The Quranic Word Series: Jazaa’

Today’s Quranic Word is Jazaa’ = جَزَاءُ

Jazaa’ means reward as in a fair return for good or bad behaviour. It shows the fairness, mercy and justice of Allaah SWT because everyone will get what they deserve regarding their deeds either in this world or the Hereafter or both. Allah says:

هَلْ جَزَاءُ الْإِحْسَانِ إِلَّا الْإِحْسَانُ

[Quran 55:60]

Is the reward for good [anything] but good?


The Quran’s Usage of the Word “Jazaa'”

The Quran uses the word “jazaa'” and its conjugations to mean different things. Here are a few of them.

The Islamic Taxation

Known as the jizyah tax, this form of annual levy is imposed upon non-Muslim permanent residents who choose to stay in a Muslim state. The word “jizyah” is derived from jazaa’ since it is exchanged for the reward or compensation of security in a Muslim state.

A Muslim state is responsible to deliver two resources to its people: justice and security. Muslims are thus responsible to protect their non-Muslims residents as decreed by Allah and His Prophet ﷺ. Non-Muslims under the protection of a Muslim state became known as the dhimmah, which means “protected people”.

Paying jizyah is a form of humility for the dhimmah to accept the security and protection that the Muslims will provide them. The jizyah tax is used to run the expenditures of the state in exchange for their guaranteed protection from invaders during a war.

قَاتِلُوا الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَلَا بِالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَلَا يُحَرِّمُونَ مَا حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَلَا يَدِينُونَ دِينَ الْحَقِّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ حَتَّىٰ يُعْطُوا الْجِزْيَةَ عَن يَدٍ وَهُمْ صَاغِرُونَ

[Quran 9:29]

Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.

Avail, Help and Benefit

The word “jazaa'” can also mean to avail, to help, or to benefit. An example of this seen can be seen in the following verse of the Quran:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمْ وَاخْشَوْا يَوْمًا لَّا يَجْزِيوَالِدٌ عَن وَلَدِهِ وَلَا مَوْلُودٌ هُوَ جَازٍعَن وَالِدِهِ شَيْئًا

[Quran 31:33]

O mankind, fear your Lord and fear a Day when no father will avail his son, nor will a son avail his father at all.

Recompensed – Reward for Good or Bad

Jazaa’ is also found in the Quran to mean the reward that has been prepared in recompense for the good or bad that someone has done. Allah says:

الْيَوْمَ تُجْزَىٰ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ ۚ لَا ظُلْمَ الْيَوْمَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ

[Quran 40:17]

This Day every soul will be recompensed for what it earned. No injustice today! Indeed, Allah is swift in account.


Jazaa’ can also be used to mean a penalty that cleans and clears away someone’s bad deeds so that it will not appear again on his record of deeds. Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَقْتُلُوا الصَّيْدَ وَأَنتُمْ حُرُمٌ ۚ وَمَن قَتَلَهُ مِنكُم مُّتَعَمِّدًا فَجَزَاءٌ مِّثْلُ مَا قَتَلَ مِنَ النَّعَمِ

[Quran 5:95]

O you who have believed, do not kill game while you are in the state of ihram. And whoever of you kills it intentionally – the penalty is an equivalent from sacrificial animals to what he killed.


Another meaning is sufficiency or guarantor, as no one can be a guarantor or suffice for another on the Day of Resurrection. Allah says:

وَاتَّقُوا يَوْمًا لَّا تَجْزِي نَفْسٌ عَن نَّفْسٍ شَيْئًا وَلَا يُقْبَلُ مِنْهَا شَفَاعَةٌ وَلَا يُؤْخَذُ مِنْهَا عَدْلٌ وَلَا هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ

[Quran 2:48]

And fear a Day when no soul will suffice for another soul at all, nor will intercession be accepted from it, nor will compensation be taken from it, nor will they be aided.


Jazaa’ in this World and the Hereafter

The reward from Allah SWT is either one we will get it in this world, or in the Hereafter, or both.

Worldly Reward

This is the good reward that Allah SWT gives to His creation in this world in respect to the goodness they have done. It is for both the believers and the non-believers. This worldly reward does not make a believer forfeit the one in the Hereafter but non-believers have nothing for their goodness after the worldly gain they earned except the reward of punishment. The Prophet ﷺ said:

عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَظْلِمُ مُؤْمِنًا حَسَنَةً يُعْطَى بِهَا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَيُجْزَى بِهَا فِي الآخِرَةِ وَأَمَّا الْكَافِرُ فَيُطْعَمُ بِحَسَنَاتِ مَا عَمِلَ بِهَا لِلَّهِ فِي الدُّنْيَا حَتَّى إِذَا أَفْضَى إِلَى الآخِرَةِ لَمْ تَكُنْ لَهُ حَسَنَةٌ يُجْزَى بِهَا‏ ‏.

[Sahih Muslim]

Anas b. Malik reported that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: Verily, Allah does not treat a believer unjustly in regard to his virtues. He would confer upon him (His blessing) in this world and would give him reward in the Hereafter. And as regards a non-believer, he would be made to taste the reward (of virtue in this world) of what he has done so much that when the Hereafter comes, he would find no virtue for which he should be rewarded.

And for the believers, Allah says in the Quran:

مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً ۖ وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْرَهُم بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

[Quran 16:97]

Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do.

Reward in the Hereafter

This is the place where Allah SWT will reward the believers with good for their goodness and the disbelievers have no goodness to be rewarded for except punishment. This is because the only goodness recognised on that day is Islam and Iman. If they don’t have Islam or Iman, then their record will not be weighed on that Day as their destination is clear. The Prophet ﷺ said:

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏”‏ قَالَ اللَّهُ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى أَعْدَدْتُ لِعِبَادِي الصَّالِحِينَ مَا لاَ عَيْنٌ رَأَتْ، وَلاَ أُذُنٌ سَمِعَتْ، وَلاَ خَطَرَ عَلَى قَلْبِ بَشَرٍ ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو هُرَيْرَةَ اقْرَءُوا إِنْ شِئْتُمْ {‏‏فَلاَ تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَا أُخْفِيَ لَهُمْ مِنْ قُرَّةِ أَعْيُنٍ جَزَاءً بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ}‏‏‏

[Sahih al-Bukhari]

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Allah said, ‘I have prepared for my pious worshipers such things as no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard of, and nobody has ever thought of.” Abu Huraira added: If you wish you can read:– ‘No soul knows what is kept hidden (in reserve) for them of joy as reward for what they used to do.’ 32.17

إِنَّ هَٰذَا كَانَ لَكُمْ جَزَاءً وَكَانَ سَعْيُكُم مَّشْكُورًا ‏

[Quran 76:22]

[And it will be said], “Indeed, this is for you a reward, and your effort has been appreciated.”

And Allah says concerning the disbelievers on that Day:

وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنِ افْتَرَىٰ عَلَى اللَّهِ كَذِبًا أَوْ قَالَ أُوحِيَ إِلَيَّ وَلَمْ يُوحَ إِلَيْهِ شَيْءٌ وَمَن قَالَ سَأُنزِلُ مِثْلَ مَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ ۗ وَلَوْ تَرَىٰ إِذِ الظَّالِمُونَ فِي غَمَرَاتِ الْمَوْتِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ بَاسِطُو أَيْدِيهِمْ أَخْرِجُوا أَنفُسَكُمُ ۖ الْيَوْمَ تُجْزَوْنَ عَذَابَ الْهُونِ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ غَيْرَ الْحَقِّ وَكُنتُمْ عَنْ آيَاتِهِ تَسْتَكْبِرُونَ

[Quran 6:93]

And who is more unjust than one who invents a lie about Allah or says, “It has been inspired to me,” while nothing has been inspired to him, and one who says, “I will reveal [something] like what Allah revealed.” And if you could but see when the wrongdoers are in the overwhelming pangs of death while the angels extend their hands, [saying], “Discharge your souls! Today you will be awarded the punishment of [extreme] humiliation for what you used to say against Allah other than the truth and [that] you were, toward His verses, being arrogant.”

ذَٰلِكَ جَزَاءُ أَعْدَاءِ اللَّهِ النَّارُ ۖ لَهُمْ فِيهَا دَارُ الْخُلْدِ ۖ جَزَاءً بِمَا كَانُوا بِآيَاتِنَا يَجْحَدُونَ

[Quran 41:28]

That is the recompense of the enemies of Allah – the Fire. For them therein is the home of eternity as recompense for what they, of Our verses, were rejecting.


Islam Encourages Gratitude

Islam has encouraged the act of being grateful to whoever has done good deed to us. Islam also gives room for retaliation without transgression for whoever has wronged us, although forgiving and overlooking is better.

While the act of good deeds is done for Allah’s sake and the person should expect reward from Allah only, showing gratitude will encourage the doer towards more good deeds. It has been reported that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said whoever is not being grateful to mankind will not be grateful to Allah.

When we thank someone, we are encouraged to say, “Jazaakallahu khayran” (May Allah reward you with good). Be careful that you do not shorten this and just say, “Jazaakallah” (May Allaah reward you with) as we have not made it clear if we are asking for a good reward or the other. The Prophet ﷺ said:

عَنْ أُسَامَةَ بْنِ زَيْدٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ مَنْ صُنِعَ إِلَيْهِ مَعْرُوفٌ فَقَالَ لِفَاعِلِهِجَزَاكَاللَّهُ خَيْرًا فَقَدْ أَبْلَغَ فِي الثَّنَاءِ”.‏‏


Usamah bin Zaid narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Whoever some good was done to him, and he says: ‘May Allah reward you in goodness’ then he has done the most that he can of praise.”

And the person being greeted with, “Jazaakallahu khayran” should respond with “Wa iyyaakum” or with the same greeting as reported in the hadith of the Prophet ﷺ:

عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مالك قَالَ: أَتَى أُسَيْدُ بْنُ حُضَيْرٍ الْأَشْهَلِيُّ النَّقِيبُ إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فَذَكَرَ لَهُ أَهْلَ بَيْتٍ مِنَ الْأَنْصَارِ فِيهِمْ حَاجَةٌ قَالَ: وَقَدْ كَانَ قَسَمَ طَعَامًا فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: (تَرَكْتَنَا حَتَّى ذَهَبَ مَا فِي أَيْدِينَا فَإِذَا سَمِعْتَ بِشَيْءٍ قَدْ جَاءَنَا فَاذْكُرْ لِي أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ) قَالَ: فَجَاءَهُ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ طَعَامٌ مِنْ خَيْبَرَ: شَعِيرٌ وَتَمْرٌ قَالَ: وجُلُّ أَهْلِ ذَلِكَ الْبَيْتِ نِسْوَةٌ قَالَ: فَقَسَمَ فِي النَّاسِ وَقَسَمَ فِي الْأَنْصَارِ فَأَجْزَلَ وَقَسَمَ فِي أَهْلِ ذَلِكَ الْبَيْتِ فَأَجْزَلَ فَقَالَ لَهُ أُسَيْدُ بْنُ حُضَيْرٍ يَشْكُرُ لَهُ: جَزَاكَ الله يَا نَبِيَّ الله عَنَّا أَطْيَبَ الجزاء ـ أو قال: خيراً ـ فقال صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: (وَأَنْتُمْ مَعْشَرَ الْأَنْصَارِ فَجَزَاكُمُ اللَّهُ أَطْيَبَ الْجَزَاءِ ـ أَوْ قَالَ: خَيْرًا ).

[an-Nasa’i no. 8345]

Narrated by Anas bin Malik, May Allaah be pleased with him, that: Usaid bin Khudayr al Ashaalee, the chief of his people, came to the Messenger of Allaah ﷺ and mentioned to him a household of the Ansaar that was in need. He said, “The Prophet ﷺ has shared the food. And the Prophet said, “Leave us until we finish with this that is with us. If you heard of anything that comes, remind me of the household. He said, “Then the food came to him from Khaybar: Barley and dates. He said, “The majority of the household are women.” He shared it between the people and the Ansaar.” And he gave a share for the household. Then Usayd said, out of gratitude to the Messenger of Allaah, May Allaah reward you, O Prophet of Allaah, with the best of reward or with goodness. And the Prophet replied, “And you too, O group of Ansaar. May Allaah reward you with the best of reward or with goodness.”

And so, we come to the end of this post. Jazakumullahukhayra, Wassalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh.


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  1. muhaymin

    “Jazaakallahu khayran” for this wonderful article

    • Arabic Unlocked

      Wa Antum fa Jazakumullahu khayran (And you too, May Allah reward you with good)

  2. Um umar

    Amazing simple yet thorough explanations and variations of the meanings and words forms
    Always something to learn and appreciate from the Holy Quraan

  3. Earline Martin

    AsSalamu Alaikumu , I really enjoy that and learned somethings!

    • Arabic Unlocked

      Waalaikumussalam. Alhamdulillah.

  4. Rubina Merchant

    Extremely useful post.
    جزاك الله خيرا

    • Arabic Unlocked

      Wa Antum fa Jazakumullahu khayran

  5. Bushra

    Jazakallah Kayran for the fantastic work; it’s evident and informative, and suitable for students. I hope that you have a textbook we can use in an Islamic School.


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