Have you ever gone on a long car ride across several states, leaving home and setting out for a family vacation? If you live on the east coast of the United States, you might be heading down to Florida to Disney World or some other vacation spot. I’m talking about long drives like driving for hours, all day, maybe even two days of driving.
Along the way, especially with kids in the car, you’re going to have to stop for a bathroom break. So, you pull into a rest stop. Now, this isn’t some rundown place, but a nice big clean Travel Plaza. Of course, for the parents – adults – this is not a big deal. It’s just a quick place to take a break from driving for a few minutes, maybe get something to eat, and then get back on the road. But, not for the kids.
When they walk in, they are so excited to be there. It’s like they’ve already made it to their vacation destination, and that’s how they treat this place. They see the food court with Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, Burger King and everything they love. They notice the gift shop with toys, T-shirts, and souvenirs. Their eyes catch the arcade games, vending machines, and of course, they see the 50 cent machines with gumballs, skittles, plastic rings, stickers, temporary tattoos and more.
They start running around all over the place and acting crazy, and their parents are trying to control them. They’re saying, “Kids, come on! This is just a rest stop. We’re not even there yet. Save all this energy for when we get to our destination”. But, the kids don’t listen. They can’t even think that far ahead. All they see is here, and now. In fact, they love it there so much that when their parents tell them, “Come on kids, it’s time to leave” all you hear is, “No please! A few more minutes please, please”. They just want to stay there and let that be their vacation.
But this is more than a cute story about some kids playing at a rest stop. The prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him), said:
“Be in this world as though you were a stranger or a passerby.” [Bukhari]
We know that this life is not our final destination. We’re headed towards the hereafter. This life is merely a short rest stop on that journey. In the Quran, Allah says:
“And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion.” [Noble Quran 3:185]
People often become distracted by the temporary delights of this world. But, those with the most intellectual and spiritual maturity recognize that the focus should be not on this life but on the next. That is where we’re truly headed, and that should be our primary concern. This life must be a time of preparation because the only things that will be carrying with us on the day of judgment are our faith and our actions. Based on that, it will be Allah alone who determines where we will be staying. Allah says in the Quran:
So as for he who transgressed and preferred the life of the world, then indeed, Hellfire will be [his] refuge. But as for he who feared the position of his Lord and prevented the soul from [unlawful] inclination, then indeed, Paradise will be [his] refuge.” [Noble Quran 79:37-41]
So, you want to get to paradise, but you are not sure if you are headed in the right direction. Let the Quran be your GPS. The Quran is the criterion for right and wrong. So read it, and if the road you are on does not match the directions that Allah has given in the Quran, then change course now and get on the right path while you have the opportunity.
“He has certainly succeeded who purifies himself and mentions the name of his Lord and prays. But you prefer the worldly life, while the Hereafter is better and more enduring. Indeed, this is in the former scriptures, the scriptures of Abraham and Moses.” [Noble Quran 87:14-19]