ذَرْهُمْ يَأْكُلُوا وَيَتَمَتَّعُوا وَيُلْهِهِمُ الْأَمَلُ ۖ فَسَوْفَ يَعْلَمُونَ
Dhar-hum ya’kulū wayatamatta‘ū wayulhihimul-amal, fasawfa ya‘lamūn
Leave them to eat and enjoy and to be diverted by longings. Soon they will know.
(Sūratul Hijr, No. 15, Āyat 3)
The above verse gives us three qualities of disbelievers who have reached a stage where there is not much hope for them. Allah (‘azza wa-jall ) begins the verse by saying ‘leave them’, or in other words, don’t bother to preach to them. It is like when a doctor says about a patient ‘leave him; let him eat what he likes for the disease is beyond cure’. Such is the spiritual state of a person with the above three qualities that there is no hope for a cure.
It is important for believers to be aware and wary of the onset of these three qualities.
- Eating – food for the body can nourish both body and soul. But when this is done with complete oblivion to the Provider of the food, the reason for eating, and mindfulness of what and how the food is eaten, the result is very different. Such nourishment of the body stunts the growth of the soul.
- Enjoyment – when a human being indulges in sensual pleasures with abandon and forgets the purpose of life, it creates a hard heartedness that distances him from God. Enjoyment with heedlessness is harmful for the soul. However it is not wrong to enjoy halāl pleasures with balance and mindfulness.
- Long hopes – the human being cannot live without hope. The Holy Prophet (sallāl-lāhu ‘alyhi wa-ālihi wa sallam) says: Hope is a mercy for my nation. Were it not for hope, no mother would breastfeed her child nor would any planter plant a tree. (MH, H. 673) However hopes are detrimental when the hopes are long and have no basis, when there is hope without action or is disproportional to action. Such hope breeds neglect and heedlessness. Amīrul Mu’minīn Imam Ali (a) says: O mankind, two things I fear most for you is following of desires and long hopes. The following of desires will keep you away from Truth, and long hopes will make you forget the Hereafter. (MH, H. 722)
Fasting in the holy month of Ramadan curtails the beginning of the formation of the above qualities. It keeps believers away from eating and sensual pleasures for a part of the day, thus curbing physical urges and enhancing spiritual ones. It is ironical if believers then indulge excessively during the night. To eat without mindfulness and spend time in frivolous activities in the nights of the month of Ramadan is to defeat the purpose of the fast.
May Allah remind us of this verse when planning our evenings of the holy month, beginning with iftār! Let us use it to help you avoid the qualities condemned in this verse and ask God not to be from among those to whom this verse applies.
Sources: Āytaullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (ed), Tafsīr-e Namūneh; Aghae Muhsin Qaraati, Tafsire Nur; Muhammādi Rayshahrī, Mīzānul Hikmah.