Two deaths and two lives – Tafsir Surah Ghafir=The Forgiver Qur’an (40:11)

Tafsir Surah Ghafir=The Forgiver Qur’an (40:11)



“It refers to death after this life and then the transition from Barzakh to the day of judgement which is like a second death. This means the two lives are life in Barzakh and life at the day of judgement.”

My concerns about this interpretation are:

1. Our current life is the most vital and relevant happening. Our actions and faith in this life determines everything, what happens in Barzakh or Day of Judgment is determined by what we did here. On your above interpretation, I cannot see how we can discuss not one but two lives and our current life is not part of either.

2. Like the argument about our state before we were born, Barzakh remains an unexplained phase. We know what we do in this world and we are told by Quran about the general happenings of day of Judgment or criteria. But Barzakh is an unknown entity. So why would Quran consider that to be a life where no explanation about happenings in that life have been given apart from the people from two extremities of deeds.

3. Please correct me if I am wrong but is ” imtina” not a pleural of “maut” and does Quran not use ” Maut” for state of being asleep, then our life before this life was it not a state of sleep?

4. When Quran mentions the ” ahd i alast” does it not mention about us being alive once before our current life when we made that pledge and its memory erased, albeit Quran categorically mentions about us having an existence before.

5. Further to my reply bro when I read 44:56 “They shall not taste death except the death in this world..” makes me think that our death from this life has to be the second and final death. The first death has to be prior to this life.


Let me first remind the readers what the two most popular interpretations of this verse are, as I quoted in my original answer:

A.. It refers to the status of not having life before birth and death after living in this world, which then means the two lives will be life in this world and life in the day of judgement.

B. It refers to death after this life and then the transition from Barzakh to the day of judgement which is like a second death. This means the two lives are life in Barzakh and life at the day of judgement.

What you are suggesting is in fact a third interpretation:

C. It refers to death that comes after our life before being born in this world and then death after living in this world. This means the two lives will be life before this world and life in this world.

In my original answer I provide reasons to justify my preference for interpretation B.

I now try to address your five ojections to my preferred interpretation in turn.

   1. Let us look at the verse again to see what the point in referring to two lives and two deaths is:

قَالُواْ رَبَّنَا أَمَتَّنَا اثْنَتَينْ‏ِ وَ أَحْيَيْتَنَا اثْنَتَينْ‏ِ فَاعْترَفْنَا بِذُنُوبِنَا فَهَلْ إِلىَ‏ خُرُوجٍ مِّن سَبِيل‏

They shall say: Our Lord! You made us subject to death twice, and gave us life twice, so we confess our faults; is there then a way to get out? (40:11)

As you wrote our life in this world definitely determines our position in the hereafter. However as it is clear from the verse itself, this particular verse is referring to something else. The verse is referring to realisation of death and resurrection as another witness against the rejecters. In other words, what will shake up the rejecters is the fact that they have been resurrected twice.

Now the simple question is, do we remember dying and then being born again to this world?

I think the answer for all of us is No. Therefore how is it possible that rejecters refer to something as a shocking evidence for them, that they do not even remember?

   2.  You are very right in saying that there is very little information about life in Barzakh in the Qur’an. However same can be said about life before coming to this world. The point however, as I stated above, is not about the content of life (whatever that life may be), but is about appreciating resurrection after death.

   3. Amattana is not plural of Maut and I am not aware of a verse of the Qur’an where Maut is used for the state of sleep (if you are referring to verse 39:32 please look at it more carefully). Having said that, the state of life in Barzakh too seems to be a limbo and a sleeping-like state.

   4. I do not deny a form of existence before being born in this world. This however does not prove anything about the verse. Please see my answers to your points 1 and 2 above.

   5. The correct translation of verse 44:56 is as follows:

لَا يَذُوقُونَ فِيهَا الْمَوْتَ إِلَّا الْمَوْتَةَ الْأُولَىٰ وَوَقَاهُمْ عَذَابَ الْجَحِيم           

They will not taste death therein except the first death, and He will have protected them from the punishment of Hellfire (44:56)

As you can see the verse is not saying ‘death in this world’, it says ‘the first death’. Does this then mean that they may experience the second death? Certainly not!

I agree with Zamakhshari’s interpretation of the verse where he explains that the correct interpretation of the verse is: “They will not taste any death therein”. (1)

Based on the reasons that I provided in my original answer and this answer, I still prefer interpretation B from the above. However if I had to choose between interpretation A and interpretation C then I would choose C (i.e. your interpretation).

Allah knows Best.

Credit: Exploring Islam


1. As Zamakhshari explains, this is what in the science of Arab literature is called Ta’liq bi al-Muhal (negating the happening of something by making it dependant on an impossible situation).

The verse, as Zamakhshari puts it, implies that the people of heaven will not taste any death unless they could go back to the past and taste the death that they had in the past, which is of course impossible.

This technique in Arab literature implies a very strong negation of possibility of something. In this verse it is used to assure us that people in heaven will not experience any death at all.