Ru, Sha, Joe, Yazman and Nina,
You guys may ask Papa, of the Quran's 6600 plus ayats from 114 surah, how many describe Jannah and hell.
The answer is : many and uncountable.....mostly all are allegorical or figurative[ in Arabic known as Mutashabihat ], meaning: they are beyond our comprehension and understanding. What the good shaykhs were alluding to were meant to be comprehensible to the imagination of the 7th century Arabs: Seventy two houris, gold and silver goblets, gardens with streams flowing, over hanging grapes with assortment of fruits within reach etc and etc....Nina and Shasha, do not be disheartened. Paradise is both for you as it is for Ru, Joe and Yazman. All need to work very hard for it. It is beyond our mortal comprehension. And so is Hell, mind you.We live in a four dimensional world bounded by Time, Space,Place and Person. Our description and perception of hell and heaven are limited by our senses and a narrow and myopic world view, determined by the limitations imposed on us by our very limited 'senses'. Our brains are limited by that billions of neurons and circuits. No great shake ! Only clowns, the likes of Christopher Hithens,Carl Sagan, Darwin and of late the Oxford biologist,Richard Dawkin, who thought we are 'unlimited' in our thinking. They are deluded, lost souls.
Jannatul Firdaus and Hell are there!
To us, ignorant souls, it seem a lifetime away...a very distant lifetime away from you guys perspective. Not too distant from Papa's five score and nine. In Godly terms though, Eternity, Hell and Heaven have already occured. Time and space are just God's creation. He operates beyond these realm...the Sixth dimension if you may. The Fifth dimension is the world of the 'malaikats and the jinns'.
But back to our world, life is just a collection of finite days, a summation of X- number of breaths ! To the sufis and those gifted with wisdom,Death or the end of this finite life, is just a breath away. One wise man of old noted that 'Life is just three breath. One that has just gone . The other that is not yet completed and the next which is truly not yet yours !' The next station is Life after death !.To them wise people, that is the 'real life'.
Does this all mean we just have to drop everything and only position ourselves on our sajadah and just pray!? Certainly not.
Islam is about EXCELLENCE.
Excellence in thought, words and deeds.
It means we need to find a vocation in our lives that can contribute to the total summation of human goodness....be you a plumber, a road sweeper, a train driver, a jetliner's pilot, a doctor, a farmer, an investment banker, a merchant, a king or a prime minister. Some vocations, like Papa's, are easier to do 'nawaitu' at, on a daily basis, towards goodness. Some, say a banker or pilot, would require more imagination. Some would be next to impossible, for example bartenders, futures trader, Mafia godfather and all that sort. Choose your vocations carefully so that ' contributing to goodness' can become your daily activities. A teacher , like your mom is an excellent example. A comic writer even in Papa's estimation, with the right nawaitu, is great ! Politics is Ok, in fact a fardzu if you have the talents but do not follow some overt examples like what you are seeing now...Papa would not have to name names, you guys already know.
It just mean when we leave our homes in the morning, we do it with sincerity and accountability, with the right 'nawaitu', with a dua, to contribute to human goodness....giving adequate sustainence to wife and family is goodness, providing education and a future to your offsprings is goodness, smiling and giving salam to a stranger is goodness, paying your income tax in time is goodness let alone paying your zakat fitrah and property etc and etc,....feeding the poor and the indigent is goodness....even picking a torn or broken glass on a lonely street without anyone noticing you is goodness! Yes, picking a broken glass on a desolate road with no one watching you especially would be an extreme act of 'goodness'. That is piety....You may not see HIM but He sees you.
But 'goodness' alone is not enough. The CEO and OWNER of this universe has set some minimum standards, SOP as you call it, and that in the main apart from other 'rukun',is your daily SOLAT.
It goes without saying that you guys should observe your solat. The obligatory five times a day solat to start with. Later in life, the sunat ones as well. Of course once you guys derive pleasure in this kind of private communion with HIM, you will even find waking up in the wee hours of the morning to do Tahajjud a sublime hobby. This probably will come much later in your lives, if papa were to be right, unless of course papa are blessed with genius offsprings of which papa think at present papa is not, and papa have no complaint on that issue !
Papa's SOP and ISO is much easier and precise. If you guys can join Papa for Subuh on time, you guys are already 'genius' material! The rest will subsequently fit in according to your scales of things.
On your onward journey to reach HIM of course Dua and Zikir are very useful tools. If you guys can comprehend the power of Dua and Zikir, you will find great pleasure in these two activities. Papa always believe in Time being the great healer, even in physical illnesses, and more so in the spiritual ones. With Time you guys will find out by yourselves Dua and Zikir are really great tools for healing our physical and inner pain.
And you guys may finally ask : What could empower one towards HIM ?
Solat, fasting, giving alms and sedekah, continous zikir and dua, and working for the 'goodness' of man all are easily said than done !
It has to be KNOWLEDGE. Ilm, Ilm Ilm and Ilm.
When you know HIM,nothing is impossible. We have to get to know HIM through
ILM, ILM, IlM and ILM.
Comprehend your Quran...Read the Quran with comprehension daily.Even one ayat a day will do. Start reading simple tafseer early if you can. Constancy ,rather than volume is the BIG secret.
Enhance your daily work and career thru more knowledge in your respective fields. If you are a road sweeper, a pilot or an investment banker, take a PHD in your respective field. If you are in mangement do an MBA or a DBA.........Papa always subscribe to the view that even a Quantum physicist who is entirely honest and humble with himself will be able to strengthened his relation with Allah much further thru more depth in his knowledge of his vocation.
Knowledge in the 'seen' [ BA, MA, DBA, PHD, MBBS, Accounting, Arts, Literature etc etc ] and the 'unseen' [ Fekah, Usuluddin, Tafseer, tasauf, etc etc ] must go hand in hand. There is a Malay proverb that goes like this " berkilau air di sungai, sudah tahu dia jantan betina ikan itu ! "..
We need KNOWLEDGE to find pleasure in celebrating HIM.
Related Articles in the blog:
Lina Joy Revisited, click here
We have to Reexamine our Shahadah, click here
Letter to Ru, Sha, Joe and Nina, click here
An Aidil Azhar letter to an Agnostic friend, click here
Shaykh Ninowy's 'Our Purpose in Life', click here