Monday, March 3, 2014

MYSELF: The Journey

بِسْــــــــــــــــــمِ اﷲِالرَّحْمَنِ اارَّحِيم

Life as we know it is the interval of time between birth and death, or to put it simply, the period of time we spend not being dead. As obvious as that sounds, life is actually not that simple. We can’t measure life simply by acknowledging the fact that we are not yet dead.

So, how do we measure life?

If we take a second to stop and look at life, we will notice that it is actually a cycle. From nothing, we begin our life as a baby. We’ll then grow up, go to school, graduate, get a job, get married and have children. Then as we grow older, our children will then go to school, graduate, get a job, get married and they will then have their children, and so the cycle continues. Now, if we take a look into a much smaller aspect of our lives (on a daily basis), we’ll notice that this cycle still exist; every day we get up from bed, have our breakfast, go to school, eat lunch, study, do sports, eat dinner, do assignments, go online and then we go to sleep, only to repeat the same things the next day.

If we take another second to look and really think about this phenomenon, we’ll realize that we are no different than robots. We’re here, we do our roles, we die, someone will replace us and that’s it. So, are we actually robots?

If not so, then who are we?

Long before we were born or even created, our life had already begun. It began with a pledge- a pledge made by us and to Allah Subhanahu Wa ta’ala. In suratul A’raf, ayat 72, Allah mentioned that we, the children of Adam have indeed pledged our servitude to Allah even before we were created.

“And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam - from their loins - their descendants and made them testify of themselves, [saying to them], "Am I not your Lord?" They said, "Yes, we have testified." [This] - Lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, "Indeed, we were of this unaware."” 

We are servants of Allah, and by the will and grace of Allah, He has chosen us and given us life. But why?

Why am I here?

There is always a reason for everything, and a purpose for every creation. Just like how the car was created for the purpose of transporting people from one place to another, we too were created for a purpose. Knowing that Allah is indeed the All-wise, the All-knowing, it is in fact not logical for Allah to create us without a reason.

And Allah mentioned in the Quran the reason for our being; our purpose in life. In surah Adz-dzariyat, ayat 56; 

“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” 

 and in suratul Baqarah, ayat 30;

“And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, "Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority (khalifah)." They said, "Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?" Allah said, "Indeed, I know that which you do not know."”

We have testified that Allah Subhanahu Wata’ala is our Rabb, our Creator. Now it has become our responsibility as a servant of Allah to live the life that He has given us according to the purposes that He has set for us; and that is for the purposes of ‘ibadah (worship) and being a khalifah (leader) on this earth.

For us to fulfill our purpose of worship, we have to perform it in manners that are acknowledged by Allah Subhanahu Wata’ala, or in other words - sohihul ‘ibadah, which brings us to another question, what is ‘ibadah?

Most of us usually associate ‘ibadah with the five pillars of Islam (syahadah, salat, zakat, saum and hajj), but if these are the only ‘ibadah then It seems almost impossible to fulfill our purpose of life. To spend all of your time praying, fasting etc. is almost impractical and illogical, considering the fact that we have other roles and responsibilities in life that demand our attention. So, the question still remains unanswered – what is ‘ibadah?

According to Imam Ibn Taimiyyah, 'Ibadah is a comprehensive term covering everything that Allah loves and is pleased with - whether saying, or actions, outward and inward. It doesn’t always have to be the actions of the five pillars of Islam, but it can also be of any actions (that is permissible in Islam) e.g. work, sleep, eat etc. that is done solely for Allah and to earn His pleasure.

While ‘Ibadah relates to our relationship to Allah, being a khalifah or a leader, relates to our relationship to the society. Whether we like it or not, our lives constantly revolve around people, which is perhaps why it is not strange of Allah to set being a khalifah as one of our purposes. 

Then again, what is a khalifah?

A khalifah is not just about being the leader of the Islamic nation, it is also, and most importantly about being the leader of ourselves; realizing and acknowledging our potentials and using it to its maximum solely for Allah. It may seem more apparent and easier for us to understand why being a khalifah is important, but it is something that is not easy for most of us to do. Realizing the need for leadership and attaining leadership qualities is not something that we can get overnight, but a continuous process. According to Forbes, leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.

But, what is this goal? What is our goal?

Allah mentioned in suratul Ankabut, ayat 64, the reality of this world;

“And this worldly life is not but diversion and amusement. And indeed, the home of the Hereafter - that is the [eternal] life, if only they knew.”

Knowing that this world is nothing more than just an illusion, we should set our goals high and never let the love of this world seep into our hearts, and cloud our vision. Without a clear goal, we will be victims of distractions. And there is nothing more dangerous than being distracted from our real goal in life. 

Our real goal is far beyond this world; it is to attain Allah’s pleasure and be able to enter Jannah with our loved ones and finally get to meet Allah Subhanahu wata’ala, and with this goal in mind, all of our actions should follow through.

At the end of the day, life is indeed more than just a cycle of eat-study-sleep; life is our journey from Allah, and to Allah. 
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