Consider a person with the following profile:
Age: In the prime of life. Health: Super fit. Beauty: Outstanding. Wealth: Multi billionaire. Qualifications: 7 PHDs. Social Standing: Among the most influential people in the country
Two days later he passed away. His re-written profile now reads:
Age: Dead. Health: Not applicable. Beauty: Body decaying. Eyes have disappeared leaving empty sockets. Hair and teeth have fallen off. Wealth: Left empty handed. Qualifications: Soul did not qualify in anything. Social standing: Besides a few people everyone has largely forgotten him and are not concerned about him in any way.
This is the reality that faces one when death strikes. One is stripped of all external valuables, denuded from one’s branded attire and wrapped in plain sheets of cloth, dispossessed of one’s wealth, distanced from one’s home and luxuries, divested of one’s titles and even deprived of one’s name – one is now referred to as “the deceased, “the mayyit” or “the janaza”. But… there is some wealth, beauty and strength which will go along with one to the grave. The wealth of Imaan, sincerity, compassion, forgiveness and maintaining family ties; the beauty of hayaa, simplicity and good character; the strength of tawakkul (trust in Allah Ta’ala) and contentment – all these and other such inner values will accompany one to the grave. They will be one’s companion on the day of Qiyamah (judgement) and will pave the way to Jannah. Therefore, while making a moderate effort to earn a halaal living, the focus of one’s heart and mind must be towards acquiring real values.
In many Ahadith Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has drawn our attention towards acquiring true values and discouraged us from focussing towards the perishable wealth of this world. In one narration Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have said: “One does not become wealthy by having much material possessions. True wealth is the wealth of the heart” (Bukhari #6446). The “wealth of the heart” is a broad concept. In this context it primarily refers to having contentment. A content person is truly wealthy. A poor person is one who does not have “enough”. Without contentment nothing is “enough”. For a discontent person “enough” is a very deep pit which only bottoms out in the grave. Thus the “wealth of the heart” is to be acquired. This is really valuable — more valuable than all the gold mines on earth.
Likewise, true value is in inner beauty, such as the beauty of akhlaaq. Even when age has wrinkled a person’s face, discoloured his hair, weakened his limbs and sapped away his energy, the beauty of his or her akhlaaq will still shine and attract like a magnet. In fact, even in one’s youthful years, the external beauty is superficial. If the heart is not adorned with sincerity, love, affection, compassion, kindness and selflessness, the beauty of the face and body will not be able to compensate for the ugly character that will emanate from the ugly heart. Diamond rings cannot be a substitute for sincere love and affection. Gold bangles cannot be a substitute for true compassion. Treating the spouse to exotic holidays will not compensate for lack of tolerance and regular outbursts of anger. Trying to use money to fill the gap created by poor character is like trying to fill a swimming pool with a cup of water.
One of the vital aspects of real beauty is hayaa (modesty and shame). Our most beloved master, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), urged his followers to adorn themselves with this value when he said: “Immorality will debase and degrade whatever it is found in, while hayaa will be a source of adornment wherever it is found” (Tirmizi #1974). Dressing in shameless tight-fitting or revealing garments does not make one beautiful. It degrades and debases one. It soils one with the filth of immorality.
While scores of people are obsessed with cosmetics to enhance their physical beauty, an equal number are in the gym trying to improve their strength. Maintaining one’s physical health and strengthening the body is most commendable, provided the means used are within the limits of Shariah. Yet again, the real strength is inner strength. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have said: “A strong person is not one who can wrestle others down. Instead a strong person is he who can control his anger” (# Bukhari 6114). Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is also reported to have said: “The most beloved gulp in the sight of Allah Ta’ala is the gulp of anger which one gulps down (suppresses)” (#Tabrani 7282). Being able to do a hundred push-ups is fine, but can one also push one’s anger down? The latter is real strength. This is the value which we have to make an effort to acquire.
There are numerous examples of inner values which Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has exhorted us to acquire. These inner values make one truly valuable. The external values will one day become dust. In any event one will have to leave all the external valuables behind when one is himself laid in the dust.
To the extent that inner values will be lacking, accordingly one will suffer from various spiritual maladies. The lack of contentment will make way for greed to enter the heart. The lack of tolerance and forgiveness will make space for malice. To the extent that hayaa decreases, indecency and shamelessness will sneak in. Thus the need of the moment is to acquire the true values of Imaan. This requires dedicated effort and commitment. Without effort even the perishable things of this world cannot be acquired. How can we then expect to acquire the everlasting values without effort?
All the efforts of Deen are focussed in the same direction. Da’wat and tabligh, ta’lim and the effort of tazkia (inner-self rectification) are all focussed towards improving one’s Imaan and acquiring true value in one’s life. It is imperative that we link ourselves with the efforts of Deen and become truly valuable.