EXCESSIVE AMBITIONS IN THIS WORLDLY LIFE – I

EXCESSIVE AMBITIONS IN THIS WORLDLY LIFE – I

Having excessive ambitions in this worldly life is one of the greatest diseases of the heart. What is the meaning of this disease? What are its harmful consequences? What is its treatment?

Meaning of Excessive Ambitions in this Worldly Life:

Having excessive ambitions in this worldly life is to continuously strive for its pleasures and persistently indulge in its luxuries whilst turning away from the Hereafter. Allah The Almighty Says (what means):{…And be diverted by [false] hope…} [Quran 15:3] Commenting on this verse, Al-Qurtubi  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “Their excessive ambitions in this worldly life turned them away from obeying Allah.” Ibn Hajar  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “There is an important rationale behind ambitions in this worldly life. Having ambitions in this worldly life is not totally dispraised as without it no one would be able to enjoy his life or look forward to doing anything that is related to this world. What is dispraised is having extensive ambitions in this worldly life and not preparing for the Hereafter. As long as a person is safe from this, he is not required to totally abstain from having ambitions in this world. Ignorance and love for this world are the causes behind this disease.”

Having Excessive Ambitions in this Worldly Life is Dispraised in the Quran:

There are many verses in the Quran that dispraise having excessive ambitions in this worldly life. The Noble Quran uses multiple modes of address to warn people against this incurable and destructive disease. For example Allah The Almighty Says (what means):

• {Perhaps those who disbelieve will wish that they had been Muslims. Let them eat and enjoy themselves and be diverted by [false] hope, for they are going to know.} [Quran 15:2-3]

• When talking about the Jews, Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {And you will surely find them the most greedy of people for life – [even] more than those who associate others with Allah. One of them wishes that he could be granted life a thousand years, but it would not remove him in the least from the [coming] punishment that he should be granted life. And Allah Is Seeing of what they do.} [Quran 2:96]

• {[Allah] will Say: “How long did you remain on earth in number of years?” They will say: “We remained a day or part of a day; ask those who enumerate.” He will Say: “You stayed not but a little – if only you had known. Then did you think that We created you uselessly and that to Us you would not be returned?”} [Quran 23:112-115]

• {Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth? And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before, and a long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are defiantly disobedient.} [Quran 57:16]

Having Excessive Ambitions in this Worldly Life is Dispraised in the Sunnah:

The Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  warned his Ummah (nation) against having extensive ambitions in this worldly life, as it is likely to drive the person away from obeying Allah. It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him that he said, “I heard the Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  saying: 

‘The heart of an old man remains young in two respects: his love for this worldly life and his excessive ambitions in it.’ ” 

[Al-Bukhari]

It was narrated on the authority of Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, that he said, “The Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  once drew a few lines and said: 

‘This is [man’s] ambitions, and this is the instance of his death, and while he is in this state [of ambitions], the nearer line [death] comes to Him.’ ” 

[Al-Bukhari] It was narrated on the authority of Ibn Mas‘ood, may Allah be pleased with him, that he said, “The Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  once drew a square and then drew a line in the middle of it and let it extend outside the square and then drew several small lines attached to that central line, and said: 

“This is the human being, and this [square] is his lease of life which encircles or has encircled him, and this [line] which is outside [the square], represents his ambitions, and these small lines are the calamities and troubles [which may befall him], and if one misses him, another will overtake him, and if the other misses him, a third will overtake him.’ ” 

[Al-Bukhari]

It was narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, that he said,: “The Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  took hold of my shoulder and said: ‘Be in this world as if you are a stranger or a traveler.’ ” The sub-narrator added, “Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, would say, ‘If you survive till the evening, do not expect to be alive in the morning, and if you survive till the morning, do not expect to be alive in the evening; and take from your health for your sickness, and [take] from your life for your death.’” 

[Al-Bukhari]

It was narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him and his father, that he said, “The Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  said to a man while advising him: 

‘Utilize five things before the coming of another five: your youth before your decrepitude, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your leisure before your work, and your life before your death.’ ” 

[Al-Haakim narrated this Hadeeth according to the conditions of Al-Bukhari and Muslim, however they did not narrate it. Ath-Thahabi agreed with him.]

It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  said:

“Take the initiative to do good deeds before you are hindered by one of seven calamities: poverty that makes you forget the remembrance of Allah, prosperity that leads you to transgression, an ailment that damages your health, old age that makes you lose your senses, a sudden death, the Antichrist which is an evil yet to come, or the Hour, which is indeed even more disastrous and even more bitter.” 

[At-Tirmithi – Hasan]

When the Prophet  sallallaahu  alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )  was asked about the scriptures of Moosa (Moses), may Allah exalt his mention, he replied:

“It was all full of lessons. I wonder at a person who is certain of death and can still be happy. I wonder at a person who is certain of Hell and can still laugh. I wonder at a person who believes in fate and still grieves over hardships that befall him. I wonder at a person who sees this world and how its wellbeing never lasts for people and can still feel safe in it. I wonder at a person who believes that the Day of Reckoning is soon to come and still does not perform righteous deeds.” 

[Al-Bayhaqi and Al-Bazzaar]