Quranic Reflection No. 363 Āyat 21:105 – Inheriting the Earth

وَلَقَدْ كَتَبْنَا فِي الزَّبُورِ مِنْ بَعْدِ الذِّكْرِ أَنَّ الْأَرْضَ يَرِثُهَا عِبَادِيَ الصَّالِحُونَ
Walaqad katabnā fiz-zabūri min ba‘didh-dhikri annal-ardhayarithuhā ‘ibādiyas-sālihūn
Certainly We wrote in the Psalms after the Reminder: ‘Indeed My righteous servants shall inherit the earth’
(Sūratul Anbiyā, No.21, Āyat 105)

This verse gives the good news of a reward in the world for the righteous servants of Allah ‘azza wa-jall. They will one day establish the rule of Allah on earth and be its inheritors.

A few words to understand in this verse;
• Zabūr refers to the book of Psalms given to Nabī Dāwūd (a). Although the word originally just means a book, it has been used in the Quran to refer specifically to the book of Nabī Dāwūd. (See Q 4:163, 17:55)
Adh-dhikr means the reminder. It has been used in the Quran to refer to the book given to Nabī Mūsā (a) as in Q 21:48; the commentators of Quran say it refers here to the Tawrāt.
Yarithuhā comes from the word ‘waritha,’ – to inherit. It means to come into possession of something without a lot of toil. It also means to benefit from the goods and profits of another. In another verse Allah says: We made the people who were deemed weak to inherit the east and west of the land which We had blessed (Q 7:137).

A couple of questions that can come up when reading this verse have been answered in Tafāsīr;
1. Why are only these two books mentioned in this verse? It is possible that this was because Nabī Dāwūd epitomized a ruler who governed with truth and justice while Nabī Mūsā’s people were an example of an oppressed people who rose against the oppressor and established their rule on the land.
2. Who are the righteous servants who will inherit the earth? Note that the word is linked to ‘My servants’ so these are people who have faith in Allah and submit to Him. They possess knowledge and virtue and are active in good deeds. The oppressed people who have these worthy qualities will be the ones to inherit the earth. Shaykh Tabarsī in Tafsīr Majma‘ul Bayān quotes a Hadith from Imam al-Bāqir (a) about these righteous servants – They are the companions of Al-Mahdi in the last times.

Many Hadith narrated by both Sunni and Shī‘ah narrators state that the Holy Prophet (s) talked about the establishment of God’s rule on earth by a group of people under the leadership of Imam Al-Mahdi (a). He said: Allah will bring out from concealment Al-Mahdi from my family and just before the Day of Judgment; even if only one day were to remain in the life of the world, and he will spread on this earth justice and equity and will eradicate tyranny and oppression.

It is interesting to note that the inheritance of the earth by the righteous can be found in the Psalms even today. In Psalm 37, verse 9 it says: For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. And in verse 29: The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.

Let this verse inspire you to pray that you may be from among the helpers of the Imam in establishing God’s rule on earth. It will counter all the injustice and unhappiness witnessed today and will help humanity live as they should on earth – in peace and harmony.

Sources: Shaykh Tabarsī, Tafsīr Majma‘ul Bayān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh; http://www.shiapen.com/comprehensive/mahdi/in-prophetic-traditions.html; https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+37&version=NIV