Verses from Surah al-Ra’d (18-27)

[18] For those who responded to their Lord, there are good (promises). As regards those who did not respond to Him, if they possessed all that is in the earth, and the like of it with it, they would surely (seek to) ransom themselves therewith. Those – theirs shall be an evil reckoning;36 their abode shall be Jahannum, an evil place of rest. 

Commentary

36. Shahr b. Hawshab is reported to have said that an evil reckoning signifies that nothing of their evil deeds will be forgiven (Ibn Jarir). The same is reported of Ibrahim Nakha‘i (Qurtubi).

[19] Is he then who knows that what has been sent down to you by your Lord is the truth, the same as one who is blind? Surely, it is men of understanding who receive admonition.37

Commentary

37. Commenting on “it is men of understanding who receive admonition” Thanwi writes that Allah’s usage of the term ulu al-albab (which can also be rendered as, “men of intelligence”) leads us to believe that whosoever is endowed with qualities as stated here and in the verses that follow, is an “intelligent” man (in Allah’s sight), even if he does not happen to be very clever in worldly affairs. In contrast, those who lack these qualities are not intelligent, even if they are very clever in worldly affairs.

[20] Those who fulfill Allah’s covenant38 and break not the compact.39

Commentary

38. Allah’s covenant! What is it? Imam Razi deals with in some detail. He writes: Several explanations can be offered in connection with Allah’s words, “Those who fulfill Allah’s covenant.” First, as Ibn `Abbas has said, the allusion is to the covenant taken by Allah (swt) from the human souls before their creation while they were yet in Adam’s loins, asking them, “Am I not your Lord?” Second, the term “Allah’s covenant” includes every right thing (that the humans ought to be doing) following the demands of reason and good sense. Of this second kind, there are two types: 1) Those things that are so proved through intellectual reasoning. These do not accept abrogation or alteration. And 2) Those things that are so proved by Revelation. Allah’s covenant covers everything that has an unequivocal evidence in its favor: either rational or Revelational. In fact, the word covenant is synonymous with evidence. And there is no covenant stronger than evidential proofs (that the humans are shown as Allah’s signs). In short, anything that an irrefutable evidence indicates as the right thing to do, is something the human beings are bound to do. This is the covenant of Allah in its fullest sense.

Asad adds: “A covenant is, in this context, a general term embracing the spiritual obligations arising from one’s faith in God and the moral and social obligations, resulting from that faith, towards one’s fellow-men” (Zamakhshari).

Qurtubi takes up another issue: Avoiding violation of the covenant once entered into. ‘Awf b. Malik reports, “Once some eight or nine of us were sitting with the Prophet (saws) when he suggested, ‘Will you not enter into a compact with the Messenger of Allah?’ Since we had recently given our allegiance to him we said, ‘We have already entered into a compact with you.’ But he kept repeating, saying the same thing thrice until one of us said, ‘But we have already entered into allegiance with you. So what is this new compact about?’ He said, ‘That you will worship Allah alone without associating aught with Him. That you shall pray five times, listen and obey – and, lowering his voice – you will not ask the people for anything.’” So, ‘Awf adds, some of those who were there at that time, would not in their life ask anyone for anything to the extent that if he was riding a beast and his whip fell down, he would not ask anyone to pick it up for him. He would rather dismount to pick it up himself.

When Abu Hamza, the Khurasani – who was a man of great devotion – heard of this report he said, “O Allah! Those people saw the Prophet and entered into a compact with him. I give my word to You that I shall not ask anyone for anything.” Now, once he went for pilgrimage and as he had separated out from the rest near Syria, he fell into a well that had not been hedged. He was reminded of his promise and said to himself that he would not ask anyone for help. It should so happen that as some people were passing by, they saw the hole in the ground and said to each other that someone could fall into it. So they covered it with wooden planks. As they were working, Abu Hamza thought he should seek help but was reminded of his own resolve. They sealed the opening and went away. He blamed himself for not asking their help but decided firmly on faith in Allah. As he sat in there with no hopes, someone lowered a hand and said, ‘Here, let me pull you out.’ However, when he came out he found no one there. Then he heard a voice saying, ‘How was the reward for placing trust in Allah?’”

However, when Ibn Jawzi heard the story he disagreed with Abu Hamza and remarked, “After all, the Prophet (saws) himself had sought help of the people in connection with his various affairs.” To abandon the means is not tawakkul. In fact, Sufyan Thawri has said that if someone was hungry, but did not ask until he died, he committed suicide. Ibn Jawzi also said that although the help (that came to Abu Hamza) cannot be denied, it can be explained as Allah’s rescue of an ignorant man. Following the rules, he was required to seek help when he was in the well. Not doing that, he was playing with his life which is a gift of Allah in man’s trust.

Quotation from Qurtubi ends here.

39. Imam Razi comments: To keep one’s promise has the backing of both reason as well as revelation. The Prophet (saws) has said, “Whoever gave a promise, and then betrayed, bears one of the traits of hypocrisy.” In another report he said, “There are three against whom I shall be disputing on the Judgment Day. And when I dispute against someone, he will be destroyed: A man who gave his word and then betrayed; a man who hired another, took his labor and then did not pay him in full; and a man who purchased a free man, then sold him as a slave and devoured the price.”

It is reported that once Mu‘awiyyah wished to break the implication of a treaty he had entered into with the Romans. But he was prevented by a Companion. See Surah Al-Anfal, note 103, of this work (Au.).

[21] Those who join what Allah has commanded be joined,40 fear their Lord,41 and dread an evil reckoning.

Commentary

40. Ibn Jurayj reported, “We have been told that the Prophet (saws) said, ‘If you did not walk with your feet to your kinsfolk, and did not share your wealth with them, then, you snapped ties with them’” (Ibn Jarir).

Zamakhshari expands on ties and bonds. In the words of Asad: “This refers to all ties arising from human relationships – e.g., the bonds of the family, responsibility for the orphans and the poor, the mutual rights and duties of neighbors – as well as the spiritual and practical bonds which ought to exist between all who belong to the brotherhood of Islam. In its widest sense, the phrase ‘what God has bidden to be joined’ applies to the spiritual obligation, on the part of man, to remain conscious of the unity of purpose underlying God’s creation, and hence – according to Razi – man’s moral duty to treat all living beings with love and compassion.”

Razi wrote, “It includes duty to those related by blood as well as those related by spiritual bonds: Allah (swt) said, ‘Believers are brothers unto each other.’ In practical terms it would imply helping the needy, preventing harms that threaten to strike them – such as those that are within one’s means – visiting the sick, attending the funerals, spreading Salam among the Muslims, smiling in their faces, and being good to the animals. It is said that some people entered upon Fudayl b. `Iyad in Makkah. He asked them, “Where are you from?” They said, “We are from Khurasan (present-day Turkic region).” He said, “Fear Allah, and then you can be where you will. Remember, if a man was good towards everyone to the extreme limits, but did not treat well the chickens that he has, he will not be counted as those who ‘do good.’”

41. What is the difference between khashyah and khawf both of which are translated as “fear”? Khashyah has an element of love, respect and admiration concealed in the primary meaning of fear that the word lends, but which the word khawf lacks (Shafi`).

Khawf sounds more brutal than khashyah which, in contrast, carries some subtlety (Au.).

[22] And, those who patiently persevere seeking their Lord’s countenance,42 attend to the Prayers, expend of what We have provided them, secretly and openly, and ward off evil with good.43 They, for them is the Ultimate Abode.44

Commentary

42. Imam Razi writes: It is reported that Shaqiq b. Ibrahim the Balthami visited ‘Abdullah ibn Mubarak without revealing his identity. He inquired, “Where are you from?” He replied, “From Balkh.” Ibn Mubarak asked, “Do you happen to know Shaqiq?” He said, “Yes.” He asked, “How do you find his disciples?” Shaqiq replied, “Well, when they are denied, they observe patience, and when they are bestowed, they give thanks.” Ibn Mubarak remarked, “This is the quality of our dogs. Perfect are those who, when denied, give thanks, and when bestowed, give preference (and pass on) to others.”

43. Yusuf Ali has a nice comment on this passage: “In this section the contrast between Faith and Righteousness on the one hand and Infidelity and Evil on the other is set out. The righteous man is known as one who (1) receives admonition; (2) is true to his covenants; (3) follows the universal Religion of Faith and Practice joined together; (4) is patient and persevering in seeking Allah; and in practical matters he is known to be; (5) regular in prayer; (6) generous in true charity, whether open or secret; and (7) not revengeful, but anxious to turn off evil with good, thus breaking the chain of evil which tends to perpetuate itself.”

44. This can have two explanations. One, these are a people who, when they commit an evil, immediately follow up with a virtuous act. The Prophet (saws) told Mua‘adh, “And follow up an evil deed with a virtuous one, it will erase it.” Second, they do not retaliate evil with evil, rather, responded to evil with what is good (Razi and others).

Mawdudi expands on the theme, “The conduct of the believers has been aptly portrayed in the following saying of the Prophet (peace be on him): ‘Do not follow the ways of the others, saying, “If they do good, we will also do good to them; but if others wrong us, we will also wrong them.” Discipline yourself to a principle. If people do good to you, do good to them; and if they mistreat you, [still] refrain from being unjust’ (Tirmidhi).

“Of similar import,” continues Mawdudi, “is the tradition in which the Prophet (peace be on him) mentions that his Lord had enjoined nine commands. Four of those commands are as follows: ‘That I should speak with justice in anger and happiness; that I should render the right of him who deprives me; that I should give him who denies me; that I should forgive him who wrongs me.’ Another tradition expresses the same idea in another saying of the Prophet (peace be on him): ‘Do not betray him who betrays you’ (Tirmidhi).”

Shabbir points out that forgiving the evil-doer should only be practiced when it is not feared that forgiving will lead to further wrongdoing.

[23] Gardens of perpetual bliss45 into which shall enter, they and those who were righteous of their parents, spouses and offspring.46 And the angels entering upon them by every portal. 

Commentary

comment number. Enter commentary for the verse here….

[24] ‘Peace upon you for that you patiently endured.’47 How excellent then, the Ultimate Abode!48

Commentary

47. The allusion is to both types of sabr: what are known as sabr ‘ala al-ta`at (patience when dealing with the obligations) and sabr ‘an al-ma`asi (patience against sins). – Shafi`

48. The textual words for Ultimate Abode are ‘uqbaddar. Imam Ahmed has a hadith in explanation, reported by ‘Abdullah ibn Amr. The Prophet (saws) said, “Do you know who will be the first to enter Paradise?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “Of Allah’s creation, the first to enter into Paradise will be the poor Immigrants: those by whom the outposts are secured and calamities are warded off. (Their material condition is such that) one of them dies while a need is still in his breast, unable to fulfill it. Allah will say to whom He will of the angels, ‘Go up to them and greet them.’ They will ask, ‘We are the dwellers of Your heaven and Your choice creation. Do You ask us to go to these people and salute them?’ He will say, ‘They were a set of slaves who worshiped Me alone, associating none with me. By them the outposts were secured and calamities warded off. One of them would die with a need in his heart, unable to fulfill it.” So the angels will go to them, entering upon them from every portal saying, ‘Peace on you for that you patiently endured. How excellent then, the Ultimate Abode?!’” (Ibn Kathir). Qurtubi deduces from the above hadith that angels are superior to mankind.

The report however, points out S.Ibrahim, is not Sahih of status, although not entirely untrustworthy.

[25] As for those who break Allah’s covenant after its ratification,49 snap what Allah has commanded be joined, and work corruption in the land: they, theirs shall be the Curse50 and for them an evil abode.

Commentary

49. “This may refer to,” Majid writes, “the religious instinct innate in every human being.”

50. For lack of a suitable altern,ative, the term la`nah has been rendered as “curse.” But, as Asad has written, “The Qur’anic term la`nah – usually but inexactly, translated as “curse” (and popularly used in this sense in post-classical Arabic parlance) – denotes “banishment” or “alienation” (ib-`ad), i.e., from all that is good (Lisan al-`Arab). Whenever it is attributed in the Qur’an to God with reference to a sinner, it signifies the latter’s “exclusion from God’s grace” or his “rejection by God.”

[26] Allah enlarges upon the providence of whom He will, and constricts.51 They exult in the life of this world, although the life of this world is no more with reference to the Hereafter, but a passing comfort.52

Commentary

51. Since, in common observance, unbelievers are better off in terms of wealth and worldly possessions when compared to the believers, it is normally asked, “If they are not approved by Allah, why are they so well off?” Or, alternatively, “Is their wealth and prosperity, a sign of their right behavior in life?” This verse answers the question. Allah (swt) bestows material bounties on whomsoever He will, whether qualified or not. It is after all of little worth, no matter how enormous. In contrast, guidance is a thing of great worth. It is not granted to someone who is not worthy of it, or did not strive for it (Thanwi and others).

52. (The Prophet has expanded on this theme). In a report in Muslim he said, “The world is no more in comparison to the Hereafter than that one of you should dip his finger in a sea. So, let him see what it returns with.” Then he pointed with his index finger. In another report, also in Muslim, he passed by the carcass of a sheep and remarked, “By Allah! The world is less worthy in the sight of Allah than this one was when its owners threw it away” (Ibn Kathir, Alusi).

[27] And say those who have disbelieved, ‘Why has not a (miraculous) sign been sent upon him by his Lord?’53 Say, ‘Truly, Allah leaves unguided whom He will54 and guides unto Himself anyone who turns (to Him) in penitence.55

Commentary

53. It is strange that the unbelievers kept asking for a sign. How else did they think thousands had embraced Islam before them (Au.)?

54. Jiba’i has said that once they made a decision to reject, Allah (swt) led them to the course of rejection. That is the meaning of “Allah does not guide the unbelievers” (Razi).

Mawdudi expands: “God does not forcibly direct to the right way those who, instead of turning to God for guidance, defiantly turn away from Him. God allows such people to stumble in the deviant ways of their choice. The same factors which direct those who seek God’s guidance to the right way are allowed to become the factors of misguidance in respect of those who seek error. Such persons are unable to benefit from the light which, rather than illuminating their path, merely serves to dazzle their vision. That is what is meant by saying that: ‘Allah lets go astray those whom He wills.’

55. Thus, turning to Allah (swt) in penitence is the way of life of a believer. For, who can stay on the path of guidance for longer than a few minutes? We keep straying away. All we can do is to pull back as soon as we become conscious of the straying (Au.).