Reflection No. 120 on Q 42:36 – Faith and Trust in Allah
فَمَا أُوتِيتُمْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ فَمَتَاعُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَمَا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَىٰ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ
So whatever thing you are given, that is only a provision of this world’s life, and what is with Allah is better and more lasting for those who believe and rely on their Lord. Sūratush Shūrā (No. 42), Ayat 36
Life for the human being continues after death. The abode is different. Lifestyles of these two abodes are compared in the above verse. Life of this world is transient, fleeting, only a provision which can often be deceiving. It is like foam on water that quickly subsides, like a cloud of dust that settles down soon. Life of the other world on the other hand is better and long lasting. It is highly superior in quality, without any of the thorns that normally lurk behind the joys of this world. The two worlds cannot really be compared. The Holy Prophet (s) has said; Surely the world compared to the hereafter is as though one of you puts his finger in the sea and then removes it, how much of the water would he bring out? This amazing hadith tells us how little of the blessing of the Hereafter are actually present in the world.
The above verse tells us that to understand and accept this reality of the stark differences in the two worlds requires faith and trust in Allah. That is also necessary for the human being to prepare for the Hereafter, and deserve the joys that the Almighty has prepared for the believers. Without faith and trust human beings can get attached to the world and get distant from God. They can fall into grief and despair over the difficulties of life, or become exultant and over joyous over its blessings. But faith in God and reliance on Him helps them to keep the right perspective on life, and not allow themselves to be too affected by its fluctuating circumstances.
Remind yourself of this verse often. Whatever blessings you have of this world, be grateful for them. But realize that they are nothing compared to what God has reserved for the believers in the world to come. The world is not worth much at all. Like Imam Ali (a) says; The world in your eyes should be smaller than the bark of acacia and the clippings of wool (Nahjul Balagha, sermon no.32). The anticipation for a world much more superior to whatever we have in this world creates a peace of mind with worldly circumstances and a yearning for the Hereafter. That is the attitude of the believer as he traverses on this earth.
Sources: Tafsīir-e Namune, Aytaullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzi (ed); Nahjul Balāgha, Imam Ali (a)