57. One section of the commentators has held the view that this sentence is related with the two sentences immediately preceding it. That is, the ones who excel in good deeds are the best of the people and they alone will enter the Gardens. As for the first two groups, nothing has been stated about them so that they became worried concerning their fate and try to improve their lot. This view has been presented by Allama Zamakhshari forcefully and supported by Imam Razi. But the majority of the commentators opine that it is related with the whole preceding discourse, which means that all the three classes of the ummah shall eventually enter Paradise, whether without accountability, or after the accountability, whether remaining secure from every punishment, or after receiving some punishment. This commentary is supported by the Quranic context, for a little below about those who are contrasted with the heirs of the Book, it has been said: “And for those who have disbelieved, there is the fire of Hell.” This shows that there is Paradise for all those who have believed in the Book, and Hell for all those who have refused to believe in it. The same has been supported by the Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which Imam Ahmad, Ibn Jarir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Tabarani, Baihaqi and some other traditionalists have related on the authority of Abu ad- Darda. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
Those who have excelled in good works shall enter Paradise without accountability; and those who are following the middle course, shall be subjected to accountability; but their accountability shall be light. As for those who have been unjust to themselves, they shall be detained throughout the long period of Resurrection and accountability (mahshar). Then Allah shall cover them also with His mercy. And they are the ones who will say: Thanks to Allah Who has removed sorrow from us.
In this Hadith the Prophet (peace be upon him) has himself given a complete commentary of the verse under discussion, and stated separately the end to be met by each of the three groups of the believers. The light accountability for the ones following the middle course means this: The disbelievers will be punished for their disbelief as well as for each single crime and sin of theirs separately, but, contrary to this, the good and bad deeds of the believers who come with both the good and evil deeds will be judged on the whole: they will not be rewarded for each good deed and punished for each evil deed separately. As for those who will be detained throughout the period of Resurrection and accountability because they had been unjust to themselves, it means: They will not be thrown into Hell, but will be sentenced to be detained till the rising of the court. In other words, they will be exposed to all the severities and rigors of the lengthy Day of Resurrection (and God alone knows how lengthy it will be) till Allah Almighty will turn to them in His mercy and command at the rising of the court that they too be admitted into Paradise. The traditionists have cited several sayings to the same effect from many companions like Umar, Uthman, Abdullah bin Masud, Abdullah bin Abbas, Aishah, Abu Said Khudri and Bara bin Azib. And obviously, the companions could not have said any such thing in such matters unless they had heard it from the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself.
But from this one should not form the impression that those who have been unjust to themselves from among the Muslims will only be sentenced to be detained till the rising of the court, and none of them will go to Hell at all. Several crimes have been mentioned in the Quran and Hadith, whose perpetrator will go to Hell in spite of his faith. For instance, Allah Himself has declared that the believer who kills another believer willfully shall go to Hell. Likewise, Hell has been mentioned as the punishment of those people also who violate the provisions of the divine law of inheritance. Those who devour interest even after its prohibition have been declared to be the dwellers of Hell. Besides these, some other major sins have also been mentioned in Hadith, whose perpetrator shall go to Hell.