Rewards of Righteous: Commentary on the Quran (Chapter 3:15-17)

by Abbas Adil

By: Mohammad Sobhanie

Rewards of Righteous

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

قُلْ أَؤُنَبِّئُكُم بِخَيْرٍ مِّن ذَٰلِكُمْ ۚ لِلَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا وَأَزْوَاجٌ مُّطَهَّرَةٌ وَرِضْوَانٌ مِّنَ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بَصِيرٌ بِالْعِبَادِ ‎﴿١٥﴾ ‏ الَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا إِنَّنَا آمَنَّا فَاغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ ‎﴿١٦﴾‎‏ الصَّابِرِينَ وَالصَّادِقِينَ وَالْقَانِتِينَ وَالْمُنفِقِينَ وَالْمُسْتَغْفِرِينَ بِالْأَسْحَارِ ‎﴿١٧﴾‏‎

2:15 Say, “Shall I tell you what is better than these (worldly materials)? For the pious will be gardens in the presence of their Lord beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally with purified spouses and more importantly that Allah (SWT) is well-pleased with them. And Allah (SWT) sees (aware of God’s) servants.

2:16 Those who say, “Our Lord, indeed we have believed, so forgive us our sins and protect us from the punishment of the Fire.”

2:17 The patient, the true, the obedient, those who spend (in the way of Allah (SWT)), and those who seek forgiveness before dawn.

Commentary: Allah (SWT) has placed the love of spouses, children, and wealth in our hearts to sustain human race on the earth. If we had no interest in getting married, having children, or the desire to earn money to support our family, humanity would have been eradicated long ago. Interest in obtaining wealth, power, and comfort motivates humankind to discover the universe and excel in the worldly dimensions of this life.

At the same time, Allah (SWT) tests us with our desires for worldly adornments. God tests whether the love of wealth causes us to embezzle people’s property for our gain or if we would subjugate our desires and live within the bounds of religion. God tests whether we use our power and social influence to establish social justice or if we use it as a tool of oppression to deny others their rights. Those who subjugate their carnal desires, practice moral discipline, and follow religious instruction will attain nearness to Allah (SWT) and benefit from Divine Blessings in the Hereafter (وَاللَّهُ عِندَهُ حُسْنُ الْمَآبِ). Others would be at an eternal loss in the Hereafter.

Verse 2:15 says, “Shall I inform you of the eternal rewards that are better than worldly materials?” (قُلْ أَؤُنَبِّئُكُم بِخَيْرٍ مِّن ذَٰلِكُمْ). The verse then adds, “For the pious will be gardens in the presence of their Lord beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally with purified spouses, and Allah would be well-pleased with them. And Allah (SWT) sees (aware of God’s) servants.”

… لِلَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا وَأَزْوَاجٌ مُّطَهَّرَةٌ وَرِضْوَانٌ مِّنَ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بَصِيرٌ بِالْعِبَادِ ‎﴿١٥﴾

The reward of the Hereafter is eternal, unlike worldly rewards which are fleeting and in need of constant maintenance. The bliss of eternal rewards with no diminishing value is in no way comparable to the joys of earthly material. For instance, paradisal spouses are pure; the gardens are always green and cultivate delicious fruits year-round, while the water flows beside their trunks. In addition to materialistic rewards, the companions of Paradise earn God’s Pleasure, which is the best spiritual gift to them.

We stated earlier that Allah (SWT) had placed the love of spouses, children, and wealth in our hearts to sustain humanity on the earth. Since this concern no longer exists in the Hereafter, what is the wisdom for the existence of material adornments such as beautiful gardens, houses, and spouses in Paradise? An answer can be as follows:

The Quran explicitly states that the body and spirit will be resurrected together on the Day of Judgment. Therefore, as mentioned in the verse, there must be suitable rewards and punishments for both the body and soul. Perhaps the phrase, “Allah sees (aware of God’s) servants,” at the end of the verse, suggests that Allah (SWT) is aware of what the human body and soul uniquely need in the Hereafter.

The following two verses describe six attributes of pious people.

1st: They turn to their Lord wholeheartedly while feeling responsible for their deeds and say, “Our Lord, indeed we have believed, so forgive us our sins and protect us from the punishment of the Fire,”

‏ الَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا إِنَّنَا آمَنَّا فَاغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ ‎﴿١٦﴾‎‏

2:16 Those who say, “Our Lord, indeed we have believed, so forgive us our sins and protect us from the punishment of the Fire,”

The pronoun, ‘‘those’’ (الَّذِينَ), refers to ‘‘those who guard (against evil)’’ (لِلَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا), mentioned in the preceding verse.

2nd: They are patient at times of hardship that occur in the way of obedience of Allah (SWT) and abstain from sins in the face of calamity.

3rd: They are truthful and practice with sincerity what they believe, and they are far from hypocrisy, lies, fraud, and betrayal.

4th: They are humble and devoted to their Lord.

5th: They spent benevolently.

6th: They ask for forgiveness before dawn. The time for asking forgiveness is the time of Salaatul Watr, which is the last Rakaat of Salaatul-Layl [1].

الصَّابِرِينَ وَالصَّادِقِينَ وَالْقَانِتِينَ وَالْمُنفِقِينَ وَالْمُسْتَغْفِرِينَ بِالْأَسْحَارِ ‎﴿١٧﴾‏‎

2:17 The patient, the true, the obedient, those who spend (in the way of Allah (SWT)), and those who seek forgiveness before dawn.

Imam Sadeq (AS) said, whoever seeks Allah’s forgiveness in Salaatul Witr seventy times continuously for one year, Allah (SWT) would count him among those who sought forgiveness at dawn and subject him to Divine Mercy.

Minds are usually free from daily activities before dawn. Hence, the verse suggests it is best to converse with Allah (SWT) before dawn in the forms of offering prayers or asking forgiveness. The Quran in verse 73:9 (Al-Muzzammil) asks the Prophet to recite the Quran before dawn:

إِنَّ نَاشِئَةَ اللَّيْلِ هِيَ أَشَدُّ وَطْئًا وَأَقْوَمُ قِيلًا ‎﴿٦﴾‏ إِنَّ لَكَ فِي النَّهَارِ سَبْحًا طَوِيلًا ‎﴿٧﴾

73:6-7 The vigil of night is more effective, and better suited for recitation. In the daytime, you have lengthy work to do.

Appendix:  

Al-Qunut (اَلْقُنوتْ) = the special invocation before bowing down in the salaat

Al-Qanitina (الْقَانِتِينَ) from the root word Al-Qunut (اَلْقُنوتْ) means submission to Allah (SWT) and also persistence in obedience and servitude.

Shar (سَحَر) means covered and hidden since in the last hours of the night, a darkness of night covers everything.

Word-for-Word Translation:

3:15 [قُلْ] say, [أَؤُنَبِّئُكُم] shall I inform you [بِخَيْرٍ] of better [مِّن] than [ذَٰلِكُمْ] that. [لِلَّذِينَ] For those who [اتَّقَوْا] feared [عِندَ] with [رَبِّهِمْ] their Lord, [جَنَّاتٌ] are Gardeners [تَجْرِي] flows [مِن] from [تَحْتِهَا] underneath them [الْأَنْهَارُ] the rivers, [خَالِدِينَ] abiding forever [فِيهَا] in it, [وَأَزْوَاجٌ] and spouses [مُّطَهَّرَةٌ] pure, [وَرِضْوَانٌ] and pleasure [مِّنَ] from Allah, [وَاللَّهُ] And Allah [بَصِيرٌ] is All-Seer[بِالْعِبَادِ]of God’s servants.

3:16 [الَّذِينَ] Those who [يَقُولُونَ] say, [رَبَّنَا] Our Lord [إِنَّنَا] Indeed, we [آمَنَّا] have believed [فَاغْفِرْ] so forgive [لَنَا] for us [ذُنُوبَنَا] our sins [وَقِنَا] and save us [عَذَابَ] from punishment [النَّارِ] of the Fire

3:17 [الصَّابِرِينَ] The patient [وَالصَّادِقِينَ] and the truthful [وَالْقَانِتِينَ] and the obedient [وَالْمُنفِقِينَ] and those who spend [وَالْمُسْتَغْفِرِينَ] and those who seek forgiveness [بِالْأَسْحَارِ] before dawn.

[1] Saalatul Layl is a non-obligatory prayer performed after midnight before the Fajr (morning) prayer.

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