The clamor of festivities, the shackle of firecrackers going up in the air, tall buildings looming over tiny mosques, the rush for shopping sales, a pledge to fashion and materialism.
Educated people working hard for their degrees that are recorded on paper: for prestige, recognition, position and power.
Houses are getting bigger, more expensive; the poor are left in the lurch. Parties, music, dancing, free mingling of the sexes, well into the night, filling in the void for Tahajjud prayer.
We hear of this often. New lifestyles, new hobbies that require plenty of wealth and translate into a statement of status, competition in the fashion industry – they are part and parcel of this world. It’s nothing new.
The Prophet’s Example
The excitements of the world have long existed even before the advent of Prophet Muhammad’s Prophethood. The economic gap of the time was at its highest in disparity, many of the poor were ostracized, and few understood the value of kindness. It did not matter back then, as there was practically no belief in the hereafter, rather many of the rich Quraysh lived under the pretense that their wealth could buy their way into Paradise.
Well, there are instances when we look around nowadays and we see the exact same thing happening, but only in the guise of modernity.
There are plenty of people who are still enslaved by this world; completely thrown off by the importance of taqwa (consciousness of God) and are short-changing themselves for fun and flurry, regardless of the form of entertainment.
It is not wrong to be well entertained, but there is a line that is crossed when it comes to things that are forbidden, when it comes to activities that weigh in excessiveness, and when the importance of religion becomes miniscule when weighing the excitement of such a distraction.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was one man who had had the chance to claim this world for his own – yet time and time again, he turned away from it, fully pledging his loyalty to worship God and God alone. Prophet Muhammad found time to balance out his responsibilities in the world, and not compromise them for the Hereafter. As any other human being, the Prophet enjoyed his food, when it was available and fasted when it was required. He remained in a state of solitude and prayer, until it was time to spend his time with his family and friends.
He worked hard in teaching people about Islam, fought in battle when it was required, but still found time to rest and sleep when he was tired. It was said that “He had the world at his feet, yet not a Dinar to his name.” And what a proper description of the Prophet, considering that on his deathbed, he cautioned his young wife – Aisha – to dispose off his last seven dirhams to charity, lest God question the possession of these last coins.
“So beware of this land (the dunya) that is falling down and is misleading and deceiving, being decorated by its deceit and having eluded (others) by its delusion, and having killed its people with its hopes. It looks forward with anticipation towards the one who proposes to it for marriage. Hence it becomes like the unveiled bride – all the eyes are looking towards it, and the souls are in love with it, and the hearts are captivated by it.” (Abu Nu’aym in al-Hilyah, 2/135-136)
I don’t admit it to be easy to turn away from distractions, being the deficient Muslim I am. Who doesn’t want to have fun, to be recognized for a medical degree, to have a large home?
In everyone, there are souls that wish for ease, a life that borders luxury, a trip to an exotic country for a month without lifting a finger for work. But between all of that, it is so easy to be distracted from our dues towards God and be deceived by the simple promises that this world makes. It’s a sound reminder that anything that brings us away from the remembrance of God is in fact a distraction, a blimp in our creed, nearly even, an action of shirk (believing that God is beneath the fun and frolic in this temporary abode.
“The dunya is cursed. Cursed is all that is in it except for the remembrance of Allah, and that which resembles it, a scholar, and a student (of knowledge).” (At-Tirmidhi)
What Really Counts
This is the time for charity, for it reminds us of those who are less fortunate in this world, and how they are promised Paradise if they steadfast in their endeavors.
This is the time for knowledge-sharing, as it befits no one, if a higher level learning degree translates into condescending words upon those who are less knowledgeable.
This is the time for kindness and mercy towards children, because their prayers are the ones that carry sustenance into the Hereafter.
This is the time for perfecting the prayer, because that narrows the gap between a believer and God, like the gap is narrowed between the forehead and the prayer mat.
This is the time to rekindle bits and pieces of the Sunnah, bits and pieces that fit into a massive jigsaw puzzle that give us a sense of living – living constructively for this world, and meaningfully for the Hereafter.
This is the time to calm our desires, our wishes for greatness and recognition, for wealth that isn’t well dispersed, for parties that never cease to end, for possession that reel in and out of the fashion industry.
This is also time to think about the time we are spending on earth – what are we doing constructively to pay our dues while we live on God’s land.
Are we appropriate strangers and travelers?
Do we care enough about our surroundings or do we only wish to leave a mark of remembrance of ourselves, rather than remembrance of God?
Ali ibn abi Talib said: “Verily the dunya is coming to an end, and the Hereafter is coming to a beginning and they both have children. So be children of the Hereafter and don’t be children of the dunya.” (Ibn al-Qayyim)
At the end of the day, we need to remember that this world is temporary and the Hereafter is not. How many deeds do we want to put in for this world as compared to the Hereafter?
How much of hard work do we want invested in this world when it will end and never ending reward lies in Paradise?
The thing about this world is that it is limited, but what we do, feel, say and work for will be reflected later (if not now), after we die, and when that time comes, it will be too late to make amends, because the opportunities to do so have come to pass.
It gives us something to think about…