“Do they fancy that Our continuing to give them wealth and children (means) that We are busy lavishing on them all kinds of good? Nay, they do not perceive the reality of the matter.”

(Al-Qur’ān – 23:55-56)

The Makkan unbelievers had a very narrow, materialistic conception of success and well-being. In their view, whoever fed or dressed himself well, lived in good houses, was able to obtain wealth and offspring and fame, prestige and a degree of influence should be reckoned as successful. Conversely, whoever failed to attain these was a failure.

This misconception led them to even larger errors. This consisted in their believing that those who enjoyed material prosperity were definitely in the right, they were God’s favourites. For had this not been so, they would not have been able to make all those material achievements. Likewise, those who conspicuously lacked in such material attainments, so they thought, were definitely not on the Right Path, neither in regard to their belief nor their practice. Instead they were affected with God’s Wrath.

The Qur’ān repeatedly alludes to this serious misconception, one of the most vital causes of those who follow a materialist way of thinking going astray. If those who embrace such a view regard worldly success or lack of it as an index of truth and falsehood, and of good and evil, such a view leads to a basic misconception. In fact, unless one frees oneself from it, one will never be able to find the Straight Path of sound belief and outlook, nor sound conduct and behaviour.

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