Tadabbur 35:45

The last verse in the Sūrah Faatir speaks of God’s forbearance and compassion, juxtaposing these with His power and knowledge. It emphasizes that people are given a chance, not punished immediately, but that this does not affect the eventual accurate reckoning of their deeds or the fairness of the results at the end. All this is an aspect of His grace:

“If God were to punish people [at once] for the wrongs they do, He would not leave a single living creature on the surface of the earth. However, He grants them respite for a term set [by Him]. When their term comes to an end, [they realize that] God has all His servants in His sight.” (Verse 45)

People commit all sorts of bad actions, showing ingratitude for God’s favours, spreading evil and corruption on earth, committing all manner of injustices and excesses. Were God to meet out fair punishment to people for their actions, His punishment would have gone beyond them to include every living thing on the face of the earth. The whole planet would then be unsuitable for any type of life, not merely human life.

This highlights the terrible nature of what people perpetrate as a destructive force that could end life in its entirety. However, God does not take people to task straightaway; He forbears and gives them chances: “However, He grants them respite for a term set [by Him].” (Verse 45) He grants respite to individuals until the end of their lives on earth, and gives communities respite to fulfil their responsibility in performing the task He has assigned mankind to build human life on earth, until they hand over to the next generation. He also grants respite to the human race until the end of human life in this world when the Last Hour arrives. He provides us with all these chances so that we mend our ways and improve our actions.

“When their term comes to an end…” when the time for work and earning reward is over; when it is time for reckoning and administering reward; God will not begrudge them anything of their reward. On the contrary, He will be fair to all: “God has all His servants in His sight.” (Verse 45) The fact that He has them all in His sight ensures that they will be fairly requited for whatever they have done in their lives. Nothing serious or trivial will be discounted for or against them.

1-In the Shade of the Qur’an (Fi Dhilal Al Qur’an), Sayyid Qutb


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