Name of Chapter Aal-Imran , 14 verses Number 14

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


Beautified for mankind is love of the joys [that come] from women and sons and stored up heaps of gold and silver and horses branded [with special mark] and cattle and tilth; such are the provisions of the life of this world, but with Allah is the Excellent Abode.

interpreter: Tahereh Saffarzadeh

Source: Tafsir Al-MIZAN (Volume: 5, Page: 141-157, Chapter: Three - The House of Imran, Verse: 14)

Interpreter: al-Allamah as-Sayyid Muhammad Husayn at-Tabatabai

Translator: Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi

Publication Place: World Organization for Islamic Services (WOFIS)


QUR'AN: It has been made to seem fair...: This and the following verses elaborate the preceding ones (As for those who disbelieve surely neither their wealth nor their children shall avail them in the least against Allah...). The unbelievers erroneously thought that these things would make them independent of Allah. Now, this verse explains the reason of their mistaken idea: They have submerged their souls under the love of these worldly materials and are so overwhelmed with them that they have forgotten the life hereafter. But they are mistaken, because these things are just the provisions of this transient life, their only purpose is to pave the way for the next destination that is with Allah. These people are oblivious of the reality of this worldly provision: Allah has ingrained in human nature the love of these fair and beautiful items, so that this worldly life may attain its completion and perfection. Without this inclination, continuity of human race would be endangered. It is through this love and desire that the decree of Allah is enforced: ...and there is for you in the earth an abode and a provision for a time (2:36). Allah created in man this inclination, so that he may use it as a means to reach his final destination; so that he may take from it what would benefit him in the next life. People were not expected to treat these worldly trinkets as permanent things, or to forget what lies ahead. They are on journey, going forward to their Lord; they should not take the path as the destination. Allah says: Surely We have made whatever is on the earth an embellishment for it, so that We may try them (as to) which of them is best in deed. And most surely We will make what is on it bare ground without herbage (18:7-8).

But these simpletons thought that these apparent causes of worldly pleasure were independent of Allah, (while actually they were created by Allah to be a means to obtain the pleasure of Allah). Instead the unbelievers thought that these things would avail them against Allah. By their behaviour, they turned the bliss into misery, and changed the reward into punishment. Allah says: The likeness of this world's life is only as water which We sent down from the sky; by its mingling the herbage of the earth of which men and cattle eat grows; until when the earth puts on its golden raiment and it becomes garnished, and its people think that they have power over it, Our command comes to it, by night or by day, so We render if as reaped, as though it had not been in existence yesterday; ... And on the day when We will gather them all together, then We will say to those who associated others (with Allah); Keep where you are, you and your associates; then We shall separate them widely one from another … and they shall be brought back to Allah, their true Master, and what they did fabricate shall escape from them (10: 24 -30). These verses show that the life and its adornments are in the hands of Allah; none but He controls them. Man, in his foolishness, is deceived by its appearance and thinks that he is in control of his own affair, and that it is he who manages it and keeps it in order. He ascribes some associates in it, like idols and things like idols (wealth and children etc.). But Allah will make him aware of his follies; the embellishments will go away, the relationship between him and his associates will be cut off, and all that man had fabricated against Allah will be lost to him. Then he will understand that what he was admonished with in this world was true. Alas! Understanding at that time when he will be returned to his Lord, will not benefit him at all.

Allah says: "It has been made to seem fair to men the love of desires..." The question is: Who has made it to look fair to man? The world appears before man's eyes as a beautiful and adorable thing -it shows the elegance of independence and beauty of purpose. Does Allah make it appear in this light? Reason says, No. The All-knowing Wise Lord is too great to manage a thing in such a way that it would defeat His Own purpose. He says: ...surely Allah attains His purpose (65:3); and Allah is predominant over His affair (12:21). If this phenomenon is to be attributed at all, it should be attributed to Satan. Allah says: ...and Satan made what they did fair-seeming to them (6:43). And when Satan made their deeds fair-seeming to them ...(8:48).

Of course, it is all according to the system decreed by Allah. He has given the man freedom of will to choose his own path, and Allah does not interfere in the man's choice. This system is called "permission", it is so that the test may be conducted, and so that the spiritual training may progress in a just manner. Allah says: Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, "We believe", and not be tried? And certainly We tried those before them, so Allah will certainly know those who are true and He will certainly know the liars. Or do they who work evil think that they will escape Us? Evil is it that they judge (29:2-4).

There is a verse in which this "making fair-seeming" has been attributed to Allah: Thus have We made fair-seeming to every people their deeds (6:108). This verse may be explained by the above-mentioned system of "permission". It may also be explained in the light of the previously explained verse: Surely We have made whatever is on the earth an embellishment for it, so that We may try them (as to) which of them is best in deed (18:7).

This "making fair-seeming" is of two kinds. First, world and worldly embellishments are made fair-seeming to man so that he may use it wisely -to get happiness in the next world, and to seek the pleasure of Allah in all his actions through this wealth, honour, children and self. It is a good and divinely- inspired characteristic and Allah has attributed it to Himself in the verse 18:7 (Surely We have made whatever is on the earth an embellishment...), and in other verses mentioned earlier. Also the following verse refers to this reality: Say: "Who has prohibited the embellishment of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants and the good provisions?" (7:32).

Second, world is made to appear lovely in the eyes of man, to ensnare his heart, so that he may forget his Creator. It is an evil plan which Allah has attributed to Satan, and admonished His servants to remain on guard against it. For example: ...and Satan made what they did fair-seeming to them ...(6:43); He (Satan) said: "My Lord! Because Thou hast left me to stray, I will certainly make (evil) fair-seeming to them on earth, and I will certainly cause them all to go astray..." (15:39); ...the evil of their doings is made fair-seeming to them...(9:37), etc.

Sometimes even this type of "making fair-seeming" is attributed to Allah, inasmuch as Satan and all other causes of good and evil do whatever they do only because Allah has given them the "permission" (as explained above). This system was necessary to attain the Divine purpose of test, in order that the doers of good may succeed because of their good intention and choice; and the sinners may be separated from them.

The above explanation makes it clear that it is not Allah who has made it seem fair to men the love of various desires mentioned in the verse under discussion. No doubt, every "making fair-seeming" may be attributed to Allah, either directly, (if it is a good adornment leading man to His worship) or indirectly, that is, by permission (if it makes one to forget one's Creator). But this verse contains some factors, which cannot be attributed to Allah directly. Therefore, it was in keeping with the good manners of the Qur'an not to attribute this adornment to Allah; instead, it attributes it to some unspecified agent -it could be either Satan or the man himself.

An exegete has rightly said that the implied doer of the verb, "It has been made to seem fair", is Satan, because the love of desires is not a likeable trait, nor is the love of excessive wealth; and therefore, it cannot be attributed to Allah. Allah has attributed to Himself the good things mentioned at the end of this verse and in the next one.

But another commentator has said that it cannot be attributed to Satan. He says: The matters related to the human nature and its love and inclinations can never be ascribed to Satan; what may be attributed to him is evil whispering that makes evil thoughts and deeds look attractive to man. He continues his argument as follows: The Qur'an has never attributed to Satan anything except making evil deed fair-seeming. Allah says: And when Satan made their deeds fair-seeming to them (8:48); ... and Satan made what they did fair-seeming to them (6:43). But the Book does not attribute the realities and natures of the things except to the Wise Creator Who has no partner. Allah says: Surely We have made whatever is on the earth an embellishment for it, so that We may try them (as to) which of them is best in deed (18:7); Thus have We made fair-seeming to every people their deeds (6:108). The verse talks about the "people", which is another way of talking about the nature of society. 

Comment: He is right when he says that the realities and natures of things cannot be attributed to other than Allah. But he is mistaken in thinking that the verse speaks about the nature of man, or about his natural traits. This statement of ours may be understood if we look at the central theme of this chapter.

The main purpose of this chapter is to describe the following realities: -

Allah is Self-subsisting by Whom all subsist: He manages all affairs of all His creatures; He creates them and looks after them. He guides them to their eternal bliss. Those who indulge in hypocrisy, reject His signs or revolt against Him by differing in His Book - the hypocrites, the unbelievers, the polytheists and the People of the Book - in short, all those who obey Satan and follow their desires, cannot weaken the authority of Allah, nor can they overpower Him, nor is His all-encompassing management affected by their misbehaviour. Everything, including the creatures' belief and disbelief, obedience and disobedience, is based on the system decreed by Allah. He has created in this world the systems of the cause and effect, and of the test and trial. He has created the nature, its properties and traits, its inclinations and actions. It has been done so that man may proceed forward to his Lord, may attain nearness to Allah and may get eternal honour in the Divine presence.

It was because of this system of test that He permitted Satan and did not prevent him from whispering into men's hearts and putting evil ideas into their minds. Nor did He prevent man from obeying Satan or following his own base desires. By this "permission" the test and trial remains free and fair; those who believe are distinguished from the disbelievers and the hypocrites; and the pure hearted servants of Allah are raised in status to become witnesses of Allah.

These things have been described in this chapter to give comfort to the believers. At that time they were overwhelmed by hardships and difficulties. Within their society, they had to endure the double-dealings of the hypocrites and ignorance of those with disease in their hearts. These two groups disturbed their plans and disrupted their affairs; as a result the commands given by Allah and His Apostle were not fully obeyed. On the outside, they were in constant danger from various groups. There were, within Arabia, the polytheists and the People of the Book (especially, the Jews); and the neighbouring Romans and Persians were threatening them with all their might and forces. All those disbelievers were mistaken and confused in their ideas and ideals. They were entangled in this transient world and its embellishments; they thought that it was their goal and final destination. They had forgotten that this world was only a path, and the destination was the next world.

It is obvious that the chapter discusses the nature of the people, but in a wider framework that includes the purpose of their creation, and all that it entails, like the character and behaviour, the good and evil deeds, the obedience and disobedience. It declares that all this is under the management of Allah, Who can never be defeated or overpowered -neither in this world nor in the next. In this world, all things happen by His "permission", which makes the test meaningful. In the next world, all will be based on the principle of recompense - good for good and evil for evil.

The verses under discussion also were revealed with the same theme. The disbelievers were given those bounties in order that they might obtain with their help the pleasure of Allah and enter into His paradise. Instead, they rejected the signs of their Lord and changed those bounties into a source of eternal misfortune; they relied on those worldly embellishments; and thought that those things would avail them against Allah; in short, they were so enchanted by created things that they forgot the Creator. But these people cannot weaken the hold of Allah over them; they cannot overpower Him, nor can they escape from Him. Allah shall catch them for their sins, and shall help His believing servants against them. He shall gather all the disbelievers together unto hell and it is an evil abode. It is their greatest mistake to rely on that which is only a provision of this worldly life, and to forget that the best destination is with Allah.

These verses too speak about the nature of the disbelievers, but in a wider context that includes their good and bad deeds.

Therefore, it is wrong on the part of that exegete to think that, because the verse speaks about human nature, the verb, "It has been made to seem fair", cannot be attributed to other than Allah.

Further, he has offered the verse: "Thus have We made fair-seeming to every people their deeds", as a proof that realities can only be attributed to Allah, and it is only the deeds that may be attributed to Satan. But this verse clearly proves the opposite, because it attributes the deeds to Allah. Its context further strengthens this proposition. The complete verse is as follows: And do not abuse those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest exceeding the limits they should abuse Allah out of ignorance. Thus have We made fair-seeming to every people their deeds; then to their Lord shall be their return, so He will inform them of what they did (8:108). It makes clear what we have said.

Another exegete has said: This "Making fair-seeming" is of two types: Commendable and condemnable. Likewise, human actions are of two kinds: good and evil. Only that which is commendable, good and praiseworthy can be attributed to Allah; and the other type is ascribed to Satan.

Comment: The above statement is correct to a certain extent - in so far as the direct attribution is concerned. In other word, it is valid about the direct actions of Allah. Allah does not do except good and He does not enjoin indecency and evil. But there is no reason why actions, other than the good and praiseworthy, should not be attributed to Him indirectly. In other words, Allah may "permit" His creatures to do good or evil, as they like. They do whatever they do by the power given to them by Allah, and according to the system of test decreed by Him. And in this sense, all actions may be ascribed to Allah -indirectly, of course. If one says that some actions cannot be ascribed to Allah even indirectly, it would be difficult for him to believe that Allah is the Lord of everything, Creator of everything and Owner of everything, or that He has no partner or colleague in any affair at all. Moreover, the Qur'an contains many verses in which "un-praiseworthy" actions have been ascribed to Allah: Allah makes whosoever He wills go astray (13:27);… Allah made their hearts turn aside (61:5); Allah mocks them and leaves them alone in their inordinacy (2:15); … We order the people of it who lead easy life, so they transgress therein (17:16); there are many verse of this kind in the Qur'an.

What is the source of this erroneous ideas of people like that exegete? They looked at things and meditated on their mutual relationship, on their actions and their effects. They thought that every single thing has an independent existence, is separate from all surrounding things, and has no connection with things that have passed nor with those that are yet to appear.

Allah has decreed that every event should be a result of interaction of numerous causes. But these people put every thing and every event in a separate pigeonhole, unconnected with any other thing or event. According to their thinking, each event is related only to its immediate cause, and each action belongs only to its doer; other, distant causes have nothing to do with that event or action. Planets revolve, rivers flow, ships run, earth supports its inhabitants, vegetables grow, animals walk and man lives and strives: All these phenomena are separate from each other; there is no bond that binds them to one another; neither any metaphysical reality joins them together nor any physical force keeps them united.

Going a step further, they ascribed the same separateness to human actions and affairs. Virtue and evil, felicity and infelicity, guidance and misguidance, obedience and disobedience, benevolence and malevolence, justice and injustice, nothing is related to any other thing, nothing has any connection with anything else in its existence.

These people have overlooked the most obvious reality - that the universe, with all sorts of creatures and all kinds of components, is a single entity, whose parts are finely aligned together. Not only that - its components are often interchanged: Today it is a human being, tomorrow it will change into dust and the day after tomorrow will grow as a grass; one's life is the other's death; the "new" arises from the ashes of the "old ". 

The events happening herein are likewise all related to each other; they are the links that are connected together to form the chain that is called the universe. An apparently insignificant alteration in the position of a small link affects the positions of all other links on both sides. A minute change in an atom causes changes in the whole system of the world, although we may not notice it. (If we do not know that a thing exists, it does not mean that it does not exist.)

This universal inter-relation was known to, and described by, the ancient philosophers; and it has been fully manifested by modern sciences. And the Qur'an had explained to the Muslims this phenomenon long before they learned it from philosophers, scientists and mathematicians of other nations, and then started to do their own researches on these lines. The Divine Book tells us how the system of the heavens and the earth are interlocked, how one affects the other, how all are joined together in attaining to the purpose of creation, how the Divine decree permeates every thing, how all are proceeding towards their Lord, and how the final destination is with Allah.

Likewise, the characteristics and attributes of our actions are linked together. Even the opposite actions stand face to face with each other, and if one of them goes away, the other would not be recognized. It resembles the physical world where making of one thing depends on unmaking of the other, and the one's progress causes the other's retrogress. If one of the opposite is missing, the other's desired effects on the society would also disappear. The same is the case of virtue and evil as shown by the Divine religion. Obedience is a virtue because disobedience is an evil; good deeds deserve good recompense because bad deeds attract severe requital; reward is pleasant because punishment is unpleasant; and pleasure is desired because displeasure is undesirable. Man by nature gravitates towards felicity and happiness; and runs away from infelicity and unhappiness. If this natural movement stops, the existence itself would dissolve into nothingness.

Obedience, then good deeds, then reward, then pleasure, then happiness - it is a chain that runs parallel to disobedience, then evil deeds, then punishment, then displeasure, then unhappiness. Each side manifests itself by hiding the other; each one gets life in the death of its opposite. How can one call to good deeds without warning against its opposite misdeeds?

We can see in this light that in the Divine wisdom it was necessary for the universe to contain the opposites - virtue and evil, obedience and disobedience. At this stage, there appears an important difference: Creation and destruction, making and unmaking in all things, except human actions, are attributed to Allah, because the creation and all its affairs are in His hands, He has no partner or colleague. So far as the actions are concerned, if they are good and virtuous, they too are directly attributed to Allah, because He has guided the man to them. But evil deeds and affairs, like whispering of Satan, overpowering of man by desires or rule of a tyrant over a nation, may be indirectly attributed to Allah, inasmuch as He withdraws His help from the doers of such deeds and leaves them free to go astray. It is this factor that is called "permission". It is correct to say that Allah has permitted Satan to misguide human beings with his whisperings and deceptions; that He does not prevent man from following his base desires; and that He does not hinder an unjust person from his oppression. He has decreed this system because felicity and infelicity are based on freedom of choice; if a man succeeds, it shall be by his own free choice; and if he fails, it too shall be by his own free choice. Otherwise, the proof of Allah could not be completed against His servants, and the intended test would be irrelevant.

****What prevented the said exegete and others like him from letting the Qur'anic arguments and expressions progress to their logical result, was their reluctance to accept what seemed to them a wrong conclusion. Those who believe that everything is done by Allah and that there is no cause other than Allah were disinclined to accept that things were linked together in a chain of cause and effect, because, according to their thinking, it implied a reduction in the all pervasive power of Allah. Others thought that if deeds of all types could be attributed to Allah - direct1y or indirectly - it would absolve the man from responsibility of his action, as it would mean that he was not free in his action; rather he was a helpless tool in the hands of Allah. Once it was accepted, the system of test, reward and punishment would be negated; and there would be no justification for ordaining the Divine law and religion.

But they should have meditated on the words of Allah revealed in the Qur'an: ...and Allah is predominant over His affairs (12:21); ...surely His is the creation and the command (7:54); Now surely of Allah is what is in the heavens and the earth...(10:55). There are many similar verses that prove what we have explained above; and a short description of this topic was given under the verse: Surely Allah is not ashamed to set forth any parable -(that of) a gnat or any thing above that (2:26).

Now we return to our original topic: Apparently the doer of the verb, "It has been made to seem fair", is something other than Allah - it is either Satan or the man's soul itself. There are four reasons to support this view of ours: -

First: The verse condemns the disbelievers because they are inclined to these embellishments of the world - wealth and children - and think that these things may avail them against Allah. It is an adornment that turns one away from remembrance of Allah, and it is not proper to ascribe such a "making fair-seeming" to Allah.

Second: If this "making fair-seeming" is attributed to Allah, it would point to the natural inclination, ingrained in human creation. In that case, it was more appropriate to use the word, "al-insan" ( الانسان = human being, man) or "children of Adam"; because Allah uses such words on such occasions: Certainly We created man (a1-insan) in the best make. Then We rendered him the lowest of the low (95:4-5); And surely We have honoured the children of Adam, and We carry them in the land and the sea, and We have given them of the good things, and We have made them to excel by an appropriate excellence over most of those whom We have created (17:70). But in the verse under discussion Allah has used the word, "an-nas" ( الناس = men, people) which more often than not has been used in the Qur'an to show worthlessness of the people referred to, to show their immaturity and narrow-mindedness. For example, ... but most men do not consent to aught but denying (17:89); 0 you people! surely We have created you of a male and a female...(49:13), etc.

Third: The items of desires enumerated in this verse do not fit properly the inclinations ingrained in human nature. If the Qur'an wanted to refer to the natural desires, then it would have been more appropriate to change the words, "women and sons and hoarded treasures of gold and silver" with the words, "spouses, and children and wealth". After all the natural inclination towards the opposite sex is found in women as much as in men; and the parents love their daughters as much as their sons; and man loves wealth in general and not only the hoarded treasures of gold and silver.

Those who say that the doer of the verb, "It has been made to seem fair" is Allah, have had to say that the word, "women", refers to matrimony in general; the "sons" means children of both sexes; and the phrase, "hoarded treasures of gold and silver" stands for wealth in general. They say that the words used in the verse have been given just as the most popular examples of every item.

But it is stretching the meanings too far.

Fourth: To say that it is Allah Who has made these items fair-seeming to men is not in conformity with the end of the verse: "this is the provision of the life of this world; and Allah is He with Whom is the best destination. Say: 'Shall I tell you of what is better than these?' " Obviously these words have been used to divert their attention from these worldly desires, and create in them love of the things that are with Allah - paradise, pure mates and pleasure of Allah. The natural desire of worldly embellishments has been created by Allah, in order that man may use them to reach his spiritual destination - the same paradise and pleasure of Allah. That natural desire is the means to obtain that result. If Allah admonished men to forget these worldly desires and yet told them to reach the intended goal it would be self-contradictory. Who would want to satiate his hunger and yet abstain from food?

Question: This verse in its theme is not different from the verse, Say: "Who has prohibited the embellishment of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants and the good provisions?" Say: "These are for the believers in the life of this world, purely (theirs) on the Resurrection Day..." (7:32). In this verse the embellishment is ascribed to Allah; likewise, the doer of this "making fair-seeming" in the verse under discussion should be Allah.

Reply: There is a clear difference in the import of the two verses. The verse under discussion condemns these desires; because they divert the attention of men from Allah and from what is with Allah. It exhorts them to turn aside from these worldly entanglements and to look forward to what is with Allah. The theme of the verse of Chapter 7 is quite different. It says that these embellishments have been created for the benefit of human beings; the believers enjoy them in this world together with the others; and it will be reserved for the believers only in the next world. It should be noted that this verse uses the word "His servants", instead of the "men" and it counts the embellishment as "the good provisions".

Question: What has been made fair-seeming is "the love of desires", not the desires themselves. The fact that love seems fair to man and attracts him is a natural reality. The expression, that love has been made fair-seeming to men, means that it has been made effective in their hearts; in other words, love has been created in their hearts; and creation cannot be attributed to other than Allah. Therefore, He is the doer of this verb.

Reply: The context (to which we have referred) shows that adornment of love means that love has been given a power that attracts people to itself and prevents them from looking at other things. Adornment is an attractive thing that is used or worn by another thing; it attracts the people primarily to itself and then transfers that attraction to the wearer or user. A woman uses cosmetics and ornaments, in order to attract her man to herself - by way of those embellishments. Primarily the man is attracted by those embellishments, but the real objective of the woman is to attract him to herself. In this background, the semantic flow of the word, "It has been made fair-seeming... the love of desires..." is that primarily the love attracts the men to itself but the real objective is to enchant the people and let them sink in inordinate desire of the named trinkets of the world. In short, the effect of love is not the true objective; and therefore the argument mentioned in the question is out of place. The real goal (which has been condemned) is the desire, as may be seen in the verse: But there followed after them an evil generation, who neglected prayer and followed the sensual desires, so they shall soon meet (the result of their) sin (19: 59). This meaning is supported by the given list of the desired things. Moreover, the word "desire", although used here for desired things, has a shade of inordinate passion in its meaning.

QUR'AN: of women and sons and hoarded treasures of gold and silver and well-bred horses and cattle and tilth: "an-Nisa' " (النساء = women) is plural, it has no singular from this root; "al-banin" (البنين = sons) is plural of al-ibn (الابن = male offspring, direct or indirect); "al-qanatir" (القناطير) is plural of al-qintar (القنطار = a waterskin full of gold, a filled waterskin); "al-muqantarah" (المقنطره) is passive participle (object-noun) of al-qintar although the latter is an inflexible noun. In Arabic language, they often ascribe to an inflexible noun a shade of meaning that makes it resemble an infinitive verb, and then make various words from it, for example, al-baqil (الباقل), at-tamir (التامر) and al-'attar (العطار) for seller of al-baql (البقل = vegetable), at-tamr (التمر= date) and al-'itr (العطر = perfume) respectively.

It qualifies the word al-qanatir (القناطير = treasures) with an adjective al-muqantarah (المقنطره = treasured, hoarded) which is derived from the same word. This device doubly confirms the meaning of the qualified words, for example, dananir mudannarah (دنانير مدنره= coined dinars), dawawin mudawwanah

(دواوين مدونه = recored register), hijab mahjub (حجاب محجوب = veiled curtain) and sitr mastur (سترمستور = concealed screen). "al-Khayl" الخليل = horses; al-musawwamah" (المسومه) has two meanings: left free to pasture or branded. "al-An 'am" ( الانعام ) is plural of an-na'am ( النعم) which means camel, cow, buffalo, goat and sheep; al-bahimah ( البهيمه) is more general than that and is used for all quadrupeds and excludes carnivora, birds and insects. "al-Harth" (الحرث = tilth) has a meaning of earning in it; it means farming (or cultivated plant) for a livelihood.


The list of desired things given here does not mean that every man has so many loves of desires, as some exegetes have thought; they took the verse to refer to the natural love of spouse, children and wealth. But then they had to explain why human being has been referred to as "men" or people, why "children" has been changed to "sons" and why "wealth" has been described as "hoarded treasures".

The fact, however, is that the verse only says that people, in their inordinate love of worldly desires, are of various types: There are some lecherous persons whose only aim in life is lusting after women; it brings in its train numerous sins and social ills, like using musical instruments, singing, drinking liquor and many other evils. Such debauchery is found mostly in men; women as a rule are free from it (except, in rare cases). Then there are those who ardently love their sons and want their number to increase in order to become a strong and powerful clan; this tendency is more prominent in nomadic tribes, and it especially concerns the sons, not the daughters. A third category is of those greedy avaricious persons who live only for the purpose of hoarding treasures and riches; this madness manifests itself especially in filling their coffers with gold and silver, or similar things like currency notes and bonds, other items are not valued very much by such people. This covetousness is predominent in inhabitants of villages and towns, and is seldom seen in nomads. Finally, come those who want to own a string of pedigreed horses. (It is those who are fond of horsemanship or horse-race); some others love to have cattle; yet others eagerly desire for agricultural farm. The last named three types of desire are sometimes found together.

People usually are overwhelmed by one of the above-mentioned desires primarily, and the rest is given a secondary place. One seldom (or, never) finds a man whose love of all these items is of equal degree.

Other desired "things", like power, Position, prestige, presidency, ministry etc., are only imaginary things, that have no existence outside imagination. Man desires them not for their own sake, but only because they give him a chance to acquire wealth. And, in any case, it is not the purport of the verse to enumerate all the desires.

It proves what we mentioned earlier that the "love of desires" means inordinate attachment to these things (and it is ascribed to Satan); it does not refer to the natural love that has been ingrained in human psyche (and which is attributed to Allah).

QUR'AN: this is the provision … best destination: These desires are such as may be useful to manage the affairs of this life; but this life itself, like its provisions, is a transient thing; it will soon cease to exist. The good life and the best destination is only with Allah.



Pages 175-176


as-Sadiq (a.s.) said: "People do not enjoy, in this world or in the hereafter, any pleasure greater than the pleasure of women; and that is the word of Allah: It has been made to seem fair to men, the love of desires of women and sons ..." Then he said: "And certainly the people of the garden shall not savour of anything of the garden more delicious to them than the sexual intercourse - neither food nor drink." (al-Kafi; al-'Ayyashi)

The author says: It has been inferred from the sequence of the desired things in the verse, as the women have been placed before everything else. Then it has been said that it is only a provision of the life of this world, and the pleasures of the paradise are better than that.

When the Imam said that sexual intercourse was the most delicious of all the pleasures, he was comparing it with the pleasures related to the body. (It is obvious from the last clause of the tradition where the Imam (a.s.) compares it with the food and drink.) He was not speaking about spiritual pleasure, for example, the delight a man gets from his own existence, or the joy a friend of Allah feels from being nearer to Him, seeing His great signs and receiving His pleasure and blessings. Rational arguments prove that the pleasure a man gets from his existence is the greatest; other proofs show that the pleasure he feels from the existence of his Lord is even greater than that; and there are numerous traditions saying that the bliss a servant enjoys from being nearer to Allah is the greatest of all pleasures. It has been narrated in al-Kafi; from al-Baqir (a.s.) that he said: " 'Ali ibn al-Husayn (a.s.) used to say: 'It makes my soul agreeable to early death and murder which beset us that Allah has said: Do they not see that We come into the land, curtailing it of its sides? (13: 41); and it refers to the departure of the learned people (from this world).' " Other such traditions will be given in other relevant places.

al-Baqir and as-Sadiq (a.s.) said about the word of Allah, and hoarded treasures: "al-Qintar (القنطار) is gold that could fill the hide of an ox." (Majma'u 'l-bayan)

The Imam said: "al-Khaylu 'l-musawwamah (الخيل المسومه = translated here as well-bred horses) means the horses which are put on pasture." (at-Tafsir al- Qummi)



Source: Tafsir-e-Nemouneh (Exemplary) in Brief, Volume: 1, Page: 329-330, Chapter: 3, Surah: Aal-Imran, Verse:14

Interpreter: Makarem Shirazi, Naser

Translator: Mansoor Aminy _ Baghbadorani

Publication Place: Amir-Al-Momenin Seminary, Qom - Iran






     This is a complementary to the preceding verse which alludes to those who relied upon their wealth, power, children, and were puffed up with pride and arrogance, and then deviated from the straight path of truth. Here again the pleasures of this lower world are brought to minds: women for love - children for support - hoarded wealth for everything else - cattles - horses - and good farm lands, for which many will show ardent love. All these thing are adorned to allure and attract man, and of course they are adorned and made attractive by God for manifold purposes which are hidden and open in God's general plan and wisdom. Using these alluring and attractive pleasures of life as means and equipments of development and evolution is something good and necessary, but being in a blinding love for them, and turning them to the highest goal and objective of life leads to a deadly misfortune and to an Eternal Condemnation.





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