Lecture 8 in Tafseer series on Surah Kahf in Month of Ramadaan delivered by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider at Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town on 10 April 2022

During the previous nights we have been discussing a central theme of this Surah and that is our relationship with this dunya/world.

This included a discussion of how to interact with people who are wealthy.

It also included reference to people who have excessive love of this world to be oblivious of Almighty Allah and are extreme in their greed for this world.

It concluded with the four phases in which arrogance develops and how such people destroy themselves.

The picture one seems to get is that this world and love of this world is condemned. This may get one to think that pursuing wealth, status and even knowledge is condemned as all of these can deceive you. People with low capacity in particular fall fowl of being deceived by acquiring this world.

From this point the Surah moves to another important discussion.


Surah Kahf Verse 45 states:

وَاضْرِبْ لَهُم مَثَلَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا كَمَآءٍ أَنزَلْنَاهُ مِنَ السَّمَآءِ فَاخْتَلَطَ بِهِ نَبَاتُ الاَرْضِ فَاَصْبَحَ هَشِيماً تَذْرُوهُ الرّ‌ِيَاحُ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلَي كُلّ‌ِ شَيْءٍ مُقْتَدِراً

“(O Prophet), propound to them the parable of the present life: it is like the vegetation of the earth which flourished luxuriantly when it mingled with the water that We sent down from the sky, but after that the same vegetation turned into stubble which the winds blew about.”

Surah Kahf Verse 46 states:

الْمَالُ وَالْبَنُونَ زِينَةُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَالْبَاقِيَاتُ الصَّالِحَاتُ خَيْرٌ عِندَ رَبّـِكَ ثَواباً وَخَيْرٌ أَمَلاً

“Wealth and children are an ornament of the life of the world, and the everlasting good works are better with your Lord in reward and better in expectation.”

These two verses are a summary of our conclusion of the discussion about the reality of this world and our relationship with it. We will now discuss some core lessons we extract from these two verses.


This is the first philosophical point to appreciate. While it is very attractive, glamorous, lush, etc. it is simultaneously unreliable and unstable.

Thus to explain this reality the verses uses the example of vegetation. This world becomes beautiful and green after rain comes and lush vegetation grows. When autumn arrives, the same green leaves which firmly stuck to their trees become dry and fall with a little wind. The exact example in the verse is about vegetation on the ground that becomes dry stubble.

Thus we should not run after wealth, status and the attractions of this world due to its instability.

Indirectly the Quran draws our attention to this situation being experienced in our own lives regarding what happens to vegetation. Sometimes this occurs across the natural life cycle of vegetation and sometimes a different reason is given for it as it disappears in an instant. Lightning can strike and overnight a farmer can lose all his crops.

We read in Surah Yunus Verse 24 the following:

إِنَّمَا مَثَلُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا كَمَآءٍ أَنزَلْنَاهُ مِنَ السَّمَآءِ فَاخْتَلَطَ بِهِ نَبَاتُ الاَرْضِ مِمَّا يَأْكُلُ النَّاسُ وَالاَنْعَامُ حَتَّي إِذَآ أَخَذَتِ الأَرْضُ زُخْرُفَهَا وَازَّيَّنَتْ وَظَنَّ أَهْلُهَآ أَنَّهُمْ قَادِرُونَ عَلَيْهَآ أَتَاهَآ أَمْرُنَا لَيْلاً أَوْ نَهَاراً فَجَعَلْنَاهَا حَصِيداً كَاَن لَمْ تَغْنَ بِالاَمْسِ كَذَلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الاَيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

“The likeness of the life of this world is just as the water which We send down from the sky, and the plants of the earth mingle with it whereof men and cattle eat, till when the earth takes its ornament and is embellished, and its people imagine that they have power over it, (but suddenly) Our command reaches it by night or by day, and We make it stubble, as if it had not flourished the day before! Thus do We explain the Signs in detail for a people who reflect.”

We have seens examples of this in our very own lives too. So this is the reality of this unstable yet glamorous world.


Wealth and children are adornments of the life of this world. They refer to financial and human resources.

Here we want to rectify a possible misconception that could have been created in our previous discussions wherein we may think that this world by itself is bad or evil and there are many people who actually have this view.

They thus think that success in this life is to divorce yourself from this world.

However the Quranic understanding is different. The world by itself cannot be evil as we believe based on our Theology that only One God exists who only creates good. There doesn’t exist two Gods whereby one creates good and another creates evil (as understood in some religions). Only good comes from Allah and He created this world.


Some people try to solve the abovementioned conundrum by saying the world is actually good, but it is our love for this world that is bad. They then quote the famous hadith:

حب الدنيا رأس كل خطيئة

“Love of this world is source of all evil”

Shaheed Ayatullah Mutahhari beautifully explains that Almighty Allah did not only create the physically beautiful objects of this world, but also created our feelings and emotions and thus love for the world! Thus to claim that the love of this world is evil creates a philosophical problem as our love for this world is natural!

If we must honestly ask ourselves this question then there’s no doubt that we love wealth or are attracted to the opposite gender or that a mother loves her children etc. Love of children is considered love of this world as Verse 46 of Surah Kahf indicates.

If a mother did not love her child, she would never be able to take the burden of carrying that child for 9 months and then weaning thereafter in difficulty.


In fact our love for this world is the foundation for the survival of this world. Example the most common manifestation of love of this world is the love for the opposite gender.

If this love was not there, then how would children be produced and how would the human race survive. Furthermore we read in Surah Rum Verse 21 that it is a sign of Allah that He placed this love between spouses. We read this verse as follows:

وَمِنْ ءَايَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجاً لّـِتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لاَيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

“And of His signs is that He crated spouses for you from yourselves, that you may repose in them, and He has set between you love and mercy; verily there are signs in this, for a people who reflect.”

The whole system of the world survives based on these various relationships of love for this world.


So the logic of the Quran to this issue is beautifully discussed in Verse 46 of Surah Kahf which we repeat here:

الْمَالُ وَالْبَنُونَ زِينَةُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَالْبَاقِيَاتُ الصَّالِحَاتُ خَيْرٌ عِندَ رَبّـِكَ ثَواباً وَخَيْرٌ أَمَلاً

“Wealth and children are an ornament of the life of the world, and the everlasting good works are better with your Lord in reward and better in expectation.”

Wealth and children have value as they are ornaments of the life of this world and are a source of comfort and relaxation in the life of this world – there’s nothing bad about that!

BUT long lasting good deeds is BETTER than these ornaments which are good but temporary in nature. They are better from two perspectives:

– in terms of reward; and

– in terms of hope/expectation/being ideal

This world being transitory can’t truly reward you while good deeds are rewarded beyond imagination.

And this world can thus never be your ideal while good deeds can.

Thus while pursuit of this world is acceptable, we should be clear that we have not been created for it but we have been created for a higher purpose.

The very existence of a human being has more value than to be sold for the price of this world. Ayatullah Mutahhari quotes Imam Ali (a.s) who said:

“The worst business deal is to see this world as a price for yourself”.


Therefore don’t look at this world as your final goal. Surah Yunus Verse 7 states:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ لاَ يَرْجُونَ لِقَآءَنَا وَرَضُوا بِالْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَاطْمَاَنُّوا بِهَا وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنْ ءَايَاتِنَا غَافِلُونَ

“Verily those who do not expect the meeting with Us, but are pleased with the life of this world and are satisfied with it, and those who are neglectful of Our Signs,”

Here such people’s satisfaction or contentment with the life of this world is identified to be the absolute root cause of the problem – they don’t have a greater goal beyond the life of this world.

We similarly read in Surah Najm Verse 29:

فَأعْرِضْ عَن مَّن تَوَلَّی عَن ذِكْرِنَا وَلَمْ يُرِدْ إِلاّ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا

“Therefore, withdraw from him who turns away from Our Reminder and desires nothing but the life of this world.”

Thus you can enjoy the life of this world but if that is ALL that you interested in then it is a problem.

Or we also similarly read in Surah Aali Imraan Verse 14 as follows:

زُيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ حُبُّ الشَّهَوَاتِ مِنَ النِّسَاء وَالْبَنِينَ وَالْقَنَاطِيرِ الْمُقَنطَرَةِ مِنَ الذَّهَبِ وَالْفِضَّةِ وَالْخَيْلِ الْمُسَوَّمَةِ وَالأَنْعَامِ وَالْحَرْثِ ذَلِكَ مَتَاعُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَاللّهُ عِندَهُ حُسْنُ الْمَآبِ

“The love of desires (that come) from women, and of offspring, and heaped-up hoards of gold and silver and well-bred branded horses and cattle and tilth, is made to seem fair to mankind. This is the provision of the life of this world, while Allah is He with Whom is the good resort.”

There’s acknowledgement that these are enjoyments of the life of this world and we allowed to enjoy them. BUT remember the best place to return to is Almighty Allah.

So when we condemn this world and the love of this world it is from this angle – when the world is the centre of your existence, purpose and return.


Ayatullah Mutahhari says that in this world we cannot live without basic Akhlaq/Etiquette. To observe basic etiquette, it requires sacrifice of this world. Love of  this world is based upon selfishness. If you are selfish, regardless of whether you are a believer or non believer, you can’t have good Akhlaq in a society.

If everything is about you, then you will not have compassion for another human being that is suffering.

But if you think of something beyond this world like the reward of the Hereafter, then you will be willing to share your resources with others. A non believer would also sacrifice as he understands that society cannot survive without it.

Now you hopefully understand the real meaning of the hadith:

حب الدنيا رأس كل خطيئة

“Love of this world is source of all evil”

May Almighty Allah grant us Tawfeeq to not be slaves and worshippers of this world. As Imam Husayn (a.s) beautifully portrays it:

إِنَّ النَّاسَ عَبِيدُ الدُّنْيَا، وَالدِّينُ لَعْقٌ عَلَى أَلْسِنَتِهِمْ‏ يَحُوطُونَهُ مَا دَرَّتْ مَعَايِشُهُمْ فَإِذَا مُحِّصُوا بِالْبَلَاءِ قَلَّ الدَّيَّانُونَ

“Verily people are slaves of this world and religion is like saliva in their mouth that they rotate in their mouth while their life is fine. And when they are inflicted with trials, very few remain religious.”

Part 9 in this series continues tomorrow In-sha’Allah.

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