Al-Balad · Juz 30 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah al-Balad Ayaat 8-11

Man Says He Has Spent His Wealth in Abundance But in What Causes?

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala goes on to discuss some of the claims that man makes.

Ayaat 8-11

Man says, “I have spent wealth in abundance.” But in what causes has he spent his wealth? Squandering and wasting it so that people appreciate him and treat him as an important person? His display of wealth has been for pride and glory. Bestowing rich awards on, poetic admirers, inviting and feeding hundreds of thousands of people on marriage and death ceremonies, gambling away heaps of wealth, attending festivals with large entourages, trying to excel others in display of glory and grandeur, having heaps of food cooked on ceremonial occasions and throwing invitations to all and sundry to come and eat, or arranging and supplying running meals at the residence so as to impress the people around with one’s generosity and large-heartedness; such were the expenditures of ostentation, which in the days of ignorance were regarded as a symbol of man’s benevolence and magnanimity, and a sign of his greatness. For these they were praised and admired; on these their praises were sung; and on account of these they prided themselves against the less fortunate.

Today, the same practices of the pre-Islamic ignorant days are rampant. Be it a wedding function or a death ceremony. Event starts and continues for several weeks and months; throwing money on décor and food, inviting thousands of rich and renowned people to maintain a certain status before them. What if the same money that is spent for pride and ostentation was spent in Allah’s way? Man says, “I have spent in abundance.” Doesn’t he know that there is a God above him, seeing by what means he acquired wealth, in what ways he spent it, and with what intention, motive, and purpose he did all this?

In view of man’s arrogance, which makes him believe that he is invincible, and in view of his meanness and claims of having spent abundantly, the Qur’an puts before him the bounties Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has bestowed on him which are manifested in his inherent abilities, although he has depreciated them, “Have We not given him two eyes, a tongue and two lips, and shown him the two paths?” (Ayaat 8-10)

Man is conceited because he finds himself powerful, but forgets it is Allah Who granted him this power. He is mean with his wealth while Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala is the One who provided him with it. He neither follows right guidance nor shows gratitude, although Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has given him the means to do so. He has given him eyes to see. He has given him a tongue to talk and express himself. He has equipped him with the ability to distinguish good from evil, and right from wrong so that he can choose between them. Inherent in his make-up is the ability to take either way. It is Allah’s will that man should be given such ability and such freedom of choice, to perfect His scheme of creation.

After reminding man of his reality and Allah’s favors upon him a complaint is being made that all these bounties have not motivated man to attempt the ascent that stands between him and heaven. The word iqtiham means “to apply oneself to a hard and toilsome task,” while ‘aqabah is the steep path that passes through mountains for ascending heights. Thus, the ayah means one of the two paths that We have shown him, leads to heights but is toilsome and steep; man has to tread it against the desires of his self and the temptations of Shaytan. The other path is easy which descends into chasms, but does not require any toil from man; one only needs to give free reins to oneself, then one automatically goes on rolling down the abyss. Now, the man to whom We had shown both the paths, adopted the easy down-hill path and abandoned the toilsome path, which leads to the heights.”

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