Reflect Over the Verse: “Do not speak to Me!”

The following elucidation has been reproduced from Imam Al-Qurtubi’s At-Tadhkirah fi Ahwalil-Mawta wal-Akhirah (In Remembrance of the Affairs of the Dead and Hereafter) about the verse, Be ye driven into it (with ignominy) and speak ye not to Me! [23:108],” which Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala will direct to the dwellers of Hell Fire, after which they will be bereft of putting forward any more  plea to Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala, and thus losing any possible hope of coming out from the eternal punishment.

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Ibn Al-Mubarak reported that Al-Hakam Ibn Omar Ibn Laila told us that he knew from Amer that Muhammad ibn Ka’ab Al-Qurazi learned that the dwellers of hell would seek the help of hell keepers as described by Allah: “Those in hell will say to the keepers: “Pray to your Lord to lighten us the chastisement for a day (at least)! [40:49]” But the keepers will say: “Did there not come to you your Prophets with clear signs? [40:50]” Then the dwellers of hell will say: “Yes.”  Again the keepers will reply: “Then pray (as ye like)! But the prayer of those without faith is nothing but (futile wandering) in mazes of error! [40:50]” When the dwellers of hell despair of the hell keepers, they will start to call to Malik, the chief keeper, who has a seat in the middle of hell and bridges over which the angles of torture pass so that he can thus see all the parts of hell from his place. Those people are reported in the Qur’an as saying: “O Malik! Would thy Lord put an end to us? [43:77]” He replies: “Ask death,” and then he becomes silent for eighty years giving them no answer.  A year equals one hundred and sixty days, a month is thirty days and a day is “like a thousand years of your judgment.” After the passage of the eighty years, Malik will look at them saying: “Nay, but ye shall abide! [43:77]” After the dwellers of hell listen to Malik’s answer, they will say to each other: “We have been plagued with this torture and suffering, so let’s adhere to patience; it may benefit us as it benefited the believers who patiently obeyed Allah.” Thus, they will agree to be patient but when they exercise patience for long ages, they will get desperate and say: “To us it makes no difference (now) whether we rage, or bear (these torments) with patience: for ourselves there is no way of escape. [14:21]” At this point, Satan will rise and say: “It was Allah Who gave you a promise of truth: I too promised, but I failed in my promise to you. I had no authority over you except to call you, but ye listened to me; then reproach not me, but reproach your own souls. I cannot listen to your cries, nor can ye listen to mine. I reject your former act in associating me with Allah. For wrongdoers there must be a grievous chastisement. [14:22]” When the dwellers of hell hear Satan’s speech, they will strongly hate themselves. However, they will be addressed with this statement: “Greater was the aversion of Allah to you than (is) your aversion to yourselves, seeing that ye were called to faith and ye used to refuse. They will say: Our Lord! Twice hast Thou made us to die, and twice hast Thou given us life! Now we have recognized our sins: is there any way out (of this)? [40:10-11]” They will be answered with: “This is because, when Allah was invoked as the Only (god to worship), ye did reject faith, but when partners were joined to Him, ye believed! The command is with Allah, the Most High, the Most Great! [40:12]” The second call by the dwellers or hell will be launched when they say: “Our Lord! We have seen and we have heard: now send us back (to the world): we will work righteousness: for we do indeed (now) believe. [32:12]” But they will be answered with: “If We had so willed, We could certainly have brought every soul its true guidance: but the Word from Me will come true, ‘I will fill hell with jinn and men all together. Taste ye then-for ye forgot the Meeting of this day of yours, and We too will forget you-taste ye the chastisement of Eternity for your (evil) deeds! [32:13-14]” The third call by the dwellers of hell will come as follows: “Our Lord! Respite us (if only) for a short term: we will answer Thy Call, and follow the Prophets. [14:44]” But they will be given a frustrating answer: “What! Were ye not wont to swear aforetime that ye should suffer no decline? And ye dwelt in the dwellings of men who wronged themselves; ye were clearly shown how We dealt with them; and We put forth (many) parables in your behoof! Mighty indeed were the plots which they made, but their plots were (well) within the sight of Allah, even though they were such as to shake the hills! [14:44-46]” A fourth call will be made when they say: “Our Lord! Bring us out: we shall work righteousness, not the (deeds) we used to do! [35:37]” But they will be replied with: “Did We not give you long enough life so that he that would receive admonition? And (moreover) the Warner came to you. So taste ye (the fruits of your seeds): for the wrongdoers there is no helper. [35:37]” Then Allah, glory to Him, will not talk to them for an indefinite period after which He will say: “Were not My Signs rehearsed to you, and ye did but treat them as falsehoods? [23:105]” When they hear His voice, they will say: Now our Lord is satisfied, and adds: “Our Lord! Our misfortune overwhelmed us, and we became a people astray! Our Lord! Bring us out of this: if ever we return (to evil), then shall we be wrongdoers indeed! [23:106-107]” But Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, will tell them:  “Be ye driven into it (with ignominy) and speak ye not to Me! [23:108]” At this very point, they will get fully desperate and disappointed: “And they will turn to one another, [37:27]” i.e. they will bark at the face of each other with hell swallowing them up all. The narrator concludes saying: I was told by Al-Azhar Ibn Abu Al-Azhar that this previous narration had the same meaning of Allah’s verse reading: “That will be a Day when they shall not be able to speak, nor it will be open to them to put forth pleas. [77:35-36]”

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