What Is Meant by a Good Life in Surah Al-Nahl Verse 97?

Answered by Shaykh Anas al-Mousa


What is meant by a good life in the verse: “Whoever does good, whether male or female, and is a believer, We will surely bless them with a good life, and We will certainly reward them according to the best of their deeds.” [Quran, 16:97]?


In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Quranic Verse on a Good Life

The previous verse is from Surah al-Nahl in which Allah Most High says: “Whoever does good, whether male or female, and is a believer, We will surely bless them with a good life, and We will certainly reward them according to the best of their deeds.” [Quran 16:97]

Interpretations of a “Good Life”

The concept of a “good life” has been interpreted in various ways by scholars, and there is a debate about whether it refers to a good life in this world or the Hereafter. However, there is no reason to exclude it from encompassing all aspects of happiness in this world, such as good health, lawful sustenance, mental tranquility, contentment, and success in performing acts of obedience to Allah. According to Islamic principles, this includes contentment and other elements that contribute to happiness.

Al-Tabari favored in his interpretation that a good life is contentment. This is because the one who is content with what Allah Most High has allotted to them in terms of sustenance does not overexert themselves for worldly gains, nor do they become overly distressed or anxious about their livelihood. They accept and are satisfied with what Allah has provided for them. This opinion is supported by the narration of the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him: “Successful is the one who embraces Islam, is granted sufficiency, and is content with what Allah has bestowed upon him.” [Muslim]

Diverse Interpretations of a “Good Life”

Ibn Kathir also reported that ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Ikrimah, and Wahb ibn Munabbih interpreted a “good life” as a life of contentment.

Ibn Abbas interpreted a “good life” as having lawful good sustenance, happiness, doing acts of obedience, and experiencing contentment. Ibn Kathir stated that a “good life” includes all these aspects.

Encouragement for Righteous Deeds

This verse is the most comprehensive verse for both men and women in encouraging righteous deeds and obedience. After Allah Most High emphasized the importance of patience in the preceding verse, regarding their commitment to the laws of Islam by saying, ‘And We will certainly reward the steadfast according to the best of their deeds.’ [Quran, 16:96]. Here, He Most High encourages them to fulfill all their obligations and promises them a good life as a reward.

Allah’s Promise of a Good Life

In conclusion, a good life is a promise from Allah Most High for those who fulfill the obligations set by Him. The benefits of righteous deeds leading to a good life are conditional on faith, and in these rulings of Islam, there is equality between men and women except where the religion specifies otherwise.” [see: Al-Tabari, Jami‘ al-Bayan, 17.291; Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 4.601; Ibn’ Ashur, al-Tahrir wal-Tanwir]

May blessings and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family, and his companions.

[Shaykh] Anas al-Musa
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Anas al-Musa, born in Hama, Syria, in 1974, is an erudite scholar of notable repute. He graduated from the Engineering Institute in Damascus, where he specialized in General Construction, and Al-Azhar University, Faculty of Usul al-Din, where he specialized in Hadith.