Idle Wishing – Tafsir al-Sa’di

In surah al-Nisaa’, Allah addresses the believers by saying:

وَلَا تَتَمَنَّوْا مَا فَضَّلَ اللَّـهُ بِهِ بَعْضَكُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۚ لِّلرِّ‌جَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا اكْتَسَبُوا ۖ وَلِلنِّسَاءِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا اكْتَسَبْنَ ۚ وَاسْأَلُوا اللَّـهَ مِن فَضْلِهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا

And do not wish for that by which Allah has made some of you exceed others. For men is a share of what they have earned, and for women is a share of what they have earned. And ask Allah of his bounty. Indeed Allah is ever, of all things, Knowing. [4:32]

In his short book of miscellaneous tafsir-based benefits, Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di brought a point of benefit related to this ayah and then proceeded to outline its contents in light of that:

لا يمنع الله تعالى عبده شيئا إلا فتح له بابا أنفع له منه وأسهل وأولى ، قال تعالى : [وَلَا تَتَمَنَّوْا مَا فَضَّلَ اللَّـهُ بِهِ بَعْضَكُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۚ لِّلرِّ‌جَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا اكْتَسَبُوا ۖ وَلِلنِّسَاءِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا اكْتَسَبْنَ ۚ وَاسْأَلُوا اللَّـهَ مِن فَضْلِهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا ] <النساء 32> فمنع الله من تمني ما فضّل الله به بعض العبيد على بعض ، وأخبر أن كل عامل من الرجال والنساء له نصيب وحظ من كسبه ، فحض الصنفين على الاجتهاد في الكسب النافع ، ونهاهم عن التمني الذي ليس بنافع ، وفتح لهم أبواب الفضل والإحسان ، ودعاهم إلى سؤال ذلك بلسان الحال ولسان المقال ، وأخبرهم بكمال علمه وحكمته ، وأن من ذلك أنه لا يُنال ما عنده إلا بطاعته ، ولا تُنال المطالب العالية إلا بالسعي والاجتهاد ، والله الموفق لكل خير . ـ

Allah does not prevent a slave of his from anything except that he opens up a door for him which is more beneficial to him, easier and more appropriate. Allah said:

وَلَا تَتَمَنَّوْا مَا فَضَّلَ اللَّـهُ بِهِ بَعْضَكُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۚ لِّلرِّ‌جَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا اكْتَسَبُوا ۖ وَلِلنِّسَاءِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا اكْتَسَبْنَ ۚ وَاسْأَلُوا اللَّـهَ مِن فَضْلِهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا

And do not wish for that by which Allah has made some of you exceed others. For men is a share of what they have earned, and for women is a share of what they have earned. And ask Allah of his bounty. Indeed Allah is ever, of all things, Knowing. [4:32]

So Allah forbade wishing for that with which He has caused some of His slaves to exceed others. And He informed us that every doer of deeds – both male and female – has a share and a portion of their earnings due to them.

So He spurred on both of these two categories of people towards expending their efforts for beneficial returns and forbade them from (mere) wishing which contains no benefit. And He opened doors of bounty and excellence for them and called them to that by means of their circumstances and also by means of direct address. And He informed them of the complete perfection of His knowledge and wisdom – and that due to that, one will not attain what is with Him (of rewards) except by means of obedience to Him, and the highest objectives will not be achieved except by way of striving and expending effort – and Allah is the one who facilitates every good.

[al-Mawaahib al-Rabbaaniyyah min al-Ayaat al-Qur’aniyyah pg. 22-23]

Imam al-Sa’di further elucidated the meanings of this same ayah in more detail in his well-known book of tafsir where he wrote:

ينهى تعالى المؤمنين عن أن يتمنى بعضهم ما فضل الله به غيره من الأمور الممكنة وغير الممكنة. فلا تتمنى النساء خصائص الرجال التي بها فضلهم على النساء، ولا صاحب الفقر والنقص حالة الغنى والكمال تمنيا مجردا لأن هذا هو الحسد بعينه، تمني نعمة الله على غيرك أن تكون لك ويسلب إياها. ـ

Allah prohibited the believers from some of them wishing for that with which Allah has caused others to exceed them in out of (both) those things which could potentially be as well as those things which are not possible. So the women should not wish for the things which are specific to men which men have been caused to excel in above women, nor should one who is impoverished or who has any kind of deficiency wish for the condition of wealth or freedom from deficiencies – that is, merely wish – because this is the very definition of envy: wishing that Allah’s blessing upon some one else were for you and that the other person would be bereft of it.

ولأنه يقتضي السخط على قدر الله والإخلاد إلى الكسل والأماني الباطلة التي لا يقترن بها عمل ولا كسب. وإنما المحمود أمران: أن يسعى العبد على حسب قدرته بما ينفعه من مصالحه الدينية والدنيوية، ويسأل الله تعالى من فضله، فلا يتكل على نفسه ولا على غير ربه. ولهذا قال تعالى: { لِلرِّجَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا اكْتَسَبُوا } أي: من أعمالهم المنتجة للمطلوب. ـ

That is because this entails displeasure with the qadr (divine decree) of Allah, and being disposed to laziness and false hopes – which is something which is not paired with either work or the fruits of works. And there are only two praise-worthy courses of actions: 1) that the slave – to the best of his ability – strives for that which will bring benefit in terms of the beneficial matters of the religion and this worldly life, and 2) that he asks Allah for His bounty, so he neither relies entirely on himself nor upon anyone other than his Lord. And regarding this Allah said:

لِلرِّجَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا اكْتَسَبُوا

For men is a share of what they have earned

meaning: of their actions which are conducive towards producing results.

ـ { وَلِلنِّسَاءِ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا اكْتَسَبْنَ } فكل منهم لا يناله غير ما كسبه وتعب فيه. ـ

وَلِلنِّسَاءِ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا اكْتَسَبْنَ

and for women is a share of what they have earned

For no person – neither male nor female – will attain anything other than what they earned and what they exerted themselves towards.

ـ { وَاسْأَلُوا اللَّهَ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ } أي: من جميع مصالحكم في الدين والدنيا. فهذا كمال العبد وعنوان سعادته لا من يترك العمل، أو يتكل على نفسه غير مفتقر لربه، أو يجمع بين الأمرين فإن هذا مخذول خاسر.ـ

وَاسْأَلُوا اللَّهَ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ

And ask Allah of his bounty

meaning: [ask Allah] of every beneficial thing for you both in terms of the religion and in terms of the worldly life. So these things are the completeness of the slave and an embodiment of his ultimate joy – not so for the one who abandons doing deeds or who relies entirely on himself and does not feel in need of his Lord, or the one who combines these two aforementioned conditions, for indeed that one is helpless and in perpetual loss.

وقوله: { إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا } فيعطي من يعلمه أهلا لذلك، ويمنع من يعلمه غير مستحق . ـ

And His statement:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا

Indeed Allah is ever, of all things, Knowing

So He gives to whomsoever He knows to most worthy of that thing, and He prevents whomsoever He knows to not be deserving of it.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 189]

See also: Allah legislated the religion for His remembrance: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: “Work! for everyone is facilitated for what he was created.” Sharh al-Mubaarakfoori

See also: “And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: Tafsir of Surah al-‘Asr: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: “Beautified for people is the love of what they desire”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

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One thought on “Idle Wishing – Tafsir al-Sa’di

  1. Pingback: Tafsir of Surah al-‘Asr: Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

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