The tricky thing they call: happily ever after!
The blast shook my house to its very core, but by the Grace of Allah (swt), none was harmed- neither my family nor me in any physical sense. It left not a single scratch on our skins. Yet, it wreaked havoc with my previous attitude towards life, and left me plagued with question that clamoured incessantly in my head. If only I had known then that the answer had been a mere arm’s length away, I simply had to reach out.
The thunderous sound and simultaneous reverberation of the windows in their sills and the door on their hinges had all our hearts and breaths accelerating at alarming rates. For a moment we were mute, staring wide eyed at one another, disbelieving- disbelieving that something like that could actually occur so close to home… that something like that could happen to us… that something which clearly belonged to the TV channels could jump out at us into the real world, OUR world, from its usual, harmless enough dwelling place below the “breaking news” caption.
A bomb had gone off a few kilometres from my house. My friends were texting hysterically. My relatives were queuing in for phone calls. An unfortunate acquaintance was recovering from the shock of witnessing all windows of her house being shattered into a fine spray of glittering ash. “What world were we living in?” I wondered. Sadly, I knew the answer too well.
This world is not the ideal place to set up a camp. It is not some retreat where we could drop our bags, hurl our bodies into comfortable sofas, kick up our feet on coffee tables and fix a “home sweet home” banner above our heads. This world is dark and dangerous, unforgiving and unfair, cruel and cold. This world is not our home. What is sad, as I previously stated, is that My Beautiful Lord, Allah (swt) reminded me of this very message every time I bothered to unbind the thick, dust coated covers of The Holy Quran. In bold, simple and direct words, Allah (swt) delivers the clear verses,
“O my people! Truly, this life of the world is nothing but a (quick passing) enjoyment, and verily, the Hereafter that is the home that will remain forever.” (Ghafir 40:39)
“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 disbelievers, evil-doers), and (there is) Forgiveness from 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)
This world is dark and dangerous, unforgiving and unfair, cruel and cold. This world is not our home.
“Everyone shall taste death. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (a deceiving thing).” (Al-Imran 3:185)
“Allah increases the provision for whom He wills, and straitens (it for whom He wills), and they rejoice in the life of the world, whereas the life of this world as compared with the Hereafter is but a brief passing enjoyment.” (Ar-Rad 13:26)
“And the life of this world is nothing but play and amusement. But far better is the house in the Hereafter for those who are Al-Muttaqun. Will you not then understand?” (Al-Anam 6:32)
“And this life of the world is only amusement and play! Verily, the home of the Hereafter, that is the life indeed (i.e. the eternal life that will never end), if they but knew.” (Al-Ankabut 29:64)
“And put forward to them the example of the life of this world, it is like the water (rain) which We send down from the sky, and the vegetation of the earth mingles with it, and becomes fresh and green. But (later) it becomes dry and broken pieces, which the winds scatter. And Allah is Able to do everything.” (Al-Kahf 18:45)
The Book had always been, exhaustive in its emphasis on the treacherous, deceptive, transient nature of life. How heedless I must have become to skim over these dire reminders that should have flashed like scarlet neon warning exclamation marks in my head, but I acted as if I were reading the weather report. My heart had become fossilized under an impenetrable layer of complacency, apathy and laziness.
Within seconds of hearing the blast, I realized with rising incredulity, the insignificance of not only the things I cared most for, but also how I spent my days, in fact my entire life
I hang my head in shame when I think of the person I had been before that life affirming experience, lounging with carefree ease on my bed, cradling my smart phone and my laptop as if I couldn’t bear to part with those “prized possessions”. Within seconds of hearing the blast, I realized with rising incredulity, the insignificance of not only the things I cared most for, but also how I spent my days, in fact my entire life, till that moment. It was one complete, wasted blur of struggles for attaining meaningless aims and undeserved merriment at reaching useless endeavours. What use were college applications or friends or fictional plots or fashion or food or gossip when I could, without a second’s warning, become buried six feet under a bed of debris and rubble?
Two questions kept me awake, tossing and turning in feverish restlessness, that night.
The first: ‘Was my life truly meaningless?’
And the second: ‘Where/when/how will I ever obtain the tricky thing they call as happily ever after?’
Allah (swt), the Most Generous, Loving and Kind, finally manifested the answer I sought. Who knows, perhaps, it is the very same answer that every one of us, was unconsciously searching for. We all may be phrasing it differently; looking in different directions, pegging our hopes on different people, but the answer to our life’s struggle is one and the same.
We are born. Then we live. And then we die. But after that Allah (swt) will raise us all back to life, in a world where our souls will be immortal and our dwelling, eternal. Hence, “No” was the answer to my first question- my life was not worthless. On the contrary, it had the same significance an examination has prior to an important result- ‘The Akhirah’. As for the second question- it was obvious that, if I made the ultimate effort to shatter the fossilized coating around my heart and burst free; ready to engulf, wholeheartedly, my Lord’s message, I, as well as, any of my brothers and sisters, could and Insha’Allah will, discover the where, when and how to reach our elusive happily ever after.