Allah’s Comparison of the Dunya and Water: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In surah al-Kahf, Allah presents the following comparison:

وَاضْرِ‌بْ لَهُم مَّثَلَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا كَمَاءٍ أَنزَلْنَاهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ فَاخْتَلَطَ بِهِ نَبَاتُ الْأَرْ‌ضِ فَأَصْبَحَ هَشِيمًا تَذْرُ‌وهُ الرِّ‌يَاحُ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّـهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ مُّقْتَدِرً‌ا

And strike an example of the life of this world for: It is like water which We send down from the sky, and the vegetation of the earth mingles with it. Then it becomes dry remnants, scattered by the winds. And Allah holds power over all things [18:45]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, Imam al-Qurtubi wrote:

وقالت الحكماء : إنما شبه – تعالى – الدنيا بالماء لأن الماء لا يستقر في موضع ، كذلك الدنيا لا تبقى على واحد ، ولأن الماء لا يستقيم على حالة واحدة كذلك الدنيا ، ولأن الماء لا يبقى ويذهب كذلك الدنيا تفنى ، ولأن الماء لا يقدر أحد أن يدخله ولا يبتل كذلك الدنيا لا يسلم أحد دخلها من فتنتها وآفتها ، ولأن الماء إذا كان بقدر كان نافعا منبتا ، وإذا جاوز المقدار كان ضارا مهلكا ، وكذلك الدنيا الكفاف منها ينفع وفضولها يضر . ـ

Some of the wise ones have said: Allah only likened the life of this worldly life to water because:

1) Water does not does remain stable in any place, just as this worldly life does not remain in one place

2) water does not remain steady in any one state or condition, just like this worldly life

3) water does not remain but instead evaporates, just like this worldly life disappears

4) no one is able to enter water without being tested, and likewise no one who enters this worldly life is safe from its trials and tests

5) when there is the correct amount of water, then it is beneficial and life-giving, but when its surpasses the proper level then it is harmful and destructive. Similarly with this worldly life; a sufficient amount of it is beneficial while an excess of it brings harm.

[Jaami’ li-Ahkaam al-Qur’an 10/367]

Originally published via Facebook December 9th, 2015.

See also: Parables of the Qur’an Article Index

For more on this parable, see: The Passing Nature of this Life: Tafsir al-Tabari

See also: The examples and comparisons in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

One thought on “Allah’s Comparison of the Dunya and Water: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

  1. Pingback: The Passing Nature of this Life: Tafsir al-Tabari | Tulayhah

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