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What is the interpretation of the following Ayah?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Askimam.org

I am in an emotional dilemma and I am uneasy about the following Ayah in Surah Shura (42:20):

من كان يريد حرث الاخرة نزد له في حرثه ومن كان يريد حرث الدنيا نؤته منها وما له في الاخرة من نصيب

(Whoso desireth the harvest of the Hereafter We give him increase in his harvest. And whosoever desireth the harvest of the world, We give him thereof and he hath no portion in the Hereafter.)

I feel I cannot drive away the want of the world from my heart.  I want both the Hereafter and the bounty of the world from Allah.  What is the intent of the Ayah?  If I want the earthly wealth, does it mean my Akhirah will be damaged and I will enter into a losing transaction.  Should I not aspire for both the world and the Akhirah from Allah?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

The love for wealth and riches is a natural disposition instilled within man.  Allah Ta’ālā states in the Qurān:

وانه لحب لحب الخير لشديد (سورة العاديات, اية 8)

And in his love for wealth, man is very intense (Qurān 100/8)

Wealth in itself is not harmful or negative.  However the passionate love of the world that drives man away from Allāh’s love and obedience is prohibited in Sharīah.  Nabī Sallallāhu Alaihi Wa Sallam has said:

“For every nation there is a trial, and the trial of my Ummah is wealth.” (Sahīh Ibne Hibbān)[1]

Hence, the actual test a believer is faced with is his approach and pursuit of wealth.  If a believer has the fear of Allāh and the Day of Judgment present in his mind and works for wealth without breaking the commands of Allāh Ta’ālā, he is praiseworthy and esteemed in the sight of Allāh Ta’ālā.

In fact, amongst the noble companions of Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alaihi Wa Sallam were those who were very wealthy such as ‘Uthmān Radhiyallāhu ‘Anhu and ‘Abdur-Rahmān bin ‘Auf Radhiyallāhu ‘Anhu.  They involved themselves in business and other jobs through which they acquired much money.  Despite this, they did not allow the Dunyā to come between them and their connection with Allāh Ta’ālā.  The Qurān praises such personalities with the following words:

رجال لا تلهيهم تجارة ولا بيع عن ذكر الله واقام الصلاة وايتاء الزكاة (سورة النور, اية 37)  

They were such men whom neither trade nor merchandise distracted them from the remembrance of Allāh, the establishment of Salāh, and the giving of Zakāh. (Qurān 24/37)

A believer should approach wealth without allowing the passionate love of Dunyā to seep into his heart.  A believer’s heart can be likened to a ship and the passionate love for Dunyā to the water.  It is necessary that the ship sails in water but the water must not enter into the ship.  Once the water finds a way into the ship, then the ship will sink and be destroyed.  This is what is being referred to in the referenced Ayah.

Allāh Ta’ālā is referring to those individuals who pursue only the worldly wealth without giving thought to Akhirah. [2]  They break the laws of Allāh Ta’ālā because of their passionate love for Dunyā. For them, there is no lot in the Akhirah.

On the other hand, the individuals who strive hard to earn a living without breaking the commands of Allāh Ta’ālā and are mindful of Akhirah are praiseworthy and esteemed in the sight of Allāh Ta’ālā.  For such people will be success in this worldly life and the next life.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mawlana Abdul Azīm bin Abdur Rahman,
Student Darul Iftaa

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

[1]  لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ فِتْنَةٌ، وَإِنَّ فِتْنَةَ أُمَّتِي المال (صحيح ابن حبان, ج 8, ص 17: مؤسسة الرسالة، بيروت)

[2]  اي ومن كان يريد بعمله متاع الدنيا ونعيمها فقط (صفوة التفاسير, ج 3, ص 134: دار الحديث)

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This answer was collected from Askimam.org, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.

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