Verses from Surah Al-Anbiya’ (101-112)

[101] As for those about whom the good (word) had passed from Us, they shall be kept away from it.124


124. The verse has been interpreted in two ways. One, the allusion by, “But as for those about whom the best had passed from Us, they shall be kept away from it,” is to those about whom Allah’s decree has been that they will never enter Hellfire. Hence, it is reported of `Ali that he said, “Uthman and his colleagues are of them,” and then recited this verse.

Another interpretation, coming down from many of the Salaf, is that those are alluded who were worshipped without their consent such as, e.g., Jesus Christ, angels or others. Ibn Is-haq has reported that once Waleed b. al-Mughira, Nadr b. al-Harith and other Quraysh men were sitting before the Prophet. He presented Islam to them and then warned them in the words of the Qur’an, “Surely, you and what you worship other than Allah are fuels of Jahannum. You shall go down to it. If those had been gods, they would not have arrived at it. And they shall all abide therein forever.” Thereafter, he left them. After he had left, `Abdullah b. Zib`ara entered the gathering. They complained to him of the Prophet’s harsh words. He said, “O.K. This means what we worship: the angels, what the Jews worshipped: `Uzayr, and what the Christians worship: `Isa, will be in fire. Right!” They were pleased with the idea and went back to the Prophet with their triumphant argument. He explained, “Yes, all those who consented to being worshipped will be in Fire with those who worshipped them” (Ibn Jarir). As for the lifeless, such as dust, stone, or wooden idols, they will be used as fuel to burn the unbelievers as additional pain for them.

The report is in Abu Da’ud, (in his Nasikh), Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Marduwayh and Tabarani (Alusi). Subsequently however, Ibn Kathir adds, `Abdullah b. Zib`ara embraced Islam.

[102] They shall not hear its slightest sound, and they shall be, in what their souls desire, dwelling forever.

[103] The Great Terror shall not grieve them, but rather, the angels will receive them (saying), ‘This is your Day that you were promised.’

[104] The Day when We shall roll up the heaven in the manner of rolling up scrolls 125 – as We began the first creation, We shall repeat it.126 A promise binding on Us. We were indeed, wont to do it.


125. Some have conjectured that “Sijil” was the name of one of the scribes of the Prophet. But such reports are not reliable (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Shawkani).

Qurtubi and Ibn Kathir quote another verse of similar nature. It says (39: 67),

“And they did not estimate Allah, the way He should be estimated. The earth, the whole of it, will be in the grip of His left hand on the Day of Judgment, and the heavens rolled up around His right hand. Glorified and Exalted is He above that they Associate with Him.”



And a hadith of Bukhari says, “Allah will hold the earths (in one Hand), and the heavens will be in His right Hand.” Ibn Abi Hatim used the word, “seven earths.”

Thus, it can be noticed here that the Qur’anic description of the end of the world radically differs from what the scientists conjecture. They once believed (and the great majority of people still hold the same opinion) that the world began with a “Big Bang” and will end up with a “Big Crunch.” They thought that since the expansion of the universe was the result of an original explosion, it should be slowing down now and, at one time should stop expanding. When that happens, the gravitational pull of the matter within the universe would make it contract inward, which, in turn, would end up in one mass of matter, extremely hot and at extreme high pressures, but of size less than the diameter of an atom.

However, latest findings indicate that the expansion of the universe from all sides is not slowing down, but, in fact, it is accelerating. This has put the scientists into confusion about how the world is likely to end.

Granted that the older theory is correct, and the world starts contracting backward, it is likely to end as a dot, ready to burst (another Big Bang), and not in the shape of a scroll – the kind that was used for writing purposes in ancient times. Thus, both ways, the scientific theories are at variance with the Qur’an (Au.).

126. While one opinion confirms the apparent meaning, viz., the world will be destroyed and recreated following the same process as of the first creation (Shawkani); others have explained this verse as meaning, “We shall create the human beings as they were created the first time.” That is, barefoot, naked and uncircumcised. This is the explanation (as in Bukhari: Ibn Kathir) that has come down from the Prophet (Ibn Jarir).

[105] Surely, earlier We had written in the Zabur127 after the admonition, that the land128 shall be inherited by My righteous slaves.129


127. Although the term Zabur is applicable to the Scriptures that were revealed after Musa, preferable is the meaning given out by Sa`id b. Jubayr, Mujahid and others that here the word is equivalent of Zubr, meaning the Umm al-Kitab, (that is, the Lawh al-Mahfuz) – Ibn Jarir.
Asad adds: “Zabur (lit., ‘scripture’ or ‘book’) is a generic term denoting any ‘book of wisdom’: hence, any and all of the divine Scriptures revealed by God to the prophets.”
128. Ibn `Abbas, Sa`id b. Jubayr, Mujahid, Abu al-`Aliyyah and others have said that by “`ard” the allusion is to Paradise. That is, Paradise will be inherited by the righteous. Ibn Zayd quoted another verse in evidence (40: 74):
“And they will say, ‘All praise be to Allah who made true His promise and gave us the earth in inheritance. We dwell in Paradise where we wish. So, how well the reward of those who strove!” (Ibn Jarir).
But the prevalent meaning is that (if it is this earth that is meant, then: Au) Allah gave the Companions of the Prophet the lands of the unbelievers in inheritance (Shawkani).
Mawdudi clears some doubts concerning the inheritance of the earth: “This verse has been seriously misinterpreted by some people .. At the heart of (it) is the belief that it guarantees inheritance of the earth (i.e., governance of and control over the resources of the earth) only to the righteous.. This generalization is then used to derive further conclusions. Some, for example, inferring that the enjoyment of political power is the criterion of righteousness; that those who enjoy it are righteous; while those who do not have it are unrighteous. Such people even go a step further. They look around at those nations which have been ‘inheritors of the earth’ either in the past or currently so, and they note that unbelievers, polytheists, transgressors and sinners have all at one time or another enjoyed ‘inheritance of the earth.’”
Then to refute a few other misconceptions he writes, “As for the inheritance of the land in this world, Qur’anic law is set forth in Surah al-A`raf: ‘The earth is Allah’s. He bestows it on those of His servants He chooses.’ In accordance with God’s will, this inheritance is conferred on unbelievers as well as believers, and both the sinners and the righteous share it.. As it is, this inheritance is not everlasting.. Being a trial, conducted in accordance with God’s law, it is served on different communities in turn.”
Nonetheless, if it is earthly dominance that is meant, then, obviously, it goes with the condition that is attached to it. Asad writes, “The statement that ‘My righteous servants shall inherit the earth’, is obviously an echo of the promise, ‘You are bound to rise high if you are [truly] believers’ (3: 139) – the implication being that it is only through faith in God and righteous behavior on earth that man can reach the heights envisaged for him by his Creator’s grace.”
129. In what sense was the Prophet (saws) a mercy unto the worlds comprising of the believers as well as the unbelievers? One answer is that unbelieving nations previous to him were destroyed to non-existence, while, because of the Prophet, their immediate destruction was withheld during his tenure. Accordingly, Muslim has a hadith which says that it was suggested to the Prophet that he pray against the pagans. He replied,
“I have not been sent as one who curses, but rather as a mercy.”
And a hadith in Ahmad reports the Prophet as having said, “Whosoever I abused in my anger, or cursed him, (may note that) after all, I am a son of Adam, who gets angry as one of you does. Whereas, Allah has sent me as a mercy for the worlds. Therefore, make it (O Allah), a peace blessing for, and on, him on the Day of Judgment” (Razi, Ibn Kathir, Alusi and others).
The report was declared trustworthy by Al-Arna’ut (Au.).
Another answer is that human life on this planet can only be organized on the basis of moral laws. The teachings of all previous Prophets gave place of prominence to moral laws that helped the earlier nations to organize their lives on their basis. But, after ‘Isa, the system suffered negligence and barbaric ways began to be adopted in the East and the West. That remained the situation until the appearance of the Final Prophet. He restored the moral laws as the central principles; and since then the rest of humankind borrowed from their previous as well as this new source brought by Muhammad (though they would not acknowledge it) and were able to organize their lives better than the barbaric nations of the past could do (Au.).
Asad has another aspect in mind. He believes it is the universality of the Prophet’s message, and the fact that it will last till the end of the world, affecting a large number of people, which is the mercy to mankind. He writes, “The universality of the Qur’anic revelation arises from three factors: firstly, its appeal to all mankind irrespective of descent, race or cultural environment; secondly, the fact that it appeals exclusively to man’s reason and, hence, does not postulate any dogma that could be accepted on the basis of blind faith alone; and finally, the fact that contrary to all other sacred scriptures known to history – the Quran has remained entirely unchanged in its wording ever since its revelation fourteen centuries ago and will, because it is so widely recorded, forever remain so in accordance with the divine promise ‘it is We who shall truly guard it [from all corruptions] (cf. 15: 9..). It is by virtue of these three factors that the Qur’an represents the final stage of all divine revelations, and that the Prophet through whom it has been conveyed to mankind is stated to have been the last (in the Qur’anic terminology, the seal) of all prophets (cf. 33:40).¡

[106] Surely, in this is a Message for a people devoted (to Allah).

[107] And, We have not sent you (O Muhammad) but as a mercy to the worlds.

[108] Say, ‘Indeed, it is revealed unto me that your God is one God. Will you then submit?’

[109] But if they should turn away, then say, ‘I have proclaimed to you all equally, and I know not whether, what you are being promised, is near or far.130


130. That is, although I can proclaim that it is going to happen, but, it is such a closely guarded secret that even I cannot say when it will happen (Au.).

[110] Surely, He knows the word (said) aloud, and He (also) knows what you conceal.

[111] And, for all I know, it could be a trial for you and an enjoyment for a time.’

[112] He said, ‘My Lord! Judge in truth.’ And our Lord is the Merciful whose assistance is sought against what you utter.’131


131. Asad has a useful note, “Lit., ‘against (`ala) all that you attribute [to Him] by way of description’ or ‘of definition: implying that only God’s grace can save man from the blasphemous attempts – prompted by inherent weakness – to bring God ‘closer’ to his own, human understanding by means of humanly conceived ‘definitions’ of Him who is transcendent, infinite and unfathomable.”

(End of Surah Al-Anbiya’)

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