Ali ibn abi Talib said: Verily the dunya is coming to an end, and the akhirah is coming to a beginning and they both have children. So be children of the akhirah and don’t be children of the dunya. For verily today there is action with no account and tomorrow there’s account with no action. (Ibn al-Qayyim in ad-Da’ wad-Dawa Fasl)
What is the dunya? It is often translated as this world, or the worldly life. Dunya comes from the root daal-noon-waw, which has two meanings: near, and lowly. The life you now live is also called al-hayaat ad-dunya, because it is the near, or the apparent and current existence you know, and also it is the lesser and superficial life compared to the eternal life of the Hereafter, the akhirah.
1- Don’t Just Read, Reflect on Every Piece of Knowledge
Thousands of hadiths are at your fingertips on the internet; so much so that sometimes these amazing gems become like “quotes” that enter one ear to exit the other, may Allah forgive us. Imagine that each hadith is the beautiful words of your most beloved prophet— who cares for you so much— spoken directly to you.
The Prophet one day was passing through the market and he passed by a dead goat, which had its ears cut. He held the goat by the ear and asked who would like to have it for one dirham (which was a very low price of currency at that time). The people said they wouldn’t take it even if it was free. What could they do with it?
He asked if they liked it if it was theirs. They said even if it was alive they would still not buy it because of its cut ears. So how could they buy it now especially since it was dead. The Prophet said:
This worldly life is so little in the sight of Allah as this dead animal or goat is so little in your sight. (Muslim)
This is how you can reflect on any verse or hadith:
Imagine/feel: This world is truly not as important as I keep making it.
Evaluate: Have days gone by when I did not even think about the Hereafter once?
Ask: I will ask Allah to open my heart to remembrance of the Hereafter.
Plan: I am going to remind myself to think about the Hereafter at least once each day.
Propagate: Whenever I see one of my friends engrossed in excessive chatting, shopping, etc. I will remind them to think about the Hereafter by telling them about this hadith.
2. Don’t Try to Catch the World
Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah said:
This dunya (world) is like a shadow. If you try to catch it, you will never be able to do so. If you turn your back towards it, it has no choice but to follow you.
One main cause of our worries and stress is being disappointed by people, events, and our own expectations. Tell yourself this: as long as I focus on the Hereafter, my worldly matters will be sorted in sha’Allah!
3. Start Living as a Stranger
We all know this, but in real life many of us are in denial, however we are moving. We are on a train going to a final destination. And we have three stations and one has already passed— your time in the womb. You came into this world, the second stop is your life in this world, and the third station is the everlasting station of the Hereafter.
Ibn Umar narrates:
The Messenger of Allah took hold of my shoulder and said:
Be in the world as if you were a stranger or a traveler along the path.
And ibn Umar would say:
If you survive til late afternoon, do not expect [to be alive in] the morning. If you survive till morning, do not expect [to be alive in] the late afternoon. Take from your health before your sickness and your life before you death. (Al-Bukhari)
4. Be More Minimalistic
Try this: build your life around what you need, rather than around what you want. Next time you go grocery shopping, buy what you need and not what you want. This is the time to start depriving your nafs (ego) from whatever it feels like…
5. Make a List
Make a list of ten of your most common activities and see how much of your time is spent in preparation for the Hereafter.
6. Ask Al-Hadi
Ask Allah, the Ultimate Guide of all hearts and minds, to help you focus and use this world to pave the way to Paradise, in sha’Allah.