وَاضْرِبْ لَهُم مَّثَلَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا كَمَاءٍ أَنزَلْنَاهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ فَاخْتَلَطَ بِهِ نَبَاتُ الْأَرْضِ فَأَصْبَحَ هَشِيمًا تَذْرُوهُ الرِّيَاحُ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ مُّقْتَدِرًا
And present to them the example of the life of this world, [its being] like rain which We send down from the sky, and the vegetation of the earth mingles with it and [then] it becomes dry remnants, scattered by the winds. And Allah is ever, over all things, Perfect in Ability. (al-Kahf: 45)
In this ayah, Allah presents us with an example of the life of this world.
Initially, it is like vegetation that mingles with water becoming lush and green, producing all kinds of beautiful plants as a result. But this beauty does not remain. It eventually loses its color, it becomes dry and withered, and is soon scattered by the wind. This is the reality of this Dunya. Short-lived, fleeting and temporary.
The Dunya lures a person with all its glitter and glamour and he begins to enjoy it, thinking that there is no end to these pleasures. He focuses on earning more, striving more, buying more and indulging in more. And while he is doing this, he is also constantly comparing himself with others, not satisfied with what he has. This greedy desire for more only invites misery and unhappiness, because his heart is not content and he is unable to enjoy what he has, even if he has a lot!
But at some point in this rat-race either one of two things happen: this person leaves the Dunya. Or the Dunya leaves him. He cannot stop his body from ageing, not matter how much he invests in anti-ageing products and plastic surgeries. And if Allah decides to seize his wealth, then he cannot get it back no matter how many get-rich schemes he tries!
In this ayah Allah is showing us the reality of this life through an example so that we don’t cling on to it. But unfortunately, many people become deceived by the Dunya. They fall in love with it and lose sight of what is more important. They have forgotten the purpose of their creation and the reason for their existence. They fall in love with the tools, instead of the purpose for which those tools were built
Anas bin Malik said, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Whoever makes the Hereafter his goal, Allah makes his heart rich, and organizes his affairs, and the world comes to him whether it wants to or not. And whoever makes the world his goal, Allah puts his poverty right before his eyes, and disorganizes his affairs, and the world does not come to him, except what has been decreed for him.” [al-Tirmidhi]
This world is subject to misfortunes and calamities, hardships and trials. It may attract and entice you with its riches and treasures, but very soon they will all fade away and everything will come to an end.
In contrast, Jannah has no end. It is eternal and all its pleasures, everlasting. It is a place free from all disasters and its residents will live in peace and plentitude. And this is what we should aim and strive for, because this is what really matters. We’ve been sent to this Dunya, so that we can make Jannah our home. When your focus shifts this way, then Allah will make your heart rich and content. You will be satisfied with everything you have – even if it is a little. You will feel free, because you are not tied to the shackles of this Dunya. You will not look longingly at other people’s possessions, because you know it is not infinite. And if you think about it, isn’t this real freedom? Isn’t this real richness?
So, don’t fall in love with this world and its fleeing pleasures. Rather make your goal the Akhirah, and you will see how Allah takes care of your Dunya. Use this world, and everything in it, so that you can experience that incomparable sweetness with the first step into Jannah InshaAllah.
Imam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyah said, “Whenever a person wakes up in the morning or goes out in the evening, making Allah’s Pleasure his goal, Allah facilitates his needs and takes cares of everything he wants. The servant who places love for Allah in his heart, His remembrance on his tongue and obedience to Him on his body parts day and night, Allah takes care of his wants and wishes…” [fawaa-id]