And the phrase “and they abide therein [for ever] (wa hum fī-hā khālidūn):” when a person encounters a bounty or delight, the first thing that occurs to him is “Is it going to continue or will it be spoiled by ceasing?” For this reason, [the Qur’an] indicates with the words “and they abide therein forever” the completion of the bounty through its enduring in Paradise, and it and his wives being perpetual there, and the continuation of the pleasures and his benefiting from them forever.
The positioning and relationships of the parts
of the verse’s phrases:
The phrase “But give glad tidings to those who believe and work righteousness (Wa bashshir alladhīna āmanū wa ‘amilū al-ṣāliḥāt):”
The [conjunction] “But (lit. And) (al-wāw)” points to the warning that drips from the previous [verse].
“Give glad tidings (bashshir)” is a sign that Paradise is [purely] a favour of the Most High and not incumbent on Him, and moreover, that actions should not be on account of Paradise [that is, in the hope of it]. And [the verb] being in the imperative suggests: “Convey it as though you’re conveying good news!” For [the Prophet] was charged with communicating the message.
Then the use of “those who believe (alladhīna āmanū)” instead of the more succinct ‘the believers’ (al-mu’minūn), alludes to the “who (believe in the Unseen) (alladhīna)” at the beginning of the sura so that the details given there may elucidate the brevity here.
The use of the perfect tense here in “believe and work (āmanū wa ‘amilū)” although there [at the start of the sura] the imperfect is used for “believe (yu’minūn)” and “spend (yunfiqūn)” indicates that the imperfect is appropriate [in connection with] praise and encouragement, but that the perfect is suitable [in reference to] recompense and requital, for reward follows on after service.
The “and” of “and work...” indicates, due the mystery of dissimilarity, that contrary to [the assertions of] the Mu‘tazilites, actions are not included in belief, and that belief without action is insufficient. While the word ‘work’ (‘amal) signifies that the thing about which good tidings are given resembles recompense [though it is not].
As for “righteousness (lit. good works) (al-ṣāliḥāt),” it is vague and concise. According to Shaikh Muhammad ‘Abduh of Egypt,1 it has a general
Muḥammad ‘Abduh ibn Ḥasan Khayrullāh (1849-1905). Graduated from al-Azhar University, and after coming under the influence of Jamal al-Din al-Afghani began to work in (overleaf)
(69. cont.) the fields of kalām, philosophy, and politics. Together they brought out the magazine al-‘Urwat al-Wuthqā in Paris. In 1899 he was appointed Mufti of Egypt and he applied himself to reforming al-Azhar, notably by founding a faculty of modern science and updating the curricula. His works included Tafsīr al-Qur’ān al-Karīm and Risāla al-Tawḥīd. See, İşârâtü’l-İ’caz [Abdülmecid], 325-6; Ishārāt al-I‘jāz [Iḥsān Qāsim], 198.