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“God has promised the believers, both men and women...” (At-Tawbah 9:72)

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Sūratu’t-Tawbah (Repentance)

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وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا وَمَسَاكِنَ طَيِّبَةً فِي جَنَّاتِ عَدْنٍ ۚ وَرِضْوَانٌ مِّنَ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ ۚ ذَ‌ٰلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ
“God has promised the believers, both men and women, Gardens through which rivers flow, therein to abide, and blessed dwellings in Gardens of perpetual bliss; and greater (than those) is God’s being pleased with them. That indeed is the supreme triumph.” (At-Tawbah 9:72)

“Gardens of perpetual bliss” (Jannātu ‘Adn), according to the above verse and several hadīths,[1] are the place where mostly material and partially spiritual pleasures will be tasted. Indeed, there are people whose physical desires outweigh their spiritual desires and whose carnal desires are dominant. “Gardens of perpetual bliss,” which include every kind of physical pleasure in it, mean a lot to such kind of people as a reward. While there are others whose spiritual faculties are developed to such degree that pleasures of eating, drinking, and maidens of Paradise mean little to them. They always pursue spiritual pleasures to satisfy their souls. Therefore, the Highest Abode or Floor of Paradise (Jannātu’l-Firdaws) is for them. The part of the verse, “and greater (than those) is God’s being pleased with them,” must be indicative of this.

It is because of the superiority of Firdaws over other abodes or floors of Paradise that God’s Messenger said in one of his hadīths: “When you pray for Paradise, ask for Firdaws, for it is the highest of the abodes of Paradise.”[2] First of all, as we understand from the relevant hadīths, Paradise has a conical shape and the Firdaws is such a superior place in this Paradise that those who dwell there will be able to observe all the layers of Paradise. Second, since belief in the Unseen did not develop much among ancient communities, they were not able to deepen their knowledge in matters concerning the Unseen and of metaphysical import. As for the ummah, or community, of Prophet Muhammad, as its members have deepened in belief in the Unseen and the related issues much more than the previous communities and can therefore be satisfied with spiritual pleasures rather than physical ones, the Prophet advised his ummah to ask for Firdaws, which is full of spiritual pleasures. It can be said that while the “Gardens of perpetual bliss” (Jannātu ‘Adn) mark the horizon of the bliss of the other communities or the followers of the previous Prophets to certain extents, Firdaws is the Garden of Prophet Muhammad’s ummah.

Actually, God will be pleased with all the people of Paradise, but “God’s greater or particular good pleasure” is the greatest of the bounties of Paradise, one so profound and exceptional that one favored with it no longer needs another bounty and pleasure. Therefore, the Community of God’s Messenger, who is the owner of the Maqām al-Mahmūd, or the Station of Being Praised, which symbolizes the reward of being the most grateful to God, will be rewarded with it. In fact, the name Muhammad itself (meaning the One Who is Praised) is exactly consistent with the Station of Being Praised and the Flag of Praising. Since Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, is he who praised and thanked God and called people to thanking and praising Him much more than everybody else, he will be honored with the Station of Being Praised and carrying the Flag of Praise in the other world. Therefore, the abode of his Community will be Firdaws, which signifies God’s greater or particular good pleasure, or His being more pleased with some of His servants.

O God, we ask You for forgiveness, wellbeing, and good pleasure!
O God, guide us to what You love and are pleased with.

[1] At-Tabarī, Jāmiu’l-Bayan, 10/179–182.
[2] Bukhārī, Jihād, 4; Tawhīd, 22; Tirmidhī, Jannah, 4.