Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Worldly life has been glamorized for the faithless, and they ridicule the faithful. But those who are Godwary shall be above them on the Day of Resurrection; God provides immeasurably for whoever He pleases. (Chapter 2: Verse 212)
God Almighty wants to explain the place of man in the universe. Man was created as a master in the universe whereas all other creations are at his service. We know that inert matter such as the soil, rocks, air, and water serve the plants, and both the inert matter and the plants serve the animals, and all three of them serve us humans. Thus, humans are the masters among creation. And since humans are not the creators of all that is around them, it is natural to ask: Who is superior to us? Who is the creator? Who made all these things that serve us? How are we to run and manage this kingdom? These questions have been asked by all humans across cultures over centuries. We, as humans, are in desperate need for guidance towards the right path to properly take care of all that is around us.
Thus, when a Messenger comes and explains: ‘God is Supreme, He is your one Lord, and He is the Creator of all you see’ People should welcome this message because it solves the mystery that all humans experience by instinct. More importantly, people should be happy when Messengers and Prophets deliver God’s curriculum and instruction. When you study God’s teachings, you find that unlike all the objects, plants, and animals that serve us, Allah is self-sufficient. He does not need anything from us. We are only required to worship God as an acknowledgment and gratitude for all the creation He put at our service. So the believer is situated between two levels: Subjected servants below such as inert matter, plants and animals, and the One who bestowed all these bounties from above: God Almighty.
Sadly, people often take one and leave the other. They take what is lower and leave what is most superior. Allah invites you to rise and choose the most superior. If you would like an increase in gifts from those who serve you, then ask for that increase from One who is higher than you; the One who subjected things to your service.
This brings us back to the verse. When God says: “Worldly life has been glamorized for the faithless.” God wants us to know that the standards of the disbelievers are debased because they find beauty in the lowest most inferior things. It is poor judgment for a person to run after what is inferior to him or her and prefer it over the most superior.
Whenever the verb ‘Glamorized’ is mentioned in the Quran, it comes in the passive tense –where the doer is not mentioned-. Here is another example from the Quran. God says:
Glamorized for the people are the desires of women, offspring, and of heaped up piles of gold and silver, of pedigree horses, cattle, and sown fields. These are the enjoyments of the worldly life, but with Allah is the best return. (03:14)
Note that in this verse God says: “Glamorized for the people,” while in the verse under study He says: “glamorized for the faithless” What is the difference? We answer that when God talks about the disbelievers, He mentions worldly life as a whole because the disbelievers do not have anything beside this life. For them, it is the ultimate goal and the only place of enjoyment. People of faith, on the other hand, have this life and the hereafter. So in the verse where Allah addresses the faithless, He only mentions worldly life. On the other hand, in the verse where Allah addresses all people –the faithful and faithless-, He mentions the enjoyments of this world and the ultimate goal of the hereafter. He says: “Glamorized for the people are the desires of women, offspring, and of heaped up piles of gold and silver, of pedigree horses, cattle, and sown fields. These are the enjoyments of the worldly life, but with Allah is the best return.’ Allah, the All-Merciful, is advising you to keep this worldly life in perspective. It has very little value compared to the pleasures and eternity of the hereafter. You should take life as a mission to get closer to the One who blessed you with it. Whenever you see something beautiful around you, acknowledge the creator and say: "Subhan Allah" “Exalted is God.”
Another way to look at this issue is that God has glamorized life by instilling instincts and temptations within us. People are driven towards the opposite sex, towards gathering wealth and power. Here we should ask: Did Allah instill these instincts within us, and then leave us without guidance of how to manage them? Of course not, Allah gave us instincts and gave us the tools to channel them in a proper and healthy manner. He says:
Wealth and children are an adornment of the present worldly life, but the good, righteous deeds which endure are better in the sight of your Lord in bringing reward and better to aspire for. (18:46)