بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Assalamu aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatu,
We can fool ourselves into thinking that there is some sort of destination in this life, but the reality is that we will never reach the surrounding we strive for. Even the most successful people, those who wrote literary masterpieces, conquered ancient cities, did not feel satisfied. There is something to be said for the analogy of a dog who doesn’t realize the bone he is pining for is just a little out of reach in the hands of his owner.
I’m convinced that this is a blessing that Allah swt has given us to keep out of the trappings of this dunya.
Over the years, my idea of what ibaadah is has changed frequently. Only recently have I come to the revelation that we can not make changes in ourselves by simply making an intention and waking up the next morning. Change takes time, and it takes wisdom. It takes knowledge.
The journey is what changes us, more than any single action could.
One of the earliest things I learned about Islam’s difference from other religions is that we have a direct connection with God. We read His words, we have “meetings” with him 5 times a day, we utter his name in every duaa and before every meal. We trust that He has told us the truth, because He is the most Truthful.
I also learned that we are different because of our belief that actions count for something. Salvation is not enough. We must prove ourselves. Because what better are our hands and our brains and our eyes good for than to worship God?
We will never reach the level of imaan of the prophets, may peace be upon them all. We will never reach Jannah in this Dunya. They are two separate words. Two separate natures. We are the dog chasing the bone that is just a little bit too far away.
So we are forced to keep striving. We are forced to find the beauty in the struggle.
وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
As for those who strive hard in Our Cause, We will surely guide them to Our Paths. And verily, Allah is with the good doers.” (29:69)