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Quranic Terminology: Eternity: (4) Between Immortality/Eternity and the Term (Forever)

Quranic Terminology: Eternity: (4) Between Immortality/Eternity and the Term (Forever)

 

 

Published in January 3, 2020

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

 

 

 

 

Introduction:

 The Quranic term (forever) has two different meanings: when it is related to this temporary, transient world, it means conditional or absolute negation; when it is related to the Hereafter, it means eternity/immortality in Hell and in Paradise. We provide some details in the points below.

 

Firstly: (forever) within conditional negation regarding this world:

The Lord God says the following in the Quran.

1- "You have had an excellent example in Abraham and those with him; when they said to their people, “We are quit of you, and what you worship apart from God. We denounce you. Enmity and hatred has surfaced between us and you, forever, until you believe in God alone.”..." (60:4). In this verse, (forever) means (never), but this may end in case the disbelievers would believe in God within monotheism.

2- The Israelites, during the diaspora, told Moses they adamantly refuse to enter into the Holy/Promised Land: "They said, “O Moses, there are tyrannical people in it; we will not enter it until they leave it. If they leave it, we will be entering.”... They said, “O Moses, we will not enter it, forever, as long as they are in it. So go ahead, you and your Lord, and fight. We are staying right here.”" (5:22-24). This means that this negation is conditional; it will change and they will enter into the Promised land only after the defeat of the tyrannical people in it.

3- "Those who accuse chaste women, then cannot bring four witnesses, whip them eighty lashes, and do not accept their testimony forever. For these are the immoral. Except for those who repent afterwards, and reform; for God is Forgiving and Merciful." (24:4-5). This conditional negation indicates that their testimony may be accepted in case they sincerely repented.

4- The conditional negation here is linked to being true believers: "When you rumored it with your tongues, and spoke with your mouths what you had no knowledge of, and you considered it trivial; but according to God, it is serious...God cautions you never to return to the like of it forever, if you are believers." (24:15-17).

5- The conditional negation here is linked to the Grace and Mercy of the Lord God: "O you who believe! Do not follow Satan’s footsteps. Whoever follows Satan’s footsteps - he advocates obscenity and immorality. Were it not for God’s grace towards you, and His mercy, not one of you would have been pure, forever..." (24:21).

 

Secondly: (forever), in the sense of (never) or (ever), within absolute negation regarding this world:

1- The Lord God says the following in the Quran to refute the claims of the polytheists/disbelievers among the Israelites and to challenge them.

1/1: "Say, “If the Final Home with God is yours alone, to the exclusion of all other people, then wish for death if you are sincere.”But they will not wish for it, forever, because of what their hands have forwarded. God is aware of the unjust ones." (2:94-95).

1/2: "Say, “O you who follow Judaism; if you claim to be the chosen of God, to the exclusion of the rest of the humankind, then wish for death if you are sincere.” But they will not wish for it, forever, due to what their hands have advanced. God knows well the unjust ones." (62:6-7). The present tense and the future tense employed here indicate that this is a fact about the People of the Book and their likes; e.g., the polytheistic Muhammadans who assume as if Paradise is confined to them; the context 62:6-7 predicts their misguidance in their erroneous notions regarding the Hereafter since they know they are sinners: "And man will be evidence against himself. Even as he presents his excuses." (75:14-15).

2- The following context predicts, in all eras, the impossibility of guidance of those who refuse to consider the Quran enough/sufficient and they reject it in favor of false Sunnite, Shiite, and Sufi hadiths/narratives; this applies perfectly to the Muhammadans: "We send the messengers only as deliverers of good news and warners. Those who disbelieve argue with false argument, in order to defeat the Truth thereby. They take My Verses, and the warnings, for a joke.Who commits graver injustice than he, who, when reminded of his Lord’s Verses, turns away from them, and forgets what his hands have put forward? We have placed coverings over their hearts, lest they understand it, and heaviness in their ears. And if you call them to guidance, they will not be guided forever." (18:56-57).

3- This verse comes in the context of the conversation among the People of the Cave after they woke up after 309 years of slumber: "“If they discover you, they will stone you, or force you back into their religion; then you will not be saved forever.”" (18:20). This is absolute negation which will not change at all.

4- Within this Quranic parable, the unjust, arrogant man assumed that his lush, verdant orchard/garden will remain forever, but it was burned down and lost: "And cite for them the parable of two men. To one of them We gave two gardens of vine, and We surrounded them with palm-trees, and We placed between them crops. Both gardens produced their harvest in full, and suffered no loss. And We made a river flow through them. And thus he had abundant fruits. He said to his friend, as he conversed with him, “I am wealthier than you, and greater in manpower.” And he entered his garden, wronging himself. He said, “I do not think this will ever perish.”" (18:32-35).

5- This is about nosy companions who annoyed Muhammad with long visits at his chambers/homes: "O you who believe! Do not enter the homes of the prophet, unless you are given permission to come for a meal; and do not wait for its preparation. And when you are invited, go in. And when you have eaten, disperse, without lingering for conversation. This irritates the prophet, and he shies away from you, but God does not shy away from the truth. And when you ask his wives for something, ask them from behind a screen; that is purer for your hearts and their hearts. You must never offend the messenger of God, nor must you ever marry his wives after him, for that would be an enormity with God." (33:53); this legislation is linked to that era within the lifetime of those wives; after the death of Muhammad, no men could marry the widows of Muhammad at all; this absolute prohibition is asserted here about making wives of Muhammad like mothers to the rest of people at the time: "The prophet is more caring of the believers than they are of themselves, and his wives are mothers to them..." (33:6).

6- The Lord God says the following in the Quran about the hypocritical companions/contemporaries of Muhammad in Arabia.

6/1: This is about those who allied themselves to the aggressors among the People of the Book: "Have you not considered those who act hypocritically? They say to their brethren who disbelieved among the People of the Book, “If you are evicted, we will leave with you, and will not obey anyone against you, forever; and should anyone fight you, we will certainly support you.” But God bears witness that they are liars." (59:11). There is absolute negation here in the term (forever) in the sense of (never).

6/2: This is about those who were reluctant to participate in the self-defense military endeavors in Yathreb: "Those who stayed behind rejoiced at their staying behind the messenger of God. And they hated to strive with their wealth and their lives in God’s Way. And they said, “Do not venture out in the heat.” Say, “The Fire of Hell is much hotter, if they only understood.” Let them laugh a little, and weep much; in recompense for what they used to earn." (9:81-82). Their penalty is mentioned here in this direct speech addressed to Muhammad: "If God brings you back to a party of them, and they ask your permission to go out, say, “You will not go out with me, ever, nor will you ever fight an enemy with me. You were content to sit back the first time, so sit back with those who stay behind.” You are never to pray over anyone of them who dies, nor are you to stand at his graveside. They rejected God and His Messenger, and died while they were sinners." (9:83-84). This is a passive penalty: they are deprived from the honor of participation in the self-defense military endeavors in the future and Muhammad will never pray for them during their burial after their death. 

6/3: This is about hypocrites who established their harmful mosque inside Yathreb to slander and conspire against the believers and how Muhammad is addressed directly by the Lord God: "Then there are those who establish a mosque to cause harm, and disbelief, and disunity among the believers, and as an outpost for those who fight God and His Messenger. They will swear: “Our intentions are nothing but good.” But God bears witness that they are liars. Do not stand in it, ever. A mosque founded upon piety from the first day is worthier of your standing in it. In it are men who love to be purified. God loves those who purify themselves." (9:107-108). We see here absolute negation: Muhammad is commanded never to enter into this harmful mosque.

6/4: The hypocrites assumed that the military troops of self-defense which included Muhammad and the believers will be defeated and annihilated, and thus they will never return to Yathreb: "But you thought that the Messenger and the believers will never return, forever, to their families, and this seemed fine to your hearts; and you harbored evil thoughts, and were uncivilized people." (48:12).

 

Thirdly: (forever) regarding eternity inside Paradise:

The Lord God says the following in the Quran.

1- "As for those who believe and do good deeds, We will admit them into Gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding therein forever..." (4:57).

2- "But as for those who believe and do righteous deeds, We will admit them into gardens beneath which rivers flow, where they will abide forever..." (4:122).

3- "God will say, “This is a Day when the truthful will benefit from their truthfulness.” They will have Gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will remain forever..." (5:119).

4- "Their Lord announces to them good news of mercy from Him, and acceptance, and gardens wherein they will have lasting bliss. Abiding therein forever..." (9:21-22).

5- "...He has prepared for them Gardens beneath which rivers flow, where they will abide forever..." (9:100).

6- "...Whoever believes in God and performs good deeds, He will remit his misdeeds, and will admit him into gardens beneath which rivers flow, to dwell therein forever..." (64:9).

7- "...Whoever believes in God and performs good deeds, He will admit him into gardens beneath which rivers flow, therein to abide forever..." (65:11).

8- "Their reward is with their Lord: Gardens of Eternity beneath which rivers flow, where they will abide forever..." (98:8).

9- "...and to deliver good news to the believers who do righteous deeds, that they will have an excellent reward. In which they will abide forever." (18:2-3).

 

Fourthly: (forever) regarding eternity inside Hell:

The Lord God says the following in the Quran.

1- "Those who disbelieve and commit injustices; God is not about to forgive them, nor will He guide them to any path. Except to the path of Hell, where they will dwell forever..." (4:-168-169).

2- "God has cursed the disbelievers, and has prepared for them a Blaze. Dwelling therein forever..." (33:64-65).

3- "...He who disobeys God and His Messenger - for him is the Fire of Hell, in which they will dwell forever." (72:23).

 


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