These things we call ‘milestones’ seem to have taken over the world. Since the first day I heard of them, I could not understand where the promotional side ended and the practical one began. I know they’re important, but I wonder if we haven’t misused them over the years.
I mean, you get people setting up markers for the progress of their lives and it’s like a game they are playing. Move the flag far enough so it gives you a good amount of space to occupy, but near enough so it looks like a distance you can cover, while keeping the goal in sight.
Every time you reach your goal, you have to move it forward to another point. It’s a glorified form of ‘existing’ and not ‘living’. Or maybe it’s a way to distract yourself from the real matter at hand – Life.
I mean, if we step back and remove all the milestones, do away with the short-term and long-term goals that occupy our hopes and aspirations, then what are we left with? Barren land? Nothing to move towards. Nothing enticing on the horizon to glimpse at. No motivation.
But what if it’s this barren land that is the true plain on which life must be lived. How many times have we been told that the only hope, the only aspiration, the only goal worth living for it Allah (SWT)? We say it, but we never live it.
If we truly aimed for the pleasure of Allah (SWT) and considered everything else to be secondary, then it wouldn’t matter if we were heading towards the next bright marker or standing still – as long as our attention and intention was for Him.
I’m not saying that we should give up planning our lives – we need those mental maps. Even in self-improvement and spiritual growth, we need to set goals for ourselves. However, when these plans become the current aims of our lives and distract us from our growth towards Allah (SWT) then they become forms of shirk.
A shirk so subtle that we don’t even notice when we sacrifice our loyalty to God for it – on the simplest level, it may involve delaying or missing prayers in favour of an interview or meeting. On a deeper level, who can tell what sacrifices we make without knowing?
Life is simple. Islam is even simpler. When you think about it, the purity of Truth is what makes it so uncomplicated and the fact that something so profound can be so easy, so…neat is what baffles the mind.
So why then do we insist on complicating our lives? All these things we run after – jobs, relationships, friends, money, praise, status – at the end of the day, which of these will take us to heaven. Which of these will raise us in front of Allah (SWT)?
Try asking yourself that next time the world carries you away. It’s the perfect cold shower for the material-craving ego.
”The Value of each person lies in the good he does.” – Ali ibn Abi Talib (a)