Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Everyone dreams of everlasting life and unalloyed bliss – in short, of Paradise. But if, believing in Paradise and yearning after it, one does nothing to make oneself fit in the eyes of God to enter its gates, that is little better than coveting the wares on display in a shop, then refusing to pay the price for the items one longs to carry away.

The greatest obstacle to moral preparedness for entry into God’s Paradise is the constant striving to build a material Paradise right here on earth. In the mistaken belief that wealth brings happiness, people spend their entire lives amassing great fortunes. Even more misguided are those who direct their energies towards acquiring great power and all the satisfactions that they imagine will result from it. The power-­hungry and the fortune-hunters do not realize that such objectives are unworthy and the happiness to be derived from them ephemeral, if not entirely illusory, for neither wealth nor power brings the total happi­ness they so frantically seek. How often do we see the rich and the powerful a prey to boredom, spiritual unease and paranoid delusion. The more they heap up comforts and luxuries around themselves, the less they can lay claim to inner peace.

Even those who make health a great objective in life, to the exclu­sion of all else, cannot expect life to go on in a pleasant and untrammeled fashion for ever and ever, for old age and death cannot be kept forever at bay. Health, of course, is important, but, like wealth and power, it cannot be man’s supreme objective. His supreme objective must be to turn himself into the kind of moral being on whom God will look with favour on the final day of reckoning: the Paradise he dreams of is not in this life but on the far side of the grave. Those who attempt to make a Paradise for themselves on this earth will face the greatest disappointment of all when they come to face their Maker on the Day of Judgement, for they will find that Paradise is the very thing which will be denied to them in the Afterlife. How tragic that one’s efforts to achieve one’s greatest ambition in life are what, in fact, condemn one to forfeit that ambition in the Hereafter.

Source: Al-Risala English, March 1989

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