'Carrying a fridge up an icy mountain'...

LanH, [email protected] | .

Years ago when I was an undergraduate at a local university, one of our lecturers introduced to us 'creative thinking'. I remember one topic he asked us to write was based on the saying 'carrying a refrigerator up an icy mountain'.

Now upon reaching 53 years of age (in February) and after following perhaps thousands of talks and 'tazkirah' (lessons) mainly at masjids, offices and over radio and TV, 'Subhanallah (Glory be to Allah SWT) slowly but surely I have learned to 'feel, experience and witness' the truth in the wise man's saying.

'Alhamdulillah' (All praise is due to Allah SWT), this time in discussing the above subject, I am equipped with information, explanation and argument from the many 'tazkirah' of 'ustaz' (religious teachers) that I had followed over the years.

'Insya-Allah' (Allah SWT willing) lessons by the 'ustaz' were based on the the Qur'an and the 'hadith' therefore hopefully this article would be a more matured and meaningful 'muzakarah' (discussion) under the subject 'carrying a refrigerator up an icy mountain' compared to what I have written during my 'green and secular' university years. During those years, I wrote mainly based on my 'little knowledge and experience' and 'crude mind'.

Well, my dear brothers and sisters let us have a quick look at the Qur'an in describing the state of human beings based on Surah Al-'Asr (The Declining Day). It says with the meaning: "By the declining day; Lo! Man is in a state of loss; Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance."

'Subhanallah', everyone is in a state of loss except those with the four traits mentioned in 'Surah Al-'Asr. All our deeds and actions are of no benefit; only lately I realized that everything we do must be in line with Allah's orders and to be able to do that we must follow what the Qur'an and Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. had showed and set to us (in the hadith).

Alas, as a 'layman' with many handicaps (for example as I have no knowledge of Arabic); it is not proper for me to refer directly to the Qur'an and hadith for an interpretation, but to have audience with learned people such as 'ustaz' who would give explanation from the Qur'an and hadith. Alhamdulillah, this time around my arguments are based on lessons by the many 'ustaz' and 'ustazah' (female religious teachers) I had followed.

Before we continue, let us look at the general meaning of the phrase 'carrying a refrigerator up an icy mountain'. It simply means that many of us in our daily lives do in proper or in a harsh language 'stupid things' - what's the point in burdening ourselves with doing things or chasing things we actually do not need? Do we need a fridge on top of an icy mountain?

Perhaps some readers might laugh off at some of the 'improper' things that I would write, but again it is up to you dear readers to think and decide about it. For the practising Muslims, they pray at least five times daily; one phrase they read during prayers is 'Inna solati, wanusuki, wamahyaya, wamamati, Lillahirabbil ‘alamin (My prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the worlds).

Well, what's the purpose we are sent into this world? In 'ayah' 56 Surah of Surah l-dhāriyāt (The Wind that Scatter) Allah SWT says: "And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me."

Our journey in this world is to please Allah SWT before 'we meet' Him in the Hereafter; therefore should we burden ourselves carrying 'unnecessary items' just like a person carrying a refrigerator on his back up an icy mountain!

Let us look at some of 'the burden' we carry in life on our way 'to meet' Allah SWT. One negative trait that is part of many of us is greed; we are greedy for almost everything, from power, position, property, money and so on. 

During his Isra' and Mi'raj journey accompanied by Angel Jibril, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. saw a man who had gathered a stack of wood which he could not carry, yet he was adding more wood on his back. He asked: "What is this, O Jibril?" He replied: "This is a man from your community who gets people's trusts when he cannot fulfill them, yet he insists on carrying them."

There are many negative traits in us but in this article let us discuss about greed. We are greedy of things which actually do not need in this world what more in the Hereafter. Let me illustrate by giving a very simple example.

In bringing up our family we need a house to shelter us from shine and rain but many people are not satisfied with a house, they try to have two, three, four, five and so on. Then there are others who do not own one or two cars for their family but they have three, four, five and so on. The same could be said with other worldly pleasures.

There is a hadith on greed; Anas bin Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “If the son of Adam had a valley full of gold, he would like to have two valleys for nothing fills his mouth except dust. Allah will forgive whoever repents to Him.” (Sahih Bukhari 6075, Sahih Muslim 1048)

In their quest to have all those worldly possession they are willing to do all sorts of things including 'haram' (forbidden) ways. Some would forget the fact why Allah SWT sent them into this world. In fulfilling their busy schedules they have no time for Allah SWT such as performing their 'solat' (saying their prayers) and even for their own families. Some would work and work and 'nauzubillah' (Allah forbid) perhaps would only realize their folly when they are in their graves!

Actually the basic needs of human are only food, clothing and shelter but almost all of us want more. Perhaps a house or a car for a family is enough but we love to have more. Many of us do not realize that 'these worldly possessions' are actually a burden on our journey 'to meet' Allah SWT in the Hereafter.

Take an example, if we bring lots of luggage to the airport we would be checked thoroughly by the customs officers and that would take time even if 'they were clean' compared with a person with nothing to declare, who would 'breeze off' easily. Yes, owning a lot of property 'would slow' our journey in the Hereafter what more if they are obtained through 'haram' means.

We came 'with nothing' into this world (the state at which we are born) and would be back (die) carrying nothing. During our funeral, three things would follow us - our worldly possession including positions and ranks, our relatives and our good deeds - the first two would 'go back', only the last one would be of benefit to us when we are alone inside our graves. So, do we need to carry a refrigerator up an icy mountain? - ES

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