Keeping Your Eyes On The PrizeSunday, August 28, 2011 Read more → community, islamic learning, spirituality, the shepherd In the name of God, entirely Compassionate, especially Merciful | Peace be with you
Throughout our lives most of what we do is driven by the thought of consequence. More specifically, the benefits that doing something good might bring good for us, or the troubles it might repel us from. We do whatever we do, seeking some form of goodness in it.
And yet, no matter how much good one has in this world, it cannot come close to the rewards that the life after death holds for the believers of Allah. What is of this dunya after all, stays of this world and will deteriorate and wither away. It is not designed to last. But whatever is with Allah will always stay. Whomever loves Allah, will stay in Allah's love.
Whilst reading Surah Ya-sin from the Qur'an, I would often pause upon the verses,
"Indeed the companions of Paradise, that Day, will be amused in [joyful] occupation - They and their spouses - in shade, reclining on adorned couches." (Qur'an, 36:55-56)
I would read, and re-read these verses thinking about what a beautiful reward it was. The eternal bliss of paradise, the company of one's beloved wife, all without the fear of death, sorrow or despair.
That's something most of us would sell our souls to get, I would think. It was the promise of lasting comfort, tranquility, happiness and love, all expressed beautifully in a single verse. What more could one possibly want?
It was only last night, as I was reading the chapter again, that the answer dawned upon me. The very next verses stated,
"For them therein is fruit, and for them is whatever they request [or wish]." (Qur'an, 36:57)
Subhan'Allah (glory be to God). While most of those deserving of paradise would be perfectly content with receiving their eternal reward, there are others who will have requests, a desire for something else. And to them, Allah has promised that they would find in Jannah all that they wanted, provided they led righteous lives.
Surely there could be no reward greater than this, I thought. There couldn't possibly be anything more that someone could want, could there?
Then as I read on, I came across something that shook me. The next verse in Surah Ya-sin read,
"[And] 'Peace, a word from a Merciful Lord." (Qur'an, 36:58)
My heart skipped a few beats. All this while, I had been excited about the prospect of an everlasting paradise, companionship that would last forever and the fulfillment of my every wish. But I had ignored the fact that beyond the 'material' rewards Allah mentions, lays a higher degree of reward for those who sought it. The reward of getting to meet Allah, our Lord. Knowing He was pleased with you, seeing Him and having the honor of Him saying 'Salam' to you.
The Lord of the heavens and the Earth, extending His greetings to you and personally congratulating you for your success. How could there ever be a more perfect reward?
The recompense described earlier in comparison to earning Allah's pleasure seems so 'little' once this reward comes into sight.
Yet, most of the time, when we worship Him and perform good deeds it is because we don't want to be left behind, because we want to enter paradise with those who enter it. Similarly, we abstain from many harmful things because we are afraid we will end up in hell, and there's inherently nothing wrong with that mindset.
But perhaps we need to realign our intentions and aim for something even higher, to set our eyes on the Salam, peace, from our Lord, most High.
To Allah belongs Paradise and His is the Hellfire; He punishes whom He wills and He rewards whom He wills (Quran, 5:118). If He decided to forbid us from Paradise, it would not change our role to worship Him and Him alone, and to serve only Him.
Allah, being the Lord, Creator and Sustainer of all that exists, has the only right to be worshipped. We say this when we testify our faith, "Laa ilaha, il'Allah", there is nothing worthy of worship, except Allah. It is His right that we, His servants, strive to please Him in the life that He has ordained for us.
And perhaps, the most interesting part is that when your purpose becomes to please Allah, and you're longing only for His Love and meeting Him, you automatically qualify for all the other heavenly rewards.
It all comes down to 'why' you're doing what you're doing as a Muslim. Paradise or pleasing the One who provides it all? Just some food for thought.
May Allah make us among those whose eyes thirst to see Him, Whose hearts long to meet Him and whose only purpose is to please Him.
Peace, love and respect.
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