“The mutual rivalry of piling up worldly things diverts you.” (Surah At Takathar, 102:1)
It was reported by Ibn Umar (RA) that once while he was traveling with the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) the Prophet (SAW) placed his hand on Ibn Umar’s (RA) shoulder and said:
“Be in this life as if you were a stranger or a traveler on a path.”
After hearing this, Ibn ‘Umar (RA) 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, and take from your health for your sickness, and (take) from your life for your death.”
This particular Hadith (an account of the saying or actions of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) or his companions) is a favorite of mine and I find it to be very thought-provoking. This Hadith sheds some light on man’s weakness towards the desires of this life and of just how temporary this life truly is. It is, in reality, short-lived (although we do not see it as such)!
This Hadith speaks of the importance of not becoming so comfortable in this life, of not being so content that this life is guaranteed to be here tomorrow, that we lose sight of our path, our ultimate destination. We should strive to live within our means and fulfill the commands of Allah SWT and not become attached to the desires of the Dunya because these desires will not truly benefit us in the future.
In this life, we have a choice. Do we waste our time continuously occupying ourselves with useless attractions/distractions that will not help us attain entrance into Jannah? Or, do we exchange our worldly attractions for the attractions of Jannah, Insha’Allah?
Some definitions before I proceed:
Dunya is an Arabic word that can be defined as “this life, this life here and now on earth, and all of its earthly concerns.”
The opposite of Dunya is Akhirah, the Hereafter.
The Hereafter consists of Jannah (paradise) and Jahannam (hellfire).
The Hereafter that I strive for, in my struggles, is entrance into Jannah (paradise), Insha’Allah.
The Hereafter (both Jannah and Jahannam), is what I truly need to be concerned about throughout my daily activities in this life.
The Hereafter is what you should be concerned about!
The Hereafter is unavoidable!
The Hereafter is everlasting!
The Dunya, this life, this day-to-day mundane world, is full of distraction. We, as members of this world, are constantly being drawn to the Dunya because of all of the attractions it contains. The Dunya can literally become an attraction park, or an amusement park, for us if we allow it. There is no need to take the family on an outing to an attraction park! The attractions/distractions are all around us, on our TVs, on our computer, in stores, in our schools, in our homes, in our hearts, in our desires, and in our minds. Our “entertainment”, our possessions, our wants and our desires seem to continually lurk within our thoughts.
Would you like to take a guess at who loves the fact that we are being distracted from our actual purpose? Think about this as you continue to read.
We must remember that Allah SWT provides us with all that we need in this world, and He has also given us free will to choose our path. The obvious choice is the straight path, the path that will lead us to Jannah in the Hereafter, Insha’Allah. However, along this path there are many distractions, many worldly attractions, many desires that pull us from that path.
The Shaytaan, fully aware of this predicament, constantly whispers in our ears and tempts us with these desires and attachments to the Dunya. These attachments are both tangible attachments as well as attachments to people, places, past events and memories, and thoughts of the future, which we truly have no control over.
We need to shift our focus from the attachments of the Dunya, to the attachments of Jannah, Insha’Allah. Jannah, an absolutely beautiful place (beauty beyond our understanding) where ALL of our wants, needs, and desires are guaranteed from Allah SWT…..forever.
Allah SWT provides those who enter Jannah with anything and everything that they could ever possibly desire along with never again experiencing any hate, jealously, anger, hunger, fear, loneliness, repulsion, hurt, impurity, pain, or any kind of discomfort…..EVER!
But, Allah SWT does not give us a free ticket to Jannah. He tells us, over and over again, of our purpose: To worship Him alone by following His commands, by following the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Abdullah ibn Umar (RA)reported that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said, “None of you can be a (true) believer unless his desire become subservient to what I have brought (of guidance and teachings)”.
As humans, we have been given free will to choose our path. Often, we become distracted from our path and we choose to amuse ourselves with all of this worldly nonsense that will give us very temporary joy and happiness. Most of the time, this “stuff” gives us false happiness, or short-term happiness, that fulfills our immediate cravings or wants, but distracts us and allows us to pass the time away carelessly.
Time, critical time, which we should be spending in worship of Allah SWT.
In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
By (the Token of) Time (through the ages), Verily Man is in loss, Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy. (Qur’an. 103)
This does not mean that we need to become monks and seclude ourselves from the Dunya. We are here, and we can enjoy all things that are permissible, as long as we do not overindulge, Insha’Allah. We need to be comfortable living in the Dunya as though we are just travelers, just stopping by for this short life to spend our time doing good in worship of our Creator, Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Beneficent.
To benefit fully from our time here in the Dunya, we need to be conscious, actively conscious, of how we continue to develop our relationship with Allah SWT. We must understand that our actions here will account for our wellbeing in the Hereafter. We need to be mindful of the link between the Dunya and the Hereafter. We need to be mindful of our interactions with others and with the world around us.
We must always be asking ourselves:
- Have we thanked Allah SWT today, have we praised Him, have we remembered Him often during the day?
- How we are caring for ourselves today (how we are treating our bodies)?
- How we are relating to others today (at work, in the community, with our spouse, and in raising our families)?
- How we are caring for our environment today (be mindful of our waste)?
- How we are spending our money today (spending on extravagance or living simply and spending in the way of Allah SWT)?
- How we are spending our time today (are we wasting precious time on meaningless activities?)
If we do all of this properly, as prescribed by Allah SWT, and only do what is permissible and turn away from all that is not permissible and we are content with what Allah SWT has provided us…..this will be part of our Worship of Allah SWT. Our good deeds will be added to our “Jannah account” (Our book of deeds, good deeds! Insha’Allah).
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Riches does not mean, having a great amount of property, but riches is self-contentment.”
We need to constantly ask ourselves, “Is what I am doing right here and right now benefiting me for the Hereafter?” If the answer is “no”, then maybe we need to stop, assess the situation, and ask Allah SWT for guidance and forgiveness.
I bought into this Dunya hook, line, and sinker before I embraced Islam. Why…..because “that’s what we do.” That is what society has told us is important and if we don’t have it….we are sad and feel like we have failed at life!
Now, as a Muslim, I am working hard to change my relationship with the Dunya. This relationship is my jihad, my struggle. It is my personal struggle within myself, to not waste my time on things that are not going to benefit me in my future, in the Hereafter, Insha’Allah. Each day I struggle with how I am going to fill my “Jannah account” with good deeds and worship, while being a productive member of this society.
There are times when I feel that I could use an “impulse/desire free aisle” for my every day life. But then, I would never experience the temptations that lie in wait and this would not benefit me nor allow me to struggle and to learn how to live my life according to Allah’s SWT plan.
My jihad, my struggle, is with how I spend my free time. I no longer spend hours watching TV (although I am a self admitted TV addict) and every now and then will have a marathon TV day. And, I do spend time procrastinating!
I think that in many respects I try to limit my worldly attachments. I am not a big spender, and I no longer feel the need to have some of the things that were so important to me not so long ago. I do feel that I have “stuff” that I do not need and as I move on to another chapter in my life, I will do my best to de-clutter and donate, to people in need, items that I no longer need.
My mind can get the best of me and my thoughts, often thoughts related to negative experiences and emotional hurt, enter my head during my Salah and distract me from my purpose. Or, thoughts of my work, or my next task, or my “to do” list distract me in my Salah.
The Shaytaan has a way of reminding me of these thoughts to distract me from my conversation with Allah SWT. I cannot let this happen and continue to ask Allah for help in developing complete attention, devotion, and focus during this time.
“I seen refuge in Allah SWT from Shaytaan, the Rejected One.”
I must never become complacent and allow myself to think that I am “OK”, that I will be allowed entrance to Jannah. There is always room for self-improvement, self-reflection, and continued effort to add to my “Jannah account”, Insha’Allah.
I can never allow myself to become so comfortable with this life that I expect that I will wake up tomorrow and be able to seek forgiveness from Allah SWT for a sin that I may have committed today!
We can make the best of plans, however Allah SWT is the best of planners and what he has planned for us may not be what we have desired.
The time is now!
The clock is ticking and I do not want to add to an account (of bad deeds) in Jahannam (Hellfire). Jahannam is a indescribably horrific place to end up.
Astaghfirullaha wa atūūbu ilai(hi)
“I seek the Forgiveness of Allah and repent to Him”.
“I seek Allah’s forgiveness, besides whom, none has the right to be worshipped except He, The Ever Living, The Self-Subsisting and Supporter of all, and I turn to Him in repentance.”
Each day I strive to use my time wisely, in remembrance of Allah SWT, and to spend some time reading Qur’an, or listening to a sermon or lecture on Islam, or practicing my Arabic learning, or acts of charity or good deeds, or educating myself on Islam in some way, Insha’Allah.
I need to ask myself:
How often does the Shaytaan win by distracting me or causing me to act on my whims/desires? (Did I delay my Salah today in order to do something else? Did I purchase that item that I really didn’t need? Did I spend time watching endless TV shows rather than spending some time with the Qur’an or learning more about my Deen? Did I desire something I should not desire? Did I risk my modesty? Did I argue with a loved one? Did I backbite? Did I sin?)
How often am I seeking the enjoyment of this life, the attachments of the Dunya, through unnecessary consumption of time?
These attachments start when we are very little. (Yes, Shaytaan was working hard back then as well!)
Have you ever sat and watched Saturday morning television with your child? Although the shows are geared for children, which is debatable, (cartoons, children’s shows, etc), the children are inundated with commercials about toys, games, fast food, clothing, and music. It is ridiculous. and around the holidays advertising is even more intense.
As we are growing up, we find that the desires of this life, this Dunya, surround us. As we reach the age of maturity, we are hit with our dreams for the future. We are spending our time on our career, finding Mr. Right, buying a home, buying a car, keeping up with the Joneses, our children, everything that is being forced upon them by the media, and social pressures. We are constantly bombarded by peer pressure in our youth, pressure to keep up with the Joneses as we mature, and pressure to have the latest gadget or latest technology.
Does any of this benefit us in the Hereafter?
“The mutual rivalry of piling up worldly things diverts you.” (Surah At Takathar, 102:1)
Are you beginning to get how slick Shaytaan is? How unrelenting he is at causing distraction and havoc?
If we are not cautious, we will end up in a vicious cycle. A cycle that was also mentioned in a Hadith:
Narrated Sahl bin Sa’d: I heard Ibn Az-Zubair who was on the pulpit at Mecca, delivering a sermon, saying:
“O men! The Prophet used to say, “If the son of Adam were given a valley full of gold, he would love to have a second one; and if he were given the second one, he would love to have a third, for nothing fills the belly of Adam’s son except dust. And Allah forgives he who repents to Him.”
Unless we are able to be in this life as a stranger, we are destined for failure. Don’t get comfortable with the Dunya! Don’t fall prey to the Shaytaan! We will be questioned about our time here. This we know. We need to add to our Jannah account, fill it with good deeds and worship. Our possessions and worldly desires will be of no benefit to us beyond this Dunya.
Do not fall into the Dunya trap and end up worshipping the creation instead of The Creator!
We need to seek Allah’s SWT assistance to make us strong and keep us from falling into this Dunya trap. And, if we are already deep in the trap and Shaytaan has us by our ankles, we need to ask Allah SWT to help us get back on the straight path.
Remember, Allah SWT is Most Merciful, Most Beneficent, Ar Rahmanir Rahim.
Subhan’Allah (How amazingly Perfect is He)
“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 believers, evildoers), and (there is) Forgiveness of Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers, good doers), whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment.” (Al-Hadid 57:20)