The Sūrat al-Riḍwān of the Bāb,
Introduction and Expository Notes
November 2011 Under revision.
The Sūrat al-Riḍwān of the Bāb is a failry brief, five or six page Arabic work relating to the Qur'anic word Ridwan and its implications as a heavenly or eschatological realm of paradise. It could be viewed as expository of a few qur'anic verses making use of the term Ridwan.
“ … the best of abodes (ḥusn al-ma`ib) is with God. Say: Shall I inform you of [other things] which are even betters? With the Lord are gardens and running streams of water for those that keep from evil and follow the straight path. Where they will live unchanged, with the purest of companions [spouses] (ajwāj muṭṭaharat) and the Riḍwān [good-pleasure / beatitude] of [from] God (riḍwān min Allāh)”…
In context riḍwān or, more precisely, the riḍwān min Allāh is associated with images of Paradise; gardens, running streams and unchanging immortal life with celestial houri type companions. The riḍwān from God is obviously linked with the glories of the life to come and the attendant blessings of the eschatological age accorded the righteous who “follow the straight Path”.
In his monumental Tafsīr entitled Jami' al-Bayān 'an ta'wīl āy al-Qur'ān (“The Compendium of the Exposition of the Interpretation of the verses of the Qur’ān“) on Q. 3:15, Abū Ja`far Muhammad ibn Jarīr al-Ṭabarī (d. 310/923) interprets the phrase ajwāj muṭṭaharat ( “purest of companions/ spouses”) as indicating “the women of Paradise” (nisā’ al-jannat). Then, after noting the various vowel pointings or possible pronunciations of Riḍwān (or Ruḍwān in the dialect of [the tribe of] Qays), the promised Ridwān of God (riḍwānihi XXX) is interpreted as the “most elevated of the way stations of the magnificences of the people of Paradise” (a`lā manāzil karāmat ahl al-jannat). Having said this he cites an interesting hadīth relayed from a certain Ibn Bashār. It reads :
“Jābir ibn `Abd-Allāh related that he [Muhammad?] said `When the denizens of Paradise ( al-jannat) entered Paradise God, exalted and elevated is He, said [unto them], `I shall bestow upon you something more gracious (afḍal) than this!’ They responded [saying] `What is it Our Lord than can be more gracious (afḍal) than this? He replied, `My Riḍwān / My good-pleasure!’ (al-Ṭabarī, Jāmi` al-bayān III-IV: 243 [on Q. 3:15]).