Life and distractions
A question that many people consider at some point in their lives… the meaning of life itself. By no means do I claim to hold the ultimate answer. Everyone have different questions and different answers regarding this topic. For believers in a Creator, the questions revolve around our relation with Him and how we should process it. A person who hold no faith in anything may question why they are here for the sake of worshipping a diety.
If He created us to worship Him, if that was the only thing to life, why would He then create a separate world and place us in it? Would it not have been easier to just keep us in the same reality from the beginning, and have us worship from there? After all, that is what the ones nearest to Him are doing…
سورة الأعراف ٢٠٦
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ عِندَ رَبِّكَ لَا يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِهِ وَيُسَبِّحُونَهُ وَلَهُ يَسْجُدُونَ
Surah Al-A’raaf 7:206
Those who are near to thy Lord, disdain not to do Him worship: They celebrate His praises, and prostrate before Him.
Why was this world created?
سورة الدخان ٣٩-٣٨
وَمَا خَلَقْنَا السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا لَاعِبِينَ
مَا خَلَقْنَاهُمَا إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
Surah Ad-Dukhaan 44:38-39
We created not the heavens, the earth, and all between them, merely in (idle) sport:
We created them not except for just ends: but most of them do not understand.
Worship is only part of the answer. There is more to this life. Let’s see if we might find an answer…
Consider how we start, as human beings. We start with nothing, knowing nothing. It is not even in our ability to walk or talk. These are things that we learn. As we grow older, we continue to learn… we gain wisdom and understanding. We learn what profits us and what hurts us, and we all attach ourselves to different ambitions in life and strive to achieve different goals.
What motivates us? What makes us strive to achieve these different objectives in life?
Looking at life objectively without specific goals attached, humans in general want to accomplish something… to leave a mark in their lives somehow. As we consider it, we soon realize that it is a striving for self preservation. We want a good and comfortable life, to feel safe, we care about our family and want to give them the same safety, until the day we eventually pass away.
What makes us feel safe? If we look at the poor beggar in the street, we feel sympathy and sadness, at the same time thinking to ourselves “how fortunate I am” accompanied by a feeling of being in a “safer” situation.
Before going on, I wish to say that what is described about these situations of people in different social classes, is a “general” description how the human mind generally works, and do not refer to every single person. In the end… everything we do is based on “character”…
سورة آل عمران ٧٥
وَمِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ مَنْ إِن تَأْمَنْهُ بِقِنطَارٍ يُؤَدِّهِ إِلَيْكَ وَمِنْهُم مَّنْ إِن تَأْمَنْهُ بِدِينَارٍ لَّا يُؤَدِّهِ إِلَيْكَ إِلَّا مَا دُمْتَ عَلَيْهِ قَائِمًا ۗ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَالُوا لَيْسَ عَلَيْنَا فِي الْأُمِّيِّينَ سَبِيلٌ وَيَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ
Surah Aal-i-Imraan 3:75
Among the People of the Book are some who, if entrusted with a hoard of gold, will (readily) pay it back; others, who, if entrusted with a single silver coin, will not repay it unless thou constantly stoodest demanding, because, they say, “there is no call on us (to keep faith) with these ignorant (Pagans).” but they tell a lie against Allah, and (well) they know it.
In poverty we would feel weak, because we are dependent on others. We would be desperate, we would need help. If people look at someone who is in a more favourable position… then, some may think “I wish I was in his/her shoes”. Why do we think that?
One thing may be the idea of financial indipendence and not having to worry about money. The image in the minds of the people striving with this in mind, is that it will give them the freedom to do what they want. A person who gain… may not only experience a feeling of illusionary “safety” but a sense of being more “powerful”. And here we have the basic recipe for “greed”…
سورة الهمزة ٣-١
وَيْلٌ لِّكُلِّ هُمَزَةٍ لُّمَزَةٍ
الَّذِي جَمَعَ مَالًا وَعَدَّدَهُ
يَحْسَبُ أَنَّ مَالَهُ أَخْلَدَهُ
سورة المدثر ١٥-١٤
وَمَهَّدتُّ لَهُ تَمْهِيدًا
ثُمَّ يَطْمَعُ أَنْ أَزِيدَ
Surah Al-Humaza 104:1-3
Woe to every (kind of) scandal-monger and-backbiter,
Who pileth up wealth and layeth it by,
Thinking that his wealth would make him last for ever!
Surah Al-Muddaththir 74:14-15
To whom I made (life) smooth and comfortable!
Yet is he greedy-that I should add (yet more);-
One day, that which we have collected will no longer serve any use. It is only a comfort to us here. And a person does not even need to be religious to know this. As the saying goes: why are we dying to live, when we are only living to die? What is life all about, when what we see is but a very temporary existence?
We strive to achieve a successful career, to accomplish something in life. That becomes the focus. A lot of people make very little effort to actually confirm things in their lives… like faith… and thus a lot of our actions become mechanical repetitions of our parents and their parents before them and so on. It is passed on… not acquired. That is how it’s like for a lot of people, and it becomes a life lived according to personal values.
Distraction is a part of life. Consider cattle… sheep or cows usually follow the signals and calls of their shepherds. When it is time for them to gather, they listen to when they are signalled together. Humankind in general on the other hand, may not always be so quick to listen to the true Shepherd, when He calls…
سورة الفرقان ٤٤-٤٣
أَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَـٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ أَفَأَنتَ تَكُونُ عَلَيْهِ وَكِيلًا
أَمْ تَحْسَبُ أَنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ يَسْمَعُونَ أَوْ يَعْقِلُونَ ۚ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا كَالْأَنْعَامِ ۖ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ سَبِيلًا
Surah Al-Furqaan 25:43-44
Seest thou such a one as taketh for his god his own passion (or impulse)? Couldst thou be a disposer of affairs for him?
Or thinkest thou that most of them listen or understand? They are only like cattle;- nay, they are worse astray in Path.
We have been given capacity to see and understand things.
We try our best to fit into this world, and in all our strivings, we are curious creatures. As we grow up, we want to know who we are, what we are capable of. We want to know how the universe functions, how animals work and live their lives. We continue to explore this world with our neverending thirst for knowledge and understanding. We have human minds that learn to understand things… and in this growing understanding…. there are signs… to confirm His existence, and strengthen our faith. That is acquired faith, rather than mirrored and inherited faith.
سورة فصلت ٥٣
سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الْآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ ۗ أَوَلَمْ يَكْفِ بِرَبِّكَ أَنَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ
Surah Fussilat 41:53
Soon will We show them our Signs in the (furthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth. Is it not enough that thy Lord doth witness all things?
Consider this… all academical tests we take in school are timed. When it is finished, the result will have a lasting effect on the rest of our professional career seeking life…
By itself, a perfect example of how life in general works in a similar way… the one test that really counts.
سورة الكهف ٧
إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا مَا عَلَى الْأَرْضِ زِينَةً لَّهَا لِنَبْلُوَهُمْ أَيُّهُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا
سورة البقرة ٢١٤
أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْا مِن قَبْلِكُم ۖ مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاءُ وَالضَّرَّاءُ وَزُلْزِلُوا حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ مَتَىٰ نَصْرُ اللَّهِ ۗ أَلَا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ
Surah Al-Kahf 18:7
That which is on earth we have made but as a glittering show for the earth, in order that We may test them – as to which of them are best in conduct.
Surah Al-Baqara 2:214
Or do ye think that ye shall enter the Garden (of bliss) without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? they encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: “When (will come) the help of Allah?” Ah! Verily, the help of Allah is (always) near!
We come to this world naked and without knowledge. We learn to understand it… and strive with our understanding of it, wherever that understanding points. As mentioned earlier, distractions are a part of this life. This is why He often encourages us to bring peace to our hearts and quiet our minds, to bring Him to mind, in order to stay focused… because when the mind is focused… we see Him.
سورة الأعراف ٢٠١
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا إِذَا مَسَّهُمْ طَائِفٌ مِّنَ الشَّيْطَانِ تَذَكَّرُوا فَإِذَا هُم مُّبْصِرُونَ
Surah Al-A’raaf 7:201
Those who fear Allah, when a thought of evil from Satan assaults them, bring Allah to remembrance, when lo! they see (aright)!
I think everything I’ve spoken about in this article is nicely summed up in the following…
سورة المعارج ٢٦-١٩
إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ خُلِقَ هَلُوعًا
إِذَا مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ جَزُوعًا
وَإِذَا مَسَّهُ الْخَيْرُ مَنُوعًا
الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَىٰ صَلَاتِهِمْ دَائِمُونَ
وَالَّذِينَ فِي أَمْوَالِهِمْ حَقٌّ مَّعْلُومٌ
وَالَّذِينَ يُصَدِّقُونَ بِيَوْمِ الدِّينِ
Surah Al-Ma’aarij 70:19-26
Truly man was created very impatient;-
Fretful when evil touches him;
And niggardly when good reaches him;-
Not so those devoted to Prayer;-
Those who remain steadfast to their prayer;
And those in whose wealth is a recognised right.
For the (needy) who asks and him who is prevented (for some reason from asking);
And those who hold to the truth of the Day of Judgment;
People learn.. they understand… and act according to their understanding. We only need to look at how we finish education when we walk out in life… it does not lead to a series of academical tests after it… our marks stick and are evaluated by potential employers, which is why “good education” is important for the time faced ahead. That is true both in this life (for our temporary careers)… but more so… for the next… where we will receive our grade from Allah. It is based on what we have learned… and how we have applied that teaching in life.