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The Hadith of the Crooked Rib Explained – Jonathan Brown

Mathematical Miracle of the Quran

Quran and Embryology

Pre-Darwinian Muslim Scholars and Evolution

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The Garden of Eden

Quran 2:35:

We  said,   “O  Adam,   dwell   thou    and thy wife    in  the Garden  and eat freely  thereof,    wheresoever you will.   But approach    not this    tree,   lest you    be  among   the wrongdoers.”

The following excerpt is taken from “The Study Quran” under the commentary of the above verse:

The story of the fall of Adam and Eve from Paradise appears here and in 7:19–25 and 20:120–23. Relative to Genesis 2–3, the Quranic account gives fewer details. Some commentators mention an array of details about Adam, Eve, the Garden, and the fall, many of which find their origin in Jewish and Christian, and perhaps even Arab, oral traditions. Many of these traditions describe Eve (Ḥawwāʾ), who is referred to as Adam’s wife rather than Eve in the Quran; the kind of tree or plant from which Adam and Eve ate (apple vs. some type of grain); what form Iblīs took; and even where they were first exiled. But some of these details are not attested to very strongly in the Ḥadīth, and some (such as some registered by al-Ṭabarī) do not rise above the level of folklore. The Quran itself provides the foundation and details of the story of Adam and Eve, which has a different meaning in Islam than in Judaism or Christianity. The Garden in which Adam and Eve dwelled is indeed paradisal; they would neither hunger therein, nor go naked, . . . neither thirst therein, nor suffer from the heat of the sun (20:118–19), in addition to experiencing the unconstrained enjoyment of the Garden’s fruits, as mentioned in this verse. Eating from the tree, according to Iblīs, would have made them angels, or able to live forever (7:20), and in 20:120 he promises them the Tree of Everlastingness and a kingdom that never decays. Among the possibilities offered for the type of tree
are grain, grapevine, and fig. (The Quran never uses the word “fruit” in this context, but says only that they ate from the shajarah, a word that can include also vegetative growth such as trees, shrubs, and bushes.) One view (R) has it that the promise of eternal life mentioned in 7:20 and 20:120 would have had no attraction if Adam were already dwelling in the “Garden of Rewards,” which the Quran promises to believers. The command to get . . . down (v. 36) is the same verb used in v. 61 (Go down to a town . . .), where it does not imply a vertical descent, but a change in location. Moreover, those who enter the Garden will not be expelled therefrom (15:48). Also, if Adam were created from earth, then where is the ascent from earth to Heaven in this account? The commentator al-Qurṭubī (who is not of this opinion) also mentions that the Quran says of the Garden, They hear therein neither idle talk nor lying (78:35), and yet Iblīs did lie to them, which is indeed how he caused them to be expelled from it. These considerations would seem to indicate that this is a different Garden from the “Garden of Rewards.” The consensus view, though, is that the Garden of Adam and the promised Garden are the very same (R, Q). It is not “a” garden, but “the” Garden (aljannah), “well known” as the eternal Garden promised to believers. Some respond to the opinion that Iblīs could not have lied in the Garden by arguing that he could have whispered to them from somewhere outside the Garden, and that the promise never to be expelled applies only to those granted entry to Paradise after their sojourn on earth as a reward for their good deeds (Ṭs). Surveying these options, al-Rāzī offers this final possibility: “These are all possible, and the textual proofs are weak and contradictory; so one should cease, and refrain from being categorical. And God knows best.” On this and similar issues (such as Eve’s creation and entry in the Garden) he takes a similar attitude, that one cannot know for sure, and one does not need to know, as this is not central to the Quranic telling of the account.

Islamic Calendar (Lunar Calendar)

Quran 2:189:

They ask you, [O Muhammad], about the new moons. Say, “They are measurements of time for the people and for Hajj.”

The following commentary is taken from ‘Maariful Quran’ by Mufti Taqi Usmani vol 1 pg. 479-482

Commentary

Reported in the first Verse (189) there is a question asked by the noble Companions and its answer given by Allah Almighty. Sayyidna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas says that the Companions of the Holy Prophet (saw) had a distinct mannerliness of their own. On account of the great respect they had for him, they asked very few questions from their Prophet (saw) . This is contrary to the practice of the communities of the past prophets who asked many questions and thus failed to observe the etiquette due before a prophet. Sayyidna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas adds that the total number of questions asked by the noble Companions as mentioned in the Holy Qur’an is fourteen, one of which , ,*’ has just appeared above: ‘And when My servants ask you …’ (186). The other question is right here. Other than these, there are six more questions appearing in Surah al-Baqarah itself. The rest of the six questions come up in various other Surahs.
It is mentioned in the present verse that the noble Companions asked the Messenger of Allah about the new moon as it appears in the early part of the month, having a shape different from the sun. The new moon begins as a thin crescent slowly growing into full circle, then, it starts reducing itself in the same manner. So, they asked either about its cause or about the wisdom underlying its gradual growth. Both possibilities exist. But the answer given states the wisdom and benefit behind it. Now, if the question itself was concerned with the wisdom and benefit behind the waning and waxing of the new moon, then the answer obviously synchronizes with the question. But, if the question aimed at finding out the cause of the waning and waxing of the new moon, which is far away from the mannerliness of the noble Companions, then the answer, by electing to state its wisdom and benefit rather than its reality, simply hints that finding out the reality of the heavenly bodies is not an area under man’s control anyway, and then, for that matter, the knowledge of its reality is not necessary for any practical purpose, neither in this world nor in the Hereafter. Therefore, the question of reality is absurd. What could be asked and what could be explained is that there are certain benefits that accrue to us through the waning and waxing, the setting and the rising of the moon in this manner. Therefore, in response to this, the Holy Prophet & was told that he should tell them that their benefits tied to the moon are that they will find it easy to determine the time factor in their transactions and contracts, and to know about the days of the Hajj. The Lunar Calendar is the Islamic choice This verse tells us no more than that the moon will help identify the count of months and days on which rest transactions and acts of worship, such as, the Hajj. The same subject has been dealt with in Surah Yunus in the following manner:

And determined it (the moon) by stations, that you might know the number of the years and the reckoning. (10:5)


This tells us that the benefit of having the moan pass through dif- ferent stages and conditions is that people may find out through it the count of years, months and days. But, in a verse of Surah Bani Isra’il, this count has been connected to the sun as well in the following words:

Then We erased the sign of the night and brought out the sign of the day to see, so that you seek the blessing from your Lord and get to know the number of years and the reckoning. (17:12)


Although this third verse proves that years and months can be counted with the help of a solar calendar also, yet the words used by the Holy Qur’an with regard to the moon very clearly indicate that the lunar calendar is a fixed choice in the shari’ah of Islam, specially in prescribed acts of worship which relate to a particular month and its dates; for instance, the months of Ramadan and Hajj, as well as injunctions related to the days of Hajj, Muharram and Lailatul-Qadr are all tied to the sighting of the new moon, all this because in this verse, by saying (They are indicative of time for the people and of the Hajjj, it has been established that the lunar calendar is the one to be trusted upon in the sight of Allah, although, the count of months can come out of a solar calendar as well.
The shari’ah of Islam has opted for the lunar calendar because it is based on something which every sighted person can see on the horizon and be informed accordingly; the knowledge of it is equaily easy for the scholars, the ignorant, the villagers, the islanders and the dwellers of the mountains. This stands in contrast with the solar calendar which depends on meteorological equipment and mathematical computations which cannot become the common personal experience of everybody so easily. Then comes the matter of religious observances, the ‘ibiidat, where the lunar calendar has been fixed as an obligation. This has also been favoured in social and business transactions because it serves as a basis for the acts of Islamic worship, and a symbol of Islamic identity, notwithstanding the position of the solar calendar which has not been prohibited juristically, the only condition being that the use of the solar calendar should not become so widespread that people forget all about the lunar calendar. If this happens, it would necessarily affect the obligatory ‘ibtidat like Fasting and Hajj adversely, a sampling of which is visible in our time, in offices and businesses, government and private, where the solar calendar is being used with such frequency that many people do not seem to even remember all Islamic months by name. Apart from the juristic position of the lunar system, this situation is a deplorable demonstration of our lack of will to approach and uphold such a matter of national and religious identity with a sense of self-respect. It is not difficult to use the solar calendar only in office situations where one has to deal with non-Muslims as well, but for the rest of office correspondence, private dealings and dailv requirements the lunar calendar may be used with advantage, that is, if this is done, the user will earn the thawiib of performing a fard ‘alE al-kifEyah (an obligation which, if performed by some, suffices for others), and of course, national identity will be preserved. This tells us that the benefit of having the moan pass through dif- ferent stages and conditions is that people may find out through it the count of years, months and days. But, in a verse of Surah Bani Isra’il, this count has been connected to the sun as well in the following words:


Then We erased the sign of the night and brought out the sign of the day to see, so that you seek the blessing from your Lord and get to know the number of years and the reckoning. (17:12)

Although this third verse proves that years and months can be counted with the help of a solar calendar also, yet the words used by the Holy Qur’an with regard to the moon very clearly indicate that the lunar calendar is a fixed choice in the shari’ah of Islam, specially in prescribed acts of worship which relate to a particular month and its dates; for instance, the months of Ramadan and Hajj, as well as injunctions related to the days of Hajj, Muharram and Lailatul-Qadr are all tied to the sighting of the new moon, all this because in this verse, by saying (They are indicative of time for the people and of the Hajjj, it has been established that the lunar calendar is the one to be trusted upon in the sight of Allah, although, the count of months can come out of a solar calendar as well.
The shari’ah of Islam has opted for the lunar calendar because it is based on something which every sighted person can see on the horizon and be informed accordingly; the knowledge of it is equaily easy for the scholars, the ignorant, the villagers, the islanders and the dwellers of the mountains. This stands in contrast with the solar calendar which depends on meteorological equipment and mathematical computations which cannot become the common personal experience of everybody so easily. Then comes the matter of religious observances, the ‘ibiidat, where the lunar calendar has been fixed as an obligation. This has also been favoured in social and business transactions because it serves as a basis for the acts of Islamic worship, and a symbol of Islamic identity, notwithstanding the position of the solar calendar which has not been prohibited juristically, the only condition being that the use of the solar calendar should not become so widespread that people forget all about the lunar calendar. If this happens, it would necessarily affect the obligatory ‘ibtidat like Fasting and Hajj adversely, a sampling of which is visible in our time, in offices and businesses, government and private, where the solar calendar is being used with such frequency that many people do not seem to even remember all Islamic months by name. Apart from the juristic position of the lunar system, this situation is a deplorable demonstration of our lack of will to approach and uphold such a matter of national and religious identity with a sense of self-respect. It is not difficult to use the solar calendar only in office situations where one has to deal with non-Muslims as well, but for the rest of office correspondence, private dealings and dailv requirements the lunar calendar may be used with advantage, that is, if this is done, the user will earn the thawiib of performing a fard ‘alE al-kifEyah (an obligation which, if performed by some, suffices for others), and of course, national identity will be preserved.

Musa and Al-Khadir

(Link)

Quranic Narrative:

In Sura 18, ayat (verses) 65–82 Al Kahf, Moses meets the Servant of God, referred in the Quran as “one of our slaves whom We had granted mercy from Us and whom We had taught knowledge from Ourselves”.[26] Muslim scholars identify him as Nabi Khadra, although he is not explicitly named in the Quran and there is no reference to him being immortal or being especially associated with esoteric knowledge or fertility.[27] These associations come in later scholarship on al-Khiḍr.[28]

The Quran states that they meet at the junction of the two seas (i.e., the two sources of salt and fresh water described elsewhere in the Quran) and Moses asks for permission to accompany the Servant of God so Moses can learn “right knowledge of what [he has] been taught”.[29] The Servant informs him in a stern manner that their knowledge is of different nature and that “Surely you [Moses] cannot have patience with me. And how canst thou have patience about things about which thy understanding is not complete?”[30] Moses promises to be patient and obey him unquestioningly, and they set out together. After they board a ship, the Servant of God damages the vessel. Forgetting his oath, Moses says, “Have you made a hole in it to drown its inmates? Certainly you have done a grievous thing.” The Servant reminds Moses of his warning, “Did I not say that you will not be able to have patience with me?” and Moses pleads not to be rebuked.

Next, the Servant of God kills a young man. Moses again cries out in astonishment and dismay, and again the Servant reminds Moses of his warning, and Moses promises that he will not violate his oath again, and that if he does he will excuse himself from the Servant’s presence. They then proceed to a town where they are denied hospitality. This time, instead of harming anyone or anything, the Servant of God restores a decrepit wall in the village. Yet again Moses is amazed and violates his oath for the third and last time, asking why the Servant did not at least exact “some recompense for it.”

The Servant of God replies, “This shall be separation between me and you; now I will inform you of the significance of that with which you could not have patience. Many acts which seem to be evil, malicious or somber, actually are merciful. The boat was damaged to prevent its owners from falling into the hands of a king who seized every boat by force. And as for the boy, his parents were believers and we feared lest he should make disobedience and ingratitude to come upon them. God will replace the child with one better in purity, affection and obedience. As for the restored wall, the Servant explained that underneath the wall was a treasure belonging to two helpless orphans whose father was a righteous man. As God’s envoy, the Servant restored the wall, showing God’s kindness by rewarding the piety of the orphans’ father, and so that when the wall becomes weak again and collapses, the orphans will be older and stronger and will take the treasure that belongs to them.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khidr#Quranic_narrative

The ‘Names’

Quran 2:31:

And He taught Adam the names – all of them. Then He showed them to the angels and said, “Inform Me of the names of these, if you are truthful.”

According to Mufti Taqi Usmani,

“The word ‘Ism’ has many lexical and intellectual nuances of meaning, the knowledge of which would not be essential for the average reader. It is sufficient to know that this word is translated in English as ‘Name’. ” (Maariful Quran, Vol. 1 pg. 57)

According to Ibn Kathir, citing Ibn Abbas, the ‘Names’ refers to:

‘Meaning, the names that people use, such as human, animal, sky, earth, land, sea, horse, donkey, and so forth, including the names of the other species.’ (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, surah al Baqarah pg. 115)

According to Muhammad Asad (author of The ‘The Message of the Quran’),

“the names” refers to: Lit., “all the names”. The term ism (“name”) implies, according to all philologists, an expression “conveying the knowledge [of a thing] … applied to denote a substance or an accident or an attribute, for the purpose of distinction” (Lane IV, 1435): in philosophical terminology, a “concept”. From this it may legitimately be inferred that the “knowledge of all the names” denotes here man’s faculty of logical definition and, thus, of conceptual thinking. That by “Adam” the whole human race is meant here becomes obvious from the preceding reference, by the angels, to “such as will spread corruption on earth and will shed blood”, as well as from 7:11

Will people be punished in Hell-fire forever?

The following excerpt is taken from “Faith in Allah” (Link)

In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful

The majority of Muslim scholars believe that the Hellfire will exist eternally and that unbelievers will reside within it forever. A minority of scholars, however, believe that the Hellfire will exist eternally, but that eventually it will be emptied of any inhabitants. Both of these views are valid theological opinions that are supported by the Quran, the Sunnah, and views of the Prophet’s companions and early Muslims.

A number of verses speak of the inhabitants of Hellfire “remaining therein” (khālidīin fīha) and sometimes describe it as “forever” (abada). On the surface, these verses seem to describe an eternal punishment.

Allah said:

وَمَن يَعْصِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَإِنَّ لَهُ نَارَ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا

Whoever disobeys Allah and his messenger, then for him is the fire of Hell. They will abide therein forever.

Surat al-Jinn 72:23

And Allah said:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَعَنَ الْكَافِرِينَ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ سَعِيرًا خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا

Verily, Allah has cursed the unbelievers and prepared for them a blaze, abiding therein forever.

Surat al-Ahzab 33:64-65

The Prophet informed us that there will be no death in the Hereafter. The existence of death, coming in symbolic form of ram, will be slaughtered on the Day of Resurrection so that everyone will know that the Hereafter will never end.

Abu Sa’eed reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

يُجَاءُ بِالْمَوْتِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ كَأَنَّهُ كَبْشٌ أَمْلَحُ زَادَ أَبُو كُرَيْبٍ فَيُوقَفُ بَيْنَ الْجَنَّةِ وَالنَّارِ وَاتَّفَقَا فِي بَاقِي الْحَدِيثِ فَيُقَالُ يَا أَهْلَ الْجَنَّةِ هَلْ تَعْرِفُونَ هَذَا فَيَشْرَئِبُّونَ وَيَنْظُرُونَ وَيَقُولُونَ نَعَمْ هَذَا الْمَوْتُ قَالَ وَيُقَالُ يَا أَهْلَ النَّارِ هَلْ تَعْرِفُونَ هَذَا قَالَ فَيَشْرَئِبُّونَ وَيَنْظُرُونَ وَيَقُولُونَ نَعَمْ هَذَا الْمَوْتُ قَالَ فَيُؤْمَرُ بِهِ فَيُذْبَحُ قَالَ ثُمَّ يُقَالُ يَا أَهْلَ الْجَنَّةِ خُلُودٌ فَلَا مَوْتَ وَيَا أَهْلَ النَّارِ خُلُودٌ فَلَا مَوْتَ

Death will be brought on the Day of Resurrection in the form of a white ram, and it will be made to stand between Paradise and Hellfire. It will be said to the people of Paradise: Do you recognize this? They will raise their heads looking towards it and they will say: Yes, it is death. Then it will be said to the people of Hellfire: Do you recognize this? They will raise their heads looking towards it and they will say: Yes, it is death. Then the command will be given to slaughter the ram and it will be said: O people of Paradise, there is everlasting life for you and no death! And it will be said: O people of Hellfire, there is everlasting life for you and no death!

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 4453, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

Even so, the absence of death does not necessarily mean that people will remain in Hellfire forever. Scholars who believe in the eternity of punishment in Hellfire also acknowledge evidence that Muslims and monotheists who committed major sins will be punished in Hellfire for a very long time as means of purification and atonement. They will eventually be taken out of Hellfire and admitted into Paradise.

Abu Dharr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

أَتَانِي جِبْرِيلُ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَام فَبَشَّرَنِي أَنَّهُ مَنْ مَاتَ مِنْ أُمَّتِكَ لَا يُشْرِكُ بِاللَّهِ شَيْئًا دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ

Gabriel, upon him be peace, came to me to give the good news that anyone from my nation who dies without associating partners with Allah will enter Paradise.

I said, “Even if he commits adultery and theft?” The Prophet said:

وَإِنْ زَنَى وَإِنْ سَرَقَ

Even if he commits adultery and theft.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 1180, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

Jabir reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

يُعَذَّبُ نَاسٌ مِنْ أَهْلِ التَّوْحِيدِ فِي النَّارِ حَتَّى يَكُونُوا فِيهَا حُمَمًا ثُمَّ تُدْرِكُهُمْ الرَّحْمَةُ فَيُخْرَجُونَ وَيُطْرَحُونَ عَلَى أَبْوَابِ الْجَنَّةِ قَالَ فَيَرُشُّ عَلَيْهِمْ أَهْلُ الْجَنَّةِ الْمَاءَ فَيَنْبُتُونَ كَمَا يَنْبُتُ الْغُثَاءُ فِي حِمَالَةِ السَّيْلِ ثُمَّ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ

People among those who worshiped Allah alone (ahl al-tawḥīd) will be punished in the Hellfire until they are coals. Then the mercy of Allah will reach them and they will be taken out and presented at the gates of Paradise. The people of Paradise will pour water over them and they will grow just as the stubble carried by the stream grows, then they will enter Paradise.

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2597, Grade: Sahih

An-Nawawi commented on these traditions, saying:

فَهُوَ حُجَّةٌ لِمَذْهَبِ أَهْلِ السَّنَةِ أَنَّ أَصْحَابَ الْكَبَائِرِ لَا يُقْطَعُ لَهُمْ بِالنَّارِ وَأَنَّهُمْ إِنْ دَخَلُوهَا أُخْرِجُوا مِنْهَا وَخُتِمَ لَهُمْ بِالْخُلُودِ فِي الْجَنَّةِ

It is a proof for the people of the prophetic tradition (sunnah), that those who commit major sins will not remain in the Hellfire forever. If they enter it, they will be taken out and eventually admitted into Paradise.

Source: Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 94

This is an indication of the mercy of Allah and his great wisdom, yet it is a concession that we should not take for granted. Some of the Jews and Christians used this as an excuse to continue committing their sins, saying that they would only have to endure Hellfire for a short while.

Allah said:

وَقَالُوا لَن تَمَسَّنَا النَّارُ إِلَّا أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَةً ۚ قُلْ أَتَّخَذْتُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ عَهْدًا فَلَن يُخْلِفَ اللَّهُ عَهْدَهُ ۖ أَمْ تَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

They say: Never will the Hellfire touch us, except for a number of days. Say: Have you taken a covenant with Allah? For Allah will never break His covenant. Or do you say about Allah that which you do not know?

Surat al-Baqarah 2:80

And Allah said:

ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَالُوا لَن تَمَسَّنَا النَّارُ إِلَّا أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ ۖ وَغَرَّهُمْ فِي دِينِهِم مَّا كَانُوا يَفْتَرُونَ

That is because they say: Never will the Hellfire touch us, except for a number of days. They became deluded in their religion because of what they fabricated.

Surat Ali Imran 3:24

Indeed, some of the Muslims say the same to themselves to rationalize their sins. But we should know that a single moment in the Hellfire is worse than any amount of pleasure we can get out of the world. A person will be dipped in Hellfire only once and due to that pain will forget every good thing he or she ever experienced.

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

يُؤْتَى بِأَنْعَمِ أَهْلِ الدُّنْيَا مِنْ أَهْلِ النَّارِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَيُصْبَغُ فِي النَّارِ صَبْغَةً ثُمَّ يُقَالُ يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ هَلْ رَأَيْتَ خَيْرًا قَطُّ هَلْ مَرَّ بِكَ نَعِيمٌ قَطُّ فَيَقُولُ لَا وَاللَّهِ يَا رَبِّ

The most privileged people in the world among the people of the Hellfire will come on the Day of Resurrection to be dipped in the Hellfire, then it will be said: O son of Adam, did you see any good? Did you get any blessing? He will say: No, by Allah, my Lord!

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2807, Grade: Sahih

If someone cannot stand even a single moment in Hellfire, then what would it be worth to stay there for one year? Or a hundred years? Or a thousand years? How can a thousand years in Hellfire be described as anything other than an eternity, even if it eventually comes to an end?

Scholars who believe in the eternity of punishment in Hellfire are understandably cautious about overemphasizing the mercy of Allah, since some people will abuse this mercy to commit evil.

However, other scholars cite evidence that indicates all people will eventually come out of the Hellfire. A number of verses appear to limit the length of Hellfire, leaving it up to the judgment of Allah.

Allah said:

قَالَ النَّارُ مَثْوَاكُمْ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ ۗ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ حَكِيمٌ عَلِيمٌ

The Hellfire is your residence, wherein you will remain except as Allah wills. Verily, your Lord is wise and knowing.

Surat al-An’am 6:128

And Allah said:

فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ شَقُوا فَفِي النَّارِ لَهُمْ فِيهَا زَفِيرٌ وَشَهِيقٌ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا مَا دَامَتِ السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالْأَرْضُ إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ رَبُّكَ ۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ فَعَّالٌ لِّمَا يُرِيدُ

As for those who were wretched, they will be in the Hellfire. For them therein is violent exhaling and inhaling, abiding therein as long as the heavens and the earth endure, except as your Lord wills.

Surat Hud 11:106-107

And Allah said:

إِنَّ جَهَنَّمَ كَانَتْ مِرْصَادًا لِّلطَّاغِينَ مَآبًا لَّابِثِينَ فِيهَا أَحْقَابًا

Verily, Hell has been lying in wait for the transgressors, a place of return, in which they will remain for ages.

Surat al-Naba 78:21-23

At-Tabari records that the mitigating phrases used in these verses were interpreted by some of the early Muslims to include everyone who will ever enter Hellfire, not only Muslims or monotheists.

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

لَيَأْتِيَنَّ عَلَى جَهَنَّمَ زَمَانٌ تُخْفِقُ أَبْوَابُهَا لَيْسَ فِيهَا أَحَدٌ وَذَلِكَ بَعْدَ مَا يَلْبَثُونَ فِيهَا أَحْقَابًا

There will come a time when the doors of Hell are blown open and there will be no one left in it. That is after they remain therein for ages.

Source: Tafsīr al-Ṭabarī 11:107

Those who accepted this view also observed that Allah frequently mentioned the uninterrupted reward of the people of Paradise, but he did not use similar phrases to describe the punishment of Hellfire. In other words, it is confirmed that Paradise is eternal and will last forever, while the same question about Hellfire is left unanswered.

Ibn Zaid, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

وَأَخْبَرَنَا بِالَّذِي يَشَاءُ لِأَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ فَقَالَ عَطَاءً غَيْرَ مَجْذُوذٍ وَلَمْ يُخْبِرْنَا بِالَّذِي يَشَاءُ لِأَهْلِ النَّارِ

Allah informed us of what he wills for the people of Paradise, so he said: A gift without end. (11:108) And he did not tell us of what he wills for the people of Hellfire.

Source: Tafsīr al-Ṭabarī 11:107

Hence, whenever the Quran says “they will abide therein” (khālidīin fīha), it is implicitly limited to however long Allah wills it to be. Their remaining in Hellfire “forever” is a rhetorical device, meaning they will be in it for ages and ages, and it does not literally mean for all of eternity.

At-Tabari records that some companions of the Prophet said:

فِي قَوْلِهِ إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ رَبُّكَ قَالَ هَذِهِ الْآيَةُ تَأْتِي عَلَى الْقُرْآنِ كُلِّهِ يَقُولُ حَيْثُ كَانَ فِي الْقُرْآنِ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا تَأْتِي عَلَيْهِ

In his saying: Except as your Lord wills (11:107), this verse covers the entire Quran. Wherever it says in the Quran that they will abide therein, it has this meaning.

Source: Tafsīr al-Ṭabarī 11:107

Ibn Al-Qayyim writes:

ولكن مجرد ذكر الخلود والتأبيد لا يقتضي عدم النهاية بل الخلود هو المكث الطويل

Rather, the mention of eternity (al-khulūd) and forever (al-ta’bīd) by itself does not necessitate that it is without end, as eternity can mean to remain for a long time.

Source: Shifā’ al-‘Alīl 1/257

The Prophet also informed us that there will be some people for whom Allah himself will intercede and take them out of the Hellfire. They will eventually be admitted into Paradise to spend eternity therein even though they never did any good deeds at all.

Abu Sa’eed reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

فَيَقُولُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ شَفَعَتْ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَشَفَعَ النَّبِيُّونَ وَشَفَعَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَلَمْ يَبْقَ إِلَّا أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ فَيَقْبِضُ قَبْضَةً مِنْ النَّارِ فَيُخْرِجُ مِنْهَا قَوْمًا لَمْ يَعْمَلُوا خَيْرًا قَطُّ قَدْ عَادُوا حُمَمًا فَيُلْقِيهِمْ فِي نَهَرٍ فِي أَفْوَاهِ الْجَنَّةِ يُقَالُ لَهُ نَهَرُ الْحَيَاةِ فَيَخْرُجُونَ كَمَا تَخْرُجُ الْحِبَّةُ فِي حَمِيلِ السَّيْلِ أَلَا تَرَوْنَهَا تَكُونُ إِلَى الْحَجَرِ أَوْ إِلَى الشَّجَرِ مَا يَكُونُ إِلَى الشَّمْسِ أُصَيْفِرُ وَأُخَيْضِرُ وَمَا يَكُونُ مِنْهَا إِلَى الظِّلِّ يَكُونُ أَبْيَضَ

Allah the Exalted will say: The angels have interceded, the prophets have interceded, the believers have interceded, and none remains to intercede but the Most Merciful of the merciful. He will take a handful from the Hellfire and bring people out of it who never did any good and who had been turned into charcoal. He will cast them into a river named the River of Life on the outskirts of Paradise. They will come out as a seed comes cut from the silt carried by the flood. You see it near a stone or tree. Whatever is exposed to the sun is yellow or green, and whatever is under the shade is white.

They said, “O Messenger of Allah, it seems as if you have been tending a flock in the jungle.” The Prophet continued:

فَيَخْرُجُونَ كَاللُّؤْلُؤِ فِي رِقَابِهِمْ الْخَوَاتِمُ يَعْرِفُهُمْ أَهْلُ الْجَنَّةِ هَؤُلَاءِ عُتَقَاءُ اللَّهِ الَّذِينَ أَدْخَلَهُمْ اللَّهُ الْجَنَّةَ بِغَيْرِ عَمَلٍ عَمِلُوهُ وَلَا خَيْرٍ قَدَّمُوهُ ثُمَّ يَقُولُ ادْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ فَمَا رَأَيْتُمُوهُ فَهُوَ لَكُمْ فَيَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا أَعْطَيْتَنَا مَا لَمْ تُعْطِ أَحَدًا مِنْ الْعَالَمِينَ فَيَقُولُ لَكُمْ عِنْدِي أَفْضَلُ مِنْ هَذَا فَيَقُولُونَ يَا رَبَّنَا أَيُّ شَيْءٍ أَفْضَلُ مِنْ هَذَا فَيَقُولُ رِضَايَ فَلَا أَسْخَطُ عَلَيْكُمْ بَعْدَهُ أَبَدًا

They will come out like pearls with seals on their necks. The people of Paradise will recognize them and say: They are those who have been freed by Allah, whom Allah has admitted into Paradise without any good deeds they have done nor any good they put forward. Then Allah will say: Enter Paradise and whatever you see therein is yours. They will say: O Lord, you have given us favors that you have not given anyone else among the worlds. Allah will say: I have a favor better than this. They will say: O Lord, what thing could be better than this? Allah will say: It is my satisfaction, for I will never be angry with you after this.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 183, Grade: Sahih

We can understand from this tradition that the purpose of Hellfire is to cleanse people of their sins and prepare them for a life of purity in Paradise. It is not simply punishment for the sake of punishment. If there is such hope that even the worst of the worst will eventually enter Paradise, then how about those who have done at least some good deeds in their lives?

Ibn Al-Qayyim mentions the arguments of scholars who believe that the punishment of Hellfire will eventually come to an end. In a long chapter, he details twenty five points and pieces of evidence they used to support this interpretation, among them an emphasis on the mercy of Allah and his wisdom.

Ibn Al-Qayyim writes:

النار خلقت تخويفا للمؤمنين وتطهيرا للخاطئين والمجرمين فهي طهرة من الخبث الذي اكتسبته النفس في هذا العالم فان تطهرت هاهنا بالتوبة النصوح والحسنات الماحية والمصائب المكفرة

The Hellfire was created to intimidate the believers and to purify the sinners and criminals. It is a means of purity from filth earned by souls in this world. It is purified in this world by means of repentance, sincerity, good deeds, atonement, calamities, and expiations.

Source: Ḥādī al-Arwāḥ 1/367

And he writes:

العفو أحب إليه سبحانه من الانتقام والرحمة أحب إليه من العقوبة والرضا أحب إليه من الغضب والفضل أحب إليه من العدل

Forgiveness is more beloved to Allah the Exalted than vengeance, mercy is more beloved to him than punishment, satisfaction is more beloved to him than anger, and favor is more beloved to him than justice.

Source: Ḥādī al-Arwāḥ 1/372

And he writes:

أنه سبحانه وتعالى اخبر إن رحمته وسعت كل شيء فليس شيء من الأشياء إلا وفيه رحمته ولا ينافي هذا

Allah the Exalted informed us that his mercy encompasses all things and there is nothing at all but that his mercy is in it and this has not been nullified.

Source: Ḥādī al-Arwāḥ 1/376

And he writes:

أنه ليس في حكمة احكم الحاكمين إن يخلق خلقا يعذبهم ابد الآباد عذابا سرمدا لا نهاية له ولا انقطاع أبدا

It is not befitting the wisdom of the Most Wise of judges that he would create someone to punish forever and ever in eternal punishment without any end or disruption.

Source: Ḥādī al-Arwāḥ 1/378

Ibn Al-Qayyim seemed to be sympathetic to this view, although he never fully endorses it. This view has always been a minority position in Islamic theology although, as he has definitively shown, it is not without a valid basis.

In the end, only Allah knows what will really happen on the Day of Resurrection and how he will deal with the sinners among his creation. We can only interpret the evidence of revelation in the best way we can, as the true extent of the reality of the Hereafter is unknown to us. What we do know for sure is that Allah is just, wise, and merciful. His justice, wisdom, and mercy will be fulfilled in the Hereafter in ways we cannot even imagine.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.

‘Malaika’ (Forces of Nature)

The following excerpt is taken from “Lamp of Islam” (Link)

To human bow down all the ‘Forces’, except the ‘Evil Force’ inside his mind

Clearly, thanks to this vocabulary – which is related to the special, human faculty of logical definition (55:3-4) – man is superior to and is gradually becoming capable of harnessing all the observable and hidden ‘controlling Forces of nature’ (‘malaika’), which are commanded by the Divinity to PROSTRATE themselves to man (2:34).

However, out of all the ‘controlling Forces’ (‘malaika’), there is one that makes an exception: the hidden, evil Force inside human mind that refuses to bow down to human (2:34).

It is difficult to avoid the impression that IBLIS in 2:34-36 – which refuses to bow down to Adam and misguides him – is a metaphor for all the overpowering, negative forces intrinsic in human psyche, i.e. the Devilish urge inside man, as described in a previous verse in the context (2:14). These uncontrollable, destructive emotions are burning in relation to sound reasoning, as if they are ‘made of fire (7:12).

Thus this invisible Devil residing in Adam’s inner self is described in the Quran as ‘hidden’ (‘jinn’, 18:50) and one of the ‘controlling Forces’ (‘malaika’, 2:34).

A QUESTION MISINTERPRETED THROUGHOUT THE CENTURIES

While reading the allegory of Adam in the Quran, the readers often get puzzled: “How would the ‘angels’ know about future atrocities and bloodshed?”

Now, the question posed by the Malaika (‘divinely guided natural Forces’, though traditionally misconceived as ‘winged angels’) in 2:30 has been traditionally translated in FUTURE TENSE: ‘Will You establish therein one who will spread corruption therein and will shed blood?

So the question posed by the Malaika (‘atajAAalu feeha man yufsidu feeha wayasfiku alddimaa’), when thus translated in future tense, has classically raised the wrong theological question:

‘How would the Malaika, who have no foreknowledge about the future, know about future atrocities and bloodshed?’

However, looking at the verbs in the question, we cannot see any reason why we should not simply and preferably keep their translation in PRESENT TENSE: ‘Do you establish therein one who spreads corruption therein and sheds blood? Please note that a few translators in IslamAwakened also have chosen this translation in present tense.

Then the question posed by the Malaika, when the translation is thus left in present tense, refers to modern man (Homo sapiens) – a successor of his anthropoid ancestors (cf. 6:133, 70:39-41, 56:58-62) – as a divinely authorized inheritor of Earth, who is already present on Earth (‘who spreads corruption therein and sheds blood’) and whose ‘aggressive nature’ concerns the witnessing ‘natural Forces’ about the ‘violence and atrocities’ humans are inclined to.

Please note: It is not a question that was asked by the natural Forces only once, or only in the past. As a query and a concern ongoing, it is a constantly recurring question being asked by them throughout the history of mankind (Adam).

READING THE QUESTION IN ITS CONTEXT

Let us read the question in its context:

And when your Sustainer said to the Forces: Indeed I am establishing upon Earth an inheritor, they said: Do You establish therein one who spreads corruption therein and sheds blood, while we, we hymn Your praise and sanctify You? He said: Surely I know that which you know not. 2:30

It is interesting to observe that the active participle ‘jaAAilun’ (‘establishing’; cf. ‘innee jaAAilun’,Indeed I am establishing’) in the above actually describes a CONTINUOUS PROCESS, which has already started and is ongoing, rather than a planned project of the future.

In other words – because ‘jaAAilun’ refers to past and present as much as it refers to future – ‘establishing an inheritor’ is not just one time action, it is a process. This concept is fully consistent with the evolutionary perspective: Man is in an evolutionary process of getting established on Earth.

Moreover, the clear mention of blood and the shedding of it further suggest that the question simply refers to an already existing creature of our planet – who is in an evolutionary process of getting established on Earth – rather than a future creature on it or any similar creature in another part of the Universe.

Thus ‘Do You establish therein one who spreads corruption therein and sheds blood?’ is not a question that was asked by the natural Forces only once, or only in the past. It is a constantly recurring question being asked by them throughout the history of mankind – every time with creation of every human (Adam).

Consider all those forces of nature carrying out the divine command to create a baby human (an Adam) in its mother’s womb. Consider this in macro and micro- levels, in all molecular, atomic and subatomic levels. Then just imagine this question is being asked, metaphorically, by all those forces – including physical, chemical and biological.

As Adam belongs to past no more than s/he belongs to present and future, so is the question about Adam.

It is a question asked in the past, being asked in the present and will continue to be asked in the future. It is a query and a concern ongoing.

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