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Salamun aleikum,

I know that there were a meeting with God, before we were on this earth, testifying that only Allah is our God. My question is on this verse.

„They will say, "Our Lord, You made us lifeless twice and gave us life twice, and we have confessed our sins. So is there to an exit any way?"“ (Ghafir, Verse 11, Saheeh International)

This verse says we died twice and were given life twice. So we died after this meeting, which I mentioned above, then our mother gave birth, so we are living, but we will die one day and at the end on the Day of Resseruction, we are raised again to life. It would be two and two.

But before that meeting, were we not also raised to life, making it three „lifes“ and two „deaths“. Or is there no death between the meeting and our birth, but then it would be one „death“.

It would be great, if someone clarifies. Thanks for answers.

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The most well-known understanding of the verse is that people were created "dead." Then, they were given life when they came to this world. Then, they will die. Then, they will be brought back to life for Qiyamah.

That is two deaths and two lives. This is an opinion attributed to Ibn Masood (RA) and Qatada (RA).

The meeting with Allah where they testified to Him being their Lord does not count as life in this view. That was still when they were dead.

This view follows another verse of the Quran:

How can you disbelieve in Allah when you were lifeless and He brought you to life; then He will cause you to die, then He will bring you [back] to life, and then to Him you will be returned. (2:28)

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  • Thanks, May Allah bless you. – FromAnatolia Oct 18 at 20:56
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What should be clear

I guess that the two life's mentioned in this verse must be clear:

  • The life in this life (Dunya)

  • And the life in the hereafter (al-Aakhirah)

The point that might cause trouble are the two deaths.

قَالُوا رَبَّنَا أَمَتَّنَا اثْنَتَيْنِ وَأَحْيَيْتَنَا اثْنَتَيْنِ فَاعْتَرَفْنَا بِذُنُوبِنَا فَهَلْ إِلَى خُرُوجٍ مِنْ سَبِيلٍ

A linguistic dive

Note that the noun:

الموت al-Mawt

and it's corresponding verb:

مات maata

Which is usually translated by death and to die means in Arabic a bit more:
For example in the context of a location: It may mean that it is empty. In the context of heat or cold it may mean that they have been dissolved, vanished and gone (and none existing). In the context of fever: it means that it declines In fact in a dictionary the meaning of the above verb is written as: In the following I'll translate from Arabic language, as these are my own translations -if not otherwise stated or referred- take them with the necessary care

زالت الحياة
Life has gone or has been lifted

The crucial part in this verse is that Allah used the derived verb:

أمات amaata

which usually is translated as killed or bringing death other meanings may be to stall, to exhaust, to make an end (not necessary death, but something that may make you feel close to death) to something etc..

The closest meaning for the first time being lifeless here is being none existing or without the spirit of life (ar-Ruh/ar-Rooh الروح). This meaning would also solve the second time being lifeless as death means that our Rooh is lifted.

The meaning of "made us lifeless"

First always be aware that translation and interpretation go hand in hand often if not usually translations of the qur'an and sunnah somehow reflect a scholarly view that mostly should be agreed upon and not a literal meaning as you may have noticed from the linguistic dive above.

The point here is that this verse is clearly related and referring to:

How can you disbelieve in Allah when you were lifeless and He brought you to life; then He will cause you to die, then He will bring you [back] to life, and then to Him you will be returned. (2:28)

Ibn Kathir mentioned in the context of this verse the following:

Ibn Jarir reported from 'Ata' that Ibn 'Abbas said that, وَكُنتُمْ أَمْوَتًا فَأَحْيَـكُمْ (Seeing that you were dead and He gave you life) means, "You did not exist beforehand. You were nothing until Allah created you; He will bring death to you and then bring you back to life during Resurrection.'' Ibn `Abbas then said, "This is similar to Allah's statement;
قَالُواْ رَبَّنَآ أَمَتَّنَا اثْنَتَيْنِ وَأَحْيَيْتَنَا اثْنَتَيْنِ
(They will say: "Our Lord! You have made us to die twice and You have given us life twice.") (40:11)" (Tafssir ibn Kathir)

Ibn Kathir -see here in Arabic- also quoted a statement of ibn 'Abbas via a-Dahhak which goes in the same direction. He said that the same was narrated by ibn Mas'ood and others.
He further quoted some rather strange statements among them a statement of as-Sudi narrated by imam Sufyan a-Thawry saying that Allah give life in the grave and take it back. And another statement which ibn Jarir at-Tabari has quoted in his tafssir on the authority of 'Abdurrahman ibn Zayd ibn Aslam عبد الرحمن بن زيد بن أسلم:

خلقهم في ظهر آدم ثم أخذ عليهم الميثاق ، ثم أماتهم ثم خلقهم في الأرحام ، ثم أماتهم ، ثم أحياهم يوم القيام
He created them in the back of Aadam and toke the covenant, then caused them to die and then created them in the wombs, then cause them to die and then gave them back life in the day of resurrection.

So the best explanation is rather that we were created and given life from a state of none existence (first time being lifeless) until we got our ruh, then we lived in this life and died (the second time) and we will be resurrected in the hereafter for an eternal life.

Maybe Tafseer al-Jalalayn gives a clear and shor answer about this:

They will say, ‘Our Lord, You have caused us to die twice, two deaths, and You have given us life twice — for they were lifeless drops of semen, then they were given life, then made to die, then brought back to life for the Resurrection. We [now] confess our sins, in having disbelieved in the Resurrection. Is there then any way to go out?’, out of the Fire and return to the world to be obedient to our Lord? The answer given to them will be: No! (Tafssir al-Jalalayn)

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