"So whatever thing you have been given - it is but [for] enjoyment of the worldly life. But what is with Allah is better and more lasting for those who have believed and upon their Lord rely." (Surah Ash-Shuraa, 42:36)
I came across Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan's Friday sermon based on the above mentioned ayah while watching a video of Bayyinah Institute's visit to meet Robert Davila. If you haven't read about Davila's efforts to learn about Islam and the Quran despite the challenges he faces as a paraplegic, you should. Signs of His greatness are everywhere and I believe Davila is one of them. (May Allah subhana wa ta'ala will preserve his sincerity and steadfastness. Ameen.)
"What is your perspective on life?"
Have you ever asked yourself this question? Do you think your current perspective on life could be improved? In his sermon, Nouman Ali Khan said something I completely agree with: When life is in perspective, things become easier to deal with.
This reminds me of an instance when a university classmate asked me, "Why are you Muslim? You should be a Buddhist. It's more fun!". I wasn't offended. In fact, I like it when non-Muslims ask me questions about my faith. But we were working on a group project at the time and I didn't really know how to respond to that half-joke. So I smiled and continued working on my part of the project.
But I do think it is a good idea to ask ourselves why we chose Islam or choose to remain Muslim. And to my non-Muslim readers, for the record, if I were to leave Islam (na'udhubillah min zalik) I would not face capital punishment. Although, my family's reaction would probably be equivalent to it. Having said that, family disapproval hasn't stopped me from what I wanted to do in the past :) - not that I'm encouraging you to upset your family. My point is, it's good to reflect on our choices. If I could go back in time, I would tell my classmate the following is why I'm Muslim:
This is why I'm sharing Nouman Ali Khan's sermon on putting life into perspective. When you know something has benefitted you it's a form of sadaqah (charity) to share it with others. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Convey from me even it is one ayah (verse, sign)." (Sahih Bukhari)
I encourage you to watch the video but here are some points I want to highlight from it in hopes that it will brighten up your day - or even better, your life - God willing:
- Every experience in life is something you can benefit from. Every experience is a learning opportunity and every thing we have been given is to contribute to our growth and make us more mature and wise individuals. Even when we have regrets it is a gift from Allah (swt). At the same time, this ayah also reminds us that every possession and relationship has an expiration date in this life so we must always try to use them in a beneficial way.
- Make akhira more important. There's dunya (the worldly life) and there's the akhira (hereafter). Akhira shouldn't be something we only mention to console ourselves in times of trouble. We may have 5 or 10 year plans for our careers but we need to make daily plans for our akhira because no one can predict when they will die. Furthermore, dunya is temporary and yet we spend so much time worrying and working for it whereas the hereafter is eternal. You do the math. This is not to say we shouldn't have plans for life in this world but these plans are worthless and meaningless if we're not building our lives in the hereafter at the same time.
- We need to constantly and continuously improve ourselves. The ego thrives on impressing people and social media has exacerbated this desire. Shaping people's perception of us should not be more important than shaping our reality. Don't become too affected by people's criticism or praise. Treasure human relationships but remember to work on your relationship with God because we will die alone and we will face Him someday.
- What is with Allah is better and lasts longer. This ayah is not only referring to what Allah (swt) has reserved for those who enter Paradise because even what we have in this life belongs to Him. It is a reminder the things He has for those who are on the path to Jannah are better and more long-lasting than what people or anything on this Earth can offer you.
- There is no "free time". The time that Allah have given us in this life is not only limited but also something we have to answer for on Judgement Day. The angels never stop writing our deeds so we need to fill our time with ibadah which, by the way, is not restricted to prayer, reading the Quran and dhikr but also the effort we make to to cultivate the world we live in and foster positive and healthy relationships with His creations.