In the story of the blind men and the elephant, each of them was touching different features of the animal and had a different description for what an elephant looked like. Similarly, we humans may have various perceptions about life, based on our knowledge and experiences. However, our knowledge is too limited to grasp the entire concept of life. Our only source for knowing the ultimate truth is the revelation sent by our All-Knowing Creator (swt).
In the Quran, Allah (swt) has repeatedly reminded us about the true nature of this world and the next, so that we may live and act accordingly. Allah (swt) describes the life of this world as ‘deceiving enjoyment’, ‘fleeting pleasure’, ‘play and amusement’, and ‘temporary abode’. Whereas the hereafter is ‘better, eternal, and lasting’.
Allah (swt) mentions in the Quran: “Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers, evil-doers), and (there is) Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers, good-doers), whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment.” (Al-Hadeed 57:20)
He says in another Ayah: “…Are you pleased with the life of this world rather than the hereafter? But little is the enjoyment of the life of this world as compared with the hereafter.” (At-Tawbah 9:38)
The Big Game Plan
As compared to the Akhirah, the value of this world is equal to zero. It is not even worth a mosquito’s wing in the sight of Allah (swt); in fact, it is just a drop in the ocean.
Do all such Ayahs and Ahadeeth mean we should forsake this world and its pleasures and flee to the woods? Not at all! We have been given this temporary Dunya to prepare for the everlasting life in the hereafter. It is the means towards our actual destination and, hence, equally important. It is both futile and significant at the same time. This world is the cultivation stage, and the hereafter shall be the time for harvest. What you sow today, you will reap tomorrow.
This instructs us not to waste our life by committing acts that put our hereafter in jeopardy. Allah (swt) informs us: “And whoever desires the hereafter and strives for it, with the necessary effort due for it (i.e. do righteous deeds of Allah’s Obedience) while he is a believer (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism), then such are the ones whose striving shall be appreciated, thanked and rewarded (by Allah).” (Al-Isra 17:19)
Then in what manner should we live our lives, while vying for the hereafter? Allah (swt) guides us: “But seek, with that (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on you, the home of the hereafter, and forget not your portion of legal enjoyment in this world, and do good as Allah has been good to you, and seek not mischief in the land. Verily, Allah likes not the Mufsidun (those who commit great crimes and sins, oppressors, tyrants, mischief-makers, corrupts).” (Al-Qasas 28:77)
We are not required to forsake our worldly responsibilities; in fact, fulfilling our roles as parents, spouses and professionals is worship in itself and is referred to as Sadaqah. Prophet Muhammad (sa) was a family man. The Sahabah were tradesmen too yet they were as Akhirah-driven as anyone can be. We achieve the required balance by acting upon this concise Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa):
Abdullah bin Umar (rtam) said: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) took hold of my shoulder and said: ‘Be in this world as if you are a stranger or a traveller.’” The sub-narrator added that Ibn Umar used to say: “If you survive till the evening, do not expect to be alive in the morning, and if you survive till the morning, do not expect to be alive in the evening. Take from your health for your sickness, and (take) from your life for your death.” (Bukhari)
Strangers and Travellers
A traveller is focused on his destination. The mesmerizing beauty of the airport does not halt his steps. No matter how stunning your world is, the heart will remain hooked onto Paradise. Build a strong and consistent relationship with the Quran, Ahadeeth, and Seerah to sharpen the image of Jannah in your minds. Imagine it a lot and examine yourself – am I on the straight path to Jannah?
A traveller carries only the necessary luggage with him, not accumulating everything he admires. The lighter you are, the better it is. Yes, we may enjoy our legal portion from this world; however, staying on the middle path between miserliness and extravagance is the key (extravagance to be matched with the level of the Prophet (sa) and Sahabahs, not the customs in the society today).
A stranger does have a homeland, but he is a stranger when he is away from it. If he is in a faraway land to earn for his family, he will pay attention to his goal, working extra shifts in order to earn money and build a home in his motherland. As strangers, we are here to accumulate as many good deeds as we can. We must plan and invest each of our assets for the everlasting Jannah: our time, skills, health, children, and wealth.
As strangers, we do not spoil our hereafter by purchasing the illegal pleasures of this temporary abode. After all, our homeland is purer and more beautiful. We recall glimpses from the pictures in Surah Ra’d: the bliss, the weather, the palaces, the company, the crockery, the sand, the breeze, the cuisine, the beverages, and the lushness. Who would want to lose Paradise?
Follow the Sunnah
We can strive to achieve a balance in our lives by following the Sunnah. Besides the manners of eating and sleeping, it is a Sunnah to stay away from un-Islamic traditions, Riba and bribery, lies and backbiting, to live a life of simplicity and to adopt the mission of the Prophet (sa). We should work to save the humanity from hellfire through Dawah by raising the banner of Tawheed. Sunnah is a complete lifestyle – it should govern every detail of our lives.
Those aiming for Jannah will differ from others by their speech, actions, choices, and course. Does my life reflect my choice – the hereafter?
May Allah (swt) make us among those who worry for the hereafter, so we don’t have to worry in the hereafter. Ameen.