by Ayatullah Nasir Makarim Shirazi
Contributed by Irfan Dhirani
During my short lifetime I tasted the joys and the sorrows of life and I saw its ups and downs. I experienced its greatness and humiliation, its wealth and poverty and its ease and hardness. At last, I felt this Quranic truth with all my heart and soul:
“And the present worldly life is nothing but the joy of delusion”
(Quran, Chapter of ‘Al-Imran, verse 185)
Life is not too mysterious, Just a change of days and nights,
Bitterness and saltiness called life, That truly, it does not worth it at all,
Only the belief in the eternal life in hereafter can give meaning to the present worldly life, and without that belief the life on the earth would not have any goals, no senses. Throughout my life I found nothing more precious than what ends in spirituality and true human values, all worldly values are in fact a mirage, people are in a dream, in their glancing fantasies, suffering constantly from hardness and difficulties. Yesterday’s children, now young men. Today’s youth, tomorrow’s elderly. And tomorrow our elderly will lie in their graves; their bodies will rot in the ground, as if they never existed!
Passing by the houses of some great personalities, scholars and the distinguished men of the past, I remember how crowded these houses were, how much ruction! How many eyes gazed on these doors! But today the dust of oblivion covered them all, serene and silent! It reminds me of what Imam Ali (P.B.U.H) said in Nahj-al-Balaghah:
“It seems as if they never lived in this world
and as if the next world had always been their abode”
(Nahj-al-Balaghah, sermon 188)
I see some old friends, with bent bodies, leaning on their canes, walking and stopping every few steps to catch their breath and move on. Suddenly their youth flashes before my eyes! How strong were their bodies! How much cheer and spree! How healthy and active! What laughters they had!
But now the dust of sorrow has covered their faces, and they are so depressed as if they have never passed by the alley of happiness. Now I can feel the concept of this awakening divine verse with all my heart, and I am sure that everyone who reaches my age can feel the same after a little deliberation:
“This worldly life is naught but a diversion and a play”
(Quran, chapter of Ankaboot (spider), verse 64)
In spite of this, I wonder why are there that much breakneck enthusiasm to wealth and high position? Whom are they accumulating for? Where is the root of such negligence? Especially in our era when the changes and transformations take place wildly and faster than ever.
I know families which used to live together in their own world, but now they are scattered, one lives in America, another in Europe, one here, another there, but the elderly parents are left alone and forgotten in their house, sometimes it passes months without having any news of each other. It reminds me of the valuable saying of Imam that says:
“The thing that ends like this does not worth to be started with avarice and greed”
[Bihar-al-Anwar, Vol.70, Page 103, Narration 91 (from Imam Musa-al- Kazim)]
When I go to cemetery, especially when I visit the graves of scientists and scholars, I wonder to see how many friends of mine now slept down into their graves; their pictures still look familiar, taking me deeply to my past. I ask myself, am I dead like them while I think I am alive? Then I recall the poem of that pious poet who says:
Whoever you are, and wherever you reach,
The final abode of this world is here!
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