What other path would you take?
Seeking the Balance: Navigating Worldly Pursuits and Spiritual Commitments, Guide from Al-Quran
"Man is only between two things; if not occupied with religion, then occupied with worldly matters". This busyness ultimately makes us tired. Being busy with the world will lead to exhaustion, and being busy with the hereafter will also result in fatigue. But which busyness is worth it, and which one is the choice of many? Yes, being busy with worldly affairs.
Many choose to be busy with worldly matters because they can see what they will gain. Salary, money, rewards, and so on will be obtained when we work hard. Laziness at work will surely lead to no money, no money will surely cause restlessness, difficulties in various matters, easily becoming angry, and everything going wrong. That's the equation that has been ingrained in us for so long. That's our way of thinking – money makes everything easier; without money, life can be humiliating.
Why don't many choose to be busy with the hereafter? Are we only thinking about the hereafter when we are about to retire? This is because we don't see what we will get, or what we will get comes too slowly. People like quick rewards. If the salary is delayed, they will start feeling uneasy and demand it earnestly. That's why the reward for patience is significant because not many people can be patient. That's why, in the matter of charity, in Al-Baqarah 261, Allah gives the example of the reward of charity like a seed that sprouts seven ears, and each ear yields a hundred grains. Why a seed? Because what we sow does not immediately yield results. The results come later, in the hereafter. So, to feel and collect the results of what we sow requires patience; it cannot be rushed."
Allah describes a tremendous reward for those who patiently engage in obedience—not 70, not 1000, but an immeasurable reward. Do we realize that doing good deeds, performing righteous acts, requires high levels of patience? Sincerely caring for our parents, maintaining conversations, upholding good character, consistently performing congregational prayers at the mosque, adhering to and understanding the Quran—all of these demand patience. Why? Because when we do all these things, we don't receive immediate rewards. We may receive some portion initially, but it's not in the form of money; rather, it comes in the form of other forms of goodness. The (good deeds) will be fully rewarded and perfected in the hereafter, so there needs to be a high level of patience.
"....Only those who endure patiently will be given their reward without limit.". Surah Az-Zumar, 39:10
"It is common to hear the response, 'Is it wrong to be busy with worldly matters? We live in this world; we must make efforts for worldly affairs. If we don't busy ourselves with worldly matters, how will we sustain ourselves? It's not like we can just work, go to the mosque, and engage in remembrance. It doesn't work that way; we have to make an effort.'
This is a response we often hear, and no one says it's wrong. There's nothing wrong with seeking the blessings of Allah, and indeed, the treasures on earth are created for human beings. A Muslim fisherman won't catch fish by just sleeping at home. Instead, if he goes out to the sea with dedication and knowledge of fishing, he is likely to see results, even if he is not a Muslim. Similarly, vegetable plants won't grow just because someone prays without making an effort, but those who make the effort to plant, even if they don't pray, will see their vegetables grow. That's the natural order of things. The world has its rules, and one must make an effort because that effort is a part of worship."
"There is no moving creature on earth whose provision is not guaranteed by Allah. And He knows where it lives and where it is laid to rest. All is ˹written˺ in a perfect Record". Surah Hud,11:6.
"So, what's wrong with that?"
Why worry so much about sustenance when Allah SWT says He is the Provider? The mistake lies in not understanding this. It's wrong when we feel that our efforts are the cause of whether we get a lot or a little. It's wrong when seeking the world takes precedence over one's hereafter. How many people neglect their faith when faced with their own interests and desires? How many pray at the last minute because work takes precedence? The mistake is in seeking sustenance day and night but forgetting to seek the Provider of sustenance. The mistake is when they express gratitude and feel that Allah loves them when blessed with favors, but complain and feel unloved when faced with hardships. The mistake is when gaining wealth makes them look down on others and feel arrogant. They believe their wealth is the result of their hard work. The mistake is when they keep seeking and never feel content. That's what's wrong. The world is the field of the hereafter. Everything can become an act of worship with the words Bismillah, sincere intentions, and not neglecting the Sharia. Strive for it!"
However, the crux of the matter is, what about our feelings? We are not earnest or less earnest in matters of the hereafter as we are in seeking sustenance in the world. If, in this temporary abode that we inhabit for 50-60 years, we earnestly seek provisions for retirement, for the longer and eternal life in the hereafter, how should it be? It must be prepared with efforts multiplied many times over from our current worldly affairs. But, we do the opposite. Why? The reason is that we still don't truly believe in the reward of good deeds and the punishment for sins. Our lips may profess faith, but our actions portray otherwise. It is only when we are there, facing Allah SWT, that we will truly believe. See what Allah says,
If only you could see the wicked hanging their heads ˹in shame˺ before their Lord, ˹crying:˺ "Our Lord! We have now seen and heard, so send us back and we will do good. We truly have sure faith ˹now˺!"As-Sajdah,32:12
"Now, observe, when we finally see and hear, only then does belief come. At that moment, we bow down in awe, seeking a second chance from Allah to return to the world so that we can do good sincerely to supplement the deeds that were insufficient. But it's all too late. Time has run out. Because back in the world, many of us were negligent and forgot about Allah, so on that day, the retribution is that Allah, in turn, forgets about us. If our parents forget us, how would we feel? Is this how Allah SWT forgets about us?"
"So taste ˹the punishment˺ for neglecting the meeting of this Day of yours. We ˹too˺ will certainly neglect you. And taste the torment of eternity for what you used to do!" As-Sajdah,32:14
"With all the reminders in the form of acts of goodness, prohibitions, stories of blessings, and the retribution that Allah has narrated in the Quran, we ourselves determine the choices, the path we want to take, and where we want to go. The Quran is the path to success, that is, Paradise. Therefore, with all these reminders, Allah SWT asks us,"
"So what ˹other˺ path would you take?" ~ At Takwir,81: 26
If you still don't know or haven't found the path to take, quickly return to the Quran
Surely this ˹Quran˺ is only a reminder to the whole world , to whoever of you wills to take the Straight Way.At Takwir,81: 27-28
It means that anyone who is not on the path outlined by Allah in the Quran is actually on a crooked, not straight path. It is the path of those who are misguided and condemned. Don't we ask seventeen times a day in our prayers to be guided to the straight path? What path is that? None other than the path illuminated by the guidance of the Prophet Muhammad SAW, following the Sunnah and the Quran.
One crucial question is how to seek guidance and instructions from the Quran if we don't understand what we read. If we don't understand, how can we implement it? This requires our effort. Strive earnestly, just as we strive for success in our worldly affairs.