21: Condemnation of Dunya – Renewal by the Book: Quran Tafsir Based on Imam Ghazali’s Ihya – Shaykh Walead Mosaad

In this lesson, visiting scholar, Shaykh Walead Mosaad, gives an overview of select verses from the Quran that correspond with the chapter on condemnation of the dunya (worldliness) from Imam Ghazali’s Ihya.

This chapter is the only chapter in the Ihya where Imam Ghazali says there are too many verses to mention on this subject, as if hinting to the fact that most of the Quran points to this theme in general. The Dunya intended in this chapter is not to condemn one’s living in this world but the Dunya here is in reference to the heart’s love for appetites and desires. Thus the point is to question one’s relationship to the Dunya and be aware that you are in it but not of it.

Shaykh Walead explains that this is why at a time of calamity one is enjoined to say we are from God to Him we return as a reminder that this Dunya is not our final abode. As we go along in life Allah sends us reminders of the pershing nature of the Dunya.

اعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ وَزِينَةٌ وَتَفَاخُرٌ بَيْنَكُمْ وَتَكَاثُرٌ فِي الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَوْلَادِ ۖ كَمَثَلِ غَيْثٍ أَعْجَبَ الْكُفَّارَ نَبَاتُهُ ثُمَّ يَهِيجُ فَتَرَاهُ مُصْفَرًّا ثُمَّ يَكُونُ حُطَامًا ۖ وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانٌ ۚ وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ

Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children – like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris. And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion. [Quran, 57:20]

The verse begins with an acknowledgement that the world is adorned with various objects that everyone wants to have some possession of that is not shared with others. Our love for beautiful things is part of our nature, however we can reorient that love towards the inner beauty of quality as opposed to the outward beauty of material things. The person with the most inner beauty is that of the Prophet, peace be upon him.

The parable given in the verse is that of a farmer who is happy with his crops but then it goes away with the change of seasons and then it turns into ash, such is the dunya, it may be pretty now but is inevitably destructed.

Shaykh Walead concludes by reminding us that the dunya is all which gets in your way from pursuing the afterlife. The dunya was made for you to take from it what you need to sustain your journey, not to make it the end goal in and of itself.

In this series Shaykh Faraz, and the other scholars and teachers will be looking at points of reflection from key verses in the Quran. The series will follow the thematic order of Imam Ghazali’s Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences). The aim is to connect the key verses of guidance from the Book of Allah with the blueprint of renewal, the Ihya, so that we experience a renewal by The Book.

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