Islam: Clarifying Reality

Islam: Clarifying Reality

picture from www.knowledgetoday.org

picture from www.knowledgetoday.org

What, really, is the point in worshiping Allah at all or having a religion? Isn’t the point of religion to teach goodness so that we can live earth in peace, happiness, and in prosperity?

These are questions asked by so many, probably including ourselves? If so, allow me to guess.

Probably it is your purpose of life is to live through this life in the best way possible and ending it also in the best way possible. It is very likely that it is also part of your purpose of life is to make the most of the limited time you have on the earth, probably while also doing what you can to prolong your life and delay death to ensure maximum enjoyment and contribution of this life.

It is likely that  people that you care for and love so dearly that your purpose of life is to bring some good to them, or –at the very least—that you do not burden them. Probably you look at humanity, most of which you do not know, but you care so much about so much so that you wish to do something for them. You may wish to do something so that you can bring good to their lives, and if it is possible you would wish that you continue to benefit even long after your death. Or, probably, you believe otherwise: life is too short to care about other people? Or, might you be a pragmatic, so that you dedicate your life to care for others so that they care for you in return, thus trying to achieve the maximum enjoyment of life?

Are any of those true for you?

You will find that all of those purposes (or principles, if that is how you put it) are based on the following assumption: “life goes on the way it is and here you are, so what to do with what you have before it is gone, and that’s it”.

However, let us reflect.

It is common knowledge that every living soul will die, as Allah says:

كُلُّ نَفۡسٍ۬ ذَآٮِٕقَةُ ٱلۡمَوۡتِ‌ۗ

“Every soul will taste death” (Surah al-Imran ayat 185)

If its time for you to die then you will die no matter what you do or try.[1] But why do we think that, then, its just about ‘making the most of it while it lasts’? Probably only because we say so while it is still lasting and we want to make the most of now. But after it ends, does ‘making the most’ matter anymore now?

This is when some say that it is true that we die, but we can do good to others so that our contribution can live on. A man once said “Biologically, everyone will die. But in contribution, it is our choice to live forever.” Doesn’t this sound so beautiful?

So Isaac Newton may have set his principles of Calculus and Newtonian Mechanics which are foundations of building numerous other sciences and. Billions and billions of people have benefited the works of Newton since he died until today, and probably even more in the years to come. Isn’t this very beautiful, how much he died hundreds of years ago but ‘alive’ today?

Unfortunately there is one problem: the world will also end,[2] and so will the universe. Allah says:

يَوۡمَ نَطۡوِى ٱلسَّمَآءَ ڪَطَىِّ ٱلسِّجِلِّ لِلۡڪُتُبِ‌ۚ

The Day when We will fold the heaven like the folding of a [written] sheet for the records. As We began the first creation, We will repeat it.” (Surah Al-Anbiya ayat 104)

Tafseer al-Jalalayn in commenting this ayat explains how in the beginning there was nothing, and Allah will repeat it: it will be brought back to nothing. At the end of the end, all the contribution enjoyed by so many billions or even trillions of people will also come to an end into nothingness. So what, then, is the point?

However, all this is if –and only if—we accept the assumption of “life goes on the way it is and here you are, so what to do with what you have before it is gone, and that’s it”.

But what if that assumption is not true? What if the end of life and the end of the world is not really the end of all? What if there is something beyond it?

Wouldn’t this change everything on how we see life, what it means, and how we should live it?

Some people try enjoying life while it lasts, some by doing good or bad, and die while thinking that it is the end so nothing more matters. I really hope you are not among these people, because the truth that we must accept is that after your death and after the world has come to an end, you will be brought back to life.[3]

Will you then live again, and enjoy life again the same way until it ends again? No. You will be brought back again, and you will be asked about what you have done in your life before. Allah says:

ثُمَّ لَتُسۡـَٔلُنَّ يَوۡمَٮِٕذٍ عَنِ ٱلنَّعِيمِ

“Then you will surely be asked that Day about pleasure.” (Surah At-Takaathur ayat 8)

 

So much Allah has given for us to enjoy in this world from our birth to our deaths. Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas r.a.[4] in his tafseer explaining the above ayat says that we will be asked about the blessings we had, including our body, hearing, and sight.

More than that, the whole world and everything it contains were created for us to enjoy. What did we do with it? Allah says:

وَٱلۡأَرۡضَ وَضَعَهَا لِلۡأَنَامِ (١٠) فِيہَا فَـٰكِهَةٌ۬ وَٱلنَّخۡلُ ذَاتُ ٱلۡأَكۡمَامِ (١١) وَٱلۡحَبُّ ذُو ٱلۡعَصۡفِ وَٱلرَّيۡحَانُ (١٢) فَبِأَىِّ ءَالَآءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (١٣)

“And the earth He laid [out] for the creatures. Therein is fruit and palm trees having sheaths [of dates] and grain having husks and scented plants. So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?” (Surah Ar-Rahman ayat 10-13)

 

Please take a minute or two, and reflect on your life and what you have done with it up until this day.  When you are done, imagine Allah asking you about it. Will you be proud of your answer, or will it make you be really really worried?

We all know that the story doesn’t end with Allah asking you the question and you giving the answer. We all know that something will happen afterwards, and we all know that there are only two possibilities. We all know how extremely different those two possibilities are, but there is one characteristic that Allah says are exactly the same between these two possibilities:

خَـٰلِدِينَ فِيہَآ أَبَدً۬

“..wherein they will abide forever..”[5]

 

If this life is merely temporary and serves as nothing other than a preparation for an eternal afterlife, and we shall be held accountable for this life, please reflect and reflect deeply. I now ask you three questions:

First question: what kind of person would live his life with a one and only purpose to enjoy the pleasures of this life and not caring anything about the afterlife?

Second question: what do you think would happen to such a person?

Third and most important question: do you want to be such a person?

 

ٱعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّمَا ٱلۡحَيَوٰةُ ٱلدُّنۡيَا لَعِبٌ۬ وَلَهۡوٌ۬ وَزِينَةٌ۬ وَتَفَاخُرُۢ بَيۡنَكُمۡ وَتَكَاثُرٌ۬ فِى ٱلۡأَمۡوَٲلِ وَٱلۡأَوۡلَـٰدِ‌ۖ كَمَثَلِ غَيۡثٍ أَعۡجَبَ ٱلۡكُفَّارَ نَبَاتُهُ ۥ ثُمَّ يَہِيجُ فَتَرَٮٰهُ مُصۡفَرًّ۬ا ثُمَّ يَكُونُ حُطَـٰمً۬ا‌ۖ وَفِى ٱلۡأَخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ۬ شَدِيدٌ۬ وَمَغۡفِرَةٌ۬ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ وَرِضۡوَٲنٌ۬‌ۚ وَمَا ٱلۡحَيَوٰةُ ٱلدُّنۡيَآ إِلَّا مَتَـٰعُ ٱلۡغُرُورِ

“Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children – like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris. And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion.” (Surah al-Hadeed ayat 20)

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[1] Allah says “Wherever you may be, death will overtake you, even if you should be within towers of lofty construction” (Surah An Nisa ayat 78)

[2] As Allah says in Surah Ar-Rahman ayat 26: “All that is on earth will perish”

[3] See Surah Al-Baqarah ayat 56: “Then We revived you after your death

[4] A Companion of Rasulullah s.a.w. known to be the companion who most understood the meaning of the Qur’an

[5] Allah says this to describe heaven (Jannah) in Surah At-Tawbah ayat 100 and the lowest hell (Jahannam) in Surah An-Nisa ayat 78.

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