Rivalry for Worldly Gain
Brothers and Sisters,
My message to you this month is a discussion of two verses from Quran that you all have memorized as young children partly due to its majestic rhythm. These verses, however short, carry deep meaning and possess the power to impact the lives of even the most lost souls.
Allah (SWT) states in the first verse of Surat At-Takathur, أَلْهَاكُمُ التَّكَاثُرُ
Any translation of the verse does not do justice to the original text but it can be roughly translated to, “The want of plenty distracted you.” In the Arabic text, it is comprised of simply two words, one meaning distraction and the other abundance. Allah (SWT) employs the word “lahu” in the Quran in many instances to refer to entertainment or pre-occupation in a matter which is less deserving of attention, especially, when more pressing issues are looming ahead in the journey of life: death, the life of the grave, the Day of Judgment, the next life.
This verse calls upon us to reflect deeply on which drives us to act. Our eyelids are lifted as we ask ourselves what is it that distracts us most. What is something you engross yourself in that completely captures your attention and focus to the point that you cannot for a moment distance yourself from it?
Allah (SWT) identifies the cause of this distraction as “takathur”, or a want of plenty. This essentially refers to an untamed desire to have more of that which we do not have. This desire for more leads to a struggle, an exhaustive effort to try to get more of that which we do not have or might have some amount of. Let us take a moment to consider this. Are we pre-occupied with a struggle to possess a worldly matter which we do not have? Money, a house, a car, a spouse, a child? Does that want and struggle define our thoughts and actions? If we are bestowed with that worldly matter which we had sought after, are we then satisfied, or does that struggle continue? And does that struggle transform into an urge to show others what Allah (SWT) has provided us with without any power from us? At some point it causes a person to fail to fulfill their duties towards Allah, their selves, family, and Ummah.
The next verse Allah (SWT) states, حَتَّى زُرْتُمُ الْمَقَابِرَ
Allah (SWT) here says that the person engrossed by this senseless pre-occupation continues in their struggle until they have visited gravesites. The person is blinded in chasing the life of this world until they are placed in their graves without any warning or choice. Allah (SWT) uses the word visit here rather than enter because even the grave is temporary. Ali (R) was reported to have said, “People are asleep, until they die, then they are awake.” Death is the time they realize that their chase was pointless and what they have accumulated served as a heavy burden for which they will ultimately have to answer for.
These two verses remind us that the quality that distinguishes the believer from the disbeliever is elevating oneself above greed for worldly gains and striving instead for the everlasting reward of Allah (SWT). This type of striving allows for spiritual development and constant purification. The believer struggles in performing good deeds without receiving immediate rewards. This struggle consumes their thoughts and actions and offers them the strength and fortitude to face evil in all of its forms, whether it is the oppression that surrounds them or the oppression of their desires. The heart of the believer is awakened in hearing these verses and it is burdened by the triviality of what has occupied it. But it knows that its Creator (SWT) has promised infinite mercy and forgiveness to those who seek it.
May Allah (SWT) make us among those who are pre-occupied with pleasing Him. May He (SWT) make our hearts filled and satisfied with loving Him above the love of anything of this life. May He (SWT) make us among those who know their purpose in this life and receive His ultimate reward in the next.
By Sh. Jamal Said