17. No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do.
The verse informs man that no one from among the creation of Allah knows the extent to what Allah will give the believers out of His favours and bounties in paradise. No one knows the greatness of these blessings and enjoyment in Paradise. No eyes have ever seen such favours, no ears have heard about them, and the thought of such blessings has never entered the heart of any man.
While commenting on the above verse, Imam Bukhari has given the tradition of Abu Hurairah (R.A) in which it is stated that the Prophet (S.A) said,
قَالَ اللَّهُ «أَعْدَدْتُ لِعِبَادِي الصَّالِحِينَ مَا لاَ عَيْنٌ رَأَتْ، وَلاَ أُذُنٌ سَمِعَتْ، وَلاَ خَطَرَ عَلَى قَلْبِ بَشَرٍ
‘Allah says, ‘I have prepared for My righteous servants (such pleasures in Paradise) which no eyes have seen, no ears have heard and the thought (of these) has never entered the heart of a man’.
After narrating this, Abu Hurairah (R.A) said, ‘Read if you like,
فَلَا تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَا أُخْفِيَ لَهُمْ مِنْ قُرَّةِ أَعْيُنٍ جَزَاءً بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
‘No person knows what is kept hidden from them of joy as a reward for what they used to do’. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, Vol.3, Pg.460, Amjad Academy, Lahore, Pakistan / Bukhari, Hadith No.3244, Pg.881, Vol.1, Altaf and Sons / Muslim, Hadith No.7135, Pg.1229, Darussalam).
It is also narrated that the Prophet (S.A) said,
مَنْ يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ يَنْعَمُ، لَا يَيْؤُسُ وَلَا تَبْلَى ثِيَابُهُ، وَلَا يَفْنَى شَبَابُهُ، فِي الْجَنَّةِ مَا لَا عَيْنٌ رَأَتْ، وَلَا أُذُنٌ سَمِعَتْ، وَلَا خَطَرَ عَلَى قَلْبِ بَشَرٍ
‘The person who enters Paradise will be in joy and bliss and no harm will come to him. His clothing will not become worn out and his youth will not come to an end. In paradise, there are such pleasures which no eyes have seen, no ears have heard about, and the thought has never entered the heart of a man’. (Muslim, Hadith No.7156, Pg.1232, Darussalam / Ahmad, Hadith No.8835, Pg.301, Vol.3, Altaf and Sons / Tafseer Ibn Katheer, Vol.3, Pg.360, Amjad Academy, Lahore, Pakistan)
Abdullah bin Masood (R.A) has stated, ‘It is written in the Torah that for those believers who forsake their beds for the worship of Allah and His remembrance, Allah has taken the responsibility upon Himself to prepare for them such pleasures in paradise which no eyes have seen, no ears have heard about, and the thought of these pleasures has not come upon the heart of any man’. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi, Vol.14, Pg.95, Maktab Rasheedya)
With respect to the true message contained in the above verse, Abdullah bin Abbas (R.A) said, ‘The matter is more exalted, and it is greater than that which can be known through its Tafseer (commentary). (Tafseer Al Qurtubi, Vol.14, Pg.95, Maktab Rasheedya)
While commenting on the above verse, Imam Qurtubi states, ‘This honour (of achieving such pleasures) will be given to those who will be at the highest and most exalted storey in Paradise’. He writes further, ‘this is evident from the tradition of Imam Muslim who records the tradition of Mugheera bin Shubah (R.A) that the Prophet (S.A) said, ‘Moosa (A.S) once asked his Lord, ‘O my Lord, what will be the lowest level of the people of paradise?’ Allah said, ‘It will be a man who will come after the people of paradise have entered paradise, and it shall be said to him, ‘Enter into paradise’. The man will say, ‘O my Lord, how (can I enter), when the people have already entered their homes (and palaces) and have taken what they desired to take’. It shall be said to him, ‘Are you pleased to have the like of the kingdom of a king from the kings of the world?’ The man will say, ‘I am pleased, my Lord’. Allah will say (to him), ‘For you is such kingdom and the like of it and the like of it together with it. You will get the like of it again, and the like of it again, and the like of it again and the like of it again’. When Allah will mention on the fifth occasion that the man will get the like of such kingdom, he (the man) will say, ‘O my Lord, I am pleased’. Upon this, it shall be said, ‘These are all for you and ten of its kind, and for you is whatever your heart desires and whatever pleases (fascinates) your eyes’. The man will say, ‘O my Lord, I am pleased’.
‘Moosa (A.S) then asked Allah, ‘What shall be the level of those in the highest paradise. (About them), Allah said, ‘These are the believers whom I intend to, and I have chosen to honour them with My hands, and I have concealed what I have prepared for them. Thus, no eye can see it, no ear can hear it, and its thoughts will not come to the heart of a man’. This is what is indicated to, in the Holy Quran in the verse, ‘No person knows what is kept hidden for them as a reward for what they used to do’. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.14 pg. 95, 96, Maktab Rasheedya).
The verse further states that such pleasures in paradise shall be as a reward and blessing for the good deeds which the believers used to do in the world.
Having mentioned the state of the transgressors in the hereafter and that of the pious believers, along with the honour that will come to the believers, Allah goes further in verse 18, to state that both of these groups are not equal, and are not on the same level. Allah’s attribute of justice and fairness requires that there be a clear distinction between the righteous believers and the transgressing unbelievers. Verse 18 states:
أَفَمَنْ كَانَ مُؤْمِنًا كَمَنْ كَانَ فَاسِقًا ۚ لَا يَسْتَوُونَ
18. Is then he who is a believer like him who is Fasiq (disbeliever and disobedient to Allah)? Not equal are they.
Allah mentions in the verse that those who are righteous believers in this world can never be like those who are transgressors and are disobedient to Allah. In this world, they are not equal, since belief and obedience are totally different from disbelief and disobedience, and in the hereafter, they will also not be treated in an equal manner. While commenting on the above verse, Abdullah bin Abbas (R.A) and Ata bin Yasar (A.R) along with other commentators, have stated that this was revealed regarding Ali bin Abi Talib (R.A) and a polytheist known as Waleed bin Uqba bin Abi Mu’eet. It is narrated that on one occasion when a verbal dispute arose between the two, Waleed said to Ali (R.A), ‘Be silent! You are a mere child. I am better than you in speech, I can throw a spear more accurately than you, and I am more courageous than you’. In reply to this, Ali (R.A) said, ‘You should be silent! You are a sinner’. Upon this incident, the above verse (v.18) was revealed. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi, Vol.14, Pg. 96-97, Maktab Rasheedya / Tafseer Ibn Katheer, Vol.3, Pg.462, Amjad Academy, Lahore, Pakistan / Tafseer At Tabari, Vol.21, Pg.123, Dar Ihya At Turath Al Arabi / Tafseer Al Bahrul Muheet, Vol.8, Pg.438, Darul Fikr).