Today was just like any other day. I performed the same tasks as I had done yesterday, the day before, and the day before that day; however, something occurred to me towards the end of my day that I had never thought about until I had a conversation with a co-worker. The conversation that we had ran for thirty minutes to an hour over trivial things. Nevertheless, these trivial things soon turned into a conversation about life. In our conversation I realized that our lives should be seen as moments to be cherished before our souls are taken by death.
One thing I never knew about my co-worker was the fact that she was was battling cancer, but she never complained about her condition or showed dissatisfaction with life. She asked me what I wanted to do in life and I told her that I was working towards the end of my two degrees in Communication-Studies and Secondary-Education. Her face lit up and she smiled. She told me that she taught as a Special-Education teacher for some time until she was diagnosed with cancer over a year ago. She said she was saddened to leave her job because she loves the youth, but she couldn't deal with cancer and working as a teacher at the same time. In her love for the youth she told me that she loves working with the youth and finds this passion to be a form of liberation in the chaos of life. In this part of our conversation I realized that at any time our lives can become stricken with illness, and the things that we love doing can stop due to illness. The prophet Muhammad told us that we should take care of five things before five things take over us, and one of these things is good health before we are stricken with poor-health. Sadly, I think about the fact that sometimes I don’t take advantage of the time I have and spend it worrying about school and work. The way my coworker spoke about her love for youth and working with them caused me to think about my own passions and interests. I enjoy reading and researching, so I have taken out time to doing these things even if it simply consists of reading a small column in the daily paper for my daily-dose of enjoyment. Many times we become so preoccupied with working or tending to our obligations that we lose touch with ourselves and finding our own personal escape.
The prophet Muhammad was a great example in how he balanced a life that was purposeful, but fulfilling. The prophet Muhammad was a man that played the role of many actors in his community. He was a husband to his wives, a friend, a leader, a judge, a warrior, a prophet, and a man with humanly needs and wants. In taking from the example of the prophet’s life we can see the importance of appreciating the moments we experience in our own personal lives. He would consult, spend time and take out time to listen to his wives even with the weight of the whole Muslim-community on him as a prophet and leader. He would take time out to teach the women of the community their religion, and he was always available to answer questions about personal problems. He even would inquire about the bird of a young boy who he would see through the city. The prophet Muhammad was indeed the best example in showing us how we should take out time to tend to our personal needs and wants. We should live a fruitful life that entails obligations to God, obligations towards others, and fulfilling our own interests. In the example of the prophet Muhammad it serves as a constant reminder that we should satisfy all aspects of the human-experience. The conversation I had today really made me think about the importance of taking the moments we have and enjoying them. The prophet Muhammad showed us this in his example and made us mindful that life is a gift and all of our moments should be cherished even in the case of death.
When I was the tender age of ten I experienced a loss in my family. My great-grandmother had passed away. On the day of my great-grandmother’s passing; my father, brother, and I were heading to get her some McDonald’s fries. As we were leaving McDonald’s and heading to the nursing home where she took residence my father received a phone call disclosing the sad reality that she had passed only a few minutes prior to the phone-call. Sadly, I had only seen my great-grandmother only a few times before her passing and never knew a lot about her. I really can’t say I had an attachment to my great-grandmother nor any real attachment, but I knew she was my elder. Tears didn't race down my face as you probably would think, but they did come since I knew my father had lost someone close to him. In Islam, Muslims are commanded to hold close with their kith and kin and to not sever the line of kinship. Some of us may find ourselves busy with working, thus not exposing ourselves to our children, spouses, or friends as often as we would like. Sadly, this keeps us from experiencing the beauty of family and its purpose. Honestly, I wish I could’ve spent more time with my great-grandmother, but I can’t go back in time to change what has been decreed and decided. We can only learn from our experiences and hopefully make our next moments something to cherish. We shouldn't keep ourselves away from family-members because of trivial reasons, such as work or school. We should strive to see our family-members and to know them on a personal level. Families are the backbone to our communities and the support-system that we have when needing motivation and help. Asma, the daughter of Abu Bakr, told the prophet Muhammad that she didn’t want to see her mother due to the fact she was non-Muslim, but the prophet Muhammad told her to go to her mother since her mother was not trying to fight her in the religion. This command by the prophet Muhammad is really fundamental when thinking about our relationships and how we shouldn't neglect the people we are closely tied to in blood or by marriage, even if they are not of the same religion. A majority of my own family is non-Muslim, but I take every moment with my parents, aunts, cousins, and uncles as moments to appreciate. Islam teaches the Muslim that life isn't going to last forever, so take life as the first and final shot that you have in making your mark in your personal-life and in the lives of others around you.
One of the biggest goals in my life is to perform hajj when I am young and strong in order to fulfill the rites required of this obligation. In listening to the comments made by older individuals I have learnt that youth-hood is a time in which one should perform important tasks, such as hajj due to its strenuous requirements. Recently, I spoke to a mother in her thirties and she told me that if she knew the importance of being strong and physically-active with children she would've married younger. Sometimes we put-off doing things in our youth because we feel there will always be time to do what we want or that our health will, inshAllah, not become bad. This mentality is very common and it is really a huge mistake among the youth. Some youth may not fast during the month of Ramadhan, thus not reaping the benefits and rewards of this act of worship. Some youth may even claim to begin this act of worship once they get older and most of us know that fasting is not easy, especially during the summer. The prophet Muhammad taught us that we should spend our youth in doing good deeds and doing what we need to before old age comes upon us. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget this, especially for those in their youth and experiencing the life of this world. The daily action of praying can become a hardship for a person in old age, especially with problems including the knees and back. The things that we find simple in youth can become a huge hardship for us in old age. In seeing my own father performing the daily prayers with the need of a chair due to health-problems I see the importance of taking my own youth-hood as being a vital time in appreciating good health. Living as a youth can be fast-paced, but it shouldn't be taken as a time to dismiss obligations or to down-play the importance of good-health. Nevertheless, the prophet Muhammad will always remain a great example for the youth to look to in this regards, but also there were young companions around the prophet Muhammad. Many of the men and women around the prophet Muhammad were striving for the sake of Islam, but at the same time they were human-beings that engaged in personal interests. Islam is really about striking that balance in life and finding fulfillment within the limitations of Islam. I think this is the true beauty of Islam because Islam provides purpose, guidance, and fulfillment of personal needs that we may have in our lives.
I believe that finding contentment with life will drive a person in feeling great happiness. The prophet Muhammad told us that we shouldn't look toward individuals above us, but we should look at those below us so we can be grateful for the things we do have in our lives. This hadith is really important for many of us in our lives because we are surrounded by materialism and encouraged to indulge in the things that are around us. It becomes an expectation to live an extravagant lifestyle, or to live a lifestyle that we can’t afford within our means, so instead of finding dissatisfaction with the things we have we should be grateful. In many ways this prevents a person from being worried with what the next person has and becomes accepting of what God has provided for him or her. Also, in accepting the decree or will of God it leaves a person filling satisfied and fulfilled even with little or nothing. This makes a person appreciate their life a lot more due to the fact that material items are not the end-all-be-all of this life. This just goes back to the reality that our lives are moments and each moment should be something to cherish.
In wrapping up, the conversation that I had today with my co-worker was really a chance for me to reflect deeply about the reality of my own life. The moments that are placed in front of us are not always granted because death can take our souls at any moment just like in the case of my great-grandmother. I didn't take out the initiative to learn or to know about her, but I learned after her death the importance of family and of spending my youth doing good deeds. The prophet Muhammad has shown us in many ways how life is about balancing between the different roles that we may have to play, but at the same time within these roles we should cherish each moment. Our lives are filled with moments, but are the moments that we experience ones that we can truly say are cherished?