Interpretation of Sura al-Fatir - Verse 36
36.“And those who disbelieve, for them shall be the Fire of Hell, it shall not be decreed that they should die, nor shall the chastisement of it be lightened to them; even thus do We recompense every ungrateful one.”
Disbelief is a kind of ingratitude of bounties. The Qur’a-n, beside promises, usually refers to threats, and, beside glad tidings, it mentions warnings in order to strengthen two factors of fear and hope which are the motives of motion, because of the love of self, man is affected by the instinct of ‘acquiring benefit’ and ‘repelling harm’. So, following the former verses, which were about the great rewards of the believers who ‘outstrip in good deeds’, this verse is about the painful punishment of disbelievers. Here also the words are about the material and spiritual punishments. It says:
“And those who disbelieve, for them shall be the Fire of Hell, …”
In the same manner that Paradise is an eternal abode for the believers, Hell is also an eternal abode for this group. Then the verse adds:
“… it shall not be decreed that they should die, …”
Although all those painful punishments and the blazing Fire of Hell can cause them their death, since the command of Allah, that everything, including life and death, is in Whose authority, has not been issued; they will not die. They must be alive, and they will not be delivered from this toil, so that they taste the Divine chastisement.
For such persons, death is a way to deliverance, but by the aforementioned sentence this way has been closed to them. There will remain another way. It is in this that they should be alive and gradually their chastisement may decrease, or that their tolerance could be increased so that consequently their pain and toil may decrease. This way is also closed by another sentence which says:
“… nor shall the chastisement of it be lightened to them; …”
And, at the end of the verse as an emphasis upon the decisiveness of this Divine threat, it says:
“… even thus do We recompense every ungrateful one.”
Those who, firstly, showed ingratitude to the bounty of the existence of Divine prophets and heavenly Books, lost their Divine given capitals which could help them in gaining happiness.
Yes, the recompense of such evil-doers is burning in the painful chastisement of Fire, a Fire which they themselves lit in the life of this world and its fuel was their own evil thoughts and deeds.
Since the Qur’a-nic word /kafu-r/ is an amplification form in the Arabic language, it has a deeper meaning than the word /ka-fir/ (disbeliever). Moreover, the word ‘disbeliever’ is usually used as opposite to the word ‘believer’, while the Arabic word /kafu-r/ (ungrateful) is used as for the ingratitude of all blessings. Therefore, it has a vaster meaning. Thus, the word /kafu-r/ refers to those who have been ungrateful to all the divine bounties, and they have closed all the doors of His Mercy to them in this world. Therefore, in Hereafter, Allah will close all the doors of deliverance to them, too.
Adopted from the book : "The Light of the Holy Qur'an; Interpretation of Surah al-Fatir" by : "Sayyid Kamal Faghih Imani and a Group of Muslim Scholars"
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