The Human Race: What Are We Really Striving For?


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Safia Kemal

My children love to read. Recently, we came across this book in the library by Jamie Lee Curtis. It is called “Is There Really a Human Race?” The theme for this book is “value.” From a purely duniya perspective, it is on how people  live, what we strive for and how this world is like a race and we rush to get ahead of all opponents.The analogy was really very interesting.

As I read the book, I thought about how everyone is striving in this world. Yet all our deeds or choices do not bring about a positive end result. As Muslims, we are supposed to strive for those deeds that benefit us in the akhirah only. All the rest of our actions which we do in the duniya, we think are very valuable and will take us ahead of this race course. We may even get ahead a lap or two. Ultimately, when this struggle comes to an end, we will feel proud of our doing, but will find out that we did not actually qualify for this race at all.

I am reminded of the verses of Surah Al-Kahf:

قُلْ هَلْ نُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِالْأَخْسَرِينَ أَعْمَالًا 103

الَّذِينَ ضَلَّ سَعْيُهُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَهُمْ يَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّهُمْ يُحْسِنُونَ صُنْعًا 104

أُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِمْ وَلِقَائِهِ فَحَبِطَتْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ فَلَا نُقِيمُ لَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَزْنًا105

“ Say, [O Muhammad], “Shall we [believers] inform you of the greatest losers as to [their] deeds? [They are] those whose effort is lost in worldly life, while they think that they are doing well in work.” Those are the ones who disbelieve in the verses of their Lord and in [their] meeting Him, so their deeds have become worthless; and We will not assign to them on the Day of Resurrection any importance.
[Al-Quran -Surah Al-Kahf (The Cave): 103-105]

Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) through His Mercy of the Qur’an has given the meaning of life and a purpose of existence. I ask myself, “What is my striving?” Is it like the man in Surah Ya-Sin who runs across town to explain to people the haqq (truth) or is it all a useless rushing around?

وَجَاء مِنْ أَقْصَى الْمَدِينَةِ رَجُلٌ يَسْعَى قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اتَّبِعُوا الْمُرْسَلِينَ

And there came from the farthest end of the city a man, running. He said, “O my people, follow the messengers.”
[Al-Qur’an- Surah Ya-Sin:20]

I understand now the true value of having blessings such as wealth and children. It is not to just prepare them for the duniya. It is to be able to use them for the akhira:

الْمَالُ وَالْبَنُونَ زِينَةُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَالْبَاقِيَاتُ الصَّالِحَاتُ خَيْرٌ عِندَ رَبِّكَ ثَوَابًا وَخَيْرٌ أَمَلًا

“Wealth and children are [but] adornment of the worldly life. But the enduring good deeds are better to your Lord for reward and better for [one’s] hope.”
[Al-Qur’an- Surah Al-Kahf (The Cave):46]

We learn about enduring deeds, one those are accepted and hold weight. For something to be acceptable, it has to be of high quality (in terms of action as well as intention) and according to the Sunnah of Rasul Allah (صلي  اللهُ عليهِ وسلم). I have to ask myself certain questions in light of this and start looking to practice each area.

  1. My Salah. Is my salah one that is accepted?
    I have to pray each time with complete dedication and giving each area of salah its due haq (right).
  2. My aathar (impressions). What is my existence and how does it affect others? Am I one which is carrying the beacon for others as a Muslim? Am I positively influencing others to come to the Qur’an and to love it as much as I have come to cherish it? What is my role play as a wife, mother, daughter and caretaker of a household? What is my role as a student? Am I worried about it?
  3. My understanding of deen (religion). Do I truly believe in what I study of the Qur’an? Does it strengthen me in my faith? Do I act upon what I learn or do I put it aside to do “for later?” Whatever I study of the Qur’an, I have to have full conviction in the Qur’an as a book of Allah. Does it make me change my ways?
  4. My level of taqwa (fearing Allah سبحانه وتعالى ).  Am I aware that I am being watched by Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) and all things are being recorded? Do I even catch my thoughts that I know will be displeasing to Allah ( سبحانه وتعالى ) as they creep into my heart?

 All of this will help purify my heart, Insha’Allah which is an essential ingredient in making the deeds beneficial for akhira. This is what is essential to make my deeds the baqiat (lasting ones).

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About Quran Reflections

Al-Huda's branch at Khayaban-e-Sehar is one of the few Quran courses being regularly conducted in Karachi, Pakistan, where the mode of instruction and examination is English. The students and teachers have decided to upload their reflections on the Quran and class notes on this blog, in order to be available to a global audience for the latter's benefit and inspiration.
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One Response to The Human Race: What Are We Really Striving For?

  1. Zahra says:

    Alhamdulillah this reminds us of the true purpose of this life. We have to sow the seeds here(dunya) so that they ripe in the future(akhira). Any good that we do in dunya willl benefit us in the akhira, provided our intention is to please Allah swt and it is in accordance with the sunnah of the Prophet saw.

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