Life, Time, and the Pursuit of Greater Goals

Mercy 4 Humanity > Life, Time, and the Pursuit of Greater Goals

Life, Time, and the Pursuit of Greater Goals

The recurrence of human needs

Life, for most people on this planet, is a pattern of set recurrences. Our days are filled with attending to human bodily needs such as eating, sleeping, and personal hygiene. These are paralleled by immediate household needs, family obligations, cooking/ cleaning or means of earning (study, job, or business etc.). Believers find some time in between for spiritual activities, including daily prayers. This intricate pattern and mix of recurring activities leave little room to focus on higher objectives.  People see that life is a recurrence (of human needs) and a set of variables (changing situations); however, many do not realize that life is an exam (of noble qualities).

Designs, variety, and options

Exploring deeper, there is a unique distinction between humans and other living beings. Animals eat without the need for complex layers of ‘tastes’, ‘preferences’, etc., that humans look for. A horse may happily eat grass, showing no concern for its kind or the finesse in its presentation—details that would significantly matter to a human being. This leads to the profound argument that the concept of ‘enjoyment’ in humans is contingent upon health and freedom. A sick person, a prisoner, or someone mentally incapacitated may not derive similar pleasure or sensory taste from food, clothing, or possessions, even if these are confirmed by others to be of high quality.

This insight into human behavior and preferences is further illuminated by considering the simple functions most items in our daily lives serve. For example, a drinking water glass, whose primary purpose is to enable us to drink water from a cooler or tap, is produced in countless designs, types, colors, varieties, shapes, sizes, and decorations. Walk on a residential street and realize the main doors of homes are designed in different styles. Look around any parking lot and realize the variety of car designs, especially in front, back and wheel covers!   This diversity starkly highlights how human beings’ five senses and the feelings associated with appealing to these senses have dramatically shaped industries and businesses. Today’s world sees a majority of industries and markets catering not to the basic ‘needs’ of humans but to their assumed desires, which are intricately based on these ‘feelings’.

Fulfilment of needs and desires

Addressing the dichotomy of needs, some are small, such as food and clothing, while others, like air, sun, and water, are substantial. Allah Almighty has provided the latter directly and without any cost, creating and making them available in abundance. For the smaller needs, a fine system of desires and wishes has been set up in the minds of people, compelling them to exchange their money for services or goods that meet these needs.

This system, orchestrated by Allah, enables people to serve each other under the general concept of ‘money’ (wealth). A factory owner capable of making drinking glasses, for instance, may only need one for himself but ends up producing thousands, benefiting those unable to make their own. Similarly, landowners with vast farms and gardens may produce more food than they could possibly consume, playing their part in a divine system that ensures the hard work put into producing such abundance feeds countless others.

Within this worldly system, the interplay of feelings, wishes, and desires of consumers on one side, and the service or goods providers’ desire for monetary gain on the other, keeps the world in motion. Through these dynamics, Allah has made humans serve His purposes, allowing them to act as ‘servants’ to one another for various causes.

The reality and priority

Despite the significant importance we often place on the material world and its contents, a deeper reflection reveals that all these are but concepts. The elements that proverbially ‘make the world go round’ are not inherently bad or evil. However, a believer must always remember that the real goal is not the mere acquisition of worldly possessions but seeking the nearness, pleasure, and forgiveness of Allah Almighty, as beautifully mentioned in the Holy Quran:

Compete with one another to achieve forgiveness from your Lord and to reach Paradise, which is as vast as the heavens and the earth, and is prepared for those who believe in Allah and His Messenger. This is the blessing of Allah and He grants it to whomever He wants. The blessings of Allah are great”.  [Holy Quran 57:21]

This reminder helps keep our priorities in check, emphasizing that our ultimate pursuit should be divine grace and eternal paradise.  The Holy Quran also speaks to the intrinsic worthlessness of material wealth, like ‘silver’ and ‘gold’:

And were it not that all mankind would have become of one community (all disbelievers, desiring worldly life only), We would have provided for those who disbelieve in the Most Beneficent (Allah), silver roofs for their houses, and elevators (and stair-ways, etc. of silver) whereby they ascend.  And for their houses, doors (of silver), and thrones (of silver) on which they could recline, and adornments of gold. Yet all this (i.e. the roofs, doors, stairs, elevators, thrones etc. of their houses) would have been nothing but an enjoyment of this world. And the Hereafter with your Lord is only for the Righteous”. [Surah Zukhruf 43: verses 33 to 35]

It illustrates that the desire to own these items, instilled by Allah in people’s minds, gives these objects their perceived value. This view is supported by fascinating scientific discoveries, such as a NASA study suggesting the existence of planets where diamonds are as abundant as sand and stones on Earth. Such revelations from the cosmos serve to remind us of the fleeting nature of material wealth and the importance of focusing on spiritual wealth.

This perspective is further echoed in the teachings about the hereafter, where, during the evaluation of human deeds, material wealth will prove to be of no intrinsic value.

“Verily, those who disbelieved, and died while they were disbelievers, the (whole) earth full of gold will not be accepted from anyone of them even if they offered it as a ransom. For them is a painful punishment and they will have no helpers”. [Holy Quran 3:91]

It emphasizes the importance of faith and righteous actions over material accumulation.

The story of three men and a purse (2 bricks) of gold vividly illustrates the futility and potential destructiveness of greed. This age-old tale serves as a stark reminder of the real value of material possessions and the potential for such pursuits to lead to ruin. Each man, blinded by greed, meets a tragic end, demonstrating the worthlessness of the gold for which they were willing to betray and harm each other. This lesson underlines a timeless truth about the transient nature of worldly wealth and the folly of placing too much value on it.

If you a take a live fish out of water and place in a pure gold plate on a table, will the fish be happy?  The fish would be restless out of water. Similarly, a human heart is restless until it finds love and remembrance of the Creator.

Equally illustrative of misplaced priorities is the common pursuit of constructing large villas and mansions. Many spend a lifetime amassing the resources to build such structures, only to leave them behind upon death, for others to inhabit. This phenomenon starkly highlights the often-blurred line between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’. A simple ‘roof over the head’, a fundamental requirement, becomes overshadowed by the desire for luxury and excess, diverting time and resources away from more meaningful objectives.

Use time wisely

This brings us to the crux of our discussion: how can we make more time available for ourselves to pursue higher and greater objectives in the limited span of our earthly existence? The practices of exceptionally successful individuals, whether in worldly or spiritual realms, offer invaluable insights into effective time management. These individuals achieve remarkable goals by systematically delegating their recurring tasks, such as personal security, routine chores, managing travel, communications, and finances etc., to others. This strategy of delegation not only frees them from the daily grind but also opens up opportunities to focus on pursuits of higher significance.

Another method to ‘create’ more time involves identifying and eliminating ‘time sponges’—activities that consume our time with little to no return in value. By critically assessing and removing these low-output activities from our routines, we can significantly enhance both our physical and mental well-being. This newfound time becomes a precious resource that can be redirected towards goals that truly matter, freeing our minds from the clutter of non-consequential details.

Finally, establishing a clear vision for our lives acts as a powerful ‘time generator’. Initially, it may seem counterintuitive, suggesting that a clear vision would entail more tasks and further restrict our time. However, possessing a clear vision serves as a potent filter, continuously guiding us in making decisions about what truly aligns with our long-term objectives. Whenever faced with a potential time-consuming distraction, our vision helps us discern its relevance to our goals. If it does not align, we can immediately sidestep the distraction, saving not only the time at that moment but also preventing future time expenditures on related non-essential activities.

Strategic time management, rooted in Islamic insights and principles, is not just about organizing our daily schedules but about realigning our lives towards achieving both worldly success and spiritual progress. By adopting practices such as delegation, eliminating time wasters, and maintaining a clear vision, we can uncover substantial time for higher goals and noble deeds. This approach allows us to transcend the mundane, weaving our everyday efforts into the fabric of a purposeful life that balances our immediate responsibilities with our ultimate spiritual aspirations and eternal success.

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Ultimate beauty, forever enjoyment

Even if we collect all the luxuries and materialist things of this world, its beauties, jewelries, delicious food, colorful dresses, palaces, sofas and carpets, happiness and fun, still how long is all this going to last?  All these pleasures of the worldly life are temporary and will come to an end – also the quality of worldly things is ordinary.  These things are just a small preview or samples of the blessings of the Hereafter.  What believers may achieve in the Hereafter is forever, unlimited and of outstanding quality

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Hereafter: A+ students who prepared with time-management – to write their worldly exams carefully, with true faith, noble deeds and steadfastness – may now enjoy the result and achievements forever!

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