The Competition

A King designs the best place with gardens and rivers. He plants trees. He says to His citizens, “Race* to reach this destination; and whatever place you reach, it belongs to you. You shall live there forever in full youth. Whoever lags behind he will remain in misery and regret.”

The King gave them an arena for the race and placed in the arena large trees with extended shade. Beneath the trees there was fresh running water and the trees yielded every type of fruit. On the tree branches were birds with amazing voices.

Ground rules are set: many things would be invisible to the naked eye – the King would be invisible, yet all of His creation would be visible. The King would be known through His creation. The scribes who would record race actions would be invisible and they would record every action, small or big. Every attempt would be given at least ten points, whether achieved or not. Guidance would be provided in the form of guides who are close to the King. Once crossed, nobody would be allowed to return to the race arena. No exceptions.

The King said to them, “Do not be deceived by these trees and shade. For soon, the trees will be uprooted, the shade will recline, its fruits will cease, and its birds will die.” As for the city of the King it contains that which no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, and no man has ever imagined. It was a promise.

The people heard about it, so they rushed out in pursuit of it. They passed by these trees while they were tired, hot and thirsty; so, all of them rested beneath the trees. They took from their shade, tasted the sweetness of their fruits and listened to the chirping of their birds.

It was said to them, “You only sat beneath the trees for shelter and to reenergize yourself for the race, so prepare yourself to return to the race and be on guard. When the horn is sounded return to the racetrack.”

Most of them said, “How can we abandon this shade and easily accessible water, fresh fruits, and easy living for a race in a hot, dusty arena of weariness and a long journey? How can we leave this for a thirsty desert that will bring us hunger? How can we sell these commodities which are present for a far-off distant commodity that are not even visible but just promised?”

Shall we abandon what we see for that which we don’t?

A grain received in the hand Is better than a promise tomorrow. Take what you see and leave what you heard about and have been assured. We are the children of today and this present life. How can we abandon this for an unseen life in a far-off land when we don’t know when we will arrive there? You only live once.

Many believed in the Promise – thinking – if I was born out of nothing – surely I can be re-created again? This is common sense. I did not create myself, so someone created me and there must be a reason for my creation. Will we abandon the race toward the shade of all shades, that will never rescind, and delightful provision that will never cease? No one does this except for the weakest of the weak. Is it befitting for a traveler who rests beneath shade to pitch his tent beneath it and take up residence there fearing the heat or cold? Would anyone do this except for the most foolish person?”

A group of them rushed back to the race, and they did not feel isolated by the small number of friends with them. They marched on with strong determination**. They did not allow the criticism of the blamers to affect their journey, while those who stayed behind were beneath the tree sleeping. Some of those who stayed behind watched what was happening, some wondered what was happening.

It wasn’t long before the twigs wrinkled, the leaves fell off, the fruits ceased to blossom, the branches dried, and the trees were uprooted. All the enjoyment of this temporary abode came to an end. Those who were beneath the tree were not exposed to the heat and hot wind. Because the shade was no longer protecting them, all their provisions burned. They were surrounded by fire and none of them were able to escape. They said,” Where are those who were with us beneath the shade, and then they left and abandoned the shade?” it was said to them, “Turn your eyes upward and you will see their homes.” So, they looked up and saw them in castles far away in the city of the King. They enjoyed assorted kinds of delights. This caused those who remained behind to increase in their misery, regretting not being amongst them. Now there was a barrier between them and what they desired. It was said to them, “This is the recompense for those who lag behind”

“The life of this world is nothing but an illusion.” [Surah al-Hadeed – 57:20]

*”And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous” 3:133

**Indeed, those who have said, “Our Lord is Allah ” and then remained on a right course – the angels will descend upon them, [saying], “Do not fear and do not grieve but receive good tidings of Paradise, which you were promised.41:30

Adapted from Ibn Al Qayyim’s “The Dunya and its Reality”

Powerful reminder by Mohamad Hoblos: The reality of dunya

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