By Sidra Rashid
Try to spare out some time today; sit peacefully and contemplate the central concern of our life. Try answering these questions: what do you think about most? What makes you cry? What causes you most stress and anxiety? What is the very first thing you think about when you wake up and the last thing you think about as you go to sleep? And if your answers rotate solely around the stress of dunya-related matters (worldly matters) like accumulating wealth, achieving high social status, being famous, perfection of appearances and looks or the rat race of getting topmost grades; maybe you need to re-evaluate what will truly make you content.
In fact, this is the reason that in our times the most researched topic on the internet is how to acquire happiness. And if we just rephrase this simple statistic then it means that besides achieving most of the worldly pursuits, the thing which is missing in our lives is actually the state of being happy and at peace. Now, to find the solution, think once more and try to decipher the connection between your earlier answers and the state of unhappiness. It is undoubtedly a fact that the luxurious worldly life that we are running after might would give us temporary pleasure, but it does not necessarily bring with it the blessings of inner peace, good health, sound sleep, and true bonding with our relations and our Creator.
During our childhood we are conditioned with ease and comfort, with instant gratification of our every desire by our parents. But when we step into real life situations, we start to feel life’s even minor friction quite deeply because we had never visualized life’s treatment of us this way and we start taking even small day to day things to our hearts. Consequently, when we are not at the top notch in worldly fields, or when we fail somehow, or when we face any setback or undergo any trial, we feel completely shattered.
We end up calling ourselves the unfortunate ones. We feel the world is unfair with us and sometimes we even jump towards the conclusion that our Creator does not listen to us anymore. And in this way, slowly and gradually we doom towards the sea of ungratefulness and our most valuable belonging, eeman (faith), starts to fade away. Consequently, we lead our lives ultimately in despair, perpetually waiting for happiness, waiting for ultimate contentment even after making worldly gains.
It is most unfortunate that throughout this ‘wait-mantra,’ we run after the creation or people to give us back our lost peace and not towards our Creator, Allah (SWT). Or in other words, we fail to recognize that the real remedy lies within ourselves. Changing perspective is the key that we need to exit this slough of despondence.
The true fault may not be ours. We never actually inherited the real wisdom to lead a life with. We did not acquire how to tolerate; how to ignore; how to settle; how to compromise; and sacrifice is a word unknown to us. We lead our lives undermining the fact that these are the essential ingredients to live a happy peaceful life.
Our hearts are biologically created in such a manner that in its core lies the place of its Creator, Allah (SWT) . Or in other words, if Allah (SWT) is there in our hearts, then everything else falls into its right place. But our dilemma in today’s world is the love of worldly life. Unfortunately, dunya (the world) has replaced the special place of our hearts where our faith in Allah (SWT) was supposed to reside. Understanding this fact is essential that when we love, hope, trust, and fear anything more than Allah (SWT), it destroys the very fabric of our hearts , our lives, and our existence. According to Ibn al Qayyim:
“This world is like a shadow: run after it and you will never be able to catch it; turn your back against it and it has no choice but to follow you.”
It means when you shoot only for dunya, you lose both the worlds. But when you strive for Allah’s pleasure, you get both. Isn’t that a win/win situation? The beauty of our religion is that it focuses on harmony, coherence, discipline, and balance in every walk of life. If we truly reflect, then we realize that the purpose of our life is to test ourselves and prioritize our faith in Allah over our desires.
“To err is human” is an oft repeated phrase. Being wrong or making mistakes is something human; Adam and Eve’s story is characterized by a monumental mistake. But not understanding our mistakes and not repenting brings the real tragedy in human lives. This act makes us more like the Shaitan (Satan) who also committed a mistake but neither did he regret nor repent.
So, in a scenario when we find ourselves completely lost, we are left with two options; either to remain forever in this pitiable “why always me?” situation or to recalibrate our lives with the right perspective and vision by finding our lost connection with Allah (SWT). Remember, the purpose to put us in a particular situation was none other than to test our faith and reliance on Allah (SWT). The fortunate among us finally comprehend the mystery of life that this dunya and its matters should be held in our hands and not in our hearts. Allah (SWT) belongs to our hearts and to the core of our life.
After undergoing a shift in their attitude, they are not ordinary souls any more, they are transformed beings. It is a life rule that in abundance one cannot get an insight into the deeper meaning of life, one must endure pain and loss to feel the taste of bliss and eternal joy. So, this blessed group of people no longer undergoes panic attacks during troubled times of this world. Such people learn to be righteous and happy in every little scene of life as they know the cost of enduring the worldly pain is an eternal paradise which is waiting for them. It is undoubtedly no less than a grand mission. They attain mastery over patience for they will be rewarded for it. All their energies are now targeted towards achieving ‘kalb-ul-saleem’ (a heart full of faith and peace) because nothing else is going to matter when returning to Allah (SWT).
Remember we all have to witness the day when neither wealth nor our children will benefit us; only a faithful heart will distinguish us in front of Allah (SWT). In this regard, death is a great leveler as it is a reality that no religion of the world ever denies. While encountering life’s obstacles, we should always keep this in our minds that this world is a temporary abode and we are all visitors here. This moment of difficulty shall too pass. But the next world is immortal for which we need to earn the ticket by being the best version of ourselves, by achieving purity and softness of our hearts, by believing unwaveringly in Allah (SWT). The way oxygen is needed for our survival, our hearts too need nourishment and spiritual oxygenation by turning our hearts towards Allah (SWT) before returning to Him.
In a nutshell, we have to keep reminding ourselves that we are made of dust and to dust we belong. This shift of perspective from being completely lost in achieving worldly affairs towards leading a balanced life will truly resolve most of our concerns and we will surely achieve that missing tranquility and eternity as a result.