19 February 2014 CE | 17 Rabbi al-Thanni 1435 AH

Hadith Explanation

How to Work for the Ocean

The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “This world, in comparison with the world to come, is the same as if one of you were to put his finger in the ocean. Consider how much you would have when you pulled it out.” [Muslim; Kitab al-Jannatu wa Na’imuha]

While we know that this world is short lived and our life in the next world is never ending, yet we don’t undertake actions for the ocean, instead devoting our efforts to the drop that will soon vanish. Why do we behave so foolishly?
To reach my “happy ever after” the most difficult challenge I must overcome is to free myself from the influence of shaytaan and my nafs al-ammara. If my nafs undertakes this struggle, then it becomes nafs al-lawwama, the reproachful self; and if the struggle is won, then it becomes nafs al-mutma’inna.

The nafs al-ammara urges evil and openly opposes the nafs al-mutma’inna. Whenever the latter presents a good deed, the former presents an evil deed in return. The nafs al-ammara tells the nafs al-mutma’inna that jihad is nothing more than suicide, a widowed wife, orphaned children, and wasted wealth. It tries to convince the nafs al-mutma’inna that zakat and sadaqa are nothing less than an unnecessary expense and a burden, a hole in my pocket, which will lead me to depend on others, so that I too will then be like the poor. [The Purification of the Soul]

I have to control my nafs, what it does and what it does not do, even its most insignificant activities, for each and every breath I take during my life-time is precious. It can be used to acquire one of the treasures which ensure a state of bliss that is everlasting. If I waste it, or use it to acquire things which may cause my destruction, I will suffer great losses, which are only allowed to happen by the most ignorant, foolish and reckless of people. The true extent of such losses will only become apparent on the Day of Judgement.

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