Monday, August 14, 2017

'Surah Al-Takathur': A Commentary

1. In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
2. The race for (an increase in) wealth distracts you
3. until you visit the graves.
4. But no! You will soon know!
5. Again, You will soon know!
6. No! If you only knew with knowledge of certainty...
7. You will certainly see the Furnace.
8. Then you will certainly see it, with the eye of certainty.
9. Then, surely, you will be questioned that day about the delights (which you used to enjoy on this earth).

Competing for More

This chapter, Surah At-Takaathur (Ch.102) - Cupidity (i.e., the desire to have more and more) contains a warning to those who wish to possess everything, those who like to accumulate wealth.

Verse 2: ‘Alhaakumut-Takaathuur - The race for (an increase in) wealth distracts you;

This fanaticism to acquire wealth and to increase one's fortune, position, the number of one's adherents, disciples or supporters, mass production or organization, affects not only one person but Societies and Nations.

What is called 'monopoly' (i.e., the restricted control and management of a thing only by a person who wants to control everything; monopolization) is forbidden and is against morality. Monopoly favours the exploitation of the public. This situation will get worse if people follow such a person, i.e., the monopolist (in respect to the power and wealth/ riches of this lowly world). When monopoly sets in, there is competition. Such a competition surges by others in order to gain access to (and share in) this wealth. 

Therefore, when there is such competition for more wealth, it occupies the attention of that person (who is worried about maintaining his monopoly on wealth against his competitors) and then forgets he to do things of much more importance, i.e., prayer, good conduct, etc. It is for this reason that in this verse a clear warning has been given from a spiritual point of view.

Man tends to absorb himself/ herself in these ephemeral things until death surprises him/ her. And at that moment he makes a flashback on his past life on earth and realizes how much his life has been wasted because he has not paid attention to the most important and superior affairs.

Verses 3, 4 & 5: Hatta zurtumul maqaabir; Kallaa sawfa ta’-lamuun; Summa kallaa sawfa ta’-lamuun - until you visit the graves. But no! You will soon know! Again, You will soon know!

This sentence means: Until a time comes when you will find yourself in the graves and you will forsake all that temporal splendour behind you, as well as all the circumstances of a life that was empty. Then, at that moment, this true reality will appear before you. So why do people not try to understand this reality in this very lowly life, before it's too late?

Verses 6, 7 & 8: Kallaa law ta’-lamuuna ‘ilmal yaqiin; Latara wunnal Jahiim! Summa latara wunnahaa ‘aynal yaqiin ! - No! If you only knew with knowledge of certainty... You will certainly see the Furnace. Then you will certainly see it, with the eye of certainty.

There are three types of "Yaqeen" (certitude of knowledge) which are mentioned in the Quran: 'ilm-ul-yaqeen' - certainty by reasoning or deduction, 'ain-ul-yaqeen' - A personal inspection, 'haqq-ul-yaqeen' - the absolute truth where there is no possibility of error of judgment or error in visual or perception.

The first type, i.e., certainty by reasoning or deduction, is mentioned here: we hear something from a person, or we make deductions for something by our own knowledge; It refers to our personal state of mind.

If we reason in this sense, we shall give greater value and appreciation for the beautiful things of our life on earth, and we will waste precious time in trivialities (i.e., unnecessary/ unimportant things) . But if we do not use our faculty of reasoning now, then we will certainly perceive with our own eyes the punishment for all our sins. We will perceive Hell/ the Furnance.

Verse 9: Summa la-tus’-alunna Yawma-‘izin ‘anin na’iim. - Then, surely, you will be questioned that day about the delights (which you used to enjoy on this earth).

We will be questioned, i.e., we will be held responsible for all the kinds of pleasures we used to enjoy on earth - whether this pleasure was in the form of a false pride, the enjoyment of vain, worthless, or bad things, or even an extravagant enjoyment of things that are halal (licit). Therefore we must follow the prescribed limits.

Islam does not allow us to devote ourselves exclusively to the pleasures of this lowly life. These pleasures make us selfish. 

These pleasures take up our precious time, as well as our money/ wealth, and our abilities, such time, money and capacities/ abilities that we can showcase for the benefit of society. These pleasures make us forget our duty to Allah and the duty which we have towards our own soul. These pleasures give great satisfaction to our physical senses; But our physical body will one day be buried underground and it is our soul that will continue to live after our death. We must not neglect our soul which is also an important part of our own being.

So we must always keep in mind that our sojourn on this earth is very temporary, and we have a duty to do everything in our power so that we do not forget to fulfil our duty to Allah, and towards our own souls. Life on earth is very temporary while it is the future life that is eternal for us. When Allah sent us to this earth, He did not put a burden on us because He knows that our physical body is very weak. Therefore, He allows us to have personal desires and leisure, provided that we do not show ungratefulness to Him (Allah) and that we do not forget to worship Him alone, and that we do not forget also the favours He has poured upon us as well as the commandments He has placed at our disposal so that we always follow the right path. The one who does not forget his duty to Allah is the one who will always prosper, while those who are tempted by the attractions of this world and forget Allah, they are the losers.

May Allah protect us from avarice and gluttony for this temporary world, and help us to reach Him with ease and bliss. Insha-Allah, Ameen.

---Friday Sermon of 11 August 2017(18 Dhul Qaddah 1438 AH) delivered by Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius. 

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