Interpretation of the words 'foremost in good deeds' [Quran 35:32]
Fatwa No: 264145

  • Fatwa Date:12-10-2014 - Thul-Hijjah 18, 1435
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Question

Tafseer of 35:32. Who are the people foremost in deeds besides the prophets?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

Allah says (what means): {Then we caused to inherit the Book those We have chosen of Our servants; and among them is he who wrongs himself, and among them is he who is moderate, and among them is he who is foremost in good deeds by permission of Allah. That [inheritance] is what is the great bounty.} [Quran 35:32]

Those whom Allah has chosen and caused to inherit His Book after the communities that preceded them, are the community of Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ). Allah has made them to inherit the Quran which confirms the truthfulness of the scriptures that were revealed before it but is superior to them. Among such slaves are those who are unjust to themselves. They are those who are negligent in performing good deeds or who commit sins and do not repent of them. Among them are those who commit sins but repent thereof, and among them also are those who are forerunners in doing good deeds. They are those who strive in performing good deeds.

Those who wrong themselves among such slaves will be forgiven, those who are moderate will have an easy reckoning, and those who are foremost in doing good deeds will enter Paradise without being brought to account. Allah says [after the above verse]: {[For them are] gardens of perpetual residence which they will enter} meaning the three categories - all of them are in Paradise although their ranks are varied and their levels are distant.

Ibn Katheer  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in his Tafseer: "Allah says what means that We made those who uphold the Book confirming what came before, the one whom We have chosen from among Our servants. They are this Ummah (i.e. Muslims), who are divided into three categories.' Allah says (what means):

- {…and among them is he who wrongs himself…} These are the ones who are careless about doing some obligatory actions, and who commit some forbidden actions.

- {…and among them is he who is moderate….} These are the ones who fulfill their obligations and avoid things that are forbidden, but they may neglect some good deeds and do some things which are disliked.

- {…and among them is he who is foremost in good deeds by permission of Allah.} These are the ones who do obligatory as well as recommended acts, avoid doing unlawful and disliked acts, and avoid some acts which are permissible. " [End of quote]

Those who are foremost in doing good deeds come after the Prophets. They are from this Ummah –in particular –which Allah caused to inherit His Book. Ibn Katheer  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him also said in his interpretation of the words of Allah about the People of the Book (what means): {Among them are a moderate (i.e. acceptable) community} [Quran 5:66]: "Thus, Allah made moderation the highest level of the People of the Book, which is a medial level for this Ummah. Above them there is the level of the foremost, as Allah described in His saying (which means): {Then we caused to inherit the Book those We have chosen of Our servants...}." [End of quote]

Ibn Baaz  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in his Fataawa: "The people of this level are the foremost who are brought near (to Allah), and they are those who are mentioned in the statement of Allah in Soorah Al-Waaqi’ah: {And the forerunners, the forerunners - Those are the ones brought near [to Allah] In the Gardens of Pleasure, A [large] company of the former peoples. And a few of the later peoples.} [Quran 56:10-14]

It is one of the interpretations of the verse. According to the interpretation of Al-Qurtubi: "Both groups of people are from the Ummah of Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ). Some of them are from the first of this nation, and some of them are from the last of this nation. It is the same meaning of the statement of Allah (which means): {…and among them is he who wrongs himself, and among them is he who is moderate, and among them is he who is foremost in good deeds by permission of Allah} [Quran 35:32] " [End of quote]

Allah’s words (what means): {…by permission of Allah} refers to the forerunners in doing good, so that they would not be deceived by their good acts. However, they are not forerunners in doing good deeds except by the help and permission of Allah. {That [inheritance] is what is the great bounty.}, i.e. inheriting the Noble Book, for those whom Allah has chosen from among His slaves, is the great bounty, in comparison to which, all other bounties are like nothing.

For further information, please refer to Tafseer as-Sa‘di and others.

Allah Knows best.

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