A Description of Life in This World

So how much are the pleasures of this life worth? What is the reality of their enjoyment? This is described in the sūrah in a Qur’ānic scene that portrays aspects of everyday activity, but to which most people pay little attention: “The example of [this] worldly life is but like rain which We have sent down from the sky that the plants of the earth absorb – [those] from which men and livestock eat – until, when the earth has taken on its adornment and is beautified and its people suppose that they have capability over it, there comes to it Our command by night or by day, and We make it as a harvest, as if it had not flourished yesterday. Thus do We explain in detail the signs for a people who give thought. And Allah invites to the Home of Peace and guides whom He wills to a straight path.” (Suuratu Yuunus Ch.10, Verses 24-25)

This is the reality of the life of this world, where people have only its pleasures which they are content with, seeking no higher aspiration and hoping for no better abode. Rain comes down from the sky and is soon absorbed by plants which grow and blossom. The earth takes on its finest adornments, as if she were a bride preparing for her happiest night. People take pleasure in looking on, feeling that its fine appearance is the result of their own efforts. In the back of their minds they think they control everything on earth and that nothing can change this.

Yet in the midst of all this pleasure and fine celebration, their confidence is suddenly shattered. What has happened? The answer is simple: “there comes to it Our command by night or by day, and We make it as a harvest, as if it had not flourished yesterday.” (Verse 24) It all happens in a moment. It is all expressed in a sentence. Such mode of expression is a deliberate contrast to the detailed description which paints the land’s fertility and beauty, as well as people’s pleasure and confidence.

Such is the life of this world which some people regard as their utmost aspiration, and for the pleasures of which they sacrifice their future life. It is a life in which there is no settlement or security. People’s control over it is very limited indeed. The sūrah then contrasts this image with the other world: “And Allah invites to the Home of Peace and guides whom He wills to a straight path.” (Verse 25) The contrast is remarkable. In one place there is no security. Even the most perfect of enjoyments can be replaced with complete misery in a matter of seconds. The other is the home of peace to which God invites people. It is reserved for those who keep their hearts and minds receptive of God’s guidance and who endeavour to attain the happiness of the life to come, which is indeed the life of peace.

For them who have done good is the best [reward] and extra. No darkness will cover their faces, nor humiliation. Those are companions of Paradise; they will abide therein eternally.
But they who have earned [blame for] evil doings – the recompense of an evil deed is its equivalent, and humiliation will cover them. They will have from Allah no protector. It will be as if their faces are covered with pieces of the night – so dark [are they]. Those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide therein eternally.” (Suuratu Yuunus Ch.10, Verses 26-27)

Source: Volume_9_surahs_10-11 page 47-48

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