A Parable of What the Disbelievers Spend in This Life: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah presents the following parable in surah Aal ‘Imran:

مَثَلُ مَا يُنفِقُونَ فِي هَـٰذِهِ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا كَمَثَلِ رِيحٍ فِيهَا صِرٌّ أَصَابَتْ حَرْثَ قَوْمٍ ظَلَمُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ فَأَهْلَكَتْهُ ۚ وَمَا ظَلَمَهُمُ اللَّـهُ وَلَـٰكِنْ أَنفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ

The example of what they spend in this worldly life is like that of a wind containing frost which strikes the harvest of a people who have wronged themselves and destroys it. And Allah has not wronged them, but they wrong themselves. [3:117]

Ibn al-Qayyim remarked on this ayah by writing:

هذا مثل ضربه الله تعالى لمن أتفق ماله في غير طاعته ومرضاته . ـ

Allah struck this parable about those who spend their wealth in other things besides obedience to Allah and seeking His pleasure.

[A’laam al-Mawqi’een 1/173]

Imam al-Qurtubi wrote:

ومعنى الآية : مثل نفقة الكافرين في بطلانها وذهابها وعدم منفعتها كمثل زرع أصابه ريح باردة أو نار فأحرقته وأهلكته ، فلم ينتفع أصحابه بشيء بعدما كانوا يرجون فائدته ونفعه . وما ظلمهم الله بذلك ولكن أنفسهم يظلمون بالكفر والمعصية ومنع حق الله تعالى . ـ

The message of this ayah is that the futility, waste and lack of benefit of the disbelievers’ spending is like a cultivated field which is struck with a frigid wind – or a fire – which scorches and destroys it, leaving its owners unable to benefit from it in any way after they had hoped to receive some fruits and benefit from it. And they did not wrong Allah with their spending; rather it was themselves that they wronged with the disbelief, sins and refusing to give Allah His due rights.

[Tafsir al-Qurtubi 4/169]

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir mentioned the following in his explanation of the ayah:

فكذلك الكفار يمحق الله ثواب أعمالهم في هذه الدنيا وثمرتها كما أذهب ثمرة هذا الحرث بذنوب صاحبه . ـ

Just as the fruits of this land were taken away due to the sins of its owner, likewise Allah removes any reward or fruits of the actions that the disbelievers do in this life.

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 2/106]

And Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di wrote:

ثم ضرب مثلا لما ينفقه الكفار من أموالهم التي يصدون بها عن سبيل الله ويستعينون بها على إطفاء نور الله، بأنها تبطل وتضمحل، كمن زرع زرعا يرجو نتيجته ويؤمل إدراك ريعه، فبينما هو كذلك إذ أصابته ريح فيها صر، أي: برد شديد محرق، فأهلكت زرعه، ولم يحصل له إلا التعب والعناء وزيادة الأسف، فكذلك هؤلاء الكفار الذين قال الله فيهم: { إن الذين كفروا ينفقون أموالهم ليصدوا عن سبيل الله فسينفقونها ثم تكون عليهم حسرة ثم يغلبون } { وما ظلمهم الله } بإبطال أعمالهم { ولكن } كانوا { أنفسهم يظلمون } حيث كفروا بآيات الله وكذبوا رسوله وحرصوا على إطفاء نور الله، هذه الأمور هي التي أحبطت أعمالهم وذهبت بأموالهم . ـ

Allah strikes a parable of the wealth that the disbelievers spend to prevent others from the path of Allah and through which they seek to extinguish the light of Allah. This parable makes it clear that that wealth will dwindle and come to naught, just as one who plants his crop hoping and wishing that it will bring him increase. but then, while he is in that state, a wind with a chilling and blistering cold strikes his crop and destroys it. So the only thing that he got from his work was exhaustion, weariness, and woe. This is just like the situation of these disbelievers, whom Allah described by saying:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ لِيَصُدُّوا عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ ۚ فَسَيُنفِقُونَهَا ثُمَّ تَكُونُ عَلَيْهِمْ حَسْرَةً ثُمَّ يُغْلَبُونَ

Verily, those who disbelieve spend their wealth to hinder (men) from the Path of Allah, and so will they continue to spend it; but in the end it will become an anguish for them. Then they will be overcome. [8:36]

وَمَا ظَلَمَهُمُ اللَّـهُ

And Allah has not wronged them …

by making their deeds come to naught

وَلَـٰكِنْ أَنفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ

… but it was themselves that they were wronging.

by disbelieving in Allah’s signs and belying His Messenger and working to extinguish Allah’s light: these are the things are what wiped away their deeds and did away with their wealth.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman 1/235]

Note: This selection of explanation for this ayah was taken from sheikh Abu’l-Hasan al-Rouqi al-‘Utaybi’s short book al-Wajeez fee Tafsir Amthal al-Kitab al-‘Azeez wherein he gathered brief explanations of the parables of the Qur’an from reliable books of tafsir. This book is the basis and inspiration for our Parables of the Qur’an series.

See also: The Passing Nature of this Life: Tafsir al-Tabari

See also: The Example of Those who Spend Their Wealth in Allah’s Path …: Ibn al-Qayyim

One thought on “A Parable of What the Disbelievers Spend in This Life: Tafsir al-Sa’di

  1. Pingback: The Example of Those who Spend Their Wealth in Allah’s Path …: Ibn al-Qayyim | Tulayhah

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