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Interpretation of Sura Hud - Verses 108-110

108 " And as for those who are happy, they shall be in Paradise, abiding therein, so long as the heavens and the earth endure, except as your Lord pleases: a gift without a break."(1)


The means of Happiness and Wretchedness

Happiness, which is considered as a lost paradise for man, results from the provision of the means of development for an individual or a community. The opposite of it is wretchedness in which the conditions conducive to progress, development and victory are unfavorable.

However, one must keep in mind that the primary source of happiness and prosperity as well as wretchedness lies in man's own will. It is he who can provide the means necessary for his own self actualization as well as that of his community. And it is he who can fight the causes of wretchedness or submit to it completely.

The logic of the prophets proclaims that the two are not inherent in man's nature and even the shortcomings of environment, family and heredity can be transformed through one's own determination. If, on the other hand, we deny the (1) Although Allah's Will has no limits even to expel the people in paradise, if we focus our attention on the climactic highlight of the last verse and the promises given in other verses, we can conclude that He would not do such a thing and when one enters Paradise he will remain there permanently.

principle of man's free will and take a deterministic approach in our attitude towards him, we will have to consider his happiness and wretchedness as inherent in him or as the effects of determinism which is definitely condemned in the literature of the prophets as well as in the school of rationalism.

Interestingly, in narrations attributed to the holy Prophet(p.b.u.h.) and the Imams of the Ahl- ul- Bayt(a.s.) , one reads that the means which provide grounds for one's happiness or wretchedness have been indicated. The study of these Islamic narrations leads man to contemplate the Islamic way of thinking about this important problem, and gives him guidelines to help him seek objective realities and the true means of happiness instead of taking recourse in superstitious beliefs and wrong traditions.

Imam Sadiq(a.s.) , quoting his great grandfather, Amir- ul- Mu'mineen(a.s.) says: "The truth of the matter regarding prosperity is that the last stage of man's life ends with righteous deeds, and the fact of the matter concerning wretchedness is that the last stage of one's life comes to an end with a vicious act." 40

And again the Prophet(p.b.u.h.) declares: "Four conditions, if fulfilled, result in happiness and four conditions pave the way for wretchedness. The former consists of a wife with decent conduct, a spacious home, a worthy neighbor, and a good horse, while wretchedness consists of an evil doing wife, a bad neighbor, an awfully small house and a bad horse." 41

The Messenger of Allah(p.b.u.h.) said: "Perfect happiness comes about when one's whole life is spent serving Allah. " 42

Amir- ul- Mu'mineen Ali(a.s.)said: "The faithful who are wise are the happiest ones(on the earth). " 43

The Messenger of Allah(p.b.u.h.) said: "The most fortunate of people are those who associate with brave godly men. 44

Amir- ul- Mu'mineen Ali(a.s.) said: "A good temper is one of the prime sources of one's happiness. " 45

Amir- ul- Mu'mineen Ali(a.s.) remarks that one's happiness lies in his attaining religion and the practice of it for the Hereafter. 46

The Prophet of Allah(p.b.u.h.) says:

"Verily a Muslim man's happiness lies in his child resembling him, having a beautiful and God- fearing wife, a large house and a good horse( to ride). " 47

As for wretchedness, Imam Rid a(a.s.) in a tradition says: "Allah has allocated wretchedness for liars and culprits. " 48

Amir- ul- Mu'mineen Ali(a.s.) once was asked: "Who is the worst villain and the most vicious person ?" To which he answered: "He who exchanges his religion for another person's worldly life." 49

The holy Prophet(p.b.u.h.) said: "Shall I not tell you who the most vicious villain is ?"

They answered: "Yes, O' Prophet of Allah! ". He said: "He who is empty handed in this world together with the punishment of the Hereafter." 50

We would like to take refuge in Allah from such a villain age.

Comparing the paths shown towards one's happiness and wretchedness in the above quotations and their objectivity, with the superstitious beliefs which still attract large numbers of people in this era of the atom and space travel, one is led right away to the reality that Islamic instructions are quite logical and extremely well calculated. And what a great number of people have there been who have become entangled in the complications arising from such superstitions preventing them from effectively living their daily lives bringing them only misfortune and pain.

Regarding happiness and wretchedness, Islam obliterates all superstitious beliefs, and guides us in everything that we do strengthening and clarifying our ethical responsibilities, attitudes, conduct, and way of thinking.

109. " So be not then in doubt as to what these(men)worship. They worship nothing but what their fathers worshipped before(them), and verily We shall pay them back(in full)their portion undiminished. "


One result which can be inferred from the stories of the previous generations is that the prophets and those following them, those who were truly faithful, should not fear the abundance of the enemies and with no hesitation try to defeat the unjust idol worshippers they are confronted because the helps of Allah are certain.

Therefore, He says to His Prophet that he should not have the shadow of a doubt as to what these people worship for they only follow in the footsteps of their ancestors and do not, in fact, really worship anything at all. Thus their destiny is no better than that of their forefathers. They shall be compensated in full and Allah will not give them short of what is their due(of punishment ). And were they to return to the true path, their share of Allah's reward will be preserved. The verse says:

" So be not then in doubt as to what these(men)worship. They worship nothing but what their fathers worshipped before(them), and verily We shall pay them back(in full)their portion undiminished. "

In actual fact, this verse depicts that whatever we have read about past generations had not been fairy tales or myths and their realities have not been confined to only the previous generations. They constitute eternal examples for all men, past, present, and future, though they may take place in different circumstances and with different forms.

In the meantime, though this sublime verse is addressed to the Prophet(p.b.u.h.) , it targets the people so that they may not be in doubt or be hesitant.

Everybody's action shall be returned to him in full - Evil shall have an evil consequence hence shun it - The word of Allah is fulfilled, hence the Jinn and men shall be punished - Admonition and Reminder in the history preceding Apostles of Allah - Patience and good deeds and waiting for the End enjoined.

110. " And We certainly gave Moses the Book, then variance was(created)in it, and had not a Word gone forth before from your Lord, the matter would have been decided between them: but they are in grave doubt concerning it. "


To console the Prophet(p.b.u.h.) , the Qur'an adds that if his people raised objections and fabricated pretexts concerning the Qur'an, he should not worry, for Allah had also provided Moses with a Celestial Book(the Torah)and it became then an object for their differences, some accepted it while others rejected it. The verse says:

" And We certainly gave Moses the Book, then variance was(created)in it, ..."

Allah is not hasty in punishing His enemies; it is for the sake of expediency and pragmatism in their education which requires such a course of action. And if pragmatism in such a case did not allow for it, and the program which Allah had preordained for the Prophet in this respect did not require further delays, judgment would have been passed upon them and the punishment would have been inflicted upon them. Nevertheless, they had not yet believed in the Truth, everything about which they entertained with suspicion and viewed with pessimism. The verse continues saying:

"... and had not a Word gone forth before from your Lord, the matter would have been decided between them: but they are in grave doubt concerning it. "

Notes :

(40) Bihar ul 'Anwar, vol. 68, p. 364

(41) Bihar ul 'Anwar, vol. 104, p. 98

(42) Nahj ul Fas ah ah, p. 375

(43) Ghurar ul Hikam, vol. 2, p. 397

(44) Madinat ul Balaqah, vol. 2, p. 462

(45) Nahj ul Fas ah ah, p. 57

(46) Ghurar ul Hikam, vol. 4, p. 144

(47) Bihar, vol. 73 p. 149

(48) Bihar, vol. 5, p. 154

(49) Bihar, vol. 72, p. 270

(50) Bihar, vol. 100, p. 70

Adopted from the book : "The Light of the Holy Qur'an; Interpretation of Surah Hud" by : "Sayyid Kamal Faghih Imani and a Group of Muslim Scholars"

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