This is a topic that has been exacerbated by columnists, YouTube lecturers, Ramadan Sheikhs on Twitter and just about any well-to-do man or woman of religion. Worldly attachment.
Nevertheless, why do we keep forgetting this? I’m going to shed my own personal experience with this to clarify the dangerous spiral we as humans face when we mix up our priorities.
Around this time last year, I had just completed law school, but my dreams of becoming a lawyer had been slashed to pieces when the claws of nepotism and the economic conditions which swung against my favour, voided me of the opportunity of securing a training contract. It was a bitter pill of reality I had to swallow, and convincing my parents that there were other jobs (prestigious ones) outside of becoming a lawyer, were themselves trials. (I know you know what I’m talking about)
I was unemployed for 10 months. Which was mind numbing and soul wrenching. I hoard way too much nervous energy to sit at home everyday. But I also had no money to “enjoy” my (excessive) free time, or any real creativity to fill up spare moments except continuously pour myself over the Internet and look for jobs. All this culminates in staring at the wretchedness of my “job list”. An A4 sheet of paper where I would write down every single job I would apply for, and then hatch out the name in biro, whenever I would subsequently receive the rejection e-mail.
147 jobs. 256 including training contracts when I was still holding onto dreams of becoming a lawyer.
“When will my time come?” I would often ask myself. I knew of no one else having as much difficulty as I did at the time. Or at least, in my ego-centricity, I didn’t feel anyone else was.
Had I not done all the right things?
Had I not gotten good grades? Had I not spent my summers gaining work experience?
What was I doing wrong?!
Pathetically, yet in despair, I felt I was outside the folds of God’s mercy.
All I wanted was a job. A job would solve so many problems.
Then guess what? I got one. A good one. In an office in one of the towering blocks of steel and glass in the City of London. Then guess what? It didn’t make me happy, and 6 months later, whilst I am grateful that I now have the means to build my life and I praise God every day for the opportunity, it has not by any means solved the many problems I thought it would.
What am I getting at here? Fundamentally – I filled my heart for a deep longing for something materialistic, something only relevant to this dunya. A job is important and is sustenance from Allah. But there’s a line to be drawn – when the focus on your attention deviates from the creator, the void we all feel within our hearts will never be filled.
Another important lesson I learnt from all this is that we are never outside the realm of our Creator’s mercy. Each time I would scribble out an old job I had applied for after being rejected, that same day I would see an opening for another one. I no longer see those 256 applications as rejections or reminders of my undesirability but rather, 256 opportunities.
Would I want to go through the process again? Not particularly. However, the lessons I learnt were invaluable, and if ever a time comes where I even remotely misplace my trust in God, or if I convince myself that something or someone other than He will make me happy. Then I am prepared to fall over 255 times again.