Steadfastness in the Face of Worldly Temptations

Steadfastness in the Face of Worldly Temptations
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Human beings must choose their path in this world carefully, walk with eyes wide open, and strive to stay on the straight path. They should not be deceived by the immediate pleasures of the world, fall for Satan’s temptations, or be defeated by their own desires, thus ruining their afterlife. Some opportunists may be lured by these instant gratifications, live for the moment, and act as if there is no afterlife. However, a believer with firm faith in Allah cannot and should not do this. Even if the world presents itself with all its splendor and grandeur, a believer should not be deceived by it and must be resolute and courageous enough to push it aside when necessary.

It is crucial to remember that maintaining a proper stance against worldly temptations is extremely difficult. Even some of the Prophet’s companions felt that they could not maintain their spiritual level and consistency when they became preoccupied with worldly matters, and they even worried about having traits of hypocrisy. Today, the test with the world is much more challenging. Many fail this test for very trivial reasons. Those who gain power, status, wealth, or fame often become arrogant, presumptuous, selfish, poisoned by these gains, and lose their human virtues. Unfortunately, the world turns many into something other than human, transforming them into savage creatures.

Resisting the Lure of the World

Human beings are inherently inclined toward comfort, food and drink, praise, pleasure, splendor, and grandeur. They possess insatiable desires, infinite ambitions, and unending wants. They continually fuel these feelings with the illusion of eternity in this world and cling to the world with greed. As Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) expressed, if you gave them a valley full of gold, they would set their sights on a second one. Once a person succumbs to the allure of the world and is poisoned by its material wealth, they may never find the opportunity to turn back, and God forbid, they might face death in this state.

Therefore, one of the forms of patience is to maintain a resolute stance against the enchanting beauties of the world without succumbing to the desires of the self. This fundamentally requires living a life directed towards Allah. Those who are filled with the thought of Allah live a pure and clean life. Their constant recitation and focus are on faith, sincerity, piety, and the love and yearning for meeting Allah. Those who prioritize Allah over the world receive abundant spiritual gifts. Those who receive abundant spiritual gifts remain free from the tricks of the self and the prodding of Satan. They walk with caution and vigilance, as if always walking on ice, and thus present themselves before Allah in this manner.

To Avoid Regret in the Hereafter

As we journey into the Hereafter and face judgment and the scales of justice, we must strive to live a life that will not leave us saying “if only.” The world is transient. Its pleasures and delights are temporary, as are its troubles and tribulations. A believer in Allah should neither be deceived by its pleasures, forgetting the Hereafter, nor change course in the face of its trials and hardships. In this world, you may endure difficulties. You may be unjustly oppressed, insulted, spat upon, or attacked. However, you must remember that all these will seem insignificant compared to the hardships of the Hereafter. You must live in such a way that the inhabitants of the highest heavens do not spit in your face, that angels do not curse you, that Allah does not become angry with you, and that you do not bend double with regret in the Hereafter.

The Qur’an presents us with numerous scenes of the Hereafter, describing those who will cry out in regret. Many will say, “If only I had not taken so-and-so as a friend, if only I had not pledged allegiance to such a tyrant, if only I had not sided with Yazid on the way to Karbala, if only I had not been among the ranks of Hajjaj the Oppressor, if only I had not been among the Abu Jahls, Utbas, and Shaybas, if only I had not fallen into such heedlessness and misguidance after the revelation opened my eyes!” But this regret and these “if only” statements will be of no benefit to them.

In a sense, everyone in the Hereafter will express regret. Believers will also be remorseful for not having worshipped Allah more and not having increased their spiritual gains. For example, they will say, “If only I had prayed eighty rakats instead of forty each day!”, “If only I had not neglected fasting on Mondays and Thursdays in addition to Ramadan!”, “If only I had given more in charity!” However, the regrets expressed by believers will not be like the scorching regrets of those facing the blazing fires of Hell, who will cry out, “If only I were dust!”.[1]

Eternal Loss or Divine Favor?

As expressed in various verses of the Qur’an and emphasized by scholars like Bediuzzaman, one’s appointed time of death is fixed and unchangeable. Whatever Allah’s decree is, it will come to pass. Whether you live a dazzling life of splendor and luxury and face death in the comfort of your bed, or endure a life full of hardships and fall like Hamza [the Prophet’s uncle] with a spear in your chest in the Battle of Uhud, everyone will be gathered before Allah to account for their lives. It will be revealed who has gained and who has lost. Those who followed the corrupt, powerful, and influential in this world, content with the petty titles and positions granted by such despicable people, will find that they lost their humanity and dignity in this world and will face compounded losses in the Hereafter. In contrast, the steadfast individuals who stood firm and unbowed against worldly temptations will be recipients of Divine favors.

Patience is the magical key to salvation. It leads a person to safe shores both in this world and the Hereafter. You may be crushed, saddened, battered, deprived of your rights, stripped of your citizenship, and disgusted by the arrogance of the oppressors, but you must never fall into despair or feel disheartened. Remember that every night has a day, and every winter has a spring. Believe that barren lands will turn into rose gardens when the season comes and when they are nurtured by trustworthy hands, and continue to walk on the righteous path. As long as you maintain your course and principles, at the moment when others think they have reduced you to ‘zero’, to nothing, Allah will place a number on your left side, turning you into ten, a hundred, a thousand, and so on.[2] If you have entered such a cycle of gaining, do not be deceived or distracted by the words and actions of those who have no future.

Nothing can surpass Allah’s mercy. His mercy encompasses the earth and the heavens, the world and the Hereafter, and humans, animals, inanimate objects, spiritual beings, and angels—everything. Therefore, even if all means fail, everyone turns their back on us, and we have nothing to hold onto, we must never fall into despair. As long as we recognize Him as the sole refuge and seek shelter in Him, we will be safe. Does our Lord not say, وَكَفَى بِاللّهِ وَلِيًّا وَكَفَى بِاللّهِ نَصِيرًا, ‘Sufficient is Allah as a Protector, and sufficient is Allah as a Helper’?[3]

Unfortunately, during the most intense moments of trials, not everyone can show the same resilience. Some are deceived by the actions of oppressors and believe that everything is over, thus failing the test. Some cannot withstand the severity of the storm and, like rootless trees, are swept away, failing the test. Some betray and slander their companions with whom they walked until yesterday, failing the test. Others think about the comfort and advantages they might gain by joining the oppressor’s side, and thus, they fail the test.

In times of such trials, it is crucial to remember that Allah’s mercy is vast and His support sufficient. By holding onto this belief, one can remain steadfast and emerge victorious through even the most challenging tribulations.

The Test of the World and Spiritual Maturity

Since ancient times, the Divine practice has remained consistent and will continue to do so. Allah tests people so they can attain maturity and stature, be shaped for the Hereafter, gain worthiness for the afterlife, and for other reasons. The most crucial aspect is to exhibit the correct attitudes and behaviors during these challenging times when one crisis follows another, thereby passing this mysterious test and remaining among those who stand firm. It means walking steadfastly on the right path despite the thorns that pierce your feet and the blows that strike you, without uttering a single complaint.

If the ultimate goal is to attain Allah’s pleasure and approval, to enjoy the eternal blessings of Paradise, and if the trials and tribulations we face will lead us to these, shouldn’t we be more determined and say ‘Ah’ with relief instead of ‘Alas’? We believe that in the face of the mesmerizing rewards of the other world, all the pains we endure here will transform into sweet anecdotes there. The inhabitants of Paradise will sit facing each other, recounting the adventures of their worldly lives, sharing their past sufferings and pains, and savoring the peace. The clamor of the oppressors and the lamentations of the oppressed in this world will turn into bliss there.

Some may become so attached to the world, considering it everything, that they become mesmerized by its splendor and grandeur. However, when we consider the earth that will cover us in burial, the narrow grave, and the accounting and ensuing hardships of the afterlife, we realize that the temporary comforts of this world hold no significance; our taste for them fades, and worldly pleasures become bitter to us.

Those who see the world as a path, a bridge, a corridor leading to the Hereafter are not deceived by it; their gaze is set much higher, beyond even the highest realms. Those who live with the longing for the vision and pleasure of Allah, who seek the company of the righteous, and who burn with the love of meeting Allah do not weary from the journey, nor are they troubled by the difficulties they face here.

May Allah grant us the success to become passionate about religion, to make faith and sincerity integral parts of our nature, to deepen our understanding of Him, and to make the love of Allah a guiding principle in our lives.

[1] Surah an-Naba, 78:40. In the Hereafter, Allah will judge between all of His creation, which will eventually become dust in this world. The wicked will wish that they too were turned into dust in the Hereafter so they do not have to go to the Fire and its torment.

[2] “Zero” and “the numbers on your left side” within the cultural and contextual elements here refer to this: ‘As long as you stay true to your path and principles, even when others believe they have diminished your value to nothing, Allah will uplift you, multiplying your worth tenfold, a hundredfold, a thousandfold, and more. If you have entered such a phase of growth, do not be swayed or distracted by the words and actions of those who lack vision and future prospects.’ The concept of Allah uplifting and multiplying one’s worth refers to the Islamic belief that Divine support can significantly enhance a person’s value and impact, especially when they remain steadfast in their faith and principles despite challenges.

[3] Surah an-Nisa, 4:45.