Gold coins and a creditor

A man on his deathbed was being advised to recite the formula of faith (Kalimah) but he was turning away his face. After becoming conscious he was asked about the reason. He said, “I am very fond of gold coins. A man had come to me with a plate full of gold coins and said, ‘If you do not recite the Kalimah, I will give this plate to you.’ As soon as I began to look at those gold coins, I forgot how to recite the dual formula of faith (Kalimah Shahadatain).”

Another man had given some money as loan to someone. He had a receipt for it. When the creditor reached his time of death, the devil threatened saying that if he recites the Kalimah he would tear up that receipt. “Thus he prevented me from reciting the Testimony to Truth.” [441] It must be understood that Satan gets control over man only through the latter’s love for this material world. Therefore, if one has, like Abu Zakaria, a heart full of love for Allah, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Day of Judgment (Hereafter), Allah helps him and Satan cannot harm him. 

Doubtlessly, God does not cause your deeds to go in vain. Verily Allah is Kind and Merciful for His slaves.

[Flight from good advice]

The world-lovers always run away from hearing the defects, drawbacks and unreliability of the world. They avoid reading books condemning the world and praising the Hereafter. They do not attend meetings in which people are urged to remember God. Such people become fearful on hearing even a word about death and grave. They ridicule the lovers of the Hereafter. Obviously the love of a beloved becomes less when the drawbacks of the latter are mentioned before the former. Therefore a lover never likes to hear the defects of the object of his admiration. The cure for love for the world is extremely difficult because an illness can be remedied only when the man concerned realizes that he is ill and is prepared for treatment. 

It is definite that if an attempt is made to make a world-lover afraid of his sin by reciting the verses condemning love for the world that fellow will never accept them. On the contrary he will make several excuses to defend his stand and refute relevant arguments. In short, when one is not prepared to realize that he has done anything wrong how will he be ready to repent? If the details of the painful consequences of love for the world and the spiritual and physical illnesses resulting from his love for the world are described before him he will never believe all that. When he does not realize that he is ill, how will he get ready to remove love for the world from his heart and to gain a healthy soul? 

Heedlessness of admonition and hatred for remembrance of Allah are the signs of the world-lovers. Contrary to it, the signs of those who love the Hereafter are that they hate to remember the material world and its passions. Their heart gets peace in the remembrance of Allah and the Hereafter as mentioned in the Holy Quran:

Now surely by Allah's remembrance are the hearts set at rest.[442] It is regarding this topic that the Infallible says in Dua Abu Hamzah Thumali: “O Master! My soul found life by Your Remembrance and my private talk with You resulted in the flight of my fear and in cooling of heat.” It is said that once a tannery worker who had become accustomed to the foul smell of leather was once passing through a perfume market. The fragrance, which he had never smelt made him faint. People were trying to bring him back to consciousness by spraying rose water on his face but his condition worsened. Then one of his companions, aware of the situation asked the gathering to leave him alone. He inserted some dirty bad smelling thing into the man’s nostrils and he recovered and very soon ran away from the perfume market.

Verily, how a man who has made his mouth sweet with worldly tastes and passions can feel the sweetness of remembering Allah and Hereafter? As such remembrance hinders his worldly desires bitterly he runs away from it.

This makes us understand the wisdom hidden behind the worldly failures of a believer and his sufferings, so that one may taste the bitterness of the world and obtain the sweetness of remembering Allah and Hereafter. Its example is like that of a mother who applies something bitter to her breast in order to make her baby gives up suckling and to make it turn towards solid food.

[Ponder over the Holy Quran]

In order to make man realize the unreliability and perishability of this world the Holy Quran has given many examples for guidance so that those who have faith and trust in this Divine Book and its followers may protect themselves from the destructive love of the world. Therefore it is the duty of every Muslim to think deeply over such verses and to recite them repeatedly. Thus he can obtain the aim of losing interest in the world and attraction for the Hereafter. For example, see how nicely the Almighty Allah has explained the unreliability of the world in Surah Hadid: 

Know that this world's life is only sport and play and gaiety and boasting among yourselves, and a vying in the multiplication of wealth and children, like the rain, whose causing the vegetation to grow, pleases the husbandmen, then it withers away so that you will see it become yellow, then it becomes dried up and broken down; and in the hereafter is a severe chastisement and (also) forgiveness from Allah and (His) pleasure; and this world's life is naught but means of deception.[443]

This holy verse explains the world-loving people’s life. It can be said that mankind is divided into two groups ever since its creation. The first group, which is major, (more in number) is that of the worldly people who do not believe in any life except this apparent worldly life. Therefore their only endeavor is that they should not miss the worldly delights and tastes. Another group is small in number. It is of the people of the Hereafter. This group believes that worldly life is but a means of ensuring another permanent life (after death). Their life is based on thought and reason, not a passionate and devilish one. Their aim is to know their Lord Creator, to have Faith in Him and to do deeds, which can prove useful in the Hereafter.

In view of this aim each and every one of their movements, acts or deeds is for earning the pleasure of Allah. As we have said earlier, when a man does anything merely to please Allah, though that deed ends, its result, which is based on Divine Light is retained in his self and he gets its benefits throughout his life. Thus it can be seen that the life of the men of Hereafter is not an aimless play. But since the people of this world never care for Allah and the Hereafter they do not do any such thing, which has everlasting effects. Consequently all their deeds prove fruitless and hollow. The truth is that their entire lifespan from birth to death remains limited to only these five things: (1) La’b (play), (2) Lahv (vain pastimes), (3) Beautification (4) Ego and (5) abundance of wealth and children. Each one of them is explained below in brief: [ (1) La’b (play)]

Every act of man, which is not based on good intention and therefore, which does not give good results will be called ‘La’b’ (play). For example, the gathering of children at a place, they are running or making toys of sand, which is a mere pastime. It gives no fruit. 

Therefore those youths and old people who do not have any divine aim in their deeds and mostly whose deeds are subservient to their desires, are just like children because the connection or relation of all their efforts and endeavors are only with imaginary and superstitious things be they about wealth seeking or status-seeking. They want everything for their own self-interest. In short, spending the entire life in play and show and to enter the Hereafter empty-handed is called ‘La’b’. The only difference between such men and children is that the play of children is for a short time whereas that of the old world-seekers is for a long period. Just as the arrival of night stops the play of children, the arrival of death ends the play (la’b) of the world-lovers.

[ (2) Lahv]

Every engagement, which prevents anyone from a more serious activity, is called ‘Lahv’. It is like a child who stops from going to school because of his engagement in play. According to this logic all activities of world lovers are ‘Lahv’ because they prevent them from thinking about a more important matter, that is, about the permanent life and abode of the Hereafter.

The lifespan of every man, even if it extends upto a hundred years, is after all to end and his happiness will be finished. Hence all who engage in the activities of this short-living worldly life and become careless about the unending eternal life of the Hereafter (after death) will be called men of ‘Lahv’. But the people of Hereafter, in whatever work they may be engaged for pleasing God and in obedience to Him, remain always thinking about strengthening their Faith. They do good deeds considering them as their capital for the life after death. Only they are wise, and only they would attain salvation.

[ (3) Beautification]

Whatever a man does to beautify his body, dress, house, furniture and other materials and to make them attractive for others is called beautification. For example, women, who concealing their apparent defects, are trying to please men, but who forget that, in fact, their said effort is a draw back which points out towards some of their illness, want or agedness, the biggest being the death of which they show their fear.

If one thinks over the affairs of the worldly people it will be understood that their life is made up of only a superfluous covering. They make their houses strong just to hide their nature of falling down. They adorn and beautify body, dress, house and housing materials and they imitate every modern fashion so that they may make themselves look like civilized, cultured, honest and needless of everything. In order to make a show of their riches they make every effort to increase their wealth. They make a show of their knowledge and intelligence for hiding their unawareness of the truth about the Hereafter. They sing songs of their honesty and welfare activities just to conceal, from others, their dishonesty and selfishness.

They are not tired of repeating the name of God with their tongue so that making a show of their religiosity they may conceal their worldly-love and passion worship. In short, the darker their inside is, the more they make a show of their outward brightness. But the affairs of the people of Hereafter are totally different. They beautify their internal self through total obedience to Allah’s commands and adorn their Faith with the graceful jewel of humanity. They also pay attention to their outward beauty but only to the extent it does not come into conflict with humanity, piety and righteousness and only upto the limit fixed by Shariah. For example a woman who makes herself attractive for her husband or a man who looks into a mirror just to ensure that there is nothing in his appearance or dress that can make people abhor him or one who wants to keep his dress always clean and who intends to express God’s blessings on him. If he has money, he may spend it in constructing his house and also in such other works, which are permitted by Islam. In short, wise people beautify themselves and their possessions in obedience of God, not for self-showing.

[Self Glorification] 

Those who are not aware of the truth become proud of their worldly wealth, power, fame, race and lineage and then show arrogance to others, So much so, that the white-skinned shows his pride to the black-skinned. In short, today’s man shows his superiority over others on the basis of imaginary and illusive things. Be he a head of a state or a common man, by becoming an egotist, he forgets the truth about his existence and so also his everlasting spiritual life. He does not try to extend the progress of his spiritual path towards perfection, the path that does not end at death. The truth is that had such people not forgotten their death and had they remembered that they have to become dust after entering their graves they would have been ashamed of their egotism and false pride.

But since the knowledgeable people are aware of the truth about their worldly life and regard their entire material life as illusory they consider false pride a foolish thing, which is contrary to wisdom and intelligence.

These are the people who, apart from faith and righteousness, which is the barometer of their graceful humanity, consider all people equal. They are of firm opinion that nobody has a right to show pride on the basis of his short living worldly possessions and illusive things because, according to Quran:

Surely the most honorable of you with Allah is the one among you most careful (of his duty)...[444]

[Abundance of wealth and children] 

Those who keep the view of existence limited only to this worldly life and have no faith in the words of the prophets about the Hereafter have, in fact, forgotten the very aim of life. Day in and day out, they keep struggling only for increasing their wealth and property. This way of working of theirs is in truth, contrary to human intelligence and wisdom because man needs wealth only for meeting the needs of his worldly life, which is of course temporary. For example, he needs a house for living. He requires clothes to protect himself from cold and heat and to protect his honor. He needs food to maintain the strength of his body. He has a longing for a wife for gratifying his sexual instincts and for preserving the human race and so on. Therefore, one who gathers wealth more than necessary is behaving like the Hell-fire, which always cries for more, or he acquires the habit of Qarun, which is of course, against wisdom, intelligence and reason. 

Does human intelligence not tell us that so far as collection or gathering is concerned, stone and coin both are equal? The question is what benefits the gathered wealth and property will give after death. It cannot be denied that wise, intelligent and reasonable people do not keep trying only for wealth and property, nor do they push it away when available. But, in truth, they endeavor to earn money only to meet the necessities of their lives and they use it for beautifying their Hereafter. They do not love wealth for its own sake. They acquire it only in the way and manner permitted by Allah and also spend it only in the manner ordered by Him. In this way, they aim for both, their world and the Hereafter.

It contrast to this, the group of the world-lovers is greedy of their worldly wealth. Their effort is to acquire money by every, any means even if the rights of the poor and the weak are trampled. As they have no faith in the Hereafter, they also do not spend it in the path of Allah. In short, it can be said that the sign of world-lovers is greed and miserliness whereas the sign of the Hereafter-lovers is contentment and generosity.

[Do not pass on cursorily, but ponder]

After reading what has been mentioned in this holy verse about the five specialties of the worldly life, do not pass on cursorily but think deeply about it. The first word of the verse (Surah Hadid 57:20) is “Know”. That is, know that the worldly life is only like this. Hence it is the responsibility of those who believe in the Holy Quran to ponder over these words, to analyze them, to be acquainted with it and to get rid of the illness of world-love. It is also essential to ponder over other similar verses and apply them to our lives. Briefly speaking, in these verses, worldly life is compared to a fertile agricultural land in which seeds are sown and raining clouds have turned it into a flowering field, which gives coolness to the eyes. Then because of burning heat or for any other reason it becomes dry and yellow, then it is scattered away and finally either winter winds or any other calamity destroys it.

[Youth also was a spring season, which passed away]

Human life is also liable to such rise and fall. If on one hand, there is heat and freshness of youth, on the other slackness and old age infirmities await him. If there is, on the one hand safety, health and comfort, on the other he has to face illness, disability and unpalatable conditions. If he sometimes gets power and leadership, poverty and destitution also target him. Along with name and fame defamation is also destined for him. If on one hand there is enthusiasm, stagnation and despair are also likely to visit him. In order to understand the truth about all this, it is enough to look at the graves of those who have passed away.