وَ اُتۡبِعُوۡا فِیۡ ہٰذِہٖ لَعۡنَۃً وَّ یَوۡمَ الۡقِیٰمَۃِ ؕ بِئۡسَ الرِّفۡدُ الۡمَرۡفُوۡدُ ﴿۱۰۰﴾
وَأُتۡبِعُواْ فِي هَٰذِهِۦ لَعۡنَةٗ وَيَوۡمَ ٱلۡقِيَٰمَةِۚ بِئۡسَ ٱلرِّفۡدُ ٱلۡمَرۡفُودُ
a. 28:43. (close)
1344. Rifd meaning a gift or support or aid (Lane), the verse may signify that Pharaoh, whom his people regarded as their support against God will prove an evil support for them on the Day of Resurrection, for he not only will land them into Hell, but himself will go into it with them. (close)
a. 28:43. (close)
1480. Important Words:
رفد (gift) and المرفود (which will be given them) are both derived from رفد (rafada). They say رفدہ i.e. he gave him, or he gave him a gift; he aided, helped or assisted him; he aided or assisted him by a gift or by a good saying or by some other thing. رفد الحائط means, he propped up or supported the wall. رفد means, a gift or a gratuity; aid, help or assistance by a gift, etc.; a lot, share or portion. رافد means, giver of a gift; aider or helper. مرفود which is the passive participle from this root, means, he who is given a gift, etc.; or that which is given as a gift, etc. (Lane & Aqrab).
The word لعنة (curse) is not used here as a term of abuse, but in its original sense of "driving away" or "casting away by way of punishment" (Mufradat). The verse would therefore mean that, as these people remained away from God in the present life, so, as a punishment, they will be kept away from Him in the life to come. The moral of the verse is that by following in the footsteps of a wicked man, one is disgraced both in this life and the next.
The word رفد (lit. gift or support or aid) may also refer to Pharaoh. In this case the verse would mean that Pharaoh whom his people took as their means of support against God proved an evil support for them; for he not only landed them into Hell, but himself went into the Fire with them. (close)
ذٰلِکَ مِنۡ اَنۡۢبَآءِ الۡقُرٰی نَقُصُّہٗ عَلَیۡکَ مِنۡہَا قَآئِمٌ وَّ حَصِیۡدٌ ﴿۱۰۱﴾
ذَٰلِكَ مِنۡ أَنۢبَآءِ ٱلۡقُرَىٰ نَقُصُّهُۥ عَلَيۡكَۖ مِنۡهَا قَآئِمٞ وَحَصِيدٞ
b. 20:100. (close)
a. 20:100. (close)
1481. Important Words:
قری (cities) is the plural of قریة and means, (1) the people of the towns; or (2) the towns themselves (Aqrab).
حصید (mown down like the harvest) is derived from حصد. They say حصد الزرع i.e. he reaped or cut the harvest with a scythe. حصد القوم بالسیف means, he mowed down the people with the sword. The proverb من زرع الشر حصد الندامة means, he who sows evil reaps remorse. حصید means, reaped seed-produce; mown down with the sword like reaped seed-produce; an harvest that is cut or mown down; also the lower part of the harvest which remains after the latter is cut down (Lane & Aqrab). See also 6:142.
In the first mentioned sense of the word قری the word قائم (standing) would mean that the progeny of these peoples lived after them and thus, as it were, continued to stand; and in the latter sense it would mean that the remains of some of these towns are still to be found while others have become totally extinct. Similarly, in this sense the word حصید (mown down like the harvest) would mean "a people who have become totally or nearly extinct." If, however, the word قری is taken in the sense of "towns," the word حصید would signify, "towns whose traces have become wholly or nearly extinct."
The verse means that the remains of some of the towns mentioned are still extant, while others have become wholly or nearly obliterated. Consequently, if the ruins of some of the towns mentioned in this Surah cannot be found, the truth of the Quranic narratives cannot be called into question, because the Quran itself uses the word حصید (mown down) with regard to them. If, however, in some future time, archaeologists succeed in discovering the ruins of some towns now extinct, the Quranic account would still be beyond doubt, for the word حصید (mown down) is also used with regard to a harvest that has been cut down with a scythe, the lower part of which still remains visible. See also 10:25. (close)
وَ مَا ظَلَمۡنٰہُمۡ وَ لٰکِنۡ ظَلَمُوۡۤا اَنۡفُسَہُمۡ فَمَاۤ اَغۡنَتۡ عَنۡہُمۡ اٰلِہَتُہُمُ الَّتِیۡ یَدۡعُوۡنَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰہِ مِنۡ شَیۡءٍ لَّمَّا جَآءَ اَمۡرُ رَبِّکَ ؕ وَ مَا زَادُوۡہُمۡ غَیۡرَ تَتۡبِیۡبٍ ﴿۱۰۲﴾
وَمَا ظَلَمۡنَٰهُمۡ وَلَٰكِن ظَلَمُوٓاْ أَنفُسَهُمۡۖ فَمَآ أَغۡنَتۡ عَنۡهُمۡ ءَالِهَتُهُمُ ٱلَّتِي يَدۡعُونَ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ مِن شَيۡءٖ لَّمَّا جَآءَ أَمۡرُ رَبِّكَۖ وَمَا زَادُوهُمۡ غَيۡرَ تَتۡبِيبٖ
c. 3:118; 16:34. (close)
1345. The Qur’an repeatedly emphasizes the fact that God never punishes a people unjustly and that it is their own misdeeds that bring down punishment upon them. It denies the theory of predestination or of man’s being the victim of a blind fate. It also contradicts the view that God makes nations rise and fall arbitrarily, without a just or real cause. This is why, wherever it speaks of punishment, it does not fail to add that punishment or reward is the result of man’s own doings. (close)
a. 3:118; 16:34. (close)
The Quran repeatedly emphasizes the fact that God never punishes a people unjustly and that it is their own misdeeds that bring down punishment upon them. It denies the theory of predestination or of man’s being the victim of a blind fate. It also contradicts the view that God makes nations rise and fall arbitrarily, without just or real cause. This is why, wherever the Quran speaks of punishment, it does not fail to add that punishments or rewards are the results of men’s own doing. This is what is hinted at in the words, And We did not wrong them but they wronged themselves.
The verse also points out that of all things it is their idols that are of absolutely no use to idolaters. All other things in nature such as fire, snakes, poisons, etc. have their uses. The swords of disbelievers were also of some service to them, because with them they killed some Muslims, but what proved of entirely no use to the idolaters were their gods, upon whom they had staked their whole future.
The words, and they added to them naught but perdition, do not contradict the well-known Quranic dictum that idols can do disbelievers neither good nor evil, for where the Quran denies that idols can do harm, it is intentional harm that is meant; but where it says that idols do serious harm to their votaries, as in the present verse, it means involuntary or unintentional harm, for what greater sin there can be than committing shirk, (idol-worship) of which idols are the unconscious cause.
The words "but perdition" also point to the moral that shirk generally renders idolaters lax in their efforts to better their condition and thus is indirectly instrumental in bringing about their eventual destruction. When at the Fall of Mecca, some of the idolaters who, on account of their most atrocious crimes against Muslims were proscribed from the general amnesty, took shelter in the Ka‘bah, thinking that the idols therein would protect them, they were ordered by the Holy Prophet to be slain. Had they known that their idols could render them no help whatsoever, they would have sought safety in flight. Thus the words "but perdition" hint that شرك (idol-worship) renders its votaries lax and negligent. (close)
وَ کَذٰلِکَ اَخۡذُ رَبِّکَ اِذَاۤ اَخَذَ الۡقُرٰی وَ ہِیَ ظَالِمَۃٌ ؕ اِنَّ اَخۡذَہٗۤ اَلِیۡمٌ شَدِیۡدٌ ﴿۱۰۳﴾
وَكَذَٰلِكَ أَخۡذُ رَبِّكَ إِذَآ أَخَذَ ٱلۡقُرَىٰ وَهِيَ ظَٰلِمَةٌۚ إِنَّ أَخۡذَهُۥٓ أَلِيمٞ شَدِيدٌ
a. 54:43; 85:13. (close)
This verse gives the reason why all the foregoing events—the destruction of the people of Noah down to Moses have been related. The reason is that when the punishment of God overtakes a people, they are simply annihilated. The enemies of the Holy Prophet are told by implication that they should take warning from the fate of the opponents of former Prophets.
The word ظالمة (doing wrong) is used here in the sense of مشرکة (those who associate gods with God). The word ظلم (wrong) has been used in the sense of شرك (idol-worship) at several places in the Quran. What is meant to be conveyed here is that the punishment which overtakes a people when they become idolaters and lose faith in the Unity of God is most destructive and generally extirpatory, while the ruin which comes upon a people from natural causes is gradual. (close)
اِنَّ فِیۡ ذٰلِکَ لَاٰیَۃً لِّمَنۡ خَافَ عَذَابَ الۡاٰخِرَۃِ ؕ ذٰلِکَ یَوۡمٌ مَّجۡمُوۡعٌ ۙ لَّہُ النَّاسُ وَ ذٰلِکَ یَوۡمٌ مَّشۡہُوۡدٌ ﴿۱۰۴﴾
إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَأٓيَةٗ لِّمَنۡ خَافَ عَذَابَ ٱلۡأٓخِرَةِۚ ذَٰلِكَ يَوۡمٞ مَّجۡمُوعٞ لَّهُ ٱلنَّاسُ وَذَٰلِكَ يَوۡمٞ مَّشۡهُودٞ
b. 14:15. (close)
1346. 'sign' means, 'a lesson.' (close)
1347. Man is not wholly independent. He is influenced by his environment, education and heredity; so in order to judge rightly a particular action of his it is necessary to take into consideration all the conditions and circumstances which lead to and influence it. Hence, for the full realization of the true nature of man’s actions and to show that the seemingly unfair and inexplicable determination in dealing out different punishments and rewards to different persons by God is not capricious or arbitrary but perfectly just and fair, being based on the extent to which the individual is independent or free in his actions, it was necessary that there should have been fixed a certain day when all men should assemble, attended by all conditions and circumstances under which they worked and the various causes and reasons that led to their actions, so that these circumstances and causes may be jointly considered while determining the nature of their rewards and punishments. (close)
The word "sign" is not used here in the sense of "proof" of the Day of Judgement but in the sense of "a lesson." The verse thus means that those who believe in the punishment of the future life can alone learn a lesson from the events related above. When such people witness heavenly visitations in this life, they are naturally reminded of the punishment of the life to come and, being actuated by Divine fear, they begin to strive more earnestly for the future life.
The words, for which all mankind shall be gathered together, signify that a day fixed for holding judgement is necessary for the moral and spiritual development and perfection of man. It is not therefore a means to an end but an end in itself. The assembling of men on that day is not accidental. It is deliberate and serves a definite and useful purpose.
In fact, as it appears from the Quran, human actions are not quite independent, but are influenced by environment and heredity; and, in order to judge a particular action rightly, it is necessary to take into consideration all the conditions and circumstances which lead to and influence it. So, for the full realization of the true nature of a man’s actions and to show that the seemingly unfair and inexplicable discrimination in dealing out different punishments and rewards to different persons is not capricious and arbitrary but perfectly just and fair, being based on the extent to which the individual is independent and free in his actions, it is necessary that there should be fixed a certain day when all men should assemble with all the conditions and circumstances under which they worked and the various causes and reasons that led to their actions, so that these circumstances and causes may be jointly considered while determining the nature of their rewards and punishments. Thus it may become apparent to all that no injustice or unfairness was observed in meting out those punishments and rewards. (close)
وَ مَا نُؤَخِّرُہٗۤ اِلَّا لِاَجَلٍ مَّعۡدُوۡدٍ ﴿۱۰۵﴾ؕ
وَمَا نُؤَخِّرُهُۥٓ إِلَّا لِأَجَلٖ مَّعۡدُودٖ
1348. Ajal, meaning both a period and the end of a period, is of two kinds, (a) that which is revocable or cancellable, and (b) that which is not revoked or cancelled. The revocable "term" moves within a known circle within which it is liable to change according to circumstances. For instance, the age of a man has certain limits; it can decrease or increase within those limits. But the "term" which cannot be abrogated and is irrevocable concerns the destruction of a whole people. (close)
اجل (term) which means both a period and the end of a period, is of two kinds: (a) that which can be averted and (b) that which cannot be averted. The "term" that can be averted moves within a known circle which it cannot overstep; within its circle, however, this "term" is liable to change according to circumstances. For instance, the age of a man has certain limits; it can decrease or increase within those limits; but it cannot go beyond them. But the "term" which cannot be averted concerns the destruction of the world. This term is fixed and irrevocable. (close)
یَوۡمَ یَاۡتِ لَا تَکَلَّمُ نَفۡسٌ اِلَّا بِاِذۡنِہٖ ۚ فَمِنۡہُمۡ شَقِیٌّ وَّ سَعِیۡدٌ ﴿۱۰۶﴾
يَوۡمَ يَأۡتِ لَا تَكَلَّمُ نَفۡسٌ إِلَّا بِإِذۡنِهِۦۚ فَمِنۡهُمۡ شَقِيّٞ وَسَعِيدٞ
a. 78:39. (close)
a. 78:39. (close)
1486. Important Words:
شقی (unfortunate) means, unprosperous, unfortunate, unhappy or miserable; or in a state of straitness, distress, adversity or difficulty. According to Ar-Raghib شقاوة (unprosperousness, etc.) is of two kinds: (a) اخرویة i.e. that relating to the world to come, and (b) دنیویة i.e. that relating to the present world; and the latter is of three kinds: (1) نفسیة i.e. relating to the soul; (2) بدنیة i.e. relating to the body and (3) خارجیة i.e. relating to external circumstances (Lane).
سعید (fortunate) means, prosperous, fortunate, happy or in a state of felicity. Ar-Raghib also divides سعادة (prosperity, etc.) as he describes شقاوة for which see note on شقی above (Lane).
The verse signifies that the day referred to in v. 104 above is the Day of Retribution when judgement will be set up and none will dare speak in his defence except by the command of God, because on that awful day everyone will have fully realized that any pleading or protesting before the Omniscient God is useless. But God, out of His great mercy, will Himself ask the guilty to adduce excuses calculated to mitigate their own offences or the offences of their companions and to bring their virtuous deeds into greater relief. This will result in clearer classification of the wicked and the virtuous. (close)
فَاَمَّا الَّذِیۡنَ شَقُوۡا فَفِی النَّارِ لَہُمۡ فِیۡہَا زَفِیۡرٌ وَّ شَہِیۡقٌ ﴿۱۰۷﴾ۙ
فَأَمَّا ٱلَّذِينَ شَقُواْ فَفِي ٱلنَّارِ لَهُمۡ فِيهَا زَفِيرٞ وَشَهِيقٌ
b. 21:101. (close)
1349. Zafir means, the beginning of the cry of an ass and Shahiq is the ending thereof (Lane). The disbelievers have been likened in the verse to an ass which is a timid and stupid animal, signifying that they have not the courage of their convictions and do not benefit by knowledge. (close)
a. 21:101. (close)
1487. Important Words:
زفیر (sighing) is the noun-infinitive from زفر which means, he drew in his breath vehemently, so that his ribs became pushed out; or he drew in his breath to the utmost by reason of distress; or he sent forth his breath with a prolonged sound; he sighed or uttered a long sigh or sighed vehemently; or he groaned; or he breathed, raising his voice like one moaning or in grief. They say زفرت النار i.e. the fire made a sound by its burning or its fierce burning. زفر الحمار means, the ass brayed. زفیر means, the sound of drawing in of breath by reason of distress; sighing; beginning of the cry of an ass; the sound of burning fire (Lane & Aqrab).
شھیق (sobbing) is derived from شھق which means, it rose high or became high or elevated or lofty; or he (an ass) uttered the ending of his braying or the final sounds thereof. They say شھق الرجل i.e. the sound of weeping became reiterated in his chest. شھق الحمار means, the ass uttered the ending of his braying or the final sound thereof; the ass brayed. شھیق signifies, the ending or final part of the crying or braying of an ass, whereas زفیر signifies the beginning thereof. شھیق also signifies a high-sounding moaning; a cry of distress (Lane & Aqrab).
By using about disbelievers the words زفیر and شھیق which are particularly used for the braying of an ass, the verse compares them to this timid and stupid animal. A big load of books carried on the back of an ass, says the Quran (62:6), does not make him learned. So do those who are indifferent to truth remain destitute of true knowledge and spirituality even if they are crammed with book lore. Similarly, like an ass which, according to the Quran, is a timid animal (74:51, 52), disbelievers have not the courage of their conviction. They fail to accept the truth either because they refuse to derive any benefit from God-given knowledge or because they have not the courage to accept what they believe to be the truth. The words زفیر and شھیق also signify sighing and moaning by reason of distress. (close)
خٰلِدِیۡنَ فِیۡہَا مَا دَامَتِ السَّمٰوٰتُ وَ الۡاَرۡضُ اِلَّا مَا شَآءَ رَبُّکَ ؕ اِنَّ رَبَّکَ فَعَّالٌ لِّمَا یُرِیۡدُ ﴿۱۰۸﴾
خَٰلِدِينَ فِيهَا مَا دَامَتِ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتُ وَٱلۡأَرۡضُ إِلَّا مَا شَآءَ رَبُّكَۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ فَعَّالٞ لِّمَا يُرِيدُ
c. 78:24. (close)
1350. The Quranic expression is an idiom signifying a very prolonged period. The Qur’an teaches that the punishment of Hell is not eternal. (close)
a. 78:24. (close)
See next verse. (close)
وَ اَمَّا الَّذِیۡنَ سُعِدُوۡا فَفِی الۡجَنَّۃِ خٰلِدِیۡنَ فِیۡہَا مَا دَامَتِ السَّمٰوٰتُ وَ الۡاَرۡضُ اِلَّا مَا شَآءَ رَبُّکَ ؕ عَطَآءً غَیۡرَ مَجۡذُوۡذٍ ﴿۱۰۹﴾
۞وَأَمَّا ٱلَّذِينَ سُعِدُواْ فَفِي ٱلۡجَنَّةِ خَٰلِدِينَ فِيهَا مَا دَامَتِ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتُ وَٱلۡأَرۡضُ إِلَّا مَا شَآءَ رَبُّكَۖ عَطَآءً غَيۡرَ مَجۡذُوذٖ
d. 15:49. (close)
1351. According to the Hindu religion, both Heaven and Hell (i.e. rewards and punishments) possess a limited duration; and man, after undergoing the punishment, or reaping the reward of his deeds is sent back to this world. Of the Semitic religions, Judaism denies Paradise to non-Jews while Jews are regarded as almost free from the torture of Hell. According to Christians, both Heaven and Hell are eternal, although some of their sects hold the belief that Heaven will at last come to an end (Tafsir-e-Kabir). Islam fundamentally differs from all these religions in this respect. According to it Heaven is eternal and everlasting, while Hell is temporary and of limited duration. Imam Ahmad bin Hambal quotes a saying of the Holy Prophet, as reported by ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin al-‘As to the effect: 'There will come on Hell a day when its shutters will strike against each other and there will be none left in it. That will happen after the inmates of Hell will have lived in it for centuries' (Musnad). According to this tradition, the word Khalidin (abiding) used with regard to Hell only means 'remaining for long centuries.' ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar and Jabir agree with Imam Hanbal. Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri also quotes an identical Hadith (Bukhari). Some eminent religious authorities, among them Ibn-e-Taimiyyah & Ibn-e-Qayyim, however, hold that though wicked disbelievers will deserve to be kept in Hell for ever, Hell itself will one day cease to exist through God’s mercy, and when there is no Hell, there will naturally be no inmates of Hell (Fath). The Qur’an has used the words, a reward that will never end (41:9; 84:26; 95:7) about Heaven but no such expression has been used with regard to Hell. Moreover, in vv. 101:10-12, Hell is compared to a mother, and the embryo remains in the mother’s womb until the child’s body is formed and its different organs become complete. Similarly, those unfortunate persons who are cast into Hell will remain there till their faculties are fully developed so as to enable them to see the beautiful face of the Lord. (close)
b. 15:49. (close)
1489. Important Words:
غیر مجذوذ (that shall not be cut off). مجذوذ is derived from جذ. They say جذہ i.e. he cut it off; or he cut it off utterly; or he cut it off utterly and quickly; or he cut it repeatedly or in many pieces; he broke it. غیر مجذوذ means, (a gift, etc.) not cut short or not interrupted i.e. continuous and everlasting (Lane & Aqrab).
The present verse and that which precedes it throw light on an important question in which Islam differs from other religions, viz. the question of salvation.
According to the Hindu religion, both Heaven and Hell (i.e. reward and punishment) possess a limited duration; and man, after undergoing the punishment, or reaping the reward, of his deeds, is sent back to this world. Although some Hindu sects disagree among themselves regarding certain details, they are all agreed on the fundamental principle that both the punishments and rewards of the next world are temporary. Of the Semitic religions, Judaism denies Paradise to all non-Jews while Jews are regarded as almost free from the torture of Hell, for, according to Judaism, no Jew will remain in Hell for more than 11 months, whereas non-Jews will abide in it forever. According to Christians, both Heaven and Hell are eternal, although some of their sects hold the belief that Heaven will at last come to an end (Tafsir-e-Kabir). Islam, however, fundamentally differs from all these religions. The great leaders of Muslim religious thought in the past have generally believed and Hadrat Ahmad, the Promised Messiah, in our own age has particularly insisted that Heaven is eternal and everlasting, while Hell is temporary and of limited duration. The sayings of the Holy Prophet support this view. For instance, Ahmad bin Hanbal quotes a saying of the Holy Prophet, as reported by ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin al-‘As to the effect:
لیاتین علی جھنم یوم تصفق فیه ابوابھا لیس فیه احد و ذلك بعد ما یلبثون فیھا احقابا
i.e. "There will come on Hell a day when its shutters will strike against each other and there will be none in it. That will happen after the inmates of Hell will have lived in it for centuries" (Musnad). Thus, according to this tradition, the word خالدین (abiding) used with regard to Hell only means "remaining for long centuries". The same view was held by Ibn Mas‘ud and Abu Hurairah. According to Ibn Taimiyyah, ‘Umar, Ibn ‘Abbas, Anas and many commentators are of the same opinion.
With reference to the word خالدین (abiding) used in the Quran in connection with Hell some eminent religious authorities think that it does mean "abiding forever". They however, hold that though wicked disbelievers will deserve to be kept in Hell forever, Hell itself will one day cease to exist through God’s mercy, and when there is no Hell, there will naturally be no dwellers in it. Among the supporters of this view are Ibn Taimiyyah and Ibn al-Qayyim (Fath).
The saying of the Holy Prophet quoted above on the authority of ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr, is also reported by AbuHurairah, which fact adds to its weight and authenticity. In another tradition Ibn Mas‘ud says: لیاتین علیھا زمان تخفق ابوابھا i.e. "There will certainly come upon Hell a time when its shutters will strike against each other," meaning that it will be untenanted. Jabir, Abu Sa‘id Khudri and ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar are also reported to have made a similar statement (Fath).
Abu Sa‘id Khudri quotes a long hadith of the Holy Prophet which clearly shows that Hell is not eternal. According to this tradition the Holy Prophet is reported to have said that on the Day of Judgement God would give permission to different high-placed persons to intercede for sinners. At last common believers also will be given permission to intercede on their behalf. At first, they will intercede for those whom they know. Then, with God’s permission, they will also intercede for other sinners who have some faith left in their hearts, until at last they will intercede even for those who have only a grain of faith in their hearts. Then only those will be left behind in Hell who had never done anything good. Then will God say: "The angels have interceded, and the Prophets and the Faithful have interceded and now it is My turn, the Most Merciful of the merciful ones." Then will God take a handful from the Fire and take out of it even those who never had done any good deed (Bukhari & Muslim).
This hadith hints that finally a time will come when everyone will be taken out of Hell, for when even those who never did any good deed are removed from the Fire, who else will remain behind? Moreover, God’s handful is not a physical thing. The word implies indefinite comprehensiveness and nothing can be considered to have been left out of it. It also appears from this saying that sinners will be punished first for their sins and, when they have been washed of their sins, they will be rewarded for their good deeds which, till then, will have been kept in reserve. The verse, whoso does good an atom’s weight will see it (99:8), also points to the same conclusion.
The different traditions quoted above show that many Companions of the Holy Prophet and their immediate successors held the view that Hell is not eternal and the Quran also supports this view. The following are some of the Quranic proofs in support of it:
(1) Though the words, excepting what thy Lord may will, have been used with regard to both Heaven and Hell (vv. 108 & 109), in the case of Heaven the words, a gift that shall not be cut off, have been specifically added in v.109 in order to show that there is no limitation upon the eternity of Heaven. In the case of Hell, on the other hand, they are followed by the clause, Surely thy Lord does bring about what He pleases (v. 108). These words are very emphatic and imply that the inmates of Hell must necessarily be taken out of Hell one day. If they were not to be taken out of Hell at all it was unnecessary to make the declaration so emphatic by using three words of emphasis, viz. ان (surely) ربك (thy Lord) and فعال (does bring about), the last word being the intensive form of فاعل and meaning the Great Doer of things that others cannot do.
Again, if Hell, like Heaven, was to be eternal, then its mention should also have been followed by some such words as "a punishment that shall not be cut off". It is true that as about Hell, so with regard to Heaven, it has been said that its inmates will abide in it as long as God wills, but in the case of the dwellers of Heaven it has been clearly added that God’s eternal will is that they should never be deprived of this favour and that their stay in Heaven should know no end. But no such declaration has been made with regard to Hell. This differentiation is so clear that even Ibn Hajr, whose view is opposed to Ibn Taimiyyah’s with regard to Hell being not eternal, has been compelled to admit that whereas with regard to the inmates of Heaven God has made known His will which is that they shall abide therein forever, with respect to the dwellers of Hell He has remained silent. But even the statement that God has remained silent with regard to the inmates of Hell is not correct, for by saying, Surely thy Lord does bring about what He wills, the Quran declares that in the case of the inmates of Hell God will carry out His wish which is implied in the words, excepting what thy Lord may will.
(2) The second evidence of the limited duration of Hell is furnished by the words الا من رحم ربك و لذالک خلقھم i.e. except those to whom thy Lord shall show mercy and for this has He created them (11:120). It has been admitted by eminent authorities such as Ibn ‘Abbas, Ta’us, Mujahid, Dahhak, Qatadah, and ‘Ikrimah that the pronoun ذالك (this) in the above words refers to رحمة (mercy) meaning that God has created men in order to show mercy to them (Kathir, Manthur and Tahavi). Now, if it be supposed that some men will remain in Hell forever and will never be taken out of it, then these wretched people cannot be said to have been shown any mercy.
(3) Whereas elsewhere in the Quran one meets with such expressions about Heaven as, they will surely have a reward that will never end (41:9; 84:26; 95:7), no such expression has been used with regard to Hell, which points to a clear distinction between the duration of the rewards of Heaven and the punishment of Hell.
(4) The Quranic expression رحمتی وسعت کل شیء i.e. My mercy encompasses all things (7:157), also shows that the punishment of Hell is only an intermediate condition and a transitory state and that even those whom God punishes will in the end become covered by His mercy and will be forgiven. The above expression represents God’s mercy as comprehending not only all human beings, but also all other things. The same idea is expressed in 40:8, where it is said that God comprehends all things in His mercy and knowledge. If it be supposed that certain persons can remain out of the mercy of God by being subjected to everlasting punishment, it will have to be admitted that certain things can also escape the knowledge of God, for knowledge and mercy have been mentioned in the verse side by side. But it is absurd to suppose that anything can escape the knowledge of God; therefore it is equally absurd to believe that any thing will remain permanently deprived of God’s mercy.
It should, however, be remembered that temporary punishment is not inconsistent with Divine mercy. The very fact that punishment is to last for a limited period shows that it will be reformatory; and it is clear that punishment which is meant to be reformatory is only a manifestation of Divine mercy, from which no human being can remain deprived even for a single moment. This is contradictory to the belief in the eternity of Hell.
(5) The following verses of the Quran also support this view: I have created the jinn and men only that they may serve Me (51:57), and Enter then among My servants and enter then My garden (89:30, 31). Now if all men in the end are to become God’s servants, for man cannot permanently be kept away from the object for which he has been created, and if all God’s servants will eventually enter Heaven the falsity of the view that Hell is eternal becomes quite clear.
(6) The sixth evidence of the limited character of Hell is to be found in the verse, Whoso does an atom’s weight of good will see it (99:8). Now a mere alleviation of punishment cannot be truly called the "seeing" of one’s good works. Hence, in order that men should see their works in completion i.e. should meet with the reward of their good actions, it is necessary that they should first be punished for their evil deeds by way of reformation and should afterwards receive the reward of their good actions.
(7) The verse, As for him whose scales are light, Hell will be his mother (101:9,10), constitutes further strong evidence in support of the view that Hell is not eternal. In this verse Hell is compared to a mother and it is well known that the child does not remain in the mother’s womb forever. It only remains there until the formation of its body and organs become complete. Similarly, those unfortunate persons who are cast into Hell will remain there until the time when the faculties which fit them for seeing the beautiful face of the Lord have become fully developed. This verse thus makes it clear that Hell is not eternal and that the word خالدین (abiding) in the verse under comment does not denote an unending time but only a long time as is also clear from the verse, who will tarry therein for ages (78:24).
The words, So long as the heavens and the earth endure, only mean "so long as the heaven and the earth of Paradise and Hell last"; so when Hell came to an end, heaven and earth will also naturally cease to exist. (close)