Are We Concerned for Our Hereafter?

ARE WE CONCERNED FOR OUR HEREAFTER?

The Messenger of Allah, upon him be blessings and peace, would constant remind his Community during times of hardship and difficulty that:

“The true life is the life of the Hereafter.” (Bukhari, Riqaq, 1)

This was so as to prevent a sense of complacency, extravagance, laziness and arrogance.

“The true life is the life of the Hereafter,” he would counsel. (Bukhari, Riqaq, 1)

This goes to show that a servant of Allah:

yaḥdharu l-ākhirata

“…fears the Hereafter”… (39:9)

They are to be in a constant state of concern regarding the Hereafter, constantly [mindful that]:

“The true life is the life of the Hereafter.” (Bukhari, Riqaq, 1)

In their work, in their commercial life, in their professional life, in their worship, in their social affairs and dealings [they are to remember that]:

“The true life is the life of the Hereafter,” (Bukhari, Riqaq, 1) They are to be constantly mindful of this.

Our Lord declares:

wahuwa maʿakum ayna mā kuntum

“He is with you, wherever you may be.” (57:4)

Our Lord reveals to us that He is with us no matter where we go.

Now, a human being is restricted both in terms of time and space. But Allah Almighty is above and beyond time and space. Allah Almighty is with all of His creation at every moment. Not just human beings, but also animals, plants and trees – with all of them. It is He Who created all things. So effortless is this for Him that He is with every single thing that He created at each and every moment.

wahuwa maʿakum ayna mā kuntum

“He is with you, wherever you may be.” (See 57:4)

Just as we do not wish for anyone to see us in certain states. We do not want them to see us for whatever reason. We insist that we will only do something once and never again. We feel shame [from the judgement] of a mortal, we feel fear of [being seen by] a mortal But Allah Almighty is with us at every moment. So much so that [He declares]:

wanaḥnu aqrabu ilayhi min ḥabli l-warīd

“…We are nearer to him than his jugular vein. (50:16)

He tells us that He is closer to us than our jugular vein. He knows the feelings within us, our thoughts, our inner world.

innama al-a’mal bi-l-niyyat

“Actions are but judged according to intentions…”(Bukhari, Iman, 41) Actions acquire, or forfeit, merit in accordance with one’s intention. That is why Allah Almighty declares:

“O you who believe! and let every person consider what he has forwarded for the morrow…”(59:18)

“the morrow”, or ‘tomorrow’, it is stated. The passage to eternity.

This body will go and a new one will be formed in its place, afresh, on the Day of Judgement, in accordance with our spiritual constitution. What matters is our spiritual constitution.

Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi says:

“Nourish your spiritual life. Do not feed your carnal self, your body with honey or oily things. In the end, your body is but an offering you will make to the grave. You [he says] can only reach eternity with the sustenance you give to your spirit.”

Similarly:

fa-alhamahā fujūrahā wataqwāhā

“And Who has inspired [the human selfhood] with the conscience of what is wrong and bad for it, and what is right and good for it.”

He tells us that we each have within us both a Pharaoh and a Moses. Both are hidden within us. Exert yourself to such an extent that the Moses within prevails over the Pharaoh.

That is, that your spirituality defeats your carnal desires.

Put simply, everyone is told to look at what they themselves have done. What they have prepared. And it is stated, “…Keep from disobedience to Allah in reverence for Him and piety…” (59:18) “…Surely Allah is fully aware of all that you do.” (59:18)

In other words, we must not be heedless of our Lord. For those who are so, it is stated:

“And do not be like those who are oblivious of Allah and so Allah has made them oblivious of their own selves.” (59:19) “…Those, they are the transgressors.”(59:19)

Now, when the servant becomes oblivious of Allah, they begin to commit sin. By mentioning their Lord, wajilat qulūbuhum, “their hearts tremble with awe” (8:2), they do not deceive others, they do not injure hearts, they do not backbite their fellow believer or belittle them.

So, what is demanded [of the servant] is constant remembrance. Allah Almighty does not want His servant to become heedless of Him. When the servant does become so, Allah makes them heedless of their own selves and the servant starts to sin. This is why ‘remembrance’ (dhikr) is what is mentioned most in the Qur’an. And the remedy:

qad aflaḥa man zakkāhā

“He is indeed prosperous who has grown it in purity (away from self-aggrandising rebellion against Allah) (91:9)

qad aflaḥa man tazakkā

“Prosperous indeed is he who purifies himself (of sins) (87:14)

One who purges their inner world of vice and wickedness, who develops their spiritual abilities and who purifies their inner world and feelings, is saved.

We need to constantly entreat Allah Almighty in supplication.

We need to say: “O Lord, Reconcile our feelings, our inner world, with Your good pleasure and approval.” Because we are weak. Human beings are weak.

And Allah Almighty offers examples of this. For instance, He tells us of Bal’am bin Ba’ura’. He was once a righteous servant of Allah. He was favoured with manifestation of the Greatest Name (al-ism al- a’zam). He displayed saintly miracles. His supplications were answered. [But] he later succumbed to his carnal desires. Allah Almighty likens him, in a Qur’anic verse, to a dog that pants with its tongue lolling out, and that is bewildered. (7:176)

So when human beings get caught in the vortices of carnality – may Allah protect us from that – they are in great astonishment.

Why have they come to this world? In Whose dominion do they live? In Whose bounties are they immersed? They are unaware. Like a ship with a broken rudder in the middle of the ocean, no one knows into which vortex they will be drawn.

Again, what does Allah Almighty demand of us?

“We have made you a middle-way community, that you may be witnesses for the people (as to the ways they follow), and that the (most noble) Messenger may be a witness for you…” (2:143)

In other words, ‘We have made you a moderate, perceiving, middle-way community. You are Allah’s witnesses on earth. In other words, you are representatives of Allah’s religion. In this way, being an auspicious, an honoured, a laudable community. This is how we are to represent the religion of Allah. This is what Allah Almighty demands of us.

“…and that the (most noble) Messenger may be a witness for you…” (2:143)

Allah Almighty holds His servant to account in accordance with the capacity and strength with which He has endowed them. We all know the rate for the prescribed annual alms, or zakat. The rate for zakat is one-fortieth, we say. It is like this in this case and like that for livestock, so we say.

But we do not know the rate of our individual capacities. Allah Almighty declares:

thumma latus’alunna yawma-idhin ʿani l-na’īm

“And on that Day, you will most surely be questioned as to all the favours (bestowed on you).”(102:8) Up to and including whom? Up to and including the Prophets.

It was in this sense of responsibility that the Companions and those who followed them themselves lived and in which they went to China, to Samarkand, to Africa, to Kairwan, went to Andalusia, to let live.

And so, it is essential that a believer exert all their effort towards deepening their servanthood to Allah.

Our Lord demands us to be God-revering and pious in various verses of the Qur’an.

In the verse recited, Allah Almighty declares:

“As for those who say, “Our Lord is Allah…” (41:30) A Qur’anic verse. In other words, those who follow the path earning Allah’s approval and good pleasure. Those who lead their lives in the consciousness of being at each and every moment under the Divine Gaze, under Divine watch, and who aim to earn His good pleasure and approval. thumma is’taqāmū – those who follow the Messenger of Allah, those who “…follow the Straight Path (in their belief, thought, and actions) without deviation, the angels descend upon them from time to time (in the world as protecting comrades and in the Hereafter, with the message): ‘Do not fear or grieve; but rejoice in the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised'”(41:30) In the verse that was recited.

Here, Allah Almighty makes known His favour to a servant who is a friend to Him. This is during times of trial and hardship.

Three times are indicated in the Qur’anic commentaries:

The first is at the time of death, a time of difficulty for the human being. At such a difficult time, the angels descend and say to one who is a friend to Allah, glorified and exalted be He:

“Do not fear or grieve; but rejoice in the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised.” (41:30)

Just as a person who is ill, a suffering person, awaits consolation. Or a person facing hardship seeks a source of comfort; one of the greatest of all difficult times is one’s last breath. There, the angels descend and, as indicated in the Qur’anic verse, they say:

“Do not fear or grieve; but rejoice in the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised.”   (41:30)

The first glad tidings are given here. A Friend’s bestowal upon a friend.

Similarly, the second instance of glad tidings mentioned in the Qur’anic commentaries: The Interrogating Angels in the grave: Munkar and Nakir. [There is] a grave. A lonely journey begins. A journey of separation begins. A farewell journey. There, you set off on a journey alone, removed from your body. There, the angels descend and to that righteous servant, to that friend, they say:

“Do not fear or grieve; but rejoice in the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised.”   (41:30)

The second difficult moment for the human being. They will leave one realm and enter into another. They will go from one world into a completely different one. Into a world filled with unknowns. The Messenger of Allah offers us counsel by means of worldly impressions:

“…Either a garden of Paradise, or a pit of Fire…” (Tirmidhi, Qiyama, 26)

Again, that realm, the world of the grave is described in various ways in the Prophetic Traditions. In one Prophetic Tradition, for instance, allow me to summarise:

After satisfactorily answering [the questions of the interrogating angels] Munkar and Nakir, the righteous servant sees a figure and is pleased.

“And who are you, who is here in this secluded [place], [at this] lonely hour?”

To which that figure replies:

“I am your good deeds, your deeds of righteousness.” Your prayer, your fast, your good character, etc. The Qur’an [that you recited]. “Allah,” it says, “has sent me to you.”

Two windows are then opened. From one, a view of Paradise, and from the other, a scene from Hellfire. It is said to them:

“You preferred the life of Paradise while in the world.”

The departed will then wait in that state, with such solace and consolation until the Day of Resurrection.

As for the wrongdoer… An ugly, hideous figures appears to them – as the Prophetic Tradition details – such that causes disgust.

“I am already in a wretched state,” the departed soul says, “And who are you?”

To which the figure replies:

“I am the sins that you committed in the world; I am your bad deeds and have been sent to you in this form.” Two windows are opened for them also, one from Paradise and the other from the Fire.

“You preferred the Fire while in the world,” that figure says. (See Hakim, Mustadrak, I, 93-95/107 cf. Ahmad,  IV, 287, 295; Haythami, III, 50-51)

In short, the Divine program continues. There is the Hereafter. The Day of Eternity (yawm al-khulud) will begin. The Day of Exodus (from the graves) – Yawm al-Khuruj – the Reckoning, the Record, etc…

And so, the second thing is, these angels will descend and say, “Do not fear or grieve; but rejoice in the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised.”(41:30) At the second instance, these angels will be in the grave.

The third instance is the day of great upheaval.

lā uq’simu biyawmi l-qiyāmati

“I swear by the Day of Resurrection.” (75:1)

The splitting of the earth and heavens, the scattering and uprooting of the mountains, the drying up of the seas and the gathering of all wild animals…

idhā zul’zilati l-arḍu zil’zālahā wa-akhrajati l-arḍu athqālahā

“When the earth quakes with a violent quaking destined for it, And the earth yields up its burdens.” (99:1-2)

The earth’s sending forth all that is within it. All the dead rising from the graves, as described in one narration. The [earth’s] throwing up its ores and minerals, according to another narration.

“Here is the gold and silver you pursued in the world. Here, have it, if it will avail you! You ruined your spiritual life!”

In another [narration], magma, this fire, the eruption of a sea of fire within [the earth], [the earth’s] spitting out its minerals…

waqāla l-insānu mā lahā

“And human cries out, ‘What is the matter with it?'” (99:3)

The human being exclaims, “O Lord, what is this!”

yawma-idhin tuḥaddithu akhbārahā bi-anna rabbaka awḥā lahā

“On that day she will recount all its tidings, as your Lord has inspired her to do so.” (99:4-5)

The earth begins to recount all that was done upon it.

“Here they prayed, here they deceived, here they backbit, here they spoke words of goodness…”

And the third instance: these angels will come at this great upheaval and say:

“Do not fear or grieve; but rejoice in the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised.” (41:30) Who are [these people]?

lā khawfun ʿalayhim walā hum yaḥzanūn

[They are] the friends, the saintly servants of Allah. Allah declares, “…they will have no fear, nor will they grieve.” (10:62)

We have two injunctions. One from Allah Almighty and one from the Messenger of Allah. The two came in a cave. One while in Thawr and the other at Hira. Hira, the place where the very first Qur’anic verse was revealed. There [it was declared]:

iq’ra bi-is’mi rabbika alladhī khalaq

“Read in and with the Name of your Lord, who has created.” (96:1)

This is the true learning. This is the heart’s education, the learning of the heart. The heart will advance such that [the servant] will be a possessor of deeds of righteousness, they will lead their lives [oscillating] between fear and hope, they will have reverence and piety, attain spiritual maturity and refinement, and will reflect upon the Divine Majesty in everything that they see.

While drinking water, they will exclaim, “O Lord! You could have poured this forth like salty seawater…” Reflect as much as you possibly can! The oxygen and nitrogen in the air could have changed constantly. The servant is to read this. They are to look at the heavens, at the atmosphere and read it. They are to look at the skies. “Look yet again,” Allah Almighty declares. “Can you see any rifts?” (See 67:3) Are there any road accidents in the skies? Does the sun go to a garage for repairs? Does the moon change its rotation? What difference does a second or a split second make?

Reflection is a key to belief. It is mentioned in 137 places in the Qur’an. Reflecting upon the heavens, reflecting upon the animal kingdom that Allah has bestowed, reflecting upon one’s own creation…

A fertlised ovum so small that it is almost nonexistent, a clot clinging, a formless lump of flesh… How is it that a human being emerges in the best possible form from this formlessness? Allah Almighty asks:

“O human! What is it that deludes you concerning your Lord, the All-Munificent? He Who has created you, fashioned you, and proportioned you (in measures perfect for the purpose of your creation)?” (See 82:6-8) Why are you being deluded? How did you come about from a fertilised ovum? How were you formed in there? You came into this world as a human being.

[Regarding] human life, Allah Almighty declares:

waman nuʿammir’hu nunakkis’hu fī l-khalqi afalā yaʿqilūn

“Whomever We cause to live long, We may also reverse him in nature. So will they not reason and take heed?” (36:68)

To whomsoever We grant life, We grant strength. Youth…

nunakkis’hu fī l-khalqi

“We may also reverse him in nature.” They begin to grow old, they hair turns grey. Their body begins to grow frail, troubles increase.

afalā ya’qilūn

“So will they not reason and take heed?”  (36:68)

Does the human being not reason? To what place is the journey? Why have we come? Why are we going? Why the rising and setting of this sun?

In short, Allah Almighty [declares]:

iq’ra bi-is’mi rabbika alladhī khalaq

“Read in and with the Name of your Lord, who has created.” (96:1)

The heart is to mature and become refined, in a constant state of reflection, a life of remembrance and reflection… In such a life, the human being would thus have protected their heart, as much as possible, from all that is other than Allah, from all that separates them from Him.