Whoever does an atom’s weight of good or evil shall see it: Imam al-Shinqitee

In his short work dedicated to dispelling misconceptions and misunderstandings that some may have regarding apparent contradictions in the Qur’an, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote the following comments regarding surah al-Zalzalah:

قَوْلُهُ تَعَالَى: فَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًا يَرَهُ وَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا يَرَهُ. ـ

Allah’s statement:

فَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًا يَرَهُ * وَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا يَرَهُ

So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, * And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it. [99:7-8]

هَذِهِ الْآيَةُ الْكَرِيمَةُ تَقْتَضِي أَنَّ كُلَّ إِنْسَانٍ كَافِرًا كَانَ أَوْ مُسْلِمًا يُجَازَى بِالْقَلِيلِ مِنَ الْخَيْرِ وَالشَّرِّ. ـ

This noble ayah entails that every person – whether he be disbeliever or a Muslim – will be recompensed for (even) a small amount of good or evil.

وَقَدْ جَاءَتْ آيَاتٌ أُخَرُ تَدُلُّ عَلَى خِلَافِ هَذَا الْعُمُومِ : ـ

But other ayaat have come which indicate something contrary to this generality:

أَمَّا مَا فَعَلَهُ الْكَافِرُ مِنَ الْخَيْرِ، فَالْآيَاتُ تُصَرِّحُ بِإِحْبَاطِهِ، كَقَوْلِهِ: أُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ لَيْسَ لَهُمْ فِي الْآخِرَةِ إِلَّا النَّارُ وَحَبِطَ مَا صَنَعُوا فِيهَا وَبَاطِلٌ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ [11 \ 16] ، وَقَوْلِهِ تَعَالَى: وَقَدِمْنَا إِلَى مَا عَمِلُوا مِنْ عَمَلٍ فَجَعَلْنَاهُ هَبَاءً مَنْثُورًا [25 \ 23] ، وَكَقَوْلِهِ: أَعْمَالُهُمْ كَرَمَادٍ الْآيَةَ [14 \ 18] وَقَوْلِهِ: أَعْمَالُهُمْ كَسَرَابٍ بِقِيعَةٍ الْآيَةَ [24 \ 39] إِلَى غَيْرِ ذَلِكَ مِنَ الْآيَاتِ. ـ

As for what the disbeliever does of good deeds, then there are a number of ayaat which make their futility clear, such as His statement:

أُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ لَيْسَ لَهُمْ فِي الْآخِرَةِ إِلَّا النَّارُ وَحَبِطَ مَا صَنَعُوا فِيهَا وَبَاطِلٌ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

Those are the ones for whom there is not in the Hereafter but the Fire. And lost is what they did therein, and worthless is what they used to do. [11:16]

And His statement:

وَقَدِمْنَا إِلَى مَا عَمِلُوا مِنْ عَمَلٍ فَجَعَلْنَاهُ هَبَاءً مَنْثُورًا

And We will regard what they have done of deeds and make them as dust dispersed. [25:23]

أَعْمَالُهُمْ كَرَمَادٍ

their deeds are like ashes… [14:18]

until the end of the ayah. And His statement:

أَعْمَالُهُمْ كَسَرَابٍ بِقِيعَةٍ

their deeds are like a mirage in a lowland… [24:39]

until the end of the ayah, as well as other ayaat.

وَأَمَّا مَا عَمِلَهُ الْمُسْلِمُ مِنَ الشَّرِّ، فَقَدْ صَرَّحَتِ الْآيَاتُ بِعَدَمِ لُزُومِ مُؤَاخَذَتِهِ بِهِ، لِاحْتِمَالِ الْمَغْفِرَةِ أَوْ لِوَعْدِ اللَّهِ بِهَا. كَقَوْلِهِ: وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ، [4 \ 48] وَقَوْلِهِ: إِنْ تَجْتَنِبُوا كَبَائِرَ مَا تُنْهَوْنَ عَنْهُ نُكَفِّرْ عَنْكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ [4 \ 31] إِلَى غَيْرِ ذَلِكَ مِنَ الْآيَاتِ. ـ

And as for what the Muslim does of evil, then there are a number of ayaat which make clear the absence of one necessarily being punished for this, based on the likelihood of his being granted forgiveness or due to Allah’s promise of that. For instance, His statement:

وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ

… but He forgives what is less than that [i.e. al-shirk] for whom He wills [4:48]

And His statement:

إِنْ تَجْتَنِبُوا كَبَائِرَ مَا تُنْهَوْنَ عَنْهُ نُكَفِّرْ عَنْكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ

If you avoid the major sins which you are forbidden, We will remove from you your lesser sins [4:31]

As well as other ayaat.

وَالْجَوَابُ عَنْ هَذَا مِنْ ثَلَاثَةِ أَوْجُهٍ: ـ

The answer to this apparent conflict comes from three angles:

الْأَوَّلُ: أَنَّ الْآيَةَ مِنَ الْعَامِّ الْمَخْصُوصِ، وَالْمَعْنَى: فَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًا يَرَهُ، إِنْ لَمْ يُحْبِطْهُ الْكُفْرُ بِدَلِيلِ آيَاتِ إِحْبَاطِ الْكُفْرِ عَمَلَ الْكُفَّارِ: وَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا يَرَهُ، إِنْ لَمْ يَغْفِرْهُ اللَّهُ لَهُ بِدَلِيلِ آيَاتِ احْتِمَالِ الْغُفْرَانِ وَالْوَعْدِ بِهِ. ـ

First: That this ayah is an example of speaking generally about something that has been specified elsewhere, and the meaning of it is: “So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it” so long as that good is not invalidated by disbelief, according to the ayaat which discuss kufr‘s invalidation of the disbelievers’ deeds, and “whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it” if Allah does not forgive him for that, according to the ayaat which discuss the likelihood of forgiveness and the promise of it.

الثَّانِي: أَنَّ الْآيَةَ عَلَى عُمُومِهَا، وَأَنَّ الْكَافِرَ يَرَى جَزَاءَ كُلِّ عَمَلِهِ الْحَسَنِ فِي الدُّنْيَا، كَمَا يَدُلُّ عَلَيْهِ قَوْلُهُ تَعَالَى: نُوَفِّ إِلَيْهِمْ أَعْمَالَهُمْ فِيهَا الْآيَةَ [11 \ 15] ، وَقَوْلُهُ: وَمَنْ كَانَ يُرِيدُ حَرْثَ الدُّنْيَا الْآيَةَ [42 \ 20] ، وَقَوْلُهُ تَعَالَى: وَوَجَدَ اللَّهَ عِنْدَهُ فَوَفَّاهُ حِسَابَهُ [24 \ 39] وَالْمُؤْمِنُ يَرَى جَزَاءَ عَمَلِهِ السَّيِّئِ فِي الدُّنْيَا بِالْمَصَائِبِ وَالْأَمْرَاضِ وَالْآلَامِ. ـ

Second: That this ayah is taken according to the general nature of its wording, and thus the disbeliever will see the reward of every one of his good deeds while still in this worldly life, just as Allah’s statement indicates:

مَن كَانَ يُرِ‌يدُ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا وَزِينَتَهَا نُوَفِّ إِلَيْهِمْ أَعْمَالَهُمْ فِيهَا وَهُمْ فِيهَا لَا يُبْخَسُونَ

Whoever desires the life of this world and its adornments – We fully repay them for their deeds therein, and they therein will not be deprived. [11:15]

And His statement:

وَمَن كَانَ يُرِ‌يدُ حَرْ‌ثَ الدُّنْيَا نُؤْتِهِ مِنْهَا وَمَا لَهُ فِي الْآخِرَ‌ةِ مِن نَّصِيبٍ

And whoever desires the harvest of this world – We give him thereof, but there is not for him in the Hereafter any share. [42:20]

And His statement:

وَوَجَدَ اللَّهَ عِنْدَهُ فَوَفَّاهُ حِسَابَهُ

but he finds Allah with him, Who will pay him his due [24:39]

And the believer will see the recompense of his evil deeds while still in this worldly life in the form of afflictions, illness and ailments.

وَيَدُلُّ لِهَذَا مَا أَخْرَجَهُ الطَّبَرَانِيُّ فِي الْأَوْسَطِ، وَالْبَيْهَقِيُّ فِي الشُّعَبِ، وَابْنُ أَبِي حَاتِمٍ، وَجَمَاعَةٌ عَنْ أَنَسٍ قَالَ: بَيْنَا أَبُو بَكْرٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ يَأْكُلُ مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِذْ نَزَلَتْ عَلَيْهِ: فَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ الْآيَةَ، فَرَفَعَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ يَدَهُ وَقَالَ: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنِّي لَرَاءٍ مَا عَمِلْتُ مِنْ مِثْقَالِ ذَرَّةٍ مِنْ شَرٍّ، فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: يَا أَبَا بَكْرٍ أَرَأَيْتَ مَا تَرَى فِي الدُّنْيَا مِمَّا تَكْرَهُ فَبِمَثَاقِيلِ ذَرِّ الشَّرِّ – الْحَدِيثَ. ـ

And this is indicated by what is recorded by al-Tabarani in al-Awsaat, al-Bayhaqi in al-Shu’ab, ibn Abi Haatim, and others on the authority of Anas who said:

Abu Bakr was among us eating with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) when the ayah was revealed, “So whoever does an atom’s weight…” [99:7-8], so Abu Bakr raised his hand and said, “O Messenger of Allah! Will I really see even an atom’s weight of evil that I did?!” So the Messenger of Allah responded, “O Abu Bakr, don’t you see what you’ve experienced during this worldly life of those things which you dislike? That is the atom’s weight of evil.”

الْوَجْهُ الثَّالِثُ: أَنَّ الْآيَةَ أَيْضًا عَلَى عُمُومِهَا، وَأَنَّ مَعْنَاهَا أَنَّ الْمُؤْمِنَ يَرَى كُلَّ مَا قَدَّمَ مِنْ خَيْرٍ وَشَرٍّ، فَيَغْفِرُ اللَّهُ لَهُ الشَّرَّ وَيُثِيبُهُ بِالْخَيْرِ، وَالْكَافِرُ يَرَى كُلَّ مَا قَدَّمَ مِنْ خَيْرٍ وَشَرٍّ، فَيُحْبِطُ مَا قَدَّمَ مِنْ خَيْرٍ وَيُجَازِيهِ بِمَا فَعَلَ مِنَ الشَّرِّ. ـ

The third angle: Also that the ayah is taken according to its general wording, and that its meaning is that the believer will see everything which he sent forth of both good and evil, and then Allah will forgive him for the evil and reward him for the good, while the disbeliever will see everything which he sent forth of both good and evil, and then what he sent forth of good will be invalidated and he will be recompensed for what he committed of evil.

[Daf’u Eehaam al-Idhtiraab ‘an Ayaat al-Kitaab pg. 281-282]

See also: Will the Disbelievers speak on the Day of Judgement?: Imam al-Shinqitee

See also: Whoever is guided or errs, it is only for or against himself: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: The Reckoning for the Believers will End in the Middle of the Day: Imam al-Shinqitee

Click here to view more similar translations from the same work.

See also: Whoever desires this world, We will repay them fully therein: Tafsir al-Sa’di

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3 thoughts on “Whoever does an atom’s weight of good or evil shall see it: Imam al-Shinqitee

  1. Pingback: Will the Disbelievers speak on the Day of Judgement?: Imam al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Whoever is guided or errs, it is only for or against himself: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Whoever desires this world, We will repay them fully therein: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

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