Verses from Surah Al-Kahf (30-49)

[30] Verily, those who believed and worked righteous deeds, surely, We shall not waste away the reward of anyone who did a good work.

[31] For them are gardens of Eden,51 beneath whom rivers flow. They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold52and wear green garments53 of silk and brocade: reclining therein upon canopied couches.54 How good a reward and how good a resting place! 


51. For explanation see Surah al-Tawbah, note 154 and al-Ra`d, note 45 of this work.

52. Muslim reports the Prophet as having said, “A believer’s jewelry will reach up to the extent his ablution (water) reaches” (Qurtubi, Shawkani).

It was fashionable for the kings of the past to wear jewelry. Allah promises that the inhabitants of Paradise will be treated like kings (Qurtubi).

`Ikrimah has been reported as saying that the people of Paradise will be adorned with gold, silver and pearl bracelets. Yet they will not be heavy on them since they will be made of “Nur” (Alusi). Qur’anic verses support ‘Ikrimah’s statement about the kinds of jewelry (though not about its material). It said (22: 23), “They will be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls”, and (76: 21), “And they will be adorned with bracelets of silver” (Qurtubi).

The allusion could as well be to women’s adornment in Paradise (Au.).

53. Green garments symbolize ever freshness of life in Paradise (Au., with a phrase from Asad).

54. When a bed or couch is covered with a canopy then it is referred to as “arikah” pl. “ara’ik” (Ibn Jarir, Shawkani).

[32] Strike for them a similitude of two men: To one of them We provided two orchards of grapevines, and surrounded them with palm-trees. And We set amidst the two, sown field.

[33] Each of the two orchards yielded its produce, failing not thereof in the least. And We caused a spring to gush forth within them.

[34] So he had fruit.55 He said to his companion, as he was conversing with him,56 ‘I am more of wealth than you and larger in numbers.’


55. Some scholars of classical times, such as Ibn ‘Abbas, Mujahid and Qatadah, have read the word “thamar” (meaning fruit) as “thumur” (meaning varieties of wealth). Ibn Jarir prefers this variant reading. But, Ibn Kathir believes “fruit” is a better understanding.

56. Some linguists have expressed the opinion that the construction of the sentence lends a sense of argument. That is, the two were discussing a subject, albeit somewhat heatedly, or, arguing over something, probably this life and the nature of its trials.

[35] He went into his orchard wronging himself.57 He said, ‘I do not think this will ever perish. And I do not reckon the Hour will strike.


57. That is, he went into the orchard puffed up with pride and vanity (Au.).
Yusuf Ali writes: “It was not wealth that ruined him, but the attitude of his mind. He was unjust, not so much to his neighbor (i.e., companion), as to his own soul. In his love of the material, he forgot or openly defied the spiritual. As verse 37 shows, he took his companion with him, to impress him with his own importance, but the companion was unmoved.”

 [36] And, even if I am returned to my Lord, I shall surely find better than this as a retreat.’58


58. What he meant is: “I deserve my affluence. It is a sign of my Lord’s approval of me. Accordingly, when I return – if I ever have to – then, there should be a better deal waiting for me there in the new habitat also” (Au.).

[37] His companion said to him, as he carried on the conversation with him, ‘Do you deny Him who59 created you from dust, then from a sperm-drop, and then fashioned you into a man?’60


59. Majid comments: “The man fondly imagined that his affluence was solely due to his merit and not to any beneficence on the part of God.”

60. The human body is composed of some 100 trillion cells (100,000,000,000,000). Pregnancy starts with the fusion of two microscopic cells that become one. However, in no time the resultant single cell splits into two: each daughter cell being an exact replica of the mother cell. Each of the two daughter cells again split to become four: with each new daughter cell an exact replica of the two mother cells. Then the four split to become eight, and so on. Initially, every new cell of the billions is a replica of the first cell. But after a while, variations start showing up: variations that are essential if the cells are to become the component parts of a variety of organs – hands, feet, nerves, heart, brain, etc.  But this is amazing, something very unusual. For, every new cell has the same set of DNA: the coded chemical message that determine the size, shape, function, and life of the parts of the body. With the variation, (which affects only the outer structure, the nucleus housing the DNA carrying coded messages remaining unchanged), various organs start taking shape in different parts of the embryo: first the tip of the back bone, the heart, and later, the limbs, eyes, ears, and so on. This phenomenon almost gives the freedom to the cell to determine its future course of development, e.g., whether it will become part of the backbone, or the toe. The situation becomes more complicated when we realize that since the brain is still not in place, and billions of cells are deciding their own fate, apparently, each by itself, there has to be some kind of communication between the trillions of them to determine the division of position and work. But, if there is, then, the question is, what central organ is there that controls the communication so that a brain cell does not become a heart cell or vice a versa. This is only one of the problems within the developing embryo. A study reveals that there are several such phenomenon explained very poorly by the biologists, in vague terms, with lots of holes in the arguments, studded with plenty of ‘perhapses’, ‘probablys’, and ‘maybes’ which force us to pay greater attention to the verse at hand (Au.).

[38] But, for my part, Allah is my Lord, and I shall never associate anyone with my Lord.

[39] What if, when you entered your orchard, you had said, “What Allah willed! There is no power except in Allah.”61 If you see me that I am less than you in wealth and progeny,


61. Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir and others write: The Sahihayn report that the Prophet said to Abu Hurayrah, “May I not lead you to a treasure from the treasures of Paradise? It is to say,

لا حول ولا قوة إلا بالله

“There is no force nor any power save with Allah.’

[40] Then, it may be that my Lord will grant me better than your orchard62 and loosen upon it a thunderbolt out of heaven,63 so that it is rendered a dusty slippery ground.


62. That is, in the Hereafter (Ibn Kathir).

63. Although literally, “accounting”, but according to Ibn ‘Abbas, Dahhak and Ibn Zayd, the textual word “husban” has been used here in the sense of a scourge (from the heaven: Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). In fact, writes Zamakhshari, literally also the word can mean scourge.

[41] Or its water gets sunk deep underground, so that you are never able to seek it.’

[42] And its fruit was encompassed64 so that by morning he was wringing his hands over what he had spent on it, while it lay fallen on its trellises, he muttering, ‘Woe unto me. Would that I had not associated anyone with my Lord.’65


64. That is, it was destroyed by a scourge that descended on it by night (Qurtubi).

65. Mawdudi writes against an earlier verse, “The person concerned did not deny the existence of God.. (for) kufr does not merely consist in denying the existence of God. In addition, pride, arrogance, vainglory and denial of the Hereafter also constitute kufr of God; for the faith required of man does not merely consist of affirming God’s existence; it also requires affirming Him as the Master, the Lord, and the Sovereign. Whosoever focuses his attention exclusively upon himself, who considers his attainments, his wealth and his high social standing not as gifts from God but the result of his own ability and effort, who thinks that his wealth will endure and that none has the power to deprive him of it, and who thinks that he is accountable to no one – such a person in fact does not believe in God in the sense in which he is required to..”

[43] And there was not a band for him to help him apart from Allah,66 nor could he defend himself.


66. That is, the manpower he had boasted of earlier, failed to protect his orchards (Ibn Kathir).

[44] There! Protective power belongs to Allah alone: the True One.67 He is the best in reward and the best in outcome. 


67. There have been at least four interpretations of the word “walayah”, of which of course only one could be chosen for translation.

[45] And strike for them the similitude of the life of the world: like water that We sent down out of heaven.68 The earth’s vegetation mingled with it. Then it became straw that the winds scattered around. And Allah is ever Omnipotent over all things.


68. Water has often been cited as illustrative of the life of this world. Why? Qurtubi transmits what the hukama’ had to say: Several similarities can be noticed between water and this world, such as, e.g., water does not stay in one place. It keeps moving. So is this world. It keeps moving. Water never lasts. It disappears. So will this world. No one can enter into water without wetting himself. Similarly, no one can enter into this world without polluting himself. Finally, so long as water is in proper measure, it is beneficial and under control. But when it increases in quantity, it acquires destructive properties. That is also the situation with this world. A measured quantity is beneficial. But its large portions are destructive. In a hadith of Muslim, the Prophet said, “He succeeded who was given just enough and was content with what was given him.”

[46] Wealth and children are the adornment of the life of the world, but the things that endure, the righteous (deeds),69 are better with your Lord in rewards and better in (good) hope.70


69. Al-Baqiyat al-Salihat: Is it a general term or has it a specific meaning? The opinion of Ibn ‘Abbas, Sa`id b, Jubayr, Ibrahim and others was that the allusion is to five daily Prayers. However, in a second opinion of Ibn ‘Abbas, Mujahid, ‘Ata ibn abi Rabah, and many others, the allusion is to the words:

سبحان الله, والحمد لله, ولا إله إلا الله, والله أكبر

In fact, Abu Hurayrah reported a hadith to this effect. Nevertheless, `Uthman b. `Affan, Muhammad b. Ka`b al-Qurazi and others included a few other words to the above words to say, al-Baqiyat al-Salihat are the following:

لا إله إلا الله, وسبحان الله, والحمد لله, والله أكبر, ولا حول ولا قوة إلا بالله العلي العظيم

The above words are confirmed by a report in Tabarani, Ibn Shahin, and Ibn Marduwayh (Shawkani) about which Haythami said that except for one narrator, the rest are trustworthy (S. Ibrahim).

Nevertheless, Nasa’i has another report, declared Sahih by Hakim, which saysthat the Prophet said,

خذوا جنتكم قيل يا رسول الله من أي عدو قد حضر ؟ قال : بل جنتكم من النار قول سبحان الله والحمد لله ولا إله إلا الله والله أكبر فإنهن يأتين يوم القيامة مقدمات معقبات ومجنبات وهي الباقيات الصالحات

“Release your Paradise.” He was asked, “From what enemy that has showed up?” He replied, “Rather, your Paradise from the Fire, the words:

سبحان الله والحمد لله ولا إله إلا الله والله أكبر

“for,” the Prophet continued, “on the Day of Judgment they will come as vanguards, rearguards and the protecting ones. They are the al-baqiyat al-Salihat” (Shawkani).

The above report has been declared Sahih by Albani also (S. Ibrahim).

But, in a third opinion of Ibn ‘Abbas, seconded by Ibn Zayd, every good deed is al-Baqiyat al-Salihat.

Now, Ibn Jarir writes, if it is asked, which statement is correct, the answer is, is there a contradiction between them?

With reference to the above words, viz., al-Baqiyat al-Salihat, Imam Razi mentions Imam Ghazali’s remarks, which we present here in a modified form:

Saying Subhana Allah means to express that Allah is free of all defects that a mind can imagine, or above any suggestion made that is unbecoming of Him. Al-Hamdulillah means to express that He is the source of all that is good and beautiful, and hence, He must be praised. Saying la ilaha illa Allah is to acknowledge that the One who is the source of all that is, is the “only” source of all that is. Finally, saying Allahu Akbar is to acknowledge that He is greater than that He could be understood by reason alone.

70. Wealth promises continuity of good life, and children. But, to fasten hope on rewards in the Hereafter is nearer to realizing one’s dreams than fastening hopes on wealth and children in this world. For, one might achieve wealth and children but not the satisfaction that was hoped for (with a point from Thanwi).

[47] The day We shall set the mountains in motion, you will see the earth levelled,71 and We shall gather them all together, leaving out none of them.


71. The allusion by the word “barizatun” is, according to the classical commentators, to the earth being rendered flat, barren, featureless and without a place for anyone to hide behind.

[48] They will be presented to their Lord in rows: ‘You have come to Us, just as We created you the first time.72 But you thought We shall never appoint for you a tryst.’


72. That is, you have come to Us today in a lonely state, without the worldly belongings that you were proud to possess, even as We created you at first: naked, un-circumcised, without a headgear or footwear (Alusi and Asad combined).

[49] Then the Book will be placed,73 and you will see the criminals greatly alarmed at what it contains, saying, ‘Alas for us! What’s with this Book that it leaves out nothing – neither small74 nor big – but has computed it.’ They will find all that they did placed before them, and your Lord shall not wrong anyone.


73. Most scholars have, on the strength of another verse, said that the allusion is to the Master Book of Records, in which the deeds of the creation are entered, even as they are entered in individual Record books. But a few have thought that the allusion is to the Records of the individuals that will be placed in the right or left hand of the people on the Day of Judgment.

74. Ibn ‘Abbas said: Even such insignificant acts as a laughter would be found recorded in the Book of Deeds (Ibn Jarir). Ibn abi Hatim has, however, another report from Ibn ‘Abbas. He said, “A smile at a believer out of mockery or out of derision is the small thing referred to here, and a laughter in his ridicule the big one” (Alusi, Shawkani). When someone laughed when a man passed wind in the presence of the Prophet, he asked in exasperation, “Why should one of you laugh at something that another does?” (Alsui)

  (To be continued)

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