“Know that the worldly life [al-hayat ad-dunya] is but
[la’ibun] and [lahwun], [zinatun] and [tafaakhurun] among you,
and [takaatsurun] in respect of wealth and children…”
Allah SWT gives us the definition of [al-hayat ad-dunya]. Look at the 5 key words mentioned in the ayah and the meaning of their root words:
[La’ibun] = engaging in idle activity without meaning or purpose
[Lahwun] = becoming diverted and neglectful
[Zinatun] = pomp / to beautify
[Tafaakhurun] = self-glorification
[Takaatsurun] = to surpass in quantity.
Notice that all of the keywords do not refer to something physical, but the characteristic / lifestyle to that effect:
A person’s lifestyle that constantly engages in unmeaningful activities is al-hayat ad-dunya.
A person’s lifestyle that neglects one’s obligations that are due upon him is al-hayat ad-dunya.
A person’s lifestyle that is all about vain and pomp is al-hayat ad-dunya.
A person’s lifestyle that boasts and self-glorifies oneself is al-hayat ad-dunya.
A person’s lifestyle that revolves around rivalry in terms of wealth and children is al-hayat ad-dunya.
Al-hayat ad-dunya is, in a nutshell:
a lifestyle that is purely oriented to the now, to the present.
You live a wealthy lifestyle in the present at the cost of being bankrupt in the Hereafter. You chase after people’s praises and admiration at the cost of being forgotten and tormented in the Hereafter. You want to be super successful in each and every aspect in your life, even if it means sacrificing everything in the Hereafter.
Al-hayat ad-dunya is not wealth, lots of cars and mansions, etc rather our behavior towards these things. The tools for la’ibun, lahwun, zinatun, tafaakhurun, takaatsurun are all neutral. Your wealth is not haram. Your status is not haram. Your beauty is not haram. In fact, our Deen advocates us to work hard, to be successful, to wear nice! What is important is our behaviour / lifestyle towards these things that will determine whether we’re sinning or not. And Allah SWT warns us at the end of the ayah:
“…And al-hayat ad-dunya is only a deceiving enjoyment.”
If that game preoccupies most of your time, leave it. If that friend / gathering constantly makes you neglect your obligations to the Deen and family, leave. It’s difficult, I know. But we need to look at our daily routine, interactions and the intentions behind them all.
Don’t chase the present at the cost of the Hereafter.