A few seconds or a few hours?

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Think about a typical holiday: after months of hard work, you have your two weeks' vacation and arrive at your favourite holiday resort after an exhausting eight hours' ride. The lobby is crowded with holidaymakers like you. You even notice familiar faces and greet them. The weather is warm and you do not want to miss one moment enjoying the sunshine and the calm sea, so without losing any time, you find your room, put on your swimsuit and hurry to the beach. At last, you are in the crystal-clear water, but suddenly you are startled by a voice: "Wake up, you will be late for work!"

You find these words nonsense. For a moment, you cannot grasp what is happening; there is an incomprehensible discrepancy between what you see and hear. When you open your eyes and find yourself in your bedroom, the fact that it was all a dream astonishes you greatly. You cannot ke ep yourself from expressing this astonishment: " I rode eight hours to reach there. Despite the freezing cold outside here today, I felt the sunshine there in my dream. I felt water splashing on my face."

The eight hours' drive to the resort, the time you waited in the lobby, in short everything related to your vacation was actually a dream of a few seconds. Though indistinguishable from real life, what you experienced in a genuine way was merely a dream.

This suggests that we may well be awoken from life on earth just as we are awoken from dream. Then, disbelievers will express exactly the same type of astonishment. In the course of  their lives, they could not liberate themselves from the misperception that their lives would be long. Yet, at the time when they will be recreated, they will comprehend that the period of time which appears to have been a lifetime of sixty or seventy years was as if it were merely a few seconds' duration. Allah relates this fact in the Qur'an:

He will say: "What number of years did you stay on earth?" They will say: "We stayed a day or part of a day: but ask those who keep account." He will say: "You stayed not but a little,  if you had only known!" (Surat al-Muminun: 112-114)



Whether it be ten years or a hundred, man will eventually realise the shortness of his life as the verse above relates. This is just like the case of a man who wakes up from dream bitterly witnessing the vanishing of all images of a nice, long holiday, suddenly realising that it had merely been a dream of a few seconds' length. Similarly, the shortness of life will most strike man when all else about his life is forgotten. Allah enjoins careful attention to this fact in the following verse of the Qur'an:

On the day that the hour (of reckoning) will be established, the transgressors will swear that they tarried not but an hour: thus were they used to being deluded! (Surat ar- Rum: 55)



No less than those who live for a few hours or a few days, those who live for seventy years also have a limited time in this world… Something limited is bound to end one day. Be life eighty or a hundred years long, each day brings man closer to that predestined day. Man, in reality, experiences this fact throughout the course of his life. No matter how long-term a plan he devises for himself, one day he attains that specific time when he will accomplish his goal. Every precious objective or thing deemed a turning point in one's life soon turns out merely to have been a passing whim.

Think of a boy, for instance, who recently entered high school. Typically, he cannot wait for the day on which he will graduate. He looks forward to it with unrestrained eagerness. Yet soon he finds himself enrolling in college. At this stage of his life, he does not even recall the long years of high school. He already has other things on his mind; he wants to take advantage of these precious years to ease his fears for the future. Hence, he makes numerous plans. Before long, he becomes busy arranging his forthcoming wedding, a very special occasion that he eagerly awaits. Yet time passes faster than he expected and he leaves many years behind him and finds himself a man supporting a family. By the time he becomes a grandfather, an old man now in declining health, he faintly recalls the events from which he derived pleasure as a young man. Grim memories do fade. The troubles that obsessed him as a young man interest him no more. Only a few images of his life unfurl before his eyes. The appointed time approaches. The time left is very limited; a few years, months or possibly even just days. The classic story of man, without exception, ends here with a funeral service, immediate family members, close friends and relatives attending. The reality is that no man is immune to this end.

Nevertheless, from the beginning of history, Allah has instructed man about the temporary nature of this world and described the Hereafter, his real and eternal residence. Many details pertaining to paradise and hell are depicted in the revelations of Allah. Despite this fact, man tends to forget this essential truth and tries to invest all his efforts in this life, even though it is short and temporary. However only those who assume a rational approach to life are summoned to clarity of mind and consciousness and realise that this life is not worth anything compared to the eternal one. That is why man's objective in life is only to attain paradise, an eternal place of Allah's benevolence and enduring abundance. Seeking the contentment of Allah with true faith is the only way to obtain it. However, those who try not to think about the unavoidable end of this world, and who lead a life in keeping with such an attitude surely deserve eternal punishment.

Allah in the Qur'an relates the awful end that will meet these people:

One day He will gather them together: (It will be) as if they had tarried but an hour of a day: they will recognise each other: assuredly those will be lost who denied the meeting with Allah and refused to receive true guidance. (Surah Yunus: 45)

Therefore patiently persevere, as did (all) Messengers of inflexible purpose; and be in no haste about the (disbelievers). On the Day that they see the (punishment) promised them, (it will be) as if they had not tarried more than an hour in a single day. (Yours is but) to proclaim the Message: but shall any be destroyed except those who transgress? (Surat al-Ahqaf: 35)
2009-01-25 22:43:11
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