يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنسَانُ مَا غَرَّكَ بِرَبِّكَ الْكَرِيمِ
Yā ayyuhal-insānu mā gharraka birabbikal-karīm
O man! What has deceived you about your generous Lord?
(Sūrat al-Infitār, No 82, Āyat 6)
In this verse Allah ‘azza wajall poses a question to the human being: what has made you unaware of your Lord, and deceived you about His great qualities? The question is a reproach, not to all human beings but the one who belong to the group of rejectors. How is it that they have strayed from the truth when both their inner fitrah as well as the outer guidance sent by the Almighty tells them otherwise? The verses that follow show that this question is addressed to those who reject belief in the last day. Rejecting belief in judgment in the hereafter is to reject religion, accountability of human actions, and purpose and meaning in life. It is essentially a rejection of the Lordship of Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā.
The address is to the human being, as a reminder that you are the Khalīfa and Hujjat who has been granted all the blessings outlined in the following verse. These blessings are for all human beings as the most honoured of the creation of Allah. Yet what has made you reject the wisdom behind creation? The verse is a reproachful question about the denial of bounties.
The deception and straying of the human being are linked rejecting the Lord, and to be oblivion about the generosity of the Lord. The human being has not only been created but is being nurtured and sustained by Allah. There is a continuous care and protection being provided. And that too by a Lord who is generous and honourable. When He grants blessings there is no benefit in it for Him. He also does not grant His blessings in this world based on the virtue or evil of the human beings, they are available for all. Rejecting such a Lord is quite unbefitting and unacceptable.
The word ‘karīm’ in this verse has been interpreted as:
- Allah’s actions are based on goodness and either benefit the human being or ward off evil from him.
- One who gives away and does not demand for himself.
- One who accepts less and gives much.
- Allah does not only forgive sins and overlook them; rather He changes them to good actions.
Abdullah bin Mas‘ūd is quoted as saying that everyone will be asked this question on the Day of Judgment, ‘O son of Adam what deceived you? Why did you not act upon what you knew, in the world?’
It is narrated that whenever the Prophet (s) recited this verse he would say: Ignorance and heedlessness have deceived him. Tafsīr Majma‘ al-Bayān quotes Fādhil bin Ayyāz and Yahyā bin Mu‘adh as saying that if Allah asks them this question on the Day of Judgement, they will say that they were deceived by His qualities of magnanimity and forgiveness. It made them heedless of the seriousness of obedience to Him. Others quote Allah’s forbearance with them, and His continuous bestowal of favours as the answers they would give.
Imam Ali (a) recited this verse and said: The addressee [in this verse] is devoid of argument and his excuse is most deceptive. He is detaining himself in ignorance. O man! What has emboldened you to (commit) sins, what has deceived you about your Allah and what has made you satisfied with the destruction of yourself? (Sermon 222, Nahjul Balāgha).
As we near the end of the holy month of Ramadan, let us reflect on this verse and the question it poses. We should not allow anything to deceive us about the reality of the purpose of creation and the anticipation of judgement in the Hereafter. This reality guides the choices we make in life and the lifestyle we lead.
Sources: Shaykh Tabarsī, Tafsīr Majma‘ al-Bayān, Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān