In the Name of Allaah the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
Allaah says in Qur’an chapter 102 Surat At-Takathur verses 1-2 that; “The mutual rivalry (for piling up of worldly things) diverts you, Until you visit the graves (i.e. till you die)”
Undoubtedly, a toddler looks up to his toys as his worldly passion as long as it satisfies the desire, brings entertainments, just as his parents would obviously look onwards to bigger dreams of accomplishments through the night and in the morning, all these race for different endeavors coupled with a sound intellect has got to be one of the greatest gifts on earth.
And Allaah says; “And whoever is grateful, truly his gratitude is for (the good of) his own self; and whoever is ungrateful (he is ungrateful only) for the loss of his own self). Certainly, my Lord is Rich (Free of all needs), Bountiful. Qur’an 27v40.
Today, in this world of ours, people are competing and racing with one another towards amassing material things; wealth, mischief and many confused goals.
Whereas Allaah says in Qur’an chapter 102 Surat At-Takathur verses 1-2 that; “The mutual rivalry (for piling up of worldly things) diverts you, Until you visit the graves (i.e. till you die)”
Many on the wrong path are energetic while those on the right path are lethargic and dazed.
Although, envy is seriously condemned in Islam but there is a hadith recorded by Imam Al-Nawawi in his book called “The Meadows of the Righteous” popularly known by its arabic name “Riyad-us-Saliheen” that on the strength of Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (Radiya Allaahu anhu) the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Envy is permitted only in two cases: A man whom Allaah gives wealth, and he disposes of it rightfully, and a man to whom Allaah gives knowledge which he applies and teaches it,”
The Arabic word used in the hadith is ‘Ghibtah’ the equivalent of which cannot be found in English language, and the meaning of which is to wish to enjoy things which others have, such as wealth and knowledge, without wishing that they should be deprived of them to your exclusive benefit. Ma shaa Allaah to those who possess Ghibtah as opposed to the corrosive envy.
It is upon this that I base my write-up. I urge you to kindly follow me and let us take a cool ride through the world of the Glorious Qur’an and have some interesting stop overs that will spur us to a worthy race.
The worthy race in the context of most human could be political, sport driven, or societal driven, including inventions, but the Qur’an’ic context in Surah Al-Ma’idah verse 48, which says in Arabic; “Fastabiqul khayrat” translated as “in good ways, compete with one another” stated boldly a definite race towards good only which is contrary to human understanding of race.
It is not about running from pillar to post without a positive purpose it is more than that as can be deduced from Ibn Katheer’s explanation of the above verse that described it as ; (so strive as in a race in good deeds) which are obedience to Allaah, following His Law that abrogated the laws that came before it, and believing in His Book, the Qur’an, which is the Final Book that He revealed.
In another part, Qur’an chapter 57 Surah Al-Hadid verse 21, and Allaah says; “Race with one another in hastening towards forgiveness from your Lord (Allaah) and Paradise the width whereof is as the width of the heaven and the earth prepared for those who believe in Allaah and His Messengers.”
Meanwhile, Musnad of Imam Ahamd had it recorded with authenticity that the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Paradise is nearer to any of you than the strap on his shoe, and so is the (Hell) Fire.”
Also in Qur’an chapter 3 Surah Al-Imran verse 133 Almighty Allaah says; “And march forth in the way (which leads) to forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as the heavens, and the earth, prepared for those who have Taqwa (piety).
An apt example from understanding of noble Companions (may Allaah be pleased with them) of RasulAllaah (may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) about the race, is that they would race with one another in good deeds and not in Allaah’s disobedience or ostentatious display.
An instance was in the two Sahihs (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) where it was recorded that once the poor emigrants said to the Messenger of Allaah:
“O Allaah’s Messenger! The wealthy people will get higher grades and permanent enjoyment. He (saw) asked: “Why is it that”, They said; “They pray like us and fast as we do. However, they give in charity, whereas we cannot do that, and they free servants (slaves) whereas we cannot afford it.” The Prophet (saw) said: “Shall I tell you of good deed that, if you acted upon, you would catch up with those who have surpassed you and none would overtake you and be better than you, except those who might do the same. Say “Glorious is Allaah,” “Allaah is Most Great.” And “Praise be to Allaah” thirty three times after every prayer. They (the poor emigrants) later came back and said, “Our wealthy brethren heard what we did and they started doing the same. “Allaah’s messenger (saw) said, “This is the favor of Allaah that He gives to whom He wills.
The question is, is this the reality of both the poor and the wealthy of this Ummah? I’m afraid most of the wealthy have ill-gotten wealth hence Allaah will not accept it from them except they repent and return back what rightfully belongs to the public, and the poor is busy thinking of how to become extremely wealthy by any means necessary hence, the two categories are suffering from an amnesia of purpose.
Qur’an chapter 37 Surah As-Saffat where Allaah described in details, the lofty condition of the people of Paradise and crowned it up at the 60th and the 61st verses by saying; “Truly, this is the Supreme success! For the like of this (Jannah) let the workers work, it shows that the race is beyond the usual race that most humans engage in.
And for the purpose of this write-up, Qur’an chapter 83 Surah Al-Mutaffifin is to serve as reminder because Allaah says; “Verily, Al-Abraar (the pious believers of Islamic Monotheism) will be in Delight (Paradise). On thrones, looking (at all things). You will recognize in their faces the brightness of delight. They will be given to drink of pure sealed (wine). The last thereof (that wine) will be the smell of musk, and for this let (all) those strive who want to strive (i.e. hasten earnestly to the obedience of Allaah)- verses 22-26.
Even though human and its environs are surrounded by mother nature with enormous influences, his major thought of how to out race one another in good deeds should be a dominant aspiration, for in that is the Ultimate goal of Allaah’s Forgiveness and Paradise the width of which is as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for those who have Taqwa.
Out race one another by responding faster than anyone in a gathering when it comes to donation in the cause of Allaah, reading more of Qur’anic pages than other peers do will also serve the purpose but by all means Ikhlas (sincerity of purpose) should be the pivot, for these noble endeavors would be profitable than investing on a business that its return brings more harms than good.
The worldly and worthy race of every man should include standing up during most part of the night in Tahajjud to increase ones spirituality, as well as being foremost in rejecting any illegal transaction that will make one an instant millionaire devoid of legitimacy.
Also, be the first to shun any glorified betrayal of trust in your nation and extend a pitiful gesture to them rather than a respectful one.
I could go on listing but I guess your intellectual minds will fill in the many gaps of racing towards good. May Allaah equip us with the sufficient zeal to constantly engage ourselves in a healthy spiritual race.