In Ramadan, as we aim to gain as much rewards as possible and experience a heightened closeness to our Rabb and our Deen, we may make intentions to change our lives for the better – to fulfill more of our Islamic obligations and become more obedient servants of Allah (swt). However, once this blessed month is over we may slip back into our old ways or lifestyle, or the close relationship with our Lord that we feel during Ramadan may not lead us to transform our lives completely. Another reason why Ramadan may not create a lasting or complete change within us is perhaps because we fear the impact that following some of the rules of our Deen will have upon our interests, ambitions, and life. So in essence, we fear losing the enjoyments and comforts of this life above losing the Love and Pleasure of our Rabb and His Rewards.
If this is the case, then surely we need to truly appreciate how this life is like a piece of ice left out in the sun – it will soon melt and vanish, while the Hereafter that Allah (swt) has set aside for us is for eternity – with our ultimate destiny being Jannah OR Jahannum (Paradise or the Fire). Perhaps we need to reflect deeply on how small and temporary the pleasures of this life are that may keep us away from fulfilling our Islamic obligations, compared to the lasting and unimaginable delights of Jannah which await the righteous slave of Allah (swt) who will be given everything that their heart could ever wish for, and more!
Allah (swt) says in Surah al-Hadid,
ٱعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّمَا ٱلۡحَيَوٰةُ ٱلدُّنۡيَا لَعِبٌ۬ وَلَهۡوٌ۬ وَزِينَةٌ۬ وَتَفَاخُرُۢ بَيۡنَكُمۡ وَتَكَاثُرٌ۬ فِى ٱلۡأَمۡوَٲلِ وَٱلۡأَوۡلَـٰدِۖ كَمَثَلِ غَيۡثٍ أَعۡجَبَ ٱلۡكُفَّارَ نَبَاتُهُ ۥ ثُمَّ يَہِيجُ فَتَرَٮٰهُ مُصۡفَرًّ۬ا ثُمَّ يَكُونُ حُطَـٰمً۬اۖ وَفِى ٱلۡأَخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ۬ شَدِيدٌ۬ وَمَغۡفِرَةٌ۬ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ وَرِضۡوَٲنٌ۬ۚ وَمَا ٱلۡحَيَوٰةُ ٱلدُّنۡيَآ إِلَّا مَتَـٰعُ ٱلۡغُرُورِ
Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children. (It is) like vegetation after rain whose growth pleases the farmer but then it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes dried up and broken down; and in the hereafter is a severe chastisement and (also) forgiveness from Allah and (His) pleasure; and the life of this world is nothing but a deceiving enjoyment.
And Allah (swt) says,
وَفَرِحُواْ بِٱلۡحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡيَا وَمَا ٱلۡحَيَوٰةُ ٱلدُّنۡيَا فِى ٱلۡأَخِرَةِ إِلَّا مَتَـٰعٌ۬
…and they rejoice in the life of the world, whereas the life of this world compared with the Hereafter is nothing but a brief passing enjoyment.
So the joys of this life are nothing but a fleeting, deceiving enjoyment. Do we therefore really want to sacrifice the eternal delights of Paradise due to the fear of losing a few temporary moments of pleasure in this life which keeps us away from fulfilling all our duties to our Rabb? We should know that securing those delights of Jannah does not come easy. It involves at times struggle and sacrifice of our personal interests and desires in order to fulfill the Commands of our Creator and to keep to His Limits.
Abu Hurayrah (ra) narrated that the Messenger (saw) said,
لَمَّا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ الْجَنَّةَ قَالَ لِجِبْرِيلَ : اذْهَبْ فَانْظُرْ إِلَيْهَا . فَذَهَبَ فَنَظَرَ إِلَيْهَا ثُمَّ جَاءَ فَقَالَ : أَىْ رَبِّ وَعِزَّتِكَ لاَ يَسْمَعُ بِهَا أَحَدٌ إِلا دَخَلَهَا ثُمَّ حَفَّهَا بِالْمَكَارِهِ ثُمَّ قَالَ : يَا جِبْرِيلُ اذْهَبْ فَانْظُرْ إِلَيْهَا فَذَهَبَ فَنَظَرَ إِلَيْهَا ثُمَّ جَاءَ فَقَالَ : أَىْ رَبِّ وَعِزَّتِكَ لَقَدْ خَشِيتُ أَنْ لاَ يَدْخُلَهَا أَحَدٌ " . قَالَ : " فَلَمَّا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ النَّارَ قَالَ : يَا جِبْرِيلُ اذْهَبْ فَانْظُرْ إِلَيْهَا . فَذَهَبَ فَنَظَرَ إِلَيْهَا ثُمَّ جَاءَ فَقَالَ : أَىْ رَبِّ وَعِزَّتِكَ لاَ يَسْمَعُ بِهَا أَحَدٌ فَيَدْخُلُهَا فَحَفَّهَا بِالشَّهَوَاتِ ثُمَّ قَالَ : يَا جِبْرِيلُ اذْهَبْ فَانْظُرْ إِلَيْهَا . فَذَهَبَ فَنَظَرَ إِلَيْهَا ثُمَّ جَاءَ فَقَالَ : أَىْ رَبِّ وَعِزَّتِكَ لَقَدْ خَشِيتُ أَنْ لاَ يَبْقَى أَحَدٌ إِلاَّ دَخَلَهَا
When Allah created Paradise and Hell, He sent Gibrael to Paradise and said to him: 'Have a look at it and what I have prepared in it for its inhabitants.' Gibrael said he came and had a look at it and at what God had prepared for its inhabitants. He said: he returned to Him and said, 'By Your Exaltedness, nobody will hear of it without entering it.' Allah then ordered that Paradise be surrounded by hardships and said, 'Go back to it and see what I have prepared in it for its inhabitants.' Gibrael said, he went back to it and found that it was surrounded with hardships. He returned to Allah and said, 'By Your Exaltedness and Glory, I was afraid that nobody would enter it.' Then Allah said, 'Go to the Hell and take a look at it and at what I have prepared in it for its inhabitants.' Gibrael said he went and took a look at it and found parts of the fire placed on one another. He returned to Allah and said, 'By Your Exaltedness, nobody would ever hear of it without avoiding it.' Allah then ordered that the Hell be surrounded by what man lusts and desires. Then Gibrael said, 'By Your Exaltedness, I am afraid that nobody will ever escape out of it.'
The Prophet (saw) also gave us an example in a beautiful hadith to warn us to not become distracted by the deceiving enjoyment, temptations or fears of this life that keep us away from the obedience to our Lord (swt). He (saw) said,
يُؤْتَى بِأَنْعَمِ أَهْلِ الدُّنْيَا مِنْ أَهْلِ النَّارِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَيُصْبَغُ فِي النَّارِ صَبْغَةً ثُمَّ يُقَالُ يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ هَلْ رَأَيْتَ خَيْرًا قَطُّ هَلْ مَرَّ بِكَ نَعِيمٌ قَطُّ فَيَقُولُ لاَ وَاللَّهِ يَا رَبِّ *وَيُؤْتَى بِأَشَدِّ النَّاسِ بُؤْسًا فِي الدُّنْيَا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ فَيُصْبَغُ صَبْغَةً فِي الْجَنَّةِ فَيُقَالُ لَهُ يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ هَلْ رَأَيْتَ بُؤْسًا قَطُّ هَلْ مَرَّ بِكَ شِدَّةٌ قَطُّ فَيَقُولُ لاَ وَاللَّهِ يَا رَبِّ مَا مَرَّ بِي بُؤُسٌ قَطُّ وَلاَ رَأَيْتُ شِدَّةً قَطُّ
On the Day of Judgement, from amongst all those destined for Hell, a particular man, the richest man in the world, will be brought forth and cast into Hell for a moment. Then he will be taken out and will be asked, ‘O son of Adam, have you ever known the good things of life? Have you ever seen comfortable days?’ And he will reply, ‘By God, O Lord, never.’ Then from amongst all those destined for Paradise, one who has suffered the most in the world will be brought forth and will be allowed to enter Paradise for a moment. Then he will be taken out and asked, ‘O son of Adam, have you ever seen suffering? Have you ever experienced hardship in your life?’ He will reply, ‘By God, no. I have never suffered. I have never undergone hardship’.
Hence, just one moment in the Fire would suffice to make the one who had all the comforts and pleasures of this worldly life forget all the enjoyment he may have had in this world, while one moment in Jannah would be enough for the one who has known nothing in life but hardship to forget all the suffering he may have endured in this dunya.
And what are the delights of Jannah compared to the pleasures of this life? Allah (swt) says,
وَإِذَا رَأَيۡتَ ثَمَّ رَأَيۡتَ نَعِيمً۬ا وَمُلۡكً۬ا كَبِيرًا
And when you look there [in Paradise] you will see a delight [that cannot be imagined], and a great dominion.
[Al Insan: 20]
And He (swt) says,
يَـٰعِبَادِ لَا خَوۡفٌ عَلَيۡكُمُ ٱلۡيَوۡمَ وَلَآ أَنتُمۡ تَحۡزَنُونَ * ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ بِـَٔايَـٰتِنَا وَڪَانُواْ مُسۡلِمِينَ * ٱدۡخُلُواْ ٱلۡجَنَّةَ أَنتُمۡ وَأَزۡوَٲجُكُمۡ تُحۡبَرُونَ * يُطَافُ عَلَيۡہِم بِصِحَافٍ۬ مِّن ذَهَبٍ۬ وَأَكۡوَابٍ۬ۖ وَفِيهَا مَا تَشۡتَهِيهِ ٱلۡأَنفُسُ وَتَلَذُّ ٱلۡأَعۡيُنُۖ وَأَنتُمۡ فِيهَا خَـٰلِدُونَ * وَتِلۡكَ ٱلۡجَنَّةُ ٱلَّتِىٓ أُورِثۡتُمُوهَا بِمَا كُنتُمۡ تَعۡمَلُونَ * لَكُمۡ فِيہَا فَـٰكِهَةٌ۬ كَثِيرَةٌ۬ مِّنۡهَا تَأۡكُلُونَ
(It will be said to the true believers of Islam): 'My worshippers! No fear shall be on you this Day, nor shall you grieve. (You) who believed in Our ayat (proofs, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and were Muslims. Enter Jannah, you and your wives, in happiness.' Trays of gold and cups will be passed round them; (there will be) therein all that their inner-selves could desire, and all that eyes could delight in and you will abide therein forever. This is the Paradise which you have been made to inherit because of your deeds which you used to do (in the life of the world). Therein for you will be fruits in plenty, of which you will eat (as you desire).
The Sahaba (ra) asked the Prophet (saw) what Paradise was built from, and he (saw) replied,
لَبِنَةٌ مِنْ فِضَّةٍ وَلَبِنَةٌ مِنْ ذَهَبٍ وَمِلاَطُهَا الْمِسْكُ الأَذْفَرُ وَحَصْبَاؤُهَا اللُّؤْلُؤُ وَالْيَاقُوتُ وَتُرْبَتُهَا الزَّعْفَرَانُ مَنْ يَدْخُلْهَا يَنْعَمْ وَلاَ يَبْأَسْ وَيُخَلَّدْ وَلاَ يَمُوتْ لاَ تَبْلَى ثِيَابُهُمْ وَلاَ يَفْنَى شَبَابُهُمْ
Bricks of gold and silver and mortar of fragrant musk; its pebbles are pearls and rubies, and its soil is saffron. Whoever enters it is blessed with joy and will never be miserable; he will remain there forever and never die; his clothes will never wear out, and his youth will never fade away.
The Prophet (saw) also said,
وَاللَّهِ مَا الدُّنْيَا في الآخِرَةِ إِلّا مِثْلُ مَا يَجْعَلُ أَحدُكُمْ أُصْبُعَهُ في الْيَمِّ فَلْيَنْظُرْ بِمَ يَرْجِعُ
By Allah, the life of this world compared to the Hereafter is as if one of you were to put his finger in the ocean and take it out again then compare the water that remains on his finger to the water that remains in the ocean”. So the drops of water left on the finger are equivalent to the joys of this life, compared to the vastness of the ocean which represents the delights that await the righteous believer.
He (saw) also said,
إِنَّ مَوْضِعَ سَوْطٍ فِي الْجَنَّةِ لَخَيْرٌ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا وَمَا فِيهَا اقْرَءُوا إِنْ شِئْتُمْ
The space taken up in the Hereafter by something as little as the whip of one of you is better than the whole of this earth and what is on it.
Abu Hurayrah (ra), reported that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said,
يَقُولُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أَعْدَدْتُ لِعِبَادِيَ الصَّالِحِينَ مَا لاَ عَيْنٌ رَأَتْ وَلاَ أُذُنٌ سَمِعَتْ وَلاَ خَطَرَ عَلَى قَلْبِ بَشَرٍ
Allah the Exalted, has said: 'I have prepared for my righteous slaves what no eye has seen, nor any ear has heard, and the mind of no man has conceived.
Then he (saw) recited,
فَلَا تَعۡلَمُ نَفۡسٌ۬ مَّآ أُخۡفِىَ لَهُم مِّن قُرَّةِ أَعۡيُنٍ۬ جَزَآءَۢ بِمَا كاَنُواْ يَعۡمَلُونَ
No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do.
So imagine the most beautiful thing we have ever witnessed or experienced in this life - the most amazing scene we have beheld, the greatest sensation of happiness we have felt, the greatest pleasure or comfort we have enjoyed - but what is prepared for the obedient slave is beyond these, indeed it is beyond what we can even imagine. So after understanding all this, what greater regret can there be than to be of those who Allah (swt) describes in Surah Al-Baqara,
أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱشۡتَرَوُاْ ٱلۡحَيَوٰةَ ٱلدُّنۡيَا بِٱلۡأَخِرَةِۖ
Those are they who have bought the life of this world at the price of the Hereafter
However, when we miss even one prayer due to our busy lives or don’t make time to gain knowledge about our Deen or carry the dawah for Islam and the Khilafah due to other commitments - this is an expensive mistake we make. OR if we deal in Riba (interest) or other haram contracts due to their benefits, or free-mix with the opposite sex due to the worry about the impact that segregation will have on our friendships, education, or careers, or pursue our desires and perform other actions or follow lifestyles that Allah (swt) prohibits - we are essentially trading in the lasting delights of Jannah for the short pleasures of this dunya. OR if we neglect to wear the Islamic dress or fail to speak up for our Deen when it’s attacked or refrain from supporting the call for the implementation of the Shariah and the Khilafah out of fear about how people may see us, or the ‘extremist’ labels that maybe thrown at us or how it may affect our ambitions, careers or interests - then it is a costly exchange we are making of choosing this life over the next.
Allah (swt) says,
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّهِ حَقٌّ ۖ فَلَا تَغُرَّنَّكُمُ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَلَا يَغُرَّنَّكُم بِاللَّهِ الْغَرُورُ
O mankind! Verily the Promise of Allah is true. So let not this present life deceive you, and let not the chief deceiver (Shaytan) deceive you about Allah.”
Indeed, one of Shaytan’s greatest deceptions is magnifying the lures and pleasures of this life in our eyes such that our thoughts and desires are distracted from the delights of Jannah which may make us feel that neglecting the Commands and Limits of our Rabb is something small rather than a mountain.
He (swt) also says,
أَرَضِيتُم بِٱلۡحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡيَا مِنَ ٱلۡأَخِرَةِۚ فَمَا مَتَـٰعُ ٱلۡحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡيَا فِى ٱلۡأَخِرَةِ إِلَّا قَلِيلٌ
Are you pleased with the life of this world rather than the Hereafter? But little is the enjoyment of the life of this world as compared with the Hereafter.”
It is the true appreciation of the Greatness of Allah (swt), the true purpose in life, and understanding of how little the joys of this life are compared to the next, that led to the Sahaba and Sahabiyat as well as the pious scholars and Muslims of the past to transform their whole lives according to Islam – COMPLETELY rather than partially; PERMANENTLY rather than temporarily; and to hold onto their Islamic beliefs and perform their Islamic obligations and recommendations no matter what and at all times. They therefore strived to excel in the prayer, recitation of Qur’an, the sadaqah, and the akhlaq (morals) of Islam but also adopted the Islamic dress, adhered to the Islamic social and economic laws, sought knowledge about their Deen constantly, commanded the Maruf and forbade the Munkar,challenged corruption and oppression, accounted their rulers for any negligence in the implementation of Allah (swt)’s Laws, protected and spread their Deen, and carried the dawah to establish the Islamic system in authority with unwavering dedication.
It is what led Bilal to hold onto Islam despite being severely tortured by the Quraish under the burning sun to make him leave his Deen. It is what led Musab ibn Umayr to sacrifice his luxurious life as a youth for the sake of embracing and carrying the dawah for Islam. It is what led the early Muslims to struggle relentlessly to establish Islam in authority despite facing intense persecution and boycott from their society. It is what led to the streets of Madinah being awash with alcohol due to the Muslims throwing it out from their houses immediately following the revelation of its prohibition. It is what led the Muslim women of the Prophet (saw)’s time to tear down their curtains and use them to cover their hair and bodies, immediately after the obligation of the Islamic dress of the woman was revealed. It is what led the Ansaar to give their pledge of allegiance and support to the Prophet (saw) to establish the first Islamic state in Madinah, despite knowing that the enemies of Islam would attack them from all sides. It is what made the great scholar Imam Ahmed (RM) speak out against the ruler who was spreading wrong ideas about Islam, despite being imprisoned and tortured to the level that his joints were dislocated. And it is what led the Khalifahs and the Muslims of the past to spread the system of Islam to all corners of the globe regardless of the difficulties and obstacles.
So, if we really want to use Ramadan to make a lasting and complete change to our lives as Muslims, then let us spend some time reflecting on the true purpose for why we were created, and how the short comforts of this life are nothing compared to the amazing, lasting delights of the Hereafter. Uthman bin ‘Affan (ra), in the last Khutba he gave in his life, said, “Allah (swt) gave you this world to request the Akhirah, and did not give it to you for you to rely upon, for this world ends and Akhirah is everlasting. So let not that which ends make you disregardful, nor keep you busy from that which lasts. Choose to seek that which lasts over that which ends, for this world will be cut off and our return is to Allah.”
بَلَىٰ مَنۡ أَسۡلَمَ وَجۡهَهُ ۥ لِلَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحۡسِنٌ۬ فَلَهُ ۥۤ أَجۡرُهُ ۥ عِندَ رَبِّهِۦ وَلَا خَوۡفٌ عَلَيۡهِمۡ وَلَا هُمۡ يَحۡزَنُونَ
Nay – whoever submits his whole self to Allah AND is a doer of good – he will get his reward with his Lord: on such shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”
Written for The Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir by
Dr. Nazreen Nawaz
Director of the Women’s Section in the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir
From UQAB Magazine Issue 8