It’s that time of the year: the fall season, when dead leaves on trees are waiting to fall, waiting for the wind to bring them down so that they can start a fresh beginning – a new phase of growth and development. Subhan’Allah, it is divine grace and coordination which triggers the wind to blow and knock down the dead leaves to the ground at a specified time in the year!
The fall season is also a time when everyone thinks about and plans to take the yearly flu shot, an immunization which serves to vaccinate our bodies from getting the flu virus and becoming ill. It is a means of protection that we use to immunize ourselves for one whole year until our bodies wear out from this vaccination and the time comes again for a refill.
If this is the assessment that nature and man make on a yearly basis to cleanse the self, refresh the body, and protect it for the future, then why not also think on a yearly basis – if not on a monthly or weekly basis – about how to vaccinate and immunize ourselves from the vices of our souls, the impurities of our Nafs (self), and our sins which have turned our hearts black? Why not make the effort on a daily basis to blow away the dead leaves which symbolize the many sins that we commit everyday at every moment? Surely, our soul deserves some attention on a regular basis so that we strip off the bad leaves and plant new fresh ones in their places. Our spirit deserves a steady vaccination to protect ourselves from the unknown evil out there, which may overcome us to the point of spiritual disease or even death of the soul!
During this time of the year as we plan on vaccinating our bodies, plan for the school season, and plan for our winter breaks, let us also think and plan ahead for the most important stage in our lives that we will soon embark upon – the Hereafter! The only thing that separates us from this permanent stage is death, which will be followed by an eternal life. In the words of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny): “Truly smart is the person who controls his desires and prepares for life after death.” The quality of the next life will depend on our deeds today and what we have to offer in this life. We are reminded that this world is a place of deeds and not a place of reckoning, while the next life is the time where we will either reap the fruits of our actions or face the punishment and consequences of what we committed. As Allah says in Qur’an, “The life of this world is but comfort of illusion.” (3:185)
If we take a look around us, we will find that most people today are preoccupied with materialistic possessions in the form of wealth and properties. Most of us are busy monitoring our bank accounts and figuring out how to boost the numbers and where to make investments. Our youth are busy replacing their wardrobes with more fashionable outwear, upgrading phones and laptops to versions with more sophisticated features, financing luxurious cars which they don’t need, or killing themselves by juggling more than one job in order to spend lavishly on themselves! Unfortunately, the language of today is not dependent upon IQ levels or upon clarity of intellect. It is not about our personal talent and what we can contribute to society. The focus is not on how we can utilize our education to improve humanity and develop society. Obtaining a higher degree is becoming important only to display the badge on your shoulder or to hang the certificate on your desk. Today, society is busy trying to race with fast-paced developments in technology and civilization, while forgetting to safeguard its principles, morality, and honor! All these challenges make it all the more necessary that we routinely check ourselves to make sure that we are on the right track, and to immunize ourselves from the evil of society and the temptations of this world. After all, if we are able to schedule annual or semi-annual visits to the doctor to check out our health, then our eternal souls deserve even more attention than our transient bodies which will return back to dust at the prescribed time.
Now that we have logically convinced ourselves that our spirits are in need of annual vaccination – if not more frequently – the question to ask is what type of vaccination is best suited to reach our goal with guaranteed results? We don’t have to search long or far because our Holy Prophet has given us the recipe for that eternal vaccination on countless occasions. That formula which is the best type of vaccination is the Thaqalayn: the Qur’an and Etrat (the purified household of the Prophet, peace be upon them) without which we would be lost, misguided, and prone to spiritual disease.
The immunization starts with an injection of Mowadda (love) towards the Prophet and his Family – and the more it increases, the more it will lead us to follow and obey our beloved Imams (peace be upon them). Once we reach the stage of utmost devotion and conviction to them, our obedience to them will be translated into self-purification, selflessness, and complete servitude to our Lord – and that is the ultimate pleasure of a servant!
So before we mark our calendars to schedule a flu shot, let us make the intention in our minds and hearts to instill change to improve our Nafs, purify our souls, amend our behavior and bad habits, and compromise as well as sacrifice for the sake of Allah. Suffice to remind ourselves that if we take but one step to immunize ourselves in this life for the sake of Allah, He will surely take many steps to immunize us from punishment and Hell-Fire on the Day of Judgment!