By Naureen Aqueel
Allow me to introduce you to a new destination: Paradise on Earth. Hmm… Is this an exotic island or a beautiful landscape that I recommend you to visit? How big a budget will you need to travel to this place? How much will you need in terms of worldly resources to take this trip? Now, if I tell you that you can take this tour without paying anything in terms of worldly currency, how overjoyed would you be?
Well, nothing is for free. There is surely a currency involved. But this currency has nothing to do with your worldly bank accounts, but everything to do with your heart. Often, in our pursuit of happiness, most of us fall into the vulnerable error of linking happiness to the ephemeral things of this world. However, what most of us do not realize is that true happiness is not dependent on the transitory things of this life; in fact, it is linked most intricately to the state of our hearts. And it is in this way that the happiness of this life is connected to the happiness of the eternal life.
So now you see it. The Paradise on Earth, that I speak of, is the Paradise that the heart experiences in the nearness and love of Allah (swt), while striving to achieve His pleasure. One of the great scholars of Islam, Ibn Taymiyyah, summed this up quite beautifully when he said: “There is a Paradise in this life. Those, who do not enter it here, shall not enter it in the Hereafter.”
Scholars of Islam describe this ‘early paradise of the heart’ as the sweetness of knowing Allah (swt), loving Him, finding peace in His remembrance and desiring to meet Him. Those known for their love of Allah (swt) have been recorded in our history to have said: “The truly unfortunate people of this world are those, who leave the world without tasting the sweetest thing it contains.” When they were asked what it was, they replied: “The love of Allah (swt), to feel comfortable in His company, desire to meet Him, turn towards Him and turn away from everything besides Him.”
This precondition of Jannah does not by any means require us to cut ourselves off from the world and become ascetics. Indeed, the great prophets and their righteous companions attained this state, while being active members in the world carrying out their duties as generals, scholars, students, governors, traders and businessmen.
What this does require, however, is a pure and sound heart that has tasted the sweetness of faith. Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, except him who brings to Allah (swt) with a clean heart [clean from Shirk (polytheism) and Nifaq (hypocrisy)].” (Ash-Shuara 26:88-89)
Prophet Muhammad (sa) is reported to have said: “Three qualities are such that if found in one, he shall have tasted the sweetness of faith: that Allah (swt) and His Messenger become more beloved to one than all else; that one loves a person only for Allah’s (swt) sake; that one hates to revert to disbelief, as he hates to be thrown into the Fire.” (Bukhari)
Scholars have also talked at length about the state of Ridha (contentment or pleasure) with Allah (swt). The state of Allah (swt) being pleased with His slave and the slave being pleased with Allah (swt) are among the few blessings of Jannah that Allah (swt) gives us a glimpse of in the world. After describing Jannah in one verse of the Quran, Allah (swt) says: “But the greatest bliss is the Good Pleasure of Allah. That is the supreme success.” (At-Taubah 9:72)
The peace and satisfaction that one finds in trusting Allah (swt), remembering Him and remaining pleased with His decision is something we should all be searching for. And once we find it, no worldly worries will be able to disturb the Paradise that our hearts are in, Insha’Allah.