Ninth Principle: The explanation of matters that are regarded as exaggeration concerning riwayahs about the insignificance of the world and the reward for actions and merits of some of the chapters of the Qur'an.
NINTH PRINCIPLE: The results of some of the questions of belief look to this restricted and narrow world, while others look to the world of the hereafter, which is broad and absolute. In order to give the appropriate effect of either encouraging or restraining, some Hadiths about the merits and rewards of actions are in an eloquent style, and some unthinking people have supposed them to be exaggerated. However, since they are all pure truth and reality, there is no exaggeration or overstatement in them.
For instance, there is this Hadith which has worried the heads of the unfair more than any. Its meaning is: “If the world had as much value as a fly’s wing for Almighty Allah, the unbelievers would not have had so much as a mouthful of water from it.”1 The reality of it is this: the phrase for Almighty Allah refers to the eternal realm. Yes, since a light from the eternal realm to the extent of a fly’s wing is everlasting, it is greater than a temporary light that fills the face of the earth. That means it is not to say that the huge world is equal to a fly’s wing, but that everyone’s private world which is situated within their short lives, is not equal to an everlasting Divine effulgence and bounty to the extent of a fly’s wing from the eternal realm.
Furthermore, the world has two faces, indeed, three faces. One is the mirror to Almighty Allah’s Names, another looks to the hereafter and is its arable field, and the third looks to transience and non-existence. This is the world of the people of misguidance which is not in accordance with the things that please Allah that we know. That is to say, it infers not that the vast world which is the mirror to the Most Beautiful Names, and consists of missives of the Eternally Besought One, and is the tillage of the hereafter, but that the world of those who worship the world, which is opposed to the hereafter and is the source of all wrongs and spring of calamities, is not worth one everlasting particle which will be given to the believers in the hereafter. Thus, how can the way it is understood by the unfair atheists be compared with this most true and serious truth? What has the meaning which those atheists supposed to be the most exaggerated and overstated to do with this?
And, for example, others which the unfair atheists supposed to be exaggeration and even impossible overstatement are narrations about the rewards for actions and merits of some of the Qur’an’s Suras. For example, there are narrations that, “The merit of Sura al-Fatiha is equal to that of the Qur’an.”2 And, “Sura al-Ikhlas equals a third of the Qur’an,”3“Sura al-Zilzal, a quarter,”4“Sura al-Kafirun, a quarter,”5“Sura Ya. Sin., ten times the Qur’an.”6 Unjust and unthinking people have said that these are impossible because Sura Ya. Sin. and the other meritorious Suras are within the Qur’an, which makes it meaningless.
The Answer: The reality is this: for each of the All-Wise Qur’an’s letters is a merit. Each is a good deed. Out of Divine grace the merits of those letters sprout and yield sometimes ten, sometimes seventy, and sometimes seven hundred, merits, like the letters of Ayat al-Kursi. Sometimes they yield one thousand five hundred, like the letters of Sura al-Ikhlas, and sometimes ten thousand, like verses recited on Laylat al-Bara‘a and those that coincide with other acceptable times. And sometimes they yield thirty thousand, like verses recited on the Night of Power, which are like poppy seeds in their multiplicity. The indication that that night is the equivalent to a thousand months makes it understood that on that night one letter has thirty thousand merits. For example, let us suppose there is a field planted with maize, one thousand plants of it. If some seeds produce seven shoots, and from each shoot a hundred grains, then a single seed becomes the equivalent of two thirds of the whole field. For example, if one seed produces ten shoots, and each yields two hundred grains, then a single seed is the equivalent of twice the original field. You can make further analogies in the same way.
Now, let us imagine the All-Wise Qur’an to be a luminous, sacred, heavenly field. Each of its letters together with its original merit is like a seed. Their shoots will not be taken into consideration. They may be compared with the Suras and verses about which are narrations concerning their merits, like Ya. Sin., Ikhlas, Fatiha, Kafirun, Zilzal. For example, the Qur’an has three hundred thousand six hundred and twenty letters, and Sura al-Ikhlas together with Bismillah, sixty-nine. Three times sixty nine is two hundred and seven letters. Thus, if Sura Ya. Sin.’s letters are reckoned and compared with all the letters of the All-Wise Qur’an, and then multiplied ten times, it produces the following result: each letter of Sura Ya. Sin. has close on five hundred merits. That is, that many good deeds may be reckoned. And so, if you apply the others to this, you will understand what a subtle, fine, true, and unexaggerated truth it is.
1. Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 13; Ibn Maja, Zuhd, 3; al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, iv, 306.
2. Bukhari, Tafsir Sura, i, 1; xv, 3; Fada’il al-Qur’an, 9; Tirmidhi, Thawab al-Qur’an, 1.
3. Tirmidhi, Thawab al-Qur’an, 10, 11; Ibn Maja, Adab, 52.
4. Tirmidhi, Thawab al-Qur’an, 9; Musnad, iii, 147, 221.
5. Tirmidhi, Thawab al-Qur’an, 9; Musnad, iii, 147, 221.
6. Tirmidhi, Thawab al-Qur’an, 7; Darimi, Fada’il al-Qur’an, 21.
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