By Shahraiz Tabassam
Throughout our lives, most of what we do is driven by the thought of consequence. More specifically, the benefits that something might bring about for us or the troubles it might repel. We do whatever we do, with the purpose of seeking some form of goodness in it.
And yet, no matter how much good one has in this world, it cannot come close to the rewards of the Hereafter. What is of this Dunya (world) is, after all, of this Dunya and will deteriorate and wither away. But that which is with Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) will always stay.
While reading Surah Ya-sin, I would often pause upon the verse:
هُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُهُمْ فِي ظِلَالٍ عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ مُتَّكِئُونَ
“They and their spouses – in shade, reclining on adorned couches.” (Qur’an 36:56)
And I would read, and re-read it to myself thinking what a beautiful reward it is; the eternal bliss of paradise, the company of one’s beloved wife, all without the fear of death, sorrow, detachment, or despair.
That’s something anyone would covet. It was the promise of lasting comfort, tranquility, happiness and love, all expressed beautifully in a single verse. Having known the absence of all these things in this Dunya, what more could one possibly want?
But as I read on, the very next ayah (verse) states:
لَهُمْ فِيهَا فَاكِهَةٌ وَلَهُم مَّا يَدَّعُونَ
“For them therein is fruit, and for them is whatever they request [or wish]” (Qur’an 36:57)
Subhan’Allah (Glory be to God). While most of us would be perfectly content with the first reward, it implied that there could still be those who wanted something even more. And to them, Allah (swt) had promised that they would find in Jannah (Heaven) all that they pleased, provided they led righteous lives.
Surely there could be no reward greater than this, I thought. There couldn’t possibly be anything more that someone could want, could there? It was only last night, as I was reading the surah (chapter) again, that the answer dawned upon me.
Then, as I read on, I came across the verse:
سَلَامٌ قَوْلًا مِّن رَّبٍّ رَّحِيمٍ
“[And] “Peace,” [Salaam] a Word from a Merciful Lord.” (Qur’an 36:58)
All this while, I had been excited about the prospect of an everlasting paradise, companionship that would last forever, and the fulfillment of my every wish. But I had ignored the fact that beyond the ‘material’ rewards Allah (swt) mentioned earlier lies a higher degree of reward for those who seek it. The reward of getting to meet Allah (swt), knowing He was pleased with you.
Imagine Him seeing you and your sight upon the Face of the One who loved you most. Imagine the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth, extending His greetings to you and personally congratulating you for your success. In this Dunya, our eman has its highs and its lows but imagine a place where you were closest to Allah (swt), and that never changed.
How could any reward ever come close to this?
The recompense described earlier in the surah seems so ‘little’ once this reward comes into sight. It started off with a generous reward for the believers, then went to the next degree promising them anything they wanted, and finally Allah (swt) put something on the table that few would see, but is the most valuable of them all.
Yet, most of the time, we worship Him and perform good deeds because we don’t want to be left behind, because we want to enter Jannah with those who enter it. Similarly, we abstain from many things because we are afraid that we will end up in Jahannam (Hellfire). But perhaps it would do us better to realign our intentions and aim for something even higher; to set our eyes on the Salaam from our Rabb (Lord), the meeting with Him and not just the rewards.
إِن تُعَذِّبْهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ عِبَادُكَ ۖ وَإِن تَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ فَإِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ
“If You should punish them – indeed they are Your servants; but if You forgive them – indeed it is You who is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” (Qur’an 5:118)
To Him belongs Paradise and His is the Hellfire; He punishes whom He wills and He rewards whom He wills. Even if news reached us that He had decided to forbid us from Paradise and would cast us into Hellfire, it would be our duty to worship Him and Him alone; to be our best and to serve only Him.
Allah (swt), being the Lord, Creator and Sustainer of all that exists, it is His right to be worshipped and it is His right that we, being His servants, strive to please Him in the life that He has ordained for us.
And perhaps, most interestingly,when your purpose becomes to please Allah (swt), when you long for His Love and the meeting with Him, you automatically qualify for all the other rewards.
It all comes down to why you’re doing what you’re doing: Paradise, or pleasing the One who has it all.
Just some food for thought.
May Allah (swt) make us among those whose eyes thirst to see Him, whose hearts long to meet Him and whose only purpose is to please Him.
Any good herein is because of Allah (swt) alone, and it is only the shortcomings that are my own.