Tafseer of the Qur’an (Ep.-8): Surat an-Naba’ (Ch.-78), Verses: 31-36
In the last couple of episodes, we have talked about what Allah ‘azza wa jall has prepared for the evil ones, the sinners and the disbelievers in Hellfire. We have discussed how severe this punishment is, because what was required from them was so little, and yet they failed to comply. It is part of the system of the Qur’an that when Allah ‘azza wa jall mentions the people of Hell, He also mentions the people of Paradise so that people would not despair and give up hope. There is always hope if you believe in Allah ‘azza wa jall. So Allah tells us in the Qur’an:
إِنَّ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ مَفَازًا
“Verily, for the Muttaqun, there will be a success (Paradise);” (31)
At-Taqwa is to fear Allah ‘azza wa jall by refraining from doing sins and by fulfilling your obligations to Allah, by doing what He has commanded you to do. When someone is known as one of the muttaqeen, this means that this is a practicing person; he does what Allah tells him to do and refrains from what Allah forbids from doing. So Allah says that for these people, for the muttaqeen, there will be a ‘mafaza’. ‘Mafaza’ comes from the word ‘fawz’, which means winning or success. So, there will be a time for them to win, that is on the Day of Judgment, and there will be a location, a reward for them, and that is Paradise.
The people, who are described as al-muttaqeen are called such because they put a shield between them and Allah’s torment. And that is why Allah’s Prophet salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “Keep a shield (a protection) for yourself between Hell fire and you (اتقوا النار), even by giving away (just) half a date (in charity).” All these words – اتقوا, تقوى, متقي – come from the same root. We have to fear Allah ‘azza wa jall and keep a protection from Hell fire, from Allah’s wrath and torment by doing what He ordered us to do and refraining from what He told us not to do. So, al-mutaqeen will be successful in terms of time and in terms of location. What will be their reward? Allah says:
“Gardens and grape yards;” (32)
Part of the Paradise that they are rewarded with will be gardens. And what will be in these gardens? Any kind of fruit that your heart desires. And the taste of these fruits keeps on becoming more and more delicious every time you take a bite. In our standards, this is not possible, because there is a limit. However in Paradise, there isn’t anything as such. It keeps on going and going and going for eternity. And this blows our mind away! The Prophet salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said, “In Paradise, there are things that have never crossed a person’s mind, nor an eye has seen, and nor an ear has heard of.” In this life, everything has an ending, but not in the Hereafter. In Paradise, there is no end. It just keeps on getting better and better. To the extent that the Prophet salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam told us that every Friday (though there is no day and night in Paradise, but there is a particular time which people will acknowledge as Friday), men will go to the marketplace, to have fun. And when they go back to their families and wives, Allah sends the northern wind that increases them in beauty and charm. So, when they reach their palaces, they look at their wives and say “By Allah, you are more beautiful than we had left you.” And the wives look at the men and say, “By Allah, you are more handsome than when you had left.” And this will happen every single week, forever. It keeps on going because the things in Paradise are not like the things we know of on this earth. So there are gardens filled with any and every fruit that you think of, and those that you cannot think of as well. And, specifically, there are grape yards. Though there are other fruits, but grapes are more beloved to people. So there are gardens, and specifically grape yards as well.
Allah ‘azza wa jall says in the following verse:
“And young full-breasted (mature) maidens of equal age;” (33)
No one is older or younger than the other. In the authentic Hadeeth, the Prophet salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam told us that the age of the people of Paradise will be fixed at 33 years. No one is younger nor older, so that no one would feel betrayed or unfortunate. Now, Allah ‘azza wa jall is describing to us the women of Paradise. However, unfortunately, due to a number of factors, we have complaints. We have women objecting: why does a man have two wives in Paradise? Why does a man have so many Hoor-al-‘in, when a woman has only one man? Well, you have to look at it holistically. First of all, we always address our sisters by telling them, “Do you think that Allah ‘azza wa jall would let you down in Paradise? Do you think that Allah is unfair or unjust? Do you think that you will be even a little bit depressed or sad in Paradise?” The answer is definitely no, to all these questions. Allah the Almighty is the Most Fair and Just. If He admits you, oh my sister, to Paradise, be assured that you will be the happiest person. Allah will take away all grudges, jealousy, hatred, and enmity from your heart. Allah will cleanse your heart and make you the most satisfied person in Paradise.
Having said that and, moreover, having believed in it, we have to know, first of all, that the number of females are far greater than the number of males. This is a known fact. Men die more than women do: they die due to hypertension, illnesses, accidents and wars, among other reasons. Hence, women are more than men, and that is why in Paradise, men will get more women. Not only that, it has to be noted that the man is the one who is in quest, who is chasing and pursuing, while the women is the one who is sought after. For example, if I have a son, how would I encourage him to pursue his education, to perfect his work and to become a better person? I would say to him, “If you do well in school, I’ll put you in the best of universities. If you pass your BS or BA and graduate, I’ll look for the best jobs for you. And then I’ll look for the most beautiful and charming woman to be your wife.” However, I would never go to my daughter and tell her that I am going to look for the most handsome, the huskiest, and the strongest and fittest man for her as a husband. No one does this. Why? Because women are bashful and shy. We don’t talk to women like this. And they don’t allow people to talk to them like this. Unlike men and boys; this is what they live for. When engaging and proposing, the father goes to his daughter and says, “My daughter, a man proposed to you by the name of so and so, he looks like this, his job and family are like this, so what do you think?” The Prophet salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam told us that the father should display the matter to his daughter, who is a virgin, and her approval will be by not saying anything, by keeping silent; this will be her approval. Why? The Scholars say because she is bashful. When the daughter reacts by smiling and looking at the ground and not saying anything, the father doesn’t go back and tell the guy that she refused, that she didn’t say anything. The Prophet salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam told us that when she doesn’t comment, it is an indication of her approval. This shows you the difference of character between a male and a female. This, however, is only in normal conditions. It is so in normal societies, unlike what we see in the societies of today, where a woman is liberated from her feminism and she is actually another man. Nowadays, western women are men, though the gender is ‘F’, but what you actually see and feel is different. Once when I was talking to a brother, he told me that if you want to marry another man, marry a female of so-and-so country because women there are not women. They look like women but they are actually men! And this, of course, is very unfortunate.
So, Allah ‘azza wa jall mentions to us the features of the Hoor-al-‘in in Paradise, or of the women among the humans in Paradise. He describes them to us because this is what men look for. As for women, Allah ‘azza wa jall doesn’t describe men to them as this is against their bashfulness and shyness. Moreover, usually, it doesn’t make much of a difference to women. Men can love more than one woman. By nature, a man can love four and can marry four. This is how Allah created men. While a woman, as they say, needs only one man. This is how Allah has created her. As they say, “Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool.” Yes, because this is not normal for a woman, to love two men. She can only by nature love one man. But this nature of women has been manipulated and changed by the media today, and that is why we now have a problem with the genders. Moving on, Allah says that among the things that would be in Paradise is:
“And a full cup (of wine).” (34)
Your cup will always be full, no matter how many times you drink from it. And why do we say that it is of wine? Because, usually, people who are practicing, righteous and pious, are deprived of drinking wine and intoxicants in this life. That is why Allah will reward them and give them as much as their heart desires from the wine that they deprived themselves from in this life. They would have it unlimited and for eternity, always full. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t drink anything else. We know that there are four great rivers in Paradise: a river of wine, a river of milk, a river of honey and a river of water, with characteristics that are beyond our imagination. However, this full cup mentioned in the ayah is most likely of wine. And that is why Allah says afterwards, in ayah 35:
لَّا يَسْمَعُونَ فِيهَا لَغْوًا وَلَا كِذَّٰبًا
“No Laghw (dirty, false, evil talk) shall they hear therein, nor lying;” (35)
So, two things that they will not hear: ‘lagw’ and lying. What is lagw? Lagw is anything that is other than the truth: so dirty, false, and evil talk is considered part of lagw. Slandering, swearing, shouting, and saying bad words, these are also part of lagw. And they will not hear any lying in Paradise. Now, let us take a step back and look at the effects of wine in this life. When someone is drunk, what does he do? He does everything that he doesn’t want to do when he is sober. So he may lie, swear, curse, say any number of bad and dirty things. One of the Arabs who used to drink wine, once when he was drunk, urinated and then drank his urine and washed himself with it. After becoming sober and realizing what he had done, he swore that he would never drink again. How can he, when this is what the wine makes him do! Another example is when a Muslim was intoxicated, and he urinated and then performed Wudu with his urine, and recited the zikr that we recite after performing Wudu, the meaning of which is: “O Allah, make me among those who turn to You in repentance, and make me among those who purify themselves.” When a person is intoxicated, he may do things that he cannot imagine ever doing! Our sanity, our intellect, our consciousness is one of the greatest gifts that Allah ‘azza wa jall has bestowed upon us. If a person willingly consumes something that takes this all away from him, then he is not worthy of being human. However, in Paradise, these bad effects of wine do not exist. Allah ‘azza wa jall tells us that this wine of Paradise is very sweet and delicious and, moreover, it has no hangovers. We will not wake up the following morning having headaches and wanting to throw up. It is sweet and perfect, we just drink it and enjoy it, and there will be no consequences afterwards, such as lying, swearing, cursing, etc. In Paradise, we will not have any of these negative feelings. What we have is total perfection in feeling the brotherhood between us and those sharing Paradise with us. So all of these beautiful things – the gardens, the maidens, the wine, everything that you see – all of this is:
جَزَآءً مِّن رَّبِّكَ عَطَآءً حِسَابًا
“A reward from your Lord, an ample calculated gift (according to the best of their good deeds).” (36)
This is a reward from Allah ‘azza wa jall. Think for example, if you have a neighbor who is middle aged and doesn’t have a lot of money, and he comes and gives you a gift, would it be the same if a multimillionaire or a billionaire gives you a gift? Would it be the same as a Head of State giving you a mansion or a piece of land or a farm or something that is expensive and worthy of his level and status? Hence, what is given is dependent on the giver, not the recipient. It was reported that a beggar once asked one of the Salaf for charity. The man wrote to his accountant, asking him to give a 100 dinars to the beggar. Back then, the currency was dirhams and dinars, dinars being much more valuable than dirhams. In today’s calculation, a 100 dinars is almost like 10,000 Euros. So the accountant thought that there must have been some mistake in writing. He went to his master and said, “Maybe you meant 10 dirhams, not a 100 dinars?” The man said, “No, I meant what you have read.” He said, “Master, if you give this beggar one dirham, he will be happy. Why give him a 100 dinars?” The master was angered by this and said, “We give them in accordane to our status, not in accordance to their status.” Hence, the reward depends on the giver’s status. Now, if Allah ‘azza wa jall gives you a reward from Him, an ample and a sufficient gift, how great would that reward be?