Last month, I attended my graduation ceremony after successfully completing my undergraduate degree in commerce. It was an important event in my life. Of course it is, in everyone’s life. But in my case, it was a bit different, because I was waiting. I was truly waiting for a desperate winning moment because I am going through a tough phase in life. After an exhausting struggle for nine months, it seemed as if the light at the end of the dark tunnel started unveiling some rays of ease. AlhamdulilLah (praise be to God)! I realized thoroughly how accurate the words of Allah, subhanahu wa ta`la (exhalted is He), are: “Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease,” (Qur’an, 94:6).
Being the only recipient of five medals during the graduation was incredible. It was almost more than I ever expected. I could see my parents’ joy and happiness. Earning a good reputation at the university and being recognized in a well-known newspaper as a token of excellence in the academics were all ‘ease’ sent by Allah, the Most Kind to my frustrated heart! Subhan’Allah (glory to God). They healed the mental suffering I was going through to some extent.
Truly the most significant element of the experience was that my closeness with Al-Fattah, the One who grants victory and the One who opens the closed doors, was strengthened. That day brought me much closer to Allah, the Most Merciful. Literally, I could not take notice of the glittering medals hung around my neck without feeling close to my rabb (Lord), who is much closer to me than my jugular vein, the One who granted me a ‘worldly’ success in academics after feeling like I had a broken heart. Apart from the eases sent by Allah (swt) to heal me, many lessons were awaiting me.
The worldly success got me thinking. My heart felt as though it was receiving a wake up call from my Maker. The degree, medals, and appreciation were all due to my efforts to accomplish my goals in acquiring worldly knowledge during those three years. This reminded me of the verses from the Qur’an:
“But whoever desires the Hereafter and exerts the effort due to it while he is a believer – it is those whose effort is ever appreciated [by Allah]. To each [category] We extend – to these and to those – from the gift of your Lord. And never has the gift of your Lord been restricted. Look how We have favored [in provision] some of them over others. But the Hereafter is greater in degrees [of difference] and greater in distinction.” (17:19-21)
After I was reminded by these verses, every vein of my body understood that if ‘these’ efforts can grant me medals in dunya (this wordly life), then the efforts, the real efforts, in the eyes of Allah (swt) for the akhira (hereafter) could grant me much greater favors and bounties from Allah (swt).
After arriving home that day, I quickly went to my prayer mat to thank Allah (swt) for granting me something more than I would have ever anticipated and went into prostration and begged Him to help me use this academic success solely to please Him. I pleaded with Allah (swt) not to give me every form of well being in dunya alone and leave me empty-handed on that crucial day, the day of Judgement, but to grant me good, both here and there.
“…And among the people is he who says, ‘Our Lord, give us in this world,’ and he will have in the Hereafter no share. But among them is he who says, ‘Our Lord, give us in this world [that which is] good and in the Hereafter [that which is] good and protect us from the punishment of the Fire.’ Those will have a share of what they have earned, and Allah is swift in account.” (2:200-202)
Besides this, deep down in my heart, I had an unquenched question. “Is my rabb pleased with me?” My parents were happy and my community members were celebrating my success with kind words and showering me with their love. But did I, through this worldly pursuit, earn the love of Al-Wadud, the Most Loving? It struck me heavily that I was not created for this brief moment of success. Not to be accepted by people around me, not to be celebrated by family and not for the awards my academic performances brought me. But for that ultimate success in the Hereafter and for being accepted by my creator, Allah (swt). I kept telling myself not to get carried away by the temporary attention and lose the main focus and the ultimate aim of my existence, to please Allah (swt). Reminding myself would help me stay strong in my connection with Allah, the One, the Only One who can grant me the real success and acceptance on that day when there is neither trading nor befriending. May Allah (swt) help us all take sincere efforts for that true success and may He make us utilize all the worldly success for attaining his pleasure in the Hereafter.
“Our Lord, grant us good in this world as well as good in the world to come, and protect us from the torment of the Fire.” Ameen!