Day Fourteen: Something Better

He will give your something better than what was taken from you. 8:70

The number one argument I hear from people who don’t understand why I fast, pray, dress modestly or avoid alcohol is that I am giving up the fun things in life for a theory. In theory, the good deeds I do here and now will result in a beautiful afterlife (or at least avoiding eternal damnation because I’m not sure that I am paradise material). But what if I’m wrong?

The honest question is if I were to die today, and look back on my life and all of the things that I didn’t do, would it be worth it? If there was no heaven and no hell, would my “sacrifices” still be worth it? What have I gotten out of living like this? 

I think each one of us must answer this question at least once in life. If you died and discovered there was no heaven, would you regret not living more selfishly? Would you regret the life you lived? 

For me, I think I am at peace with myself and my religion. I don’t want to switch places with anybody else. If there are things in this life that I want to achieve, I must work for them and achieve them in a way that is in alignment with my values. My values and my way of life are precious gems passed down to me from ancestors whose names have already been lost to time. Just like my features, this deen is the result of an ancient DNA that has somehow persisted despite the horrible trauma and concerted efforts to destroy it. Like my DNA, passing down this deen, this way of life is about perpetuating the species. It is my firm belief that there is something worth preserving and continuing in this religion. The same way I passed on my DNA, guarding it in its infancy and guiding it through its youth, I am passing on Islam.  

So, even if I die and there is no heaven and no hell., I won’t feel that any part of this life was wasted. The things I gave up were worth it to see this dynamic community of believers continue to thrive and grow. The “sacrifices” I made were no sacrifice at all since my objective was to be at peace with my soul and my Lord. In life, I had everything that made life worth living. I was loved, respected, cared for. My life had purpose and meaning, and what I leave behind, Insha Allah will continue as a testament to that.  

The verse says Allah will give us better than the things we lose. And for me, at least, that is true. 

As we approach the midway point in this pre-Ramadan countdown, I remind myself that doubt is reasonable. Even the Prophet (PBUH) himself thought he was losing his mind when he first received revelation. The question, “why am I putting myself through all of this trouble?” is a reasonable one. And the answer is that living as a Muslim gives me something greater than the things I lose. Not just in the sense of an eternal benefit, but right here and right now. 

The argument, “how do you know it is true” has become irrelevant to me. If I die and it’s all just stories and ancient traditions, I am satisfied with that as well. Because I know that this life has given me a way of being at peace in a chaotic world. It has given me a lifeline when the waves of despair have overtaken me. It has given me certainty when uncertainty plagued me. It has given me direction when I was lost. It has given me comfort when I was broken hearted. It gave me community when I was alone. It gave me purpose when I was unsure of myself.  And that is enough for me.

My Lord is enough for me.

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