Life is an endless and multi-tiered confrontation between good and evil. It is a battleground in every sense of the word. Almighty Allah says that He created life and death:
…to put you to the test and see which of you is most virtuous in your deeds (Quran 67: 2).
As such, this life is the only opportunity to secure the pleasure and blessings of the Creator and the bliss of the Hereafter.
Man is the main protagonist in such a state of affairs. He is the most restive, fretful and anxious being. That is why sometimes, with proper guidance and virtue on-board, man can be like an angel, but at other times, without proper guidance and virtue, he can be worse than devil. He can be the worst and most dangerous animal.
As Aristotle once said, without virtue, man is the most unholy and the most savage of animals, and the worst with regard to lust and gluttony.
Mark Twain also said that “of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it.”
Hence a Latin proverb “Homo homini lupus”, which means “A man is a wolf to another man.” Both Sigmund Freud and Thomas Hobbes – among others – subscribed to the message of the maxim.
At any rate, life is what life is and what its Creator wanted it to be. It is not what we ineptly perceive, or as a result of our fantasies would like it to be.
Life is an objective reality. It is not simply a subjective state existing in the “mind of the perceiver”.
Just like beauty, which is also a dimension of objective reality, and which is not a subjective state present only in the “eye of the beholder”.
Beauty is what beauty is, regardless of what people might feel and say about it.
We do not – and cannot – live life according to our own limited will and foolish fancies, but according to the infinite will and wise plan of the Creator and Sustainer of life.
Life is so beautiful, meaningful and consequential for the former scenario to be the case. Only such as have lost clarity and a sense of purpose and direction, and have allowed their pride and self-centredness to take over instead, can entertain such an incongruous proposition.
Today in the age of globalization and internet when all sorts of corruption and mischief have spread throughout the land, sea, air and space, when Islamophobes dominate the world and public opinion, and when there is so much rule and power concentrated in the wrong hands, which are constantly being used for wrong ends – to be a Muslim, live and defend Islam, is a unique challenge.
Moreover, this is a time when, ironically in the name of progress, civilization and modernity, man kills more of his own kind, destroys more ecosystems, and causes more species to go extinct than any other animal on earth.
Intellectual, spiritual and moral anarchies also reign supreme. Agnosticism, atheism, nihilism and hedonism are the rules of the day. To be sceptical, immoral, faithless and ignorant as regards truth and virtue, is championed as a form of self-worth and integrity. In addition, faith,
certainty and righteousness, and their people, are persistently challenged, disparaged and put on endless ontological trial.
Perhaps Nietzsche summed up the sentiment best when he declared that “God is dead.” According to him, this life of ours is a largely meaningless business of suffering and striving, driven along by an irrational force that we can call will.
Thus, in this purposeless world we should live our lives to the fullest, and get everything we can out of it. It is a never ending vain struggle where only the fittest survives.
In short, this is a time – and Almighty Allah knows best – about which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) warned that: Islam will revert to being strange as it began (so give glad tidings to the strangers); following true Islam will be like grasping a hot coal; true knowledge will be taken away (will vanish) and ignorance will prevail; deceit will be widespread to the point where people will believe liars but disbelieve those who tell the truth, and will trust those who are treacherous but distrust those who are trustworthy; the power and authority will be in the hands of incompetent individuals; intoxicants will be consumed in great quantities; immorality will be prevalent and common; and bloodshed will increase.
At the same time, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) highlighted all these as the signs and portents of the end of time and the Day of Judgment.
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