102 - At Takathur (Abundance of wealth)

6 Tafsir(s) related to verse 102.1

Al-Jalalayn

Rivalry [in worldly things], mutual vainglory about wealth, children and men, distracts you, preoccupies you [diverting you] from obedience to God,

Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi

(Rivalry in worldly increase distracteth you until ye come to the graves) [102:1-2]. Muqatil and al-Kalbi said: "This Surah was revealed about two clans of Quraysh: Banu 'Abd Manaf and Banu Sahm. The two clans heaped abuses on each other and this led them to count the respective chiefs and leaders of each clan in order to see which one of them had more. The Banu 'Abd Manaf said: 'We have more leaders, chiefs and members!' The Banu Sahm said the same thing. When it appeared that the Banu 'Abd Manaf had more members, they said: 'Let us also count the dead among us'. They visited the graveyards and counted the dead, and concluded that the Banu Sahm were greater in number, for they were greater in number in the pre-Islamic period". And Qatadah said: "This Surah was revealed about the Jews who said: 'We are greater in number than so-and-so, so-and-so and so-and-so', and this claim distracted them until they died misguided".

Ibn Al Kathir

The Result of Loving the World and Heedlessness of the Hereafter

Allah says that all are preoccupied by love of the world, its delights and its adornments, and this distracts you from seeking the Hereafter and desiring it. This delays you until death comes to you and you visit the graves, thus becoming its inhabitants. In Sahih Al-Bukhari, it is recorded in the Book of Ar-Riqaq (Narrations that soften the Heart) from Anas bin Malik, who reported that Ubayy bin Ka`b said, "We used to think that this was a part of the Qur'an until the Ayah was revealed which says;

أَلْهَـكُمُ التَّكَّاثُرُ

(The mutual increase diverts you.)'' He was referring to the Hadith in which the Prophet said,

«لَوْ كَانَ لِابْنِ آدَمَ وَادٍ مِنْ ذَهَب»

(If the Son of Adam had a valley of gold, he would desire another like it...) Imam Ahmad recorded from `Abdullah bin Ash-Shikhkhir that he said, "I came to the Messenger of Allah while he was saying,

أَلْهَـكُمُ التَّكَّاثُرُ

يَقُولُ ابْنُ آدَمَ: مَالِي مَالِي، وَهَلْ لَكَ مِنْ مَالِكَ إِلَّا مَا أَكَلْتَ فَأَفْنَـيْتَ، أَوْ لَبِسْتَ فَأَبْلَيْتَ، أَوْ تَصَدَّقْتَ فَأَمْضَيْتَ؟»

((The mutual increase diverts you.)'' He was referring to the Hadith in which the Prophet said,

«لَوْ كَانَ لِابْنِ آدَمَ وَادٍ مِنْ ذَهَب»

(If the Son of Adam had a valley of gold, he would desire another like it...) Imam Ahmad recorded from `Abdullah bin Ash-Shikhkhir that he said, "I came to the Messenger of Allah while he was saying,

أَلْهَـكُمُ التَّكَّاثُرُ

يَقُولُ ابْنُ آدَمَ: مَالِي مَالِي، وَهَلْ لَكَ مِنْ مَالِكَ إِلَّا مَا أَكَلْتَ فَأَفْنَـيْتَ، أَوْ لَبِسْتَ فَأَبْلَيْتَ، أَوْ تَصَدَّقْتَ فَأَمْضَيْتَ؟»

((The mutual increase diverts you.)( The Son of Adam says, "My wealth, my wealth.'' But do you get anything (of benefit) from your wealth except for that which you ate and you finished it, or that which you clothed yourself with and you wore it out, or that which you gave as charity and you have spent it)'' Muslim, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa'i also recorded this Hadith. Muslim recorded in his Sahih from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said,

«يَقُولُ الْعَبْدُ: مَالِي مَالِي، وَإِنَّمَا لَهُ مِنْ مَالِهِ ثَلَاثٌ: مَا أَكَلَ فَأَفْنَى، أَوْ لَبِسَ فَأَبْلَى، أَوْ تَصَدَّقَ فَأَمْضَى، وَمَا سِوَى ذَلِكَ فَذَاهِبٌ وَتَارِكُهُ لِلنَّاس»

(The servant says "My wealth, my wealth.'' Yet he only gets three (benefits) from his wealth: that which he eats and finishes, that which he eats and finishes, that which he wears until it is worn out, or that which he gives in charity and it is spent. Everything else other than that will go away and leave him for the people.) Muslim was alone in recording this Hadith. Al-Bukhari recorded from Anas bin Malik that the Messenger of Allah said,

«يَتْبَعُ الْمَيِّتَ ثَلَاثَةٌ، فَيَرْجِعُ اثْنَانِ وَيَبْقَى مَعَهُ وَاحِدٌ: يَتْبَعُهُ أَهْلُهُ وَمَالُهُ وَعَمَلُهُ، فَيَرْجِعُ أَهْلُهُ وَمَالُهُ، وَيَبْقَى عَمَلُه»

(Three things follow the deceased person, and two of them return while one remains behind with him. The things which follow him are his family, his wealth and his deeds. His family and his wealth return while his deeds remain.) This Hadith has also been recorded by Muslim, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa'i. Imam Ahmad recorded from Anas that the Prophet said,

«يَهْرَمُ ابْنُ آدَمَ وَيَبْقَى مِنْهُ اثْنَتَانِ: الْحِرْصُ وَالْأَمَل»

(The Son of Adam becomes old with senility, but yet two things remain with him: greed and hope.) Both of them (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) recorded this Hadith in the Two Sahihs.

Kashf Al-Asrar

Vying for increase distracts you.

This is an address of admonishment and assertion. He is saying, "O child of Adam! Why do you boast of relationships that will soon be severed? Why do you vainly lift your heads over your many relatives, your property, and your position? Why are you deluded by the fact that you have been given respite and left without shame? Will you not look back before you reach the four walls of the grave, thrown down in exile and aloneness? Will you not apologize? You are not on guard because you are not aware. In no way do you take the road to wholesomeness and deliverance, for you are drunk on avarice and appetite."

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

The words alhakum at-takathur of the original are too vast in meaning to be fully explained in a passage Alhakmn is from lahv which originally means heedlessness, but in Arabic this word is used for every occupation which engrosses man so completely that he becomes heedless of the more important things in life.

When the word alhakum is made from this root, it will mean that man has become so obsessed with some occupation that he has lost sight of everything more important than it. He is pre-occupied with it, is wholly lost in pursuit of it and this obsession has rendered him heedless of everything else in life.

Takathur is from kathrat, which has throe meanings:

(1) That man should strive to gain more and more of everything;

(2) that the people should vie with one another for gaining more and more; and

(3) that they should brag and boast of possessing greater abundance of things than others.

Therefore, alhakum at-takathur would mean: " Takathur (greed for more and more) has so occupied you that its pursuit has made you heedless of every higher thing in life." In this sentence it has not been indicated as to abundance of what is meant in takathur, heedlessness of what is implied in alhakrun, and who are the addresses of alhakum. In the absence of such an explanation, the words become applicable in their most general and extensive meaning. Thus, takathur does not remain restricted in meaning and application but applies to all the gains and benefits, pleasures and comforts, the passion for acquiring more and more means of power and authority, vying with others in pursuit of these and bragging and boasting of their abundance. Likewise, the addressees of alhakum also do not remain limited but the people of all ages, in their individual as well as collective capacity, become its addressees. It gives the meaning that the passion for acquiring more and more of the worldly wealth, vying with others in pursuit of it and bragging and boasting of its possession has affected individuals as well as societies. Like wise, since in alhakum at-takathur it has not been pointed out as to which people are engrossed in acquisitiveness and of what they are rendered heedless, it has also become very extensive in meaning. It means that the passion for piling up more and more has made the people heedless of everything more important than it. They have become heedless of God, of the Hereafter, of the moral bounds and moral responsibilities, of the rights of others and of their own obligations to render those rights. They are only after raising the standard of living and do not bother even if the standard of humanity be falling. They want to acquire more and more of wealth no matter how and by what means it is acquired. They desire to have more and more means of comfort and physical enjoyment and, overwhelmed by this greed, they have become wholly insensitive as to the ultimate end of this way of living. They are engaged in a race with others to acquire more and more of power, more and more of forces, more and more of weapons, and they have no idea that all this is a means of filling God's earth with tyranny and wickedness and of destroying humanity itself. In short, takathur has many forms, which have engrossed individuals as well as societies so completely that they have become heedless of everything beyond the world, its benefits and pleasures.

That is, "You expend your whole life in the same craze and endeavor, until the time comes when you must die and leave the world."

That is, "You are under the delusion that the abundance of the worldly goods and surpassing others in it, is real progress and success, whereas the opposite is the case. Soon you will know its evil end and you will realize that it was a stupendous error in which you remained involved throughout your life. "Soon" may mean the Hereafter, for, for the Being Whose sight comprehends all ages, from eternity to eternity, a few thousand years or a few hundred thousand years can only be a short span of the eternal time. But it can also mean death, for death is not very far away from any man, and soon after death man will come to know whether the occupations which engaged him throughout life were a means of good fortune and success for him, or of misfortune and failure.

"Then" in this sentence does not mean that accountability will be held after the culprits have been cast into Hell, but it means: "Then We give you the news that you will be questioned about these comforts of life," and obviously this questioning will be held at the time of accountability in the Divine Court. Its chief argument is that in several Ahadith it has been reported from the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) that the believers and the disbelievers, both will have to account for the blessings granted by Allah. However, the people who did not show ingratitude but spent their lives as grateful servants of Allah, will come out successful from the accountability, and those who proved thankless to Allah for His blessings and committed ingratitude by word or by deed, or by both; will emerge as failures.

Hadrat Jabir bin `Abdullah says: "The Holy Prophet once visited us and we served him with fresh dates and gave him cool water to drink. Thereupon he said: "These are of the blessings about which you will be questioned." (Musnad Ahmad, Nasa'i, Ibn Jarir, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Marduyah, `Abd bin Humaid, Baihaqi in Ash-Shu `ab).

Hadrat Abu Hurairah has reported that the Holy Prophet once asked Hadrat Abu Bakr and Hadrat `Umar to accompany him to the place of AbulHaitham bin at-Tahan Ansari. Thus, he took them to the oasis of Ibn at-Taihan-The latter brought a bunch of dates and placed it before them. The Holy Prophet said: "Why didn't you pluck the dates yourself? ` He said: "1 thought you would yourselves select and eat dates of your choice." So, they ate the dates and drank cool water. At the end, the Holy Prophet said: "By Him in Whose hand is my life: this is of the blessings about which you will be questioned on the Resurrection Day: the cool shade, the cool dates, the cool water." (This tradition has been narrated in different ways by Muslim, Ibn Majah, Abu Da'ud, Tirmidhi, Nasa'i, Ibn Jarir, Abu Ya`la and others, on the authority of Hadrat Abu Hurairah, in some of which the name of the Ansari Companion has been mentioned and in some he has been referred to as a person from among the Ansar. This incident has been related with several details by Ibn Abi Hatim from Hadrat `Umar and by Imam Ahmad from Abu `Asib, the Holy Prophet's freed slave. Ibn Hibban and Ibn Marduyah have related a tradition from Hadrat 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas, which shows that an almost similar thing had happened in the house of Hadrat Abu Ayyub Ansari.

These Ahadith make it explicit that not only the disbelievers but the righteous believers too will be questioned. As for the blessings which Allah has bestowed on man, they are unlimited and countless. There are many blessings of which man is not even conscious. The Qur'an says: "If you try to count the blessings of Allah, you will not be able to calculate them." (Ibrahim : 34). Countless of them are the blessings which Allah has granted directly to man, and a large number of these are the blessings which man is granted through his own skill and endeavor. About the blessings that accrue to man in consequence of his own labor and skill, he will have to render an account as to how he acquired them and in what ways he expended them. In respect of the blessings directly bestowed by Allah, he will have to give an account as to how he used them. And in respect of all the blessings, on the whole, he will have to tell whether he had acknowledged that those blessings had been granted by Allah and whether he had expressed gratitude for them to Allah with his heart, and by word and deed, or whether he thought he had received all that accidentally, or as' a gift from many gods, or whether he Geld the belief that although those were the blessings of One God, in their bestowal many other beings also had a part, and for that very reason he had taken them as his gods and worshiped and thanked them as such.

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said about the interpretation of Allah's saying (Rivalry in worldly increase distracteth you): '(Rivalry in worldly increase distracteth you) He says: bragging about your status and lineage has distracted you