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وَإِنَّهُ لِحُبِّ الْخَيْرِ لَشَدِيدٌ
Indeed, he is an avid lover of wealth.
(Surat al-‘Ādiyāt, No.100, Āyat 8)
The Quran describes the human being in this sūrah as an ungrateful being who loves wealth and other material things intensely. He is deeply attached to them. It is because of this strong attachment to his wealth that he becomes ungrateful and greedy for more. He is miserly with it and refuses to share with others. These undesirable characteristics are rooted in his intense love for wealth.
The interesting thing to note is that the word used in Arabic is ‘khayr’. Most translators have given its equivalent in English as wealth. But Tafāsīr brings out the fact that khayr can refer to anything that is good or is perceived as good. Tafsīr-e Namūneh acknowledges this meaning but says that because the human being is being rebuked in these verses, it would most likely be referring to wealth and the attachment to it. It also says that wealth can be good, but only when it is used for good purposes. Its essence is good, but it is often used wrongly.
Tafsīr al-Mīzān notes that it is very possible that khayr here refers to all that is good for the human being. There is an instinctive love for good in human beings and they incline towards it. Because wealth is thought to bring about worldly comfort and prestige it is seen as a source of good. This perception stems from a worldly worldview which is focused on the life of this world. Thus, wealth and attachment to it is a perceived good rather than actual good. The concept of wealth as a perceived good is also mentioned in Tafsīr Majma‘ al-Bayān. Wealth could be harām wealth, obtained through evil ways. But it is termed ‘khayr’ here, in line with the perceived thinking of the human being.
Love and attachment for good has been placed in the human being so that it propels him on the path towards perfection. Good attracts him and he works to achieve it, is reluctant to part with it, and will overcome challenges to obtain it. This leads him towards eternal happiness if he has understood good correctly. That is what Divine guidance came for, to show him clearly where good lies. But the veils of this world cover his senses and he sees an illusion of good in that which is shallow and transient.
Love for the right type of good has been praised in the Quran and Hadith. Allah ‘azza wajall tells us about how the Prophet sallal-lāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wasallam was intensely attached to the guidance of people. He says in the Quran: There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is your distress; he has deep concern for you and is most kind and merciful to the faithful (Q 9:128). Allah also tells His Prophet (s): Most people will not have faith however eager you may be [for that]. (Q 12:103) Imam Ali ‘alayhis-salām praises this type of love and greed for the right type of good. He says: There is no greed like wanting to outdo others in ranks [with Allah] (Tuhafal ‘Uqūl, p 286).
Let us understand good properly and see where it truly lies. In the holy month of Ramadan let us avidly love acquiring the blessings and mercy from the Lord and be intensely attached to whatever good we can gain in it. May the Almighty help us to be strong in love for what is good per Quranic worldview.
Sources: Shaykh Tabarsī, Tafsīr Majma‘ al-Bayān; ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh
Holy Ramadan 1444 Special
ALI 657: Living Islam through Combating the Self.
This course on Zoom is designed to give a 15-minute spiritual dose daily during Month of Ramadan. We will InshāAllah discuss 2 -3 Hadiths on Jihād bin-Nafs from Wāsā’il al-Shī‘ah of Hurr al-‘Āmilī and see how we can implement them in Living Islam.
Instructor: Shaykh Hasanayn Kassamali
Dates: 23rd March to 20th April 2023.
Times: Karachi 3 pm, Dubai 2 pm, Dar-es-salaam 1 pm, London 11 am, NY/Toronto 6 am. The time may change after 15th Ramadan; stay tuned.
Fees: No fees, but donations to the Academy are welcome.