In Surah ar-Ra’d, Allah says:
اللَّهُ يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ وَيَقْدِرُ ۚ وَفَرِحُوا بِالْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا فِي الْآخِرَةِ إِلَّا مَتَاعٌ
Allah extends provision for whom He wills and restricts [it]. And they rejoice in the worldly life, while the worldly life is not, compared to the Hereafter, except [brief] enjoyment.
Indeed, we do get influenced by the pleasures of the dunya (worldly life) and forget the significance of the aakhirah (hereafter) – despite the latter being greater in duration, as well as providing more sufficient and enduring pleasure. With regards to this, we find the following:
Al-Mustaurad bin Shaddad (May allah be pleased with him) reported:
Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “This world (i.e., its pleasures and duration) in comparison with the Hereafter is (similar to the amount of water) one gets when he puts his finger in the sea. Let him then see what it returns with”.
[Sahih Muslim; Sunan Ibn Majah (graded Saheeh); Jami’at-Tirmidhi (graded Saheeh); Riyad us-Saaliheen]
Expounding on this, Imam al-Ghazali (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
“There once was a man walking in a jungle. A roaring lion ran towards him and the man ran as fast as he could to escape from it. He noticed a well in front of him and he jumped inside hoping to escape from the lion.
As he was falling inside the well, he grabbed onto the rope and saved himself. The man was so relieved but when he looked down he saw a big snake at the bottom of the well. It had its jaws wide open ready to swallow him up.
The man then looked up and saw two mice nibbling at the rope. A black mouse and a white were both chewing into the rope. The scary lion was still prowling outside the well.
The man’s heart was pounding as he wondered how he could escape from this. Then he noticed some honeycomb in front of him which had delicious honey dripping from it. He stuck his finger into the honey and put it inside his mouth. It was delicious and for a moment he forgot about the lion, the snake and the two mice chewing at the rope.”
He then explained that the lion is like the angel of death which is always looming above us. The snake was like his grave which all humans will face. The black mouse and white mouse were like the day and night which are always nibbling at our life (the rope). The honey was like this dunya which with its momentary sweetness makes us forget the death and the eternal life.
The response to this needs to be 2-fold: firstly, the realisation of the insignificance of this dunya; secondly, the prioritisation of the aakhirah over this dunya. The former is the action of the mind, the realisation of the spiritual self, and the latter is the ability to act upon this, to translate thought into action, from acknowledgement to practice.
But what of our worldly needs?
‘Abdur-Rahman bin Aban bin ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan narrated that his father said:
“Zaid bin Thabit departed from Marwan at mid-day. I said: ‘He has not sent him out at this time of the day except for something he asked.’ So I asked him, and he said: ‘He asked me about some things we heard from the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: “Whoever is focused only on this world, Allah will confound his affairs and make him fear poverty constantly, and he will not get anything of this world except that which has been decreed for him. Whoever is focused on the Hereafter, Allah will settle his affairs for him and make him feel content with his lost, and his provision and worldly gains will undoubtedly come to him.”
[Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitaab az-Zuhd (Book of asceticism), graded Saheeh by Darussalam]
May Allah ta’ala bless us with the capability to do more for our long-term abode, may He suffice us in this dunya and the aakhirah, may He have mercy on us here and on the day of qiyamah. For this, we should pray:
رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
“Our Lord! Give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the torment of the Fire!”