Quranic Word Series: Dunya

Today’s Quranic Word is: Dunya

As we have seen in the video, the word dunya is only understood to mean worldly life or at times referred to as hayyatud dunya. But the literal meaning of the word dunya is closer. It is just used to refer to this life because this worldly life is closer to us than the other.

Allah wants us to make preparations for the other life in this one. That is why He has given us different examples in the Quran to make us understand this worldly life better. In the Quran Allah gives an example of this worldly life.

He described it as being like rain that has fallen from the sky and beautifed plant life and then once His command comes immediately becomes harvest as if it had not been flourishing the day before.1

Allah also described this worldly life as being an amusement, diversion, and a delusion. 2 And we see today, there are so many things that divert us from the reality that this life is temporary. It is common to see people walking down the street reading and responding to email and texts.

It is all too common that people spend hours on social media. All things that consume our time. Muslims should not be carried away from the remembrance of Allah by these temporal things and fear His Lord in the proper way He should be feared. Allah says,

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمْ وَاخْشَوْا يَوْمًا لَّا يَجْزِي وَالِدٌ عَن وَلَدِهِ وَلَا مَوْلُودٌ هُوَ جَازٍ عَن وَالِدِهِ شَيْئًا ۚ إِنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّهِ حَقٌّ ۖ فَلَا تَغُرَّنَّكُمُ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا وَلَا يَغُرَّنَّكُم بِاللَّهِ الْغَرُورُ

O mankind, fear your Lord and fear a Day when no father will avail his son, nor will a son avail his father at all. Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth, so let not the worldly life delude you and be not deceived about Allah by the Deceiver. {31:33}

What we are saying is not that we should leave what Allah permitted of food, drink, clothing, dwelling places and women. Just that, your Lord has rights over you, your body has rights over you and your family has rights over you. So give each one of them their due. But, what we are saying is that you use all of these things that Allah has given to you to draw closer to Him and seek the home of the Hereafter.3

The Story of a Deceived Person

One of the people who Allah blessed and gave the bounties of this world was Qaroon. He was once among the followers of Prophet Musa, may peace and blessings be upon him. He was even the cousin of this great prophet. However, this world he was given deceived him and he acted arrogantly toward Allah.4

It has been reported in Tafseer Ibnu Katheer that the keys to Qaroon’s treasure were made of leather, each key like a finger and each one of them was for a separate storeroom. When he traveled anywhere, the keys were carried on 60 mules with white blazes on their foreheads and white feet.

But Qaroon said that his blessings were because of knowledge he had acquired and he did not attribute anything to Allah. He walked out among his people in a state of pride. Those who desired this worldly life wanted what he had but those who had been given knowledge thought differently. Because of his pride, Allah caused the earth to swallow him.5

This word dunya should assist us in keeping our focus on the Afterlife and not on the distractions of this life.  

As Allah SWT reminds us:

بَلْ تُؤْثِرُونَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا – 87:16

But you prefer the worldly life, {87:16}

وَالْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَىٰ

While the Hereafter is better and more enduring. {87:17}

Allah revealed to us that people are of two types:

Those who will seek this dunya alone and those who seek both the dunya and the Hereafter. The latter ones are the best of them. Allah says,

فَإِذَا قَضَيْتُم مَّنَاسِكَكُمْ فَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَذِكْرِكُمْ آبَاءَكُمْ أَوْ أَشَدَّ ذِكْرًا ۗ فَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَقُولُ رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَمَا لَهُ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنْ خَلَاقٍ

And when you have completed your rites, remember Allah like your [previous] remembrance of your fathers or with [much] greater remembrance. And among the people is he who says, “Our Lord, give us in this world,” and he will have in the Hereafter no share. {2:200}

وَمِنْهُم مَّن يَقُولُ رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ

But among them is he who says, “Our Lord, give us in this world [that which is] good and in the Hereafter [that which is] good and protect us from the punishment of the Fire.” {2:201}

أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمْ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا كَسَبُوا ۚ وَاللَّهُ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ

Those will have a share of what they have earned, and Allah is swift in account. {2:202}

May Allah make us among those who strive for the pleasure of Allah aameen.


  1. Surah 10:24
  2. Surah 57:20
  3. Surah 28:77
  4. Surah 28:76
  5. Surah 28:77-83


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