Sent by Br. Anees-ul-Haq               (Part-I)

Belief in the life in the Hereafter (Aakhirah) – after a person’s death and also at the end of this world – is one of the six tenets of a Muslim’s faith (the others being belief in Allah, His angels, His revealed books, His prophets and messengers, and Qadhaa wal-Qadr or the Divine decree). Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) provides us the complete picture of our existence in the Quraan:

كَيْفَ تَكْفُرُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَكُنْتُمْ أَمْوَاتًا فَأَحْيَاكُمْ ثُمَّ يُمِيتُكُمْ ثُمَّ يُحْيِيكُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ [البقرة: 28]

"How is it that you deny Allah, while you were lifeless and He gave you life; then He will make you die, and then He will make you live again, and then to Him you will be returned?” (Al-Baqarah 2:28)

The Aayah (Verse) of Quraan makes it clear that this life (Dunyaa) constitutes a part of our journey following which we will die and then will be resurrected (in the Aakhirah), and depending on our performance in this life we will get due rewards or punishment.

How does this life of Dunyaa compare with the Aakhirah? We know from our observations and also from the revelations to the prophets that our time in this life is limited. We have at best a few years and then we will move on to a world about which the Quraan provides numerous references. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) has repeatedly reminded us in the Quraan that the value of this life in this mortal world (Dunyaa) compared to the Aakhirah is very miniscule. This is a fact that has been further clarified by the Prophet (SallAllahu ‘Alaihe WaSallam) as well. Consider some of the Aayaat of the Quraan on this topic:

أَرَضِيتُمْ بِالْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا مِنَ الْآخِرَةِ فَمَا مَتَاعُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا فِي الْآخِرَةِ إِلَّا قَلِيلٌ [التوبة: 38]

” Have you become happy with the worldly life instead of the Aakhirah? So, (remember that) the enjoyment of the worldly life is but trivial in (comparison with) the Aakhirah.” (Al-Taubah 9:38)

وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا فِي الْآخِرَةِ إِلَّا مَتَاعٌ [الرعد: 26]

” while the worldly life, compared to the Aakhirah, is nothing but a little enjoyment.” (Ar-Rad 13:26)

وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ وَلَلدَّارُ الْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لِلَّذِينَ يَتَّقُونَ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ [الأنعام: 32]

” The worldly life is nothing but a game and fun, and the last abode is surely much better for those who fear Allah. Would you still not understand?” (Al-An’aam 6:32)

So, by likening this life to a brief passing enjoyment, play, amusement and a deception, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), the All Knowing, has clearly put the matter regarding the Aakhirah in perspective for us to ponder over and reflect. He cautions us not to get carried away by the charms of this life because in comparison with the Aakhirah, this life has quite a limited span. And as we go through facing the life’s challenges as well as its attractions, we have to ensure that we do not deviate from the straight path. Be it the diversion of temptations, or problems and sufferings, we should always be wary of not having our minds fall prey to manmade philosophies, but rather should adhere to the straight path chalked out by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) which is also referred to as Siraat-al-Mustaqeem in Soorah (Chapter) Al-Fatihah.

The Prophet (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), too, clarified the value of this life in relation to the Aakhirah. He said: “The life of this world compared to the Aakhirah is as if one of you were to put his finger in the ocean and take it out again then compare the water that remains on his finger to the water that remains in the ocean.” (Muslim)

Hadhart Ibne ‘Umar narrated that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllahu ‘Alaihe WaSallam) said: “Be in this world as though you were a stranger or a traveler / wayfarer.” (Bukhari)

What is the value that we tend to give to this life? Knowing the limited time that we have in this life, giving it anything more than its due proportion, therefore, wouldn’t be prudent. But we also know that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) has made this life a test and adorned it with enough temptations and attractions to make the weak among us get diverted and deceived. To such people, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) warns us in the Quraan in the following words:

فَلَا تَغُرَّنَّكُمُ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا [فاطر: 5]

“ …..therefore, the worldly life must not deceive you.” (Faatir 35:5)

But the reality is that the attractions of this life do blind us from seeing the big picture that includes our impending departure from this life and then resurrecting in the next eternal life. Fearing that our means of sustenance in this life are indispensable, we make the mistake of turning means into goals. We run after wealth believing it to buy and secure our present and the future. Thus we become obsessed with gaining benefits, pleasures and comforts and in doing so we go after acquiring more power and authority. We vie and compete with others in pursuit of these and lose sight of the Aakhirah. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) reflects this situation in the following Aayaat:

[التكاثر: 1-2]أَلْهَاكُمُ التَّكَاثُرُ (1) حَتَّى زُرْتُمُ الْمَقَابِرَ 

“You are distracted by mutual competition in amassing (worldly benefits), until you reach the graves.” (At-Takaathur 102:1,2)

He also says:

كَلَّا لَوْ تَعْلَمُونَ عِلْمَ الْيَقِينِ [التكاثر: 5]

“Nay! If you knew with a sure knowledge (the end result of piling up, you would not have been occupied yourselves in worldly things).” (At-Takaathur 102:5)

What is the price we pay for going overboard? Focusing on the present life with lack of consideration for the Aakhirah can push us to the edges of narcissism or something called “the entitlement syndrome”, by which psychologists refer to a state where one feels that one is rightfully entitled to the fulfillment of one’s wishes and desires, and is entitled to enjoy all that life can offer. Confronted with the reality of limited time in this life, therefore, and to acquire and enjoy this life’s resources, we plant the seeds of greed and dissatisfaction within us that in turn lead to injustice, deprivation of the rights of people, to the misuse of power and authority, and so on.

The Prophet (SallAllahu ‘Alaihe WaSallam) expressed his concern for our Imaan when he said: “By Allah! It is not poverty that I fear for you, but I fear that this world will be spread out in front of you as it was spread out in front of those before you, and then you will vie for it as they vied for it, and it will destroy you as it destroyed them” (Riyaadh us Saaliheen by Imam Nawawi)

The price that we pay for going overboard in our quest for the best that this world can offer is that we become part of a cut-throat culture where material success is a measure of a person’s worth, and failure in worldly acquisitions is regarded as a matter of shame and humiliation. Enamored by this life, people become heedless of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), the Aakhirah, the moral bounds and moral responsibilities, the rights of others, and of their own obligations to render those rights. They strive to acquire more at any cost and become wholly oblivious to their end. About such people Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says:

أُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرَوُا الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا بِالْآخِرَةِ [البقرة: 86]

“Those are the ones who bought the worldly life at the cost of the Aakhirah.” (Al-Baqarah 2:86)