In this week’s central ayah Allah ‘azza wa jall sounds a soul-shaking wake up-call: O my people, this worldly life is only [temporary] enjoyment, and indeed, the Hereafter – that is the home of [permanent] settlement. [Quran, 40:39]
Let’s get our minds and hearts focussed and navigate towards Ramadhan inspired and motivated, in shaa Allah.
Sha’baan has emerged!
The month of Sha’baan has started. Sha’baan, has the root sha’a’ba (شَعَبَ) which means to emerge; this month emerges in your busy life and tells you Ramadhan will be here very soon! For some people Sha’baan is the time to indulge themselves in the worldly pleasures of food, drink, socializing, shopping, etc., just because in Ramadhan “it will all be finished.”
For others Sha’baan is the month of deep preparation of your mind, body and heart, as a seed that was planted in the month of Rajab, watered in Sha’baan, and harvested in Ramadhan. There are children of this world and children of the Hereafter; to which group do you wish to belong?
This world versus the Hereafter
Ali ibn abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said: Verily the dunya is coming to an end, and the akhirah is coming to a beginning and they both have children. So be children of the akhirah and don’t be children of the dunya. For verily today there is action with no account and tomorrow there’s account with no action. [Ibn al-Qayyim in ad-Da’ wad-Dawa Fasl ]
What is the dunya? It is often translated as this world, or the worldly life. Dunya comes from the root daal-noon-waw, which has two meanings: near, and lowly. The life you now live is also called al-hayaat ad-dunya, because it is the near, or the apparent and current existence you know, and also it is the lesser and superficial life compared to the eternal life of the Hereafter, the akhirah.
6 productivity tips on how to focus as a believer
The Prophet, salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, did not observe voluntary fasting so frequently during any other month as he did during Shabaan. He observed fasting throughout the month of Sha’baan [Al-Bukhaari, Muslim]. This fasting was not just abstaining from food and drink, but a deep preparation of the heart, mind, and body to get “in check” before the grand performance of Ramadhan.
Here are some motivational tips focussed on a crucial comparison: this world versus the Hereafter.
1. Don’t just read, reflect on every piece of knowledge.
Thousands of ahadeeth are at your fingertips on the internet; so much so that sometimes these amazing gems become like “quotes” that enter one ear to exit the other, may Allah forgive us. Imagine that each hadith is the beautiful words of your most beloved prophet— who cares for you so much— spoken directly to you.
The Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, one day was passing through the market and he passed by a dead goat, which had its ears cut. He held the goat by the ear and asked who would like to have it for one dirham (which was a very low price of currency at that time). The people said they wouldn’t take it even if it was free. What could they do with it? He, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, asked if they liked it if it was theirs. They said even if it was alive they would still not buy it because of its cut ears. So how could they buy it now especially since it was dead. The Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said: “This worldly life is so little in the sight of Allah as this dead animal or goat is so little in your sight.” [Muslim]
This is how you can reflect, or do tadabbur, on any ayah or hadith:*
Imagine/feel: This world is truly not as important as I keep making it.
Evaluate: Have days gone by when I did not even think about the Hereafter once?
Ask: I will ask Allah ‘azza wa jall to open my heart to remembrance of the Hereafter.
Plan: I am going to remind myself to think about the Hereafter at least once each day.
Propagate: Whenever I see one of my friends engrossed in excessive chatting, shopping, etc. I will remind them to think about the Hereafter by telling them about this hadith.
2. Don’t try to catch the world.
Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah: This dunya (world) is like a shadow. If you try to catch it, you will never be able to do so. If you turn your back towards it, it has no choice but to follow you.
One main cause of our worries and stress is being disappointed by people, events, and our own expectations. Tell yourself this: as long as I focus on the Hereafter, my worldly matters will be sorted in shaa Allah!
3. Start living as a stranger.
We all know this, but in real life many of us are in denial, however we are moving. We are on a train going to a final destination. We have three stations and one has already passed— your time in the womb. You came into this world, the second stop is your life in this world, and the third station is the everlasting station of the Hereafter.
Ibn Umar narrates: The Messenger of Allah salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam took hold of my shoulder and said, ‘Be in the world as if you were a stranger or a traveller along the path.’ And ibn Umar would say, ‘If you survive ’til late afternoon, do not expect [to be alive in] the morning. If you survive till morning, do not expect [to be alive in] the late afternoon. Take from your health before your sickness and your life before you death. [Al-Bukhaari]
How can we spend the month of Sha’baan indulged in this world, while we can prepare for eternal success in Paradise? Tell yourself in order to focus on worship this month: who says I will make it ’til Ramadhan? The journey of this life can be over anytime.
4. Be more minimalistic.
Try this: build your life around what you need, rather than around what you want. Next time you go grocery shopping, buy what you need and not what you want. This is the time to start depriving your nafs (ego) from whatever it feels like, preparing for Ramadhan. When you feel the need to buy those new shoes, resist and give the money in charity, to get in the spirit of giving, so your heart opens to giving: Ramadhan is the month of generosity!
5. Make a list.
Make a list of ten of your most common activities and see how much of your time is spent in preparation for the Hereafter.
6. Ask Al-Haadi.
Ask Allah ‘azza wa jall, the Ultimade Guide of all hearts and minds, to help you focus and use this world to pave the way to Paradise, in shaa Allah.
O Allah, help us to focus on the Hereafter, benefit from the month of Sha’baan, and reach Ramadhan in a state of strong emaan and make us children of the akhirah, ameen!
*This 5 step ‘tadabbur’ strategy can be found in the Understand Quran Course 50% of words.
Praying you will benefit,
Khawlah bint Yahya ~ United Kingdom
THE AYAH JOURNAL is dedicated to inspiring you to open the Quran every day, pick one ayah, and apply it to your own life by making acting on that ayah your mission for the day. Let’s bring back the message of the Quran to our daily lives! Check www.ayahjournal.com or www.facebook.com/ayahjournal for examples.