Interpretation of verse 56:61
Fatwa No: 350491

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. I was wondering; what does verse 56:61 mean? Does this verse mean that we will not be humans or physical bodies in heaven?

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, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger. 

Allah, The Exalted, says (what means): {We have decreed death among you, and We are not to be outdone. In that We will change your likenesses and produce you in that (form) which you do not know.} [Quran 56:60-61] The verse does not decisively mean that we shall not have a human form in Paradise or that we shall not have physical bodies therein. Rather, the verse is conditional; it means, “If We wish to change your appearances or change you into forms other than your forms in the worldly life, then no one can outdo Us.

Al-Qurtubi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, “The verses mean: if We wish to replace you with your like, none can challenge Our power and plan.

At-Tabari said, “It means that We have decreed death upon you and decreed that you should be replaced by your like after death; none can escape death or prevent it from overtaking him when his time is due, and We shall resurrect you in appearances and forms that you do not know of.

Al-Hasan said, “It means that We can make you in the form of apes and pigs, as We did with some (disbelieving) peoples before you.

It was also said that it means: We shall resurrect you on the Day of Judgment with an image different from your image in the worldly life; the believer's face will be whitened and the disbeliever's face will be blackened.

Sa‘eed ibn Jubayr said, “{...and produce you in that (form) which you do not know} means in the sacks of black birds like hooks in a valley called Barhut in Hadhramawt, a valley in Yemen.

Mujaahid said, “It means that We shall create you in any form of creation We wish.

It was also said that it means, “We shall resurrect you in a world and place that you know not.

Allah knows best.

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