Was I Really Successful?

If I look at my life a couple years back, it wasn’t really that bad. I had complete financial independence and a well paying job. My employers appreciated me and my team members looked up to me for advice. I still remember a comment from a colleague ‘I want to be Maria when I grow up’.

I was emotionally independent as well. Most of the time, things were at peace.

And I was not ignorant about the fact that there are many people around me who envy a life I was living. In fact, I even said it out loud once during a lunch at a friend’s house.

But was I really successful? Forward my life to the present, I now realize what a sorry state I was in at that time. A few months back, in his weekly bayan, my Shaykh Hazrat Humayun Hanif DB compared this success with a fish that falls in the trap of a bait.

When a fish sees a bait in the water, it considers the bait as a success. The fish thinks that if it can reach the bait and get there, it will be successful. The fish makes it its goal. It thinks of it as an achievement. Sadly, the fish is not wise enough to understand the reality. Only when it gets close and falls under the trap, it dawns on it what that thing was that looked like a success goal. The sooner it realizes the reality, the easier it is to free itself out. And the deeper it goes in the trap, the harder it is to come out.

Realizing that now, I understand that I was not successful. I was only trapped in that bait thinking of it as my success, not even able to see the basic reality. Even a fish doesn’t take that much time to realize it’s a trap and it tries to free itself.

This is actually the worst kind of situation because a person who is trapped in this bait does not even realize the reality. It is worst than being depressed. Because when you feel lost, depressed and disappointed in life, you then start looking for a direction. If you know you are lost, you will ask around for directions and ask people to help you. And then, there is a good chance you will find the right direction.

But if a person thinks he is successful and he is enjoying his life, he doesn’t find the urge to even look for directions. It’s just like someone who boards the train which is headed to Quetta and thinks he is going to Lahore. He thinks he is successful because he is in a train and the train is comfortable. He just doesn’t know what a sorry state he is in. If he is lucky, he will realize it before he arrives at the final station.

So , think about it while life is giving you chances. Are you really successful?

Getting Straight A’s…

I remember those school days when I used to get up early in the morning to get some extra time to study. I was so hooked on my goal of achieving straight A’s in O level that I lost all sense of time. By the way I was studying, I was almost certainly sure I would pass but my biggest fear was to get B’s and C’s, as the top and the best was my goal. And it still is.

But there is nothing novel in it. We all want the BEST in this world, don’t we? Do we ever pray to Allah to provide us just enough to survive in this world?

No. We always want the best. We ask Allah to shower us with his blessings in this world, to help flourish our businesses, and to fulfill all our desires. (Ameen)

However, a question came to my mind recently that although we read the prayer “Rabbana atina fid dunya hasanatun wafil akhirahti hasanatun”, in which we ask for the best in both worlds, do we really mean it?

Well, I’ll talk about myself. I have always asked Allah for the best and top in this world- nothing less. And I have worked for it. But did I really mean it when I asked the second part of the prayer, that is, the best in the Hereafter? If I did, did I work for it?

The problem is, I never even understood what the best in the hereafter meant. When it comes to this world, I don’t just want to survive – I want to flourish. But when I used to think about the Hereafter, my thoughts, goals, and aims were limited to ‘staying away from the fire’ and ‘entering the gate of Heaven’.

And then shaytan took advantage of this opportunity and he led me to have false beliefs. I believed that since “Allah is the Most Forgiving” and “He has promised that all Muslims will go to Heaven”, I can enjoy my life the way I want without giving any heed to the right and wrong. So I adopted a carefree attitude – just like a student of O level who would be happy to get a D and who doesn’t aim higher than a passing grade.

But then recently, the question came to my mind: do I really want a passing grade in the Hereafter or do I want straight A’s? Like this temporary world where I strive and work hard to get the best and the top, do I even aim for the best in the never ending Hereafter as well?

I have always known that there will be levels and grades in Heaven as well. And I have also known this Hadith that talks about the regrets of the people who will enter Heaven.

“On the Day of Resurrection, everybody, sinful or pious, will have regrets. The sinful will regret that they did not quit sins and live religiously. The pious will regret that they did not perform many more acts of worship.”

I have known all this and yet it is surprising that the thought never occurred to me to act before the time of those regrets would come. If a teacher keeps telling a student to study otherwise he would regret, the student will eventually start taking the teacher’s advices seriously. If a dentist tells the patient to take care of his teeth otherwise they would rot away and the patient would regret, the patient will eventually take his dentists’ advice seriously. But when it comes to the advices given to us by our Prophet SAW and Allah SWT and the clear warnings of those regrets, our attitude is surprisingly quite different.

There is another thing shaytan kept telling me. He provoked me to adopt a carefree attitude and indulge in sins by leading me to believe that I can repent and start praying more when I am old and aged. Of course, I have heard stories of young people having sudden deaths but that voice in the back of my mind was somehow never convinced on this idea that I can die in the next instant. I knew it was true but somehow didn’t believe it when I thought about myself.

Then a thought occurred that even if I live to old age and I get that last minute time to prepare myself for the Hereafter, will my result be the same as compared to the person who had been serious all his life?

When I was appearing for my O and A levels, I never left the preparation for the last moment. As soon as I knew I was appearing for the exam, I started preparing for it – because I aimed high. But when it came to the Hereafter and the result of the actual test this entire world is built for, I was blinded by false perceptions and false beliefs. While I am mostly far sighted, passionate, and enthusiastic about everything related to this world, my visions, passion, goals and aims of the Hereafter were all limited to a very small level.

So, what finally removed that blindfold? And what led me to think that while I am running after the best and top in this world, I should also aim a little higher for the permanent Hereafter as well? What led my thoughts and perceptions to travel beyond and see what I couldn’t previously see?

Well, I recently consulted my Sheikh and told him that I want to increase my love for Prophet SAW and I felt I did not have enough knowledge about his life. Sheikh Sahib advised me to take some classes on Seerat-un-Nabwi. And although I did not deserve it at all, Allah SWT blessed me with a chance to listen to the lectures online.

So, I have been listening to those lectures online and the lecturer keeps praying for one thing in all her sessions. She prays that may Allah SWT give us a high rank in Heaven so that we are near to the Prophet SAW and his companions in the Hereafter. Since we couldn’t meet him in this world, she prayed for that opportunity in the Hereafter. (Ameen)

And that is when it occurred to me that I had never thought about it that way.

We all want a luxurious home in this world. But what about a luxurious home in the hereafter which will be near to Prophet’s SAW home? Do we even aim for it? If we start aiming for it, the good news is, achieving it is not that hard. Prophet SAW said, “You will be with those whom you love”. So, all that is required to get the high ranks of heaven and straight A’s in Hereafter is sincere love for the Prophet SAW.

But the problem is: although we all say we love him, do we really love him sincerely? If we would, wouldn’t we try to follow his footsteps? Wouldn’t we try to copy his style and his way of living? Isn’t that what true lovers do when they love someone dearly and sincerely?

When I started listening to those lectures, I began to realize how I was missing out on such important life lessons which are given by our beloved Prophet SAW. The way the lecturer explains everything is also quite fascinating and I began to see the things I couldn’t see before.

Hence, studying the life of Prophet SAW in detail and taking lessons from everything he did and applying that to our own life is one important step we can take today if we want to achieve the best in the Hereafter as well.

May Allah SWT ingrain the true love of Prophet SAW in our hearts so we can be near him in the Hereafter.  Ameen.