LAST weekend my family and I visited my first son and his wife's house in Kerteh, Terengganu. They were married two months ago and choose to begin a new life in the turtle state as they were both working there.
It was a terrace house in a quiet housing estate; they rented it for RM900 a month. Seeing a 'surau (small masjid) like situation' once inside the house (it was almost empty and there were barely a few necessities such a stove, a washing machine and a TV set while guests had to sleep on 'totos' (blankets) placed on floors), I remembered my own house in Wangsa Maju, KL when and my wife and I entered it for the first time as a married couple 26 years ago.
The house was a flat; we rented it from a friend for RM200 a month. I remembered that historic day when we drove to Kuala Lumpur from Melaka with my old faithful, an Opel Kadett with our belongings stored at the back seat and in the boot of the car! It was in February 1989.
For the few days our house was almost empty; we only had a TV set, a stove, a kettle, some cooking utensils and eating sets such as plates. We even slept on a 'toto' placed on the floor; there was no carpet at all. Only later on we had a fridge and other necessities.
Twenty-six years had passed...a few days ago, when I attended a 'tazkirah' (Islamic lesson), I heard the 'ustaz' (religious teacher) asked his audience - almost all of them were 'veterans' in their 50-s, 60-s and 70-s (I included) - "are you still busy chasing worldly pleasures after all those years...just look around and inside your house...if it is a car you had wanted before, you have had it now...some not only own one but several cars including the expensive ones...inside your house it was fully furnished perhaps with the high class 'jati' or Western-type furniture.
"Some homes are fully air-conditioned...and about money some have piles and piles of them at home or stashed in your bank accounts...or shares, some have thousands and thousands of them. And some of us have lands, estates and run businesses.
"Almost all of us have a wife or wives, children and grandchildren, And regarding position, status, title...some of us have or have had them; yes we have them all, only 'one thing' we had never tasted...well what is it? Yes it is death and life in our own graves and in the Hereafter!"
The 'ustaz' warned that if we were blessed with almost everything we had dreamed of when we were young but until now when we were at old age we keep on chasing those worldly pleasures, remember that life in this world is nothing compared to the Hereafter.
He reminded that our 'worldly treasures' including houses, cars, money and businesses would of no use in the Hereafter. The much sought items there are ‘iman’ (faith) and good deeds; unfortunately the Hereafter is not a place to do good deeds but a place to reaped ‘our best crop’ grown on earth!
The world 'is only a stepping stone' for one to gather as much as 'benefits' as possible to be taken to the Hereafter. It is only a place to sow seeds but the fruits shall be reaped in the Hereafter. The duration of our life in the world (say 60-70 years) is only about two and a half hours compared with the next world which is for eternity.
Our temporary life here is only a life of probation, for perpetual life in the Hereafter. All life ends in death. Therefore, let us remember that a certain time is fixed for us when we will be abandoned to the darkness of our graves. We should be therefore, consider the passing life of this world as a means towards our ultimate goal. Yes, this material world is not the main object of our life but a means towards a higher goal, said the 'ustaz'.
So it is really a very big mistake we put so much effort for our worldly gains and benefits in this world but forget our share in the Hereafter. Everything we heaped in this world would be left behind. The correct way is to follow the path shown by Allah SWT. From the Quran (Surah al-Baqarah 2:201), we recited this popular 'du'a': 'Rabbana atina fid-dunya hasanatan wa fil 'akhirati hasanatan waqina 'adhaban-nar" with the meaning: "Our Lord! Grant us good in this world and good in the Hereafter, and save us from the chastisement of the fire."
Two of the best companions of the Prophets traded their worldly pleasures for the Hereafter. During a war campaign when the Prophets asked Muslims to help to finance it, Abu Bakr As-Siddiq gave all his properties while Umar Al-Khattab donated half of his belongings. To Abu Bakr, the Prophet s.a.w. asked: "What did you leave for your family?" Abu Bakr answered: "God and His Prophet."
In the Qu'ran (Surah an-Nisa' 4.74), Allah SWT says: "So let those who trade the life of this world for the Hereafter fight in God's cause. Whoever fights in God's cause, whether he is killed or victorious, We will grant him a tremendous reward."
But there are people who seemed not to bother at all about their fate in the Hereafter. Many people even 'veterans' are madly in the 'rat race chase' - their lives are only to fulfill their worldly desires such as having a big house, a fleet of cars and lots of money stashed in banks.
Some seemed like animals; Allah SWT says in the Qur'an: They are like cattle, who only think about what it eats, and does not think about the future and prepare for another life. They are not only like cattle but even worse, because cattle obey Allah in reasons of its creation. This is reflected in Surah al-Furqan where it says: "They are only like cattle - nay, they are even further astray from the Path - even worse than cattle." (Al-Qur'an 25: 44)
Allah informs man about the insignificance and deceptive allure of the world in the Qur'an: "Know you (all), that the life of this world is but play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting and multiplying (in rivalry) among yourselves, riches and children. Here is a similitude: how rain and the growth which it brings forth delight (the hearts of) the tillers; soon it withers; you will see it grow yellow; then it becomes dry and crumbles away. But in the Hereafter is a penalty severe (for the devotees of wrong). And forgiveness from Allah and (His) good pleasure (for the devotees of Allah). And what is the life of this world, but goods and chattels of deception? (Surat al-Hadid: 20)
Regarding our existence in the world, I admired A Samad Said's poetry entitled 'Tetamu Senja' (Evening Guests). The first verse read: 'Kita datang ini hanya sebagai tetamu senja' (We are guests of the evening); 'Bila cukup detik kembalilah kita kepada-Nya' (When the time is up we returned to Him); 'Kita datang ini kosong tangan kosong dada' (We came with an empty hand, empty chest or heart); 'Bila pulang nanti bawa dosa bawa pahala' (When we returned we brought along our sins and rewards).
Subhanallah, in life we begun with nothing...we brought nothing along with us but as the days turn into weeks, months, years and decades our 'properties' increased; for example for shelter at first we stayed with our parents then we moved into a bachelor room.
After getting married we managed to rent a house, then we bought one, then had two or three houses or enlarge the former until the day when we die...we would be send to our 'deep and narrow graves' with nothing (worldly properties) attached to us...yes we were from zero and would be back to zero but this time around we would be answerable to all our actions in the world in the form of 'dosa' (sins) and 'pahala' (rewards)! - ES