Surah Ale-Imran (The Family Of Imran ) 3 : 185

كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَآئِقَةُ ٱلْمَوْتِ ۗ وَإِنَّمَا تُوَفَّوْنَ أُجُورَكُمْ يَوْمَ ٱلْقِيَٰمَةِ ۖ فَمَن زُحْزِحَ عَنِ ٱلنَّارِ وَأُدْخِلَ ٱلْجَنَّةَ فَقَدْ فَازَ ۗ وَمَا ٱلْحَيَوٰةُ ٱلدُّنْيَآ إِلَّا مَتَٰعُ ٱلْغُرُورِ

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection. So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has attained [his desire]. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion.

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

Here the sūrah addresses the Muslim community, explaining the values it should hold dear, and for which it should make sacrifices. It also speaks of the hardships and the suffering which it is bound to encounter on the way and encourages the Muslims to remain steadfast, show strong resolve and to always maintain fear of God.

The fact that this life on earth is limited to a certain date, which will inevitably come must be well established in believers’ hearts. Good people as well as bad people will certainly die. Those who fight a campaign of jihād and those who slacken, those who feel pride in their faith and those who are humbled by others, the brave who accept no injustice and the cowards who will do anything to remain alive, those who have great aspirations and the ones who seek only cheap enjoyment, will all die. No one will be spared: “Every soul shall taste death.” It is a cup from which every living thing will have to drink. There is no distinction whatsoever between one soul and another when it comes to drinking this cup. What distinction there is concerns a different value: the ultimate result. “You shall be paid on the Day of Resurrection only that which you have earned. He who shall be drawn away from the Fire and brought into paradise shall indeed have gained a triumph.” It is with regard to this value that the distinction will be made. It is this destiny which will separate one group of souls from another. The value is one worth striving for and one to be taken very seriously: “He who shall be drawn away from the Fire and brought into paradise shall indeed have gained a triumph.” 
 
The Arabic phrase rendered in translation as “shall be drawn away” is much more expressive than its English equivalent. This is because its very sound adds to its meaning and connotation. It gives the listener the sense that the Fire has strong gravity, that it pulls towards it anyone who draws near or enters its orbit. Such a person, then, needs support from someone else who draws him slowly and gradually away from its overpowering gravity. He who can be forced out of its orbit and become free of its pull will enter paradise, and he will have gained a great triumph.
 
It is a very vivid image, its lines delineated in sharp relief. We see movement, an overpowering force and a strong resistance. The fire beckons those who yield to the overpowering temptation of sin. Is it not true that a human being needs to be gradually drawn away from temptation? This is indeed how he is drawn away from the Fire. Despite the hard work and alertness this requires, man will always be in deficit with regard to the good work he needs to do. His only hope is for God to bestow on him His grace. That is what is being “drawn away” from the fire really means. It is only through God’s grace that man is spared the punishment of hell.
 
“The life of this world is nothing but an illusory enjoyment.” There is enjoyment in this life, it is true. But it is not real enjoyment; it is deceptive indeed; an enjoyment which leads to illusions. As for the real enjoyment which gives lasting happiness and ecstasy, this can only be found in the life to come. It is the triumph gained when one is brought into Paradise. When this fact is well established in the believer’s heart, when he is no longer so keen to stay alive, since every soul shall taste death anyway, and when he has recognised the illusory nature of the enjoyment of this life, God tells the believers of the trials which they shall have to endure in their possessions and persons. By then, they are well prepared for the sacrifice.

Reflections

  •  The way to apply this part of the verse in your daily life is to stop for a second before you enjoy the pleasures you encounter, no matter how minor. Stop and think before you enjoy a warm shower, a cold drink, a delicious meal, a hefty paycheck, a fancy car, a new set of clothes, and so on. Stop and realize that what you have before you is an illusion. While it is real in the sense that it is a created, tangible, physical thing, there is a much deeper, hidden reality attached to what you are about to enjoy, such that you will be living in a state of deception if you are oblivious to this reality. And this reality is the opposite of the deception mentioned in this verse, which we should likewise beware of. One aspect of the deception to be aware of is that our enjoyments give us a false sense of power.
     
  •  Another aspect of this deception is the sense that what you are about to enjoy will always be there. In the moment when you’re thinking of nothing but the pleasure or relaxation that any given luxury has to offer, it is not likely to cross your mind that this luxury could disappear in the blink of an eye. Hold up that glass of cold water and remember the very last verse of Surah al-Mulk: [“Tell me: if all your water were to sink away, who will supply you with flowing water?"] Sitting with your wives, your husbands, your children, your friends - how do you know they will all be alive tomorrow? Next time you are enjoying some time with any of them, remind yourself of v. 26 of Surah ar-Rahman: [“Whatsoever is on it [the Earth] will perish.”] When you pull into your driveway and are about to walk into that large home, stand there for a minute and think of the story of the two men with the gardens in v. 32-43 of Surah al-Kahf, and realize that between one second and the next, all of this could be gone. Anything you currently enjoy - big or small, alive or inanimate - could disappear. The sense of comfort you experience is merely the response to a deceptive illusion put before you by Allah.
     
  • A third point of deception is that you lose a sense of what true enjoyment is and what is isn't. Our minds are such that when we spend a long time chasing after a second-rate goal or luxury and finally attain what we seek, we cannot imagine that there is anything better than what we have. Imagine you are lost in a desert, having had nothing to eat or drink for days. Suddenly, you come across a piece of dry bread, a bit of old cheese, and a jug of luke-warm water. It will resemble a feast for you because of your intense hunger, and you will think to yourself as you finally nourish your aching body that this is all you want. You are so happy to finally be able to satisfy your hunger and thirst with this second-rate meal that you're not thinking about having fresh bread, fresh cheese, and clean, cool water.
     
  •  The reality the verse is exposing to you is that whatever you could possibly enjoy here is nothing in comparison to the pleasures found in Paradise. But because it is the life of this world which is tangible to us now, and the life in Paradise is known to us only through the Qur’anic verses and the Prophetic statements, you should stop before delving into each luxury and remind yourself that you are about to enjoy a mere illusion of pleasure in compari-son with the reality that awaits you in the Hereafter, whether it be the joys of Paradise or the horrors of Hellfire.
     
  • Each of these three points of deception vs. reality has a practical effect on your personality once you internalize them:
    1. As for the first: it teaches you humility;
    2. As for the second point: it teaches you greater appreciation for what you have at the time;
    3. As for the last: it develops a greater attachment between your heart and the Hereafter, and detaches you from the frivolties of this temporary life.

2. Linguistic Analysis

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  • Surah al-Baqarah and Ale-Imran are the only Surahs of the Qur'an (2:96) (3:185) which have the root word زُحْزِحَ


Frequency of Root words in this Ayat used in this Surah *


3. Surah Overview

4. Miscellaneous Information

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5. Connected/Related Ayat

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  • The usage of the word زُحْزِحَ 

    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 "And you will surely find them the most greedy of people for life - [even] more than those who associate others with Allah. One of them wishes that he could be granted life a thousand years, but it would not remove him in the least from the [coming] punishment that he should be granted life. And Allah is Seeing of what they do." (2:96)
     
  • وَمَآ أُوتِيتُم مِّن شَىْءٍ فَمَتَـعُ الْحَيَوةِ الدُّنْيَا وَزِينَتُهَا وَمَا عِندَ اللَّهِ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَى "And whatever you have been given is an enjoyment of the life of (this) world and its adornment, and that (Hereafter) which is with Allah is better and will remain forever)" (28:60)

  • بَلْ تُؤْثِرُونَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا  وَالْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَىٰ "But you prefer the worldly life,While the Hereafter is better and more enduring." (27:17)

6. Frequency of the word

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7. Period of Revelation

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“This Surah consists of four discourses:

  • The first discourse (v. 1-32) was probably revealed soon after the Battle of Badr.
  • The second discourse (v. 33-63) was revealed in 9 A.H. (After Hijrah - migration from Makkah to Madinah) on the occasion of the visit of the deputation from the Christians of Najran.
  • The third discourse (v. 64-120) appears to have been revealed immediately after the first one.
  • The fourth discourse (v. 121-200) was revealed after the Battle of Uhud.” [Mawdudi]

8. Reasons for Revelation

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1. The Believers had met with all sorts of trials and hardships about which they had been forewarned in Al-Baqarah. Though they had come out victorious in the Battle of Badr they were not out of danger yet. Their victory had aroused the enmity of all those powers in Arabia which were opposed to the islamic Movement. Signs of threatening storms had begun to appear on all sides and the Muslims were in a perpetual state of fear and anxiety. It looked as if the whole Arabian world around the tiny state of Madinah - which was no more than a village state at that time - was bent upon blotting out its very existence. This state of war was also adversely affecting its economy which had already been badly disturbed by the influx of the Muslim refugees from Makkah.

2. Then there was the disturbing problem of the Jewish clans who lived in the suburbs of Madinah. They were discarding the treaties of alliance they had made with the Prophet after his migration from Makkah. So much so that on the occasion of the Battle of Badr these people of the Book sympathized with the evil aims of the idolaters in spite of the fact that their fundamental articles of Faith - Monotheism, Prophethood and Life-after-death - were the same as those of the Muslims. After the Battle of Badr they openly began to incite the Quraysh and other Arab clans to wreak their vengeance on the Muslims. Thus those Jewish clans set aside their centuries-old friendly and neighbourly relations with the people of Madinah. At last when their mischievous actions and breaches of treaties became unbearable the Prophet attacked the Bani-Qaynuqah, the most mischievous of all the other Jewish clans who had conspired with the hypocrites of Madinah and the idolatrous Arab clans to encircle the Believers on all sides. The magnitude of the peril might be judged from the fact that even the life of the Prophet himself was always in danger. Therefore his Companions slept in their armours during that period and kept watch at night to guard against any sudden attack and whenever the Prophet happened to be out of sight even for a short while they would at once set out in search of him.

3. This incitement by the Jews added fuel to the fire which was burning in the hearts of the Quraysh and they began to make preparations to avenge the defeat they had suffered at Badr. A year after this an army of 3000 strong marched out of Makkah to invade Madinah and a battle took place at the foot of Mount Uhud. The Prophet came out of Madinah with one thousand men to meet the enemy. While they were marching to the battlefield three hundred hypocrites deserted the army and returned to Madinah but there still remained a small band of hypocrites among the seven hundred who accompanied the Prophet. They played their part and did their utmost to create mischief and chaos in the ranks of the Believers during the Battle. This was the first clear indication of the fact that within the fold of the Muslim Community there was quite a large number of saboteurs who were always ready to conspire with the external enemies to harm their own brethren.

4. Though the devices of the hypocrites had played a great part in the set-back at Uhud, the weaknesses of the Muslims themselves contributed no less to it. And it was but natural that the Muslims should show signs of moral weakness for they were a new community which had only recently been formed on a new ideology and had not as yet got a thorough moral training. Naturally in this second hard test of their physical and moral strength some weaknesses came to the surface. That is why a detailed review of the Battle of Uhud was needed to warn the Muslims of their shortcomings and to issue instructions for their reform. It should also be noted that this review of the Battle is quite different from the reviews that are usually made by generals on similar occasions.

9. Relevant Hadith

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  • Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "Indeed the space in Paradise taken up by a whip, is better than the world and what is in it. Recite if you wish: 'And whoever is moved away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (3:185).' Tirmidhee no. 3013
     
  • أَخْبَرَنَا يُونُسُ بْنُ عَبْدِ الأَعْلَى، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي أَنَسٌ، عَنْ سُهَيْلِ بْنِ أَبِي صَالِحٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ "‏ مَنْ صَامَ يَوْمًا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ زَحْزَحَ اللَّهُ وَجْهَهُ عَنِ النَّارِ بِذَلِكَ الْيَوْمِ سَبْعِينَ خَرِيفًا ‏"‏ 

    Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: "Whoever fasts one day in the cause of Allah, the Mighty and sublime, Allah will remove his face away from the fire in return for the day (the distance of) seventy autumns." Sunan an-Nasa'i 2244

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