74. Verily, whoever comes to his Lord as a criminal, then surely, for him is Hell, wherein he will neither die nor live. 75. But whoever comes to Him as a believer, and has done righteous good deeds, for such are the high ranks, 76. `Adn Gardens, under which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever, and such is the reward of those who purify themselves.
The clear intent of this is to be a completion of what the magicians admonished Fir`awn with. They warned him of the vengeance of Allah and His eternal and everlasting punishment. They also encouraged him to seek Allah's eternal and endless reward. They said,
(Verily, whoever comes to his Lord as a criminal,) This means, whoever meets Allah on the Day of Judgment while being a criminal.
(then surely, for him is Hell, wherein he will neither die nor live.) This is similar to Allah's statement,
(Neither will it have a complete killing effect on them so that they die, nor shall its torment be lightened for them. Thus do We requite every disbeliever!) ﴿35:36﴾ Allah also said,
(But it will be avoided by the wretched, who will enter the great Fire. There he will neither die nor live.) ﴿87:11-13﴾
(And they will cry: "O Malik (Keeper of Hell)! Let your Lord made an end of us.'' He will say: "Verily, you shall abide forever.'') ﴿43:77﴾ Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal recorded that Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(The dwellers of Hellfire, who are those who deserve it, they will not die in it, nor will they be living. Rather, they will be a people who will be punished by the Fire due to their sins. It will be gradually killing them and devouring them until they become burnt coals. Then, intercession will be allowed and they will be brought (out of Hell) group by group and they will be spread on the rivers of Paradise. It will then be said, "O people of Paradise, pour (water) over them.'' Then, they will start to grow like the growing of a seed on the muddy banks of a flowing river.) A man among the people said, "It is as if the Messenger of Allah lived in the desert.'' This is how Muslim recorded this narration in his Sahih. Concerning Allah's statement,
(But whoever comes to Him (Allah) as a believer, and has done righteous good deeds,) whoever meets his Lord on the Day of Judgment as a believer in his heart, then verily, his intentions in his heart will be affirmed to be true by his statements and deeds.
(for such are the high ranks,) Paradise, which has the highest levels, the most tranquil rooms and the nicest homes. Imam Ahmad reported from `Ubadah bin As-Samit that the Prophet said,
(Paradise has one hundred levels and between each level is a distance like the distance between the sky and the earth. Al-Firdaws is the name of the highest of its levels. From it springs the four rivers and the Throne is above it. Therefore, when you ask Allah, then ask Him for Al-Firdaws.) This narration was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi. In the Two Sahihs it is recorded that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Verily, the people of the `Illiyyin will see those who are above them just as you see the fading star in the horizon of the sky, due to the different status of virtue between them. ) The people said, "O Messenger of Allah, these are the dwellings of the Prophets.'' He replied, (Of course. And I swear by the One Whom my soul is in His Hand, (it is for) men who had faith in Allah and they believed the Messengers.) In the Sunan collections this narration is mentioned with the additional wording,
(And verily Abu Bakr and `Umar are of them and they will be most favored.) His saying,
(Adn Gardens,) meaning established as a residence. It is merely used here in reference to the high ranks mentioned previously.
(under which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever,) meaning that they will abide in it for eternity.
(and such is the reward of those who purify themselves.) One who purifies himself from dirt, filth and associating partners with Allah. This is the person who worships Allah alone, without ascribing partners to Him, and he follows the Messengers in the good they came with all that they claim.