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Monday, January 16, 2006

Which Way Now?

Are you sitting comfortably? Then let us go for a stroll into the deep
chambers of the mind and heart. Hopefully, you will be refreshed so
soon after Eid, and this may be the ideal time for such a trip. In fact,
it may be long overdue.

Right now, we are standing at the tail end of a particularly blessed
part of the year. Ramadhan is over, and Eid is behind us for another
year. What now? The same old routine or something different? With the
memory of the dynamic and glowing Mosque atmosphere still fresh in our
minds, let it be something different.

Let us hope that when we left the packed Mosque building after the Eid
prayer, we returned home with something and not empty-handed and empty
hearted.

The year ahead stretches before us, as uncertain as the horizon on a
misty day at sea. We know little of the future and no body knows how
long they have left. The best thing to do then, is to stop worrying about
the future, stop groaning or being nostalgic about the past, and, yes,
start living in the present.

How do you live in the present? Aren’t we doing that anyway? Valid
questions, but the answer is simple. Living in the present means making
the best of what we have. That may be time, or health. It may be
wealth or youth. Living in the present means seizing the present with all
its opportunities and using it to full potential.

So far, so good, but what is it we should be striving to achieve?
What should the goal be? Does using opportunity to full potential mean
having a good time while you can? Does it mean laying the ground for a
good education, then a brilliant career, and then a comfortable
retirement? Does using the present in the best way mean something else?

Actually, our destination is hidden from view. It lies around the
corner or over the top of the hill. Yes, it lies beyond death itself.
Some may say that life begins at fifty, in the hope that this will keep
their morale high and help them ignore the reality of death for longer,
but our motto is that life begins after death itself.

As you sit, grasping your copy of ‘Subulas Salaam’ in your hands,
notice that your heart continues to beat. Rather obvious, you may say, but
you have no control over it, and if it were to stop, you could not
restart it. The beating of your heart is in somebody else’s control, and
He also knows what emotions and states this heart experiences. If there
is any goal in life worthy of pursuit, it is to befriend One with such
power.

If success is in being wealthy or powerful, then Allah’s friends are
both wealthy and powerful. If happiness lies in being with a good
friend, Allah is the best friend. If there is an ideal goal, Allah Himself
is that goal. If Ramadhan has a purpose, this is the purpose.

“A man is known by the company he keeps”, and those who are closest in
company with Allah Ta’ala are the Prophets. From amongst the Prophets,
the closest to Allah Ta’ala is our Noble Prophet, Muhammad Sallallahu
alayhi wassallam. To develop a strong bond with the Holy Prophet
Sallallahu alayhi wasallam is not only the essential part of our faith, it is
also the only way to befriend Allah Ta’ala. Without a powerful
connection between ourselves and the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wasallam,
there is no way of attaining Divine pleasure.

The first step towards self improvement is a change in attitude. So
much is possible and so many improvements are just waiting to be made.
Most of what we do wrong can be easily corrected. Most crimes are
obviously crimes and you do not need to have a huge amount of knowledge to
understand this.

Everybody has the opportunity to make a resolution, and the way to do
this is not to sit and think or to take pen and paper, or even to go and
read a new book. The best method to get to your destination is to get
up and start walking. So what are we waiting for? Together, let us
start this journey. Let us begin now. This journey to Allah Ta’ala
Himself. A blessed journey indeed.

Be warned though. In the path of devotion and love, there are always
difficulties. The challenge is to enjoy such difficulties and consider
them to be an honour. If you learn to do this, even fire will not burn
you as it did not burn the Prophet Ibrahim Alayhis salam. If it does,
it will do so with a promise. The promise of safety after death and
Allah’s pleasure.

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