Significance of the worldly life
I have a question which is really disturbing me nowadays. I wish I could ask this in person but the burden of studies does not let this be done.
Actually, I heard a preacher … quoting a hadith of the Holy Prophet saying, “You should strive in the world according to the proportion you have to live here, and strive for the hereafter according to the proportion you have to live there”.
While well knowing the amount of time there, when one day would be equal to thousands of days on this earth one can easily infer that the infinite life over there would be greater than millions of years on the earth. This implies that we should completely forget/ignore this world as it would have infinitesimal value as compared to the hereafter and pass our whole life only in worrying about the life after death.
I personally believe that there should be a balance. I remember an author quoting the daily schedule of the holy prophet that he had divided his day into three (3) portions, ie, one for worship, one for the people/trade and one for his family. But I’m not sure how far are these ahadith quoted properly. I need your guidance in this regard.
The statement you have quoted in your question is correct, but the meanings sometimes construed from it are misleading. Indeed we should devote time for the worldly affairs proportionate to its significance and likewise for the hereafter. However, that doesn’t imply that we should say goodbye to the worldly obligations completlely. Had that been Islam’s ideal, we would have found the prophet, may Allah’s mercy be on him, not participating in any worldly activity at all. The fact that he fully participated in the worldly affairs is enough reason for us to reject this understanding.
The truth of the matter is that we are expected to earn our rewards for the hereafter from this very life. That would require us to get involved not only in ibadaat but also in the ‘mundane worldly affairs’. However, in the case of the latter activities, we are expected to abide by the rules laid down by Islam. Thus if we carry out our worldly obligations in accordance with the injunctions and the spirit of Islamic Shari’ah, we will be leading a fully aakhirat-oriented life. The prophet, sallallahu alaihi wasallam, is reported to have said:
“This world is a cultivating ground for the hereafter”.
As for the question of how an individual should allocate his time for various possible engagements that would enable him to get the best results (from the point of view of aakhirah), there can be no one answer for everyone. It depends on many factors: one’s circumstances, abilities, and natural inclinations. However, whatever one does, one should be obsessed with the concerns of the life hereafter. Allah Almighty, it is hoped, will be kind in forgiving our minor blemishes.
I hope the answer suffices for your question, but if there is anything that remains unclear, please feel free to ask.