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Quranic Terminology: (Mataa) and Its Derivations

Quranic Terminology: (Mataa) and Its Derivations



Published in January 17, 2020

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy





 The Quranic term (Mataa) and its derivations in the Quranic text refer to enjoyment and pleasure(s) and also to tools/things in service of human beings. In the following points, we trace how this term as well as its derivations, is employed in the Holy Quran.


Firstly: in the sense of things/tools in this transient world on earth:

1- Our life on earth is something temporary; hence our enjoyment in it is transient and so our usage of things, items, and tools on this physical earth before our death and the destruction of the physical universe during the Hour.

1/1: The Lord God has said the following to Adam and his wife once they descended unto earth: "But Satan caused them to slip from it, and caused them to depart the state they were in. We said, “Descend, some of you enemies of one another. And you will have residence on earth, and enjoyment/Mataa for a while.”" (2:36); "He said, “Descend, some of you enemies to one another. On earth you will have residence and enjoyment/Mataa for a while.”" (7:24).

1/2: Each individual on earth have a measure of enjoyment and livelihood/sustenance on earth for a while until one dies when the predetermined time comes after fulfilling the predestined duration of one's lifetime on earth.

1/2/1: "And ask your Lord for forgiveness, and repent to Him. He will provide you with good sustenance/Mataa until a stated term..." (11:3).

1/2/2: "And they believed, so We gave them enjoyment for a while." (37:148).

1/2/3: "And in Thamood. They were told, “Enjoy yourselves for a while.”" (51:43).

1/2/4: "Except by a mercy from Us, and enjoyment for a while." (36:44).

1/2/5: "“And I do not know whether it is perhaps a test for you, and an enjoyment for a while.”" (21:111).

1/2/6: "If only there was one town that believed and benefited by its belief. Except for the people of Jonah. When they believed, We removed from them the torment of disgrace in the worldly life, and We gave them enjoyment for a while." (10:98).

1/2/7: "And God has given you in your homes habitats for you, and has provided for you out of the hides of livestock portable homes for you, so you can use them when you travel, and when you camp; and from their wool, and fur, and hair, furnishings and enjoyment for a while." (16:80).

2- The enjoyment in this transient world is brief and little: "Say, “Flight will not benefit you, if you flee from death or killing, even then you will be given only brief enjoyment.”" (33:16).

3- In real life, one feels that enjoyment has a certain limit and that it is little and of brief duration anyway. For instance, sexual pleasure cannot exceed certain limits; orgasm lasts for few seconds; trying to elongate sexual pleasure might lead to the loss of this pleasure; men who seek this by unnatural means might suffer impotency later on. Another example is food; culinary pleasure is limited by its very nature because one cannot eat more than the capacity of one's stomach; satiety occurs faster than one thinks; enjoyment of eating is brief; in some cases, one's attitude towards food items differ as per one's financial level: a poor, hungry man feels intensely the pleasure of eating simple food in small quantity, whereas a very rich, affluent man may feel bored within a sumptuous banquet filled with luxurious food items he got used to them. We are sure our readers can come up with more examples witnessed in their lives which assert the fact that all pleasures and enjoyment in this world are brief, limited, and temporary.


Secondly: the Quranic comparisons between enjoyment of this world and the enjoyment/bliss and pleasures of the Eternal Paradise which are boundless and limitless:

  The Mataa/enjoyment of this transient world is nothing when compared to pleasures of Paradise in the Hereafter. This is asserted in the following Quranic verses.

1- "...the life of this world is nothing but fleeting enjoyment, but the Hereafter is the Home of Permanence." (40:39).

2- "...And they delight in the worldly life; yet the worldly life, compared to the Hereafter, is only enjoyment/Mataa." (13:26).

3- "Whatever thing you are given is only the provision/Mataa of this life. But what God possesses is better and more lasting for those who believe and rely on their Lord." (42:36).

4- "Some enjoyment in this world; then to Us is their return; then We will make them taste the severe torment on account of their disbelief." (10:70).

5- "Every soul will have a taste of death, and you will receive your recompense on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever is swayed from the Fire, and admitted to Paradise, has won. The life of this world is merely enjoyment of delusion." (3:185).

6- "...It is the enjoyment of the present life. Then to Us is your return, and We will inform you of what you used to do." (10:23).

7- "...“Enjoy yourselves in your homes for three days. This is a prophecy that is infallible.”" (11:65).

8- "And they set up rivals to God in order to lead away from His Path. Say, “Enjoy yourselves; your destination is the Fire.”" (14:30).

9- "Leave them to eat, and enjoy, and be lulled by hope. They will find out." (15:3).

10- "To show ingratitude for what We have given them. Enjoy yourselves. You will soon know." (16:55).

11- " We have given these enjoyments, and their ancestors, until time grew long upon them..." (21:44).

12- "They will say, “Glory be to You. It was not for us to take any lords besides You. But you gave them enjoyments, and their ancestors, until they forgot the Message, and became ruined people.”" (25:18).

13- "Have you considered: if We let them enjoy themselves for some years." (26:205); "Of what avail to them will be their past enjoyments?" (26:207).

14- "Can someone to whom We have made a fine promise - which he will attain - be equal to someone to whom We have given enjoyments in this world, but who will be, on Resurrection Day, among the arraigned?" (28:61).

15- "To be ungrateful for what We have given them, and to enjoy themselves. They will surely come to know." (29:66).

16- "To show ingratitude for what We have given them. Enjoy yourselves - you will surely know." (30:34).

17- "I gave these and their forefathers some enjoyment, until the Truth and a manifest messenger came to them." (43:29).

18- "On the Day when the faithless will be paraded before the Fire: “You have squandered your good in your worldly life, and you took pleasure in them. So today you are being repaid with the torment of shame, because of your unjust arrogance on earth, and because you used to sin.”" (46:20).

19- "God will admit those who believe and do good deeds into gardens beneath which rivers flow. As for those who disbelieve, they enjoy themselves, and eat as cattle eat, and the Fire will be their dwelling." (47:12).

20- "Whatever thing you are given is but the pleasure of this world, and its glitter. But what is with God is better, and longer lasting. Do you not comprehend?" (28:60).

21- "Can someone to whom We have made a fine promise - which he will attain - be equal to someone to whom We have given enjoyments in this world, but who will be, on Resurrection Day, among the arraigned?" (28:61).

22- "...And other communities We will grant enjoyment, and then a painful torment from Us will befall them.”" (11:48).

23- "Do not extend your eyes towards what We have bestowed on some couples of them to enjoy, and do not grieve over them, and lower your wing to the believers." (15:88).

24- "And do not extend your glance towards what We have given some classes of them to enjoy - the splendor of the life of this world - that We may test them thereby. Your Lord’s provision is better, and more lasting." (20:131).

 This comparison is sometimes made while asserting that the enjoyment of the temporary world is limited and brief; this is asserted in the following Quranic verses.

1- "A brief enjoyment, then their abode is Hell. What a miserable resort." (3:197).

2- "...Say, “The enjoyments of this life are brief, but the Hereafter is better for the righteous, and you will not be wronged one bit.”" (4:77).

3- "...And whoever disbelieves, I will give him a little enjoyment, then I will consign him to the torment of the Fire; how miserable the destiny!”" (2:126).

4- "O you who believe! What is the matter with you, when it is said to you, “Mobilize in the cause of God,” you cling heavily to the earth? Do you prefer the present life to the Hereafter? The enjoyment of the present life, compared to the Hereafter, is only a little." (9:38).

5- "A brief enjoyment - then they will have a painful torment." (16:117).

6- "“Eat and enjoy yourselves a little; you are indeed criminals.”" (77:46).

7- "We give them a little enjoyment; then We compel them to a harsh torment." (31:24).

8- "...Say, “Enjoy your disbelief for a little while; you will be among the inmates of the Fire.”" (39:8).


Thirdly: types of enjoyment in this transient world:

1- Sexual pleasures and enjoyment: this is about dowry paid to the wife by the husband when the marriage contract is drawn: "...If you wish to enjoy them, then give them their dowry - a legal obligation..." (4:24); this is about prohibiting illicit sex: heterosexual fornication and homosexual debaucheries: "God intends to redeem you, but those who follow their sexual desires want you to turn away utterly." (4:27); "“You lust after men rather than women. You are an excessive people.”" (7:81).

2- Pleasure/enjoyment of consuming food items: "God will admit those who believe and do good deeds into gardens beneath which rivers flow. As for those who disbelieve, they enjoy themselves, and eat as cattle eat, and the Fire will be their dwelling." (47:12); "Permitted for you is the catch of sea, and its food - as sustenance/Mataa for you and for travelers. But forbidden for you is hunting in the land while you are in the state of Ihram. And fear God, to Whom you will be gathered." (5:96); see also the context of 80:24-32.

3- Enjoyment of simple and luxurious furniture: "Were it not that humanity would become a single community, We would have provided those who disbelieve in the Dominant Lord with roofs of silver to their houses, and stairways by which they ascend. And doors to their houses, and furnishings on which they recline. And decorations. Yet all that is nothing but the enjoyment/Mataa of this life. Yet the Hereafter, with your Lord, is for the righteous." (43:33-35); " And God has given you in your homes habitats for you, and has provided for you out of the hides of livestock portable homes for you, so you can use them when you travel, and when you camp; and from their wool, and fur, and hair, furnishings and enjoyment/Mataa for a while." (16:80).

4- This is about using fire in this world for cooking and heating and as a source of light: "We have made it a reminder, and Mataa/comfort for the users." (56:73).

5- Polytheists/disbelievers have the right to enjoy their devilish whims/desires and immorality/promiscuity until they die; their abode is Hell in the Hereafter: "On the Day when He gathers them all together: “O assembly of jinn, you have exploited multitudes of humans.” Their adherents among the humankind will say, “Our Lord, we have enjoyed one another, but we have reached the term that you have assigned for us.” He will say, “The Fire is your dwelling, wherein you will remain, except as God wills. Your Lord is Wise and Informed." (6:128); "Like those before you. They were more powerful than you, and had more wealth and children. They enjoyed their share, and you enjoyed your share, as those before you enjoyed their share. And you indulged, as they indulged. It is they whose works will fail in this world and in the Hereafter. It is they who are the losers." (9:69).

6- Some types of enjoyment desired by most people on earth are mentioned here: "Adorned for the people is the love of desires, such as women, and children, and piles upon piles of gold and silver, and branded horses, and livestock, and fields. These are the conveniences/Mataa of the worldly life, but with God lies the finest resort." (3:14).


Fourthly: comparisons between transient pleasures of this world and endless pleasures of Paradise:

1- "The likeness of the Garden promised to the righteous: in it are rivers of pure water, and rivers of milk forever fresh, and rivers of wine delightful to the drinkers, and rivers of strained honey. And therein they will have of every fruit, and forgiveness from their Lord. Like one abiding in the Fire forever, and are given to drink boiling water, that cuts-up their bowels?" (47:15).  

2- "They will be served around with trays of gold, and cups. Therein is whatever the souls desire and delights the eyes. Therein you will stay forever." (43:71). 

3- "...a pleasure to those who drink." (37:46). 

4- "And We will supply them with fruit, and meat; such as they desire." (52:22). 

5- "And meat of birds that they desire." (56:21). 

6- "And fruits as they desire." (77:42).


Fifthly: special types of pleasures/enjoyment:

For women:

1- This is about Muhammad's wives: "O prophet! Say to your wives, “If you desire the life of this world and its finery, then let me compensate you, and release you kindly." (33:28). 

2- This is about divorced wives: "And divorced women shall be provided for, equitably - a duty upon the righteous." (2:241). 

3- This is about divorced wives before consummation of the marriage: "O you who believe! When you marry believing women, but then divorce them before you have touched them, there is no waiting period for you to observe in respect to them; but compensate them, and release them in a graceful manner." (33:49). 

4- This is about how much an ex-husband is to pay for the ex-wife: "You commit no error by divorcing women before having touched them, or before having set the dowry for them. And compensate them - the wealthy according to his means, and the poor according to his means - with a fair compensation, a duty upon the doers of good." (2:236). 

5- This is about financial dues given to widows: "Those of you who die and leave wives behind - a will shall provide their wives with support for a year, provided they do not leave. If they leave, you are not to blame for what they do with themselves, provided it is reasonable. God is Mighty and Wise." (2:240). 


Combining Hajj and Umrah is a type of enjoyment:

"...whoever continues to enjoy Umrah until the Hajj..." (2:196).


Sixthly: Mataa in the sense of tools/items/utensils or things employed by people:

1- "There is no blame on you for entering uninhabited houses, in which are belongings of yours. God knows what you reveal and what you conceal." (24:29).

2- "...And when you ask his wives for something, ask them from behind a screen..." (33:53).

3- "He sends down water from the sky, and riverbeds flow according to their capacity. The current carries swelling froth. And from what they heat in fire of ornaments or utensils comes a similar froth. Thus God exemplifies truth and falsehood. As for the froth, it is swept away, but what benefits the people remains in the ground. Thus God presents the analogies." (13:17).

4- "...Those who disbelieve would like you to neglect your weapons and your equipment, so they can attack you in a single assault..." (4:102).

Within the Quranic story of Joseph:

1- "They said, “O father, we went off racing one another, and left Joseph by our belongings; and the wolf ate him. But you will not believe us, even though we are being truthful.”" (12:17).

2- "And when they opened their baggage, they found that their goods were returned to them. They said, “Father, what more do we want? Here are our goods, returned to us..." (12:65).

3- "He said, “God forbid that we should arrest anyone except him in whose possession we found our property; for then we would be unjust.”" (12:79). 

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