By Pakeeza Riaz
“Whatever is with you shall perish, and whatever is with Allah shall last. And We shall surely grant those who have been patient their reward according to the best of what they did.”
(Surah An-Nahl, 16:96)
Anything of this world that you have will eventually run out. It will eventually expire. The word Yanfadu comes from the Arabic word Nafada. It is when something is completely exhausted, finished, or ended. This perishability principle that we, being Muslims, realize fully well, holds true for your tangible as well as intangible possessions. Consider all the tangible things that you possessed some time ago. You don’t see most of them today, right? Food, clothes, bags, gadgets, furniture, or anything that you can think of. All those things had a lifetime after which they perished or replaced. Similarly, think of the problems you had in past, things that bothered you at some point in time. But today you don’t see those problems around. Some of them got solved, some got replaced, and some of them just don’t classify as problems anymore as you now have bigger things to think about. This is because, everything of this dunya is temporary. And anything that is limited, it will eventually come to an end. It will not remain forever.
But what is stored with Allah SWT for the hereafter, only that is baqi. Eternal. The word Baq means to last; to remain. An implied meaning is that the storehouses of His mercy and His rewards are endless. This is because, opposite to the case of dunya, there is neither any decline to Allah SWT, nor to His treasures. If Allah gave everything to people that they wished for, His treasures would not undergo even a minor reduction, let alone coming to an end. It comes in a Hadith Qudsi that Allah SWT says,
“O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you (meaning all creation from beginning of the world till the end), the human of you and the jinn of you to rise up in one place and make a request of Me, and were I to give everyone what he requested, that would not decrease what I have, any more that a needle decreases the sea if put into it.”
You see, no reduction reduces Allah’s treasures.
The next part of the verse says that Allah SWT will reward those who did sabr. Where did they do sabr? In dunya. On their obedience to Allah SWT. On Refraining from His disobedience. We all understand what amount of sabr it takes!
The people being referred to here realize that pleasures don’t last for too long. They perish. So if an opportunity to sin comes right before them, they control themselves. They refrain from committing it. They don’t fall for it. And when they have the opportunity to deceive someone, to get something of temporary benefit out of it, they do sabr. Sabr that even if they have less, they should be content with it. They bear every loss for the sake of righteousness and spurn away every gain that they could have obtained by adopting unlawful means. They patiently wait for the rewards of their good deeds in the Hereafter. As a reward of this sabr, of them pulling their hands from what their nufs (inner selves) loved the most, they would be given from never ending treasures of Allah SWT.
Going further, Allah SWT says that He will reward them according to the best of what they used to do. We know that deeds are of various levels. Some are of excellent quality, some are average, and some are poorly done. What is being said here is that Allah would give the same highest reward for all levels of deeds, whether they be high or low.
Generally in dunya, it happens that scores are averaged up. For example, for any course in a semester, you took certain quizzes, assignments, and exams. On one graded component, you did excellent, but on some other component, you did very poorly. Now in the end, when all numbers are totaled up, (even after the implementation of n-1 policy) the component that went very well is affected because of your poor performance somewhere else. The bad scores end up pulling down your percentage. But with Allah SWT, top level deeds are going to be selected, and the reward of poor deeds is going to be pushed up to equate that of the excellent ones, given that the condition of sabr is fulfilled. So doing sabr in hope of such magnificent reward becomes easier.
It comes in the narrations that Hazrat Ayesha RA once had a goat slaughtered, so she distributed the meat among the poor people and the relatives. Majority of it was distributed. She had kept only some of it for her house so she and the Prophet S.A.W could eat it. When prophet S.A.W came, he asked as to how much meet was left. Ayesha RA replied that she had distributed everything except for one piece of the shoulder cut. Prophet S.A.W replied, “Apart from the piece of shoulder, all of the meet is now saved.” Meaning that everything that you gave to others for sake of Allah is saved and deposited with Allah SWT in the Hereafter, and whatever you’ve kept with yourself is perished.
Sabr enables a person to be content with less and give away something that he loves today for the Hereafter. So he can accept delay in gratification when others want to enjoy immediately. “Right now I will make do with less, but later I want more. I can delay my reward. I can delay my pleasure.” This is why sabr has such high rewards. Over intangible things also, sabr makes it easier to endure a hardship in hope that this problem isn’t permanent, but the intended reward is. So we should maintain a healthy balance in all circumstances, not busying ourselves all our life collecting the possessions of this dunya only or worrying about perishing problems. Because eventually either the life of those possessions or problems is going to end or ours is going to end. It just isn’t wise to spend a major portion of our life in collecting and serving these things while neglecting Allah SWT and his servitude.