A young man from Delhi had to get to Mumbai to appear for an interview for a job abroad. He had booked a berth in a train. On the day of his departure, he left his home for the railway station in a rickshaw. It so happened that some boys threw stones at the rickshaw. At this, the young man’s friend, who was accompanying him, lost his temper. He wanted to get off the rickshaw and catch hold of the boys and teach them a lesson for their misbehaviour. But the young man stopped him.
“Where do we have time for this?” he asked, as the rickshaw moved ahead.
What the young man wanted to say was, “I have to reach the station at once and catch the train. Then, after getting to Mumbai, I have to appear for the interview. At such a sensitive moment, where do I have time to get stuck with these boys? I’d rather exercise patience in the face of their misbehavior so that I do not miss my interview in Mumbai.”
People have this sort of seriousness about their worldly affairs. But momins or true believers have an even greater seriousness than this about the Hereafter. Someone who is serious about worldly affairs does not have the time to get involved in irrelevant things, like the man heading for the interview who refused to start a fight with the boys who pelted the rickshaw he was travelling in with stones. In the same way, someone who is serious about the Hereafter does not want to get involved in issues that will divert him from his goal of the Hereafter.
A passenger who wants to travel from Delhi to Amritsar, to the north-west, will not head in the direction of Calcutta, to the south-east. Likewise, a person who is journeying towards the Hereafter will not want to head off a direction that will take him far away from his chosen destination.
If Muslims think of themselves as travelers in this world, they will find inspiration in the above-mentioned example of the young man heading to Mumbai for his interview. But if they think of themselves as travelers who are journeying towards the Hereafter, they will find inspiration in the example of the Companions of the Prophet, who did not let worldly things divert them from their mission. And if Muslims follow neither path, concerned with neither sort of journey, then they are simply wandering about, without any destination whatsoever.
(This is a translation of some excerpts from a chapter in Maulana Wahiduddin Khan's book HAL YAHAN HAI ['The Solution Lies here'])