- The story of two men, one of them who had a magnificent, dense garden.
- The disease of arrogance: you start to look down on others because of what Allah has given you.
- Thinking too highly of yourself and not being grateful to Allah for His blessings is oppression of the self.
- “If there is a hereafter, I’ll get the best of it too since I’m so special”.
The Story of Two Men
Set forth to them the parable of two men: for one of them We provided two gardens of grape-vines and surrounded them with date palms; in between the two We placed fields of crops. (32)
After mentioning the attitude of the Quraysh in the previous ayaat, Allah ta’ala strikes the example of two men; a story that holds lessons for everyone.
For one of the two men, Allah gave him a garden that had orchards. Allah ta’ala gives us a vast image of this garden, it was: full of plants, grapevines, trees, crops, and was so thick with plantation. These types of plants were the most special and most valuable to the Arabs. Imagine the garden was mainly of grapevines, the outside was surrounded by date palms and the middle had various crops.
Each of those gardens brought forth its produce, and failed not in the least therein: in the midst of them We caused a river to flow. (33)
The vegetation was the maximum that the gardens could produce and there was nothing short in it. Not only this, but each of the two gardens had a river–not just an ordinary stream or body of water, but rivers that were gushing forth with fast flowing water.
Imagine, how huge the gardens must have been if the rivers were flowing with such power! And since there was such an abundance of water, it displays how green and lush the garden was and how the garden was irrigated naturally.
(Abundant) was the produce this man had: he said to his companion, in the course of a mutual argument: “more wealth have I than you, and more honour and power in (my following of) men.” (34)
Allah continues to describe the garden of this man: the fruit from the garden was plenty, and he also received wealth from the sale of the fruits.
The Disease of Arrogance
If you were given all of these blessings: a garden with rivers, grapevines, crops and plants that produces fruit in abundance and brings wealth, how would your attitude be? Allah ta’ala shows us the attitude of this man:
He said to his companion, أَنَا أَكْثَرُ مِنكَ مَالًا “I have more wealth than you.” Imagine the arrogance and attitude of this man; because Allah ta’ala gave him so much of this dunya, he began to look down upon his companion.
And he said:
وَأَعَزُّ نَفَرًا “and I am more in man power,” He is referring to his servants, his children, his friends. In the past, nobility was recognized by crops, wealth, and servants so we see how wealthy and powerful this man was. In today’s terms, this man is claiming that he had a lot of connections and an entourage.
Wealth and people are connected in this ayah, because when one has wealth, people will automatically surround you because of they are attracted by the money. But as soon as the wealth decreases, the people decrease as well.
Allah ta’ala continues to describe this man:
He went into his garden in a state (of mind) unjust to his soul: He said, “I deem not that this will ever perish, (35)
The rich man entered his garden, وَهُوَ ظَالِمٌ لِّنَفْسِهِ ,while he was unjust to himself. What is the dhulm he did upon himself? His kibr: arrogance, and his kufr: ingratitude and denial. He did not give any credit to Allah ta’ala, and when one does not acknowledge the blessings of Allah and is arrogant, they are doing dhulm upon themselves and the loss is only upon themselves.
He continued to say that his wealth will never perish, because he was deceived and satisfied with the life of this world, thinking it would never end.
I’m So Special
Then he said:
“Nor do I deem that the Hour (of Judgment) will (ever) come: Even if I am brought back to my Rabb, I shall surely find (there) something better in exchange.” (36)
This man states something very peculiar in this ayah: he first denies that the hour will not be established, yet he acknowledges that the reward of the hereafter is greater! Not only does he deny the hereafter, but he states that if it does occur, then he is so sure that he will receive better than his gardens of this world.
Why was he so confident? It is due to the fact that he was given these blessings in the dunya, so he assumed that the aakhirah would hold better for him. Many times people assume that because they receive wealth, children and success from Allah, that Allah is pleased with them. This man, in the height of his arrogance and denial, is deceived by his possessions and assumes that he holds a high position in the sight of Allah.
Allah ta’ala mentions to us many times in the Qur’an that our wealth and children do not bring us near to Him nor do they deem the righteousness of a person, rather it is emaan paired with ‘amal as-saalih–as we learned last week, that brings someone near to Allah azza wa jal.