Is the reward for good anything except good?: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In surah al-Rahman, Allah سبحانه وتعالى says:

هَلْ جَزَاءُ الْإِحْسَانِ إِلَّا الْإِحْسَانُ

Is the reward for good anything except good?

Imam al-Qurtubi, in his book of tafsir, writes:

قوله تعالى‏ {‏هل جزاء الإحسان إلا الإحسان‏}‏ ‏{‏هل‏}‏ في الكلام على أربعة أوجه‏:‏ تكون بمعنى قد كقوله تعالى ‏{‏هل أتى على الإنسان حين من الدهر‏}‏، وبمعنى الاستفهام كقوله تعالى‏{‏فهل وجدتم ما وعد ربكم حقا‏} ، وبمعنى الأمر كقوله تعالى ‏{‏فهل أنتم منتهون‏} ‏، وبمعنى ما في الجحد كقوله تعالى‏ {‏فهل على الرسل إلا البلاغ‏}‏ ‏، و‏{‏هل جزاء الإحسان إلا الإحسان‏}‏‏.‏

His statement – Exalted is He – “Is the reward for good anything except good?“, “Is” can be interpreted in four ways: (1) With a meaning like the statement of Allah, “Has there not been over man a period of time…?” [76:1], and (2) with a meaning of comprehension such as His statement, “Have you found what your Lord promised to be true?” [7:44], and (3) with a meaning of command such as His statement, “So will you not desist?” [5:91], and (4) with a meaning of repudiation such as His statement, “Then are the Messengers charged with anything but to convey clearly the Message?” [16:35], and “Is the reward for good anything except good?“.

قال عكرمة‏:‏ أي هل جزاء من قال لا إله إلا الله إلا الجنة‏.‏ ابن عباس‏:‏ ما جزاء من قال لا إله إلا اله وعمل بما جاء به محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم إلا الجنة‏.‏ وقيل‏:‏ هل جزاء من أحسن في الدنيا إلا أن يحسن إليه في الآخرة، قال ابن زيد‏.‏

‘Ikrimah said, “Meaning, is the reward for whoever says la ilaaha illallaah anything except Jannah?” Ibn ‘Abbaas said, “What is the reward for whoever says la ilaaha illallaah and works according to what Muhammad (ﷺ) came with except for Jannah?” And it is said, “Is the reward for whoever does good in the dunya anything other than to be better than that in the aakhirah,” and ibn Zaid said that.

وروى أنس أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قرأ ‏{‏هل جزاء الإحسان إلا الإحسان‏}‏ ثم قال‏{‏هل تدرون ماذا قال ربكم‏}‏ قالوا الله ورسوله أعلم، قال‏{‏يقول ما جزاء من أنعمت عليه بالتوحيد إلا الجنة‏}‏‏.‏

And it is narrated from Anas that the Prophet (ﷺ) recited, “Is the reward for good anything except good?“, then he said, “Do you know what your Lord has said?” He replied, “Allah and His messenger know best.” He said, “He said, ‘there is no reward bestowed upon him for Tawheed except Jannah.'”

وروى ابن عباس أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قرأ هذه الآية فقال‏{‏يقول الله هل جزاء من أنعمت عليه بمعرفتي وتوحيدي إلا أن أسكنه جنتي وحظيرة قدسي برحمتي‏}‏

And Ibn ‘Abbaas narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) recited this ayah and then said, “Allah said, ‘is the reward which I bestow upon him for his knowing Me and singling Me out for worship anything other than that I cause him to dwell in My Jannah and My Holy realm by My Mercy?”

وقال الصادق‏:‏ هل جزاء من أحسنت عليه في الأزل إلا حفظ الإحسان عليه في الأبد‏.‏ وقال محمد ابن الحنيفة والحسن‏:‏ هي مسجلة للبر والفاجر، أي مرسلة على الفاجر في الدنيا والبر في الآخرة‏.‏

And al-Saadiq said, “Is the reward in eternity for the one who did good anything other than preserving his goodness eternally?” And Muhammad ibn al-Haneefiyyah and al-Hasan said, “It [i.e. the good recompense] is registered for the righteous and for the wicked – meaning it is conferred upon the wicked one in the dunya and upon the righteous one in the aakhirah.

[Jaami’a li-Ahkaam al-Qur’an]

See also: “Indeed the patient will be given their reward without measure”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi