By Muhammad al-Fateh
We often go through life complaining of a lack of motivation, a lack of purpose. We may listen to a lecture or attend halaqa occasionally, which only motivate us for a short period of time. We set short term goals that are materialistic in nature and if we do manage to reach them, they do not provide us with the kind of satisfaction we expect. This is because often times our efforts are geared towards reaching for this dunya, and the hereafter becomes merely an afterthought. Our beloved Prophet ﷺ taught us one crucial aspect of our deen that we can use to permanently motivate us and instill a sense of purpose in our lives: al-Jannah.
The Majestic Qur’an-ul-Kareem has many ‘ayaats that are filled with descriptions of Jannah. Our Lord Most High tells us about why we should be racing to do righteous deeds, when He says:
“But those who believe and do deeds of righteousness We shall soon admit to gardens with rivers flowing beneath their eternal home; therein shall they have companions pure and holy; We shall admit them to shades cool and ever deepening” (an-Nisaa, 4:57).
Allah ﷻ further gives us some details of the lives of the inhabitants of Jannah:
“For them will be Gardens of Eternity; beneath them rivers will flow; they will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and they will wear green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade; they will recline therein on raised thrones. How good the recompense! How beautiful a couch to recline on!” (al-Kahf, 18:31).
Yet another verse describes our companions in this wonderful place:
“And (there will be) Companions with beautiful big and lustrous eyes” (al-Waaqi’ah, 56:22).
These descriptions of the simplest things in Jannah should give us goosebumps and make us excited and hopeful beyond words. The lives of our Prophet ﷺ and the Sahabah (radiallahu ‘anhum) were filled with examples of their motivation and desire to achieve Jannah.
The Sahabah never missed an opportunity to exchange something from this life for that which is better in the hereafter. One such case is that of Abu Dardaa’ (radiallahu ‘anhu). A man cultivated a garden next to the property of an orphan. The orphan claimed that a palm tree in that garden was in his property, therefore belonged to him. When the man refused to give it to the orphan, the boy complained to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. Upon investigating into this matter, the palm tree did belong to the man (it was in his garden). As the orphan boy started crying upon hearing this, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ asked the man if he could give it to the orphan; the man refused. Then He ﷺ wanted to purchase this tree from the man; he refused yet again. Then the Prophet ﷺ asked the man: “would you give him the palm tree in exchange for a palm tree in Jannah?”; to which the man refused yet again. Upon hearing this, Abu Dardaa’(radiallahu ‘anhu), who had a garden of over 500 palm trees, asked the Prophet: “Ya Rasulullah, if I buy the tree from him and give it to the orphan, shall I have that tree in Jannah?” The Messenger of Allah ﷺ replied “yes”. Abu Dardaa’ then asked the man “Would you sell that tree to me for my entire garden?” The man agreed, and the transaction was made. Abu Dardaa’ then went to his home and found his wife and children playing in the garden. “Leave the garden!” he shouted to them, “We have sold it to Allah! We have sold it to Allah!” When his wife inquired why they have to give up the garden, upon hearing that Abu Dardaa’ had sold his entire garden for a single tree in Jannah, she exclaimed in joy “What a wonderful deal you have struck O Abu Dardaa’!”. This is the kind of imaan that we should hope to have, a man who sold his entire garden to get one tree in Jannah, and his wife being pleased with it just as much as he is. When Abu Dardaa’ (radiallahu ‘anhu) was later martyred in the battle of Uhud, RasulAllah ﷺ stood over his slain body and remarked, “How many shady palm trees does Abu Dardaa’ now have in Paradise!”
Another example from the lives of the Sahabah is that of Haaritha and his mother Ummu Haaritha (radiallahu ‘anhum). Haaritha (radiallahu ‘anhu) was a young boy and he was his mother’s only, child; he was the coolness of her eyes, and her pleasure was seeing him happy and healthy. This young boy desired to go out for Jihad with the Prophet ﷺ, and his mother had prepared him for this. Despite a mother’s fear of losing her child, despite the risk of death and injury befalling Haaritha, her desire for her son was higher than anything in this life, it was Jannah. When Haaritha (radiallahu ‘anhu) went to battle with the Prophet ﷺ and the Muslimeen, they came upon a well, which the Prophet ﷺ had asked them to protect at night to prevent enemies from taking it over. In the middle of the night, as the Muslim army was camping, Haaritha (radiallahu ‘anhu) woke up thirsty, and so made his way to the well to have a drink from it. One of the companions saw him from far, and mistaking for an enemy, shot his arrow at him. When he went to investigate, he found to his sorrow that he in fact had killed Haaritha (radiallahu ‘anhu). A Muslim had mistakenly killed another Muslim. After the battle, Ummu Haaritha was frantically searching for her child, and as she was asking the Muslimeen whether Haaritha was martyred, some unknowingly replied that he may not have been martyred since he was killed by a Muslim. She raced towards the Prophet ﷺ and out of her love for her son was crying out to him, demanding that Haaritha made it to Jannah. Upon hearing this, the Prophet replied: “Are you mad O Ummu Haaritha? Haaritha is indeed a martyr! And he has conquered many Jannahs, and has reached the highest ranking Jannah, al-Firdous al a’laa”. Al Haaritha’s intention was nothing but to achieve Jannah, and his mother groomed him for this illustrious achievement. And Allah had answered their call. The Prophet ﷺ himself expressed a desire for a blessed place in Jannah, known as al-Wasilah. Even though he is a prophet and a messenger of Allah, he is a human being; and when the news of al-Wasilah was revealed to him, his heart desired it immediately and he requested the Sahabah and the Muslimeen to ask Allah to grant him this status in Jannah. He ﷺ said: “Ask Allah to grant me al-Wasilah, for indeed it is a place in Paradise that is for only one servant from among Allah’s servants, and I hope to be that one” [Sahih Muslim, 384).
If we used Jannah to motivate us the same way the Sahabah ikraam and the Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to be motivated by it, we would indeed achieve the same imaan and perhaps the same result in the hereafter as them, bi idhnillah. Let us make Jannah our ultimate target, and strive throughout our lives to achieve it. May Allah grant us Jannat-ul-Firdous, may He grant al-Wasilah to our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, and may He increase us in beneficial knowledge. Ameen. And Allah knows best.