“The price of eternal life is the hours of this life, but what is left to buy it with?”

Ibn Jawzi said:

“When a person look at the time spent in this world, let’s say 60 years, he can see that thirty of it is spent sleeping, fifteen or so is spent in childhood and most of what’s left goes to chasing after desires, food and money. When he accounts for what is left, he finds that much of it is nothing but showing off, and heedlessness. The price of eternal life is the hours of his life, but what is left of them for him to buy it with?” [1]

Reflection: Ibn Jawzi is asking us to reflect on what capital we have acquired, for us to buy the next world with. When we spent our time on so many worldly activities and we live in societies which are constantly reminding us of the dunya instead of the akhirah, then what good deeds will we hope to present to Allah when we meet him? Did He not say that He only created mankind and jinn to worship him? So did we do our part to fulfill this purpose of our existence? Or did we indulge ourselves in the pleasures of this life, unmindful of the hereafter and unmindful of the Creator who supplied us with His favors every single day? If only chasing this dunya would give us any sense of real pleasure, but it is like drinking from the oceans salty water. It will never quench our thirst.

A question in light of the quote: Why did Ibn Jawzi talk about the importance of actions to buy our afterlife with, when a hadith mentions that no one will enter Paradise by their actions alone? [2] And how can we reconcile the hadith with the ayah where Allah(swt) says: Enter Paradise for what you used to do.? [3] Scholars have given various explanations:

  1. One group said that a person will enter Paradise based on his deeds, but that the possibility (to perform them), guidance, sincerity and acceptance all depends on Allah(swt). [4]

  2. Another group said that a person will enter Paradise with the mercy of Allah, and then he will be raised in degrees according to his actions. [4]

No matter the case, these explanations along with the words of Ibn Jawzi shows us the importance of actions. We should not allow the years to pass by while we are heedless and unmindful of the hereafter, until we arrive bankrupt of good deeds at the Day of Regret (one of the names for the Day of Judgement). A Muslim should constantly try to improve and be “avid in what benefits him”, as mentioned by the Prophet(ﷺ) in a hadith. [5]

 

[1] Ibn al-Jawzi, Laft al-Kabid ila Nasiha al-Walad (English translation: “Sincere Counsel To The Seekers of Sacred Knowledge”)

[2] “Verily, no one will enter Paradise because of his deeds alone.”, Bukhari and Muslim

[3] Surah an-Nahl, (16:32)

[4] “A Translation and Commentary of Riyad al-Salihin”, Muslims at Work Publications

[5] Sahih Muslim

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