Sunday 16 May 2021

Who will be the greatest losers in respect of their deeds

Many men are born greedy and selfish. For all along their lives, their effort is to make money no matter how, yet come out clean of their misdeeds and project them as the winners and stand tall in the eyes of the onlookers by displaying their good will and generosity by overtly helping others, yet in their hearts satisfyingly themselves that their "good deeds' will earn them more rewards in this world or even in the hereafter. 

At many a places in the Qur'an, Allah has warned those who will be ultimate losers. See one of our early posts: The Utter Losers - Who? [Surah 2 Al Baqarah: 27]

Herein under we share today three verses (103-105) from Surah 18. Al Kahf (The People of Cave) in which Allah tells His revered Prophet Muhammad ﷺ:

قُلۡ هَلۡ نُـنَبِّئُكُمۡ بِالۡاَخۡسَرِيۡنَ اَعۡمَالًا ؕ‏ 
(18:103) Say, (O Muhammad): "Shall We tell you who will be the greatest losers in respect of their deeds?

And then Allah tells whose deeds will be wasted a way and why?

اَ لَّذِيۡنَ ضَلَّ سَعۡيُهُمۡ فِى الۡحَيٰوةِ الدُّنۡيَا وَهُمۡ يَحۡسَبُوۡنَ اَنَّهُمۡ يُحۡسِنُوۡنَ صُنۡعًا‏ 
(18:104) It will be those whose effort went astray in the life of the world and who believe nevertheless that they are doing good.
This verse has two meanings. The one is the same that we have adopted in the translation. The other meaning is this: Those who confined all their endeavors to the worldly life. That is, whatever they did, they did for this world without paying any regard to God and the Hereafter. As they considered the worldly life to be the real life, they made the success and prosperity in this world their sole aim and object. Even if they professed the existence of Allah, they never paid any heed to the two implications of this profession: to lead their lives in a way to please Allah and to come out successful on the Day they shall have to render an account of what they did in this world. This was because they considered themselves to be mere rational animals who were absolutely independent and free from every kind of responsibility and had nothing else to do but to enjoy the good things of the world like animals in a meadow.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation:  That is, those who prided themselves on their works in this life, and now find that those works are of no avail. Their loss is all the greater because they had a misplaced confidence in their own deeds or in the assistance of false "protectors". Allah is the only Protector: no one else's protection is of any use.

Many people have such a smug sense of self-righteousness that while they go on doing wrong, they think that they are acquiring merit. So, in charity, all the elements that make for outward show or selfishness (as to get some worldly advantage) nullify the deed of charity. In the same way hypocrites sometimes affect to be surprised that their declared effort for somebody's good is not appreciated, when they are really seeking some hidden gain or false glory for themselves. The sincere are only those who believe in their spiritual responsibility and act as in Allah's sight.
This verse thus tells how misguided these people are. They have no inclination that whatever they do in this world takes them further into error and is thus completely wasted. Hence, they continue spending their whole lives in such vain pursuits. [3]

Tafsir by Hayya Alal Falah: [4] This verse, as well as the other verses up to the end of Surah Al-Kahf, not only is an explanation upon the qualities of the faithless persons, but also is a kind of summary for all the subjects which were discussed in this Surah. They are especially the matters concerning the story of the Companions of the Cave, Moses, Khidr, Zul-Qarnayn and their efforts and struggles against their opponents.

At first, it refers to the greatest losers, the most wretched persons among all mankind. But, in order to move the sense of curiosity of the hearers upon such an important subject, the Qur’an propounds it in the form of a question, and commands the Prophet of Islam (S) as follows:

“Say: ‘Shall We inform you of the greatest losers in (their) deeds?”

Then, immediately after this question, the Qur’an itself answers it, so that the hearer does not spend a long time wandered, and it implies that the greatest losers are:

“Those whose effort is lost in this world’s life, while they think that they are working good deeds.”

Certainly the meaning of ‘to lose’ in this text is not only that a person loses some profits, but the real loss is that he loses the main capital, too. What a capital can be higher and worthier than intellect, talent, God-given-powers, lifetime, youth, and health.

These very things, which produce our deeds and our actions, are the fruit of our powers and abilities. When these powers turn into some destructive and vain deeds, it seems all of them have lost and vanished.

The true and double loss is where a man loses his own material and spiritual capitals on a wrong and deviated way, and he imagines that he has done a good action. Such a person has neither obtained any useful result from these efforts, nor has he learnt a lesson from that loss, nor is he secured from the repetition of that event

Unfortunately this is the case for a lot of people, including the Muslims. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was asked who is the truly bankrupt and he said:

“The real bankrupt of my Ummah is one who comes on the Day of Resurrection with prayer, fasting, and charity, but he cursed others, slandered others, unlawfully consumed the wealth of others, shed the blood of others and beat others; so his good deeds would be credited to the account of those (who suffered at his hand). If his good deeds run out before the score is settled, their sins would be added to his account and he would be thrown in the (Hell) Fire”.

The verse 105 further clarifies "Those' as mentioned in verse 104 above:

اُولٰۤـئِكَ الَّذِيۡنَ كَفَرُوۡا بِاٰيٰتِ رَبِّهِمۡ وَلِقَآئِهٖ فَحَبِطَتۡ اَعۡمَالُهُمۡ فَلَا نُقِيۡمُ لَهُمۡ يَوۡمَ الۡقِيٰمَةِ وَزۡنًـا‏
(18:105) Those are the ones who refused to believe in the revelations of their Lord and that they are bound to meet Him. Hence, all their deeds have come to naught, and We shall assign no weight to them on the Day of Resurrection.
“So worthless will be their deeds” in the sense that they will be of no avail to them in the life after death, even though they might have considered them as their great achievements but the fact is that they will lose all their value as soon as the world shall come to an end. When they will go before their Lord, and all their deeds shall be placed in the scales, they will have no weight at all whether they had built great palaces, established great universities and libraries, set up great factories and laboratories, constructed highways and railways, in short, all their inventions, industries, sciences and arts and other things of which they were very proud in this world, will lose their weights in the scales. The only thing which will have weight there will be that which had been done in accordance with the divine instructions and with the intention to please Allah. It is, therefore, obvious that if all of one’s endeavors were confined to the worldly things and the achievement of worldly desires whose results one would see in this world, one should not reasonably expect to see their results in the Hereafter, for they would have gone waste with the end of this world. It is equally obvious, that only the deeds of the one, who performed them strictly in accordance with His instructions to win His approval with a view to avail of their results in the Hereafter, will find that his deeds had weight in the scales. On the contrary, such a one will find that all his endeavors in the world had gone waste.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: What weight can be attached to works behind which the motives are not pure, or are positively evil? They are either wasted or count against those who seek to pass them off as meritorious!
You may like to listen to prominent Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan explaining the above said ayah:

May Allah help us understand Qur'ān and help us to act upon the commandments of Allah contained therein. Aameen.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
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Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Qur'ān officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1]
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. [2]  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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