MOST of us wake up in the morning and sleep at night with some worldly concern weighing on our minds – our careers and education, our businesses and jobs, our spouses, parents and children. We spend every waking hour in pursuit of ‘the good life’, seeking happiness in external things just to escape the emptiness within.
For Muslims, the paradigm for what constitutes the good life is very different. Aًllah says:
مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَى وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَة
Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer, We will surely cause him to live a good life. [Quran, Surah Nahl:97]
The good life is when a believer realizes that Allah created him and made everything in the heavens and earth usable for him as part of His favors, when his body, mind and soul are not owned by material possessions and worldly goals.
Ibn al-Qayyim reminded us of the special status of human beings:
“Know that Allah has given a special quality to the children of Adam, namely, that He honored and favored them, creating them for Himself and creating everything for them. He gave them the ability to know, love, come close to, and honor Him, which He gave to none else. He also made usable for them everything in His heavens and earth, and everything in between.
Even His angels are used for humans and He made His angels protectors of them in their sleep, when awake, when reclining, and when standing. He sent to them books and messengers and addressed them with Speech. Mankind is not like other creation.”
Is this not enough of an honor to keep us from seeking honor in transient worldly possessions? Instead, we should seek to improve ourselves with a goal larger than consumption and gratification: seeking to please Allah by using His favors for good deeds.
As Allah says in the Quran: “that is the greatest success.”