Those who spend their lives devoted blindly to worldly goods, will realise that they consumed all their lives chasing illusions. They will realise their ridiculous situation after they die. Only then will the ultimate purpose of life, to be a sincere servant of Allah, be clear to them.
Allah in the Quran gives a considerable account of this "deep attachment" in the following verse:
Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet: women and sons; heaped-up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded (for blood and excellence); and (wealth of) cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the possessions of this world's life; but in nearness to Allah is the best of the goals (to return to). (Surah Aali-'Imran: 14)
All the matters of this world – wealth, spouses, children and commerce – keep many a person busy in this life. However, if they could acknowledge the power and greatness of Allah, they would know that all the things granted to man are merely means of obtaining His good pleasure. This way, they would also comprehend that the main aim of man is to be His servant. Yet, those who do not have true faith and trust in Allah have blurred vision and a poor understanding of their existence due to their worldly ambitions. They expect great things from this flawed life.
It is surprising that man forgets all about the Hereafter, which is a perfect and infinitely superior residence for him, and is satisfied with this world. If someone does not have complete faith, even the existence of a slight "probability" of the Hereafter should make him, at least, assume a more cautious attitude.
Believers, on the other hand, are fully aware that this is, by no means, a "probability" but a reality. That is why their lives serve the purpose of eradicating the slightest possibility of being sent to hell; their efforts are entirely designed to attain paradise. They know clearly that the disappointment felt in the Hereafter after a life spent on vain desires will be bitter. They are well aware that accumulated wealth, such as an overflowing bank account, luxury cars or mansions, will not be accepted as a ransom from eternal punishment. Furthermore, neither family nor one's dearest friends will be present to save one from eternal grief. On the contrary, every soul will try to save itself. Yet despite all this, most people assume that this life does not continue on to the hereafter, and greedily embrace this world. Allah states this in the verse below:
Mutual rivalry for piling up (the good things of this world) diverts you (from the more serious things), until you visit the graves. (Surat at-Takathur: 1-2)
Attraction towards worldly possessions is, no doubt, the secret of the test. Allah creates all things that He bestows upon man with great sophistication, yet they are also of short duration. This is only to make people think and compare the things given to them in this world with the Hereafter. This is the "secret" of which we are talking. Life in the world is indeed magnificent; it is quite colourful and attractive revealing the glory of Allah's creation. To lead a good life and take pleasure in it is, no doubt, something desirable and man, surely, prays to Allah to lead such a life. Yet this can never be the ultimate purpose, since such a goal in life is not more important than attaining the good pleasure of Allah and paradise. Therefore, man should never forget his main purpose, while enjoying the benefit of these favours. Allah warns man about this issue in the verse below:
The (material) things which you are given are but the conveniences of this life and the glitter thereof; but that which is with Allah is better and more enduring: will you not then be wise? (Surat al-Qasas: 60)
This great fondness for worldly things is one of the reasons why man forgets the Hereafter. There is another point to remember: man never finds true happiness in any of the worldly things he greedily embraces or in any provision that he toils to possess. That is because keen desires are hard to satisfy. No matter how much it may possess, the desires of the ego never end. Typically, it always seeks for more and for better. This is why the human being cannot find peace or satisfaction in the world.
Does Real Wealth Exist in this World?
A majority of people assume they can turn their life into a perfect one once they determine to do so. Furthermore, they simply assume that achieving a high quality of life is possible through having more money, better living standards, a happy family, and an admirable status in society. Yet, those people who devote all their time to securing such things are clearly admitting to an error. First, they only struggle to attain peace and happiness in this world and forget all about the Hereafter. Despite the fact that their main purpose is to be servants of Allah in this world and to be grateful for what He gives, they spend life fulfilling their own vain desires.
Allah informs man about the insignificance and deceptive allure of the world in the Quran:
Know you (all), that the life of this world is but play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting and multiplying (in rivalry) among yourselves, riches and children. Here is a similitude: how rain and the growth which it brings forth delight (the hearts of) the tillers; soon it withers; you will see it grow yellow; then it becomes dry and crumbles away. But in the Hereafter is a penalty severe (for the devotees of wrong). And forgiveness from Allah and (His) good pleasure (for the devotees of Allah). And what is the life of this world, but goods and chattels of deception? (Surat al-Hadid: 20)
Not believing in the Hereafter or seeing it as a remote possibility is the many people's fundamental mistake. They believe that they will never lose their wealth. Pride makes them avoid submission to Allah and turn their faces against His promise. The ends of such people are related as follows:
Those who rest not their hope on their meeting with Us, but are pleased and satisfied with the life of the present, and those who heed not Our signs: Their abode is hell, because of the (evil) they earned. (Surah Yunus: 7-8)
History has witnessed many such people. Kings, emperors, and pharaohs thought they could secure immortality through their fabulous wealth; the thought that there is something more valuable than wealth and power may never even have occurred to them. This flawed mentality misled their peoples, who were greatly impressed by their wealth and power. However, all these disbelievers faced a terrible end. In the Quran, Allah informs us about them:
Do they think that because We have granted them abundance of wealth and sons, We would hasten them on in every good? Nay, they do not understand. (Surat al-Muminun: 55- 56)
Let not their wealth nor their (following in) sons dazzle you: in reality Allah's plan is to punish them with these things in this life, and that their souls may perish in their (very) denial of Allah. (Surat at-Tawbah: 55)
These are some of the stories of communities that We relate to you: of them, some are standing, and some have been mown down (by the sickle of time). (Surah Hud: 100)
These people actually disregard a crucial point. All wealth and everything deemed important, belong to Allah. Allah, the actual Owner of wealth, allocates His endless possessions among those whom He wills. In return, man is expected to show his gratefulness to Allah and be a loyal servant to Him. It should be remembered that nobody can limit one's possessions once Allah bestows them. Likewise, once somebody is deprived of affluence, nobody except Allah has the power to sustain him. In this way, Allah puts His people to test. However, those who forget their Creator and the day of judgement pay no heed to this:
Allah enlarges, or grants by (strict) measure, the sustenance (which He gives) to whomsoever He pleases. (The worldly) rejoice in the life of this world. But the life of this world is but little comfort in the Hereafter. (Surat ar-Ra'd: 26)
Are Wealth and Status in the World Important?
Most people believe that a perfectly peaceful life is attainable in this world. This mentality suggests that one can find true happiness and earn the respect of others by becoming wealthy. The same mentality believes that once this contentment is fulfilled, it will last until the end of the world. Yet, the truth is otherwise. Man can never achieve the life of his dreams by forgetting his Creator and the day of judgement. That is because by the time he realises one goal, he sets his mind on others. Not content with earning a lot, he goes into new businesses. He does not take any pleasure from his new flat once he sees his neighbour's more artfully decorated house, or else, because the fact that his house is decorated in last year's style, which is no longer in fashion, prompts him to redecorate it. Similarly, since fashions and tastes change dramatically, he dreams of a more sophisticated wardrobe because he is not satisfied with what he already has. The psychology of disbelievers is clearly explained in the following verse:
Leave Me alone, (to deal) with the (creature) whom I created (bare and) alone! To whom I granted resources in abundance, sons dwelling in his presence to whom I made (life) smooth and comfortable! Yet is he greedy that I should add (yet more). (Surat al-Muddaththir: 11-15)
A person of sound mind and clear understanding should acknowledge that those who possess mansions with more rooms than inhabitants, luxury cars or fabulous wardrobes are only able to use a limited part of those possessions. If you had the biggest mansion in the world, would it be possible to enjoy the comfort of each room at the same time? Alternatively, if you had a wardrobe of highly fashionable clothes, how many of your suits could you wear in a day? The owner of a mansion with dozens of rooms, as an entity limited in terms of time and space can only stay in a single room at any one time. If you are offered all the delicious dishes of a famous cuisine, your stomach would take no more than a few of them; if you attempt to bolt down more, the result will be torture rather than pleasure.
The list could be further extended, yet the most striking fact is that man is destined to a quite limited period of life in which he can enjoy the luxury his wealth brings. Man rapidly proceeds towards his end, yet he hardly acknowledges this during his life and assumes that his wealth will bring him eternal happiness, as the verse suggests:
Thinking that his wealth would make him last forever! (Surat al-Humazah: 3)
Man is so blindly fascinated with the power of his wealth that when he faces the awful end on the day of judgement, he will still struggle to escape from punishment by giving away his wealth:
Though they will be put in sight of each other, - the wrongdoer's desire will be: Would that he could redeem himself from the penalty of that day by (sacrificing) his children, wife and his brother, kindred who sheltered him, all that is on earth so it could deliver him: by no means! For it would be the fire of hell! (Surat al-Ma'arij: 11-15)
Yet, some people are aware that wealth, prosperity and great fortune are under the control of Allah. Hence, they are well aware that rank and status are ridiculous. Only these people truly understand that these possessions will not save them in the hereafter. Therefore, they do not dare to chase after the valuables of this world. Showing arrogance is not a trait you can expect from such modest people. Never forgetting the existence of Almighty Allah makes them feel grateful for everything He gives them. In return for such conduct, Allah promises an honourable and comfortable life to them. The people who trust in Allah and make their servanthood to Allah the ultimate purpose of their lives are aware that they can only benefit from worldly goods for a limited period of time and that worldly goods are worthless next to the eternal abundance promised. Wealth never makes such people become deeply attached to this life. On the contrary, it makes them more grateful and closer to Allah. They deal justly with everyone and every issue, and try, with what Allah gives them, to attain His good pleasure. Rather than taking pleasure from wealth in this world, they aim to acquire the Quranic values expected from them, fully aware that real status and praise in the presence of Allah matter. The prophet Sulayman set an example to all people as an honourable believer who showed such traits in his life. Possessing a great wealth and sovereignty, Sulayman clearly stated why he pursued this wealth:
Truly do I love the love of good, with a view to the glory of my Lord. (Surah Sad: 32)
Failure to acknowledge why worldly goods are created in this world leads people to forget that they will only be able to use these possessions for a period of 60-70 years, if they are destined to live that long, and then leave their mansions, cars and children behind. They do not think that they will be buried alone in their graves. All through their lives they long for the affluence they will never be able to enjoy.
Yet, those who consider wealth a saviour and neglect the existence of their Creator suffer bitter grief both in this world and the hereafter:
Those who reject faith, neither their possessions nor their (numerous) progeny will avail them aught against Allah: They are themselves but fuel for hell. (Surah Ali-'Imran: 10)
The Quran heralds the end of those who demonstrate insatiable greed for possessions:
Who heaps up wealth and lay it by, Thinking that his wealth would make him last forever!
By no means! He will definitely be thrown into That which breaks to pieces, And what will explain to you That which breaks to pieces? (It is) hell of (the wrath of) Allah kindled (to a blaze), Which mounts (right) to the hearts. It shall be made into a vault over them, In columns outstretched. (Surat al-Humazah: 2-9)
True wealth belongs to those believers who never show an inner interest in ossessions in this world and truly believe that only Allah gives everything to man. These are actually the really wealthy people in this world; they do not limit their lives to a mere 50-60 years. Believers engage in the best trade by obtaining paradise in exchange for this life. They prefer permanent instead of temporary wealth. Allah informs us about this in the following verse:
Allah has purchased from the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the Garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth, through the Tawrah, the Gospel, and the Quran: and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? Then rejoice in the bargain which you have concluded: that is the achievement supreme. (Surat at-Tawbah: 111)
Disregarding these facts, those who "cling to" this world will soon understand clearly who is on the path of right action.