I wanted to share a moving story that I once heard and will always remember and cherish for its meanings. It’s the story of one of the great Imams of this Ummah, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal.
His son, Abdullah, asked his father one day: “Abi when will we ever relax?” His father, one of the greatest revivers of the Sunnah and a role model for all Muslims, looked him in the eye and said:
“With the first step we take into Jannah.”
Ya Allah, what a beautiful response!
There are days that come to you and you’re tired, you just want to sleep and relax and “shut off” as they say. Those are the days in which you need to ask yourself a critical question: ‘Where am I going with life?’ If it’s towards Allah and for Allah, then regain your strength and continue your work, for Jannah is precious and must be sought. But if you look into your life and realise that it’s not towards Allah but towards Dunya, then your tiredness becomes a blessing, for it is a reminder that you need to change direction and renew your purpose in life.
I love this story on many levels. For one, it shows you that when someone’s focus is Jannah, their priorities change and their outlook on life is different. What we perceive as difficulty, they perceive as ease. What we perceive as calamity, they perceive as reward. What we perceive as obstacles, they perceive as opportunities for sincere dua. Moreover, when your focus is Jannah, this Dunya and its constant demand becomes small and the least of our concerns.
Also, I love the way the son began his question: “Abi” – a sweet way of addressing his father, and asked: “When will we ever relax?” If you notice, he didn’t say, “when will I relax Dad?” Even though he wanted to relax, he wasn’t selfish and also cared for his father’s condition. This also shows you that the father and son were working hard together. Again, when your focus is Jannah it reflects in your family, children, and those around you and everyone gears up towards that goal.
Our problem today is not that we’re tired, our problem today is that we relax too much. We do everything so that we relax. We cheat, break promises, do not fulfill our vows, lie, take and give bribery, and so on. Why? So we can relax. We don’t stay up for Tahajjud or wake up for Fajr, we don’t fast, or go for Hajj and Umrah… all so we can relax. We don’t walk towards the Masjid or open the Book of Allah so we can understand it, all in the name of “I need to relax!”
Dear brothers and sisters, there’s plenty of relaxation where we’re going, but this is not the time for it. Let’s all work for Jannah and be productive in the path of Allah, and work so hard that one day our children will approach us and ask: “Abi” or “Ummi”: “When will we ever relax?” and you can smile and look them in the eyes and say, “When we enter Jannah inshaAllah”.