How bad do you want Jannah? This is the question that will ultimately define your day, your week and even your life.
“This life of ours is a sleep…and when we die, we wake up from the sleep.” –Ali (ra)
One day, perhaps sooner than we think, our souls will awaken from this dream we call life. We will no longer be bound by the reverie. All the distractions and limitations, the “mutual boasting” and the “dazzling glitter” will fade away. At last, the soul will be free to achieve complete and enduring clarity. What will it discover?
O ye who believe! Fear Allah and let every soul look to what (provision) he has sent forth for the morrow. Yea fear Allah: for Allah is well-acquainted with (all) that ye do. (Al-Quran 59:18).
Question yourself as if you have already passed away. Because your life may not be what you intend to do “one day.” Your life is what you are doing, right now.
What will your soul reveal?
Will it reveal a person who turned consistently to God, deeply and sincerely, in good times and in bad? Who actively practiced reflection, gratitude and forbearance? Who looked for signs of God’s Mastery in each iota of creation; searched for His Will in each turn of events? Or will it show someone who reserved God solely for special occasions, to be remembered only in times of need or for the sake of ritual–or perhaps, not at all?
Will it reveal one who passionately sought to follow the beloved Messenger of God (sas), deeply cognizant that his life represented “the most beautiful pattern of conduct” ever known to man? (33:21). Someone who carefully studied the Prophet (sas)’ biography, continually finding ways to incorporate his Sunnah into their own life? Or will it uncover a person who pledged their allegiance for the sake of identity or conformity as opposed to sincere emulation; someone who followed the Sunnah with carelessness and selectivity?
Will it reveal someone who made time for ritual prayer, comprehending its importance and appreciating its centrality? Someone who returned often in repentance and renewed their commitment after each misstep? Or will it uncover a mountain of excuses and missed opportunities?
Will it expose a life dedicated to charity, always seeking to help others through time, money and small acts of kindness? Will it reveal a heart perpetually restless with thoughts of improving the human condition? Or will it find a person so obsessed with comfort, recreation and self-absorption that they were oblivious to the needs and suffering of others?
Will your soul reveal a person who understood the importance of relationships? Who made time for their parents, offering them the very best of their company? Who approached their spouse with softness, protectiveness and humility? Who viewed their children as a trust from God, a responsibility deserving the utmost attention and care? Who carefully upheld the ties of kinship, nurtured their friendships and reached out to their neighbours? Who treated their colleagues with respect and their acquaintances with compassion? Or will it reveal a person bereft of manners and devoid of empathy, someone who used their loved ones as a means to an end, or constantly judged others and criticized their faults? Who talked much and listened very little, or who habitually made things difficult for others?
Will it reveal a person who spent their free time looking for ways to improve, whether spiritually, mentally, emotionally or physically? Or will it uncover hour after hour of trivial pursuits, lost time and wasted potential?
“Take account of yourselves before you are taken to account.” –Umar (ra).
For most of us, Jannah is a distant dream. Despite the wondrous descriptions in the Qur’an, it is really hard to imagine an idyllic ever-lasting garden that is free of pain, free of worry, free of toil, free of distance and free of time. We often wonder what it will really be like, knowing full-well it can never be grasped. “I have prepared for My slaves what no eye has seen, no ear has heard and no human heart can imagine.” (Hadith Qudsi-Bukhari). How do we motivate ourselves to consistently strive for a dream that is so intangible?
Ultimately, we must trust the One who most intimately knows our deepest hopes and desires and recognizes our most profound disappointments and struggles. The One who Created each one of us and Loves us infinitely more than even our own mothers. Jannah is going to be undoubtedly and absolutely incredible. It is the place and time that we will finally attain the ever-lasting peace that is so central–yet so simultaneously unattainable– to the human spirit. Every moment of every day we need to remind ourselves of this and strive to attain it—no matter the cost, no matter the pain, no matter the obstacles.
So ask yourself: how bad do YOU want Jannah? You need look no further than your own choices to gage the intensity of your longing.
“Whoever wants to know what Allah has prepared for him should look to what he has prepared for Allah.” –Prophet Muhammad (sas).