Obsession and Preoccupation with the Worldly Life

          If we reflect back to our childhood and the old days, we will see one thing standing out: the easy, cheerful and carefree time we used to enjoy.  Move to present day and one wonders what happened to our world.  Now many people seem to be preoccupied and afflicted with worries of all types.  No longer can one enjoy a peaceful life away from anxieties, fears, dreads, and outright panic and stresses.  Modern life is a lot more advanced, but it seems there is a negative side associated with it.  Does Islam have any remedy for that?

Indeed, Islam defined the purpose of this life from the outset, and encouraged the believers to try to fulfill and reach that real goal of life.

Allah -the Exalted- says in Qur’an: {

  1. And I (God) did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me (Alone).
  2. I seek not any provision from them nor do I ask that them to feed Me.
  3. Verily, Allah is the All-Provider, Owner of Power and Strength} (Surah 51, verses 56-58).

Thus, God declares that the real purpose of this life is to worship Him alone, obey His commands, and believe in all of His true messengers (From Prophet Adam, to Prophet Noah, Prophet Abraham, Prophet Moses, Prophet Jesus, to Prophet Muhammad).  Whoever does that then God has promised him a peaceful life in this world and an eternal bliss in Paradise.  But when a human forgets that fact and starts focusing on the worldly life then that peace is lost and new worries and anxieties start developing.

There is a famous proverb that states: ‘Too much bursts the bag’, and if we think about it we see how true this statement is.  Too much food turns out to be bad for health, too much drink can have fatal consequences, and so on.  Excessiveness always leads to negative effects and undesirable consequences.

The same is true for the worldly life.  When we become too engrossed in the world and start forgetting and neglecting the real purpose of life, we are struck with new worries and anxieties that did not afflict us before.  When we give preference to this life over the Hereafter, we start losing faith and peace of mind and soul, thus shattering our sense of tranquility and contentment.  And when we devote our attention and focus to this world and forget the other world, we start losing the real blessings from heavens and must contend with new traits that we didn’t have before like covetousness, greed, rivalry, envy, sadness, depression, and others.

Indeed, Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- warned against this engrossment in the worldly life (dunya) and foretold its dire consequences:

    عن زيد بن ثابت رضي الله عنه قال: سمعتُ رسولَ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم يقول: « مَنْ كَانَتِ الدُّنْيَا هَمَّهُ فَرَّقَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ أَمْرَهُ، وَجَعَلَ فَقْرَهُ بَيْنَ عَيْنَيْهِ، وَلَمْ يَأْتِهِ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا مَا كُتِبَ لَهُ، وَمَنْ كَانَتِ الْآخِرَةُ نِيَّتَهُ جَمَعَ اللَّهُ لَهُ أَمْرَهُ، وَجَعَلَ غِنَاهُ فِي قَلْبِهِ، وَأَتَتْهُ الدُّنْيَا وَهِيَ ‏رَاغِمَةٌ» .  رواه ابن ماجه والطبراني وابن حبان.

   Narrated Zaid Ibn Thabit -may Allah be pleased with him- said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah -prayer and peace be upon him- say: ‘Whose ever concern is the worldly life (dunya), God will separate him from his goal, place poverty before his eyes, and nothing of the worldly life will come to him except what was preordained for him.  And whose ever intention is the Hereafter, God will fulfill his goal, place richness in his heart, and the worldly life (dunya) will come to him unwillingly.’ ”  Related by Ibn Majah, Al-Tabarani, and Ibn Hibban (Authentic narration).

We see the truth of the Divine message of Prophet Muhammad in his many hadith.  This is one of them, how true his words came out to be.

Nowadays, when some people became too engrossed in the world, and forgot everything else, they were struck with a sense of greed and covetousness that is never satisfied.  They work day and night, and still feel the need to work more.  They occupy themselves the whole time, and still feel anxious and are besotted with worries about the future.  They devote their attention and effort to this life, but they end up feeling empty and purposeless at the end of the day. Moreover, their endless worry and anxiety result in new diseases and psychological illnesses that were rare before, like heart disease, depression, nervous breakdowns, and others.

Their condition becomes just like one of the companions of the Prophet described:

    عن أبي الدرداء رضي الله عنه، قال: ( ويل لكل جمَّاع، فاغر فاه كأنه مجنون، يرى ما عند الناس ولا يرى ما عنده، ولو يستطع لوصل الليل بالنهار، ويله من حساب غليظ وعذاب شديد).

   Narrated Abu Ad-Darda’ -may Allah pleased with him- said: “Woe to every collector (of wealth), open-mouthed greedy like a mad person, who regards the possessions of other people and disregards his own, and if he could work continuously all day and night he would have done so; woe to him from severe reckoning and painful punishment (by God).”

While the Muslim is instructed to work for his world and earn a good permissible earning, he is also instructed to make his main focus the Hereafter and the soon to come real life.  While the Muslim should be struggling and working for this life, his attention and focus should be devoted to his Hereafter.  The Muslim should be concerned and preoccupied with following God’s commands as best as possible, and relegate the worldly endeavors to second position.  The Muslim should find some time for this deen (religion) and do his best to fulfill his religious obligations first, and then think of his worldly duties.  Indeed, if this balance is broken, then the peace of mind and soul are shattered with it.  On the other hand, when this order is maintained then God Who is the real Provider, will provide for him both in this world and the Hereafter.  The Muslim must struggle for this world, but he should struggle harder for his other world to come to gain success in both.  And Allah knows best.

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Morality and Good Character

 

     قال الله تعالى: { إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنْكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ} سورة النحل، آية 90.

      Allah -the Exalted- says: { Verily, Allah orders justice, kindness, and giving (help) to the relatives.  And Allah forbids immoral sins, evil, and oppression.  He admonishes you that perhaps you may take heed} (Surah 16, verse 90).

     وعن أبي الدرداء رضي الله عنه أن النبيَّ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « مَا مِنْ شَيْءٍ أَثْقَلُ في مِيزَانِ المُؤْمِنِ يَوْمَ القِيَامَة مِنْ حُسْنِ الخُلُقِ، وإِنَّ اللَّهَ يُبغِضُ الفَاحِشَ البَذِيءَ» .  رواه الترمذي وابن حبان.

     Narrated Abu Ad-Darda’ -may Allah be pleased with him- that the Prophet -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “There is nothing heavier in the Scale of the faithful (Mu’min) on the Day of Judgment than good morals (Husn Al-Khuluq).  And Allah dislikes the indecent, foul mouthed.”  Related by Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Hibban.

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Good morals and conduct is what distinguishes the son of Adam from other creatures.  While the law of the jungle gives the power and authority to the strongest and may entail violating the rights of the weak and old (a lesson from we which we can learn), the rules of Islam and religion dictate fairness and justice to each individual and in every aspect of the human life.  Not only is the Muslim supposed to have the best morals and code of honor, but he is also supposed to protect the rights of the weak and the old as well.  Thus, not only is the Muslim a fair and just person who strives to be good and do good to others, but the whole community is composed of individuals who take care of each other and look after one another.

As the above hadith shows good morals are one of the greatest good deeds in Islam.  Islam encourages the Muslim to have good morals in every aspect of his life, and with every person with whom he deals.  The true Muslim is characterized by honesty, truthfulness, patience, generosity, justice, kindness and good manners.  These characteristics give the Muslim his identity and reflect his true inner faith in God.

       A true believer or Mu’min is someone who firmly believes in the Hereafter and the Day of Judgment; therefore, he strives to have good morals and rid himself of bad characteristics or vices.  The believer knows the blessed effects of good morals both in this life and in the Hereafter, and therefore tries hard to cultivate his good morals.  Good morals lead to peace and happiness in this life, and to Paradise in the Hereafter.  A Muslim with good morals not only leads a happy contented life, but also projects that happiness and contentment to others around him.

On the other hand, the Muslim understands the effects of vices on one’s faith and the recompense of such a bad deed both in this life and the Hereafter.  As for faith, vices and bad characteristics work to weaken faith, until the person becomes immoral and loses his moral sense.  This leads the person to immorality and sin, which leads to misery and different kinds of anxieties and depression.  In the Hereafter, vices and bad characteristics lead to Hell-fire, as much as they destroyed one’s sense of morality and faith.

Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- warned that as time passes by and we draw near to the Day of Judgment, faith will weaken, and immorality will appear and become widespread.  What used to be considered wrong before starts to be considered right; what used to be considered shameful before starts to be accepted; what used to be considered socially unacceptable before starts to be seen commonly; what used to be considered unjust before starts to be practiced by many; and so forth.  The Prophet -prayer and peace be upon him- warned that when such a time appears, then torments and disasters would appear as well.

Indeed, when basic values and principles are no longer respected and applied, when the laws of God are no longer followed, and when the commands of God are violated, then natural forces are given permission to take their course and that may lead to natural disasters and calamities.

Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- warned against this inversion of morality and values, and talked about the consequence of such actions in the following hadith: 

   وعن أبي هريرة  رضي الله عنه عن النبيِّ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: «‏ إِذَا اتُّخِذَ الفَيْءُ دُوَلًا، ‏وَالأَمَانَةُ مَغْنَمًا، وَالزَّكَاةُ ‏مَغْرَمًا،‏ ‏وَتُعُلِّمَ لِغَيْرِ الدِّينِ، وَأَطَاعَ الرَّجُلُ امْرَأَتَهُ، ‏وَعَقَّ ‏‏أُمَّهُ، وَأَدْنَى صَدِيقَهُ، وَأَقْصَى أَبَاهُ، وَظَهَرَتِ الأَصْوَاتُ فِي المَسَاجِدِ، وَسَادَ القَبِيلَةَ فَاسِقُهُمْ، وَكَانَ زَعِيمُ الْقَوْمِ أَرْذَلَهُمْ، وَأُكْرِمَ الرَّجُلُ مَخَافَةَ شَرِّهِ، وَظَهَرَتِ ‏القَيْنَاتُ ‏‏وَالمَعَازِفُ، وَشُرِبَتْ الخُمُورُ، وَلَعَنَ آخِرُ هَذِهِ الأُمَّةِ أَوَّلَهَا، ‏‏فَلْيَرْتَقِبُوا ‏‏عِنْدَ ذَلِكَ رِيحًا حَمْرَاءَ، وَزَلْزَلَةً وَخَسْفًا ‏‏وَمَسْخًا ‏‏وَقَذْفًا، ‏‏وَآيَاتٍ ‏‏تَتَابَعُ ‏ ‏كَنِظَامٍ ‏‏بَالٍ ‏قُطِعَ سِلْكُهُ فَتَتَابَعَ» .  رواه الترمذي.

 

   Narrated Abu Hurairah -may Allah be pleased with him- that Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “

  • When the booty (public money) is taken by some people apart from others,
  • When the trusted item is taken as a loot,
  • When charity is regarded as penalty,
  • When the knowledge (of religion) is acquired for other purposes,
  • When the man obeys his wife and disobeys his mother,
  • When the man brings close his friend and keeps away his father,
  • When people speak loudly in the houses of worship,
  • When the dissolute sinful person dominates over his tribe,
  • When the most vile person becomes the ruler of his people,
  • When the man is honored for fear of his evil,
  • When female singers and music instruments become prevalent,
  • When wines are drunk abundantly, and
  • When the late of this nation curse the early of this nation,
  • Then let them watch and wait for a red wind, earthquake, landslide, figure deformation, pelting from the sky, and successive signs that will appear like falling beads from an old necklace that has broken so its beads continue to fall one by one.” Related by Al-Tirmidhi.

 

          Thus, Good Morals and conduct not only create a peaceful and just society that lives in peace and prosperity, but good morality also dispel calamities and disasters and keep them at bay.  The Muslim should always strive for good morals and should cultivate good characteristics such as justice, patience, kindness, forgiveness, and others.  The Muslim should also try to rid himself of bad characteristics or vices like pride, injustice, jealousy, greed, covetousness, and others.   Good morals is the identity of the true Muslim and reflects his inner true faith.  And Allah knows best.

 

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Ingratitude and Complaining

 

     قال الله تعالى: { أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُواْ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْاْ مِن قَبْلِكُم مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَآءُ وَالضَّرَّآءُ وَزُلْزِلُواْ حَتَّى يَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ مَعَهُ مَتَى نَصْرُ اللَّهِ أَلاَ إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ} سورة البقرة 214.

      Allah -the Exalted- says: { Do you think that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, “When (will come) the help of Allah” Yes! Certainly, the help of Allah is near!} (Surah 2, verse 214).

    عن أبي يَحْيَى صُهَيْبِ بْنِ سِنَانٍ رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسولُ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم: « عَجَباً لأمْرِ المُؤْمِنِ إِنَّ أَمْرَهُ كُلَّهُ لَهُ خَيْرٌ، وَلَيْسَ ذَلِكَ لأِحَدٍ إِلاَّ لِلْمُؤْمِن: إِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ سَرَّاءُ شَكَرَ فَكَانَ خَيْراً لَهُ، وَإِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ ضَرَّاءُ صَبَرَ فَكَانَ خيْراً لَهُ» .  رواه مسلم .

   Narrated Abu Yahya, Suheib Ibn Sinan -may Allah be pleased with him- that the Messenger of Allah -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “How wonderful is the case of a believer for there is good in every affair of his, and this is not the case with anyone else except for the believer.  When a good thing happens to him, he thanks Allah and that is good for him; and when a trouble befalls him, he endures it patiently and that is better for him.”  Related by Imam Muslim.

 

Allah -the Exalted- created the humans and jinns to worship Him and obey His commands. Allah -the Exalted- says in Qur’an:

{And I (Allah) did not create the jinns and humans except to worship Me (Alone)} (surah 51, verse 56).

Then those who obey God will have the reward of Paradise, and those who disobey God and reject His commands will have the punishment of Hell-Fire.  Therefore, this life is a test for humans and jinns; whether they believe or disbelieve, whether they obey or disobey the commands of God, and whether they show thanks and gratitude or impatience and ingratitude.

The test of the worldly life includes having problems, trials and tribulation that the son of Adam must go through in order to distinguish between the true believers and the hypocrites and disbelievers.  As the above verse mentions, in order to get the greatest Reward of Paradise the believer must pass a test.  Everyone must pass through this test, both past generation and present, both righteous and sinners, and both old and young.  These tests come in the form of problems, trials and tribulations.  The test may afflict the person in his health, wealth, family, life, or worse of all in his religion.

When the test afflicts the son of Adam, his reaction and responses are recorded.  Then the recompense is tended based on that.  For the believer who stands firm in the face of these calamities, bears them patiently, returns to Allah and seeks His help, the result is great reward and the promise of peace of heart and contentment in this life and Paradise in the Hereafter.  But for that who complains and shows impatience and ingratitude, the recompense is more misery in this life and punishment in the Hereafter.

 

Many times we forget the real purpose of the worldly life and as soon as a problem befalls us, we tend to complain and show signs of impatience and ingratitude.  Some people go further and ask: Why this happened to me?  When a natural disaster strikes, some wonder: why us?

But how soon the son of Adam forgets his own actions and ignore the consequences of his bad deeds until it is too late.  Allah -the Exalted- states in Qur’an: {And whatever befalls you of disaster, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much} (Surah 42, verse 30).  Ali Ibn Abi Talib said: “Hardships befall you in the world because of your sins.”  Instead of complaining and showing ingratitude, the believer must first repent of all sins and ask Allah’s forgiveness.  Second, the believer must remind himself of the test of trials and tribulations of this world, and then bear the problem patiently, seeking Allah’s help.  And third, the believer must surrender to Allah’s will and accept Pre-destiny, believing that God has judged this way and the slave must accept it while in the meantime try his best to find a solution.

The believer must remember that previous nations went through the same trials and tribulations and now they are being tended the reward or punishment of their actions (in their graves).  One day we will be considered a past generation and we too will see the results of our actions in the Hereafter after death.   And just like when previous nations indulged in sins, they saw the effects of that in their worldly life, so will we.  Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- warned of such sins:

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عُمَرَ، قَالَ أَقْبَلَ عَلَيْنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ فَقَالَ ‏ “‏ يَا مَعْشَرَ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ خَمْسٌ إِذَا ابْتُلِيتُمْ بِهِنَّ وَأَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ أَنْ تُدْرِكُوهُنَّ لَمْ تَظْهَرِ الْفَاحِشَةُ فِي قَوْمٍ قَطُّ حَتَّى يُعْلِنُوا بِهَا إِلاَّ فَشَا فِيهِمُ الطَّاعُونُ وَالأَوْجَاعُ الَّتِي لَمْ تَكُنْ مَضَتْ فِي أَسْلاَفِهِمُ الَّذِينَ مَضَوْا ‏.‏ وَلَمْ يَنْقُصُوا الْمِكْيَالَ وَالْمِيزَانَ إِلاَّ أُخِذُوا بِالسِّنِينَ وَشِدَّةِ الْمَؤُنَةِ وَجَوْرِ السُّلْطَانِ عَلَيْهِمْ ‏.‏ وَلَمْ يَمْنَعُوا زَكَاةَ أَمْوَالِهِمْ إِلاَّ مُنِعُوا الْقَطْرَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ وَلَوْلاَ الْبَهَائِمُ لَمْ يُمْطَرُوا وَلَمْ يَنْقُضُوا عَهْدَ اللَّهِ وَعَهْدَ رَسُولِهِ إِلاَّ سَلَّطَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ عَدُوًّا مِنْ غَيْرِهِمْ فَأَخَذُوا بَعْضَ مَا فِي أَيْدِيهِمْ ‏.‏ وَمَا لَمْ تَحْكُمْ أَئِمَّتُهُمْ بِكِتَابِ اللَّهِ وَيَتَخَيَّرُوا مِمَّا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ إِلاَّ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ بَأْسَهُمْ بَيْنَهُمْ ‏”‏ رواه ابن ماجه والحاكم والبيهقي، بإسناد حسن.

   It was narrated that Abdul-Allah Ibn ‘Umar said: “The Messenger of Allah -prayer and peace be upon him- turned to us and said: ‘O group of the Muhajireen )the migrants), beware of being afflicted with five characteristics, and I seek refuge in Allah of them befalling you:

  1. Adultery  never appears among a group of people to such an extent that they commit it openly, but plagues and diseases that were never known among their predecessors will spread among them.
  2. They do not cheat in weights and measures but they will be stricken with famine, hardship in provision, and the oppression of their rulers.
  3. They do not withhold the Zakah (charity) of their wealth, but rain will be withheld from the sky, and were it not for the animals, no rain would fall on them.
  4.  They do not break their covenant with Allah and His Messenger, but Allah will enable their enemies to overpower them and take some of what is in their hands.
  5. And unless their leaders rule according to the Book of Allah and seek all good from that which Allah has revealed, Allah will cause them to fight one another.’”  Related by Ibn Majah, Al-Hakim, and Al-Beihaqi.

 Then the sensible person should reflect upon his action when afflicted with a problem or a calamity.  The believer should remind himself of the purpose of the life and the test he must pass through to attain Paradise.  The Muslim should always think of trials and tribulations as something that will absolve him of his sins and increase his reward; therefore instead of complaining and showing ingratitude, he should bear the problem patiently, turn to Allah and seek His help, and surrender to Pre-destiny and accept Allah’s Judgment while trying his best to find a way out of his trouble.  We ask Allah to guide us to the Right Path, and make us die on Iman.  And Allah knows best.

 

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