57:11 Who is it that will offer up unto God a goodly loan, which He will amply repay? For, such [as do so] shall have a noble reward.
See note 234 on the identical phrase in 2:245. In the present instance, the meaning is apparently wider, applying to all that man may do selflessly, for the sake of God alone.
57:12 On the Day when thou shalt see all believing men and believing women, with their light spreading rapidly before them and on their right, [and with this welcome awaiting them] “A glad tiding for you today, gardens through which running-waters flow, therein to abide! This, this is the triumph supreme!”
See note 25 on the expression ashab al-yamin (“those on the right hand”) in 74:39. In many instances, the metaphor of “the right hand” or “right side” is used in the Qur’an to denote “righteousness” and, therefore, “blessedness”, symbolized in the present context by the “light spreading rapidly” before and on the right side of the believers as a result of their “cognition of God, and their high morality, and their freedom from ignorance and blameworthy traits” (Razi).
57:13 On that Day shall the hypocrites, both men and women, speak [thus] unto those who have attained to faith, “Wait for us! Let us have a [ray of] light from your light!” [But] they will be told, “Turn back and seek a light [of your own]!” And thereupon a wall will be raised between them [and the believers], with a gate in it, within it will be grace and mercy, and against the outside thereof, suffering.
Meant here are, apparently, not only outright “hypocrites” (in the connotation given to this term in Western languages) but also people who, being shaky in their beliefs and uncertain in their moral convictions, are inclined to deceive themselves (see note 7 on 29:11).
57:14 Hey [who will remain without] will call out to those [within], “Were we not with you?” – [to which] the others will answer, “So it was! But you allowed yourselves to succumb to temptation, and you were hesitant [in your faith], and you were doubtful [of resurrection], and your wishful thinking beguiled you until God’s command came to pass, for, [indeed, your own] deceptive thoughts about God deluded you!
i.e., “you should have sought light while you have on earth”.
57:15 “And so, no ransom shall be accepted today from you, and neither from those who were [openly] bent on denying the truth. Your goal is the fire, it is your [only] refuge – and how evil a journey’s end!”
The stress on there being a gate in the wall separating true believers and hypocrites (or the weak of faith) points to the possibility of the latters’ redemption: cf. the famous hadith quoted in note 10 on 40:12. Mujahid (as quoted by Tabari) identifies the “wall” spoken of here with the “barrier” (hijab) mentioned in 7:46.
57:16 Is it not time that the hearts of all who have attained to faith should feel humble at the remembrance of God and of all the truth that has been bestowed [on them] from on high, lest they become like those who were granted revelation aforetime, and whose hearts have hardened with the passing of time so that many of them are [now] depraved?
Sc., “by the prospect of worldly gains” or “by fear for your personal safety” – both of which characterize the half-hearted as well as the hypocrites.
57:17 [But] know that God gives life to the earth after it has been lifeless! We have indeed made Our messages clear unto you, so that you might use your reason.
Thus Ibn Zayd (quoted by Tabari), explaining the verb tarabbastum.
57:18 Verily, as for the men and women who accept the truth as true, and who [thus] offer up unto God a goodly loan, they will be amply repaid and shall have a noble reward [in the life to come].
i.e., “until your death”.
57:19 For, they who have attained to faith in God and His Apostle – it is they, they who uphold the truth, and they who bear witness [thereto] before God, [and so] they shall have their reward and their light! But as for those who are bent on denying the truth and on giving the lie to Our messages – it is they who are destined for the blazing fire!
See note 30 on the last sentence of 31:33.
57:20 Know [O men] that the life of this world is but a play and a passing delight, and a beautiful show, and [the cause of] your boastful vying with one another, and [of your] greed for more and more riches and children. Its parable is that of [life-giving] rain: the herbage which it causes to grow delights the tillers of the soil, but then it withers, and thou canst see it turn yellow, and in the end, it crumbles into dust. But [the abiding truth of man’s condition will become fully apparent] in the life to come, [either] suffering severe, or God’s forgiveness and His goodly acceptance, for the life of this world is nothing but an enjoyment of self-delusion.
i.e., belated repentance.