“Every time they are provided with fruits there from (from Paradise)...” (Al-Baqarah 2:25)

وَبَشِّرِ الَّذ۪ينَ اٰمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْر۪ي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُۘ كُلَّمَا رُزِقُوا مِنْهَا مِنْ ثَمَرَةٍ رِزْقًا قَالُوا هٰذَا الَّذ۪ي رُزِقْنَا مِنْ قَبْلُ وَأُتُوا بِه۪ مُتَشَابِهًاۘ وَلَهُمْ ف۪يهَۤا أَزْوَاجٌ مُطَهَّرَةٌ وَهُمْ ف۪يهَا خَالِدُونَ

Every time they are provided with fruits there from (from Paradise), they say, “This is what we were provided before.” They are given to them in resemblance (to what was given to them in the world). Furthermore, for them are spouses eternally purified; and therein they will abide. (Al-Baqarah 2:25)

The expression of “wa utū bihī mutashābihān” (They are given to them in resemblance [to what was given to them in the world]) emphasizes the resemblance of bounties, blessings, and honors to be given in Paradise, familiar in shape and color so that they may not be unattractive because unknown. According to Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, the resemblance may be either between the blessings in this world and those to be given in Paradise or between the blessings of Paradise, which will be given to believers time and time again in recurrent forms. For instance, when a person says “al-hamdu li’llāh” (All praise be to God) as gratitude in this world; he or she receives a fruit of Paradise in the Hereafter in return. That is, every proclamation of God’s greatness (Allāhu Akbar), every declaration of God’s Oneness and Unity (lā ilāha illa’llāh), every glorification of God (Subhāna’llāh), and every praise of God (al-hamdu li’llāh) is like a seed sown in earth that will yield different fruits of Paradise. However, there is a significant point to mention here. We cannot grasp the relationship between our actions in the world and the results they will give in the Hereafter. In the world, we approach and consider everything within the framework of cause and effect; hence, we cannot always be saved from the influence of cause-and-effect relation in our thoughts and analyses. However, the nature of many phenomena in the world enables us to perceive what the verse means. For instance, we have never harvested barley from the soil where we sowed wheat although both are the same type of grain. Likewise, we never harvest pears from an apple tree or figs from a vineyard. When we go back to the time of God’s Messenger, we see that he understood exactly what Archangel Gabriel revealed to him whereas his Companions around him did not hear even a buzz. Also, can we claim that we can understand the meaning of God’s descent to the heavens of the world after one-third of night or other such matters from the perspective of or within the framework of causality?

As al-Ghazālī states, we cannot comprehend some of the metaphysical events with the aql al-ma‘ash (the worldly mind) while in this world. However, we will be granted the aql al-ma‘ad (the otherworldly mind) in the Hereafter, where everything happens according to the principles of metaphysics. Only then can we fully understand the relationship between saying Subhāna’llāh (Glory to God) and receiving a fruit of the Garden in return. And only then can we understand clearly the connection of the bounties in the Hereafter with the good deeds in this world.

The laws of physics are no longer valid in the Hereafter. For example, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, informs us that our daily prescribed prayers will be a friend and companion to us when we are in grave.[1] Similarly, a person will be able to enter Paradise at its eight different gates,[2] and the Qur’ān will be embodied or take on an otherworldly form and intercede with God on behalf of the ones who read it in this world…

As for the above verse, Fakhru’d-Dīn ar-Rāzī, a Qur’anic interpreter, asserts that such examples in the Qur’ān are given to assure us that these issues are comprehensible enough for human reason.[3] They are not beyond human reason. The reality of the matter will be manifested and understood with all aspects in the Hereafter. As a result, the believers who performed good deeds in this world will announce, “These are what we were provided with in the world or some time ago while in Paradise” whenever the bounties of Paradise are bestowed on them.

Each bounty to be given in the Paradise is either the otherworldly reward of a good deed done in the world or its otherworldly form, or it is the harvest of the deeds sowed as seeds here. Therefore, there is an internal or essential similarity between the worldly bounties and their counterparts in the Hereafter. However, they are worlds apart from each other in respect to their worldly and otherworldly forms. For the worldly bounties are the seeds of Divine Wisdom while eternal bounties are the fruit of Divine Power. Also, the former are temporary and blurred while the latter are permanently purified and limpid. The former relate to bodily appetites while the latter represent or have the profundity of spiritual pleasure. Furthermore, God’s bounties in this world are received and perceived to the degree of certainty based on knowledge while their otherworldly counterparts are favors of Mercy to be received and tasted to the degree of certainty based on experience.

[1] Musnad Ahmad, 6/352; 4/287, 295.
[2] See Bukhārī, Bad’u’l-Khalq, 9; Muslim, Īmān, 46; Abū Dāwūd, Tahārah, 65; Tirmidhī, Tahārah, 41.
[3] Ar-Rāzī, Mafātīhu’l-Ghayb, 2/72.

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