✨ Introducing: The Divine Knowledge Series. ✨
There are billions and billions of written works in this world. All these diverse texts, quotes and sayings are shared all over, yet all of these writings have one thing in common: they’re said, written, and created by humans.
These writings can be shared like the pinnacle of knowledge, yet we tend to neglect what was divinely written and sent down from Allah (Swt), The Qur’an, or the sayings from the embodiment of it, the Ahadith of the Prophet (saws).
Thus, this series will be exploring and reflecting upon each of the beautiful ayat and ahadith as revealed by Allah (swt) or said by the Prophet (saws).
Without further ado, for reflection today…
HADITH: | Be a Stranger |
On the authority of Abdullah ibn Umar (RadhiyAllahu ‘anhuma), who said: The Messenger of Allah (SallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) took me by the shoulder and said,
“Be in this world as though you were a stranger or a wayfarer.”
And Ibn Umar (RahiyAllahu ‘anhuma) used to say, “In the evening do not expect [to live until] the morning, and in the morning do not expect [to live until] the evening. Take [advantage of] your health before times of sickness, and [take advantage of] your life before your death.” [Reported by Bukhari]
Here one day and gone the next. Our clothes disintegrate, our bodies turn to dust, our things are distributed, and the only remnants of our existence left in the dunya are fading memories of the living.
We’re used to thinking of time as linear, and the moments that we are in feel like the longest in a line from birth to death. We are so focused on the present that we tend to forget that our time in dunya is very fleeting: a grain of sand compared to the ocean that represents the rest of our soul’s journey through existence and between worlds.
As Muslims, we’re here on dunya for such a short time. Our souls were created before and made a covenant with Allah (swt) that we would worship Him alone. Our souls crave to return to Jannah, our original home of everlasting peaceful existence, when we complete our test and are returned to our Lord. In between these states our soul comes down to dunya in bodies that eat and breathe and make actions according to our intentions. This dunya phase is the shortest of all, and yet it’s the phase we seem to work the hardest for and dwell on the most. People would think you were insane if you thought High School would be the best time of your life. In the same way, as Muslims, we’re strange because we aren’t working for dunya to be the best time of our life like everyone else, we know that the best time of our life is going to come after: in the aakhira, God willing.
We work so hard for acceptance and achievement defined by societal standards: go to school, get a degree, have a budding social life documented through digital footprints, get married and have 2.4 kids for a holiday card, get wealthy and bask in your house with a white picket fence and expensive car.
These things in and of themselves aren’t wrong to want to achieve: they exist as things to strive for in our deen as well. However, we tend to put all of our focus and stock on achieving these things and will sacrifice our deen and purpose in life of worshipping Allah (swt) for a chance to gain these. For example, in order to achieve that high-paying job, we may skip jummah if we feel it interferes with our classes and later, our workday. We may sit down at a bar with coworkers while they have drinks because we feel we’ll lose out on a networking opportunity.
Ibn Rajab said, “And this hadith is a foundation in having short hopes of this life, for the believer should not take this life as a home for him that he feels tranquil in. Rather, he should be in it like he is about to leave, preparing himself for his departure, and the advice of the Messengers (‘alayhim assalam) and their followers are all in unison with this idea.”
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aspire and push ourselves to excellence in this dunya. Rather, we should work hard and achieve much, but for dreams that push past this dunya and are rooted in the aakhira, not stopped at the skies of lowly dunya.
[Hadith taken from the Collection & Commentary of An-Nawawi: Hadith 40]