Do not extend your eyes towards the enjoyment of this world: Imam al-Sa’di

In his book of assorted miscellaneous benefits from the Qur’an, Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

قوله تعالى : [ وَلَا تَمُدَّنَّ عَيْنَيْكَ إِلَىٰ مَا مَتَّعْنَا بِهِ أَزْوَاجًا مِّنْهُمْ زَهْرَ‌ةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا لِنَفْتِنَهُمْ فِيهِ ۚ وَرِ‌زْقُ رَ‌بِّكَ خَيْرٌ‌ وَأَبْقَىٰ ] <طه 131> تضمنت التزهيد في الدنيا ، وأن غضارتها وحسنها الذي متع به المترفين ليس لكرامتهم عليه ، وإنما ذلك للابتلاء والاختبار ؛ لينظر أيهم أحسن عملا ، وأيهم أكمل عقلا ، فإن العاقل هو الذي يؤثر النفيس الباقي على الدني الفاني ، ولهذا قال : [ وَرِ‌زْقُ رَ‌بِّكَ ] أي الذي أعده للطائعين الذين لم يذهبوا مع أهل الإتراف في إترافهم ، ولم يغرهم رونق الدنيا وبهجتها الزائلة ، بل نظروا إلى باطن ذلك ، حين نظر الجهال إلى ظاهرها ، وعرفوا المقصود ، ومقدار التفاوت ، ودرجات الأمور فرزق الله لهؤلاء خير وأبقى ، أي أكمل في صنف من أصناف الكمال ، وهو مع ذلك باق لا يزول . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَلَا تَمُدَّنَّ عَيْنَيْكَ إِلَىٰ مَا مَتَّعْنَا بِهِ أَزْوَاجًا مِّنْهُمْ زَهْرَ‌ةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا لِنَفْتِنَهُمْ فِيهِ ۚ وَرِ‌زْقُ رَ‌بِّكَ خَيْرٌ‌ وَأَبْقَىٰ

And do not extend your eyes toward that by which We have given as enjoyment to some categories of them, it being the splendor this worldly life by which We test them. And the provision of your Lord is better and more enduring. [20:131]

This ayah highlights being detached regarding this worldly life, and that the luxuries and beautiful things which the affluent ones have been endowed with are not actually a form of honor for them; it is only a trial and a test in order that Allah may see which of them is  best in deeds and which of them is most complete in intellect. For the intelligent one is he who gives priority to the precious things which will last over the lesser things which will pass. That is why He said:

وَرِ‌زْقُ رَ‌بِّكَ

And the provision of your Lord …

– i.e. the provision which He has promised to the obedient ones; those who do no partake in self-indulgence with the indulgent people and who are not deceived by the glamour of this worldly life and its passing pleasures. Rather, they look at the deeper essence of things – while the ignorant ones look at its outward appearances – and they recognize purposes and value of things and how to arrange their priorities. So Allah provides such people with what is

خَيْرٌ‌ وَأَبْقَىٰ

… better and more enduring

– i.e., what is most complete in some facet or another. And in addition to that, this provision is also long-lasting and does not pass away.

وأما ما متّع به أهل الدنيا فزهرة الحياة الدنيا ، تمر سريعا وتذهب جميعا ؛ ولهذا نهى الله رسوله أن يمد عينيه إلى ما متع به هؤلاء ، ومد العين : هو التطلع والتشرف لذلك ، لا مجرد نظر العين ، وإنما هو نظر القلب ، ولهذا لم يقل : [ولا تنظر عيناك إلى ما متعنا به أزواجا…] الآية ، ـ فمد العين متضمن لاستحسان القلب وتطلعه إلى ذلك ، ومثل قوله : [ وَاصْبِرْ‌ نَفْسَكَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ رَ‌بَّهُم بِالْغَدَاةِ وَالْعَشِيِّ يُرِ‌يدُونَ وَجْهَهُ ۖ وَلَا تَعْدُ عَيْنَاكَ عَنْهُمْ تُرِ‌يدُ زِينَةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ] <الكهف 28> فهذه الآية بينت المراد من تلك الآية ، وأن نظر العين المقرون بإرادة زينة الحياء الدنيا ، ونظير ذلك قوله تعالى : [  وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَاكَ سَبْعًا مِّنَ الْمَثَانِي وَالْقُرْ‌آنَ الْعَظِيمَ * لَا تَمُدَّنَّ عَيْنَيْكَ إِلَىٰ مَا مَتَّعْنَا بِهِ أَزْوَاجًا مِّنْهُمْ وَلَا تَحْزَنْ عَلَيْهِمْ وَاخْفِضْ جَنَاحَكَ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ ] <الحجر 87،88> فنبهه الله تعالى على الاغتباط بما آتاه الله من المثاني والقرآن العظيم ، وامتن عليه بذلك ، وأنه الخير والفضل والرحمة الذي يحق الفرج والسرور به ، فإن ذلك خير مما يجمع أهل الدنيا ويتمتعون به ، وإنما الذين ينظرون ويغبطون هم المؤمنون الذين لم يغتروا بما اغتر به المعرضون ؛ فلهذا قال : [ وَاخْفِضْ جَنَاحَكَ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ ] . ـ

And as for what the people of this worldly life have been bestowed, then it is the splendor of this worldly life; it passes by quickly and it disappears entirely. And it is for this reason that Allah prohibited His prophet from extending his eyes towards what these people have been endowed with. Extending one’s eyes means to aspire to it and to hold it in high esteem, not simply looking at it with one’s eye; rather, it is the looking of the heart. That’s why He did not say, “and do not look with your eyes at that with which We have given enjoyment to some categories of people…”. “Extending one’s eye” involves the heart’s approval of something and its aspiration towards that. And the likes of this is His statement:

وَاصْبِرْ‌ نَفْسَكَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ رَ‌بَّهُم بِالْغَدَاةِ وَالْعَشِيِّ يُرِ‌يدُونَ وَجْهَهُ ۖ وَلَا تَعْدُ عَيْنَاكَ عَنْهُمْ تُرِ‌يدُ زِينَةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا

And keep yourself patient with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His Face. And let not your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life [18:28]

So this ayah clarifies the intended meaning of that ayah by linking the gaze of one’s eye with the desire for the adornments of this worldly life. A parallel of that is Allah’s statement:

وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَاكَ سَبْعًا مِّنَ الْمَثَانِي وَالْقُرْ‌آنَ الْعَظِيمَ * لَا تَمُدَّنَّ عَيْنَيْكَ إِلَىٰ مَا مَتَّعْنَا بِهِ أَزْوَاجًا مِّنْهُمْ وَلَا تَحْزَنْ عَلَيْهِمْ وَاخْفِضْ جَنَاحَكَ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

And We have certainly given you seven of the often repeated and the great Qur’an. * Do not extend your eyes toward that by which We have given enjoyment to certain categories of the disbelievers, and do not grieve over them. And lower your wing to the believers [15:87-88]

So Allah advised him to be joyful for what Allah had given him of the oft-repeated verses and the Magnificent Qur’an, and that He had blessed him with that, and that these are a goodness, bounty and mercy which merit joy and happiness. For indeed that is better than what the people of this worldly life amass and enjoy, but the only ones who consider this and find great joy in it are the believers – those who are not deceived by what deludes those who turn away. So for this reason He said:

وَاخْفِضْ جَنَاحَكَ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

And lower your wing to the believers [15:88]

[al-Mawaahib al-Rabbaaniyyah pg. 24]

See also: The Understanding of the Disbelievers is Limited to this Life: Imam al-Shinqitee

See also: A Command to Be Patient and the Means to Do So: Tafsir al-Sa’di

One thought on “Do not extend your eyes towards the enjoyment of this world: Imam al-Sa’di

  1. Pingback: A Command to Be Patient and the Means to Do So: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

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