The spirit-changing bomb blast

blastThe 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.

 

Reflection of This Mirror

images

As a mother, I want to teach you the important lessons of life

Tomorrow when you stand as a husband or wife,

I might not be around as I am growing old and gray

Caring for you, worrying for you every living day,

Today, when you’re young and spirited so high

You want pleasure and freedom to fly,

Things matter most to you and they better be the best

Your heart is constantly in this world put to test,

My child understand the mirage of the world

Do not lose your grip in this dazzling whirl,

It’s the stuff that allures

But it won’t be long before you want more,

The nature of worldly things is such

It captivates your desires, but keeps your soul unrested much,

Occasionally the make-up may fail

The weight may go up and down the scale,

Dark or fair, don’t worry, don’t fake

Allah (swt) made you and He makes no mistakes,

You are beautiful because of your soul

Not the six pack chest or the beauty mole,

If you believe in yourself and the beauty of what lies within

You will be the happiest person from Bahrain to Berlin,

Befriend Allah (swt) so He lights up your heart

May your Iman and Aqeedah never depart,

Throw the world behind you and let it chase you

Just lead a meaningful life with courage and be true,

Let the stuff be your slave

And with dignity do behave,

You are from the Ummah of the greatest leader of all times

Never should you be the reason for anyone to ever malign,

Our beloved messenger (sa) who cried for you and I

Do not forget until you die,

Allah (swt) has destined your Rizq all along

It is you who has to decide the path right or wrong,

Not a penny will you earn less, not a penny more

Than what you deserve so go on and explore,

I don’t want a grade you earn by cheating others in school

I don’t want you to demean yourself to look cool,

I want to see you live and die loving your Creator

I want you to feel pride in serving His creation,

I want to meet you at the gates of Paradise

I want to embrace you there with no guise,

I pray to Allah (swt) to choose you to be the one

A worthy daughter or a wonderful son,

Oh my child, this life is so precious to waste

Such little time is left, until death we taste,

Rise and stretch high

Sprint and zoom by,

Do not look back, but only to learn from your errors

One day you will become a reflection of this mirror,

I pray to Allah (swt) He forgives my slights

And fulfills all the gaps with His might,

Mould you into what He wants you to be

And as a striving and faulty mother honour me. Ameen

This poem is dedicated to every mother who sheds tears for the salvation of her family.

Trials as Blessings for the Believers

trials-and-tribulations“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe” and will not be tested. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test).” (Al-Ankabut 29:2-3)

It is certain from the following verses of the Quran that Allah (swt) will test those who believed in one way or the other- as He tested the believers before. These tests may be in the form of hunger, loss of a loved one or health, or wealth as stated in the Holy Quran: “And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).” (Al-Baqarah 2:155)

Why believers?

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “This world is prison for a believer and heaven for the disbeliever.”

But why these tests are specified only for those who believe? What is the wisdom behind it?
Firstly, it is to check the level of their Iman – to make sure, whether they are strong enough to bear a calamity with an unwavering Iman; and secondly, to wipe out their sins – to purify them for the Akhirah.

Abu Hurairah (ra) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Trials will continue to befall the believing man or woman on himself, his child and his wealth until he meets Allah (swt) with no sin on him.” (Tirmidhi)

It was narrated by Anas (ra) that the Prophet (sa) said: “When Allah (swt) wills good for His slave, He hastens the punishment for him in this world; and when Allah (swt) wills ill for His slave, He withholds the punishment for his sins until he comes with all his sins on the Day of Resurrection.” (Tirmidhi)

Aisha (ra) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “The believer is not harmed by a thorn or anything greater, but Allah (swt) will raise him in status thereby, or erase a sin thereby.” (Muslim)

The wisdom behind testing the believers through trials and tribulations is that they are made to remember Allah (swt) on account of these adversities. This makes them accustomed to remember Him and keep their thoughts busy with Him. It is natural for the believers to seek and turn to Allah (swt) for help in adversities; while in the times of comfort they forget and neglect it. A believer’s heart only gets content and rest while he remembers Allah (swt) as it is stated in the Holy Quran: “Those who believe, and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Ar-Rad 13:28)

How to deal with trials and tribulations?

Allah (swt) has stated in the holy Quran that the most powerful methods to bear calamities and trials are being patient and seeking help from Him through prayer.

“And seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer) and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khashiun (i.e. the true believers in Allah – those who obey Allah with full submission, fear much from His Punishment, and believe in His Promise (Paradise, etc.) and in His Warnings (Hell, etc.)).” (Al-Baqarah 2:45)

Inspiration from the Prophets (as)

a) Prophet Adam (as)

Allah (swt) forbade Adam (as) to eat from the forbidden tree in paradise; but he got impatient and listened to Iblees. As a result, he gained Allah’s (swt) wrath and was sent down to earth. It took forty years of Dua and patience by Adam (as) to be forgiven.

b) Prophet Yusuf (as) and Yaqoob (as)

Prophet Yusuf (as) was sent to prison for the crime that he had not committed, but he remained patient and was released after several years; while, on the other hand, Yaqoob (as) met his son after the patience of thirty-four years.

c) Prophet Ayoob (as)

Prophet Ayoob’s (as) story is the most famous story of patience and forbearance. He remained patient during his illness, which lasted for eighteen years, and kept supplicating.

The reward for the patient ones

The trials and tribulations faced by the believers, who remain patient and rely on Allah (swt), never go un-rewarded. This is what Allah (swt) has promised in the Holy Quran:

“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” They are those on whom are the Salawat (i.e. blessings, etc.) (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided-ones.” (Al-Baqarah 2:155-157)

“And be patient; verily, Allah loses not the reward of the good-doers.” (Hud 11:115)

May Allah (swt) place us among the patient believers, to whom Allah (swt) has promised greater rewards. Ameen.

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Anam 1

pearls3As we are seated in our houses in comfort and peace, there are fellow Muslims across the globe suffering for various reasons. Some of them are being tested by famine. Some of them are showered with bombs. Some of them are gripped by civil war. We might not be able to lessen their sufferings, but at least we can make Dua. We need to be sensitive to others people’s pains. May Allah (swt) bring them comfort and relief. Ameen.

“Remind!” for reminder has benefits

Allah (swt) has sent us several reminders through the Quran. These reminders are not merely to be heard, but we also need to pay heed and reform our lives to the pleasure of Allah (swt). The previous nations were much stronger and powerful than us, yet they were perished due to their negligence and disobedience. We need to study their stories so that we don’t repeat their mistakes.

Allah (swt) says, “Have they not seen how many a generation before them We have destroyed whom We had established on the earth such as We have not established you? And We poured out on them rain from the sky in abundance, and made the rivers flow under them. Yet We destroyed them for their sins, and created after them other generations.” (Al-Anam 6:6)

What goes around, comes around

Messengers after messengers were sent but it did not move their hearts. Their hearts were hardened. They would mock the messengers and hurt them. Sometimes today in our gatherings when Shaytan overtakes us, we make fun of the scholars. Remember, if today, we make fun of the messengers or the message that they brought; the scholars and the knowledgeable; the pious and the friends of Allah (swt), then someday, we will be made a laughing stock of. “And indeed, (many) Messengers were mocked before you. But their scoffers were surrounded by the very thing that they used to mock at. Say (O Muhammad (sa)): Travel in the land and see what was the end of those who rejected truth.” (Al-Anam 6:10-11)

Mock at your own risk

Don’t laugh at others. Sometimes, we lose our peace because we made fun of a scholar, a pious person or a friend of Allah (swt). We used the tongue that should be engaged in Quran recitation and Dhikr in abusing someone. We need to seek repentance and make Dua to Allah (swt) to soften our hearts; so that we don’t end up like the perished nations. This is the main purpose of reminders: to guide us and give us a wakeup call.

Further Allah (swt) talks about the reverence of the prophets, Allah’s (swt) message and friends of Allah (swt). The discussion, then moves on to Shirk, i.e., associating partners with Allah (swt). This is the most repeated topic of Surah Al-Anam, since the main addressees of this Surah were the idolaters of Makkah. Allah (swt) says, “And on the Day when We shall gather them all together, We shall say to those who joined partners in worship (with Us): Where are your partners (false deities) whom you used to assert (as partners in worship with Allah)? There will then be (left) no Fitnah (excuses or statements or arguments) for them but to say: By Allah, our Lord, we were not those who joined others in worship with Allah.” (Al-Anam 6:22-23) We need to thank Allah (swt) that unlike some other people who bow before a passing animal or revere an idol, He made us of those who worship the Creator. Alhamdulillah!

This world – a temporary abode

There are some people who say, “You live only once, do as you please.” They do not believe in the Resurrection. Allah (swt) addresses such people in the Quran and says, “And they said: There is no (other life) but our (present) life of this world, and never shall we be resurrected (on the Day of Resurrection). If you could but see when they will be held (brought and made to stand) in front of their Lord! He will say: Is not this (Resurrection and the taking of the accounts) the truth? They will say: Yes, by our Lord! He will then say: So taste you the torment because you used not to believe.” (Al-Anam 6:29-30) Yes, we do live our lives in this Dunya once; but one day we will be resurrected for an eternal life, and we don’t want to lose that.

Turn a deaf ear to the fools

Then Allah (swt) reminds us of how the Prophet (sa) was persecuted by the people of Makkah in the early days of Prophethood. He was called a sorcerer, a magician, a person after position and power, a person after money and so on; yet he remained patient and brought about victory.

Here’s a lesson for us. If the best of the creation was not spared, then how can we be spared? People will spread rumours about us and disturb our peace. Ignore them. Don’t waste your time in replying to them. And please don’t go into depression. Look at what Allah (swt) says, “We know indeed the grief which their words cause you (O Muhammad (sa)): it is not you that they deny, but it is the Verses (the Qur’an) of Allah that the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers) deny. Verily, (many) Messengers were denied before you (O Muhammad (sa)), but with patience they bore the denial, and they were hurt, till Our Help reached them, and none can alter the Words (Decisions) of Allah. Surely there has reached you the information (news) about the Messengers (before you).” (Al-Anam 6: 33-34)

If you are truthful and you have not snatched the rights of others, then Allah (swt) will protect you. As the saying goes, His help is near. Be patient and endure a little more.

Advocate the truth

This also teaches us another lesson. When we receive any information about someone else, if it does not concern us we don’t need to spread it around. And in case that we must share it with others, then we must verify its authenticity first before spreading the word; whether it is true or not! When we are away from Allah (swt), He puts a difficulty in our lives so that we might raise our hands in Dua. The question is: Must we wait for a calamity to strike before we connect with Allah (swt)?

Rags or riches – living with humility is the key

He says, “Verily, We sent (Messengers) to many nations before you (O Muhammad (sa)). And We seized them with extreme poverty (or loss in wealth) and loss in health with calamities so that they might believe with humility. When Our Torment reached them, why then did they not believe with humility? But their hearts became hardened, and Shaytan (Satan) made fair-seeming to them that which they used to do.” (Al-Anam 6: 42-43)

Sometimes, we look at people living in big houses and driving fancy cars; we look at them and conclude Allah (swt) must be really pleased with them to grant such blessings upon them. It is the way of Allah (swt) to open the doors to His treasures and let people enjoy themselves. He then observes their attitude. One would hope it would soften their hearts and make them humble. On the contrary, being blessed with worldly treasures people engage in all kinds of sins. Shaytan beautifies for them their sin. Their hearts become hardened and they do not even realize the evil that they are committing. It is then that they are struck by Allah’s (swt) wrath.

The point is that material possessions do not communicate one’s closeness to Allah (swt). Rather, it is one’s actual connection with Allah (swt) that determines one as the favoured ones. If the connection with Allah (swt) is missing from our lives then everything else is insignificant.

Muhammad (sa), Allah’s (swt) Messenger, owned very little and lived his life in poverty. Yet, he was the most content of the people. You know why? It is because he lived within his means and was generous. He never yearned for the treasures of Dunya. And if ever he was sent some gift or food, he would share it with others, especially the poor. Our problem is that we have increased our wants; which is why we see more and more people taking loans. Then committing suicide for not be able to pay the mountain of debt that they have burdened themselves with. Financial constraint has been noted as one of the reasons for marriage failures. You want peace? Limit your wants. For how long are you here in this world? Learn to live within the sustenance that Allah (swt) has provided you with.

A person sitting high above at the top, with every little blessing of this world within his means, can be destructed by the smallest nudge at the bottom. Ever observed a stack of books? You have meticulously arranged a pile of books. When you are placing the last book on the top, your foot accidentally touches the books at the bottom and there collapses your tower. One small nudge and all is gone. That is how Allah (swt) destructs nations.

Equality rules

Islam prohibits its followers from making money as the sole focus of their lives. When money and things become the criterion for judging someone’s character and status- the ones wealthy are considered as high and noble; while the poor ones are considered as unworthy and low. We learn that the weak and the poor were the first to accept Islam. Then Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (ra) and other rich Muslims spent their wealth in freeing of slaves. In Prophet’s (sa) gatherings, these weak and poor would be seated near to him, listening attentively to what the Prophet of Allah (swt) had to say. The Makkan leaders demanded the Prophet (sa) that if he wished to see them in his gathering, then he first needs to get rid of the weak and the poor. The Makkans were filled with pride and ostentation; they could not envisage being seated next to someone who was once their slave. Allah (swt) said, “And turn not away those who invoke their Lord, morning and afternoon seeking His Face. You are accountable for them in nothing, and they are accountable for you in nothing, that you may turn them away and thus, become of the Zalimun.” (Al-Anam 6:52)

Meet and greet

Further, He said, “When those who believe in Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) come to you, say: “Salamun ‘Alaikum” (peace be on you).” (Al-Anam 6:54) The weak and the poor are to be greeted by the most honourable greeting of the Muslims: Salam-un-Alaykum.

This tells us not to be a racist or judge people according to their skin colour, language or wealth. Don’t underestimate anyone; they might be the first ones to enter Paradise while we will still be defending ourselves in the court of Allah (swt). May Allah (swt) protect us, Ameen.

A person is judged by the company he keeps

One way of protecting our hearts and tongues from doing or uttering the most detested thing is not sitting with those who make fun of the verses of Allah (swt), as He says, “And when you (Muhammad (sa)) see those who engage in a false conversation about Our Verses (of the Qur’an) by mocking at them, stay away from them till they turn to another topic. And if Shaitan (Satan) causes you to forget, then after the remembrance sit not you in the company of those people who are the Zalimun.” (Al-Anam 6:68) In discussions people say, “Hey! We are studying the Quran and trying to understand religion.” But when these discussions are filled with foul language, abuses, mockery and ridicule then there is no Khair (goodness) in them. Get up and leave unless they talk about something else. If one keeps sitting with them, he will be influenced and become like them.

The courage to speak up, stop and leave the gathering of evil results in peace. If they can mock the Book of Allah (swt), tomorrow they will be ridiculing you. May Allah (swt) help us realize the consequences of our deeds, Ameen.

(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s “Pearls of Peace” series, Cape Town, Ramadan 2013. The lecture can be listened to at this link.)

Life of this world Vs Life Hereafter

holidayI couldn’t believe that the most awaited month of the year was finally here. Last November, when Moazzam, my husband, had first mentioned the idea on our anniversary, I was ecstatic. A trip to Europe? It was like a dream come true! Thus, began the process of planning and internet surfing. Moazzam didn’t want to use a travel agent’s service. We wanted to do it all by ourselves, our way!

“Hayya  Alas-Salah, Hayya Allal-Falah”, called the Moazzin from a nearby mosque, through a loud speaker.

My index finger scrolled down on the mouse of the laptop as my eyes scanned one holiday picture after another. The travel websites had loads of information and amazing pictures of the various European destinations with abundant mesmerizing scenic views. The clock was ticking by. Twenty minutes had passed since Adhan, the call for prayer and I was still glued to my laptop. I glanced out of my bedroom window. With the twilight fading, a flock of chirping birds were returning home.

We would love to get our few days’ hotel stay upgraded from twin sharing to suite deluxe but what about securing an upgrade in Jannah?

“It’s time for Maghrib prayer”, spoke Moazzam softly as he entered the bedroom. The cap on his head depicted that he had just returned from the mosque.

“Just a minute!” I replied. My eyes were still focused on the laptop’s screen while I Googled through various holiday packages. I wanted to make sure that we don’t miss out on Disney land during this trip (my five-year-old’s greatest wish) as well as England (to meet my cousin). So we were planning to explore five countries in all, within twenty days, namely Spain, England, France, Switzerland and Germany.

“Euro Rail might be a good option,” I thought. It would save us loads. “But how will we keep our two naughty tots busy at long stretches of 8 and 9 hours?” I wondered. “Perhaps I should search the web for assistance”.

We look for the best, because we simply want the best. Then how can we be so lame when it comes to saving for our eternal life, which is the ultimate holiday, the eternal one?

So I typed on the Google search bar “How to keep toddlers busy during a long journey”. A list of helpful sites appeared on the screen.  Most of the links belonged to websites on mommyhood and family-raising. I copied the links to read later in my free time. Then I moved on to hotels. The hotel booking engine exhibited a list of amazing and luxurious hotels with views to simply die for. Our budget allowed stay in three star hotels, but the photographs and added facilities of four star hotels were much more enticing.

“Holidays can be much more fun if we find some discounted packages of Four-star hotels or perhaps, get the rooms upgraded in the same budget”, I wondered, as I explored the front view of a renowned hotel in Spain.

Suddenly, an advertisement popped up on my screen out of nowhere. It read:

“Comfortable reclining seats and four course meals, now available in economy.” The advertisement showed a happy kid sitting with his dad in an airplane watching a cartoon movie, while his dad relaxed on a spacious reclined seat. Spread before the child, on the table was a scrumptious four meal course along with a free gift from the airline.

Our tickets had yet to be booked, but the airlines had already been chosen. Thanks to e-booking, my hubby had discovered the flights offering lower rates and holiday packages. We planned to fly via four different airlines. He wanted it to be a memorable vacation, something to savour in our old age, and I absolutely agreed to that.

Darkness had gradually begun to transcend on everything. The laptop’s black alphabet keys had started to blur, as sun rays bid their final farewell.  I frowned, while moving closer to the keyboard. “I should better start saving for MacBook”, feeling the need of a backlit keyboard, an image on the screen caught my attention. I glared at it closely. The serene beauty of a white sandy beach outlining a Turquoise Sea seemed so soothing, so heavenly… “Wait a minute; did I say “heavenly”?”

And then, it hit me. Hit me real hard! What was I doing? My prayer mat still lay folded on the room’s corner table, untouched. But I was so engrossed in planning the perfect family getaway that I forgot to say my prayers. I was spending hours and hours surfing the net, planning, and going crazy but over what? Just to grab deals to maximize the holiday experience, which would all be over within twenty days? What about the eternal holiday destination after death, which will be our final destination, solely depending upon our deeds and intentions? As emphasized in the Noble Quran:

 “…Are you pleased with the life of this world rather than the hereafter? But little is the enjoyment of the life of this world as compared with the Hereafter” (Al-Tawbah 9:38)

Sadly, the Muslims of today are least bothered about it. We would love to have a first class ticket to travel for a couple of hours, but what about the entry ticket to heaven? We would love to get our few days’ hotel stay upgraded from twin sharing to suite deluxe but what about securing an upgrade in Jannah? Who wouldn’t prefer a royal suite of a seven star to a regular twin of a one star hotel? Don’t we all desire a royal treatment in Jannah for eternity? As Muslims, we know that there are no bounds to Allah’s (swt) blessings for His obedient believers. We cannot fathom the love of Allah (swt) the exalted, nor imagine the bounties that He has in store in Jannah for His believers. And yet we run after our worldly desires, worldly possessions, forgetting that what Allah(swt) has in store in Jannah, has no comparison even to the best in this world.

The Prophet (sa) said: “The life of this world, compared to the hereafter, is as if one of you were to put his finger in the ocean and take it out again. Then, compare the water that remains on his finger to the water that remains in the ocean.” (Muslim)

Narrated by Jabir (ra), once the Messenger of Allah (swt) went through a market and came across the dead body of a deformed sheep. He took it by its ear and asked: “Which of you would like to have this for a Dirham?” Sahabah (rta) replied: “We would not like to have it for anything. What would we do with it?” He said: “Would you like to have it?” They said: “By Allah (swt), even if it was alive, it would be defective, since it is deformed, and now it is dead.” He said: “By Allah (swt), this world has less value with Allah (swt) than this has with you.” (Muslim)

Did we ever realize how much time and energy we spend in designing our houses and furnishing them? We look for the best, because we simply want the best. Then how can we be so lame when it comes to saving for our eternal life, which is the ultimate holiday, the eternal one?

May Allah (swt) enable us to enjoy the ultimate “holiday” experience in Jannah. Ameen!