In Singapore, there is a popular way with which some people measure success by, and that is the five C’s, namely, (1) cash, (2) cars, (3) credit cards, (4) condominiums, and (5) country club memberships (I didn’t know this before, but that’s because I live in a cave*). It is easy to equate material things to success, perhaps due to the tangibility of such possessions. However, one cannot help but ask, “Is that all? Is that all that I want in life? Will obtaining the five C’s mentioned above fulfill my needs and make me happy?”
As human beings, Allah has gifted us with emotional and intellectual capacity. We are not satisfied knowing that this life is temporary and that we are created without purpose. Sincerely we seek for the truth, and we are guided. By the generosity of Allah, we become Muslim. As such, should material possessions have any priority in our lives? What takes precedent? This is the fifth question I’ve asked in this article thus far. Of which I only hope to provide a perspective, and direct us to a few qualities that I believe are important for Muslims to have. (Incidentally, these qualities also begin with the letter ‘C’.)
As narrated by Tirmidhi and Abu Dawood, the Prophet of Allah peace be upon him (pbuh) said, “There is nothing heavier in the scales of the Hereafter than good character.” Can more emphasis be given? I think not. The Prophet (pbuh) said also that a Muslim is one whom others are safe from his tongue and hand (Bukhari). By keeping good character, not only are we saved from the sins that arise from hurting others, we are rewarded immensely. As Muslims, we should strive to become a source of kindness and comfort for others, to uphold truth, justice, and forgiveness. Character is something that is sometimes taken lightly, when in fact, Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet (pbuh) when asked “And what is most likely to send people to Paradise?” he said, “Being conscious of Allah and good manners.” (Bukhari, Ibn Majah, and Ahmad)
We are social creatures, and Islam is not based on isolation. Indeed being alone is better than being in bad company, but the one who is alone hasn’t yet found the right friends. We need friends in order to remind ourselves, increase our knowledge, help us better ourselves, compete with us in good deeds, so much so that our religion follows that of our close friend(s). The Prophet (pbuh) said, “A man will follow the religion of his close friend, so let each of you look to who he takes a close friend.” Reported by al-Tirmidhi. Befriending good people, and similarly being that good friend is paramount and necessary in Islam. It is all right to distance ourselves from people who are not good for our hearts, as long as we continue to treat them with respect and kindness, and to filter our circles until we meet a righteous companion, for ultimately the right person will filter others to reach us too.
Countless times Allah has reminded us in the Qur’an that the Hereafter is better for us than this world (93:4), the Hereafter is better and more enduring (87:17), the Hereafter is better for us if only we understood (12:109). And to be Muslim is to have the clarity and foresight that our existence serves purpose, and that is to please Allah. This clarity has to diffuse to all aspects of our lives, such that even breathing becomes an act of worship, because it is coupled with the right intention. It is amazing that whatever we do is nothing in return of and compared to the goodness that Allah has bestowed upon us. Still, He wishes to give us more; “…and whatever good you send before you for yourselves, you will certainly find it with Allah, better and greater in reward. And seek forgiveness of Allah. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful.” (73:20) Undoubtedly our reward is in the Hereafter, and it takes faith, and not eyesight, to see that.
Clarity is to intention as continuity is to deeds and actions. Deeds are investments for the Hereafter. The prophet (pbuh) said, “If a human dies, then his good deeds stop except for three: recurring charity, knowledge by which others benefit, or a righteous child who prays for him.” (Narrated by Muslim) The deeds of a Muslim should not just stop at himself; it should leave a lasting positive impact on the people around him, animals and other creations and the environment as a whole. Even near our last breath we should perform a good deed for the sake of Allah. Anas reported that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “If the Hour is about to be established and one of you was holding a palm shoot, let him take advantage of even one second before the Hour is established to plant it.” (Authenticated by Al-Albani) It does not matter if we do not witness the impact of our deeds in this lifetime, because where better to taste the fruits of our efforts than in Paradise?
- Consciousness of Allah
Verily the height of faith is taqwa, to become conscious of Allah, such that one is constantly thinking about pleasing his Lord, fears offending Allah and takes the necessary precautions to avoid it. It seems that the purpose of worship is to attain an awareness of our Creator. Prayer is a conversation with Allah, to give charity is to remember the blessings of Allah upon us, and so on. Allah says, “Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (13:28) But the best reward in remembering Allah is to be remembered by Allah; “So remember Me, I will remember you.” (2:152)
It is not the aim of this article to disregard wealth, as it is a strong means of performing good deeds and showing our gratitude to Allah. Nor am I leading you to spend completely or abandon all your wealth. Allah has said, “But seek, with that (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on you, the home of the Hereafter, and forget not your portion of legal enjoyment in this world, and do good as Allah has been good to you, and seek not mischief in the land. Verily, Allah likes not the Mufsidun (those who commit great crimes and sins, oppressors, tyrants, mischief-makers, corrupts).” (28:77) Rather I wanted to bring to light the internal qualities that I feel we Muslims should strive to possess, internalize and implement in our lives. Lastly, it is important to note that working on our faith and our relationship with Allah requires work and consistency on our part, and that perfection is not the goal, but the struggle towards obtaining the pleasure of Allah is.
*This is a joke. I’m joking.