The Journey of Life

كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ ۗ وَإِنَّمَا تُوَفَّوْنَ أُجُورَكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ

إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection. [3:185]

Indeed Allah , over all things, is competent. [29:20]

Allah swt has given us a life on this earth and the end of that life is known to Allah swt.

Allah swt knows about each and every one of us when we are going to die. Every one of us is going to die when we are going to die, the only difference is that Allah swt has given us the choice that how we wish to travel this journey called ‘Life’. This is the way to understand the relationship between taqdeer and ikhtiar. Every single thing about you, Allah swt knows, but He is left the journey up to you. All the difficulties that are going to come in your life for the next 10 years 40 years, whatever rizq you will get in your life, whatever studies you will do, whatever failures you will have to face…

…the only question is that how are you going to travel the journey?  One person will travel the journey through the path of Sabr. Shukr, dhikr, muhabbat for Allah, Second person will travel the journey through shikwah, ghaflat, sins, distant from Allah…Both of their ends have been determined, but Allah swt has left the hourney upto them. Like the example that we are travelling on a plane; all of us are going ot the same destination – the end is guaranteed. It is just the question of how you want to spend the ride. You want to be a good passenger, you want to be a rowdy passenger, you want to be a happy traveler, you want to be an unhappy traveler.

What does Allah swt wants us to realize? What is the end? Asal mey in the Deen of Islam, the end is not Death. If the end was death, then this would be a very confusing thing that we called life. And that’s why those people who think that the end is death, they are extremely confused about life and they cannot resolve to the best of their philosophical ability what they view as a paradox between free will and predestination. The reason it confuses them is that for them the end is death. In the deen of Islam, the end is not death, the end is Aakhirah; the end is eternity; the end is endless life; there is actually no end. The beginning of the end is the meeting with Allah swt.

Now if we view our life like that, that the purpose of our life is not to reach the end which is the day I will die but the purpose of my life is to reach a day in which I will meet Allah swt, then we will have totally different understanding of life. Because,  Allah swt is not going to ask you on that day about the difficulties or the failures or the successes. Allah swt is going to ask you on that day that how did you spend the ride? Along with the difficulties did you still remember Me? In the happinesses, did you still love Me? Did you still worship Me? How did you spend that whole thing called human life? In a state of ignorance, in a state of heedlessness, in a state of absentmindedness?.

That’s it. That’s what the Deen of Islam came to teach us: how to spend that journey. The mo’min and the kafir both have to go through life, the only difference is how you spend the journey. That is why Shaytan and our Nafs, in addition to them there are two other enemies; two other things that keep us from Allah swt: Theres the Dunya and the Makhlooq; the world and creation. And the way the dunya and makhlooq keep us from Allah swt is that they make us forget how to spend the journey, and they try to delude us about the end. So when you think the purpose of life is not to meet Allah swt but you start thinking the purpose of life is to get something in the dunya; whether it is money, whether it is status, whether it is rank, whether it is distinction…so you will forget the adaab of the journey. When you forget that the purpose of life is to meet Allah swt, then other things will come up to take your passion. So some people are passionate about their job; some people are passionate about their career; some overly passionate about their job and career; overly ambitious; overly passionate about their family. That’s why Allah swt said in Qur’an that your wives and children are a test for you; in what sense? Otherwise wives and children are a bnlessing for you a bounty for you but theres a slight chance that you may forget that the end is the meeting w ith Allah swt and become overly passionate about them. So someone will say I take rishwat[bribe] for the sake of my wife and children or I disobey Allah swt in so many ways for the sake of my wife and children. That means they exceeded; they become overly passionate and they forgot the end. So the dunya and the makhlooq; this world and the creation in it that is how they distract us: they distract us from Allah. Shaytan and the nafs don’t distract you from Allah…I’m telling you from the experience of 15 years…and we’ve learnt things from ullema and mashaikh who have 30, 40 years of experience. Shaytan and the nafs do not distract you from Allah, its the dunya and the makhlooq distract you from Allah: the nafs will involve  you in sin but you will but you will still feel love for Allah swt; the nafs will involve you in sin but even though you did that sin you wont loose your yaqeen in Allah swt, Shaytan will put a waswasa[whisper] in your heart, but you will still love Allah swt. So, Shaytan and the nafs cannot diminish your good side but they can increase your bad side. And dunya and the makhlooq; they diminish your good side. They disconnect you from Allah swt.

We are lost in the dunya. Anything can be dunya, dunya is not the name of money in Islam. You can be extremely wealthy and have zero dunya. You can be extremely poor and be completely lost in the dunya. Not just that dunya can be anything that is ghair-ullah[ other than Allah] that distracts you from Allah. For some people studies are their dunya; for some people teaching is their dunya.

Anything can be dunya, anything that is other than Allah that distracts you from Allah that is dunya. That is the definition of Dunya in Islam. That is why Allah swt taught us in the Quran:

رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ

Many people misunderstand this especially in Pakistan; that Allah swt has Himself said in the Quran that: ‘dunya aakhirat donon mango[Ask for both dunya and the aakhira]. Although where has He asked us to ask for the dunya? Hasanaat maangne ko kaha ke mango. Not Rabbana aatina dunya, but Rabbana aatina fiddunya hasanaat that Allah swt grant us hasanaat in the dunya; don’t grant us the dunya. Hasanaat will not distract you from Allah. Hasanaat are not dunya. Those people therefore who were able to what people think that ‘hum deen aur dunya dono ko chalayein ge[we’ll take both deen and the dunya together]’ wo deen aur dunya donon ko nayi chala rahe they, dunya k hasanaat ley rahey they aur saath saath deen aur aakhirat ka kaam ker rahey they; kyounke dunya ke hasanaat deen se munaafi nai hain. They took the noble, virtuous, pure things of this world; they took those things from this world that donot distract from Allah swt and along with that they were firm on their deen and always thinking about their Aakhirah.

There is a very pious woman by the name of Zubaida Khatoon. She was the wife of the Khalifa of the Ummah Haroon ur Rasheed. Zubaida Khatoon was such a pious woman that she had hired several hundred hafizaat, several hundered women who were hafiza of the Qur’an and she made three shifts; 3 8 hour shifts but this was not a 3-shift workforce to acquire the dunya, the purpose of this 3-shift work was to recite the verses of Qu’an in every single corner of the royal palace, because she wanted that anytime she walked anywhere in the palace she’d be able to hear Qur’an. This is before the speaker system. The entire palace, the entire royal court with all of the attendants, all of the staff used to live there; and every single place she put a hafiza, so there is no space where she could walk and wouldn’t be able to hear the Qur’an-e-karim; and no time of the day and no time of the night when she could walk and couldn’t hear the Qur’an. Allahu akbar! Now, tell me whatever money she must’ve had to be able to hire those people, was that money dunya? No, it wasn’t. So much love for the Qu’ran, Allahu akbar.

And so much love for the creation of Allah that between her place in Iraq and makkah mukarama, when the people of that area used to travel for Hajj, on the way there was a piece of very dry arid desert land, where there was absolutely  no water whatsoever. And that was considered the most difficult part of the journey, and just for that part of the journey, they used to take so much water with them even the camels would need to drink at some point on that journey. They themselves would do tayammum, they wouldn’t be able to do wudu but they had to carry water for the sake of the camels and they had to carry drinking water for themselves. And because of that part of the journey people used to die, become shaheed on the way for going for hajj. So, she learnt of this, she found out, she told her husband: I want you to divert part of the water of tigress and Euphrates river over there and make a canal [what me and you would call a canal], so that when the hujjaj are travelling through that area,they have access to water to drink for themselves and they have water for their camels to drink. This is a massive project, even by modern engineering standards; to divert water of a river to some other place and make a canal. Allahu akbar. Haroon-ur-Rasheed expended the resources to do so. Must’ve been an incredible amount of money, labour, bricks, cement, Allahu ‘alam. Not Dunya, none of that was dunya…and they did it.

At that time, there was a very big shaykh; a very big wali of Allah swt by the name of Bahlool[rah]. Bahlool was known for two things: 1. for being a wali, 2. for seeming to be crazy; but looks can be deceiving. Once the Khalifa Harun-al-Rasheed and his wife Zubaida Khatoon went for a walk at the beach. While walking, they saw that Bahlool was sitting there making castles in the sand and calling out that whoever buys this sand castle for one dinar, I will make dua that Allah[swt] bless him with a Palace in Jannah. The Khalifa listened to him and  laughed it off. But, his wife Zubaida was a very simple and pious woman. She went upto Bahlool and took out one dinar and said Bahlool, I will buy your palace, make dua that Allah Ta’ala grants me a palace in Jannat. Bahlool took the dinar, made dua. That night, Khalifa Harun-al-rashid saw in his dream that he was in a very huge, beautiful palace in Jannah; made up of marble and all incredible things and on top of the palace, it said: Zubaida. He became happy and started to go inside of the castle but he got stopped at the gate by a guard, when he told the guard that this was his wife’s castle the guard said that this Palace can only be visited by the one for whom it has been made. When the Khalifa woke up, he made an intention to go to Bahlool again that day so that he could buy the castle too. So, in the evening he went to the beach again and there sat Bahlool[rahimahullah] making the same sand castles. The Khalifa went upto him and asked him what he was doing. Bahlool[rahimahullah] said that I’m making sand castles and whoever buys it from me will get a Palace in Jannah. So, Harun-al-rashid started giving him one dinar. Bahlool said: Harun-al-Rashid, its no longer costing one dinar. Its going to cost: “The Kingdom of the entire world”. The Khalifa got stunned at the response even he was the king of only the Mo’mineen and could not give so much, he asked him that yesterday he was selling the same castle for a dirham, why did he change the price now. Bahlool[rahimahullah] said that [kul, bin dekha sauda tha; aj tu ap dekh ker ayein hain] yesterday you had not seen it, now you have seen it therefore you can’t have it for the same price.

[Isi tarah hai Imaan-bil-ghaib] Just like that there is belief in the unseen. Iman-bil-ghaib in Allah swt, we have not seen Allah swt, we  will see Him on that day; you’ve not witnessed the Jalal, the azmat of Allah swt you will see it on that day; you’ve not seen the Jamal, the Rehmat, the Beauty and the Mercy of Allah swt, you will see it on that day. If [ap bin dekh ker sauda kerte hain, one dinar i.e. just a few ‘amaal, with a trivial 80 years life that you have to offer and Allah Ta’ala will give you endless bliss in the aakhirah, will take you into Jannah. If you don’t do it now, and try to show up on that day, Allah swt will ask you to bring something that you can’t offer.

It comes in Qur’an that the people will beg Allah, that Ya Allah send us back! [Hum ne dekh lia, ap ko hum ne dekh lia, humein wapis bhejein hum tikka ker zindagi guzarein ge] No, you can’t go back. You got one shot. One shot. We should start making use of it. We’re too distracted in the dunya, too distracted by makhlooq. Everyday is passing by, every year is passing by. couple of kids I knew as freshmen, have graduated. Allahuakbar, I’m getting old…time is passing. Start making use of your time.

Thats what Ramadan came for. Ramadan is not month of fasting, No. Ramadan is not the month of Eid. Ramadan is the month when we connect with Allah swt; Ramadan is the month when we reconnect with Allah swt. Ramadan is the month in which we fall in love with Allah swt; Ramadan is the month in which we try that Allah fall in love with us. Ramadan is the month of Rahman; Ramadan is the month of Gufran. That is this month of Ramdan.

If we can spend even just one month like that; if we can spend even a few days like that, then you will taste the sweetness of this path of the deen. Then you will forget all the pleasures of this world, then you will forget all the distractions of this world. Even in this world, when you are addicted to something the way they get you off is that they hook you onto something else. In America, when someone wants to quit something. they will ask him, what do you like? If he would say, chewing gum. They would say, okay now anytime you want to smoke, you take chewing gum. Because we want to replace one lazzat with another lazzat.

So, if we had a life in which we forgot Allah swt, we allowed ourselves to feel the lazzat of this world. Only one thing can take you out of that; one thing. Only one thing can take you out; theres nothing else.  If you want out, theres only one thing that can take you out. And that is: if you taste the lazzat of being a servant of Allah swt. Once you taste the pleasure of ibadat, you taste the pleasure of dhikr, you taste the pleasure of obedience, you taste the pleasure of sunnah. Only when you taste and experience the sweetness of the life of the deen, then you will feel no need for this dunya. Only one way. Nothing else will take you out – your shame, your regret, nothing else. it may make you forgiven but it won’t take you out; you’ll go right back into it in a matter of time. You’ll go right back into it after the month of Ramadan.

If you want this Ramadan to be an exit, if you want this Ramadan to be a change – that change is only by experiencing and tasting the sweetness of the Deen. The sweetness of the love for Allah swt, once that enters your heart, Alhamdulillah; Alhumdulillah; Allahu akbar Kabira. Its beyond description. Beyond description; mazay mey. [Aur aisa maza hai ke koi ap se cheen nayi sakta] Allahu akbar.

Allah Ta’ala hum sub ko Ramzan mey Allah Ta’ala ko paaney wala bana dein, Allah Ta’ala ko chahney wala banadein, Allah Ta’ala ke mehboob banadein. Asal Zindagi isi cheez ka naam hai…ke bunda Allah Ta’la ka chahne wala bun jaye, bunda Allah wala bun jaye. Is cheez ko zindagi kehtey hain, baqi har cheez sharmindagi hai. Hum bhi is maheeney may zindagi jeenay waley bun jayein. [Ameen]

[This talk was delivered by Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed[db] last year during Ramadan, in Lahore. These are some of its highlights]


  1. Ibn Yahya says:

    “And dunya and the makhlooq; they diminish your bad side.” I think it should be ‘good side’ written here, these two things distract us from Allah SWT.

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