O, people! Guard against (the punishment of) your Lord and dread the day when a father shall not make any satisfaction for his son, nor shall the child be the maker of any satisfaction for his father;

أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمْ وَاخْشَوْا يَوْمًا لَّا يَجْزِي وَالِدٌ عَن وَلَدِهِ وَلَا مَوْلُودٌ هُوَ جَازٍ عَن وَالِدِهِ شَيْئًا ۚ إِنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّـهِ حَقٌّ ۖ فَلَا تَغُرَّنَّكُمُ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا وَلَا يَغُرَّنَّكُم بِاللَّـهِ الْغَرُورُ

O, people! Guard against (the punishment of) your Lord and dread the day when a father shall not make any satisfaction for his son, nor shall the child be the maker of any satisfaction for his father; surely the promise of Allah is real, therefore let not this world’s life deceive you, nor let the arch deceiver deceive you in respect of Allah. [31:33]

Indeed Allah (SWT) commanded people to guard against their lord, so He (SWT) said: يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمْ- O people! Guard against (the punishment of) your Lord. He (SWT) said: رَبَّكُمْ [ your Lord] by singling out the Lord and annexing Him (SWT) to them to indicate that their Lord is only one and that there are no other lords beside Him (SWT). Nor is He (SWT) the Lord of a particular group or people at the exclusion of other groups and peoples, in fact, He (SWT) is the Lord of all humanity. 

The choice of the word Al-Rabb (The Lord) here is to indicate The Lord is The Nourisher, The Owner, The Master, The Bestower of blessings and The Self Subsisting and this means that He (SWT) is in control of all that is good and harmful. Humanity, based upon this reality, should guard against Him (SWT) since He (SWT) may withhold His blessings from them and harm may fall upon them. The people usually are cautious of the one who can benefit or harm them as opposed to the one who can neither harm nor benefit them. Therefore they were reminded of His Lordship because that is the prerequisite for being cautious. 

The choice of the word Al-Rabb is also suitable because of the mention of the father ( وَالِد ) and the son ( وَلَد ) after it. That is because the Rabb is the one who nourishes, teaches, guides and maintains just like the father with regards his son who he supports, guides, educates and feeds, therefore it was subtly suitable word choice.

وَاخْشَوْا يَوْمًا لَّا يَجْزِي وَالِدٌ عَن وَلَدِهِ وَلَا مَوْلُودٌ هُوَ جَازٍ عَن وَالِدِهِ شَيْئًا

and dread the day when a father shall not make any satisfaction for his son, nor shall the child be the maker of any satisfaction for his father;

The meaning of [ لَّا يَجْزِي] is ‘ not to avail/satisfy,’ which means nothing will benefit him nor anything will defend him. Indeed He (SWT) said here, لَّا يَجْزِي وَالِدٌ عَن وَلَدِهِ and the estimated sentence is لَّا يَجْزِي فِيهِ, but the verse does not mention the prepositional phrase فِيهِ. 

So what is the reason for not mentioning the prepositional phrase فِيهِ? Although He (SWT) stated the prepositional phrase in other similar verses such as: 

He (SWT) saying :

وَاتَّقُوا يَوْمًا تُرْجَعُونَ فِيهِ إِلَى اللَّـهِ ۖ ثُمَّ تُوَفَّىٰ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَّا كَسَبَتْ وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ

And fear a day wherein you shall be returned to God, and every soul shall be paid in full what it has earned; they shall not be wronged.[2:281] 

And His (SWT) saying::

يَخَافُونَ يَوْمًا تَتَقَلَّبُ فِيهِ الْقُلُوبُ وَالْأَبْصَارُ ﴿٣٧﴾ لِيَجْزِيَهُمُ اللَّـهُ أَحْسَنَ مَا عَمِلُوا وَيَزِيدَهُم مِّن فَضْلِهِ 

fearing a day when hearts and eyes shall be turned about, that God may recompense them for their fairest works and give them increase of His bounty; and God provides whomsoever He will, without reckoning. [24:37-38]

The reason is – Allah (SWT) knows best – that the omission gives the meaning of absoluteness. That is because the benefit and support in His (SWT) saying; لَّا يَجْزِي وَالِدٌ عَن وَلَدِهِ it is not restricted to that Day only, that is because when someone assists another on the Day of Judgement, then its effects will continue forever because he will be in Jannah. 

Had He (SWT) said: فِيهِ then it may be understood that it is restricted to the day of Judgement. 

Therefore, He (SWT) said: لَّا يَجْزِي and did not say فِيهِ, and that is like His (SWT) saying: 

وَاتَّقُوا يَوْمًا لَّا تَجْزِي نَفْسٌ عَن نَّفْسٍ شَيْئًا وَلَا يُقْبَلُ مِنْهَا شَفَاعَةٌ وَلَا يُؤْخَذُ مِنْهَا عَدْلٌ وَلَا هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ 

And be on your guard against a day when one soul shall not avail another in the least, neither shall intercession on its behalf be accepted, nor shall any compensation be taken from it, nor shall they be helped. [2:48]

And His (SWT) saying:

وَاتَّقُوا يَوْمًا لَّا تَجْزِي نَفْسٌ عَن نَّفْسٍ شَيْئًا وَلَا يُقْبَلُ مِنْهَا عَدْلٌ وَلَا تَنفَعُهَا شَفَاعَةٌ وَلَا هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ 

And be on your guard against a day when no soul shall avail another in the least neither shall any compensation be accepted from it, nor shall intercession profit it, nor shall they be helped. [2:123]

As opposed to His (SWT) saying: 

وَاتَّقُوا يَوْمًا تُرْجَعُونَ فِيهِ إِلَى اللَّـهِ ۖ ثُمَّ تُوَفَّىٰ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَّا كَسَبَتْ وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ

And fear a day wherein you shall be returned to God, and every soul shall be paid in full what it has earned, and they shall not be wronged.[2:281] 

That is specific to the day of accounting, His (SWT) saying: ثُمَّ تُوَفَّىٰ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَّا كَسَبَ -and every soul shall be paid in full what it has earned; indicates upon that. 

The day of return to Allah and recompense, it is the day of Resurrection, so فِيهِ was mentioned for specification. Similar to it is His (SWT) saying: 

يَخَافُونَ يَوْمًا تَتَقَلَّبُ فِيهِ الْقُلُوبُ وَالْأَبْصَارُ ﴿٣٧﴾ لِيَجْزِيَهُمُ اللَّـهُ أَحْسَنَ مَا عَمِلُوا وَيَزِيدَهُم مِّن فَضْلِهِ 

fearing a day when hearts and eyes shall be turned about, that God may recompense them for their fairest works and give them increase of His bounty; and God provides whomsoever He will, without reckoning. [24:37-38]

Therefore the prepositional phrase (فِيهِ) specified the day of resurrection in which the hearts and eyes will turn and it the day of recompense.

In this verse, He (SWT) said:  لَّا يَجْزِي وَالِدٌ عَن وَلَدِهِ – a father shall not make any satisfaction for his son. So the father and the son was mentioned whereas He (SWT) said in Sura Al Baqqarah – لَّا تَجْزِي نَفْسٌ عَن نَّفْسٍ – no soul shall avail another in the least neither shall any compensation be accepted from it, – Where the general soul was mentioned that is because it was more contextually suitable. 

The father was mentioned in this verse – لَّا يَجْزِي وَالِدٌ عَن وَلَدِهِ – – a father shall not make any satisfaction for his son – because this chapter mandated the duty to be kind to parents, so it was suitable to state the father here. However, being kind to them is only restricted to this world, and it does not extend to the Hereafter. 

Then from another angle, that when The Lord is mentioned by His (SWT) saying: أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمْ – O people! against (the punishment of) your Lord. Then He (SWT) mentioned that the father cannot avail his son because the father being the nourisher (Al-Rabb) for his son. Therefore the mentioning of The Rabb was suitable with the naming of the father and the son and that was not mentioned in Al Baqarah. Instead, the souls, in general, was mentioned. 

The father was foregrounded before the son, so He (SWT) said: لَّا يَجْزِي وَالِدٌ عَن وَلَدِهِ وَلَا مَوْلُودٌ هُوَ جَازٍ عَن وَالِدِهِ لِدِهِ شَيْئًا- a father shall not make any satisfaction for his son, nor shall the child be the maker of any satisfaction for his father. That is because the father is the most compassionate and protective of his son. So he was brought first because of that. It was mentioned in Al Bahrul Al Muhieet: وَلَمَّا كَانَ الْوَالِدُ أَكْثَرَ شَفَقَةً عَلَى الْوَلَدِ مِنَ الْوَلَدِ عَلَى أَبِيهِ ، بَدَأَ بِهِ أَوَّلًا As the father was more compassionate to the child than the child to his father, so it began with him first -. 

And He (SWT) said: regarding the father: لَّا يَجْزِي وَالِدٌ – with the verb and He (SWT) said regarding the son – وَلَا مَوْلُودٌ هُوَ جَازٍ عَن وَالِدِهِ شَيْئًا ۚ – with a nominal sentence. That is because Allah (SWT) enjoined upon man to be good to his parents, and he is responsible for them continuously and permanently as opposed to the father; that is because he is not responsible for his son after maturity. The father only continues to protect and look after his son out of compassion and not out of obligation. To indicate on this subtle difference between the role and responsibilities of the father and the son, the son was referred to using the nominal sentence because it alludes to permanence and continuity and the father was described using the verbal sentence because it indicates on impermanence. 

It was mentioned in Tafseer al Kabeer : 

“From the affairs of the son is that he has to assist/satisfy his father because it is a duty upon him from the perspective of rights and for the father is to assist/satisfy him is from the perspective of compassion and not as a matter of obligation on him. Therefore He (SWT) said regarding the father: لَا يَجْزِي, and He (SWT) said regarding the son: وَلَا مَوْلُودٌ هُوَ جَازٍ – nor shall the child be the maker of any satisfaction for his father. ”

It was mentioned in Al-Kashshaaf:

“The meaning of emphasis in the word (مَوْلُودٌ) is the one from them. If the son intercedes for his closest father who is born from, even then his intercession will not be accepted. In addition to his intercession for those beyond him from his ancestors, because the word son ( وَلَد) is for son in general and the one who is born from as opposed to the word (لْمَوْلُود) used for the one who is directly descended from you. ”

His (SWT) saying:  شَيْئًا, it has two meanings from a grammar perspective. Firstly, شَيْئًاused in the sense of an absolute object (المَفْعُولُ المُطْلَق), i.e., لا يجي الولد عن ولده شيئا من الجزاء – a father can’t compensate his son with any form of compensation. Secondly, شَيْئًا is used in the sense of an object (المفعُول بِهِ), i.e., لا يجزى عنه شيئا من الأشياء – He will not be able to compensate him with anything. Both meaning is intended, that is there are no compensations from anything of compensation nor anything at all.

إِنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّـهِ حَقٌّ surely the promise of Allah is true

This promise includes all types of promises that He (SWT) has promised including whatever He (SWT) has promised His slaves in the Hereafter. 

ۖ فَلَا تَغُرَّنَّكُمُ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا therefore let not this world’s life deceive you

So don’t forget the hereafter and be busy with worldly life. Indeed the verb was predicated to the earthly life figuratively, that is as if the mortal life has been set up actually to delude people. The meaning is that don’t be deceived by the worldly life, warning people to take precaution against it. 

وَلَا يَغُرَّنَّكُم بِاللَّـهِ الْغَرُورُ nor let the arch-deceiver deceive you in respect of Allah

The word الْغَرُورُ is in the hyperbolic form (صيغة مبالغة ) which describes Shaytan due to his excessive deceiving of people. So the meaning of الْغَرُورُ is ‘arch deceiver’ also the choice of the word الْغَرُورُ instead of Shaytan was used to include all types of deceivers and the foremost from them is Shaytan. 

Also, the two verbs (تَغُرَّنَّكُمُ & يَغُرَّنَّكُم – to deceive ) have been emphasised with emphatic Nuuns (النون الثقيلة) to emphasise the prohibition, and to emphasise that the worldly life and Shaytan they are misleading people severely, in fact, they are two most inciters of deception, Allah knows best. 

The worldly life ( الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا) was brought before Shaytan because it is that what a person seeks and motivates him and toils for its sake and because Shaytan may seduce them with it, therefore Shaytan was associated with the deception. 

And He (SWT) said: ( الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا worldly life ), and He did not say:( الدُّنْيَا life), that is because it is the life which is sought first by human beings and that is what is meant by ( الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا ). Allah (SWT) knows best. 

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