Between two Fears
Mohamedarif Suleman (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
The world is now passing through ever-more turbulent times, fulfilling some more doomsday prophecies along the way. And while the opponents of the Day of Resurrection or those who deny significantly the existence of a God who is capable of reversing the process of creation and taking mankind to book for its actions and inactions during the life of this world, it does get rather clear all the time that there is little control that men and women have over their surroundings, and that under all circumstances, the will does seem to rest elsewhere rather than with us as individuals.
Muslims use inshallah like a beverage, without, at times, much seriousness in it, but as a fleeting recognition that there is someone somehwrher who may decide finally whether an event can and will take place or not. You have money and power today, and the resultant authority that you then have casts an impression on your mind that it is you who has made it happen, with absolute disregard of the multitude of more deserving people around you and more hard working individuals who do not have equal power as you, and who then could have been the best candidates for God’s merciful rain of wealth and strength. The mirage will only die with the death of your power or the passage of time, as weakness in an advanced age makes the feeling of helpless agony even stronger, where one finally begins to realise that indeed it was not him all along, it was Him instead who made it happen. Equally, can men and women of profound physical beauty claim their pride with a link to their own effort? Not at all. In fact, even those with deep knowledge of things cannot boast about their capability in worship and righteousness in the face of a multitude of men and women who spend more hours on a praying mat.
The philosophy behind this life is usually likened to a transit station, where supplies have to be earned and forwarded to a destination in the next world. Defiant people who think their mundane power will see them through, or those who deny that a next life does indeed exist, are mesmerisingly of poor aptitude, just as they have forgotten the constant change in shape and form of life of an individual from the time of conception to that of birth and subsequently death.
This kind of belief reverberates in the overall defiance of an individual in his transactions with other people. Simply speaking, since he does not believe in an accounting system in the hereafter (strangely as much as he is persuaded by the audit process of his or her accountants), it is probable to emerge a person who fears no consequences for his actions – both ill-intentioned and well-meaning ones. he or she goes about the land doing as he or she pleases and dealing with other as it appeals to them best. In His infinite mercy, though Allah (SWT) has in-built in us various levels of self-conscience that constantly provides alarm bells so that our inner selves tell us whether we are right this time, or wrong all the time.
The Holy Prophet (SAW) stated in one of his sermons:
O people! Reach the signs that have been fixed for you and get to the destinations that have been determined for you. Verily, the believer strives between two fears: the fear about his past, concerning which he does not know how God would judge it; and the fear for the future, concerning which he does not know what God has decreed therein. Let the believer take from his (transitory) self that which shall benefit his (abiding) self and from the world that which shall benefit him in the hereafter. Let him benefit from youth before old age comes upon him, and from life before death seizes him. By Him in Whose hands is the life of Mohammad. There is no possibility of penitence after this world and there is no abode after it save heaven or hell (Usul al-Kafi, Hadith 191/1599).
The turbulence of our times lies not outside our religion, but rather within as we constantly confront evil in all manner of things, issues and events. In this sense, it has become more difficult to know today what is right and what is not. Religious edicts are becoming fuzzy, or the transmitters have distorted various messages through successive lines; the religion that was supposed to guide us is now in the hands of Muslims who wish to guide it depending on how much is desirable by adherents, and the leadership code postulated by the leader of faithfuls, has been used to rationalise one’s own viewpoint. Signs now exist that this embattled society will see worse. On that day, we will have to choose between those two fears – the fear about our past in respect to how God would judge it, and the fear for the future which only God has decreed.