إِلَى اللَّهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا
Ilallāhi marji‘ukum jamī‘ā
To Allah is your return, all of you.
(Sūratul Mā’idah, No. 5, Āyat 105)
Every human being in this world is on a journey towards God. The return to God is the destination, when the journey will end. But the idea of the return to God can be perplexing. What exactly does it mean? Have we been away from God? Yet we know that we are always with God, even when we are in this world. Is it that we will be closer to God than we are just now?
Closeness to God or distance from Him is not in the physical sense. God is not in a particular place that human beings can reach there and be near Him. It has a spiritual meaning. The return to Allah does not mean becoming closer to Him. There are people in this world who are close to Him spiritually. And there will be people who after death will still be distant from God. Closeness and distance from God has nothing to do with physical space and everything to do with the deeds of the human being.
Many scholars have explained that return to Allah means the return to the place of origin where it will become completely evident that Allah is the Creator and the King of all things. Human beings will return to their first home and be free of all the restrictions of life of this world. The veils of this world will be torn away and they will see things clearly for the first time. It will be how things should actually be seen. Life of this world clouded the vision. Hence it is the return to the original sight or insight of things.
The conviction that the eventual return is to God creates a whole new perspective of life. It brings about the following changes in attitude:
1) Nothing else is as significant. When all things will end with the eventual return, the return becomes the focus of life. The journey does not matter so much, nor the traveling companions. It is the destination that is most important. That is why Imam Ali (a) says about the Muttaqīn: Their Creator is so great in their eyes that all else seems small to them (Nahjul Balāgha, Sermon193)
2) Preparations must be made. The time to prepare properly for the meeting is limited and fraught with many distractions. Yet the entire outcome of the meeting depends on the preparations for it. Hence believers are serious about the task. It is foolish to get caught up with things that lead you away from the path. Allah says: So take the lead in all good works, to Allah shall be the return of you all (Q 5:48)
3) Reliance on Him. Knowing that all things return to Allah and will be eventually judged by Him creates a reliance on Him which brings a lot of relief. Trust in God is the natural outcome of a conviction about the return. Allah says: and to Him all matters are returned, so worship Him and trust in Him. (Q 11:123)
4) Higher threshold of tolerance. To go through an affliction knowing that all things return to Allah decreases the intensity of the pain of the affliction. It brings comfort to know that it will pass and things will change, and that the eventual end will take into consideration all that has been borne. Nothing else can help as much in times of distress. Allah says: and give good news to the patient, those who when a misfortune befalls them, say: Surely we are Allah’s and to Him we shall surely return. (Q 2:155 – 156)
Recite this verse often. It will give you comfort and peace, and will remind you that all things eventually go back to Him. There is no need to stress about small things that happen along the way.
Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāziī (ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūne;
Agha Muhsin Qarā’atī, Tafsīr-e Nūr;