This time, my eccentric good friend Adora surprisingly offering herself to contribute something for Decoding Eden blog again and after handing a flash drive to me, she basically said, ”my mood is random and itchingly curious like a child and rather than pondering a question whether a grey alien infant is wearing diaper or whether moon can wear Santa hat, I’d rather use the time to write spiritual stuff and be a 60-minute sage in my laptop”.
So this is not my writing. This is Adora’s writing. Snarky, witty and wise. Enjoy!
One time in my voyage to some covert place of earth garden, I saw a falling star in the sky, I can’t keep but wondering about the American kids who are doted with Disney stuff or else that such falling star is a sign that your wish is gonna be fulfilled. But alas, fortunately that’s not the case because if it takes a falling star and supernova to fulfill someone’s wish, what will the future of cosmos become.
People have very strange expectations of life, as if the life that they have is the only life out there and the only world ever exist is ”my” world and ”those who are close to me”, or perhaps the world is ”friend, family, coworker, annoying boss, and clowns on TV who dance on a big pink elephant called capitalism, politic, mass propaganda, soap opera and what else”. Those ”other people and my toys” kind of mentality.
But see, if you seriously think for a minute, what you choose to chase in this life is what you become — like a self-fulfilling prophecy. And once you treat or drive your life spaceship in autopilot mode, it will be harder to turn otherwise.
Before I was practicing muslim, I never understand the hadith that saying the world is transient thing. Muslim preachers love quoting such hadiths that actually well-intended such as Rasulullah saying that he saw this worldly life as a wanderer taking shelter under a shade for a while, then move on — all to give dystopian-sounded message as if enjoying dunya is despicable or cursed.
Then on and on they’re saying, you shouldn’t have too much fun because this life is temporary. You should pray and spinning rosary beads and be beardy skeletons, sit until your butt is fossilized like T-rex ’till the rest of your life to praise God.
But God forbid, these same Jack-O-Lantern uncles in US masjids preaching so are the same guys who preached polygamy when you see a passing hottie on the street. YOLO, you only live once, so marry a lot of chicks and dig their holes in halaalized way while you can. “Marrying Christian is halaal”. Gimme a break. Of course there’s no such thing (Orthodox Islamic scholars interpret the verse to mean the monotheistic females of Nasara and Jew). But white girls are abundant in the States and something must be done to net some of them, and cherrypicking twisting verses ”putting a blindfold to God” is one of them.
“Life is temporary, don’t make a lot of money as being rich is despised but once our madrassa needs donation, please give your money. Life is temporary and a prison, therefore shop a lot of chicks especially the blonde converts”. Racists.
But only after I really dig deeper to Islam, I finally know what the hadith and all axioms ”life is temporary” really, really means. Like a bzzz lightning realization in ”Highlander” movie.
Suddenly, this worldly life compared to the next becomes like a single drop versus the sea. Suddenly, the silly toys the people pursue to make their lives colorful no longer matters to me. I no longer care whether I can drive fancy car or sailing on a luxurious yacht, I don’t care whether I have a million dollar in my bank account. For me, to live comfortably is a must so I can survive and live headache-free while I’m doing teaching as professor. But it doesn’t have to be very luxurious.
After all, why should I tie myself too much to things I shall leave soon, eventually? In the end, everything but especially my life in this world is transient thing.
Perhaps in Western standard especially by giant wealth self-help gurus, this is nuts, a ”scarcity mindset”. But this ain’t scarcity mindset for me.
Scarcity mindset is believing that all about life is what you see in this life. When you view a single drop is the sea because you don’t believe the sea exists, that’s scarcity mindset. Scarcity mindset is to believe that life is all about pleasing your senses and numbing them by pointless pursuits ’till the edge of your grave.
But still I can’t accept all these preachings “life is transient, therefore it’s not Islamic to be too wealthy. Don’t possess too much of this world as you’re gonna die after all. This world is prison for muslims and paradise for kuffar. That means only kuffar can have fun, but we muslims are monks of the century except that we can marry multiple females. Don’t be jealous bruh, if kuffar is too advanced, creating rockets and airships while we muslems live like sorry sad Bedouins, being shot by Israeli rockets, while daydreaming about Islamic golden age scientists and Al Mahdi. But that’s okay as we will all end up in paradise anyway thanks to shahada ticket pass.”
Life is about balancing dunya and afterlife. So what if you’re wealthy? Being wealthy is not despised in Islam. Robbing people is. Obtaining them in unethical way is despised. Greedy about wealth and become a selfish jerk is despised.
Where in Quran it says, ”don’t be wealthy lest Allah shall curse you. Live poor like a bum instead”? Nothing. All of verses in Quran who pointed out the evil associated with wealth is always related to the GREED, or excessive love of wealth, or that wealth can be trial to some people. But none of Quran verse despises the wealth itself. Quran always warned about the MENTALITY toward wealth.
Wealth is neutral just like the knife you held in your hand is neutral. You can use knife to cut carrot, cut chicken, or cut people. If we use knife to cut innocent life, the knife is not sinner. We are the sinner.
After all, think about it. If wealth is how the world works, you can utilize some of wealth to benefit other people. Seriously, just because some newly rich peeps are strolling in casino, mansions in Europe, or 7-stars hotels in Hawaii, that doesn’t mean being wealthy is all about just that and nothing else. That’s a shallow stereotype.
Wealth can be used in positive way, or negative way, just like knife can be used to cut carrot or kill people. Wealth is only a means, vehicle, medium to other purpose depending on what you intend the wealth to be used. In similar manner, being greedy with wealth and worshipping the Deity of Dollar is cursed by Allah.
Just take a look some Quranic verses about the duality sides of wealth :
”But the righteous one will avoid it (hellfire), the one who gives his wealth (in goodness or charity) to purify himself” (Al-Lail : 17-18)
”Wealth and children are adornments of the life of this world. But the things that endure, good deeds, are best in the sight of thy Lord, as rewards, and best as (the foundation for) hopes.” (Al-Kahf : 46)
”It is He who bestows richness and sufficiency” (An-Najm : 48)
”And you love wealth with excessive love!” (Al-Fajr: 20)
There is nothing cursed or low for living earthly life, and it’s very human to enjoy it as long as it’s ethical and halaal. Every sane mind will discern it.
Worldly life has a God’s purpose on its own, and if ”living dunya life and immersed in it” as a human being experience is all cursed, then why God created us here? If everything in dunya is all cursed and doomed just because it’s temporary, why would Allah created it, if it’s just all vain? And Allah is Most Glorious from creating something in vain and uselessness like a playtime.
If the foundation of life there is only lays in afterlife and nothing else, why Allah put us on earth to experience earthly life as vicigerents?
So you answer ”for trial”?
What is the purpose of ”trial” anyway, if any?
Because God can and wants to?
Of course such logic is futile. Why Allah creates cosmos with mathematics and orderliness? Is it because He ”wants to and can”? Is it so shallow about God that if He decreed something, it’s always ”because He can”, with no clear directed purpose other than to prove that He can?
”And We did not create the heavens and earth and all between the two in vain play. We did not create them except in truth, but most of them (people) do not know.” (Ad-Dukhan 38-39)
If trial and tests exist, it’s part of the process of experiencing human life and duality. When you go to kitchen to bake some omelette, your hands and table will get dirty and that’s for sure. But your purpose to go to kitchen is not to make your hands dirty. You want to make delicious omelette to eat and that’s the purpose. Getting dirty is a side effect, but not purpose.
Now what if the true answer is that, He created us to live, because He wants us to open up our faculty of awareness, so that before we truly live forever, we learn about the ocean from the droplet of water?
Of course the nature of spirit is immortal. Spirit or ruh is created by Allah and it has beginning. But after it lives, it keeps on living forever. From spirit world to worldly life, and back to spirit world again, spirit lives on and will never die afterward — if definition of this ”death” is the lost of self-awareness perceptives of ”I’m here and I’m aware, therefore I am.” But in worldly life, death is simply moving from one form of life to another.
Almost all scriptures including Quran taught us all that spirit lives forever. No one will argue that once you stepped in afterlife, you will die eventually.
But ruh spirit consciousness is not uncreated. Even its immortality is created and fashioned, bestowed and given by Allah.
Therefore zuhd is to let go of attachment that you will live forever in something that is short-lived. Zuhd is to understand that the real oasis that is, is in the next world that is bigger than this world. Like the saying of Ali ibn Abi Thalib, ”letting go of attachment doesn’t mean you should have nothing, but it rather means, no object should own you.”
But zuhd is not about living in misery and backwardness because ”after all, you’re going to die soon”.
Zuhd is to understand as well that death is a new birth, death is simply moving house from old to new, and death is not about disappearing to oblivion and eternal void of emptiness.
If we should learn to seek immortality from what is short-lived and Allah intends us to be that way, then we should accept this role from the Cherisher and Sustainer.
Some things are indeed created to be short-lived while some live longer or forever as decreed by Allah. But it doesn’t mean what is temporary and short-lived are always lower and worse. ”Lower and worse” are perception according to what our ultimate goals are. Temporary or forever are nothing but a smaller parts in the pieces of puzzle of existence.
Take it for example, chemical reaction. One substance transforming from one state to another is signifying that a change is taking place. What is short-lived is teaching us that transformation is necessary to evolve, while what persists in very long time shows us what is necessary to endure or to be endured.
Temporary vs forever never signifying what is blessed or cursed, but only showing us steps of ladder that in order to reach the height and aboveness, we must start from the ground of lowness.
River is started from smaller raindrops and some of the river ends to the sea, some are not. We cannot live in water like fish for very long time, we live on the land. Therefore, your quest to traverse the ocean always begin from the seashore. You don’t directly descend to the middle of ocean as a naked human, you must always walk or run first from the seashore.
If we stand here on the land and look up to the sky, you will see beyond that regardless the sea is vast, cosmos is bigger than any seven seas. The greatness of cosmos challenges the string of your soul, as it’s making you seem like insignificant miniscule dot. And yet you are still significant, in every way and every iota Allah intends you to be.
So before you stepped in to embrace immortality, you must first learn from what is short-lived. You must make conclusion and discernment.
In many parts of Quran, contemplations and observation of nature is condoned and necessary. Therefore if dunya is low and cursed, why are these things exist and created, except they contain a purpose and that purpose is transcendental beyond a tunnel-vision excuse ”because God can”?
Life of dunya is like farming field to invest for the next life. In this life, what you pursue continuosly is what you will become. Akhirah is not that different. You plant the seeds now and nurture them, next life you harvest. So how can a farmer curse his own field if he depends on it to reap a harvest from?
Likewise, you are given a field to farm to, and given a term of time for example 2 years. But you’re wasting time and not planting anything. You throw garbage to your field and treat it as a vain pastime, letting wild weeds grow which nothing you can take longtime benefit from. By the time the term is ending, and you finally see you have nothing to harvest, are you then not losing?
So live and let live, but don’t forget that life is investment on its own, especially for the next life.
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