What Can we do to Ensure Jannah

What to do to ensure that we make it to Jannah (to the best of our ability)? This is an important question that would take a an entire volume to answer if not more. I want to attempt to look at it briefly for now and perhaps look at expanding on it further in later posts inshaaAllah.

We all want to make it to Jannah and avoid Jahannum. While nobody can foretell the ultimate fate in the hereafter there (because we don’t know how we will live the rest of our lives and how we will die), there are steps we must take in order to ensure to the best of our abilities that we achieve this ultimate success and avoid the ultimate loss.

The Quran and Sunnah/Hadith of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) spell out the lifestyle we must engage in to succeed. This lifestyle is comprehensive and includes correct intention, correct words/utterances and correct actions and avoiding wrong ones.

To make the task easier, Allah has put in everyone a Fitrah where they would innately recognize good and evil. Furthermore, there is nothing that has been left unexplained: Allah in the Quran addresses everything needed for our salvation and the Prophet (ﷺ) gave details and explained and showed by his own practice how to achieve it. We need only to rely on the Quran and Hadith to get the full picture of what is require.

If we do what is required of us (obligatory actions) and avoid what we have been forbidden to do and stay away from what is doubtful, we would certainly succeed. All of the possible categories of actions that are required are spelled out and examples given (so there is no ambiguities) and all of the actions that are forbidden are spelled out and explained so there is no excuse if we still do them. Finally, out of Allah’s infinite Mercy, we also have the blessing of forgiveness that we can seek for when fall short, commit mistakes knowingly or unknowingly. All of this requires that we consciously recognize the need to pursue Jannah (and avoid Jahannum) for an ultimate success that is our salvation. May Allah guide us all and keep us firmly rooted in the guidance and protect us from misguidance until the day we die.

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Learning a Second or Third Language

Learning languages is a great way to learn about another culture and give yourself access to a whole new world through the wealth of literature. I believe some people have an innate ability to learn new languages faster than others but anyone can learn a new language if they really want to and they put in the required effort to acquire the new language.

In this day and age, learning some languages has become very easy. Some of the more popular languages have tons of material available to help new learners acquire the language. Language learning has become more easy and affordable due to the Internet and mobile applications. One can download a free app and learn any language without leaving their home. Duolingo and Memrise are two such apps that offer a ton of languages and all for free or almost free.

In order to learn a language, motivation of some kind is needed. It could be anything from a desire to speak the language with natives while traveling or to get a job or study abroad. It could be as simple as wanting to enjoy the literature or other media in the local language. Whatever your motivation is, it is important because motivation makes the task less daunting. Depending on the motivation, you’ll have a different approach to learning. If you’re really interested in the literature, you can study the language from that aspect and not have to worry about the conversational part of it which could be quite different. Furthermore, the speaking & listening skills are very different from reading & writing abilities when it comes to languages.

I have been learning Arabic as a second language for a few years now. My motivation has been to learn Arabic to be able to understand the Quran and Hadith in its original text, without having to rely on translations. My focus has been literature rather than speaking.

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Learning the Quran & Teaching Others

Learning the Quran should be a priority for every Muslim. Not only is the Quran a source of knowledge, it is also a source of countless blessings. It is the word of Allah. The Quran speaks to us to inform us of what Allah requires from us. Imagine that. The Creator of everything telling us why He has created us and what He wants us to do and what He wants us not to do! All of this because He wants us to succeed. It is therefore upon us to do our utmost to find out what Allah says in the Quran.

Since the Quran is in the Arabic language, it is important that we acquire as much Arabic language as necessary to understand the Quran in its original Arabic. It is not an impossible task for anyone. There are tons of resources available online these days to learn it ourselves or enroll in a class and learn it locally in our own city/country. If we put our minds to it, we can all do it relatively easily inshaaAllah!

خيركم من تعلم القرأن وعلمه

From the meaning of this well known Hadith, we learn that the best of people are those who learn the Quran and teach it to others. It should be the goal of all Muslims to try to achieve the status of the best of people by striving hard to learn the Quran properly, to read it with Tajweed, to learn the Arabic necessary to understand the meanings in the original Arabic.

Furthermore, it should be our goal to put what we learn into practice in our daily lives. The first step after understanding is to internalize the teachings of the Quran by implementing them into our lives to the best of our ability.

Finally, it should be our aim to teach what we learn to others. With the help of Allah we can become the best of people by learning the Quran and then teaching it to others.

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I am who I am because of my surroundings

Our family and society largely determine who we are. We are born to our parents that none of us can choose. We grow up in a country, culture, religion that none of us can pick. We seem to have some ability to choose some of our education, our profession and spouses, but that too is determined by what’s acceptable to our family and available in the society.

The fact of the matter is, we hardly have a choice in these matters. What we have are choices to make between doing the right things (not lying, not cheating, not overcharging, not underpaying, not hurting others etc.) which are universally regarded as the right things by every human society no matter where we find ourselves living.

Therefore, to think of others as inferior based upon their cultural background, economic status, color of their skin, level of their education or some such arbitrary measure is arrogant and insane.

In Islam, we are taught that no one is better than the other except those that are closest to Allah, our Creator. And no human being can claim to know who is closer to Allah and who is not. Therefore it makes no sense to discriminate. It also makes no sense to be boastful about ones own self, our abilities, our social status, our financial standing, our educational level, cultural background or the color of our skin. Largely because we didn’t acquire these things on our own, but also because we are not qualified to determine who is better.

We should therefore, embrace our differences, come together as one humanity and make this world a better place for everyone. If we don’t, then we only have ourselves to blame. We cannot individually solve world hunger, but we can each do our small part and contribute to the common goal and together we can solve it with the help of Allah!

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Start with my own example

We all want to see improvements in the society around us. We all want clean water, fresh air, beautiful vegetation, garbage free surroundings and a pleasant safe and secure environment. We all want to live in a better world. We all want our families to feel safe and sound. We all want the good things in life. In an ideal world, people would come together and resolve societal issues together as a loving community. There would be systems in place to safeguard the environment, fresh water and clean air would be the norm and garbage would be recycled responsibly. And the whole world would be safe and secure for everyone.

However, since we don’t live in an ideal world, it is on our shoulders to come up with ways to fix the problems one by one. We could try to get everyone to do the right thing but fail miserably because we can’t tell people what to do or what not to do. We should be the change that we want to see in the world. If we ourselves change for the better and everyday live our life with the goal of making the world a better place for everyone to live, we would inspire individuals, one by one, slowly but surely to also do the same. First make the intention and a concerted effort to do the right thing ourselves and do it often and in plain sight for others to see and learn from. Good habits can also be contagious if they are done with this mindset. Infect others with the desire to make our environment better in every way we possibly can. Do not be disheartened by people who don’t wish to change and have no concern for the environment. Keep at it sincerely and it will catch on. InshaaAllah!

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How do I become a better version of myself?

We should all be asking this question to ourselves regularly, daily, weekly, monthly and annually. Take account of our past selves and strive to enhance it in any way possible. One thing is for sure, we as human beings don’t remain stagnant. If we are not improving, know that we maybe becoming worse off. If nothing else, we are losing the time we have on earth with the passing of every second. So let’s ask ourselves this regularly: how can I become a better version of myself.

Analyze, but don’t over analyze, our lives to determine areas of improvements and work on them regularly so they become second nature to us. Our habits define us. Make those habits really the best possible daily things we do really well. Research and find the best way to do them, learn from someone who can coach us well if needed. It’s like posture, if we sit in an awkward way most of the day, everyday for a long time, our bodies will get accustomed to that bad posture. We want to get that fixed from day one if possible.

Our lives on this plant are finite. But we are created for eternity. Even after we die, we will never cease to exist. In fact, our belief is that the real life will begin after death. That life is eternal where there will be no death. And that life will depend upon our faith and deeds in this world. If we are smart, we will focus more on the next life, while not at all neglecting this life. For now, this life is the most important commodity we have for it determines the outcome in the next life. But our goal is not to achieve all that this life has to offer, because we see daily that nobody takes a single penny with them when they depart. So the smart ones are those that make the best of this life in order to get the best outcome of the real life that is to come after death, the eternal life. So the habits I spoke of earlier, should really be carefully crafted to ensure that we are not doing ANYTHING to jeopardize our well being in the next life.

In summary, regularly seek to enhance ourselves in every way we possibly can, craft good habits so that good deeds become second nature to us and focus on the real goal: the next life.

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