The prime of our lives are marked by dreams and ambitions. It is often in the spring of our lives, when one is filled with exuberance, that we tend to put all our efforts into the fulfilment of our aims. Often at the expense of other people’s rights are these tasks carried out. The pursuit of success, happiness, entertainment is what is common to us all. Oblivious, if it may, be of others around us.
This attitude has been reflected in many of my conversations with a few of my colleagues, about our future plans after we graduate. The conclusion is almost always the same, although the statements may differ:
“I want to earn a lot so that I can enjoy life.”
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that most of us perceive happiness derived from entertainment as our ultimate aim, the kind, which comes from piling up of most desired things.
The questions to be asked here are, is there a limit to human desires? Where does this path lead us? What is it worth?
The answer can be found in the first two verses of the 102ndchapter of the Qur’an, the summary of which is:
“At Takathur distracted you(deluded you, diverted you)
Until you visited your graves “(102:1-2)
At Takathur mentioned here has been given many meanings, four in general.
i) A desire to have a lot.
ii) Competing in getting a lot.
iii) Taking pride in having a lot.
iv) The commonality of this sentiment of having a lot, leading to a competition amongst each other.
The following hadith depicts this nature of man.
Volume 8, Book 76, Number 446:
Narrated Sahl bin Sa’d:
I heard Ibn Az-Zubair who was on the pulpit at Mecca, delivering a sermon, saying, “O men! The Prophet used to say, “If the son of Adam were given a valley full of gold, he would love to have a second one; and if he were given the second one, he would love to have a third, for nothing fills the belly of Adam’s son except dust. And Allah forgives he who repents to Him.” Ubai said, “We considered this as a saying from the Qur’an till the Sura (beginning with) ‘The mutual rivalry for piling up of worldly things diverts you..’ (102.1) was revealed.”
This answers the question asked previously, if there is a limit to human yearnings the answer is no there isn’t. Only a visit to their own graves and their turning to dust or in other words, death can put an end to these emulous desires.
They keep piling up one over another until one reaches graves and never are these seen to be fulfilled.
The verse quoted earlier tells us that, these desires, the competition for attaining the fulfilment of these desire, the boasting, these all distracted us.
The question to be asked is, from what?
The answer has been given beautifully in the second verse, ”Until you visited your graves(met, greeted).”(102:2)
It kept us from being conscious of the reality of death and the hereafter.
We got so much occupied in collecting the provisions of the journey and piling them up, that we forgot our destination. The reality of death which was always in front of us and lingering around us, our selves became oblivious of such an obvious truth.
It kept us from reflecting upon the reality of our existence. It kept us from reflecting within ourselves, until life trickled away and death overshadowed us.
How often is it, that we get to hear from our peers ,statements such as,” I am too busy to think about such things,” or “I am too young to worry about such things”, when asked to ponder and reflect upon the reality of our existence, the creation of life and death and the existence in between.
Then suddenly one day, the reality hits hard. We hear the news of people dying and leaving behind large amount of wealth and property, most of which they didn’t even use.
What did these piled up wealth buy for them? A life?
No, they all faded into death. All by themselves.
On the contrary these desires, perhaps caused many of them and others related to them, anguish and depression due to their failure at times or inability at others and the many perils of competition that rot them out.
This brings us to the third question, was it worth being busy with, so much so that other activities which were much more important were neglected?
Activities like remembrance of Allah, pondering within oneself of the reality of our existence and upon the signs around us and within us. None of the excuses given worked in the end. So it wasn’t even worth it.
Let us all pause for a moment and reflect, before it is too late:
i) Where did we come from?
ii) Why are we here?
iii) Where are we headed?
iv) Am I on the right path?
v) Am I fulfilling the right other have upon me and the rights I have upon myself?
vi) Am I spending my time and wealth wisely?
As time fades, so do we. It is better to fade into light than into darkness.