Life is a journey.
You and I both know this, yet we forget to treat it like one.
When embarking upon a journey – e.g. a road trip – we create a plan. Included within this plan is our end destination, the milestones we hope to reach on the way, and perhaps a few planned stops in between to refuel or pick up supplies that will make our journey smoother. We make these stops as a necessity, but don’t stay there longer than we need to. If we did, we’d only be distracting ourselves from the end goal.
Before setting out on this journey, most likely we will expect it to take a certain amount of time, effort and patience, and will sufficiently prepare for whatever is ahead. We may not be able to anticipate everything that will happen en route, but ultimately, we know our end destination.
Now, let’s compare this to how we treat life.
We know our end journey is the Akhirah (Hereafter), and ultimately, is God.
However, we fail to remember that upon this journey to God there will also be certain milestones along the way, and a few necessary pit-stops. Unlike the pit-stop described above, we tend to remain in certain circumstances longer than we need to. Instead of refuelling and grabbing the tools we need to carry on – i.e. life lessons, memories, skills and experiences – we wander, lost and confused, and eventually forget why we embarked on this journey in the first place.
Even though we began the journey by preparing all of the tools we needed to make it, we still seek to find the solutions to our problems through others. Worst of all, even though we have those tools, we often let others make us doubt as to whether we even know how to use them anymore.
Eventually we end up sitting in our ‘car’ , yet forget how to drive. Our reluctance to put our own foot on the gas and take control of the wheel causes us to remain hopeless. We may sit there, again, hoping for someone to teach us the way once more, whereas if we remember our end destination, and realise the power we have within ourselves, we’d get out and remember that we can still walk.
One of the most powerful pieces of advice I have read in this regard is from the famous Imam Ibn al-Qayyim (may God be pleased with him). If I could, I’d engrave these words into the walls of my home.
Advice from Imam Ibn al-Qayyim (may God be pleased with him)
“A friend will not (literally) share your struggles, and a loved one cannot physically take away your pain, and a close one will not stay up the night on your behalf. So look after yourself, protect yourself, nurture yourself and don’t give life’s events more than what they are really worth. Know for certain that when you break no one will heal you except you, and when you are defeated no one will give you victory except your determination. Your ability to stand up again and carry on is your responsibility. Do not look for your self worth in the eyes of people; look for your worth from within your conscious. If your conscious is at peace then you will ascend high and if you truly know yourself then what is said about you won’t harm you.
Do not carry the worries of this life because this is for Allah. And do not carry the worries of sustenance because it is from Allah. And do not carry the anxiety for the future because it is in the Hands of Allah.
Carry one thing: how to please Allah. Because if you please Him, He pleases you, fulfils you and enriches you.
Do not weep from a life that made your heart weep. Just say, “Oh Allah compensate me with good in this life and the hereafter.”
Sadness departs with a Sajdah. Happiness comes with a sincere Du’a. Allah does not forget the good you do, nor does He forget the good you did to others and the pain you relieved them from. Nor will He forget the eye which was about to cry but you made it laugh.
Live your life with this principle: be good even if you don’t receive good, not because for other’s sake but because Allah loves those who do good.”
So be strong, dear friend, and do not feel discouraged if your personal journey is a little bumpier than others. Make as many pit-stops as you need, but remember, YOU have the power to pick yourself up and carry on.
It’s your journey, nobody else’s. Do not let them rush you while you’re still learning how to change gears. Do not be tempted by those who are racing far ahead, for indeed, those who travel the journey faster than they can handle are inevitably going to crash.
May Allah bless you, protect you, grant you strength and forever guide you with His light throughout this journey. May you find Him at every corner, every pit-stop, and may His words be a source of comfort and guidance for you when you need them most.