Have you ever walked through a street while imagining yourself to be someone else? Looking at everything, the posters and the billboards and the cars and the people, from someone else’s eyes – a random foreigner, or maybe a superstar that you like? I do it sometimes. I pretend I’m this guy from a complete different country who doesn’t know the language and is trying to make sense out of all the strangeness going on in the streets of this new weird city. And trust me, a lot of strangeness goes on in the streets of my city.
Sometimes I’m a sports person, sometimes I’m a famous sheikh, sometimes I’m Mark Zuckerberg and sometimes I’m Bill gates. And sometimes, I jump straight back in time and land in the shoes of some famous philosopher, warrior or – more often than not – a Sahabi (companion of our Prophet (SAW)). And that’s when it gets really weird. Weird as in impossible to take in. And I have to instantly switch back to my 21st century self.
I’m pretty sure that if any of the super-awesome people we remember to this day as Sahabis, may Allah be pleased with them all, had the chance to live for a while in this time and moment, they would have been, to the n-th degree and mostly in a negative sense, mind blown. And not just because of climate change.
There are so many things that they would disapprove of that trying to make a list out of those is sheer stupidity. Let’s assume they would ignore the streets or the outwardly conditions of our life and have a glance at us as persons. What would they think of the way we live? From the way we talk to our parents to the things we look at, our lives are hardly worthy of the approval of the Prophets (AS) or the Salaf. Would our beloved Prophet (SAW) approve of the way we talk to each other, or most of the things we watch on tv, the videos we watch on Youtube, the facebook statuses and photos we ‘like’, even the ones we consider “not so bad”? It’s not really a matter of Halal and Haram, it’s more of just an average sense of conscience. We are so used to taking indecency for granted that we hardly stop and consider if it might cost us our afterlife.
I heard someone say just the other day that if a person living at the time of the Prophet (SAW) were to enter the house of a well-to-do person in today’s world, they might easily mistake it for Jannah. A wide range of food on the table. Several flavors of juices and soft drinks in the fridge. Paid people serving those foods and drinks (in many countries and cultures). High, comfortable sofas. Carpets. Cushions. Does that sound familiar?
And then if they turned and looked at the conditions of our hearts – our spirituality I mean – let’s just say that it would be a huge shame for us. I won’t talk about how ungrateful attitudes most of us have despite living in such “heavenly” conditions. But the stone-like conditions our hearts have turned to is a tragedy. Stone-hearted people on feather-soft sofas, sipping at cold drinks and wasting hours and hours of their lives watching utter useless stuff on tv and listening to pointless music. How can we be so stupid that we deliberately try to escape the things that take us closer to Allah but don’t give a second thought when doing something that has no benefit in this life or the next? Maybe the reason our hearts have turned so hard is that we give more attention on increasing the reading on our “I’m Cooler” meter than to increase the score on the actual scoreboard that matters. Or maybe it’s the other way round. It is more of a cycle I guess: hardened heart – less effort to please Allah – even harder heart and so on. Allah says in the Quran:
Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth? And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before, and a long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are defiantly disobedient.
__ Surah Hadid, Ayah 16
This gives us the entire reason, which also happens to be the remedy, of the problem: our connection to Allah’s book. Maybe if we took more time to read and appreciate the Quran, we would realize how futile most of our activities are and pay more attention to doing more meaningful stuff. Maybe we’d jump out of our comfort zone and try to make our lives worthful by working more for our Akhirah. But wait, isn’t that exactly what we try to avoid? What? Get serious about life? No, thank you. I’ve got more important stuff to do.
Trust me I used to be like that (in fact still am to some extent). But once I connected myself a little to the Quran and tried cutting off my hours on tv, music and other random stuff, I actually felt better. I realized that it wasn’t a myth after all. The Quran does more than just to add to your scales. It actually, seriously makes you feel better. And believe it or not, cutting off/reducing time spent on entertainment also does something. It makes you feel a different kind of good, ironical as it is.
Back to where I started, I think it actually is a cool thing to pretend to be in the shoes of a Sahabi. I really should try it more often. And instead of running away, I should try to stay in those shoes until it turns me to a better person. After all, if any of them really had to be in our place, would they think of transporting to a different time because the world was too messed up? Or would they be their own awesome selves despite the surroundings and rather try to transport everyone around them to a better condition?
Since I was talking about hard hearts, here’s a talk I really enjoyed.