Doing Good with God’s Bounty
There is a certain attitude people should have towards the life of this world. It has been explained by the Prophet (Pbuh). Should they maintain it, they rise in honor.
The Qur’an was Prophet Muhammad’s (Pbuh) permanent companion: He loved it and recited it at all times, in prayer, night worship and whenever he could. Once he asked his noble companion Abdullah ibn Masoud to recite from the Qur’an and he would listen. Abdullah said: “How can I recite it to you, when it is to you that it has been revealed?” The Prophet said: “I love to listen to it recited by someone else.” Abdullah recited the first 41 verses of Surah 4. As he read the last verse, he looked up to find the Prophet weeping. He told him to stop. That last verse says: “How will it be (on Judgment Day) when We shall bring a witness from every community, and call you as a witness against these people?” (4: 41)
The Prophet used to fast voluntarily, and sometimes he would not end his fast at sunset, as it is the norm in Islamic fasting. Some of his companions tried to do likewise, but he stopped them from doing so, saying: “I am unlike you; I stay the night with my Lord who gives me food and drink.” His long hours of prayer and address to God produced a great change in his human constitution. He was thus able to take very little food and drink, because his soul lived in a different world.
Yet, despite being spiritually so far removed from people, he lived with them, knowing their nature, feeling their worries and understanding their problems. He gave judgment in their cases without departing for a moment from the path of justice.
Living on the Margin of Life
Can we emulate the Prophet and adopt the same attitude to the life of this world? Some mystics and ascetics have tried to discard worldly pleasures, living on the margin of life, and hoping to emulate prophets in their sublime standards. That is an impossible task they set for themselves. Anyone can recline on a straw mat and it could leave its mark on his body. Does this give him any similarity to Prophet Muhammad, who gave this world an un-interested glance because his heart was attached to his Lord, alert in His presence? No one becomes qualified as a military commander because he wears the suit of the commander.
There is a certain attitude people should have towards the life of this world. It has been explained by the Prophet and we would like them to know it. Should they maintain it, they rise in honor. Korah (or Qarun, as he is called in the Qur’an) was extremely wealthy. People admired his riches and dearly wished to be similarly rich. God did not require him to abandon his life, but simply outlined a few things for him to do. He was required to reflect on how he acquired his wealth. It is granted by God. Hence, he was told to look at his wealth and say: “Whatever God wills will take place. No power works without God’s will.”
Acknowledge God’s Favours
In his arrogance, Korah said that he acquired his wealth through his genius. If we assume, for argument’s sake that this was true, who gave him his intelligence? It is undoubtedly God, but he chooses to be oblivious of the fact. When God bestows His favors on someone, He wants that person to acknowledge those favors. Is this difficult? He wants the recipient to be kind, just, seeking what is right and good. He said to Korah: “Seek, by means of what God has granted you, the good of the life to come, without forgetting your rightful share in this world; and do good just as God has done good to you, and do not seek to spread corruption on earth.” (28: 77)
Unfortunately, many people receive God’s great bounty, but they are mindful only of their own desires, careless about others. They immerse themselves in pleasures at the expense of the hungry. In their arrogance, they look with disdain at others. God has warned believers against such stupidity: “Believers! Do not let your riches or your children make you oblivious of the remembrance of God. Those who do so will surely be the losers. Give, then, out of what We have provided for you, before death comes to any of you, and then he says, ‘My Lord, if You would grant me a delay for a short while, I would give in charity and be one of the righteous.’” (63: 9-10)