“Indeed man has been created covetous.

“Indeed man has been created covetous. When evil befalls him, he becomes perturbed. When good comes to him, he becomes niggardly”. (70:19-21)

There are three things, which Allah (SWT) has mentioned about man in these three verses:

Firstly, man by nature is Covetous. In English, Covetous is a person who wants to have something that someone else has. In other words, it means ‘Greed’. If someone here is rich, then I too want to be rich; If someone here has a huge bungalow, then I too must a huge bungalow; If someone here has the most expensive car, then I too must have the same; If someone here has Shahenshahi sofas at home, then I too must have the same at my home. This is called a covetous and a greedy person.

Secondly, when ill befalls him, he becomes anxious and perturbed. The students who go to universities encounter atheists who do not believe in God. When asked, they refer to only bad things happening in this life and conclude that there is no God. If God were there, the Tsunami would not have come and killed so many people; If God was there, there would have been no sufferings in this life. Many a time, even the believers get perturbed and anxious when anything ill befalls them. A person becomes ill for a long time and gives up praying. He claims, ‘If prayers healed, I wouldn’t be sick’. Or if somebody loses a closest person in life and complains ‘Why me?’ So man becomes perturbed when ill befalls him.

And thirdly, when good comes his way, he becomes niggardly and miserly. As long as a person does not have wealth, he prays to God to bless him with it and promises to spend it in so many good things. But as soon as he is blessed with wealth, gradually he becomes a miser and emphasises on the needs of economising particularly when it comes to spending in Allah (SWT)’s cause.

If you look at all these three things carefully, you will realize that they have been mentioned together because they are also inter-connected with each other. Ayatullah Naser Makarem Shirazi states in his Tafseer: A person, who is greedy, will also be niggardly and will not have the ability to control himself over any material loss. (Tafseer-e-Namoona)

The question that arises is: If ‘Greed’ is the nature of man, it means Allah (SWT) has created him in that manner. Then why should ‘Greed’ be condemned? It is true that Allah (SWT) has put ‘Greed’ in man. BUT He (SWT) has done so for its positive application and not negative application. For example:

You buy a house and put in so many things that are both: useful as well as harmful. For instance: Gas! It is useful for cooking and for keeping the house warm. As long as you take care of it properly, it does you good BUT the moment you are careless of it, it can blow your entire house up.

When Allah (SWT) created us, He (SWT) put in us certain things that are necessary for our progress towards perfection. However, if those things are used incorrectly and misappropriated, they can turn us in to the lowest of the low. They can make us animals and even worse. One of those things is ‘Greed’. Greed for knowledge leads man to perfection; Greed for rewards in the Hereafter makes a person do good; Greed for peace and harmony in society makes a man a true and worthy human being. However, ‘Greed’ of this wretched world and its possessions is unhealthy because it eventually makes man niggardly and perturbed at its losses. “We certainly created man in the best of forms”. (95:4) The best of forms is not only the outer of man BUT also his innerself and what is in the heart. They help man to move forward. But since those things can also be dangerous for man, Allah (SWT) has forewarned about them. “The We relegated him to the lowest of the low”. (95:5) Meaning ‘We put into him things that can also make him lowest of the low’. One of those things is ‘Greed’ and the method of safeguarding from it and from other such things is: “Except those who have faith and do righteous deeds”. (95:6)

A ‘Greedy’ person is always a loser. He strives hard to accumulate worldly things, which In the end he either does not get or if he gets it, he still is never satisfied and fulfilled. As a result, he neither spends what he has earned for himself nor for others. Imam Ali (as) has called such a person as ‘Faqeer’ meaning ‘a pauper’.

“A Greedy is a pauper even if he owned everything of this world”.
(Ghurar al-Hikam)
“Every Greedy is a pauper”. (Ghurar al-Hikam)

Prophet ‘Issa (as) was once travelling with a person. After having journeyed for a period, they were overcome by hunger. When they reached a village, Prophet ‘Issa (as) requested his companion to go and bring some bread while he (as) engaged in prayers. The man returned with 3 loaves of bread and waited for Prophet ‘Issa (as) to join him. But as the prayers of Prophet ‘Issa (as) continued for a long time, the man quietly consumed one loaf of bread. After his prayers, Prophet ‘Issa (as) asked the man, “Were there 3 loaves of bread?” The man said, “No! There were only two”. The Prophet (as) did not say anything, He (as) just ate with the man and then, the y both continued with their journey. On the way, they encountered a herd of deer. Prophet ‘Issa (as) summoned one of the deer towards him, sacrificed it and both men sat down to it. After eating, Prophet ‘Issa (as) said (addressing to the remains of that deer), “O deer! Move by the permission of Allah!” The deer came to life and sprinted away. Witnessing this, the man was dumbfounded and uttered, “Subhanallah”. Prophet ‘Issa (as) said to him, “I put you under the oath of He, who manifested this sign of His power before you! Tell me what happened to the third loaf of bread?” The man insisted again that there were only 2 loaves of bread. They both continued with their journey until they arrived on the outskirts of a large village. There, they saw 3 gold bricks lying before them. The man said, “There appears to be great wealth here”. Prophet ‘Issa (as) said, “Yes, one brick is yours, one is mine and I will give the third to one who ate the 3rd loaf of bread”. The greedy man blurted out, “I ate the 3rd loaf of bread”. Prophet ‘Issa (as) gave him all the 3 gold bricks and went away.

The man was sitting wondering how he would carry all the 3 bricks and how would he use them when 3 men passed. When their eyes fell upon the bricks, they killed the man and took possession of the 3 bricks. Since they were all hungry, they decided one of them should go and bring food for them. The person who went to bring food decided to put poison in it to kill the other two so that he could have all the bricks to himself. Meanwhile, these two also had planned to kill the man on his return so that they could divide the 3 bricks. As a result, when the man arrived with the food, the two killed him. They then sat to eat and were killed by the poison. No one benefited from the gold bricks. On is return, Prophet ‘Issa (as) saw all the 4 men dead and the bricks were intact. He (as) said, “This is how the world conducts itself with those who are greedy over it”.
(Anwaar al-Nu’maniyyah)

So greedy people are always the losers. They think that they are successful but in reality what they accumulate out of greed, they never are satiated with it!

One of the things that have been mentioned about Greed is that it increases in a person with his age. The more a person grows in age, the greedier he becomes. The Holy Prophet (saww) has said, “When a man turns old, two attributes in him turn young: Greed and lofty aspirations”. (Jame’ al-Saadaat)

by Mulla Mujahidali Sheriff


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