All praises and thanks are due to Allah the Lord of the worlds. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon the noble Prophet Muhammad, his family, his Companions and those who follow his footstep till the Day of reckoning. Allah says in the Qur’an thus:
Q 3:102- O ye who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam.
Q 4:1-O mankind! reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women;- reverence Allah, through whom ye demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (That bore you): for Allah ever watches over you.
Q 33:70-1- O ye who believe! Fear Allah, and (always) say a word directed to the Right: That He may make your conduct whole and sound and forgive you your sins: He that obeys Allah and His Messenger, has already attained the highest achievement.
In the words of our noble Prophet Muhammad (sallah Allahu alayhi wasalaam) who said: Verily, the best speech is Allah’s speech; the best guidance is Muhammad’s (saw) guidance: and the worst matters (in creed or worship) are those innovated (by the people), for every innovated matter is bid’ah ( prohibited innovation), and every bid’ah is an act of misguidance that(whoever initiated it) will reside in the Fire.
The issue of salvation is central to the life of every believer as s/he is concerned about his/her ending and the recompense from Allah on the Last Day. But, the situation humanity finds herself today seems to suggest that we care less about our hereafter. As human beings, our lives is made of four phases:
In our mother’s womb,
The life we are enjoying now
Life in the grave/barzakh
The Day of Judgement- Day of Hisab
In each of the phases, Allah makes us to forget what happened in the period phase. Immediately a child is born, the baby does not remember the exclusive life enjoyed the womb of her mother. Again, no matter how long a person stays in this world s/he forgets everything about the world immediately s/he received the guest of death. The person does not remember the wives or husband, children, fleet of cars or aeroplane and beautiful mansions in various luxurious areas of major world cities. The account of the hereafter occupies an important place in the doctrines of Islam. In fact the belief in the hereafter and the recompense that accompanies it is the pillar of faith in Islam. As a result of its importance in the doctrines of Islam, Allah has used many names for this Great Event. Scholars of Islam like Al-Ghazaali and Qurtubi counted them and listed fifty names for this Day/Reality. This is to bring to the fore its importance to humankind.
GLIMPSES OF THE REALITY OF OUR TIME
One of the ways for us to ponder in the reality of our time is that humankind are merely competing on the world but not competing about Akhirah. We compete in the acquisition of worldly possessions; houses, cars, positions, wives, children and others but there is no competition among us on how to get salvation of Allah by preparing for our hereafter. Mosques and Islamic study cycles where people don’t pay gate fees are empty but club houses where immoralities are committed are full to capacity with fees, football viewing centres are full even before the commencement of a football match while jumat mosques are empty only to fill up when iqamah is made. Many of us are busy with worldly pursuits and our daily prayers are joined together without remorse. Most Imams preach to empty mosques on Friday during the compulsory khutbah(sermon).
In the pursuit of the world, human beings have not been able to conquer the world for themselves as we find out today that life expectancy is very short(45years in Nigeria). We should also note that most people learn to worship Allah very late in their lives. How long have you been worshipping your Lord with sincerity and dedication He deserves? In the rat race for worldly pursuits, modern diseases and ailments are on the rise. Diseases of affluence like diabetes, organ failures, and heart attacks are common today. Like earlier noted, mosques are populated by the elderly while the youths are in Club houses and football viewing centres. There is no gainsaying the obvious that many times are wasted on social media rather than in the pursuit of why we were created. Allah says in Q 51:56 that, ‘I have not created humankind and jinns except to worship Me’. This is the basis of the opportunity given to us as human being on the surface of the earth. In the same vein, digital friends (facebook, twitter etc) are replacing family and brotherhood of Islam. We boast of the followers we have on social media while the real friends are abandoned. Parents don’t have time for their children at home because they are busy chatting with friends in the other continent. Husband and wife are so far from one another due to the evil of Smartphone. The homes are very dry today as there is no more humour, families don’t pray together or eat together as a family. The team spirit of Islam is undermined by raging controversies among the youths on Salafiyah, Ahl Sunnah, La Jamaah on subsidiary issues of Islam and many pseudo ulama are busy recruiting Muslims for wealth, slavish invitation and some charlatans also assume to be Muslim clerics are caught almost daily involving in human parts sales for various satanic rituals. What is expected of a Muslim in a world described above?
LET YOUR LIFE BE LIVED AS A MUSLIM
Allah has given humankind Islam as the only religion to provide eternal bliss and salvation for humankind. The central call of the religion is to bring human being from the servitude of Allah’s creatures to the servitude of Allah alone. Islam is a life banner for you as Allah commanded that ‘ do not die except you die as a Muslim’[Q 3:102]. Many people make resolution to start practising Islam at 40! Who told the person of the assurance of reaching that age in life? Many people see Islam as a family thing. The usual saying is that in our family, we are Muslims! Islam is not a birth right but the Gift of Allaah to you. Your servitude to Allah alone is what is requires of anyone to be under the shade of Allah. It is not family history but individual effort as ‘humankind can have nothing except what s/he strives for’ [Q53:39]. The central message here is that we must avoid the distractions of life like peer influence, social media, bad attitude to be a successful believer. Sports and entertainment are the current idols human being worship. The idolization of fame, sports and amusements have contributed to time wastage among Muslim youths and some elders who are football lovers.
HOW DO WE MAINTAIN OUR LIVES BEFORE THE REALITY?
Establish a Muslim home. The home to a Muslim is a place of tranquillity and a place where Allah is worship and glorified. This is captured in Q10:87, ‘make your home to be a place where Allah is worshipped’. The home is composed of family members and in establishing a home we must choose our partners wisely and with right intention. The Prophet (sallah Allahu alayhi wasalaam) said: “A woman may be married for four things: her wealth, her lineage, her beauty or her religion. Choose the one who is religious, may your hands be rubbed with dust [i.e., may you prosper]!” (Agreed upon
The right choice according to Islam is someone with right religious understanding. The bane of the ummah today is due to the dwindling fortune of Islam in many homes. It is obligatory on everyone to create an atmosphere of faith in the home. This is achieved by acquiring Islamic knowledge, participating in mosque activities and by attending Islamic programmes.
Choose your friends wisely. Allah prescribes in Q 9:119 that, ‘O you who believe fear Allah and always be with the company of the righteous’. The essence of friendship in Islam is that they must be believers in Allah, who are righteous and even knowledgeable about the religion. When you forget a thing, they remind you, when you fall, they lift you up. We must be careful of sensational affection of Ustaz and Shaykhs in the name of learning the religion of Islam as such affections have led to great consequences for many youths. Some of them have become unprepared wives with no access to family and education.
Engage in Dhikr : Ibn Qayyim said: Allah’s protection and defending of Muslims will be in accordance with their remembrance of Him. So whoever is more perfect in faith and remembrance will have greater protection and defence from Allah and whoever has less faith and remembrance gets less defence and protection. Allah says in Q2:152 , ‘Remember Me and I will remember you’. Again in Q20:124, Allah says, ‘But whosoever turns away from My Reminder, verily, for him is a life of hardship, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection.' Also in Q 43:36, He says, ‘And whosoever turns away blindly from the remembrance of the Most Gracious, We appoint for him Shaytan to be a Qarin (a companion) to him’.
Make tawbah(Repentance) repeatedly. Tawbah is a journey from the disliked to the liked. Allah loves the one who has sinned and quickly seek repentance from Allah and never return to the sin again. Ibn Taymiyyah also said, "The praiseworthy fear is that which prevented you from the prohibitions of Allah. The essence of repentance is that the one who makes tawbah it often is like someone who has not sin before.
Adorn yourself with good manners. The beauty of Islam lies in its beautiful etiquettes of life and the one who is a Muslim must submit to the beautiful manners prescribed by Islam. There is no doubt that many of us are very harsh and lack good manners while we wear Islamic identity. What Islam does in our lives is to remove the ignorant lives and substitute it with beautiful conduct. Allah describes Prophet Muhammad (sallah Allahu alayhi wasalaam) with beautiful conduct (Q 68:4) and as a role model (Q 33:21). We should also spread kindness among ourselves as the Prophet (sallah Allahu alayhi wasalaam) said,“Anything in which there is kindness it beautifies it”. In order to be successful in the world we live today we must frequently flee to Allah and not to follow the crowd as the Q 51:50 says, ‘So, flee to Allah (from His Torment to His Mercy.’
Be a Beloved of Allah. In order to achieve this purpose, Ibn al-Qaiyim mentioned ten items that we must struggle to do in our lives and they are:
Reciting the Qur'an regularly and follow the teachings.
Performing voluntary deeds after completing obligatory deeds.
Dhikrullah under all circumstances, with one's tongue, heart and actions.
Giving precedence to what Allah loves over what you love when you are overtaken by your desires.
The heart being avid of Allah's Names, and Attributes and the heart roaming in that garden of knowledge.
Observing Allah's kindness, goodness and bounties, both hidden and open.
The heart being soft, subdued and meek before Allah.
Do Tahajjud(night salat) regularly and ask for forgiveness and repent.
Sit with the beloved and sincere by benefitting from the most fruitful of their speech and not to speak unless speaking is more beneficial and you know that it will improve your state and be beneficial to others.
Remaining away from every cause that comes between the heart and Allah[Madarij Salikeen]
STRUGGLE FOR REAL LEGACY
The houses we built, the award we gathered around the globe and the position we attained in the world are not the real legacy for salvation as a Muslim. They do not outlive us and what outlives us is the real legacy. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Among what continues to accrue for a believer of his good works after death are the following:
Knowledge that he learned and then imparted to others,
A pious child whom he left behind,
A copy of the Qur’ân that he bequeathed,
A mosque that he built,
A guest house he built for travelers,
A river/well that he made to flow,
and charity he spends from his wealth when he is in good health – all of this continues to avail him after his death.” [Sunan Ibn Majah and Sunan al-Bayhaqî – and graded as good (hasan) by al-Albânî]
LET US PREPARE FOR A GOOD ENDING:
It is not the life we live that matters but how purposeful our lives are in accordance to the dictate of our Lord. In order to achieve that good ending, we must learn to be satisfied with the little, by detaching ourselves from those who are engrossed with the world, by eating halal(lawful) and earning halal(lawful) and remembering death always. These are the path of our righteous predecessors. We conclude this essay with a final jewel that:
Whosoever worships Allaah for love alone is a zindeeq(heretic) and whosoever worships Him for hope alone is a Murjii(who believes sins impart no harm as long as there is faith) and whosoever worships Him for fear is a Khawarij. But whoever worships Him for Love, Hope and Fear is indeed a Muwaheed (who clings to Tawheed)
May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon the noble Prophet Muhammad (sallah Allahu alayhi wasalaam)
Prof. Abdulrazaq KIlani (FCAI)
University of Port Harcourt
Email: [email protected]