‘In this world there is a paradise. Whoever does
not experience it, will not experience the Paradise
of the Hereafter.’
In Paradise there is only peace, prosperity and happiness. For some, the very thought of this will
contrast starkly with their experience of this world. Experience of the harsh reality of the world may even make any attempt to conceive such a state very difficult. And while the fundamental nature of the world and our perception of our own place within it, has surely evolved with the onset of modernity.
Many of us, despite possessing the means to sustain a largely comfortable existence, compare ourselves to others which can leave us feeling that we are not good enough, do not have enough, are not doing enough, and so on. Anxiety, panic and depression are too often the resultant conditions, and they are on the rise. It is now a fact that one in three of us will at some point in life suffer from one or another mental health issue. In light of this, the words of Ibn Taymiyyah take on a new hue of meaning; they are a reminder and encouragement to those of us experiencing a sense of dislocation in the world—and perhaps seeking an unhealthy sense of longing for another life—that paradise has a place in this world.
Ibn Taymiyyah goes further than this, of course, and says that it is only those of us who experience the paradise of this world who can experience the Paradise of the Hereafter. But do not be fooled into thinking that such a state is obtained simply by bowing and prostrating on a prayer mat; or indeed that those experiencing one form or another of melancholy are in a low state of iman. Human states, whether spiritual, psychological or emotional are too complex to be facetiously and superficially categorised in this way; there are no simple formulas for bringing about different states of mind and being. However, there is a point to take from the comparison of the Paradise of the Hereafter and the paradisical state which Ibn Taymiyyah believes can be achieved in the life of this world.
The Paradise of the Hereafter is a timeless place, in which there is no past and no future—therein only the present exists. It is quite possible, therefore, that the experience of peace, prosperity and happiness in the Paradise of the Hereafter is a consequence of living in and embracing the moment. In Paradise, there will be no place for anxiety over what has passed or anxiety of what is yet to pass. And for this very reason, there will be no disruption to the experience of peace, prosperity and happiness.
Now, although living in the present—in the here-and-now—is no doubt something that requires a certain degree of conscious effort, and probably impossible to sustain for long, it is surely a desideratum to be sought, however and whenever possible, if even to momentarily enjoy the taste of what is promised to us in the Paradise of the Hereafter. In the words of another sage: ‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift … that is why it is called the present!’
And God knows best!
This excerpt was taken from ‘A Treasury of Ibn Taymiyyah’. If you liked this blog post and want to find out more, you can read more of Ibn Taymiyyah’s timeless thought and wisdom here.
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