Inner longing for eternity: Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:94-96) By: Mohammad Sobhanie

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Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:94-96)
By: Mohammad Sobhanie

Inner longing for eternity
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
قُلْ إِن كَانَتْ لَكُمُ الدَّارُ الْآخِرَةُ عِندَ اللَّـهِ خَالِصَةً مِّن دُونِ النَّاسِ فَتَمَنَّوُا الْمَوْتَ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ ﴿٩٤﴾ وَلَن يَتَمَنَّوْهُ أَبَدًا بِمَا قَدَّمَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ بِالظَّالِمِينَ ﴿٩٥﴾ وَلَتَجِدَنَّهُمْ أَحْرَصَ النَّاسِ عَلَىٰ حَيَاةٍ وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا ۚ يَوَدُّ أَحَدُهُمْ لَوْ يُعَمَّرُ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ وَمَا هُوَ بِمُزَحْزِحِهِ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ أَن يُعَمَّرَ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ بَصِيرٌ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ ﴿٩٦﴾
Translation:
2:94 Say, ‘If the abode of the Hereafter were exclusively (free from pain and suffering) for you with Allah, and not for other people, then long for death, should you be truthful.’
2:95 But they will not long for it ever because of what their hands have sent ahead, and Allah knows best the wrongdoers.
2:96 Surely, you will find them the greediest for life, of all people even the idolaters. Each of them is eager to live a thousand years, though it would not deliver him from the punishment, were he to live [that long]. And Allah watches what they do.
Commentary:
The Israelites had following false presumptions:
They were the children of God and His special friends [(وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ وَالنَّصَارَىٰ نَحْنُ أَبْنَاءُ اللَّـهِ وَأَحِبَّاؤُهُ), Al-Maida 5:18]
They were immune from eternal punishment, and in the worst-case scenario, Hell fire would not touch them except for a few days [(وَقَالُوا لَن تَمَسَّنَا النَّارُ إِلَّا أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَةً), Al-Baqara 2:80]
Paradise would be exclusively theirs to enjoy [ (وَقَالُوا لَن يَدْخُلَ الْجَنَّةَ إِلَّا مَن كَانَ هُودًا أَوْ نَصَارَىٰ), Al-Baqara 2:111]

The above beliefs imply that Allah (SWT) would discriminates amongst his human creation and bestow unconditional salvation only to certain members of a human race and/or religion. This view is absurd and is in contradiction with the divine justice.

The aforementioned verses question honesty of the Israelites in their views and challenge them to long for their death if they are truthful in their beliefs, which is explained further below.

The Israelites claimed that Paradise is solely theirs to enjoy. Understandably, anyone with a sound mind prefers to live in Paradise next to his Lord, instead of dealing with this world’s trials and tribulations. Nevertheless, none could enter Paradise until he had crossed bridge of death, and death is always in Allah’s hand.

To prove that the Israelites were insincere in their beliefs, Allah (SWT) granted them exclusive permission to long for their death [فَتَمَنَّوُا الْمَوْتَ], so they could enter Paradise without any further delay. Had they were sincere in their beliefs, the verse asserts that they would respond favorably to this call and invoke Allah (SWT) for their death.
قُلْ إِن كَانَتْ لَكُمُ الدَّارُ الْآخِرَةُ عِندَ اللَّـهِ خَالِصَةً مِّن دُونِ النَّاسِ فَتَمَنَّوُا الْمَوْتَ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ ﴿٩٤﴾
2:94 Say, ‘If the abode of the Hereafter were exclusively for you with Allah, and not for other people, then long for death, should you be truthful.’

The Quran prophesied two reasons for why they would never wish for death [وَلَن يَتَمَنَّوْهُ أَبَدًا]. The first one is fear from the horror of evil deeds, which they had committed with their own hands before their departures to the eternal abode [بِمَا قَدَّمَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ]. The second reason is their desires to live in this transient and temporary world, even more than the idolaters, for a thousand years.
وَلَن يَتَمَنَّوْهُ أَبَدًا بِمَا قَدَّمَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ بِالظَّالِمِينَ ﴿٩٥﴾
2:95 But they will not long for it ever because of what their hands have sent ahead, and Allah knows best the wrongdoers.
وَلَتَجِدَنَّهُمْ أَحْرَصَ النَّاسِ عَلَىٰ حَيَاةٍ وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا ۚ يَوَدُّ أَحَدُهُمْ لَوْ يُعَمَّرُ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ ……﴿٩٦﴾
2:96 Surely, you will find them the greediest for life, of all people even the idolaters. Each of them is eager to live a thousand years.

The verse concludes that living a long life on Earth would not save them from the eternal punishment that awaited them and that Allah (SWT) was aware of their doings.
……وَمَا هُوَ بِمُزَحْزِحِهِ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ أَن يُعَمَّرَ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ بَصِيرٌ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ ﴿٩٦﴾
2:96 …though it would not deliver him from the punishment, were he to live [that long]. And Allah watches what they do.

Inner Longing for Eternity: Friends of God [(أَوْلِيَاءُ لِلَّـهِ) and righteous people, to some extent, look forward towards being in the presence of the omnipotent Lord in Paradise. This is different from wishing death for oneself.
The Quran views life in this world as an opportunity for humanity to nurture their potential and talents, and to earn the blessings of the Hereafter with righteous deeds. Wishing death on oneself is equal to asking for the termination of all good opportunities in life. One might ask, why did Allah (SWT) challenge the Children of Israel to long for their death? After all, wishing death upon oneself is not good.
The Quran’s verses reveal an attempt to reason with the Israelites, that the ultimate and just God would not discriminate against His human creation. Unfortunately, ideological bias and self-delusion prevents a perverse mind to think realistically, which was the case with the Israelites. Therefore, God challenged them; perhaps their conscience would have awakened, and consequently they would have embraced the truth.
Life is a noble gift from God, and Islam, by no means, neither condemns the life of this world nor forbids the enjoyment of the permissible delights of livelihood [Al-Araf 7:32]. In fact, the Quran advise us to invoke Allah (SWT) to grant the goodness of this world as well as the Hereafter [Al-Baqara 2:201]. Being able to live a heathy, productive, and long life that leads one to getting closer with their Lord is one of the greatest opportunities from this world.
قُلْ إِن كَانَتْ لَكُمُ الدَّارُ الْآخِرَةُ عِندَ اللَّـهِ خَالِصَةً مِّن دُونِ النَّاسِ فَتَمَنَّوُا الْمَوْتَ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ ﴿٩٤﴾ وَلَن يَتَمَنَّوْهُ أَبَدًا بِمَا قَدَّمَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ بِالظَّالِمِينَ ﴿٩٥﴾ وَلَتَجِدَنَّهُمْ أَحْرَصَ النَّاسِ عَلَىٰ حَيَاةٍ وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا ۚ يَوَدُّ أَحَدُهُمْ لَوْ يُعَمَّرُ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ وَمَا هُوَ بِمُزَحْزِحِهِ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ أَن يُعَمَّرَ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ بَصِيرٌ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ ﴿٩٦﴾
Appendix:
[عِندَ اللَّـهِ] means firmly established with Allah, by His order and His permission [Al-Mizan, vol.1, P. 342, L. 20]
[خَالِصَةً] means purely, free from any pain and suffering; hence the meaning of:
إِن كَانَتْ لَكُمُ الدَّارُ الْآخِرَةُ عِندَ اللَّـهِ خَالِصَةً مِّن دُونِ النَّاسِ
is: if the abode of the Hereafter ,with the command of Allah, is free from any pain and suffering only for you alone. [Al-Mizan, Vol.1 , P.342, L. 23]
[أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ] means thousand years, “a thousand” is used to denote a great large quantity. In Arabic, it is the highest denomination, which is described by a single word. Higher denominations are shown by repetition and combination, for example, ten thousand, a hundred thousand, a thousand and thousand (i.e., a million). [Al-Mizan, Vol.1, P.344, L. 23]

Word-for-Word Translation:
2:94 [قُلْ] say [إِن] if [كَانَتْ] is [لَكُمُ] for you [الدَّارُ] the home [الْآخِرَةُ] of the Hereafter [عِندَ اللَّـهِ] with Allah [خَالِصَةً] specially [مِّن دُونِ] excluding [النَّاسِ] other people [فَتَمَنَّوُا] then long [الْمَوْتَ] for death [إِن] if [كُنتُمْ] you are [صَادِقِينَ] truthful.
2:95 [وَلَن] but will never [يَتَمَنَّوْهُ] they long for it [أَبَدًا] ever [بِمَا] for what [قَدَّمَتْ] sent ahead [أَيْدِيهِمْ] their hands [وَاللَّـهُ] and Allah [عَلِيمٌ] is All-Aware [بِالظَّالِمِينَ] of the wrong-doers
[وَلَتَجِدَنَّهُمْ] and verily you will find them [أَحْرَصَ] greediest [النَّاسِ] (of) mankind [عَلَىٰ] for [حَيَاةٍ] life [وَمِنَ] and of [الَّذِينَ] those who [أَشْرَكُوا] ascribed partners to Allah [يَوَدُّ] wishes [أَحَدُهُمْ] each of them [لَو] if [يُعَمَّرُ] he could be given a life [أَلْفَ] of a thousand [سَنَةٍ] years
[وَمَا] but not [هُوَ] this [بِمُزَحْزِحِهِ] would save (remove) [مِنَ] from [الْعَذَابِ] the punishment [أَن] though [يُعَمَّرَ] he be given that life [وَاللَّـهُ] and Allah [بَصِيرٌ] is All-seer [بِمَا] of that [يَعْمَلُونَ] they do

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