The sad reality is that regardless of who we are, old or young, rich or poor, the high and mighty or just a ‘commoner’, the clock is running down on our lives on this earth. Every breath that we take may be our last; no one knows when and how but, our lives on this earth will one day come to an end.
The Qur’an says; “Every living thing must taste death and surely each will then be recompensed on the Day of Resurrection, so whosoever is saved from the Fire will be admitted to Paradise, such indeed gain the ultimate goal. And what is the life of this world except a provision of vanity. Wherever you are death will surely overtake you”. Verse 3:184 and 4:78.
Among the Biblical verses: ‘Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die’ (1Cor. 15; 32). “A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to breakdown, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn…..’ (Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – 22)
Let us embark on that journey that will be starting point to changing our lives so that we live a life as ordered by our Creator. Let us daily remind ourselves of the inevitability of death, it is only then that we will see our foolish worldly ways and consider changing them so that we find the way to the path of Our Lord. We need to change our lifestyles and even it may seem difficult we can start with the ‘small’ and daily things in our lives. We usually open a savings account at the bank to save money for our old age, but why don’t we also open a parallel ‘savings account’ to ‘deposit’ our good deeds so that they stand for us when the day of Judgement arrives?
It is therefore incumbent upon us to ensure that we live our lives in the manner as directed by our Lord and Creator. Let us embark on that journey that will be starting point of changing our lives so that we live a life as ordered by our Creator. Let us daily remind ourselves of the inevitability of death, it is only then that we will see our foolish worldly ways and consider changing them so that we find the way to the path of Our Lord. We need to change our lifestyles and even it may seem difficult we can start with the ‘small’ and daily things in our lives.
It is not too late to start – regardless of our age or time spent on this earth. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said; ’Take benefit of: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free-time before your preoccupation, and your life before your death.’
We have been granted great Blessings from the Almighty and it is up to us to ensure that we recognize those blessings and live a life in a manner which Pleases Allah. ‘So bring to remembrance the benefits you have received from Allah, and refrain from evil and mischief on the earth’ (Qur’an 7: 74)
Youth before old age
One of the things that most of us take for granted is our youth. When we are young we believe that we have a long life ahead of us so, why worry about doing it today there’s always tomorrow. We pay scant attention to religion and see it as something that we will start ‘practising’ as we get older. We should remember that people do not just magically become ‘good’ overnight; often, we find that bad habits of our youth follow us into our old age and are harder to dump.
Health before sickness
Even if we are blessed with a long life, how can we be sure that we will have the health both physical and mental to practice righteousness? We often take our health for granted and we often don’t realise is that our health is a blessing from Allah. When we are in good health, we take it for granted and seldom appreciate it. We should take advantage of our good health before we are overcome with illness or disability. It is only when we fall ill that we realise what a great blessing we had and how we let it go to waste by not practicing our religion as we know we could and should have done.
Wealth before poverty
Wealth is another blessing granted to us by Allah. Wealth does not necessarily mean that we have large amounts of savings, or that we can afford a huge house, a top-of-the-range car, fancy clothing and other worldly desirables. When we compare ourselves with people that have a lot more worldly possessions than we do, we often seem to overlook the simpler things such as a roof over our head clothes on our backs and food in our homes make us amongst the world’s wealthier people
There are millions of people in the world today that don’t have a roof over their heads, clean water to drink, and they don’t know where their next meal will be coming from. These are the people that we need to be helping with our wealth. Even a small donation can go a long way.
We should give as much as we can in the way of Allah, and we are assured of the rewards for doing so by Allah: ‘The likeness of those who spend their money for Allah’s sake, is as the likeness of a grain (of corn), it grows seven ears, every single ear has a hundred grains, and Allah multiplies (increases the reward) for whom He wills, and Allah cares for all and He knows all things.’. (Qur’an 2: 261)
Free time before preoccupation
Islam encourages us to make the most of our time, and to spend as much of it as possible in the way of Allah. We should utilise the time we have available to do as much good as we can, because before we know it, this time will have passed. We should use the time we have to do as much in the way of Allah as possible, because as time passes, we will have a lot more things to worry about, like jobs, homes and families – things that at present we aren’t necessarily worried about.
If we think that finding the time to practise our faith is difficult now, what will we do when life really starts to pick up pace? The concept of time is also important in Islam: ‘By (the token of) Time. Verily Man is in loss, except such as have faith and do righteous deeds, and in the mutual teaching of truth, of patience and constancy.’ (Qur’an 103: 1-3).
Life before death
The last thing that we have been advised to take advantage of is our life before our death. Every night when we go to sleep, without realising it, we enter a state ‘semi death’ because rarely do we know what goes on around us. When we wake up, it is only because Allah has blessed us by returning our ‘life’ and granting us the opportunity to worship Him for at least one more day. Upon waking up in the morning we do not fully appreciate how great a blessing it is to be given another chance.
We don’t fully appreciate that at some point – and only the Almighty knows – when our life will be taken away from us for good, leaving no second chance, no opportunity to make up for the wrongs we have done, and no turning back time. We should savour every moment and use it to our best advantage in pleasing Allah in order to achieve our goal of Heaven. ‘He Who created life and death, that He may try which of you is the best in deed… (Qur’an 67: 2)
There is a saying in South Africa which avers that, “the White man has no kin: his kin is money”. The saying rings very true considering what Mayer Amschel Rothschild – he of the planet’s wealthiest family – once said, that, “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws!”
To the white man, the dollar sign looms so large in his optics that it was precisely the reason he appropriated Africa towards the end of the 19th century. The idea was to develop his continent, Europe, at the same rate as he underdeveloped Africa. Yet he was driven as much by economic imperatives as by sheer greed and prejudice.
A “pagan” King violates the Jewish Temple by setting up an idol in the Holy of Holies
Why, General Atiku, has the Judean setting (present-day Israel/Palestine) being the focus of so much geopolitical fervour over the ages when it is so resource-poor and is not even that agriculturally fecund being a virtual desert? Why have all the superpowers of history locked horns over it since days immemorial?
Just a ‘teaser’: we are all complaining of the ‘hot weather’ and ‘heat’ – but think about it, is this a reminder / warning from the Almighty that if we find this weather ‘hot’ can you imagine what the ‘fires of hell’ will be like should we get there?
Let us take this as a reminder and a ‘warning’ that we should change our lifestyles so that we follow in the path of righteousness and that which our Lord has directed. Failing this we will face the ‘fire of hell’ which undoubtedly will be many times worse than what we are facing on this earth.
Because as humans we have been favoured and bestowed with the power of intellect thus we enjoy greatness over other creation, coupled with a greater responsibility. Should that responsibility be misused then only on the Day of Reckoning will he know we will live in joy or in grief forever.
Since the dawn of creation Allah has sent down thousands of messengers, dozens of Divine Books but only ONE universal Message to humanity. That message of Divine Revelation and guidance is clear, unambiguous and eternal:
Allah is One, He is Master and Creator of the universe and of mankind and to Him is due all worship and obedience.
He has sent humanity Divine Revelation and guidance through His Messengers and His Books.
As death is inevitable in this world, equally is our resurrection in the Hereafter where everyone will face the consequences of their belief, unbelief and conduct in this temporal world.
This is the basic message, teaching and belief of every religion and without doubt we will all be called to account for our lives in this world and the manner in which we conducted ourselves, will be rewarded thereafter, the consequences of which may be joy forever for some or grief forever for others.
“It is He [Allah] Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deeds and He is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.” (Qur’an: 67: 2)
In Islam the teachings of the Qur’an and the Last and Final Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) give clear guidance to the believer on how to live a life in this world so as to achieve success in the Hereafter.
‘If any do wish for the transitory things of this life, We readily grant them, such things as We will, to such persons as We will…… those who wish for the things of the Hereafter and strive for them with all due striving, and have faith, they are the ones whose striving is acceptable to Allah’ (Qur’an 17: 18-19)
In this world when a person sets out on a journey towards our Maker (Allah), he finds two paths, one leading to God and the other path to different destinations. A sincere and faithful believer will always try to find the right path and to live by the Divine injunctions, laws and code that his religion lays down. This requires us to live in harmony with the will of the Creator, in harmony with our own selves, and with the needs of the rest of creation. Unfortunately we have a tendency at times to toy with Divine Law and to surrender it to the laws of man and in the process to translate and interpret them into what fits in with our lifestyle of today.
If we are to use the intellect and the freedom of choice bestowed to us by God Almighty and follow His guidance, we will then live consciously in a state of “submission’ to Him, thus we will be virtuous. On the other hand when we ignore our Creators injunctions we work against the natural order, we tend to create discord, injustice and evil – and we become one without guidance. Therefore it is the intellect and the freedom of choice given to us that we are fully responsible for whatever we do.
However, it would be foolish for us to think of ourselves as totally independent and self-sufficient. If a person thinks in this manner, we become proud and. We will be inclined to become ungrateful for the bounties that we enjoy – the air that we breathe and the food we eat to sustain us, the eyes and ears we use to perceive the world around us, the tongue and lips we use to express our needs, wants and our inner most feelings and emotions. And being ungrateful, we will be inclined to forget or to reject the truth of the existence of God Almighty.
Unfortunately, people have varying views with regards to what the most important characteristic of a person is: for some it is the colour of his skin; for others, it is his economic situation – whether he is wealthy or poor; others think it is his , social or political standing, whether he is ruler or ruled; for others it is his social standing as an aristocrat, middle or working class; yet for some is his birth place and the language he speaks or the tribe he belongs to, etc..
‘Do men think that they will be left alone on saying “We believe”, and they will not be tested? We tested those before them, and Allah will certainly those who are true and those who are false’. (Quran 29: 2-3)
In Islam, these have no significance rather they are merely taken as signs of the creative power of God to enable people to recognise one another. The Almighty declares “O Mankind! Indeed we have created you as male and female, and have placed you in nations and tribes that you may have mutual recognition. However, the most honourable of you, in the sight of Allah is the one who is most God-conscious” (Qur’an: 49: 13)
Hence, the most important characteristic of a person is whether he is conscious of his Creator, believes in Him and through that consciousness submits to Him at all times and in all circumstances.
According to the Islamic view man is created by Allah in a pure state, free from sin. He also created us with the capacity or power to do both good and evil. He gave us the freedom to choose between doing good or evil. The good and evil therefore is connected with mankind’s freedom of choice and responsibility for their actions. “Good” may be whatever is pleasing to Allah and therefore beneficial to us. Whereas “Bad/evil” may be whatever incurs the anger of God and is therefore harmful to man.
‘By the soul, and the proportion and order given to it; And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right – truly he that succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it….. (Quran 91: 7-10)
Therefore one of mankind’s main tasks is to keep away from and ward off evil. This is why Taqwa, piety and God consciousness is repeatedly mentioned in the Qur’an as the most important quality a person should develop in this regard. This means one must be conscious at all times not to over step the limits set by God. It works as a defence against evil and temptation by keeping a person within the boundaries of piety.