Now let us look at the Hereafter from another point of view. I once had occasion to visit a senior official, and as we sat on the lawns of his palatial bungalow, he suddenly exclaimed, “Maulana Sahib, you don’t know how bad our life is! Tomorrow I have to be at the airport before sunrise to welcome a foreign dignitary, and not only shall I have to deprive myself of sleep, but I shall have to welcome him with smiles — and that in spite of the fact that he is somebody I despise!” This simple anecdote shows there are two sides to the lives of those in high office. On the one hand, they enjoy power and prestige and the many perquisites that go with them, while, on the other hand, there is a side to their lives, which is far from being enviable. If you look deep into some of these ‘great’ men, you will discover that they achieve their high positions because they persuade themselves to be content with triviality. If, outwardly, they lead glamorous existences, it is because, privately, they stoop to hypocrisy, sycophancy, opportunism and unscrupulousness. This double life is the price they pay to bolster their own self-interest. In this respect, many are simply following the trends of the time. Every ‘great’ men has two sides to his life — one all brilliance and glitter, the other all dark and soulless. The power and glamour, which he achieves in his life, has something animal-like about it when he agrees to kill what is human in himself.
Just as there are two sides to every life in this world, there are two aspects of every act in relation to this world and the Hereafter. One aspect of each act is our acceptance of it as what it is seen to be in this world. The other aspect is what results from this act in terms of the Hereafter.
Imam Ahmad narrates that the Caliph Umar once said: ‘No drink of milk or honey is better than swallowing one’s anger.’ In actuality, to swallow, or overcome one’s anger is an extremely bitter experience, but in the Hereafter the result of doing so is sweeter by far than milk and honey. Today we reap the worldly fruits of our actions! Tomorrow, in the Hereafter, we shall have to face up the results of our deeds and misdeeds. Today, we can see only one aspect of our actions — that of immediate pleasure or gain — but the Day of Resurrection will place us in a position to see much more. Just as a person standing on top of wall can look down on both sides, so shall we be able to see both aspects of the truth. Not only shall we watch our entire history unreel before us like a film, but we shall witness the consequences of our own worldly actions. ‘Then,’ as the Quran says, ‘shall each soul know what it has sent forward (to the Hereafter) and what it has kept back (in the world behind)’ (82:5). Whatever was done for worldly reasons will be left behind, unconsidered. Only those actions, which were carried out with the Hereafter in mind, will benefit us in the life to come.
The present world and the Hereafter are two sides of the same event. The worldly side is trivial and temporary, while the Hereafter side is substantive and permanent. It is to the latter side that we must face up after death. Here one has complete freedom to live out one’s worldly existence as one wills; in the life-to-come, one will have no choice about the future course of one’s life. One will either be raised to eternal glory, or cast down into the pit of everlasting Hell.