Interpretation of Sura Maryam (Mary) - Verses 59-60
59. " Then there succeeded them a later generation who ruined prayers and followed lusts. Soon, then, they shall meet perdition."
60. " Except him who repents, and believes, and does a righteous deed, then these shall enter Paradise, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly in any way."
It sometimes happens that the offsprings and descendants of a person waste the efforts and endeavours of their ancestors and, thus, there may appear a wicked generation from some people who themselves had been good doers.
The Arabic term /xalaf/ is used for a righteous child, while the term /xalf/ is applied for an impious child.
The Qur'anic word /qayy/, used at the end of the first abovementioned verse, means 'destruction, perdition and error' and it is an antonym to the Arabic word /rus(d/ which means: 'rectitude, growth, and development'. The verse says:
" Then there succeeded them a later generation who ruined prayers and followed lusts. Soon, then, they shall meet perdition."
This sentence, in this holy verse, may refer to a group of the Children of Israel who paved the path of aberration. They forsook the Lord, preferred lusts to the remembrance of God and prayer, made mischief in the world, and, finally, they faced the fruit of their evil deeds in this life and they will be punished in the coming world, too.
However, wasting prayer is different from not establishing it or forsaking it. He who keeps up prayer, but without observing its conditions, or with delay, has wasted the prayer and has belittled it. 67
Why the Qur'an, among all Divine services, emphasizes on prayer here? Its reason may be the fact that prayer is a barrier between man and sins. When this barrier is removed, it certainly results to man's being drowned in the lusts. In other words, as the divine prophets began their ranks to be promoted by the remembrance of Allah, and when the Divine revelations were recited to them they fell down prostrating and weeping, the aberration of these impious people began by forsaking the remembrance of Allah.
By the way, there is a tradition also recorded in many books of the scholars of the Sunnite which denotes: when the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) recited the first verse of the abovementioned couple of verses, he said: "After sixty years, there will come on the scene some people who recite the Qur'an pompously but it (their recitation) will not ascend higher than their shoulders." (Since it is done neither sincerely nor for contemplation and reflection in action, but it is done hypocritically and affectedly, or there are satisfied with its mere verbal utterances and, therefore, their deeds do not ascend to the rank of proximity of Allah.) 68
It is worthy of attention that if we count sixty years from the migration of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) , it will exactly adapt to the time when Yazid took the rein of government and Imam Hussayn (a.s.) and his companions drank the drink of martyrdom. After that, the rest of the course of Ummayyads and the course of Abbasides came forth who had been contented with Islam by a bare name and with the Qur'an by a mere verbal utterance.
We refuge to Allah (s.w.t.) that we may be among such an impious group.
However, since the manner of the Qur'an, everywhere is that it let the path of return to Faith and the truth be open, here, too, after the statement of the fate of the impious generations, through verse 60, it says:
" Except him who repents, and believes, and does a righteous deed, then these shall enter Paradise, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly in any way."
Thus, it is not such that if a person goes astray in the lusts for a day, he must be disappointed forever from the mercy of Allah, but, until the last moments of the life in this world, he may return and repent.
Repentance and the Qur'an
Next to the verses of punishment the Qur'an often mentions the phrase: "Except those who repent" or the phrase:
"Except him who repents" in order to say that the gate of penitence and reform is not closed to any one.
1. Repentance is a necessary duty, because it is a divine commandment. Sura At-Tah?rim, No. 66, verse 8 says: "…Turn to Allah".
2. The acceptance of repentance is really certain, because it cannot be believed that we repent by His commandment, but He does not accept it. Sura Ash-Shura, No. 42, verse 25 says: "And He it is Who accepts repentance from His servants…"
3. Allah (s.w.t.) not only accepts repentance but also likes those who repent very much. The Qur'an in Sura Al-Baqarah, No. 2, verse 222 says: "…Verily Allah loves those who turn much (to Him), …".
4. Repentance should be followed with good actions and amends of sins. Sura Al-Furqan, No. 25, verse 71 says: "And whoever repents and does righteously …"
5. Repentance is the secret of felicity. Sura An-Nur, No. 24, verse 31 says: "…and turn to Allah all of you, O' believers! so that you may be successful".
6. Repentance causes the rain to fall. Sura Hud, No. 11, verse 52 says: "…turn to Him, He will send on you clouds pouring down abundance of rain …"
7. Repentance causes a good sustenance. Sura Hud, No. 11, verse 3 says: "…Then turn to Him; He will provide you with a goodly provision…"
8. Delaying repentance until seeing the signs of death, is not accepted. Besides accepting repentance, Allah has also a special grace. In these verses, close to the subject of repentance, the Qur'an has referred to the grace, mercy and love of Allah, too. Sura Hud, No. 11, verse 90 says: "…Turn to Him; surely my Lord is Merciful, Loving-kind."
9. The Qur'an has counted the absence of repentance an injustice. Sura Al-Hujurat, No. 49, verse 11 says: "…and whoever does not repent, these it is that are the unjust.".
10. However, the condition of felicity, and entering into heaven, is repentance, Faith, and righteous deeds. The abovementioned verse says: "…him who repents, and believes, and does a righteous deed, then these shall enter Paradise, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly in any way."
67. Bihar-ul-'Anwar, vol. 11, p. 72
68. Commentary of Al-Mizan, vol. 14, p. 80 (Arabic version)
Adopted from the book : "The Light of the Holy Qur'an; Interpretation of Surah Maryam" by : "Sayyid Kamal Faghih Imani and a Group of Muslim Scholars"
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