Aal-Imran · Juz 4 · Qur'an Tafseer

And What is the Life of this World Except the Enjoyment of Delusion

Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 185 – 186

Ayah 185 puts a focus on the ultimate reality of this life when sometime somewhere the disbelievers come to enjoy ascendancy and have all the luxury they can think of in this world. Contrary to this, Muslims have to face some hardships, some difficulties and a certain paucity of worldly means.

There is nothing surprising about it and certainly, no occasion to be grieved, for no follower of a faith or philosophy can ignore the reality of life that sorrow and happiness in this world are both short-lived.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,

“Every soul will taste death…” Allah Alone is the Ever-Living Who never dies, while the Jinn, humankind and angels including those who carry Allah’s Throne shall die. The Irresistible One and Only will alone remain forever, remaining Last, as He was the First.

This ayah comforts all creation since every soul that exists on the earth shall die. When the term of this life ends and the sons of Adam no longer have any new generations, and thus this world ends, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will command that the Day of Resurrection commence. He will then recompense the creation for their deeds, whether minor or major, many or few, big or small. Surely, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will not deal unjustly with anyone, even the weight of an atom, and this is why He said, “…and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection.”

Who is the Real Successful One?

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,

فَمَن زُحْزِحَ عَنِ النَّارِ وَأُدْخِلَ الْجَنَّةَ فَقَدْ فَازَ ۗ

“So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has attained [his desire].”

It means whoever is saved from the Fire and entered into Paradise will have achieved the ultimate success.

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Hurayrah radhiAllahu ‘anhu said that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, 

مَوْضِعُ سَوْطٍ فِي الْجَنَّةِ خَيْرٌ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا وَمَا فِيهَا

“A place in Paradise as small as that which is occupied by a whip is better than the world and whatever is on its surface.”

Belittling the value of this life and degrading its importance, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,

وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ –

“And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion.”

This life is short, little and finite.

In Surah al-‘Ala, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,

بَلْ تُؤْثِرُونَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا – وَالْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَىٰ

“But you prefer the worldly life, while the Hereafter is better and more enduring.”

[Tafseer Surah al-‘Ala]

A hadeeth states,

وَاللهِ مَا الدُّنْيَا فِي الْآخِرَةِ إِلَّا كَمَا يَغْمِسُ أَحَدُكُمْ أُصْبُعَهُ فِي الْيَمِّ، فَلْيَنْظُرْ بِمَ تَرْجِعُ إِلَيْه

“By Allah! This life, compared to the Hereafter, is just as insignificant as when one of you dips his finger in the sea; let him contemplate what his finger will come back with.”

Qatadah commented, “Life is a delight. By Allah, other than Whom there is no deity, it will soon fade away from its people. Therefore, take obedience to Allah from this delight, if you can. Verily, there is no power except from Allah.”

The Believer is Tested and Hears Grieving Statements from the Enemy

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,

لَتُبْلَوُنَّ فِي أَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنفُسِكُمْ وَلَتَسْمَعُنَّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا أَذًى كَثِيرًا ۚ وَإِن تَصْبِرُوا وَتَتَّقُوا فَإِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ

“You will surely be tested in your possessions and in yourselves. And you will surely hear from those who were given the Scripture before you and from those who associate others with Allah much abuse. But if you are patient and fear Allah – indeed, that is of the matters [worthy] of determination.”

Ibn Katheer comments the believer shall be tested in his wealth, in himself, in his offspring and family. The believer shall be tested according to the degree of his faith, and when his faith is stronger, the test is larger.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said to the believers upon their arrival at Madinah, before Badr, while comforting them against the harm they suffered from the People of the Scriptures and the polytheists, “…if you are patient and fear Allah – indeed, that is of the matters of determination.” He commanded them to be forgiving, patient and forbearing until He brought His awaited aid.

Al-Bukhari recorded that Usamah bin Zayd radhiAllahu ‘anhu said that Allah’s Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam rode a donkey with a saddle covered by a velvet sheet and let Usamah ride behind him (on the donkey). The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam wanted to visit Sa`d bin `Ubadah in Bani Al-Harith bin Al-Khazraj, and this occurred before the battle of Badr.

The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passed by a gathering in which `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul was sitting before he became Muslim. That gathering was made up of various Muslims as well as Mushrikeen and some Jews. ‘Abdullah bin Rawahah radhiAllahu ‘anhu was sitting in that gathering. When the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam reached `Abdullah bin Ubayy, the donkey caused some sand to fall on the group. Then, `Abdullah bin Ubayy covered his nose with his robe and said, “Do not fill us with sand.”

The Messenger of Allah greeted the gathering with salaam, called them to Allah and recited some of the Qur’an to them.

‘Abdullah bin Ubayy said, “O fellow! No other speech is better than what you said, if it was true! However, do not bother us in our gatherings. Go back to your place and whoever came to you, narrate your stories to him.”

‘Abdullah bin Rawahah said, “Rather, O Messenger of Allah! Attend our gatherings for we like that.”

The Muslims, Mushrikeen and Jews then cursed each other, and they almost fought with each other. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam tried to calm them down until they finally settled. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam rode his donkey and went to Sa`d bin `Ubadah, saying, “O Sa`d! Have you heard what Abu Hubbab said (meaning `Abdullah bin Ubayy)? He said such and such things.” Sa’ad said, “O Messenger of Allah! Forgive and pardon him. By Allah, Who sent down the Book to you, Allah brought us the truth that you came with at a time when the people of this city almost appointed him king. When Allah changed all that with the truth that He gave you, he choked on it, and this is the reason behind the behavior you saw from him.”

The Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam forgave him. Indeed, the Messenger of Allah and his Companions used to forgive the Mushrikeen and the People of the Scriptures, just as Allah commanded them, and they used to tolerate the harm that they suffered.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said, “And you will surely hear from those who were given the Scripture before you and from those who associate others with Allah much abuse…” A similar statement was said in Surah Al-Baqarah, “Many of the People of the Scripture wish they could turn you back to disbelief after you have believed, out of envy from themselves [even] after the truth has become clear to them. So pardon and overlook until Allah delivers His command.” (2:109)

[Tafseer Surah Al-Baqarah Ayah 109]

The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to implement the pardon that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commanded him until He gave His command (to fight the disbelievers). When the Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam fought at Badr, and Allah killed, by his hand, the leaders of the disbelievers from Quraysh, `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul and the idol worshippers who were with him said, “This matter has prevailed,” and they gave their pledge to the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and became Muslims.

Therefore, every person who stands for truth, enjoins righteousness and forbids evil, will be harmed in some manner. In such cases, there is no cure better than being patient in Allah’s cause, trusting in Him and returning to Him.


  • We learn that the real success is the success in the Hereafter. Possessions, titles and wealth of this world do not matter. Our deeds matter. Pay attention to what is important.

  • Be patient over what others say. Be conscious of your response to opposition.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 185 – 186

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.”
[Al-Baqarah 2: 127]

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