What is Intended by the Seven Heavens?

Seven Heavens

There are seven verses in the Noble Qur’an which speak of سماوات سبع (seven heavens).

From amongst all the various interpretations that have been mentioned in this regard, the interpretation which appears to be most applicable is that سماوات سبع means exactly what it states: The seven heavens; however, heaven does not mean planets, but rather the entire collection of stars and celestial objects of the upper world; and seven is the number and an allegorical expression denoting multiplicity.

However, from other verses of the Qur’an it can be deduced that all the stars, planets, galaxies and nebulae that we observe are all associated with the collection of the first heaven. Accordingly, beyond this gigantic collection that we witness, there exist six other colossal collections (six heavens) – each one greater than the other – which are beyond the reach of human knowledge (at least for the present).

In verse 6 of Suratul Saffat, we read:

إِنَّا زَيَّنَّا السَّمَآءَ الدُّنْيَا بِزِينَةٍ الْکَواَكِبِ
“Surely We have adorned the nearest heaven with an adornment, the stars.”

Verse 12 of Suratul Fussilat says:

وَ زَيَّنَّا السَّمَآءَ الدُّنْياَ بِمَِصَابِيحَ
“…and We adorned the lower heaven with brilliant stars.”

And this very meaning, albeit with a slight difference, has also been mentioned in verse 5 of Suratul Mulk.

Interesting to note is the fact that the late ‘Allamah Majlisi has also mentioned this as one of the interpretations of the verse. In his book Biharul Anwar, he states: The third probability that strikes my mind is that all the firmaments that have been established for the celestial objects are referred to as the ‘lower heaven’!1

It is true that our present day scientific instruments have been unable to uncover the other six worlds as yet. However, as far as science is concerned, there is no evidence to deny their existence; and it is quite probable that this enigma shall be solved in the future.

In fact, discoveries of some astronomers indicate signs of the existence of other worlds, at this present moment. This is similar to the statement released by the renowned Palomar Observatory in connection with the enormity of the universe and that which we have previously presented. The portion of it, which substantiates our words, states:

By means of the telescope of the Palomar Observatory millions of new galaxies have been discovered, some of which are at a distance of a thousand million light years from us. However, beyond the distance of a thousand million light years, a gigantic, dark and dreadful space meets the eye within which nothing can be seen and observed.

But undoubtedly, within that dark and dreadful space there exist hundreds of millions of galaxies, such that the world on our side is held together in place by the gravitational force of those galaxies. This entire gigantic universe, which meets our eyes and possesses hundreds of thousands of millions of galaxies, is nothing but a small and trivial speck in comparison to a more gigantic universe … and we are not yet certain that beyond that second universe there does not exist yet another universe!2

Another scientist, in a detailed article written in connection with the enormity of the world of existence, after discussing the vast and astounding distances between the galaxies and presenting stupendous figures, all of which were in terms of light years, says: Until this juncture, the astronomers are of the opinion that presently they have only managed to proceed halfway towards the ‘visible’ fringes of the colossal universe … they suntil need to seek out the undiscovered space!3

Thus, the worlds that have opened up before man – despite all their enormity – constitute just a mere speck of this gigantic universe, and can be reconciled with the issue of the seven heavens.4


1. Biharul Anwar, vol. 55, pg. 78
2. Majallah Fadha, Number 56, month of Farwardeen, 351
3. Newsweek, year 1964. (It should not be forgotten that this testimony is related to 24 years earlier.)
4. Tafsir Payam-e-Qur’an, vol. 2, pg. 179

Is the Incident of the ‘People of the Cave’ Corroborated by Present-Day Science?

People of the Cave

It is possible that some people might harbour scepticism regarding the protracted sleep of the People of the Cave which had extended for years, and consider it to be incompatible with scientific standards and thus look upon it as a myth or legend, since:

Firstly: Such a long life of several hundred years is unlikely for those who are awake, let alone those who are in a state of sleep!

Secondly: Even if we were to accept the possibility of such a long life for one who is awake, it would be inconceivable for one who is asleep. This is because, in this case, the issue of food and nutrition comes to the fore; how is it possible for a person to remain alive for such a long period without food and water? If, supposedly, we were to assume to need one kilo of food and one litre of water per day, more than a hundred tons of food and a hundred thousand litres of water would be required for the life of the People of the Cave, and storing this quantity of food and water within the body is impossible.

Thirdly: Even if we were to overlook all of these, yet, the problem which surfaces is that the stationing of a body under monotonous conditions for such a lengthy period of time harms its physical organism and causes great wastages.

At first glance, these objections might appear to be insurmountable obstacles in the path of this issue. However this is not so, since:

Firstly: The issue of a lengthy life is not one that is unscientific, for we are aware that according to science, the life-span of no living entity possesses fixed and stipulated standards such that when the moment that is reached, death is inevitable.

In other words, while it is true that the physical strengths of man are finite and limited, this does not mean that the body of a man or another living entity does not possess the strength and ability to live longer than what is normal. It does not mean that just as water begins to boil when its temperature is raised to 100 degrees and turns to ice when it is lowered to zero, man likewise, when he reaches the age of a hundred or a hundred and fifty years, his heart necessarily ceases to function and he dies.

Rather, the life-span of living entities is related to the state of their lives, and is completely changeable by altering the lifestyle. A living testimony for this is that on the one hand none of the scientists of the world have set a definite scale for the life of man, while on the other, in the laboratories they have been successful to occasionally increase the longevity of living entities two fold or even several times, and at times increasing it twelve times over. They even assure us that in the future, by means of new scientific techniques, the life-span of man would increase several times more than his present one. The above discussion was in connection with the basic issue of longevity.

Secondly: As far as the issue of food and water during this prolonged sleep is concerned, had this been an ordinary and normal sleep, we would have accepted the protestor’s objection, for then, the issue would have been incompatible with the basic scientific principles.

This is because, despite the fact that the metabolic activity of the body in a state of sleep is much lower than that during wakefulness, however, collectively and over several years it would be very great. However it must be realized that in the world of nature there exist certain states of sleep – in which food consumption is extremely trivial – such as hibernation.


There are numerous animals which sleep all through the winter and undergo what is scientifically referred to as hibernation.

In this kind of sleep, the arterial activities almost come to a standsuntil with only an extremely feeble flame of them remaining alight. The heart almost stops beating, or to state it more correctly, its beatings become so feeble and inconspicuous that it can hardly be sensed.

In such conditions, the body can be compared to a large furnace, which, when turned off, has its pilot light left burning. It is evident that the daily fuel requirement of that furnace for keeping its towering flames alight could possibly cater to the fuel requirements for tens or hundreds of years of that intensely small pilot light (of course, this is dependent upon the flames of the furnace and that of the pilot light).

In connection with the hibernation of some of the animals, the scientists state as follows:

If we were to draw out a frog in hibernation, it would appear dead – its lungs contain no air and its heartbeats are so feeble so as to be imperceptible. Numerous butterflies, insects, earth snails and reptiles are some of the cold-blooded animals that undergo hibernation. Some of the warm-blooded mammals too undergo hibernation. During hibernation, arterial activities greatly decrease and the fat that has been stored in their bodies is slowly consumed.1

Thus, we have a kind of sleep in which the need for food and nutrition is extraordinarily reduced and the principal activities of the body almost come to a standsuntil. Incidentally, this very issue assists to prevent the wear and tear of the organs, and adds to the life of these animals. Essentially hibernation for these animals, which are apparently unable to procure their food during winter, is an invaluable opportunity.

Another Example, Burial of the Aztecs

It has also been observed in the case of Aztecs, that some of them are placed within a coffin before the unbelieving eyes of the amazed onlookers, and at times, buried for a period of even one week. After the conclusion of the period they are taken out and provided massage and artificial respiration in order to help them slowly return to normalcy.

Even if the need for food during this period can be considered to be unimportant, the need for oxygen would surely be vital, for we are aware of the sensitivity of the cerebral cells, especially with respect to oxygen. Their need for this vital element is so great that should they remain deprived of it even for a few minutes, they would perish. Now, how is it that the Aztecs endures the lack of oxygen for, say, a period of around one week?

In the light of the explanation presented by us, the answer to this question is not very difficult. During this period, the principal activities of the body of the ascetic almost comes to a standsuntil as a result of which, the oxygen requirement and consumption of the cells is drastically reduced to such an extent that the air trapped within the coffin is sufficient for nourishing the cells of his body for one whole week!

Freezing The Body of a Living Person

In connection with the issue of freezing the body of animals and even man (for lengthening their life-spans), there exist numerous theories and discussions, some of which have already been realized.

According to these theories it is possible, by placing the body of a man or an animal in sub-zero temperatures below using a special technique, to halt his life without him actually dying and after a period, when necessary, subject him to a suitable temperature and again bring him back to his normal state!

For space travels to far-flung planets which could probably take hundreds or thousands of years, several proposals have been presented, one of them being the idea that the body of the astronaut should be placed in a special container and frozen, and upon nearing the planet under consideration, the temperature within the container should be restored to normal by means of an automatic system. This would cause the astronauts to return to their normal states without having aged!

A leading science magazine reported that recently a book, written by Robert Nielson in connection with freezing the body of man for achieving a long life, has been published and has drawn widespread response in the scientific world.

In an article written in the abovementioned magazine and devoted to this issue, it has been asserted that lately, a new field of science has emerged which deals with this very topic. The article states: “All through the ages, possessing an eternal life has always been one of the deep-rooted and golden dreams of man; however, this dream has presently turned into a reality and is indebted to the wonderful advancements achieved in a new science called cryogenics (a science, which takes man to the icy worlds, preserving him as a frozen body in the hope of a day when scientists return him to life again.)”

Is this logic feasible? Numerous distinguished scientists are working on the issue from various dimensions, and publications such as Life and Esquire, and also newspapers all over the world have intensely debated this concept; and more significant is the fact that a programme is being implemented at this present moment.2

Recently, the newspapers reported that amidst the polar ices – which, as shown by their layers, date back to several thousand years – a frozen fish was found, which, when placed in water of room temperature sprang to life again and began moving around!

It is clear that while frozen the vital systems, unlike during death, do not entirely cease to function, but only become extraordinarily slack.

From all these discussions we infer that it is possible to bring life to a standsuntil or to an extraordinary state of slackness – a possibility, which has been attested by various scientific studies.

In such a state, the consumption of food by the being is almost reduced to zero as a result of which, the small reserves that exist within the body can be sufficient for maintaining its slow life for several long years.

However, the above explanation should not be mistaken to mean that we wish to deny the miraculous nature of the sleep of the People of the Cave; rather, we desire to facilitate a better comprehension of the occurrence by means of scientific explanations.

This is because, without any doubt, the sleep of the People of the Cave was not a common and ordinary sleep like our daily sleep; it was a sleep that was indeed exceptional in nature. Thus, there is no room for astonishment that they (by Allah’s orders) had drifted into a protracted slumber, neither suffering from lack of nutrition nor their physical organs suffering any harm!

Interestingly, from the verses of Suratul Kahf which relate their story, it appears that their sleep differed vastly from normal sleep:

وَ تَحْسَبُهُمْ أَيْقَاظاً وَ هُمْ رُقُودٌ … لَوِ اطَّلَعْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ لَوَلَّيْتَ مِنْهُمْ فِراَراً وَ لَمُلِئْتَ مِنْهُمْ رُعْباً
“And you might think them awake while they were asleep…if you looked at them you would certainly turn back from them in flight, and you would certainly be filled with awe because of them.”3

This verse is indicative of the fact that they were not overcome by an ordinary sleep; rather, they slept – in a manner that made them resemble a dead person – with their eyes kept open!

In addition, the Qur’an says: The sunrays did not enter their cave. And considering the fact that their cave was possibly located on one of the altitudes of Asia Minor in a chilly location, the exceptional nature of their sleep becomes all the more manifest.
On the other hand, the Qur’an says:

وَ نُقَلِّبُهُمْ ذاَتَ الْيَمِينِ وَ ذاَتَ الشِّماَلِ
“And We turned them about to the right and to the left.”4

This reveals that they were not in an entirely monotonous state; mysterious elements, which are suntil unknown to us, would turn them on their sides alternatively (possibly once in a year) so that their bodies do not suffer harm.

Now that this scientific discussion has become sufficiently clear, drawing inference from it with respect to the topic of Resurrection would not demand a detailed discussion for waking up after a prolonged sleep is not totally unlike coming to life after death, and serves to facilitate a better comprehension of the possibility and occurrence of Resurrection.5 and 6


1. An extract from the book Farhangnameh, under ‘zimistankhwabi’
2. The magazine Daanishmand, month of Bahman, Number 47, pg. 4
3. Suratul Kahf (18), Verse 18
4. Suratul Kahf (18), Verse 18
5. For further explanation in this regard, refer the book Ma’ad Wa Jahan Pas Az Marg.
6. Tafsir-e-Namuna, vol. 12, pg. 406

Is it Correct to Label Days as Auspicious and Inauspicious

Auspicious day

Among many people, it is a usual practise to consider some days to be blessed while some others to be inauspicious and sinister – although great differences prevail amongst man in singling them out. Nevertheless, the point of discussion is: To what extent is this general belief accepted in Islam? Or does it have its origins in Islam?

Of course, intellectually, it is not impossible that parts of time differ from each other – some possessing the characteristics of auspiciousness while others possessing contrary characteristics – however, we have no means to either establish or refute the issue. All we can say is that such a thing is possible despite not having been proved by means of rational proofs.

Accordingly, if we come to possess religious proofs that reach us by way of revelation and which serve to illuminate wider horizons for us in connection with this issue, not only is there no harm in accepting them, but on the contrary, its acceptance becomes essential.

There are only two instances in the Qur’an which allude to inauspicious days – verse 19 of Suratul Qamar and verse 16 of Suratul Fussilat – and which narrate the story of the people of ‘Ad:

فَأَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ رِيْحاً صَرْصَراً فِي أََيَّامٍ نَحِسَاتٍ
“So We sent on them a furious wind in unlucky days.”1

On the other hand, the expression مبارك (blessed) too is observed in some of the verses of the Qur’an, as is mentioned in connection with the Night of Qadr:

إِنَّا أََنْزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيلَةٍ مُبَارَكَةٍ…
“Surely We revealed it on a blessed night…”2

Originally, نحس means ‘extraordinary redness of the horizon’, which makes it appear as نحاس meaning ‘a flame of fire that is devoid of smoke’ and then, in this case, it is employed to mean ‘inauspicious’.

Thus, the Qur’an does not possess anything more than a vague allusion to this issue; however, as far as Islamic traditions are concerned, a number of them mention auspicious and inauspicious days. And although some of them are weak and, at times, mixed with traditions that have been fabricated or associated with superstition, nonetheless not all of them are such for undoubtedly there do exist genuine traditions amongst them, and the commentators too, whilst interpreting the above verses, have attested to this fact.

‘Allamah Majlisi, the great scholar of traditions has presented many traditions in this regard in his book Biharul Anwar.3

There are a few points that briefly need to be mentioned here: In a number of traditions, auspicious and inauspicious days have been interpreted in connection with the events that have transpired on those days. For example, in a tradition from the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) we read that a person sought to know from him, which was the Wednesday that the people considered to be inauspicious?

The Imam (a.s.) replied: That is the last Wednesday of the month which occurs during the waning of the moon. It was on this day that Qabil killed his brother Habil … And on this day of Wednesday, Allah (s.w.t.) sent the windstorm over the people of ‘Ad.4

And therefore, numerous commentators, on the basis of abundant traditions, have declared the last Wednesday of the month to be inauspicious and refer to it as:

أََلأَرْبِعَاءُ لاَ تَدُورُ.
“The Wednesday that shall never recur.”

Some other traditions declare the first day of the month to be auspicious and blessed since Adam (a.s.) was created on that day, and similarly for the 26th day of the month, for Allah (s.w.t.) had split the sea asunder for Musa (a.s.) on that day.5

A few state that the third day of the month is inauspicious for on that day Adam and Eve were expelled from Paradise, and the clothes of Paradise were taken away from them.6

Others claim that the seventh day is a blessed one, for on that day Nuh (a.s.) climbed aboard his ship (and was delivered from the flood).7

Or what we read in connection with Nawroz, in a tradition from Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.), when he said: “It is a blessed day since it was on this day that Nuh’s (a.s.) ark came to rest upon the (Mount) Judi, Jibra’il descended upon the Noble Prophet (S), ‘Ali (a.s.) climbed upon the shoulders of the Noble Prophet (S) and destroyed the idols of the Ka’bah, and the event of Ghadir Khum took place…”8

Such interpretations, which tend to correlate auspicious and inauspicious days with desirable and undesirable events, are mentioned many times in narrations. This is especially observed with respect to the day of ‘Ashura because the Umayyads, considering themselves to be victorious over the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), regarded it as an auspicious day – a concept that has been prohibited in no uncertain terms in the traditions. Traditions forbid people to regard it as a blessed day and also warn them that this day should not be considered to be a day for hoarding the provisions of the year; in fact, trade should be stopped on that day and one should practically distance oneself from the scheme of the Umayyads.

Collectively, these traditions have led some people to be of the opinion that Islam intends to draw the attention of the Muslims towards these incidents so that they learn from these events with respect to their deeds, and distance themselves from destructive episodes and those who were involved in them.

This interpretation could be true with respect to some traditions, but undoubtedly this is not so for all of them since, from some of the traditions, it can be inferred that occasionally, in some of these days, there exists a mysterious influence of which we are not aware.

Another point which demands attention is that some people carry the issue of auspicious and inauspicious days to such extremes that before attempting any task, they wait for such days and, in the process, lag behind in numerous activities and let golden opportunities slip out of their hands.

Or that instead of investigating the causes of the successes and failures of themselves and others, and benefiting from the invaluable experiences, they thrust the blame of all failures upon the inauspicious of the days, just as they search for the secret of successes in the blessed days!

This is a kind of escapism from reality, extremism in the issue and a superstitious explanation for life’s events – something that ought to be intensely avoided. In such issues, attention should not be paid to the hearsays amongst the people, the words of the astrologers or the fortune tellers. If something in this regard is established by means of authentic traditions, it must be accepted but if not, then, with scant regard for the words of every Tom, Dick and Harry, one ought to continue one’s life, advance firmly by means of one’s efforts and hard work, and rely upon Allah (s.w.t.) and seek His help.

Attention towards auspicious and inauspicious of days, in addition to guiding man towards a series of didactic historical events, also serves to make him mindful of Allah (s.w.t.) and turn to Him for assistance. It is for this reason we read in the traditions: On the days that have been branded as inauspicious, you can, after giving charity or reciting supplications or seeking Allah’s (s.w.t.) help or reciting some of the verses of the Noble Qur’an and placing your reliance on Allah (s.w.t.), pursue your work and emerge successful.

In a tradition we read that one of the companions of Imam Hasan ‘Askari (a.s.) came to meet him on a Tuesday, whereupon the Imam (a.s.) said: “I did not see you yesterday.”

The man replied: “Yesterday was a Monday and I was disinclined to move out on this day!” The Imam (a.s.) replied: “One who desires to remain protected from the evils of Monday, should recite Surat Hal Ata in the first rak’at of his morning prayer.” The Imam then recited this verse from Surat Hal Ata (which bears relation to warding away the evils.)9

فَوَقاَهُمُ اللٌّهُ شَرَّ ذٌلِکَ الْيَوْمِ
“Therefore Allah (s.w.t.) will guard them from the evil of that day and cause them to meet with ease and happiness.”

It has been reported in another tradition that one of the companions of the sixth Imam (a.s.) asked him: “Is it appropriate to embark upon a journey on the abominable days like Wednesday or other like days?”

The Imam (a.s.) replied: “Commence your journey by giving charity, recite Ayatul Kursi when you intend to start out (and then proceed wherever you desire.”10

It has been reported in a tradition that a companion of Imam ‘Ali ibne Muhammad al-Hadi (a.s.) says: “I arrived in the presence of the Imam (a.s.) in such a state that while on the way, I had wounded my finger, a rider had collided with me injuring my shoulder, and I had got entangled in the midst of a multitude and my garments were torn.” I exclaimed: “O’ Day! May Allah (s.w.t.) protect me from your evil! What an evil day you are! Having heard this, the Imam (a.s.) admonished him: “You are associated with us and yet you utter such things? You consider the day to be an offender when it has committed no offense?”

The narrator says: Hearing these words, I came to my senses and, realizing my mistake, said to him (a.s.): “O’ My Master! I am repentant and seek Allah’s forgiveness. The Imam (a.s.) added: “What crime have the days committed that you consider them to be inauspicious; it is only the consequences of your own deeds that come to afflict you in these days?”

The narrator says: “I shall continually seek forgiveness of Allah (s.w.t.) and this shall be my repentance, O’ Son of the Prophet of Allah!”

The Imam (a.s.) said: “This shall not prove beneficial for you; Allah (s.w.t.) shall punish you for reproaching something that did not deserve reproach. Don’t you know that Allah (s.w.t.) rewards and punishes, and shall recompense the deeds in this world and the Hereafter. He (a.s.) then added: Henceforth do not repeat this act and do not ascribe any effects to the days vis-à-vis Allah’s rulings!”11

This profound tradition alludes to the fact that even if the days happen to possess an influence, it is only upon the orders of Allah. Never should they be looked upon as possessing an independent influence and never should one be looked upon as being independent of Allah’s grace.

Thus, one should not associate the occurrence of events, which mainly possess an expiatory aspect with respect to man’s wrongful deeds, with the influence of the days and in this manner attempt to exonerate oneself. This explanation is perhaps the best way to resolve the conflict between the various traditions that exist in this regard.12


1. It should be noted that the term نحسات, which appears in the verse, is an adjective for the term ايام, i.e. the mentioned days have been described as inauspicious, whereas in the verse presently under discussion (في يوم نحس مستمر), the term يوم has been annexed to نحس and does not possess the descriptive meaning. However, with reference to the context of the above verse, we have to admit that in this case, the noun has been annexed to the adjective.
2. Suratul Dukhan (44), Verse 3
3. Biharul Anwar, vol. 59, Chapter al-Sama wa al-A’lam, pg. 1 to 91
4. Tafsir Nurul Thaqalain, vol. 5, pg. 183, no. 25
5. Tafsir Nurul Thaqalain, vol. 5, pg. 105
6. Tafsir Nurul Thaqalain, vol. 5, pg. 58
7. Tafsir Nurul Thaqalain, vol. 5, pg. 61
8. Biharul Anwar, vol. 59, pg. 92
9. Biharul Anwar, vol. 59, pg. 39, no. 7
10. Biharul Anwar, vol. 59, pg. 28
11. Tuhaf al-‘Uqul, as quoted in Biharul Anwar, vol. 59, pg. 2 (with a slight abridgment).
12. Tafsir-e-Namuna, vol. 23, pg. 41

Is Naskh (Abrogation) Permitted in the Religious Laws?

Religious Laws

According to the dictionary, نَسْخ means to efface and to dispel while, in the terminology of the Shari’ah, it means altering one ruling and replacing it with another one. For example:

After the emigration to Medinah, the Muslims, for a period of fifteen months, offered their prayers in the direction of Bayt al-Maqdas after which the order to change the Qiblah was issued and all of them were obliged to face the Ka’bah while offering their prayers.

In verse 15 of Suratul Nisa, the punishment stipulated for women, who committed fornication, was that if four witnesses testified to the crime they should be imprisoned in the house until death overtook them or until the time Allah (s.w.t.) decreed another alternative for them.

This verse was abrogated by means of verse 2 of Suratul Nur in which their punishment was changed to one hundred lashes.

At this juncture, there is a well-known objection, which is propounded as follows: If the first ruling possessed expediency and common good, then why was it abrogated? And if not, why was it legislated in the first place?

In other words: Why was this ruling not legislated from the very beginning so as to not have needed alteration?

Islamic scholars, since ancient times, have presented the answer to this question in their books which, together with our explanation, is as follows:

We do know that at times, with the change in time and conditions of the environment, man’s needs change while at other times they remain stable. One day a programme guarantees his success while on another day, due to changes in circumstances, it is likely that the same programme acts as an obstacle in his path of progress.

One day a particular medicine is extraordinarily effective for a sick person and so the doctor prescribes it for him, but on another day, due to a comparative betterment of his state, it is possible that this medicine could even be detrimental for him and so the doctor orders it to be discontinued and substitutes it with another medicine.

It is possible that a book is beneficial for a student this year but useless for him the next. An experienced teacher should adjust the course such that year after year only those books, which are necessary for the students and ought to be taught.

This issue, especially in view of the laws regarding the development of man and societies, becomes clearer; in the course of human development and perfection, at times a programme is beneficial and constructive while at times, detrimental and therefore in need of a change. The need for changing the curriculum at various time-intervals appears to become more manifest, particularly during the start of social and ideological revolutions.

Of course, it ought not to be forgotten that the fundamentals of Divine laws which constitute the basic foundations are the same everywhere; under no circumstances shall Unity, social justice or hundreds of other such rulings ever undergo an alteration. The change only occurs in secondary issues.

Additionally, it should not be forgotten that indeed the development of religions can reach such a state that the final religion is revealed as the Seal of the religions, such that there can be no alteration in its rulings.1


1. Tafsir-e-Namuna, vol. 1, pg. 390

Allotment of Sustenance on the Part of Allah’ and ‘Working for One’s Livelihood


How can ‘Allotment of Sustenance on the Part of Allah’ and ‘Working for One’s Livelihood’ be Consistent with one Another?

In verse 26 of Suratul Ra’d, we read:

أاََللٌّهُ يَـبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَنْ يَشَآءُ وَ يَقْدِرُ
“Allah (s.w.t.) amplifies and straitens the means of subsistence for whom He pleases.”

Taking into consideration the above verse, the question, which arises, is: How can the fact, that Allah (s.w.t.) apportions the sustenance, be regarded to be consistent with ‘expending effort for one’s livelihood’?

It is not just this verse which declares the increase and decrease in sustenance to be dictated by Allah (s.w.t.), but from various other verses too it can be clearly inferred that Allah (s.w.t.) augments or diminishes it from whosoever He pleases. However, these words do not mean, as some ignorant individuals have conjectured, that one should stop one’s efforts and sit down in a corner and wait for Allah (s.w.t.) to provide the allotted sustenance. Such individuals, whose negative thoughts provide an excellent excuse for those who look upon religion as being unconstructive, are oblivious of two fundamental points:

Firstly: The Divine Will and desire referred to in these verses is not something that is uncalculated; Allah’s Will is not separate from His wisdom and always takes into account ability, competence and worthiness.

Secondly: This issue does not mean that we reject the Realm of Causes. This is because the Realm of Causes of the world of creation is also a consequence of Allah’s Will and can never be separated from the Legislative will of Allah (s.w.t.).

Expressing it more clearly, Allah’s (s.w.t.) will with respect to enlarging and straitening sustenance is bound by certain conditions, which are dominant over man’s life – effort, sincerity and self-sacrifice and conversely, laziness and evil intentions play a determinative role in this regard. And this is why the Qur’an has repeatedly regarded man as being governed by his own effort and activity, and is of the opinion that the benefits which he derives out of life is in the measure of his endeavour.

It is for this reason that in the book Wasa’il al-Shi’a, in the section of trade, income and work, a chapter has been designated in connection with expending exertion for the purpose of procuring sustenance, and numerous traditions have been mentioned in this regard. In addition, another chapter has been devoted to traditions that reproach idleness, excessive sleep and laziness in the path of fulfilling the requirements of life.

In one of the traditions, the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) says: “In the very beginning, when entities entered into marriage, laziness and weakness married each other and an offspring, by the name of ‘poverty’, was born to them!”1

In a tradition, Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) says: “Do not exhibit indolence with respect to procuring sustenance and fulfilling the needs of the life, for our fathers and forefathers used to strive for it and endeavoured to procure it!”2

In another tradition Imam al-Baqir (a.s.) says: “I abhor the person, who is slothful with respect to his worldly work, for one who is lazy in his worldly work (despite the fact that he reaps its returns soon), is lazier in his work related the Hereafter.”3

It has also been reported that Imam Musa ibne Ja’far (a.s.) said: “Allah (s.w.t.) detests one who sleeps excessively, and regards one who is idle (and does not work) as His enemy.” 4 and 5


1. Wasa’il ash-Shi’a, vol. 12, pg. 38
2. Wasa’il ash-Shi’a, vol. 12, pg. 38
3. Wasa’il ash-Shi’a, vol. 12, pg. 37
4. Wasa’il ash-Shi’a, vol. 12, pg. 37
5. Tafsir-e-Namuna, vol. 10, pg. 204

If Every Person’s Sustenance has been Decreed, then why are Some (found to be) Hungry?


Verse 6 of Surat Hud says:

وَ مَا مِنْ دَابَّةٍ فِي الأَرضِ إِلاَّ وَ عَلـى اللٌّهِ رِزْقُـهَا
“And there is no animal in the earth but on Allah (s.w.t.) s the sustenance of it.”

In view of the above verse, the question that comes to mind is: Why it is that in today’s world and all throughout history there are some, who have died and continue to die of hunger? Have their livelihoods not been secured and safeguarded?

The answer to this questions demands attention towards the following points:

Firstly: Securing sustenance does not mean that it should be made ready for a person and sent to his house or a morsel prepared and put into his mouth; rather, it means that the groundwork has been prepared, but man’s effort is a condition for transforming them into actuality. Even Maryam (s.a.), in that severe state of labour in that lonely desert wherein Allah (s.w.t.) ordained her sustenance to become manifest in the form of dates upon the date-palm, was ordered to move and addressed as follows:

وَ هُزِّي إِلَيکِ بِجِذْعِ النَّخلَةِ…
“And shake towards you the trunk of the palm tree, it will drop on you fresh ripe dates.”1

Secondly: If, in the past and the present, men have usurped the rights of others and have taken their livelihoods from them unjustly, this does not prove that Allah (s.w.t.) has not secured their livelihoods. In other words, in addition to the issue of effort and striving, the existence of social justice is also a condition for a just distribution of sustenence.

And if it were to be said: Why does not Allah (s.w.t.) prevent the injustices perpetrated by the unjust ones? We state that the life of man is based on the freedom of will so that all are tested and examined, and not on force and compulsion – for in such a case the development and perfection (of man) would not take place.

Thirdly: In this very earth there exist numerous sources that can provide nutrition to mankind, but which need to be discovered and put to use. However, if man exhibits negligence in this regard, he is the one to be blamed.

We ought not to forget that some areas of Africa, the inhabitants of which die of hunger today, are amongst the most enriched regions of the world. However, destructive factors, which were mentioned above, have brought them to this miserable state of theirs.2


1. Surat Maryam (19), Verse 25
2. Tafsir Payam-e-Qur’an, vol. 2, pg. 357

Why is it that Nations, Devoid of Faith and Belief, Possess a Life of Ease and Comfort?


Verse 96 of Suratul A’raf says:

وَ لَوْ أََنَّ أَهلَ الْقُرَى آمَنُوا وَ التَّقَوْا لَفَتَحْناَ عَلَيْهِمْ بَرَکاَتٍ مِنَ السَّمَآءِ وَ الأَرضِ
“And if the people of the towns had believed and guarded (against evil) We would certainly have opened up for them blessings from the heaven and the earth, but they rejected, so We overtook them for what they had earned.”

In view of the above verse a question arises that if faith and piety are the cause for the descent of Divine blessings, why are nations that do not possess faith seen to be in great ease and luxury?

The answer to this question shall become clear by taking two points into regard:

The imagination that nations that lack faith and piety are in ease and comfort is a great error that stems from another error – that of regarding wealth to be the means of prosperity.

Usually people are given to imagine that the nation that possesses the maximum wealth and the most advanced industries is the most prosperous nation whereas if we were to penetrate into such societies and observe from close the gnawing pains that overwhelm their body and soul, we would realize that many of them are the most miserable ones on the earth – notwithstanding the fact that all these very comparative advancements are a consequence of effort, endeavour, discipline and sense of responsibility – all of which had been part of the teachings of the prophets.

Just as we write this portion of the commentary, the newspapers reported that New York – the most affluent and the advanced region of the material world – was witness to a very strange scenario arising out of a sudden blackout. Taking advantage of the situation, innumerable people rampaged into shops and looted them; the looting was so widespread that the police arrested three thousand people in connection with this incident.

The actual pillagers were undoubtedly much more in number for these were the people who were unable to escape in time. Undeniably these individuals were not professionals, who had planned the general rampage beforehand since the incident itself was sudden and unexpected.

Accordingly, we infer that one blackout caused tens of thousands of people of the inhabitants of an affluent city to be transformed into pillagers; this not only reveals the moral decadence of a nation but also reflects the intense lack of social security.

The newspapers carried another report, which served to present a complete picture of this incident. The report stated that a celebrity, who had been staying in one of the reputed skyscraper hotels of New York during this period, said: The blackout made walking in the hotel aisles a dangerous proposition to the extent that the hotel staff refused to permit the guests to walk in the aisles alone to proceed to their rooms lest they be accosted by the plunderers, and so they used to send them to their rooms in groups of ten or more, under the protection of armed escorts! The celebrity added that he did not possess the courage to emerge from his room, until he was overwhelmed with hunger!

However, such blackouts in the backward oriental nations do not cause such problems indicating that despite possessing wealth and industrial advancement, they do not possess security in their environments. Apart from this, eye-witnesses report that murder in these environments is akin to drinking one mouthful of water.

And we clearly perceive that if one were to be given the entire world but at the same time made to live in such conditions, he would be of the most miserable of all men. Besides, the security problem is just one of their problems; they face numerous other social problems which, by themselves, are painful and inconveniencing. In the light of these realities, wealth should not be mistaken and confused with prosperity.

As for what has been said regarding why those, who possess faith and piety, lagged behind in backwardness, it must be stated that if the meaning of faith and piety is to merely claim the acceptance of Islam and maintain adherence to the basic teachings of the prophets, then we do confess that such individuals have surely remained backward. However we know that the reality of faith and piety is their penetration into all acts of life, and this is something which cannot be achieved by mere claims.

It is unfortunate that in most of the Islamic societies today, the fundamental teachings of the prophets of Allah (s.w.t.) and Islam remain forsaken or semi-forsaken, leaving these societies to possess an appearance which is not that of true Muslims.

Islam invites towards purity, righteousness, trustworthiness, striving and effort – where is that trustworthiness and effort? Islam invites towards science, knowledge, awakening and awareness – where is that profuse knowledge and awareness? Islam invites towards unity, closeness of ranks and self-sacrifice – do all these dictates prevail over the Islamic societies today, perfectly and completely? Thus, we ought to acknowledge that Islam is one thing while we Muslims are something else.1


1. Tafsir-e-Namuna, vol. 6, pg. 268

Why is it that some of the Oppressors and Sinners are Drowned in Comfort and Bounties and do not Witness any Punishment?


From the verses of the Noble Qur’an it can be inferred that those who have not become greatly polluted by means of sins, Allah (s.w.t.) – by means of alarm bells, reactions of their deeds or at times, punishments in accordance with the deeds committed by them – awakens them and returns them to the correct path. These are those, who suntil possess the worthiness to be guided aright and hence are eligible for the grace of Allah (s.w.t.). In truth, their punishments and troubles can be regarded as bounties for them, as the Qur’an says:

ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَ الْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُمْ بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُون
“Corruption has appeared in the land and the sea on account of what the hands of men have wrought, that He may make them taste a part of that which they have done, so that they may return.”1

However those who have drowned themselves in sins and disobedience, and have transgressed all limits of rebelliousness, Allah (s.w.t.) leaves them to their own selves and grants them an open field in order that they commit more sins and thus become deserving of the maximum punishment. These are those, who have advanced such that they cannot return; they have ripped apart the curtains of shame and modesty, and have stripped themselves of the worthiness to attain Divine guidance.

Verse 178 of Surat Ale ‘Imran emphasises this purport when it says:

And let not those who disbelieve think that Our granting them respite is better for their souls; We grant them respite only that they may add to their sins; and they shall have a disgraceful chastisement.

The courageous lady of Islam, Zaynab-e-Kubra (s.a.), in the sermon which she delivered in Syria based her argument upon this verse vis-à-vis the rebellious Yazid – a manifest example of a sinner, who could never turn back – when she said to him: You are ecstatic today and imagine that confining the world for us, shutting out the horizons of the heavens upon us and leading us like captives from one city to another, is a sign of your strength? (You imagine that) you possess power and rank in the eyes of Allah (s.w.t.) while we have no standing before Him? You are mistaken! Allah (s.w.t.) has granted you this freedom and respite so that your back becomes heavy by the burden of your sins and (do know that) a painful chastisement awaits you…

Answer to one Question

Incidentally, the above verse also answers this question which plagues the mind of many as to why is it that many of the oppressors and sinners are surrounded by comfort, and do not taste chastisement?

The Qur’an says that these are individuals that are beyond rectification and, according to the law of creation, have been left to their own selves so that they drop down to the maximum extent possible and consequently become deserving of the severest punishment.

Apart from this, it can also be concluded from some of the verses of the Qur’an that, at times, Allah (s.w.t.) grants numerous bounties to such individuals and, at a time when they are completely engrossed and absorbed in their pleasures, suddenly takes them away so that they may taste the maximum torment in the life of this very world. This is because losing such an affluent and leisurely life is intensely disturbing, as we read:

فَلَمَّا نَسُوا مَا ذُكِّرُوا بِهِ فَتَحْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ أَبْوَابَ كُلِّ شَيْ‏ءٍ حَتَّى إِذَا فَرِحُوا بِمَا أُوتُوا أَخَذْنَاهُمْ بَغْـتَةً فَإِذَا هُمْ مُبْلِسُونَ
“But when they neglected that with which they had been admonished, We opened for them the doors of all things, until when they rejoiced in what they were given We seized them suddenly; then lo! they were in utter despair.”2

In truth, such individuals are like one, who wickedly and unjustly climbs a tree, becoming happier as he ascends higher until he reaches the top of the tree; suddenly a storm begins to blow and he falls down from that height – a fall that leaves all his bones shattered.3


1. Suratul Rum (30), Verse 41
2. Suratul An’am (6), Verse 44
3. Tafsir-e-Namuna, vol. 3, pg. 183

What kind of a book is the Quran?


The Holy Quran is a heavenly book revealed for the guidance of mankind. It was sent down on the heart of the Last of Prophets, Muhammad b. Abdullah, peace be upon him and his descendants.

The Quran, which is the eternal miracle of the Prophet of Islam (S), was gradually revealed over twenty three years to him. He read out the verses to people and they were attracted to Islam hearing them.

The Quran comprises 114 Surahs which consist of verses and all these verses total 77807 words of which 45653 words were revealed in Mecca and 32154 verses were revealed in Medina. Given the fact that the Quran is the last heavenly book revealed for man’s guidance, it is therefore the most perfect book that leads humanity to God.

What is the most important message of Surah al-Masadd?


The most important message of this Surah (chapter) can be explain in such a way that wealthy, position and family relationship with prophets cannot protect an individual from God’s wrath or fury.

Abu Lahab is an example in this chapter of the Quran. He is one of the chiefs of the clan of Quraish, the Holy Prophet’s uncle and a wealthy man among his people but none of these things were of any use to him.

Neither his position as a tribal leader nor his wealth or family relationship to the Prophet helped him attain proximity to God.  This is the divine promise: “The best of you to God is the most pious of you.”