Comparing with others…
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told, ” By Allah, it is not poverty which I fear for you, but I fear the world will be opened to you as it was opened to those before you, and you would compete with one another as they competed, that you might desire the world as others before you desired it, and it might destroy you, as it destroyed them.” – Reported by al-Hakim (2/543)
In the modern world, many people rely on ‘comparisons’ to define their standard of living. In every phase of life, such individuals or families tend to compare themselves with people around them. What others’ buy, use, own, see or hear determine their way of life and are busily involved in ‘prettifying’ the quality of their life, accordingly. Many a times, this attitude forces us to sway away from the commandments of Allah and incline towards a life controlled by others.
Well, let’s take the example of Riba (usury). We all know that indulging with Riba is a major sin which is cursed by Allah and His Prophet and of course a disastrous evil that every Muslim must abstain from, at any cost. Even so, why do many of Muslim sisters and brothers resorting to interest based loans, heedlessly, and invite eternal destruction to them? The root cause is nothing but the craving to improve his/her lifestyle and live a life equal to or better than his/her neighbors or friends or relatives and for splurging or show off.
Many of us are in a race to show off in front of others, with a never ending desire to adorn our worldly life and ameliorate our luxuries, a step above others. They find a pseudo happiness in this. This disease – comparison- seems to have rooted deeply and widely in our society.
The real culprit behind most of the suicides, murders, and many other tragedies we read, hear and see in the media is this urge to compete with others in lifestyle and luxuries. Unfortunately, Islamic societies are also not different from these.
Often, we tend to trivialize the teachings of Islam and conveniently ignore the strict teachings and warnings, especially the financial discipline. Pomposity and extravagance have become unavoidable part of our marriages, parties, vehicles, houses etc. Yes, the outcome of the same thought of standing one step above others. This affliction has spread in to the society regardless of the financial status of people.
“Do you build high palaces on every high place, while you do not live in them? And do you get for yourselves palaces (fine buildings) as if you will live therein for ever. And when you seize, seize you as tyrants? So fear Allah and obey me. And keep your duty to Him, fear Him Who has aided you with all (good things) that you know” (Qura’n 26: 128-132)
Though Allah and His prophet (PBUH) have given us numerous warnings about such a situation, why do many of us fail to comprehend it and lead a simple life? In fact, it shows our failure in understanding the teachings of Islam in its real sense and adhering to those, in every phase of life.
It clearly points to the flaws in our hearts and belief. Haven’t many of us forgotten the real purpose of this life, taught by Islam? Does our religion confine to some mere gestures or countable rituals?
This is an important matter to evaluate while we preach as well. A preacher needs to question his/her own mind and evaluate the effectiveness of his preaching: “Am I conveying the real message of Islam into the society? Is my methodology hold good for this audience? ”
Let’s take the example of Salah. There is huge difference between merely forcing one to offer prayers five times and convincing him about its benefits, the losses in the heareafter and thereby leading to offer his prayers. Our preaching should adopt the ways which would bring real impact on listeners. Unfortunately, we often fail to give due attention to this and hence the real message is not reaching the listeners.
So, what’s the solution?
Being a part of Islamic society and obliged to follow the footsteps of our Prophet(PBUH), we should bring real Islam in to our hearts, thoughts, desires, life, home and family. Moreover, having given the responsibility of spreading the message of Islam, we should take effective steps to empower others on real Islamic principles.
If our life degenerate as a mere show of pride and status and we fail to realize how far we are from the goals of a true believer, remember, we will not have anything to put in front of our Lord, on the Day of Resurrection.
May Allah save us from this affliction and help us live a simple and pious life, freed from all comparisons and competitions in the worldly matters.