation is made of the bounties and rewards which they shall be blessed with in Paradise and their personal high character which made them worthy of being regarded among this group.
The fate of the ashāb al-shimāl is depicted and a reference is made to a few of their grave sins which led them to this punishment.
The arrogant among the Quraysh are addressed and warned that they shall end up with the same fate as that of the ashāb al-shimāl if they persist in deviating from the truth and in denying the Prophet (sws). In this regard, a reference is made to certain self-evident arguments which bear evidence to the Day of Reward and Punishment. Such is the nature of these arguments that only the stubborn can deny them.
An indication is made about the exalted status of the Quran and the fact that it is above and beyond the reach of Satan and his agents. The Quraysh are again cautioned not to turn a deaf ear to this sublime message and invite their doom. The fate about which this Book is informing them is a reality. Fortunate are they who will today strive to attain a place among the ashāb al-yamīn and the sābiqūn al-awwalūn; otherwise, they should remember that those who will not do so shall end up among the ashāb al-shimāl and shall face a terrible fate.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
إِذَا وَقَعَتِ الْوَاقِعَةُ (1) لَيْسَ لِوَقْعَتِهَا كَاذِبَةٌ (2) خَافِضَةٌ رَّافِعَةٌ (3) إِذَا رُجَّتِ الْأَرْضُ رَجًّا (4) وَبُسَّتِ الْجِبَالُ بَسًّا (5) فَكَانَتْ هَبَاء مُّنبَثًّا (6) وَكُنتُمْ أَزْوَاجًا ثَلَاثَةً (7)فَأَصْحَابُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ (8) وَأَصْحَابُ الْمَشْأَمَةِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الْمَشْأَمَةِ (9) وَالسَّابِقُونَ السَّابِقُونَ (10) أُوْلَئِكَ الْمُقَرَّبُونَ (11) فِي جَنَّاتِ النَّعِيمِ (12) ثُلَّةٌ مِّنَ الْأَوَّلِينَ (13) وَقَلِيلٌ مِّنَ الْآخِرِينَ (14) عَلَى سُرُرٍ مَّوْضُونَةٍ (15) مُتَّكِئِينَ عَلَيْهَا مُتَقَابِلِينَ (16) يَطُوفُ عَلَيْهِمْ وِلْدَانٌ مُّخَلَّدُونَ (17) بِأَكْوَابٍ وَأَبَارِيقَ وَكَأْسٍ مِّن مَّعِينٍ (18) لَا يُصَدَّعُونَ عَنْهَا وَلَا يُنزِفُونَ (19) وَفَاكِهَةٍ مِّمَّا يَتَخَيَّرُونَ (20) وَلَحْمِ طَيْرٍ مِّمَّا يَشْتَهُونَ (21) وَحُورٌ عِينٌ (22) كَأَمْثَالِ اللُّؤْلُؤِ الْمَكْنُونِ (23) جَزَاء بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ (24) لَا يَسْمَعُونَ فِيهَا لَغْوًا وَلَا تَأْثِيمًا (25) إِلَّا قِيلًا سَلَامًا سَلَامًا (26)وَأَصْحَابُ الْيَمِينِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الْيَمِينِ (27) فِي سِدْرٍ مَّخْضُودٍ (28) وَطَلْحٍ مَّنضُودٍ (29) وَظِلٍّ مَّمْدُودٍ (30) وَمَاء مَّسْكُوبٍ (31) وَفَاكِهَةٍ كَثِيرَةٍ (32) لَّا مَقْطُوعَةٍ وَلَا مَمْنُوعَةٍ (33) وَفُرُشٍ مَّرْفُوعَةٍ (34) إِنَّا أَنشَأْنَاهُنَّ إِنشَاء (35) فَجَعَلْنَاهُنَّ أَبْكَارًا (36) عُرُبًا أَتْرَابًا (37) لِّأَصْحَابِ الْيَمِينِ (38) ثُلَّةٌ مِّنَ الْأَوَّلِينَ (39) وَثُلَّةٌ مِّنَ الْآخِرِينَ (40)وَأَصْحَابُ الشِّمَالِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الشِّمَالِ (41) فِي سَمُومٍ وَحَمِيمٍ (42) وَظِلٍّ مِّن يَحْمُومٍ (43) لَّا بَارِدٍ وَلَا كَرِيمٍ (44) إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا قَبْلَ ذَلِكَ مُتْرَفِينَ (45) وَكَانُوا يُصِرُّونَ عَلَى الْحِنثِ الْعَظِيمِ (46) وَكَانُوا يَقُولُونَ أَئِذَا مِتْنَا وَكُنَّا تُرَابًا وَعِظَامًا أَئِنَّا لَمَبْعُوثُونَ (47) أَوَ آبَاؤُنَا الْأَوَّلُونَ (48)قُلْ إِنَّ الْأَوَّلِينَ وَالْآخِرِينَ (49) لَمَجْمُوعُونَ إِلَى مِيقَاتِ يَوْمٍ مَّعْلُومٍ (50) ثُمَّ إِنَّكُمْ أَيُّهَا الضَّالُّونَ الْمُكَذِّبُونَ (51) لَآكِلُونَ مِن شَجَرٍ مِّن زَقُّومٍ (52) فَمَالِؤُونَ مِنْهَا الْبُطُونَ (53) فَشَارِبُونَ عَلَيْهِ مِنَ الْحَمِيمِ (54) فَشَارِبُونَ شُرْبَ الْهِيمِ (55) هَذَا نُزُلُهُمْ يَوْمَ الدِّينِ (56)
Remember when that which is to happen shall happen. There is no semblance of falsity in its happening. It is one which lowers and one which raises; when the earth will be absolutely rattled, and the mountains while being crushed to pieces will become dispersed dust. And you shall be divided into three groups. (1-7)
One group shall be of the companions of the right hand; so what to speak of the companions of the right hand! Another group shall be of the companions of the left hand; so what shall happen to the companions of the left hand! As for the foremost, they shall be the foremost. They shall be the favoured ones in gardens of delight: most among them will be from the early generations but only a few from the later ones. They shall recline on jewelled couches face to face. Immortal youths shall wait on them with bowls and ewers and cups of purest wine that will neither cause headaches nor take away their sanity; and fruits of their own choice and flesh of the birds they relish. And for them shall be large-eyed houris like protected pearls: a reward for their deeds. There they shall hear no idle talk, no sinful speech. Only greetings and congratulations everywhere. (8-26)
And as for the companions of the right hand – what to speak of the companions of the right hand! among thornless lote-trees and clusters of bananas and vast shades; amidst gushing waters and abundant fruits, never-ending, unforbidden; and bedding raised high. And for them shall be wives whom we would have created in a unique manner; thus we shall make them remain virgins, enchanting and of the same age. These favours shall be for the companions of the right hand. Among them will be many from later generations and also many the early ones. (27-40)
As for the companions of the left hand! What a fate shall befall them! They shall be amidst scorching winds and seething water and in the shade of smoke which will neither be cool nor with any other benefit. Before this, they lived in comfort and persisted in the greatest sin saying: "Would that when we die and turn to dust and bones, shall we be raised to life again? And our forefathers, too?" (41-48)
Tell them: "Those of old and those of the present age shall all be brought together till the prescribed time of an appointed day. Then you people! O those have been led astray and who have denied the truth! You shall eat from the tree of zaqqūm and fill your bellies with it. Then upon this you shall drink scalding water like a thirsty camel. This shall be their first feast on the Day of Reckoning." (49-56)
إِذَا وَقَعَتِ الْوَاقِعَةُ (1) لَيْسَ لِوَقْعَتِهَا كَاذِبَةٌ (2)
The word الْوَاقِعَةُ refers to the Day of Judgement. Alluding to it by this word expresses its certainty. The arguments which substantiate the advent of this Day have been mentioned in detail in the previous sūrahs of this group. Moreover, the doubts and questions raised by the disbelievers regarding the possibility and happening of this Day have also been answered one by one. It is now said that these people should remember that when that which is to happen shall happen in spite of their doubts and objections, and that they shall not be able to run away from it in any way.
The word كَاذِبَةٌ in لَيْسَ لِوَقْعَتِهَا كَاذِبَةٌ is a verbal noun like عَاقِبَةٌ and عَافِيَةٌ. It means that there is absolutely no doubt in its happening. If they suspiciously think that they are being falsely threatened about a catastrophe, let it be known to them that there is not a bit of falsehood in it. It is a certain event which they are bound to face; so if they want to meet a congenial fate, they must get ready to face it.
خَافِضَةٌ رَّافِعَةٌ (3)
The implication of the verse is that these people should not remain under the misconception that the high position which they have today will always remain with them and those whom they are considering to be lowly and underprivileged will always remain so. The fact of the matter is that when that which is to happen comes, these heavens and the earth will appear with new laws. The standards of respect and honour will totally change. On that day, the believers will be blessed with all honour and status. People who have with them the investment and capital of faith will be elevated, and those who are deprived of this treasure will be deprived and humiliated. Here this fate is stated in a very succinct way. Coming up in verse seven is the detail of this elevation and degradation. It will become evident from it the standard according to which this will take place.
إِذَا رُجَّتِ الْأَرْضُ رَجًّا (4) وَبُسَّتِ الْجِبَالُ بَسًّا (5) فَكَانَتْ هَبَاء مُّنبَثًّا (6)
These verses portray the Day of Judgement: on that day, the earth shall be jolted and shaken, and the towering mountains which these naïve people regard to be eternal and unshakable will disperse like dust. It is evident from this that all the high structures in this earth will be levelled to the ground. Such an earthquake will ensue that it will cause the earth to severely shake and tremble and raze to the ground all the structures, edifices and castles on it. So much so, these gigantic mountains will become dust that will fly about. This subject is mentioned in Sūrah Hāqqah thus:
فَيَوْمَئِذٍ وَقَعَتْوَحُمِلَتْ الْأَرْضُ وَالْجِبَالُ فَدُكَّتَا دَكَّةً وَاحِدَةًالْوَاقِعَةُ(69:14-15)
And the earth and the mountains shall be shattered to pieces with one crash on that day will happen which is to happen. (69:14-15)
وَكُنتُمْ أَزْوَاجًا ثَلَاثَةً (7)فَأَصْحَابُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ (8) وَأَصْحَابُ الْمَشْأَمَةِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الْمَشْأَمَةِ (9) وَالسَّابِقُونَ السَّابِقُونَ (10)
Mentioned in this verse are the details of the raising and lowering referred to in verse three: on that day, mankind will be divided into three groups. One group will of the companions of the right hand, another of the companions of the left hand and the third of people who were the foremost (sābiqūn).
The Qur'ān itself has clarified that by the companions of the right hand, those people are implied who will receive their account in their rights hands. Thus it is mentioned in Sūrah Hāqqah: فَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوْتِيَ كِتَابَهُ بِيَمِينِهِ فَيَقُوْلُ هَاؤُمْ اقْرَءُوْا كِتَابِيه إِنِّي ظَنَنتُ أَنِّي مُلَاقٍحِسَابِيه (69: 19-20) (Then he who is given his account in his right hand will say: "Read my account. I always thought that I shall have to face my reckoning."(6919-20))
The companions of the left hand refer to people whose accounts will be handed over to them in their left hands. In SūrahHāqqah, they are mentioned in the following words:
وَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوْتِيَ كِتَابَهُ بِشِمَالِهِ فَيَقُوْلُ يَالَيْتَنِي لَمْ أُوْتَ كِتَابِيهوَلَمْ أَدْرِ مَا حِسَابِيه يَالَيْتَهَا كَانَتْ الْقَاضِيَةَ مَا أَغْنَى عَنِّي مَالِيهَلَكَ عَنِّي سُلْطَانِيه(69: 25-29)
And he who is given his record in his left hand will say: "Would that I were not given my record or I were not aware of my account. Would that death were final. Of what use has been my wealth to me? I am robbed of all my authority." (69:25-29))
The word "the foremost" (sābiqūn) refers to people who were foremost in accepting the calls of the true religion and were blessed with the opportunity of serving it through their lives and wealth when there were few to serve it and mustering courage to help it was like putting oneself into danger. Consequently, in Sūrah Hadīd, which is the counterpart of this sūrah, this reality is discussed thus: لَا يَسْتَوِي مِنكُم مَّنْ أَنفَقَ مِن قَبْلِ الْفَتْحِ وَقَاتَلَ أُوْلَئِكَ أَعْظَمُ دَرَجَةً مِّنَ الَّذِينَ أَنفَقُوا مِن بَعْدُ وَقَاتَلُوا وَكُلًّا وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الْحُسْنَى (57: 10)(And those of you who will spend and wage war before the conquest of Makkah, and those who will spend and wage war afterwards will not be equal. These people will have a greater status than those spend and wage far afterwards. Yet God has promised each a good reward. (57:10)).
The interrogative found in مَا أَصْحَابُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ can express majesty and grandeur and can also express hate and disgust. Here is it used in the former connotation. The implication is that one cannot even begin to imagine the majesty and grandeur, eternal bliss and affluence and well-being of the companions of the right hand; how can one describe them and who can assess their extent? This style is adopted when the situation is such that the words of the incident portrayed are beyond words and imagination. There are many examples of this in the Qur'ān. In our language too, this style is common.
This same style found in مَا أَصْحَابُ الْمَشْأَمَةِ is to express the opposite: hate and disgust. In other words, just as one cannot imagine the good fortune of the companions of the right hand, in a similar way, one cannot imagine the misfortune, humiliation and evil fate of the companions of the left hand; words are powerless to portray this. Only they will know who will face this situation.
In وَالسَّابِقُونَ السَّابِقُونَ the second السَّابِقُونَ is in the place of the enunciative (khabar) and the conciseness found in it has great eloquence in it. The implication is that one cannot imagine or describe the exalted position of the السَّابِقُونَ (the foremost); they are in fact the السَّابِقُونَ (the foremost); when they are the foremost, who can reach their status? They shall necessarily reach the pinnacle of human attributes and who can imagine this pinnacle in this world?
It is evident from these details, the view of those who think that these terms signify the arrangement of people who will stand before God is not correct. In the first place, in the assembly of God, the concept of right and left, front and back is a meaningless one. Even if this concept is accepted, then it is an acknowledged fact that the companions of the left hand will have no place in this gathering neither on the left nor at the back; their abode in fact shall be Hell as is evident from the succeeding verses of this sūrah and from other places of the Qur'ān.
The second thing which is evident is that the companions of the right hand do not refer to common Muslims, as understood by some people; they refer to people whose accounts will be handed over in their right hands to honour them, and they will be very happy and joyous on their achievements. There also exist among common Muslims people about whom one would have to be too generous to think that their accounts will be handed over to them in their right hands and would be worthy of gleefully exclaiming: هَاؤُمْ اقْرَءُوْا كِتَابِيه. As far as the question is concerned as to what the difference between the companions of the right hand and the foremost (sābiqūn) is, I have already alluded to it earlier and more explanation is coming up.
أُوْلَئِكَ الْمُقَرَّبُونَ (11) فِي جَنَّاتِ النَّعِيمِ (12) ثُلَّةٌ مِّنَ الْأَوَّلِينَ (13) وَقَلِيلٌ مِّنَ الْآخِرِينَ (14)
Since it was these sābiqūn who were the leaders and pioneers of the caravan, their reward is mentioned the foremost: they shall be the nearest to God; however, they shall reside in the Paradise of favours (جَنَّاتِ النَّعِيمِ) which has no concept of any court of God in it. It is evident from this that there will be Paradises for the sābiqūn in accordance with their various grades and positions where they will reside. Some more details of their Paradise are coming up in the succeeding verses.
The verses ثُلَّةٌ مِّنَ الْأَوَّلِينَ (13) وَقَلِيلٌ مِّنَ الْآخِرِينَ (14) tell us about the fortunate who will be counted among the sābiqūn: most of them will be from the earlier generations and a few from the later. The word ثُلَّةٌ means "group" or "party"; however, since the word قَلِيلٌ (less) is used in contrast to it, it should be construed to mean a large group.
The words أَوَّلِينَ and آخِرِينَrefer to the early and later part of this ummah.
Earlier, I have alluded to a verse of Sūrah Hadīd evident from which is that the status before God of those who spent in the way of God and waged jihād for this cause will be greater than those who were fortunate enough to be able to do after the conquest – though befitting is the reward of God for both. In other words, though the later generations in their collective capacity will not be able to reach the same status as the earlier ones yet the way to enter the ranks of companions of the right hand is open for them if they are sincere and practicing.
The words ثُلَّةٌ مِّنَ الْأَوَّلِينَ also show that not all the earlier generations will end up among the muqarrabīn (favoured ones of God); only their majority will be able to do so. The reason for this is that this rank does not relate only to any specific period; the real factor in it is the personality traits and deeds. It is possible that a person may be the foremost in embracing faith, however, he is not able to win the rank of the muqarrabīn on the basis of his courage, sacrifices and strength of faith.
Similarly, the words وَقَلِيلٌ مِّنَ الْآخِرِينَ show that there will be people among the later generations who will be fortunate enough to be able to secure a place among the sābiqūn. Obviously, these will be people who would adhere to the truth even in times of trial and continue to call people towards the truth and however adverse the circumstances may be and however few they may be, they will never lose strength. Such a group of people will continue to grace this ummah in every period of time, as is evident from some Hadīth narratives. Though these people will be among the later period, yet they will be the foremost as far as their services are concerned. The Prophet Jesus (sws) has alluded to this reality in the following words: "Many of those who come later will be in front."
Here it may be kept in mind that though these verses relate to this ummah; however, in principle they can be applied to the followers of every prophet and messenger. Consequently, at another place this is stated as a general principle thus: ثُمَّ أَوْرَثْنَا الْكِتَابَ الَّذِينَ اصْطَفَيْنَا مِنْ عِبَادِنَا فَمِنْهُمْ ظَالِمٌ لِّنَفْسِهِ وَمِنْهُم مُّقْتَصِدٌ وَمِنْهُمْ سَابِقٌ بِالْخَيْرَاتِ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ ذَلِكَ هُوَ الْفَضْلُ الْكَبِيرُ (32:35) (We then bestowed the Book on those of Our servants whom We have chosen. Some sin against their souls, some follow a middle course, and some, by God's leave, vie with each other in charitable works: this is the supreme virtue. (35:32)
A deliberation on the words of this verse will show that only the words are different: it too mentions the same three groups which are referred to in this very sūrah: the companions of the right hand, the companions of the left hand and the sābiqūn.
عَلَى سُرُرٍ مَوْضُونَةٍ (15) مُتَّكِئِينَ عَلَيْهَا مُتَقَابِلِينَ (16) يَطُوفُ عَلَيْهِمْ وِلْدَانٌ مُّخَلَّدُونَ (17) بِأَكْوَابٍ وَأَبَارِيقَ وَكَأْسٍ مِّن مَّعِينٍ (18) لَا يُصَدَّعُونَ عَنْهَا وَلَا يُنزِفُونَ (19) وَفَاكِهَةٍ مِّمَّا يَتَخَيَّرُونَ (20) وَلَحْمِ طَيْرٍ مِّمَّا يَشْتَهُونَ (21) وَحُورٌ عِينٌ (22) كَأَمْثَالِ اللُّؤْلُؤِ الْمَكْنُونِ (23)
These are the details of the Paradise of the muqarrabīn. First, their sitting place and the manner of their reclining in it is portrayed: they will sit on jewelled and gold plated thrones facing one another. Some people have interpreted the word مَوْضُونَةٍ in a different sense. However, in my opinion, its true meaning is "jewelled". The ancient kings of Persia would grace their thrones which were gold plated and decked with various jewels like pearls and other expensive stones.
The word مُتَّكِئِينَ automatically encompasses the meaning of "cushions" because cushions on thrones are necessary to recline against, and since ancient times these were the essential supplements to the royal throne.
Sitting while facing one another indicates that their hearts will not have any envy, spite or ill-feeling for one another. People whose hearts have malice for one another sit facing away from each other. The Qur'ān, however, at other places, has specified that the hearts of the dwellers of Paradise will be absolutely free from spite and jealousy. For this reason, they will sit face to face the way sincere and affectionate relatives and friends do so.
The following verses This is the seventh sūrah of this group and on it ends its Makkan sūrahs. It summarizes the whole discussion regarding reward and punishment mentioned from Sūrah Qāf till Sūrah Rahmān. (17) بِأَكْوَابٍ وَأَبَارِيقَ وَكَأْسٍ مِّن مَّعِينٍ (18) لَا يُصَدَّعُونَ عَنْهَا وَلَا يُنزِفُونَ (19) وَفَاكِهَةٍ مِّمَّا يَتَخَيَّرُونَ (20) وَلَحْمِ طَيْرٍ مِّمَّا يَشْتَهُونَ (21) refer to the items which will be presented to satisfy their taste-buds: vigilant youths will constantly wait upon them with ewers and cups of the purest wine.
The word مُخَلَّدُونَ shows that these youths will forever remain of the same age. They will be eternal waiters. To serve gatherings, youth of a certain age are regarded to be the most appropriate, well-mannered, enthusiastic and alert. For this reason, the Almighty will always keep them of the same age. Since an attendant who is aware of the temperament of his master can serve him best, for this reason, the youth deputed to people will always remain with them to serve them. Some people are of the opinion that the children of the disbelievers who die in their youth will be put to this service of the dwellers of Paradise by the Almighty. Though there is nothing in the Qur'ān which points to this, yet there is nothing which is against this either. The reason is that there is no reason for the children of the disbelievers to go to Hell. Also, it is not essential that they are put to this service only. Vast is God's Paradise and He is very gracious. He can even grant them a place in Paradise because of their innocence.
The word أَكْوَابٌ is the plural of كَوْبٌ. كَوْبٌ and cup are the same. The word أَبَارِيقَ is the plural of إِبْرِيْقٌ which appears to be an arabacized version of the Persian word آب ريز. It is an established fact that that the Arabs have borrowed many cultural words from non-Arabs. The word كَأْسٌ is used both for the content and the container ie. wine and wine-cups. The word مَعِينٌ has also been used for pure water and fountain of pure water in the Qur'ān and also for the fountain of pure wine. Here, it is used in this last meaning.
The words لَا يُصَدَّعُونَ عَنْهَا وَلَا يُنزِفُونَ say that the wine will be such that its real benefit of giving bliss and delight will be there, yet it will be devoid of all harmful effects which plague the wines of this world. The wine of this world inflicts a person with inebriation, headaches and tiredness; however, the wine of Paradise will be free from these evil effects. The greatest evil of this world's wine is that it causes a person to lose his senses – which are the greatest asset of a person. A moment of deprivation of the senses can lead him to several severe hazards. The wine of Paradise will be not be afflicted with this poison. The expression نزف الجب means ذهب عقله (a person lost his senses).
Together with wine, the verses وَفَاكِهَةٍ مِّمَّا يَتَخَيَّرُونَ وَلَحْمِ طَيْرٍ مِّمَّا يَشْتَهُونَ (21-22) mention other delicacies which will be present to please their taste buds. The young waiters will present to them fruits of their choice and meat of the birds they relish. Among edibles, these are the two things mentioned at the top. It is as if their mention was enough to mention all others. The qualifying words يَتَخَيَّرُونَ and يَشْتَهُونَ show that the choice and selection of each person will be given full consideration. They will be presented fruits they will choose and the meat of those birds will be given to them which they desire.
All the luxuries and indulgence of life is incomplete without one's wife which the Almighty has made a means of comfort and assurance for a person. Just as a person needs such a partner and feels lonely without her, similarly, in Paradise too without her, all its luxury is incomplete. Thus, the Almighty will bless him with large-eyed houris who would be pure and untouched like hidden pearls. These two features of theirs encompass all the outer and inner aspects of their beauty.
جَزَاء بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ (24)
This is the real success achieved by the self-less muqarrabīn. The verse says that whatever they will be given, they will be given in return for their deeds. They will be entitled to it and the gracious Lord will definitely give them what they earned. Here one needs to keep in consideration one aspect of human nature: the value of a thing which a person has earned as a right is much greater than what he may get accidentally even if the latter is greater in amount.
لَا يَسْمَعُونَ فِيهَا لَغْوًا وَلَا تَأْثِيمًا (25) إِلَّا قِيلًا سَلَامًا سَلَامًا (26)
These verses point at the pure and unadulterated bliss and ecstasy of the muqarrabīn: whatever nonsensical and frivolous talks of their enemies and criticizers they had to listen to ended with the previous world and so did the harms and losses they had to bear. In Paradise, they will neither hear any nonsensical talk nor any sinful conversation. Peace and mercy will embrace them from all sides. This will be from God, the angels and from their own companions as well. Morning and evening, they will be engulfed in these cries.
وَأَصْحَابُ الْيَمِينِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الْيَمِينِ (27)
From here begins the description of the Paradise given to the companions of the right hand. Earlier, they were referred to by the words ashāb al-maymanah which shows that expression ashāb al-yamīn and ashāb al-maymanah have the same meaning in the Qur'ān: they are the people whose accounts will be handed over in their right hands.
فِي سِدْرٍ مَّخْضُودٍ (28) وَطَلْحٍ مَّنضُودٍ (29) وَظِلٍّ مَّمْدُودٍ (30) وَمَاء مَّسْكُوبٍ (31) وَفَاكِهَةٍ كَثِيرَةٍ (32) لَّا مَقْطُوعَةٍ وَلَا مَمْنُوعَةٍ (33)
These verses mention the fruits of Paradise, its shades and its freshness. The word سِدْرٌ refers to lote-trees. In our areas, lote-trees do not have much significance. Hence, it is possible that the question arises in the mind of some people as to why this fruit is worthy of being mentioned by the Qur'ān. Here, firstly it needs to be understood that the lote-trees of each area are not the same. In some areas, its fruits are very tasty, sweet-smelling and have brilliant colours. Secondly, these lote-trees are of Paradise; they can only be mentioned in the form of a parable in this world. We have no means to know of their reality. Only those people will be able to know their reality who will be included among the companions of the right hand. It is also evident from the Qur'ān that this tree has special significance in the eyes of the Almighty:
وَلَقَدْ رَآهُ نَزْلَةً أُخْرَى عِنْدَ سِدْرَةِ الْمُنْتَهَى عِنْدَهَا جَنَّةُ الْمَأْوَىإِذْ يَغْشَى السِّدْرَةَ مَا يَغْشَى مَا زَاغَ الْبَصَرُ وَمَا طَغَى (53: 13-17)
And the Prophet saw Gabriel descending another time near the farthest lote-tree – near it is the Garden of Abode Paradise – when that lote-tree was covered with what covered it, his eyes did not wander, nor did they turn aside. (53:16-17).
While explaining these verses in the light of indications from the Qur'ān, I had written that this lote-tree is the one which is found at the junction of this world and the next. It was on it that the Prophet (sws) observed the light and divine manifestations mentioned in the majestic words of 53:16-17 quoted above. The initial observations of the Prophet Moses (sws) regarding prophethood as stated in the Torah and the Qur'ān also mention a tree from which he heard the voice of the Almighty and saw light and divine manifestations on it. Though there is no indication in the Qur'ān from which one can gather the type of the tree, yet it is evident from the similarity of the two incidents that that tree too was the lote-tree.
The word مَخْضُودٍ which qualifies سِدْرٍ shows that this lote-tree would not be injurious the way lote-trees of this world are: if people want to pluck its fruit, their hands are wounded by its thorns, The lote-trees of Paradise will be thorn-less and will inflict no harm. Whenever the dwellers of Paradise want, they can pluck its fruit. The word خَضَدَ is used to mean to cut the thorns of something which has thorns. Here the purpose is to show that like its fruit the lote-trees themselves will be different than what they are in this world. It may be kept in consideration that in this world the better the quality of a lote-tree the lesser the thorns it will have. It is the wild lote-trees who have more thorns. The destruction of the Paradise-like orchard of the people of the Sabā' mentioned in the Qur'ān also portrays the destruction of the lote-trees which became brambles. It is evident from this that its fruit was among their favourites and these trees embellished their orchards. As far as the family of this tree is concerned, it is related to the family of apples.
Consider next the verse: وَطَلْحٍ مَّنضُودٍ. The word طَلْحٌ means "a banana". The word مَنْضُودٌ signifies that these bananas will be joined to one another in layers. The beauty of their selection and arrangement will show that the Almighty has made elaborate efforts to choose them to gratify the taste-buds of His people.
The verses وَظِلٍّ مَّمْدُودٍ (30) وَمَاء مَّسْكُوبٍ (31) depict the luxuriance and freshness of the orchard. Because of their sturdiness and lushness, these trees will be so adjacent to one another that sunlight will not be able to pass through them. For this reason, there will be shade every where and the orchard shall be continuously watered so that its splendour does not decrease.
The verses وَفَاكِهَةٍ كَثِيرَةٍ (32) لَّا مَقْطُوعَةٍ وَلَا مَمْنُوعَةٍ (33) imply that the fruits mentioned earlier are just mentioned as examples. There will be several other fruits and they shall be very different from their counterparts in this world. Here it is essential to pluck the fruits in a certain period of time otherwise they wither away themselves; however, the trees in Paradise will be ever-fruit bearing. Similarly, in this world, there can be a year in which an orchard bears fruit and there can be a year when it does not or bears less fruit. The orchards of Paradise will not be afflicted with this shortcoming. The Almighty will never ever deprive them of fruit.
وَفُرُشٍ مَّرْفُوعَةٍ (34) إِنَّا أَنشَأْنَاهُنَّ إِنشَاء (35) فَجَعَلْنَاهُنَّ أَبْكَارًا (36) عُرُبًا أَتْرَابًا (37)
Mentioned in these verses are their seats and their wives. In the case of the muqarrabīn the sequence, one may remember, is different. Some of the reasons for this difference are psychological; however, this is not the opportune time to go into these details.
They shall sit on bedding raised high and for them will be wives whom the Almighty would have raised in a special way. Here a question arises: A pronoun is used for the wives without any antecedent. No doubt that this is so; however, concomitant indication for this is very evident. There is a proverb in Arabic which says: الشىء بالشىء يذكر (one remembers a thing from another); in this case, a mention of wives after a mention of rugs is of similar nature. Because of this association, they are mentioned in the form of a pronoun which carries both the eloquence of brevity in it and also the teaching that women should be mentioned in a hidden manner. One does not need to provide any evidence for the fact that there are instances in the Qur'ān in which thrones and rugs are mentioned with wives. However, just to satisfy the hearts, I am citing some verses below.
The words in Sūrah Tūr are:
مُتَّكِئِينَ عَلَى سُرُرٍ مَصْفُوفَةٍ وَزَوَّجْنَاهُمْ بِحُورٍ عِينٍ (52: 20).
They will recline on thrones laid out in succession and We will marry them with large eyed houris. (52:20)
In the Sūrah Yūnus, it is said:
هُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُهُمْ فِي ظِلَالٍ عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ مُتَّكِؤُونَ (56:36)
Together with their spouses, they shall recline in shady groves upon thrones. (36:56)
While explaining the nature of these houris, the verse إِنَّا أَنشَأْنَاهُنَّ إِنشَاء saysthat the Almighty would have raised them in a special way. Thus the features and attributes of these women will be totally different from those of this world. The virginity, beauty and youthof the women of this world are temporary and mortal. A poet has said:
اگر ماند شبےماند شبے ديگر نمي ماند
(If it stays, it will stay for one night and not more)
However, the Almighty would have raised the houris of Paradise in a very different manner. Hence, their virginity, beauty and youth will never be lost.
In the verses فَجَعَلْنَاهُنَّ أَبْكَارًا (36) عُرُبًا أَتْرَابًا (37), the فexplains the special manner in which they would be raised: they will always remain virgins. Whenever, their husband will come near them, it will be as if they have come near them for the first time.
The word عُرُبًا is a plural of عُرُوْبٌ. It means "a beloved and beautiful wife". Obviously when their virginity, beauty and youth will never vanish, there will be no reason for their husbands to lose interest in them; on the other hand, these wives will always remain as desired and cherished like a fresh and fragrant flower.
The word أَتْرَابًا is the plural of تِرْبٌ. It means someone who is of the same age; however, people who have a linguistic taste of Arabic know that it is pre-dominantly used for women. Hence, in my opinion, here it means "women who are bosom friends". In Sūrah Nabā', the words used are كَواعِبَ أتْرَاباً (the virgins, bosom friends). The implication is that all the houris given to the dwellers of Paradise will be bosom friends and of the same age; for this reason, neither the question of preferring one to the other will arise nor will the emotions of jealousy and envy mutually arise between them. Just as these houris will always remain virgins and young, their husbands too will remain young and graceful.
لِّأَصْحَابِ الْيَمِينِ (38)
These words can relate to the previous verse and can also be regarded as a enunuciative (khabar) of a suppressed inchoative (mubtadā'). In the first case, the meaning will be that these houris raised in a special way with special attributes by the Almighty will be for the companions of the right hand. In the second case, the meaning will be that all these blessings which are mentioned above will be for the companions of the right hand in the Hereafter. I am inclined to the first of these interpretations; however, whichever among the two is adopted, there will be no difference as in the purport of these verses; there will just be a subtle difference in the eloquence of the discourse which can be felt by all those who have a flair for the language. For this reason, there is no need to go into the reasons of preferring one to the other.
ثُلَّةٌ مِّنَ الْأَوَّلِينَ (39) وَثُلَّةٌ مِّنَ الْآخِرِينَ (40)
Earlier it was mentioned that a greater proportion of the sābiqūn will belong to the earlier generations; very few from the later generations would be fortunate enough to be regarded among them. Here, in these verses, the Qur'ān says that there will be one group from both the earlier and later generations. It is evident from this that till the Day of Judgement several people will continue to be categorized among them, and on that Day they will be raised in the form of one group.
وَأَصْحَابُ الشِّمَالِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الشِّمَالِ (41) فِي سَمُومٍ وَحَمِيمٍ (42) وَظِلٍّ مِّن يَحْمُومٍ (43) لَّا بَارِدٍ وَلَا كَرِيمٍ (44)
These verses depict the fate of the companions of the left hand, i.e. people who will be handed over their accounts in their left hands. They shall be amid scorching winds, blazing fire and seething water. When after being agonized by the heat they will run towards water, they will only get boiling water to drink. They will spend their life in this running about. This subject is discussed by the words: يَطُوفُونَ بَيْنَهَا وَبَيْنَ حَمِيمٍ آنٍ (55: 44) (they shall circle around it between it and its boiling water, (55:44)) of the previous sūrah.
The words وَظِلٍّ مِّن يَحْمُومٍ imply that they will not be able to see any shade. Only the shade of black smoke will be there for them. It will be devoid of all the benefits which shade has. The real benefit of shade is coolness; however, the shade of this smoke will contain all the harms which are found in smoke but will have no coolness. Similarly, there could have been some more benefits of this shade: for example, asylum from the reach of the fire; however, this too would not be there for them. The word كَرِيمٍ means "one that has benefits". In other words, the words imply that this shade will neither be cool nor of any benefit. In Sūrah Mursalāt, this subject is discussed in the following words: لَا ظَلِيلٍ وَلَا يُغْنِي مِنْ اللَّهَبِ (31:77) (it does not provide shade nor protection from the flames, (77:31)).
إِنَّهُمْكَانُوا قَبْلَ ذَلِكَ مُتْرَفِينَ (45) وَكَانُوا يُصِرُّونَ عَلَى الْحِنثِ الْعَظِيمِ (46)وَكَانُوا يَقُولُونَ أَئِذَا مِتْنَا وَكُنَّا تُرَابًا وَعِظَامًا أَئِنَّا لَمَبْعُوثُونَ (47) أَوَ آبَاؤُنَا الْأَوَّلُونَ (48)
These verses refer to their major sins which led them to this fate. The style of the discourse is such as if their fate has been revealed to them and it is being told why these unfortunate people reached this fate.
The first thing mentioned is إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا قَبْلَ ذَلِكَ مُتْرَفِينَ:These people were very affluent and lived in luxury and lavishness in the previous world. This is not a mention of their crime. It only mentions its severity. What is implied is that the Almighty had blessed them with comfort and affluence; it was their obligation to these favours that they be grateful and obedient to Him; on the contrary, they became arrogant and conceited, and became adamant on the greatest of sins.
The second objective is to highlight the raising and lowering which is mentioned as an attribute of the Day of Judgement at the beginning of the sūrah by the words: خَافِضَةٌ رَّافِعَةٌ. People who were at the top in this world have fallen into the deep pit of the Almighty's punishment.
In the verse وَكَانُوا يُصِرُّونَ عَلَى الْحِنثِ الْعَظِيمِ, the word حِنثِ means "sin". It is qualified by the word (great) which indicates that it refers to polytheism. As per the philosophy of religion, polytheism is the greatest sin, and the Qur'ān has also referred to it as the greatest wrong.
The verses وَكَانُوا يَقُولُونَ أَئِذَا مِتْنَا وَكُنَّا تُرَابًا وَعِظَامًا أَئِنَّا لَمَبْعُوثُونَ (47) أَوَ آبَاؤُنَا الْأَوَّلُونَ (48) mention their other crimes: they did not believe in the Day of Judgement and the reward and punishment that will take place on that day; they reckoned that it was impossible to raise them to life after their bodies would decay and decompose into dust. So when they would be informed of the reward and punishment of the Hereafter, they would make fun of it by asking how they and their forefathers who passed away a long time ago will be raised to life again when they will be nothing but dust and bones. The implication would be that this is an unlikely matter, and those who are threatening them with this fate are merely trying to fool them and they too are foolish.
قُلْ إِنَّ الْأَوَّلِينَ وَالْآخِرِينَ (49) لَمَجْمُوعُونَ إِلَى مِيقَاتِ يَوْمٍ مَّعْلُومٍ (50)
After mentioning the crimes of the companions of the left hand, the Prophet (sws) is asked to answer the Quraysh. He should tell them that in response to his reminders about the Hereafter, they too regard it to be an improbable event; so they should now listen up that all the earlier and later people will be kept on being gathered till a fixed time; as soon as that time arrives, they shall be raised to life again. In other words, what is conveyed to them is that they must not think that if the dead have vanished from among them, they have also vanished from the Almighty. All of them are being assembled in the repository of God, and as soon as the time of reward and punishment comes, all of them will be raised – whether they are from the earlier generations or the later ones. The preposition إِلَى is used after لَمَجْمُوعُونَ the way it is said in Sūrah An'ām: كَتَبَ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ لَيَجْمَعَنَّكُمْ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ (12:6) (God has decreed mercy for Himself, and will necessarily keep gathering you till the Day of Judgement, (6:12)).