كَيفَ يَعْمَلُ لِلآخِرَةِ المَشْغُولُ بِالدُّنيا؟۔
How can one who is occupied with this world work for the Hereafter?.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Ghurar al-Hikam: The Hereafter)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all worlds. May peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.
The Arabic Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) states,
كَيفَ يَعْمَلُ لِلآخِرَةِ المَشْغُولُ بِالدُّنيا؟
which translates to,
How can one who is occupied with this world work for the Hereafter?
This amazing Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) highlights the conflict between worldly pursuits and the pursuit of the Hereafter.
To understand the depth of this statement, let us delve into the meanings of the key words. The word (mashghool) "مَشْغُولُ" refers to someone who is preoccupied or engrossed in something. In this context, it signifies being completely absorbed in the affairs and pursuits of this worldly life. The word (ad-dunya) "الدُّنيا" refers to the temporal world, encompassing all its material possessions, desires, and distractions.
To shed light on the significance of this Hadith, we turn to the Quran, where Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) repeatedly emphasizes the fleeting nature of this world and the importance of prioritizing the Hereafter. In Surah Al-Kahf, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says, (Quran 18:45)
And present to them the example of the life of this world, [its being] like rain which We send down from the sky, and the vegetation of the earth mingles with it and [then] it becomes dry remnants, scattered by the winds. And Allah is ever, over all things, Perfect in Ability.
This verse illustrates the transitory nature of worldly pursuits, likening them to rain that nourishes the earth but eventually dries up. Similarly, the pleasures and possessions of this world are temporary and will eventually fade away. Therefore, Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) question challenges us to reflect on the futility of being engrossed in worldly matters while neglecting the eternal life of the Hereafter.
When one becomes consumed by the pursuit of worldly gains, their focus and energy are directed solely towards accumulating wealth, seeking power, and indulging in material pleasures. This preoccupation with the dunya leads to a neglect of spiritual growth, neglect of worship, and neglect of fulfilling the responsibilities towards fellow human beings. Consequently, the individual becomes distant from Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) and loses sight of the purpose of their existence.
In Surah Al-Ankabut, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) warns us, (Quran 64:14-15)
O you who have believed, indeed, among your wives and your children are enemies to you, so beware of them. But if you pardon and overlook and forgive - then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. Your wealth and your children are but a trial, and Allah has with Him a great reward.
This verse reminds us that our worldly possessions, including our families, can become distractions if we allow them to take precedence over our spiritual obligations. While it is essential to fulfill our responsibilities towards our families and society, we must never let these obligations divert us from our ultimate goal of seeking the pleasure of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) and preparing for the Hereafter.
Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) question serves as a wake-up call for Muslims, urging us to evaluate our priorities and ensure that we strike a balance between our worldly pursuits and our spiritual growth. It reminds us that true success lies in investing our time, efforts, and resources in actions that will benefit us in the eternal life to come.
By reflecting on this Hadith, we are motivated to reassess our lives and redirect our focus towards actions that will bring us closer to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ). We are encouraged to prioritize acts of worship, seek knowledge, engage in charitable deeds, and cultivate good character. By doing so, we not only secure our place in the Hereafter but also experience the tranquility and contentment that comes from living a purposeful life aligned with the teachings of Islam.
In conclusion, Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) profound question challenges us to reflect on the consequences of being preoccupied with the temporary pleasures and pursuits of this world. It serves as a reminder to prioritize the Hereafter and strive for actions that will bring us closer to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ). May we all heed this reminder and strive to strike a balance between our worldly responsibilities and our eternal journey towards the pleasure of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ).
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