“Don’t waste your time chasing things that will never be beneficial to your future.”
………..April Mae Monterrosa
But the moot point is – How do we conceive our future – the materialistic future or the spiritual one?
If you are sitting with a religious zealot without a rational attitude, he would advocate a future in Black and White. All sermons and advice would he shower about the nothingness and emptiness of this world and promises of heaven where you might be allowed many of the luxuries (of course chaste and pristine) that you have been looking in this world and didn’t enjoy. May be he would enlighten with the verses of the Holy Book and Holy Traditions like the following:
Surah At – Takathur, 102:1-8
(In the name of Allah – the most Beneficent, the most Merciful)
- You are obsessed by greed for more and more.
- Until you go down to your graves.
- Nay, in time you will come to understand!
- And once again: Nay, in time you will come to understand!
- Nay, if you could but understand (it) with an understanding (born) of certainty,
- you would indeed, most surely, behold the blazing fire (of hell)!
- In the end you will indeed, most surely, behold it with the eye of certainty:
- and on that Day you will most surely be called to account for (what you did with) the boon of life!
And for an unripe mind, it leads to a thought of giving up all the attractions, magical spells and allurement of this world. And the next streak leads to ASCETISM – the renouncing of this world.
Does the religion of Islam demand that situation?
Indubitably, we as Muslims have a clear purpose in our lives and that is to earn the pleasure of our Creator. The positive feelings such as inner peace, joy, gratitude and hope all devolve around that very concept.
“And I created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone).”
The Holy Quran Chapter 51:56
This Surah is one of the most powerful and prophetic passages of the Qur’an. It illuminates man’s unbounded greed and tendencies which have come to dominate our societies. We jump with indiscrete to increase in benefits, be they tangible or intangible, real or illusory. It denotes man’s obsessive striving for more and more comforts, more material goods, greater power over his fellow-men or over nature, and unceasing technological progress.
However, it is imperative here to understand the concept of worship. As we understand, the worship of God is not only ritualistic akin to some choreographed acts of gymnastic. Worship of Almighty includes seeking knowledge, fulfilling the family, social, political and state responsibilities, helping others and performing the regular prayer rituals. And to conform to all those duties, tasks and avocations one has to wade through the rough and tough of hard practical life with all its pathos and privations.
The Holy Quran Chapter 67:2
“And We have not created the heaven and earth and what is between them in vain. That is the opinion of those who disbelieve. And woe to such disbelievers, because of the Fire. Shall we treat those who believe and do good deeds as those who spread corruption on the earth? Or shall we treat the pious as sinners?”
Allah wants us to perform good deeds and be honest. Corruption and Islam can never go parallel. We have to strive to do hundred percent justice to all the activities which are entrusted to us. And to perform good deeds we have to be both materialistic and spiritual. Islam proscribes and prohibits ‘asceticism.’ While the religion wants us to live within our means and be content with the modicum of comforts, it exhorts to improve our economic and social conditions by all fair means.
The conventional wisdom suggests that a materialist wants to change the present for a better future. He deals with the unpleasantness of life with intelligent and self-willed efforts and works hard to attain a standard happy life and prosperous life by creating conditions within himself and his environment. He goes by his past experiences and relies upon his strengths and abilities to safeguard his / her interests. While doing all that he prays the Supreme Authority for a positive response.
The problem with the so called-religious-spiritual zealot is that he thinks more about the rituals and prayers and feels that spending most of the time in these activities would entitle him for Allah happiness. He inadvertently ignores his family, social, economic and educational tasks and indulges in the practices that relate to outward show of sainthood and religious paraphernalia. Those errands and engagements hardly make any difference in his attitudes and dealings. On the contrary, this kind of excessive devotion leads to PRIDE in one’s own piousness and importance which is not what the Islam expects.
From an ordinary Muslim, Islam expects the golden mean where there is fine balance in his spiritual activities and his professional responsibilities. The true worship is if we are honest in all the dealings of life; if we lead a simple life without conceit and arrogance; if we take care of our social responsibilities as a good citizen; if we’re to ready to allow our resources to be availed by our needy neighbours; if we give real respect to our elders and lead a life without hate and work hard for a better tomorrow for us and for those who connect us.
As the famous Urdu poet Jigar Moradabadi has said:
“Mehav-E-Tasbeeh To Sab Hain, Magar Idraak Kahan,
Zindagi Khud Hi Ibadat Hai,…….. Magar Hosh Nahi.”
Most of us busy with the prayer string beads without knowing the Real Truth. Are We but conscious and aware that all the activities of our (honest and diligently lived) LIFE itself are PRAYER….Nay, but we are not sentient!
A few weeks later the Mourning Period of Moharrum is approaching when we would recall and remember the Martyrdom of Karbala. I believe the best tribute of Imam Hussain (AS) and his mission would be to fulfill all the responsibilities of life, especially for the youth, to spend time in their studies along with the traditional rituals and prayers in just proportion. The Holy Imam would also never approve our display of wealth, pomp and power in his name. He would love to see his followers taking lead in the world in all positive fields. He would love to see the youth engaged in activities that would enhance their character. Wasting time is never part of worship or mourning of martyrs of Karbala!