The Illusion of Time

The Prophet (saws) said, “Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveler along a path” [Sahih Bukhari].

Although though people might enjoy themselves while traveling, they don’t forget about where they’re going. If you’re on a road trip with your friends and you’re having an awesome time together, you’re not just going to be like, “Let’s forget about all the cool restaurants, five-star hotels, and tourist attractions that we were going to check out, and just keep driving, because this is SO much fun”- a road trip of just fast food meals and nights at Motel 6. You’re not gonna waste all your vacation days and travel savings on driving around aimlessly, just to have a good time with your friends. Making this duniya our goal, our destination, is as pointless as that road trip would be. As enjoyable as it may be at times, it’s still nothing compared to where we should be striving to reach.

The reason it’s a bit difficult to see things this way is because during the years of our youth, we feel like we’re invincible. The world is at our fingertips; there’s nothing we can’t do. We’re young, and strong, and free, and have so much time on our hands. We’re being invited, constantly, to indulge in this world’s temptations. Most of us know that this kind of life doesn’t bring real contentment, but we’re attracted to it anyway, because the last thing that’s usually on our mind is the D-word: death. This topic isn’t something that most young people want to think about- to the point that it’s almost taboo to mention it.

But every once in a while, you hear about someone who passed away at the age of 17, or 21, or 25, and you think, “Man, that sucks. Alhamdulillah it wasn’t me,” and life goes on. We don’t seize that opportunity to reflect on how this life’s really not forever, and that the person who just died won’t be able to come back and try again. The Prophet (saws) told us to remember the destroyer of pleasures often (i.e. death) [Sunan ibn Majah]. And obviously that doesn’t mean we should just mope around and can’t enjoy this life, or if an opportunity presents itself we should just be like, “What’s the point? We’re just gonna die anyway”- obviously, that’s another extreme. We should have a balanced approach to this topic, and live for both this life and the next, making sure we don’t compromise our religious values or relationship with Allah for anything.

As enjoyable as it may be at times, it’s still nothing compared to where we should be striving to reach.

Allah (swt) Himself tells us that the life of this world will seem like an hour of a day (10:45). Think back to 3:00 pm of Thursday, two weeks ago. Most likely, you either don’t remember what you were doing, or you have to put in some serious effort to remember, because it flew by so fast. Whatever you were worried about or enjoying is a thing of the past now. This life will seem that insignificant to us on the Day of Judgment, but the difference is that we’ll remember everything from it, crystal clear. ‘Ali ibn abi Talib (ra) said that people are asleep, and they wake up after they die. Let’s choose to wake up now. We only get one shot at this life, and it’ll either make or break the rest of eternity for us.

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