When I was a child, I remember adults often asking me “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The interrogator would then offer answers for me to choose from, such as doctor or engineer, as if it was inconceivable to have any other ambition.
Throughout our lives, we are made to believe that to be worthwhile we must have materialistic aspirations. I feel this constant conditioning transforms an intellectual into a programmed dummy, making a person a slave to stereotypical thinking, fed by the worthless and ignorant trendsetters of society.
From our early years we are conditioned to think that to succeed is to be able to attain monetary status. Therefore the goal becomes either to take on a rewarding career or a rewarding spouse. In other words fulfillment of personal desires is supposed to equal happiness and success. Catastrophically, this is exactly what we proudly pass on to the next generation.
People strive and feel self-righteous about trying their utmost to acquire temporary luxuries and this ultimately becomes their goal. They readily sacrifice everything precious and meaningful, including, time, energy, values, morals, relationships, health, character, and above all faith. Sadly such people are honoured with the title of being ambitious or passionate.
Whereas, Allah (subhanahu wa ta’aala) says:
And the worldly life is but amusement and diversion; but the home of the Hereafter is best for those who fear Allah, so will you not reason? (6:32)
As for the people who do believe, even though superficially, do prepare for the day of reckoning, but they usually feel satisfied by reassuring themselves that ‘at least’ I’m doing this much, ‘at least’ I’m not committing that many sins, ‘at least’ I’m better than the next person.
A person with such an attitude is uninformed and possesses a mediocre state of mind, despite possibly being well educated and belonging to the upper class. Due to his un-ambitious frame of mind and lack of foresight, which hinders him from grasping the enormity of eternal success, he benefits neither himself nor others.
These people of ‘at least’ are defensive about their mindset of mediocrity, so they try their best to justify the web of wishful thinking that Shaitan has so meticulously woven around them.
Whereas Allah says in His Book:
Satan promises them and arouses desire in them. But Satan does not promise them except delusion.
In my view, this careless attitude of the people of ‘at least’ is due to a number of reasons. Thinking that they have unlimited time, laziness and procrastination, lack of conviction in the promises of Allah and weak belief in accountability.
Their persistence in sinning, their repeated refusal to acquire guidance and rectify their Nafs (lower self), their fear of other than Allah, all eventually lead to the hardening of hearts. Nevertheless, as muslims they are well aware that to elevate their status from being people of ‘at least’ to being people of ‘utmost’ they would be required to make sacrifices.
Let’s examine our own conduct now. If you knew you had an exam tomorrow on which your life depends, would you relax, watch movies, chat and waste your time? You would be insane to do that.
A sensible person realizes the gravity of the situation, then plans and prepares accordingly. Are we satisfied with our worship and obedience towards Allah? Let’s analyze ourselves honestly. If yes, we are satisfied, then we need to redefine our goals to reach higher peaks. If no, then we need to strive harder.
To elevate ourselves from being the people of ‘at least’ to people of ‘utmost’, we need to reconstruct our ideas about life as a temporary phase and to understand the enormity and permanency of the Hereafter. Then, we need to believe with conviction in the reality of the unseen and to plan, prepare and strive in its direction by clinging to the teachings of Quran and Sunnah, along with those who share the same goals and aspirations as we do. Only then can it be expected that those of us who strive to improve their level of Iman (faith) and Amal (practice) will be honored in The Hereafter (Bi izn Allah).
There is no doubt that those who enter Jannah will enter it because of Allah’s (subhanahu wa ta’aala) mercy but it will be their deeds that will make them eligible for being the recipients of that (subhanahu wa ta’aala) mercy. To be among the fortunate ones we must pray, strive and hope to attain the eternal bliss, InshaAllah, by being people of ‘utmost’not people of ‘at least’.
But you prefer the worldly life, while the Hereafter is better and more enduring. (87:16-17)