Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Journey to Happiness 1 (Paradise)

Salam Alekoum

Lecture given my Amr Khalid in Arabic, and translated to English.

In the name of Allah[1], The All-Merciful, The Ever-Merciful, praise be upon Him, and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah (SAWS[2]). Welcome and Ramadan Kareem.

Our program this year is quite different from all the previous ones. It is “A Journey to Happiness”. We will go on a trip for thirty days; thirty days of moving from place to place. We are shooting in Lebanon; among the mountains, the sea, and the rivers. We are living the journey, that’s why we did not film in a studio because we want to feel the sense of the trip. The goal of this trip is happiness. How to be happy in this world? Today, people are suffering from problems, sorrows, pain, disease, financial distress, delayed marriage, delayed employment, fatigue, etc. Can we, with ideas, with faith, with a new way of thinking, with a stronger moral, overcome many problems and face the financial and material problems that we were unable to face previously because we had a weaker soul. This is what our program is about this year. Multiple recipes, an integrated package and not separate recipes. Seven sets and if you live by them you will live happily.

However, today's episode does not speak about any of this. We will not talk about any of the seven sets. The first episode is the introduction. In our first episode, we will only deal with two words: “journey” and “happiness”. Before we begin the journey that we will launch tomorrow, by Allah’s will, we just have to agree on these two words.

Pay close attention because this will be the base for all our coming talk! I would like, first, to ask all young men and women watching us to start by preparing a notebook. We shall call this, “The Notebook of the Journey to Happiness”. We will write so many things but let's start with the word, “journey”.

What do I mean by this word? I mean your journey and mine in this life. Let us agree on a basic fact about this trip. It is a short trip; a very short one, in fact. I have to mention this because I will speak to you later about death, problems and pain, so, at the outset I must remind you that it is very short. The trip is not as long as you see it, or as portrayed and exaggerated to us.

There is an idea that says that a man lives in five stages:

* Stage 1: The Creation Stage: When Allah created all before the start of all mankind, He said what can be translated as “And (remember) as your Lord took from the Seeds (Or. sons) of Adam, from their backs, their offspring, and made them bear witness concerning themselves, ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They said, ‘Yes indeed, we bear witness.’ (So) that you should not say on the Day of the Resurrection, ‘Surely we were heedless of this,’” (TMQ[3], 7:172).

* Stage 2: The Generation: From your earliest grandfather down to your mother and father, and then to you when you arrive in life.

* Stage 3: Your Life in this World: The 60 to 70 years you will spend here.

* Stage 4: The Grave: The life of the isthmus, which we do not know anything about. The grave is either one of the gardens of Jannah or one of the pits of hellfire.

* Stage 5: The Hereafter: Jannah or Hell, jannah by Allah’s will.

The shortest of them is your life in this world. The 60-70 years, while the Creation Stage was too long, and the grave, we do not know its duration, and jannah? ... It's infinity. So life is too short and the world that follows it is too long. We were taught in mathematics, that if any number is divided by infinity the result is zero. If you live in this world for one hundred years and possess all its treasures and enjoyed them, when you divide it by infinity, you will get zero.

In this world no one will continue to move up. Everything has to go up and down. The Prophet (SAWS) had a camel named al-Qasswa’ which no camel could outrun. One day, a simple Bedouin came with his camel and beat al-Qasswa’. The Companions were indignant. The Messenger of Allah (SAWS) told them that Allah asserts the rule that everything in this world which goes up must come down. The whole world does not equal the weight of a mosquito’s wing in Allah’s calculations. If this world, with everything in it, is not equivalent to a mosquito’s wing, then what do you; with all your possessions add up to? Let us see this world for its true value. No matter what your pains, sorrows and sufferings are in this world, see them in their true size.

This is the first fact that we will agree on: All the pain and sufferings, wealth and appearances are there for a short period. The short journey is not worth the sadness. No matter how great is your pain, it will pass.

The second word we will agree on is: “happiness”.

Let us agree that there is no full happiness in this world; there must be discomfort and pain. In fact, every movement in this world is done in search of happiness. The search for funds; money is only papers but its value comes from its ability to bring more happiness. Same goes to love, children, glory, reputation, etc. Complete happiness is only in jannah. Our movement and acts in this world is only a test for us, as Allah says what can be translated as, “to try you, whichever of you is fairest in deeds” (TMQ, 67:2) to see who deserves it and who does not.

As long as we talk about happiness, let us imagine that we have entered jannah. Imagine that you are now on the Day of Judgment, and you passed successfully all the required stages. Now you are passing on as-siraat[4] and you crossed it safely. You are now at the gate of Jannah. They once asked one of the followers, “When can you be assured of entering jannah?” He replied, “When as-siraat is behind you. If it is behind you, then you are one of the people of jannah.” Try to imagine the shape of the gate, its size, color. Imagine the company around you: the blessed Prophet, his companions, the previous prophets, and the angels. The angels will greet you and welcome you, as VIP visitors were welcomed in this world. The greeting of the angels at the gate of Jannah is different. As Allah says what can be translated as, “And the ones who were pious to their Lord will be driven in hordes to the Garden till when they have come to it, and its gates will be opened, and its Keepers will say to them, ‘Peace be upon you! You have been good, so enter (into) it eternally (abiding)’” (TMQ, 39:73).

Try to imagine such a reception at jannah. Now let us see in any of the rows in front of jannah you are standing: Front or back? Imagine yourself standing in the back rows, and the Prophet (SAWS) comes to take your hand to the front ones, next to him (SAWS) because you were one of those who cared for orphans and he (SAWS) told us that he who will do so will be very close to him in jannah. Or because you were an ethical person, as he (SAWS) is reported to have said that the closest one to him on the Day of Judgment will be the one with the finest ethics. Then you find yourself in the front rows despite your late arrival and due to the goodness of your acts.

Now everyone stands in front of the gate waiting for it to open, and here comes the Prophet (SAWS) to open it. He (SAWS) knocks at the gate and the jannah’s gate-keeper refuses to open except to Prophet Muhammed (SAWS) as Allah (SWT) commanded him. The gate then finally opens. Try to imagine the scene. The Prophet (SAWS) is reported to have said that the size of the gate to Jannah when opened equals the distance between Mecca and Syria!!! Jannah itself is equal to both the skies and earth, so imagine the size of its gate. Try and smell the fragrance of jannah. The Prophet (SAWS) is reported to have said that the smell of jannah can be detected five hundred years away.

Now you are standing at its gate, and it is open. Before entering, Allah, The Almighty will address the people of jannah and offer them four things: to be always well, and never fall sick; to be always youthful, and never age; to be always alive, and never die; and to be always happy, and never be sad again. The word grief is erased forever; you are only left with happiness. Then before entering you will go through a river called, “The River of Life”. This is the real “life”. You will wash in this river and the malice in your heart is taken away. There is no longer anger, hate, or envy, only love and peace and goodness and tenderness. Then you enter jannah.

Imagine Allah (SWT) is calling to you and telling you that He has prepared for His righteous slaves, what no eye has seen; what no ear has heard nor the heart of man ever did imagine. We usually associate our expectations of a gift with the one offering it. For example, if you are promised a sum of money by a child you will expect it smaller than if it is promised by a bank manager. The sum expected from a president is larger. Now, what can we expect if Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, The King of all Kings is the one offering this gift?

Note that the order of the senses: eye, ear then heart is significant, because what you have seen is less than what you have heard about and for sure you have neither seen nor heard as much as your mind or heart has conjured up in imagination. Also note that Allah does not say that He ordered the angels to prepare it, He prepared it by Himself for those entering jannah. What is prepared by the Almighty? How great can it be?

Imagine yourself taken by the hand of the Prophet (SAWS) to be shown to your palace. He (SAWS) is holding your hand because he is happy with you and your good deeds which were shown to him by the angels every Thursday during your earthly life. Imagine that your palace is in front of the palace of the Prophet (SAWS); you are the neighbor and companion of the Prophet (SAWS) in jannah as a reward for the short journey (life) when you were tired but endured it and its pains patiently. The Prophet (SAWS) is reported to have described the jannah’s palaces to have a brick of gold and a brick of silver, they are held together with musk and their floors are made of pearls and their roof is the throne of The All-Merciful. The Prophet (SAWS) described the combs of the dwellers of jannah as made of gold, their sweat as musk. They are inspired to praise the glories of Allah, as we are inspired to breathe. Then imagine the space of your palace in jannah. The Prophet (SAWS) is reported to have said that the one occupying the lowest rank in jannah has a palace so big that he will walk a thousand years without reaching its end. The Companions then asked him (SAWS) if this is the lowest ranking then what about the highest ranking? He (SAWS) replied that the highest ranking looks directly at Allah (SWT) morning and night. Allah said that wherever you will look in jannah you will see blessings, you will become a king. You were poor and weak but it was just a short journey, you are today in complete happiness, blessed and with a great kingdom.

The sweetest thing that will happen in heaven is when Allah speaks to you and tells you that He is pleased with you then asks you if you are satisfied with Him and with jannah. Imagine this and you ask Him to look upon His Face, and imagine that all blocks are torn down and that you can see Him as you can see the full moon. The Messenger of Allah (SAWS) says that this is the greatest pleasure they are given in jannah.

A Journey to Happiness is a short trip we take to get to the happiness in the hereafter. I do not say we bear the fatigue and misery in this world waiting for the blessings of the hereafter; this is not true, just like those who claim that religion is the opium of the people. In fact, the Prophet (SAWS) never mentioned jannah and the success in the hereafter without mentioning the way of success in this world. Jannah is a means to success in this world and not a drug. To the contrary, the Prophet (SAWS) used jannah as a reform for life. He who walks a road seeking knowledge will be guaranteed an easy road to jannah by Allah; if you want to succeed, learn. Jannah is under the feet of mothers. Pleasing your mother is a road to heaven. He who is patient for losing his eyesight will enter jannah. All these are examples of ways for us to enter jannah through our deeds in this world.

Today we have agreed on these two facts: (1) That life is a short trip, (2) That complete happiness is only possible in the hereafter. As of tomorrow we will start our journey; we will try to learn patience, determination, prayer, get closer to Allah. We will focus on the religious, psychological, spiritual, and mental aspects so that we can face our problems; the material problems being greater. We will solve our problems and be happy in this world on our journey to happiness.


[1] The word Allah is the Arabic term for God. Although the use of the word "Allah" is most often associated with Islam, it is not used exclusively by Muslims; Arab Christians and Arabic-speaking Jews also use it to refer to the One God. The Arabic word expresses the unique characteristics of the One God more precisely than the English term. Whereas the word "Allah" has no plural form in Arabic, the English form does. Allah is the God worshipped by all Prophets, from Adam to Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.

[2] SAWS: Salla Allah alayhe Wa Salam [All Prayers and Peace of Allah be upon him]

[3] TMQ=Translation of the Meaning of the Qur'an. This translation is for the realized meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah:Ayah) of the Qur'an. Reading the translated meaning of the Qur'an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed.

[4] As-siraat: This word means path or way but in this context it refers to a narrow path that every person needs to cross on the Day of Judgment; a kind of test. Once, a person succeeds in crossing it, he or she is allowed into jannah (Paradise). Success in crossing as-siraat is dependent on many things; among these things are a person’s good deeds and Allah’s mercy.


Fathi M Albatie said...

God bless, I have some comments. I'll come and add them later.

Sara said...

Looking forward to them =)

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