Many years ago there lived a King who built himself a huge and magnificent palace. It was in fact the finest to be built at that time for no one had seen anything like it before. The turrets rose into the sky and the halls, rooms and many corridors were adorned and decorated with the most expensive jewels and furniture that money could buy at that time. Upon completion of the palace the King proudly invited one and all to come and view his palace. At the entrance of the hallway he placed a guest book for the visitors to leave their comments on what they thought of his palace.

Very soon the palace began to draw crowds of people from all over. At the end of each day the king asked for the guest book and excitedly read each comment written therein. He took great pleasure in reading the various praises that people visiting the palace had written for him in the book. However on one particular day upon taking the guest book the king was dismayed when he came across two comments that were not in keeping with the general feeling. These two comments were not in praise of the palace; on the contrary, they criticized it and that too quite severely. The King was upset and immediately ordered that the writer of those negative comments be brought before him. The writer, an old man who was well known for his piety, was soon located and brought before the king.

At first, he was reluctant to explain his comments but, after the King assured him that his life was not in danger, he explained. He said,

"O King! There are two main flaws in this palace. The first of these is that someday, the palace will turn into ruins, and the second one is that it does not have anything to ensure that its owner will not be separated from it one day. What’s the use of having something that is so pricey and elaborate when soon either it will be no more or its owner will have to leave it behind? Had these two factors not been in this palace then it surely would be the finest and most valuable palace in the world and every effort put into it would have been worthwhile without any doubt.”

The king listened attentively and quickly understood the validity of the old man’s point. He like the countless visitors who streamed in on a daily basis never saw it this way.

Man will soon die and leave behind every one of his worldly possessions. What will accompany him in the journey to the Hereafter would only be his noble deeds. In the world, people gain fame and recognition by their wealth, properties and assets. However in the next life which is eternal the criteria for fame and recognition are quite different- here recognition is given only to those who possess righteous deeds. In the Qur’aan Allah Ta’ala reminds the believers of this criteria of His when He says:

"Wealth and children are an adornment of the life of the world, but lasting righteous deeds are better with your Lord in reward and better in hope."  (Surah 18, verse: 46)

Wisdom therefore dictates that man should focus his attention to things that are imperishable and attract high divine rewards.

 The world is a passage lodging, and eternity is a place everlasting, you should take advantage of the opportunity to save something from your passage lodging for the rest of your Journey.

Once someone asked Hadrat Ali Radiyallaahu Anhu:

Why are we reluctant to die, why don't we like death?

He replied, "We have ruined our next world (hereafter) and developed this one; naturally, we would not like to be transferred from flourishing to decline."

The faithful and truly pious use this world to gather provisions for the next world and the faithless people only enjoy the fruits of this world whilst forgetting the world that is coming which is eternal.

The attitude of every believer to this world should be the attitude of the Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam who said, “What do I have to do with this world, and what does this world have to do with me? The story of me and the world is similar to that of a man who is riding on a hot day and reaches a tree. He takes a nap under the shade of the tree for a short while, and then goes on leaving the tree behind.”

When we turn our backs to the world and are no longer enamoured, intrigued and fascinated by all the ‘fineries’ it has to offer then this is the very first step towards true piety.

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