In Surah Aali Imran, verse 14, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
زُيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ حُبُّ ٱلشَّهَوَٲتِ مِنَ ٱلنِّسَآءِ وَٱلۡبَنِينَ وَٱلۡقَنَـٰطِيرِ ٱلۡمُقَنطَرَةِ مِنَ ٱلذَّهَبِ وَٱلۡفِضَّةِ وَٱلۡخَيۡلِ ٱلۡمُسَوَّمَةِ وَٱلۡأَنۡعَـٰمِ وَٱلۡحَرۡثِۗ ذَٲلِكَ مَتَـٰعُ ٱلۡحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡيَاۖ وَٱللَّهُ عِندَهُ ۥ حُسۡنُ ٱلۡمَـَٔابِ
“It was adorned for mankind the love and desire of women, children, the hoarding of treasures, of gold and silver, branded horses, cattle and plantations. These are the temporary benefits of the life of this word and with Allah is the best everlasting comfort.”
So, for this verse, I’m just going to go over the tafseer because it is sooooo very relevant to us, subhanAllah.
Desires are what make a person happy (usually) when attained. We all have this love of desires and it is something that won’t go away. In a hadith, the Prophet sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said that if ibn Adam had 2 piles of riches, he would just want a second one. Verily nothing fills the eye of ibn Adam except for dirt when he dies. SubhanAllah, it is all left behind. This verse listed the top desires – and it is also saying we are *created* with desires – Allah made us that way. The question is how are we going to act? In Kahf:7 and Mulk:2, it is mentioned these different things are tests – to see who is the best in deeds. There is more to life than just desires.
The first thing mentioned is women. This desire is there for men. The Prophet (S) said “I have not left behind any fitnah more harmful to men than women.” (Saheeh – agreed upon) In another hadith, the Prophet says “Made beloved to me from your world are women and perfume, and the coolness of my eyes is in prayer.” (Ahmad and An-Nasa ‘i) From the second hadith, we see that desires like women and perfume are okay. The first hadith shows the peril of indulging in this desire a bit too much. In Islam, marriage was commanded to help fulfill these desires, create relationships between people, build the society and so much more. Marriage is there to use this desire in the halal manner – people just have to use that.
Second, there is sons (or children). Some people go to extreme lengths to have sons (*cough Desis/Chinese/etc *cough*) – maybe even to shirk, na’udhobillah. Why do people want these kids? For fame and glory, name, honour, prestige. Not sadaqah jariyah. In Surah Nahl:58 we’re told of the story of how the person is struck with grief after getting the news of a female child – wheras even today, in the days of ‘education,’ people react exactly the same way. Again, we need to channel this desire correctly. If the child (think Hannah and Maryam (as)) grows to become pious and a means of sadaqah jariyah, what more do we need?
Then comes wealth. We want $$ so badly that some people will forget all of their responsibilities, what is halaal and haraam. In Surah Anfaal:28, we’re told that everything – the possessions and children – are just a test. How are we doing in this test? In the end, whatever we have is a Rizq from Ar Razzaq – are we happy with it, content, and using it wisely?
Gold and silver follow this. This is probably more so for women – a huge fitnah. Just think of overseas and all the gold shops, one after the other, and all the women going there constantly. No wonder the price of gold is through the roof. It’s never enough for women eh? 🙂
Branded horses is a symbol of transportation. Even today, horses are used and extremely valued depending on the breed. People will pay just to sit back and see horses race. Now, we also have ‘branded’ cars (think Ferrari, etc). We have customized license plates – you can even customize the car if you like! Some people may not *need* the extra car but will purchase it to show off. What if you don’t have the car? Well then you must have a poster of the car dreaming about the day you will get it. Just think of auto shows and all the people who go to drool over the new cars (yes, I totally understand this one sigh).
Next us cattle – and other animals like camels can be included in this. (Think hadith of 100 red camels – guiding a person to Islam is better than that!) Followed by that is land – owning land is a source or pride and people can show off through that.
The verse ends with saying this is a temporary benefit – and the real deal is with Allah inshaAllah!
What’s a better way to use these desires inshaAllah?
Women are abused in so many ways in our wonderful society – so the brothas should follow the Sunnah and treat women well. Good da’wah right there. Besides, in another hadith, the Prophet said “The whole world is pleasure, and the best pleasure of the world is the righteous woman.”
For children, like mentioned before, if raised right, they can be a source of sadqah jariyah. The Zakah on your gold/silver can be khayr for you in this life and the next. Regarding cars/mounts, if used for needs or fee sabilillah, it’s all good. If used to show off, check yourself. Cattle and land – if the zakah is paid/’ushr is given, again, there will be reward for this in the akhirah.
In the end, the purpose of all these things should be to attain the akhirah – not solely fulfill one’s desires. Use the blessings of the dunya to gain Allah’s pleasure – they’re a test! And to end it off, with a nice quote: “Pull yourself to Allah when the world is pulling you to Hell.”
Best ending: the next verse, ayah 15.
“Say, shall I inform you all with something better than these, with which those who adopt taqwa with their Rabb? There will be gardens beneath which rivers low where they will live therin forever with completely purified spouses and pleasure of Allah. And Allah is watching His servants very closely.”