The Enduring Good Deeds: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Allah says in surah al-Kahf:

الْمَالُ وَالْبَنُونَ زِينَةُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَالْبَاقِيَاتُ الصَّالِحَاتُ خَيْرٌ عِندَ رَبِّكَ ثَوَابًا وَخَيْرٌ أَمَلًا

Wealth and children are the adornment of the life of this world. But al-baaqiyaat al-saalihaat (the enduring good deeds) are better with your Lord for rewards and better in respect of hope. [18:46]

Commenting on this in his book of tafsir, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote:

ذكر جل وعلا في هذه الآية الكريمة أن المال والبنين زينة الحياة الدنيا ، وأن الباقيات الصالحات خير عند الله ثوابا وخير أملا . ـ

In this noble ayah, Allah mentions that wealth and children are the beautification of this worldly life, and that al-baaqiyaat al-saalihaat (the enduring good deeds) are better with Allah for rewards and better for one’s hopes.

والمراد من الآية الكريمة تنبيه الناس للعمل الصالح ; لئلا يشتغلوا بزينة الحياة الدنيا [ ص: 281 ] من المال والبنين عما ينفعهم في الآخرة عند الله من الأعمال الباقيات الصالحات ، وهذا المعنى الذي أشار له هنا جاء مبينا في آيات أخر ، كقوله تعالى : زين للناس حب الشهوات من النساء والبنين والقناطير المقنطرة من الذهب والفضة والخيل المسومة والأنعام والحرث ذلك متاع الحياة الدنيا والله عنده حسن المآب قل أؤنبئكم بخير من ذلكم للذين اتقوا عند ربهم جنات تجري من تحتها الأنهار خالدين فيها وأزواج مطهرة الآية [ 3 \ 14 – 15 ] ، وقولـه : ياأيها الذين آمنوا لا تلهكم أموالكم ولا أولادكم عن ذكر الله ومن يفعل ذلك فأولئك هم الخاسرون [ 63 \ 9 ] ، وقولـه : إنما أموالكم وأولادكم فتنة والله عنده أجر عظيم [ 64 \ 15 ] ، وقولـه : وما أموالكم ولا أولادكم بالتي تقربكم عندنا زلفى إلا من آمن وعمل صالحا الآية [ 34 \ 37 ] ، وقولـه : يوم لا ينفع مال ولا بنون إلا من أتى الله بقلب سليم [ 26 \ 88 ] ، إلى غير ذلك من الآيات الدالة على أن الإنسان لا ينبغي له الاشتغال بزينة الحياة الدنيا عما ينفعه في آخرته ، وأقوال العلماء في الباقيات الصالحات كلها راجعة إلى شيء واحد ، وهو الأعمال التي ترضي الله ، سواء قلنا : إنها الصلوات الخمس ، كما هو مروي عن جماعة من السلف : منهم ابن عباس ، وسعيد بن جبير ، وأبو ميسرة ، وعمرو بن شرحبيل ، أو أنها : سبحان الله والحمد لله ولا إله إلا الله والله أكبر ولا حول ولا قوة إلا بالله العلي العظيم ، وعلى هذا القول جمهور العلماء ، وجاءت دالة عليه أحاديث مرفوعة عن أبي سعيد الخدري ، وأبي الدرداء ، وأبي هريرة ، والنعمان بن بشير ، وعائشة رضي الله عنهم . ـ

The intended meaning of this noble ayah is to draw people’s attention to righteous deeds so that they are not busied with the adornments of the life of this world such as wealth and children, distracted and diverted away from the enduring good deeds which will benefit them in the hereafter with Allah.

This meaning which has been indicated here has also come clearly in a number of other ayaat, such as Allah’s statement:

زُيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ حُبُّ الشَّهَوَاتِ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ وَالْبَنِينَ وَالْقَنَاطِيرِ الْمُقَنطَرَةِ مِنَ الذَّهَبِ وَالْفِضَّةِ وَالْخَيْلِ الْمُسَوَّمَةِ وَالْأَنْعَامِ وَالْحَرْثِ ۗ ذَٰلِكَ مَتَاعُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَاللَّـهُ عِندَهُ حُسْنُ الْمَآبِ * قُلْ أَؤُنَبِّئُكُم بِخَيْرٍ مِّن ذَٰلِكُمْ ۚ لِلَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا وَأَزْوَاجٌ مُّطَهَّرَةٌ وَرِضْوَانٌ مِّنَ اللَّـهِ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ بَصِيرٌ بِالْعِبَادِ

Beautified for men is the love of things they covet; women, children, much of gold and silver (wealth), branded beautiful horses, cattle and well-tilled land. This is the pleasure of the present world’s life; but Allah has the excellent return with Him. * Say, “Shall I inform you of something better than that? For those who fear Allah will be gardens in the presence of their Lord beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally, and purified spouses and approval from Allah. And Allah is Seeing of [His] servants [3:14-15]

and His statement:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُلْهِكُمْ أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُمْ عَن ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ ۚ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ

O you who have believed, do not let your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah. And whoever does that – then those are the losers. [63:9]

and His statement:

إِنَّمَا أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَأَوْلَادُكُمْ فِتْنَةٌ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ عِندَهُ أَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ

Your wealth and your children are but a trial, and Allah has with Him a great reward. [64:15]

and His statement:

وَمَا أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُم بِالَّتِي تُقَرِّبُكُمْ عِندَنَا زُلْفَىٰ إِلَّا مَنْ آمَنَ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَأُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُمْ جَزَاءُ الضِّعْفِ بِمَا عَمِلُوا وَهُمْ فِي الْغُرُفَاتِ آمِنُونَ

And it is not your wealth or your children that bring you nearer to Us in position, but it is [by being] one who has believed and done righteousness. For them there will be the double reward for what they did, and they will be in the upper chambers, safe. [34:37]

and His statement:

يَوْمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَ * إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّـهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ

The day when neither wealth nor children will benefit * except for whoever comes to Allah with a pure heart. [26:87-88]

as well as other ayaat whose message is that mankind should not let the adornments of this worldly life distract him away from what will be of benefit to his hereafter.

And the various statements of the scholars regarding the meaning of al-baaqiyaat al-saalihaat (the enduring good deeds) all ultimately go back to one thing, which are the deeds which are pleasing to Allah. This is true whether we say that it is referring to the five daily prays – as has been transmitted from a group of the salaf including ibn ‘Abbaas, Sa’eed ibn Jubayr, Abu Maysarah, and ‘Amr ibn Shurahbeel – or whether we say that it means “subhan Allah“, “al-hamdu lillaah“, “laa ilaaha illallaah“, “Allaahu akbar” and “laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa billaah al-‘Alee al-‘Atheem“. And this second position is the position of the majority of the scholars, and a number of prophetic ahaadeeth have come – from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri, Abu al-Dardaa’, Abu Hurayrah, al-Nu’man ibn Basheer, and ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with all of them) – supporting this position.

قال مقيده عفا الله عنه : التحقيق أن ” الباقيات الصالحات ” لفظ عام ، يشمل الصلوات الخمس ، والكلمات الخمس المذكورة ، وغير ذلك من الأعمال التي ترضي الله تعالى : لأنها باقية لصاحبها غير زائلة . ولا فانية كزينة الحياة الدنيا ، ولأنها أيضا صالحة لوقوعها على الوجه الذي يرضي الله تعالى . وقوله : خير ثوابا تقدم معناه . وقوله : وخير أملا أي : الذي يؤمل من عواقب الباقيات الصالحات ، خير مما يؤمله أهل الدنيا من زينة حياتهم الدنيا وأصل الأمل : طمع الإنسان بحصول ما يرجوه في المستقبل . ونظير هذه الآية الكريمة قوله تعالى في ” مريم ” : ويزيد الله الذين اهتدوا هدى والباقيات الصالحات خير عند ربك ثوابا وخير مردا [ 19 \ 76 ] ، والمرد : المرجع إلى الله يوم القيامة ، وقال بعض العلماء : ” مردا ” مصدر ميمي ، أي : [ ص: 282 ] وخير ردا للثواب على فاعلها ، فليست كأعمال الكفار التي لا ترد ثوابا على صاحبها . ـ

And I, the author (may Allah pardon me), say: The reality of “al-baaqiyaat al-saalihaat” is that it is a general phrase encompassing the five daily prayers and the five aforementioned phrases, as well as other righteous good deeds with which Allah is pleased, for all of these last for the one who did them without dissipating, and they do not come to an end as the adornments of this worldly life ultimately do. And these things are not only lasting, but they are also righteous because they are done in a manner which pleases Allah.

We have already previously explained Allah’s statement:

خَيْرٌ عِندَ رَبِّكَ ثَوَابًا

… is better with your Lord for rewards …

But as for His statement:

وَخَيْرٌ أَمَلًا

… and better in respect of hope

meaning: those things which one hopes will be the ultimate outcome of the enduring good deeds are better than the adornments of the is worldly life which the people of this world hope for. And the root meaning of “hope” is a person’s desire to achieve something he longs for at some point in the future. And another noble ayah with a similar meaning is Allah’s statement in surah Maryam:

وَيَزِيدُ اللَّـهُ الَّذِينَ اهْتَدَوْا هُدًى ۗ وَالْبَاقِيَاتُ الصَّالِحَاتُ خَيْرٌ عِندَ رَبِّكَ ثَوَابًا وَخَيْرٌ مَّرَدًّا

And Allah increases those who were guided, in guidance, and al-baaqiyaat al-saalihaat are better to your Lord for reward and better for return. [19:76]

with “return” here meaning: returning unto Allah on the Day of Judgement. Meanwhile, some scholars say that it is means: a better return of rewards for their doers, for they are not like the deeds of the disbelievers which do not offer any return to their doers.

[Adhwaa’ al-Bayaan 3/281-283]

The great mufassir ibn Jarir al-Tabari collected a number of statements from the salaf regarding the proper interpretation of al-baaqiyaat al-saalihaat, and concluded his tafsir of this ayah by stating his own opinion on the matter as follows:

وأولى الأقوال في ذلك بالصواب ، قول من قال : هن جميع أعمال الخير ، كالذي روي عن علي بن أبي طلحة ، عن ابن عباس ، لأن ذلك كله من الصالحات التي تبقى لصاحبها في الآخرة ، وعليها يجازى ويثاب ، وإن الله عز ذكره لم يخصص من قوله ( والباقيات الصالحات خير عند ربك ثوابا ) بعضا دون بعض في كتاب ، ولا بخبر عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم . ـ

Out of all the different opinions, the one that is most correct is that of those who say: al-baaqiyaat al-saalihaat are all forms of good deeds, as has been transmitted on the authority of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talhah from ibn ‘Abbaas. This is because all righteous good deeds are enduring for their doers in the hereafter and all righteous good deeds result in rewards for them. And this is also because when Allah mentioned:

وَالْبَاقِيَاتُ الصَّالِحَاتُ خَيْرٌ عِندَ رَبِّكَ ثَوَابًا

But al-baaqiyaat al-saalihaat (the enduring good deeds) are better with your Lord for rewards

He did not single out any particular deeds to the exclusion of others in His Book, nor with any report doing so from Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ).

فإن ظن ظان أن ذلك مخصوص بالخبر الذي رويناه عن أبي هريرة ، عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ، فإن ذلك بخلاف ما ظن ، وذلك أن الخبر عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إنما ورد بأن قول : سبحان الله ، والحمد لله ، ولا إله إلا الله ، والله أكبر ، هن من الباقيات الصالحات ، ولم يقل : هن جميع الباقيات الصالحات ، ولا كل الباقيات الصالحات ، وجائز أن تكون هذه باقيات صالحات ، وغيرها من أعمال البر أيضا باقيات صالحات . ـ

But then if someone were to think that there was some singling out of a specific deeds in the prophetic report that we mentioned from Abu Hurayrah, then the case in not as they think. For that prophetic report only mentions him saying, “subhan Allah, and al-hamdu lillaah, and laa ilaaha illallaah, and Allaahu akbar are among the enduring good deeds”, but he did not say “they are all of the enduring good deeds”. So, then, it is fine to say that those phrases are enduring good deeds, while other acts of good are also enduring good deeds as well.

[Tafsir al-Tabari 18/36-37]

See Imam al-Tabari’s explanation of the ayah immediately preceding this one here: The Passing Nature of this Life: Tafsir al-Tabari

See also: “Beautified for people is the love of what they desire”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Click here to read more tafsir of surah al-Kahf

3 thoughts on “The Enduring Good Deeds: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

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