Ayaat 13-22 – a Tour of Jannah and Attributes of Righteous Servants
In these ayaat the tour of Jannah continues.
We continue to read about the people of Paradise and the eternal delights that they will experience as well as the comprehensive favors that they will be given.
Ibn Katheer explains that al-Ara’ik [الاٌّرَائِكِ] are the couches beneath curtained canopies. There the Abrar will neither be disturbed by the heat of sun nor experience bitterness of winter. Rather there will be only one climate – a moderate pleasant climate that will not change. The fruits of the trees will be hanging low such that whenever they attempt to eat any fruit, it will come nearer to them coming down from its highest branch as if it understands the human hearts. Mujahid commented, “If he stands it will rise with him an equal amount, if he sits it will lower itself for him so that he can reach it and if he lies down it will lower itself for him more so that he can reach it.”
Servants will go around them with containers of food made of silver and cups of drink. These are drinking vessels that do not have handles or spouts. Qawareera [قَوَارِيرَاْ] is the plural of qaruratun which is from the root qaf-ra-ra and it means ‘glasses or crystals.’ These vessels of drink will although be made of silver but in transparency they resemble a glass or crystal such that their content will be visible from the outside. This is among the things of which there is nothing like in this world.
The Abrar will determine the amount that will quench their thirst. And when the drinks are served to them they will neither be more nor less than their stated amount, rather it will be prepared in an amount that is suitable for quenching the thirst of their drinkers. This is the most excellent provision, distinction and honor.
“And they will be given to drink there a cup (of wine) mixed with Zanjabeel,” (76: 17). Zanjabeel is ginger. This has been mentioned to suit the taste of the Arabs who liked the wine flavored with ginger-mixed water. But this flavoring will not be achieved by adding ginger-mixed water to it. It will from a natural fountain, Salsabeel, which will have the flavor of ginger but without its bitterness. Salsabeel implies such water as flows gently and pleasantly down the throat on account of its being sweet, light and palatable.
So on one occasion they will be given a drink that is mixed with camphor, and it is cool. Then on another occasion they will be given a drink mixed with ginger, and it is hot. This is so that their affair will be balanced. However, those who are nearest to Allah, they will drink from all of it however they wish.
Young boys from the boys of Paradise will go around serving the people of Paradise. They will have ever-lasting youth. Their state will never change. About them it was said, “If you see them, you would think them scattered pearls,” (76: 19) meaning when you see them dispersing to fulfill the needs of their masters, their great number, their beautiful faces, handsome colors, fine clothing and ornaments, you would think that they were scattered pearls.
The delight of Paradise and its beauty, its vastness, its loftiness and the joy and happiness it contains cannot be imagined. The great dominion here refers to the great kingdom that belongs to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, a dazzling, splendid dominion.
Then we read about the two types of garments that the people of Paradise will wear: sundus [سُندُس] and istabraq [إِسْتَبْرَقٌ]. Sundus is a high quality silk while istabraq is heavy brocade. Both are well-known, fine clothing. And that is not enough, “They will be adorned with bracelets of silver,” (76: 21).
After Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala mentions the outward beautification with silk and ornaments, He then says, “their Lord will give them a pure drink,” meaning, it will purify their insides of envy, despise, hatred, harm and the other reprehensible character traits. ‘Ali bin Abi Talib radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “When the people of Paradise come to the Gate of Paradise, they will find two springs there. Then it will be as if they were inspired with what to do, so they will drink from one of them and Allah will remove whatever harmfulness there may be within them. Then they will bathe in the other spring and a glow of delight will run all over them. Thus, Allah informs of their outward condition and their inner beauty.”
Then it will be said to them that this is a reward for them and their endeavor has been accepted. This implies the entire lifework that a person accomplished in the world, the works and objectives to which he applied his energies and abilities; and its being mashkoor means that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has appreciated it. Shukr when expressed by the servant to God implies his gratefulness to Him for His blessings, and when it is expressed by God for the servant, it means that He has appreciated his services. It is indeed highly kind of the Master that He should appreciate the endeavors of the servant when the servant has only carried out his duties according to the Master’s will.