Is the statement "Work for this world as if you will never die, and work for the hereafter as if you will die tomorrow" a hadith? If it is a hadith, how should it be understood?
Submitted by on Tue, 10/10/2017 - 16:08
Dear Brother / Sister,
The meaning of the hadith is as follows:
“Work like a person who thinks he will never die and be cautious as if you will die tomorrow.” (Jamius-Saghir, II/12, Hadith No:1201)
This narration encourages working for the hereafter, not for the world. That is, people tend to work for the world; therefore, this statement encourages people to work for the hereafter as much as they work for the world.
This hadith indicates that it is necessary to deal with both worldly and otherworldly affairs seriously. A person who will die tomorrow abandons all of his worldly affairs and tends to his otherworldly affairs sincerely and seriously. A person who will never die thinks that what he will do must be sound and durable so that he will make use of them for a long time in the future. From this point of view, the hadith attracts attention to the necessity of doing both worldly and otherworldly things carefully.
It is enough to remind the people who work very hard for the world and who forget the hereafter by saying it is necessary to work “for the world as if one will never die” the second part of the hadith that it is necessary to workfor the hereafter as if one will die tomorrow.
There are similar narrations too:
“Work for the world like a person who thinks he will never die and fear sins like a person who thinks he will die tomorrow." (Munawi, Faydul-Qadir, II/12; Kanzul-Ummal, III/40, h.n. 5379)
“The best one among you is the one that does not abandon the world for the hereafter and does not abandon the hereafter for the world.” (Kanzul-Ummal, III/238, h.n. 6336)
These hadiths and similar ones are hadiths showing that Islam establishes a balance between the world and the hereafter. Islam does not accept abandoning the world completely like the monks of Christians; nor does it accept pursuing the world with ambition as if adoring the world like Jewish people. Islam advises people to work for both the world and the hereafter.
We can remember the following verses, which confirms it:
“There are men who say: ‘Our Lord! Give us (Thy bounties) in this world!’ but they will have no portion in the Hereafter. And there are men who say: ‘Our Lord! Give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter, and defend us from the torment of the Fire!’” (al-Baqara, 2/200-201)
It is stated in the Quran that those who advised Qarun (Croesus) said,
“"But seek, with the (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on thee, the Home of the Hereafter, nor forget thy portion in this world: but do thou good, as Allah has been good to thee...” (al-Qasas, 28/77)
Badiuzzaman Said Nursi states the following by pointing out the same truth:
“Whereas for the balance between this world and the next to be preserved, and to remain perpetually between hope and fear, living and dying have to be possible every moment.” (see Sözler: Words, Yirmi Dördüncü Söz: Twenty-Fourth Word)
The Quran and hadiths always emphasize that the world is ephemeral and that we have to prepare for the hereafter, which is our real abode. If we combine those two types of advice and guidance, it is necessary to state the following:
"Man was created for the hereafter; therefore, he has to spend all his life in the world to gain the hereafter. However, while doing so, he must not ignore the worldly affairs and he must not do them shoddily; on the contrary, he has to use them as a means of gaining the hereafter by doing them properly with good intentions."
Badiuzzaman Said Nursi states that the intense feelings in man were given to gain the hereafter and the weak feelings to arrange the worldly affairs:
"Matters to do with this world are like pieces of glass that will be broken, while the lasting matters of the hereafter are as precious as flawless diamonds.
"The intense curiosity, fervent love, terrible greed, stubborn desires, and other intense innate human emotions were given to gain the matters of the hereafter. To direct them fervently towards the transitory things of this world is to give the price of eternal diamonds for doomed fragments of glass.”
"If man uses the faculties given to him on account of the soul and this world, and behaves heedlessly as though he were going to remain here for ever, they will be the cause of bad morals and will be misspent and futile.
"But if he expends the lesser of them on the matters of this world and the more intense of them on spiritual duties and tasks pertaining to the hereafter, they become the source of laudable morals and the means to happiness in this world and the next in conformity with wisdom and reality." (see Mektubat: Letters, Dokuzuncu Mektub: Ninth Letter)
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Different evaluations are made for the love of world. Some people think of nothing but the worldly pleasures while others oppose all kinds of worldly pleasures and say it is necessary to work only for the hereafter.
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