وَلِكُلٍّ دَرَجَاتٌ مِمَّا عَمِلُوا
Walikulli darajātun mimā ‘amīlū
For everyone there are ranks in accordance with what they have done.
Sūratl An‘ām, No.6, Āyat 132
All created beings who are mukallaf, i.e. they have been entrusted with responsibility, will have ranks according to their deeds. The beings referred to in this verse are both the jinn and the humans. Their ranks could be high as a result of good and noble deeds or lowly due to evil deeds.
The rewards and punishments meted out by the Almighty to the jinn and the humans cannot be the same for everyone. It depends on the deeds performed and more importantly, the way the deeds are performed. Different ranks are due to:
– Variance in the level of faith or disbelief
– Variance in the level and number of noble/ignoble qualities
– Variance in the number, quality, etiquette and conditions of deeds
The actions deserving a certain rank could be
1) Qalbiyyah – to do with the heart; beliefs, both positive and negative ones.
2) Nafsiyyah – to do with the soul; Akhlāq or characteristics.
3) Jawarihiyyah – to do with the body; physical actions performed.
The Quran usually refers to the positive ranks (those deserving reward) as darajāt while the negative ranks (those deserving punishment) are darak (see Q 4:145). In this verse because both positive and negative ranks are being discussed together, the positive ones have been given priority and only darajāt is mentioned.
Note that faith has many ranks. Just as the knowledge associated with faith, the love and worship, the understanding and application, all of it differs from person to person. It can be strong or weak, flawed or perfect, and many levels in between. The verses of Quran and Hadith show that a believer can move from one level to another of faith and can achieve higher ranks. Imam al-Sādiq (a) says; Faith has 10 steps, like a ladder you can move from step to step. (Bihārul Anwār, 69:165). In another hadith he says: Allah has placed Faith in seven things; in virtue, truthfulness, certainty, being pleased with His decree, loyalty, knowledge, and forbearance. Some have all seven parts and their faith is complete. Others have one part, or two, or three, until they reach seven (Ibid, 69:159).
We are often not fully conscious of the far reaching effects of our actions on our rank or status with Allah. Even when we do good deeds the quality of the good deeds matters a lot. Our entire position, the foundation of who we will be in the Hereafter, is determined by our actions. Hence it is necessary to be watchful over our actions. Use this verse to remind yourself to seek higher ranks as you go along in life. Match your deeds to that goal.
Sources: Sayyid Abdul Husayn Tayyib, Atyab al Bayan fi Tafsir al Quran; Shaykh Tabarsī, Majma‘ul Bayān fī Tafsīril Qur’ān