20:131 Extend not thine eyes to what We have given pairs of them to enjoy, the flower of this world’s life so that We may entrance them thereby; and thy Lord’s provision is better and more subsisting.
This is another balm that He lays on the hearts of the poor. He is showing the insignificance and feebleness of this world to people, exposing its defects and blemishes, and holding His friends back from seeing and loving it. He is saying, “the flower of this world’s life so that We may entrance them thereby”: This world is a blossom whose moisture, freshness, and comeliness will last a few days. Then it will wither and become nothing, but its entrancement will remain in the heart.
“The rich turn back to this world and the poor turn back to the Patron. How far apart are these and those!” Whatever happens to the rich, they come back to this world. In every state, the heart of the poor is with the Patron. From here is known the eminence of the poor over the rich. Junayd considered poverty more excellent than wealth. In contrast, Ibn ʿAṭāʾ considered wealth more eminent than poverty. One day there was a debate between the two. Junayd argued that God’s Messenger said, “The poor of my community will enter the Garden one-half day before the rich, and that is five hundred years.” He said that someone who goes into paradise is more excellent than someone who remains five hundred years in the reckoning.
Ibn ʿAṭāʾ said, “No, it is more excellent to remain in the reckoning, for the person in paradise has the pleasure of blessing, but the person in the reckoning has the pleasure of the Real’s rebuke. Talking with the Friend, even in the station of rebuke, is beyond being occupied with other than the Friend, even if that is in the station of blessing. This is because being tried by the Friend is sweeter than being in the Friend’s blessing without the Friend.”
Junayd answered, “Even if the rich man has the pleasure of rebuke, the poor man will have the pleasure of apology.” This is in Anas ibn Mālik’s narration from the Prophet: “On the Day of Resurrection God will come to the poor servant and conceal him from the people under His wing. Then He will apologize to him just as a man apologizes to a man in this world. He will say, ‘My servant, by My exaltation and majesty, I did not hold back this world from you to scorn you, but because of the generosity and excellence I had prepared for you. Go out into those ranks and gaze upon him who fed you and gave you to drink for My sake or who clothed you, desiring nothing from that except My face. Then take his hand, for that belongs to you.’
“On that day the people will be drowning in sweat. He will come out, pass through the ranks, and examine the faces of the people. When he sees someone who did something of that, he will take him by the hand and tell him that the Garden has been given to him.” Junayd mentioned this report as evidence and then said, “Although He rebukes the rich man, He apologizes to the poor man. The pleasure of apology is beyond the pleasure of rebuke, for both friend and enemy are rebuked, but an apology is only for friends.” He holds the poor back from this world not because they are being deprived of this world, but because this world is being deprived of them. Their aspiration is better than this world, their desire better than the afterworld, and their goal is seeing the Patron. Once Luqmān Sarakhsī’s hair had become long. It passed into his mind to wish that he had a dirham so that he could go to the bath and have his hair cut. He still had not brought this completely to mind when he saw a desert full of gold.