In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
"Anyone who obeys the Messenger has obeyed God..." (Nisaa 4:80)
AFTER graduating from the School of Mass Communication ITM (now known as UiTM) some 35 years ago, I worked as a stringer for NSTP in its branch office in Taman Melaka Raya, Melaka. There I befriended a young man who run a fruit stall at a corner of a 'lorong' (lane) just in front of the NSTP office.
I really admired him, not because of his good looks (he was always seen with his cowboy hat) but of 'this unique trait of him' - whenever the 'adzan' (call of prayers) was on air, he would leave his stall unattended - but 'his business' would be still on for he had left a bowl with small sign board with the word 'Maaf tauke pergi solat, sila layan diri' (Sorry I had gone for prayers, please serve yourself).
This friend of mine was not too concerned about his trade when he went do perform his 'solat'. He left his business including fruits and collection money into 'the hands of Allah SWT' and I had witnessed how honest were his regular customers putting their payments in the bowl (some even made changes) and 'the best part of it' nobody dared to steal money from his bowl.
During 'those youthful years' I was not concerned to perform my prayers at the 'masjid' and at the earliest time possible, but choose to do it later, especially during my 'free time' for example saying the 'zuhur' (mid day prayer) alone at 2:30 or 3:00 pm in the office 'surau'.
Only years and years later that I 'was made to realize' that 'the best way' to perform all five obligatory prayers (subuh, zuhur, asar, maghrib and isyak) are in the masjid in 'jemaah' (congregation) and all Muslims male should stop their activities and headed to the masjid when the 'adzan' is on air.
'Subhanallah', only later on that I realized that the fruit seller which I befriended was indeed an example of an individual who choose to trade 'the pleasures of the world' to the promise of Allah SWT for a rewarding life in the Hereafter.
After all, life in this world is nothing compared to the Hereafter. To the 'learned' the world 'is only a stepping stone' for one to gather as much as 'benefits' as possible to be taken to the Hereafter. It is only a place to sow seeds but the fruits shall be reaped in the Hereafter.
An 'ustaz' (religious teacher) during a 'tazkirah (lesson) at a masjid near my house said, the duration of our life in the world (say 60-70 years) is only about two and a half hours compared with the next world which is for eternity. So it is really a very big mistake we put so much effort for our worldly gains and benefits in this world but forget our share in the Hereafter.
The correct way is to follow the path shown by Allah SWT. From the Quran (Surah al-Baqarah 2:201), we recited this popular 'du'a': 'Rabbana atina fid-dunya hasanatan wa fil 'akhirati hasanatan waqina 'adhaban-nar" with the meaning: "Our Lord! Grant us good in this world and good in the Hereafter, and save us from the chastisement of the fire."
In Islam, examples of figures who traded their world for the Hereafter were two of the best companions of the Prophets. During a war campaign when the Prophets asked Muslims to help to finance it, Abu Bakr As-Siddiq gave all his properties while Umar Al-Khattab donated half of his belongings. To Abu Bakr, the Prophet s.a.w. asked: "What did you leave for your family?" Abu Bakr answered: "God and His Prophet."
In the Qu'ran (Surah an-Nisa' 4.74), Allah SWT says: "So let those who trade the life of this world for the Hereafter fight in God's cause. Whoever fights in God's cause, whether he is killed or victorious, We will grant him a tremendous reward."
If there are persons who traded their worldly lives for the Hereafter; there also persons who traded their Hereafter for the pleasures of the world which is too short.
The 'ustaz' said examples of such persons are those who read the Qur'an only for worldly gains such as to be famous, rich, powerful and cured from illness. Then there are those who perform prayers such as 'solat hajat' just for worldly pleasures such as being successful in examinations for example scoring in UPSR and SPM. "Insya-Allah' (God willing) they would gain what they desired, but is that the reason for doing our religious obligations?" he asked.
Then there are people who seemed not to bother at all about their fate in the Hereafter. Many are madly in the 'rat race chase' - their lives are only to fulfill their desires; they work, eat and play and have no time even to say 'thank you' (Alhamdulillah) to their Creator such as performing the 'solat'. Look around us, we could see many people including 'tudung' clad ladies wasting 'the short period of maghrib prayers' at 'pasar malam' (night market) and eating places.
Some seemed like animals; Allah SWT says in the Qur'an: They are like cattle, who only think about what it eats, and does not think about the future and prepare for another life. They are not only like cattle but even worse, because cattle obey Allah in reasons of its creation. This is reflected in Surah al-Furqan where it says: "They are only like cattle - nay, they are even further astray from the Path - even worse than cattle." (Al-Qur'an 25: 44)
Come on brothers and sisters; we cannot trade the Hereafter for this temporary life which is just about two and a half hours. It is said that if one desires the Hereafter then this world will come rushing towards that person but the person who chases this world then they will only get what was meant for him and nothing more.
Allah informs man about the insignificance and deceptive allure of the world in the Qur'an: "Know you (all), that the life of this world is but play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting and multiplying (in rivalry) among yourselves, riches and children. Here is a similitude: how rain and the growth which it brings forth delight (the hearts of) the tillers; soon it withers; you will see it grow yellow; then it becomes dry and crumbles away. But in the Hereafter is a penalty severe (for the devotees of wrong). And forgiveness from Allah and (His) good pleasure (for the devotees of Allah). And what is the life of this world, but goods and chattels of deception? (Surat al-Hadid: 20)
True wealth belongs to those believers who never show an inner interest in possessions in this world and truly believe that only Allah gives everything to man. These are actually the really wealthy people in this world; they do not limit their lives to a mere 60-70 years. Believers engage in the best trade by obtaining paradise in exchange for this life. They prefer permanent instead of temporary wealth. Allah informs us about this in the following verse:
Allah has purchased from the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the Garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth, through the Taurah, the Gospel, and the Qur'an: and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? Then rejoice in the bargain which you have concluded: that is the achievement supreme. (Surat at-Taubah: 111)