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5." Verily, the Righteous drink of a cup; the mixture of which is (like) camphor."
11. " Therefore, Allah will guard them against the evil of that Day, and will grant over them a Light of Beauty and a (blissful) joy."
6. " A fountain, where the servants of Allah drink, flows in abundance (wherever they wish) "
7." They fulfill (their) vows and fear a Day, the chastisement of which is widespread."
8. " And they feed, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive."
9. (Saying) : " We feed you for the sake of Allah alone: no reward do we desire from you, nor thanks."
10. " We only fear from our Lord a Day, frowningly severe."
The Occasion of Revelation:
A great evidence for the superiority and excellence of Ahlul-Bayt; the household of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) .
Ibn-Abbas says that Hassan and Hosain (p.b.u.h.) were sick The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and a group of followers came to visit them. They suggested to Hazrat Ali to take a vow for their recovery. So, Ali Fatima and Fezza (their house-helper) took a vow that if Hassan and Hosain recovered, they would fast for three days. (According to the same narration, Hassan and Hosain (p.b.u.h.) made the same vow.)
After a short while both of them recovered. Therefore, the family fasted for the first day, but, as they were in dire need for food stuffs, Hazrat Ali borrowed some barley and Hazrat Fatima ground one-third of it into flour and baked some bread.
With the onset of evening, when they were preparing to break their fasts, an indigent person came to their door and said, " Peace be upon you, the Household of Mohammad. I am a needy Muslim, so please give me some food. May Allah bestow upon you, in kind, from divine sustenance." All of them gave priority to him and gave him their shares. That night, they broke their fast with only water.
The following day they fasted again, but, like the previous day, an orphan came to the door. Once more, they forfeited their bread and ate nothing but water.
The next day, they fasted for the third time. This day a captive came to their house and they repeated their charity.
On the fourth day, All took Hassan and Hosain with himself to see the Prophet. When the Prophet observed their condition; they were trembling with hunger, he said, "It grieves me to see you in this condition." Then, he stood up and walked with them. When he arrived at their home, he found Fatima praying. Her stomach was sunk in to her back- bone and her eyes had become sunken, too. The Prophet was greatly affected. At this moment Gabriel descended and said, " O, Mohammad receive this Sura. Allah congratulates you for having such a family." And then Gabrielrecited, to him, Sura Hal-Ata.(1)
(1) Al-Qadir, vol. 3, p. 107-111, Ihqaqal-Haqq, vol. 3, p. 157-171.
The Great Reward for the Righteous
In the aforementioned verses (1-4) human beings were divided into two groups; the grateful and the ungrateful and reference was made to the 'punishment and penalty' for the ungrateful But, in these verses there is a recount of the 'Rewards' offered to the Righteous.
First, it says, " Verily, the Righteous drink of a cup; the mixture of which is (like) camphor
The term /abrar/ is the plural form of /barr/, which originally means 'broadness and expansiveness '. For this reason, dry land and vast deserts, as opposed to large bodies of water, are called /barr/ Thus, this term is applied to the Righteous (people who do good) , because their good deeds have extensive effects on the society.
The word /birr/ means 'to be pious', 'just', or 'to act justly'. It is said that making the distinction between /khayr/ and /birr/ is for the reason that the former has a general meaning of goodness while the latter has the specific meaning of 'goodness accompanied by intention'.
The term /kafur/ has various meanings; one of which is 'good smelling'. Another meaning is 'fragrant plant' or a plant which has a sweet fragrance. Also, it has the common meaning of 'a sharp odor' that has medical applications, e.g. for sterilizing or disinfecting. The other meaning has its importance as an extraordinarly white and cool substance, and it is famous, because of its coolness and whiteness.
Furthermore, this verse indicates that this purifying drink is so fragrant that it is enjoyed both through the senses of taste and smell. On the whole, /kafur/ has been considered as having the same value as musk and ambegris; the famous sweet fragrances.
Then, it refers to the fountainhead from which this cup of divine drink is filled; and says, "A fountain, where from the servants of Allah drink, flows in abundance (wherever they wish) ." This purified fountain is under their control in such a way that it flows wherever they wish.
It is worthy of mention that in a tradition from Imam Baqir (p.b.u.h.) it is quoted that in a description of the fountain he said that this fountain is placed in the house of the Prophet and from there it flows to the houses of the previous prophets (p.b.u.h.) and believers.
It is true that, as in this world, the fountains of knowledge and mercy flow from the Prophet's house toward the servants of Allah and the righteous, and in the next world (which is a great illustration of this condition) the fountain of the divine pure drink will originate from his house and therefore, to the houses of other believers.
The term /yufajjirun/ is based on the word /tafjjr/ which, itself, is derived from the root /fajara/ which means 'to cause water to flow' or 'to break' on a large scale, whether breaking the earth or anything else. When, as it seems, the light of the morning breaks the dark curtain of the night; this light is called /fajr/. Also, they call an evildoer /fajir/ (wicked) , because he breaks open the curtain of modesty and piety. However, in this verse it means 'the opening of the ground'.
It is remarkable that among the many blessings of Heaven, referred to in this Sura, the first to be mentioned is this 'special pure fragrant drink'. Perhaps, because after passing their account on the Day of Judgment and on their arrival into Heaven, by drinking this drink, they clear their hearts from any grief, discomfort and impurity. Then, they can benefit from the other divine blessings, while they are basking in the love of Allah.
In the following verses, the deeds and qualifications of the 'Righteous' and 'servants of Allah' are described. Their eligibility for such unparalleled blessings is reasoned through having five characteristics. It says: " They fulfill (their) vows and fear a Day; the chastisement of which is widespread ".
The terms 'they fulfill (their) vows' and 'fear Allah' (including some later sentences, which are all said infast, at the end of each day, but by only drinking water and their hea the present tense) indicate that this is their ever-existing, routine practice.
As was explained, earlier, regarding the occasion of revelation, the true essence of these verses is targeted at Ali, Fatima, Hassan and Hosain (P.B.U.TH.) , for they fulfilled their vows of fasting for three consecutive days, and did not break their rts were filled with the fear of Allah and the Day of Judgment.
The term /mustatir/ means 'vast', or 'scattered', which refers to the great and various punishments on that Great Day.
When they fulfilled their own vow, they definitely respected and fulfilled what Allah has made obligatory Their fear of the chastisement of the Great Day was due to their deep belief in the Resurrection, and to their intensive responsibility in regard to Allah's command.
They truly believed in the Resurrection and the penalties which are waiting for the wrong-doers. This belief is made manifest by their own sincere actions.
Then, referring to the third worthy deed of the Righteous, it says:
And they feed, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive."
Donating food at the time of severe self-need requires great generosity. It was not simply feeding someone, since their action demanded sacrifices at a time when they, themselves, were in the greatest need.
On the other hand, this has a broad implication which includes: the indigent, orphans and captives; and hence, their generosity covers a large variety of 'needy'. The embedded meaning in the Arabic text /'ala hubbihi/ refers to 'the food' and denotes the fact that they donated the food which they craved for. This conforms with the sense of Sura Al-i- 'Imran, No. 3, verse 92 which says: "By no means shall you attain righteousness unless you give freely (benevolently) of that which you love,..."
The meaning of /miskin/ 'indigent', /yatim/ 'orphan' and /asir/ 'captive' are clear, but, among the commentators, there is no agreement as to the exact meaning and the kind of /asir/ 'captive' , which is mentioned in the verse; but on the whole, the word 'captive' refers to one who was taken captive in the wars with atheists or polytheists.
According to the occasion of revelation, a captive had come to the door of Ali's house, when usually a captive would have been put in prison.
As we understand from history, the explanation is that at the time of Mohammad (p.b.u.h.) , there were no prisons at all The Prophet
(p.b.u.h.) distributed the captives among the Muslims to guard, however, he told them to be kind to the captives and to take good care of them. At times when those Muslims had problems in providing for their captives, they asked for help from other fellow Muslims. The 'guards' went with the captive or they sent him alone to seek their help. It is known that at that period in history, Muslims had very difficult times. Later, as the Muslims' territory and rule spread and when the number of criminal captives increased, with the spread of government, jails were built and the expenses were paid from the Muslims' treasury.
In any event, we understand from the above verse that one of the best acts is feeding the poor and the needy; not only those of Muslims, but also the poor and the needy from other territories and even pagans are included as a matter of Islamic routine. It is so important that feeding them is considered one of the prominent good deeds of 'the righteous'.
It has been narrated that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) told the believers that they should treat the captives well and fair. When the Muslims heard this; giving priority to captives, they even, at times, donated their own food to them. (1)
The fourth prominent characteristic of the Righteous is considered to be 'pureness and sincerity'; it says: "(Saying) : 'We feed you for the sake of Allah alone: no reward do we desire from you, nor thanks.'
They behave, thus, not only in the case of feeding the needy, but what they do is also sincere and for the sake of Allah They desire no reward nor thanks from anyone.
Basically, in Islam, the value of an action is in its sincerity and pure immaculate intention, and hence, activities which have worldly motivations, whether they be hypocritical or for people's approval and appreciation or for lusts or for venal rewards, have no Islamic or moral value. A famous tradition from the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) , which attests to this fact, says: " No deed is accepted unless (it is done) with the pure intention for Allah".
The term /wajh/ means literally 'face, countenance' then, the
(1) Kamil-i-Ibn-i-Athir, vol. 2, p. 131.
meaning of /wajh-i-llah/ is 'The face of Allah', but we know that Allah does not have a bodily face. 'Face' is the symbol of personality or self, then the meaning is 'the essence of Allah' as we read in Sura Baqarah No. 2, verse 272: " ...when you spend not except in search of Allah's countenance...".And also from Sura Kahf, No. 18 verse 28, it says: "And restrain yourself along with those who call on their Lord morning and evening desiring His countenance..."
On the last characteristic of 'The Righteous' it says: "We only fear from our Lord a day, frowningly severe". This statement can be made by their own tongue or by their mute mannerisms. The term 'frowning'is usually used to describe the persons who are distraught , hence it is used for the Day of Judgment, since the Day and its events are so stern and distressful that not only people are frowning, but the Day, itself, is also frowning. The term /qamtarir/ has often been used in the sense of 'being stern and calamitous'.
Here, a question arises: The Righteous act only for the sake of Allah, then why are they afraid of His punishment? Does their divine motive match with the motive of fear of the punishments on the Day of Judgment? Paying attention to one point makes the answer to the question clear.
The Righteous do everything, in any case, for the sake of Allah. If they are afraid of the punishments on the Day of Judgment, it is because they are His punishments and if they love for the Blessings of Heaven, it is because they are His blessings.
This is the same fact that is discussed in Islamic jurisprudence about the intention of a devotional act which says: devotional acts, for gaining Allah's affinity, do not contradict the desire of reward and the fear of punishment or even asking Allah for worldly gifts, such as the prayer of asking for rain, because all of them relate to Allah; though the high stage of a devotional act is that it is done totally only for the love of Allah, not for the desire of the Blessings in Heaven or for the fear of punishment in Hell.
The verse: "We only fear from our Lord a Day, frowningly severe" attests to the fact that this fear is also like having the fear of Allah.
It is noteworthy that the second and the fifth characteristics are both on the subject of fear, but with a difference, in that, the former only mentions the fear of the Day of Judgment, while in the latter it refers to the fear of Allah on that Day. At one point, 'Day' is
described by 'the chastisement of which is widespread' and another time it is characterized as 'frowning and calamitous'. In fact, one shows its vastness and the other refers to its spiritual quality.
Verse No. 11 points to a part of the result of the good deeds and pure intentions of the Righteous. It says: "Therefore, Allah will guard them against the evil of that Day and will grant over them a Light of Beauty and a (blissful) joy."
The term /nadrah/ means 'a special refreshment and happiness resulting from the abundance of blessing and comfort'. Truly, their appearance shows their inner calmness and happiness on that Day. Therefore, if they feared the Day, because of their responsibility in this world, on that Day Allah would make them happy in return.
The term /laqahum/ 'they meet', used in this verse, is very interesting and meaningful. It shows that Allah receives them with He Grace, and places them in the Light of His Mercy and because of this, they are full of joy and happiness.
Feeding the starved is of the greatest good deeds.
Feeding the needy is one of the prominent good deeds of 'the Righteous' and 'the servants of Allah'. This is mentioned not only in the above verses, but it is also emphasized in many other verses of the Qur'an. Hence, it is understood that this good deed is particularly appreciated by Allah.
Nowadays, according to the news broadcasts, every year millions of people die from starvation in some parts of the world, while in some other parts, so much extra food is discarded as garbage. If we pay attention to this, two points will become very clear. First, the absence of morals in today's world, and second, the need for Islamic instruction.
There are many Islamic narrations that seriously refer to this subject, some of which are as follows:
1. A tradition from the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) says: "One who feeds three Muslims, will be fed, by Allah, from three lush gardens in the dominion of the heavens.(1)
(1) Usul-i-Kafi, vol. 2, Chapter 'Feeding', Traditions 3 and 6.
2. A narration from Imam Sadiq (p.b.u.h.) says: "One who feeds a Muslim believer to his fill, will be rewarded on the Day of Judgment so much so that neither a man nor an angel nor a Prophet knows the amount except Allah, who is Lord for all."(1)
Another narration from the same Imam says: "I prefer to feed a needy believer than only to visit him and I prefer to visit him than to free ten slaves."(2)
Notice that the narrations do not emphasize on feeding only the needy and the starved, but some of them denote that feeding the believers is as important as freeing a slave even though the believer is not in need of the food. This shows that the main goal, besides feeding someone, is gaining the hearts and strengthening friendly relations. However, the opposite case is seen among many people today.
Sometimes two close friends or two relatives go to a hotel and each of them pays his own share, as if paying the expenses of the other is something unheard of, especially if the number of the guests is large.
Some narrations stipulate that feeding the starved, in general, (irrespective of believers or unbelievers) is of the best deeds. For example, a tradition from the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) says: "One of the greatest deeds, in the sight of Allah, is to soothe the heartached and to feed the starved. By Him in Whose hand is Mohammad's soul; the Muslim who, being satisfied with food, sleeps at night while his Muslim brother or neighbour is hungry, has not really believed in me (my prophecy) !" (3)
Although the last part of the aforementioned tradition is about feeding the Muslims, the first part covers all the starved and the vastness of the meaning may cover even the animals.
(1) Usul-i-Kafi, vol. 2, Chapter 'Feeding', Traditions 3 and 6.
(2) Usul-i-Kafi, vol. 2, Chapter 'Feeding', Tradition 18.
(3) Bihar-al-Anwar, vol. 74, p. 369.