Ayaat 36-44 ― Does Every Man Hope to Enter Paradise?
Before we study the ayaat let’s understand their brief historical background.
In the initial days of Islam, the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam kept his da’wah private for three years. He would invite people to Islam through private communications only. When a number of people had entered Islam and started accepting it as their religion, the da’wah efforts became public. The unbelievers feared loss of their leadership and authority should the new religion spread. In order to nip it they bribed people to do character assassination of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and imprisoned and tortured his Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum. Through their atrocities and evil tricks they wanted to stop other people from embracing Islam. They would also not spare the Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam himself. They would hurl slurs at him, place thorns in his way and stop him from praying and preaching.
In these ayaat Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala rebukes the unbelievers who would rush in towards the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam while he was sitting with the people reciting to them the Qur’an and calling them towards Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. The unbelievers would come to him from every side to mock and ridicule him. Upon witnessing the magnificent miracles through which Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala aided him they fled from him and separated themselves from him. They fled right and left, group by group, and party by party.
The word muhti’een [مُهْطِعِينَ] means ‘hastily running away’ or as Hasan Basri said, ‘departing’. ‘Izeen [عِزِينَ] is the plural of ‘izah and it means ‘a group (jamaa’ah) who are from the same family, tribe or ethnic background and they have strong bond with each other.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “Does every man of them hope to enter the Paradise of delight?” (70: 38). Ayatma’u [أَيَطْمَعُ] is from the root ta-meem-ayn [tama’a] means ‘excessive hope and desire for something that one hopes to reach them’. Meaning it is their wish to enter the Paradise of delight yet they flee from the Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in aversion to the truth. Still they hope to be admitted into the Gardens of Delight? It is refuted by a strong negation of kalla. Nay, the Gardens of delight are only for the righteous as stated in Surah al-Qalam ayah 34, “Verily, for the righteous are Gardens of delight with their Lord,” (68: 34). Those that follow Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and abide by his teachings. The deniers shall have their abode in Hell.
As a proof against them, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala mentions the initiation of creation, and that repeating the process is something easier than performing it the first time.
“So I swear by the Lord of all points of sunrise and sunset in the east and the west,” (70: 41) means the One Who created the heavens and the earth and made the east and the west. He is the One Who subjected the stars causing them to appear in the eastern parts of the sky and vanish in the western parts of it. The point of this statement is that the matter is not as the unbelievers claim that there is no Final Return, no reckoning, no resurrection and no gathering. Rather all of this will occur and come to pass. There is no way of avoiding it. This is the reason that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has stated a negation at the beginning of this oath. This shows that He is swearing by a denial of their claim. This is a refutation of their claim of rejecting the Day of Judgment. They already witnessed the greatness of Allah’s power in what is more convincing than the Day of Judgment that is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the subjection of the creatures in them, the animals, the inanimate objects and the other types of creatures that exist. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in Surah Ghafir ayah 57, “The creation of the heavens and the earth is indeed greater than the creation of mankind, yet most of mankind know not,” (40: 57).
“…that surely We are Able to replace them by better than them,” (70: 40-41) meaning on the Day of Judgment We will bring them back (to life) in bodies that are better than these bodies that they have now. And He is no unable to do. This is as Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in Surah al-Qiyamah ayaat 3-4, “Does man think that We shall not assemble his bones. Yes, We are able to put together in perfect order the tips of his fingers,” (75: 3-4).
[Read Tafseer Surah al-Qiyamah here]
“So leave them to plunge in vain talk and play about, until they meet their Day which they are promised,” (70: 42) meaning leave them in their denial, disbelief and obstinacy. They are going to know the outcome of this and taste its evil consequences. That will be a Day when they will stand up out of their graves when the Lord, Blessed be He the Most High, calls them to the place of reckoning. They will rise up quickly as if they were rushing towards some monumental object. “With their eyes lowered in fear and humility, ignominy covering them!” (70: 44) meaning in return for how they behaved arrogantly in the worldly life by refusing to be obedient (to Allah).
Here, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala describes their emotional state on that Day. Their gazes are looking down, humiliated, scared and overwhelmed. They can’t look up out of fear. Helplessness has taken over them.
When one reads the description of that Day and the hopelessness that an unbeliever will have, one realizes that he still has some hope. There is still time available to do good and repent for the past negligence. This is a message for both the unbelievers as well as the believers. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is warning us not to indulge in idle talk, play and other futile matters; to not cross the line and commit shirk through people worship; to not prefer sports or some other personal activity over serving Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and to not miss our Salah for some worldly activity.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala ends the Surah in a powerful way, “that is the Day which they were promised!” (70: 44). It is for us to reflect on the hardship of that Day and become the ideal Muslim that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has outlined in this Surah. The countdown to the Judgment Day has already begun.
DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Surah al-Maarij
- Surah al-Ma’arij – An Overview
- Tafseer Surah al-Ma’arij Ayaat 1-5
- Tafseer Surah al-Ma’arij Ayaat 6-18
- Tafseer Surah al-Ma’arij 19-35