Human nature: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah informs us about the nature of man in surah Fussilat when He says:

لَّا يَسْأَمُ الْإِنسَانُ مِن دُعَاءِ الْخَيْرِ‌ وَإِن مَّسَّهُ الشَّرُّ‌ فَيَئُوسٌ قَنُوطٌ ﴿٤٩﴾ وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَاهُ رَ‌حْمَةً مِّنَّا مِن بَعْدِ ضَرَّ‌اءَ مَسَّتْهُ لَيَقُولَنَّ هَـٰذَا لِي وَمَا أَظُنُّ السَّاعَةَ قَائِمَةً وَلَئِن رُّ‌جِعْتُ إِلَىٰ رَ‌بِّي إِنَّ لِي عِندَهُ لَلْحُسْنَىٰ ۚ فَلَنُنَبِّئَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُ‌وا بِمَا عَمِلُوا وَلَنُذِيقَنَّهُم مِّنْ عَذَابٍ غَلِيظٍ ﴿٥٠﴾ وَإِذَا أَنْعَمْنَا عَلَى الْإِنسَانِ أَعْرَ‌ضَ وَنَأَىٰ بِجَانِبِهِ وَإِذَا مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ‌ فَذُو دُعَاءٍ عَرِ‌يضٍ

Man is not weary of supplication for good, but if evil touches him, he is hopeless and despairing. * And if We let him taste mercy from Us after an adversity which has touched him, he will surely say, “This is [due] to me, and I do not think the Hour will occur; and [even] if I should be returned to my Lord, indeed, for me there will be with Him the best.” But We will surely inform those who disbelieved about what they did, and We will surely make them taste a massive punishment. * And when We bestow favor upon man, he turns away and withdraws aside; but when evil touches him, then he is full of extensive supplication. (41:49-51)

Imam al-Sa’di, in his book of tafsir, writes in explanation of these ayaat as follows:

هذا إخبار عن طبيعة الإنسان، من حيث هو، وعدم صبره وجلده، لا على الخير ولا على الشر، إلا من نقله الله من هذه الحال إلى حال الكمال، فقال‏:‏ ‏{‏لَا يَسْأَمُ الْإِنْسَانُ مِنْ دُعَاءِ الْخَيْرِ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ لا يمل دائمًا، من دعاء الله، في الغنى والمال والولد، وغير ذلك من مطالب الدنيا، ولا يزال يعمل على ذلك، ولا يقتنع بقليل، ولا كثير منها، فلو حصل له من الدنيا، ما حصل، لم يزل طالبًا للزيادة‏.‏

This is information about human nature, what are his origins, and his lack of patience and endurance, both in the face of good and evil, except for he for whom Allah has changed his condition to the perfect condition, and He says, “Man is not weary of supplication for good” – meaning, he never tires of supplicating to Allah for riches and wealth and offspring and other such objects of desire in this worldly life. And he does not desist in toiling for that, and he is not satisfied with a little or even with a lot of the worldly riches. And whether he were to achieve those things or not, he would not cease to seek more.

‏{‏وَإِنْ مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ المكروه، كالمرض، والفقر، وأنواع البلايا ‏{‏فَيَئُوسٌ قَنُوطٌ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ ييأس من رحمة الله تعالى، ويظن أن هذا البلاء هو القاضي عليه بالهلاك، ويتشوش من إتيان الأسباب، على غير ما يحب ويطلب‏.‏

But if evil touches him” – meaning those disliked things such as illness, poverty, and all sorts of trials – “then he is hopeless and despairing” – meaning he despairs of the mercy of Allah the Exalted, and thinks that this trial has been brought upon him for his destruction, and is confused about its causes, and that it is other than what he loves and requests.

إلا الذين آمنوا وعملوا الصالحات، فإنهم إذا أصابهم الخير والنعمة والمحاب، شكروا الله تعالى، وخافوا أن تكون نعم الله عليهم، استدراجًا وإمهالاً، وإن أصابتهم مصيبة، في أنفسهم وأموالهم، وأولادهم، صبروا، ورجوا فضل ربهم، فلم ييأسوا‏.‏

Except for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, for certainly they, when they are struck with good, blessings and that which they love, they are grateful to Allah the Exalted. And they fear that the blessing of Allah upon them may be a test of endurance or a respite [i.e. a delay of punishment from this life to the next]. And if they are afflicted corporeally or financially or in terms of their offspring, they are steadfastly patient, and they hope for the good from their Lord, and they never despair or give up hope.

ثم قال تعالى‏:‏ ‏{‏وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَاهُ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ الإنسان الذي يسأم من دعاء الخير، وإن مسه الشر فيئوس قنوط ‏{‏رَحْمَةً مِنَّا‏}‏ أي‏:‏ بعد ذلك الشر الذي أصابه، بأن عافاه الله من مرضه، أو أغناه من فقره، فإنه لا يشكر الله تعالى، بل يبغى، ويطغى، ويقول‏:‏ ‏{‏هَذَا لِي‏}‏ أي‏:‏ أتاني لأني له أهل، وأنا مستحق له ‏{‏وَمَا أَظُنُّ السَّاعَةَ قَائِمَةً‏}‏ وهذا إنكار منه للبعث، وكفر للنعمة والرحمة، التي أذاقها الله له‏.‏ ‏{‏وَلَئِنْ رُجِعْتُ إِلَى رَبِّي إِنَّ لِي عِنْدَهُ لَلْحُسْنَى‏}‏ أي‏:‏ على تقدير إتيان الساعة، وأني سأرجع إلى ربي، إن لي عنده، للحسنى، فكما حصلت لي النعمة في الدنيا، فإنها ستحصل ‏[‏لي‏]‏ في الآخرة وهذا من أعظم الجراءة والقول على الله بلا علم، فلهذا توعده بقوله‏:‏ ‏{‏فَلَنُنَبِّئَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِمَا عَمِلُوا وَلَنُذِيقَنَّهُمْ مِنْ عَذَابٍ غَلِيظٍ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ شديد جدًا‏.‏

Then He said, “And if We let him taste” – meaning, mankind which never tires of supplicating for good, and if he is touched by evil them he is hopeless and despairing – “mercy from Us” – meaning, after that evil which afflicted him, because Allah cured him from his sickness of enriched him from his state of poverty, then certainly he will not be grateful to Allah the Exalted; rather he will transgress and overstep the bounds, and he says, “This is [due] to me” – meaning, this is for me because I deserve it and I have a right to it – “and I do not think the Hour will occur” and this is him denying the resurrection, and disbelieving in the blessing and mercy which Allah has allowed him to taste. “And [even] if I should be returned to my Lord, indeed, for me there will be with Him the best” – meaning, when the Hour is established, and I will certainly return to my Lord, if He has something for me, then it will be good such as what blessing I had in the worldly life, so this will also be mine in the next life. And this is the greatest crime to say [something] about Allah without ‘ilm. And there is his promise in His statement, “But We will surely inform those who disbelieved about what they did, and We will surely make them taste a massive punishment“.

‏{‏وَإِذَا أَنْعَمْنَا عَلَى الْإِنْسَانِ‏}‏ بصحة، أو رزق، أو غيرهما ‏{‏أَعْرَضَ‏}‏ عن ربه وعن شكره ‏{‏وَنَأَى‏}‏ ترفع ‏{‏بِجَانِبِهِ‏}‏ عجبا وتكبرًا‏.‏ ‏{‏وَإِنْ مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ المرض، أو الفقر، أو غيرهما ‏{‏فَذُو دُعَاءٍ عَرِيضٍ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ كثير جدًا، لعدم صبره، فلا صبر في الضراء، ولا شكر في الرخاء، إلا من هداه الله ومنَّ عليه‏.‏

And when We bestow favor upon man” with health or provisions or other than that, “he turns away” from his Lord and from gratitude to Him “and withdraws” – elevates himself – “asideamazed and prideful. “But when evil touches him” – meaning, sickness or poverty or other than that – “then he is full of extensive supplication” – meaning, very abundant, the absence of his sabr, for there is no sabr in adversity, nor gratitude in prosperity, except for the one whom Allah guided and bestowed a blessing upon him.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 885]

See also: “Work, O family of Dawood, in gratitude”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: “He made for you hearing and vision and intellect in order for you to be grateful”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

2 thoughts on “Human nature: Tafsir al-Sa’di

  1. Pingback: “Work, O family of Dawood, in gratitude”: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: “He made for you hearing and vision and intellect in order for you to be grateful” | Tulayhah

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