Escaping unawareness - 2

Knowing that this world’s life is short and temporary

This life will one day end and people will enter the Hereafter, where they will live forever. However, people who do not realize that this life is transitory and short are passionately bound to it and live only for this world. From childhood on, they continually make plans for the future and try to fulfill their desires. In the midst of this distraction, they suddenly die, never having understood the true nature of life or this world. What they see as permanent will come to an end like a fleeting dream; but in the Hereafter, they will understand that this life lasts as long as a dream and that they were sadly mistaken. Allah reveals the conversations of those in the Hereafter:

He (Allah) will ask: “How many years did you tarry on Earth?” They will say: “We tarried there for a day or part of a day. Ask those able to count.” He will reply: “You only tarried there for a little while, if you did but know!” (Surat al-Mu’minun: 112-14)

The expression “a day or a part of a day” shows how short a person’s life, which seems so long, really is. This is a truth known in the Sight of Allah, so human beings must carefully consider why they choose a certain path. Will they be satisfied with the endless Garden or the life of this world, which is very short? The core issue here is that the benefits of this life are very short, in exact proportion to its brief span.

Therefore, people should think of this world as a waiting room for the real world in the Hereafter. Of course, people do not pay much attention to the furnishings or events that occur in a waiting room, for they do not intend to stay there very long. Nor do they consider such things when making their plans, for whatever goes on in there is of no use to them. In the same way, nothing done for the sake of the world is of any use in the Hereafter. In other words, all such deeds will eventually disappear, just like a mirage:

But the actions of those who do not believe are like a mirage in the desert. A thirsty man thinks it is water. But when he reaches it, he finds it to be nothing at all; rather, he finds Allah there. He will pay him his account in full. Allah is swift at reckoning. (Surat al-Nur: 39)

As the above verse makes clear, everything done for the sake of this world will one day disappear, and individuals will give an account in His presence only of what they did to gain His favor. At that moment when they are confronted with His punishment, they will realize their errors and have a sense of endless sorrow and helplessness. When their unawareness finally ends and they realize the whole truth, they will want to return to this earthly life and live in accordance with His commands and prohibitions. But it will be too late:

They will shout out in it: “Our Lord, take us out! We will act rightly, differently from the way we used to act!” Did We not let you live long enough for anyone who was going to pay heed to do so? And did not the warner come to you? So taste it! There is no helper for the wrongdoers. (Surah Fatir: 37)
If only you could see the evildoers hanging their heads in shame before their Lord: “Our Lord, we have seen and heard, so send us back again and we will act rightly. Truly we now have certainty.” (Surat as-Sajda: 12)

Before each person is brought alone into His presence, he or she should understand and consider just how short and transitory this present life is. This awareness will cause them to avoid useless efforts, free themselves from their current level of unawareness, and make the best possible use of their time here.

2009-02-12 15:35:17

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