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Mizan

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Mīzān (Arabic: میزان) or Measure or Scale is a Quranic concept referring to a station on the day of resurrection. In this station, people and their actions are evaluated and measured. Some people take the weight or measurement of actions figuratively, interpreting "mizan" as God's just treatment of people on the day of resurrection, whereas others take human actions to have a measurable nature on the day of resurrection, which will be measured or weighed by an appropriate Measure.

According to hadiths, the Measure of actions can be made heavier on the day of resurrection in virtue of monotheistic beliefs, love for Ahl al-Bayt (a), evasion of sins, recitation of salawat, sincere intentions for the sake of God, avoiding to hurt people, and benevolence for people.

The Notion

"Mizan" literally means a measurement device or a scale, and "Mizan al-a'mal" (Measure of Deeds) is a device with which people's deeds and beliefs are measured. The word, and its plural form, "Mawazin," occurs sixteen times in the Qur'an. In some of these cases, it is used to mean a measurement device in transactions; in others, it refers to laws of creation; and in some others, it refers to legislated laws.

Mizan as a Station in Resurrection

Mizan is a station in resurrection in which people's overall deeds and beliefs are measured, in virtue of which their respective positions in the Heaven or the Hell will be decided.

Based on verses eight to nine of Qur'an 7, good deeds make one's Measure of Deeds heavier, and sins make it lighter. Thus, it is not the case that people's good deeds are put on one pan of the scale and sins on the other. Each act has its own criterion of measurement, and each act is measured in terms of its most perfect instance. For example, one's prayer is measured against a perfect prayer and one's fast is measured against a perfect fast. In other words, every person is measured against the perfect human being, and his or her actions are measured against those of the perfect human being, which is the most perfect instance of action. Thus, on the day of resurrection, "Mizan" or Measure is the perfect man.

In hadiths, prophets and their successors are deemed instances of "just scales" as occurring in the verse, "We shall set up just scales on the Day of Resurrection." According to al-Ziyara al-Mutlaqa of Imam 'Ali (a), he is considered as a Scale of Actions: "peace be upon the Scale of Actions." Thus, the scale or Mizan of each nation is their prophets and their successors.

As to the Quranic verse, "and We sent down with them the Book and the Mizan," 'Allama Tabataba'i takes "mizan" to refer to the religion, suggesting that the religion is called "Mizan" because people's beliefs and deeds are measured against it, and on the day of resurrection, people are evaluated and rewarded or punished in accordance with the religion.

Weight of Actions in Mizan

The Qur'an takes people's actions to have certain weights, where by the weight of an action it means its worthiness or worthlessness as far as rewards are considered. Different accounts have been offered of how actions are evaluated and weighed:

  • Some people, such as al-Shaykh al-Mufid, take it figuratively, interpreting it as God's just treatment of people in