The world is a prison for the believer and a paradise for the unbeliever
Hadith: The world is a prison for the believer
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم الدُّنْيَا سِجْنُ الْمُؤْمِنِ وَجَنَّةُ الْكَافِرِ
2956 صحيح مسلم كتاب الزهد والرقائق
“The world is a prison for the believer and a paradise for the unbeliever.”
-Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ)
Reference: Sahih Muslim 2956
A believer is ever mindful of Allah/God. Therefore, he/she is not free to do what they please. That is why this world feels like a prison to them. On the other hand, a person who is not mindful of God, does whatever they feel like, or whatever they think they can get away with. There are indeed many things that can be enjoyed in this world. A person who is not looking forward to meeting their Lord, would spend their every moment trying to maximize their enjoyment here, short-lived though it is. Thus, the non-believer can find this world to be a Paradise. But the believer knows that no happiness here is everlasting and that they are always in danger of falling into the hands of Satan. They, therefore, long to get out of the exam that this world is and into the safety of the grave.
An-Nawawi said, “The believer is imprisoned and prohibited in the world from forbidden desires and disapproved acts, being responsible to do laborious acts of obedience.”
-life: a prison for the believer and a paradise for the unbeliever
reflect upon these ayat from the Quran:
The life of this world is nothing but play and amusement; and the life in the Hereafter is best for those who are mindful of God. Do you not understand?
— Quran 6:32
Know that this worldly life is no more than play, amusement, luxury, mutual boasting, and competition in wealth and children.
— Quran 57:20
The life of this world has been made appealing to those who disbelieve, and they ridicule those who believe. But those who fear God shall be above them on the Day of Resurrection. And God provides for whoever He wills without limit.
— Quran 2:212
Say, ‘Shall We inform you of the greatest losers in their works?’ They are those whose efforts are in vain in this worldly life, while they think they are doing good!
— Qur’an 18:103–104
And give them a parable of this worldly life. It is like the vegetation of the earth that thrives when watered by the rain, which We send down from the sky, and then it all becomes stubble which the wind blows away. Allah has power over all things.
— Quran 18:45
According to The Qur’an, God created man to test him with certain responsibilities (As stated in Qur’an 18:7, Qur’an 67:2 and Qur’an 76:2). He did not intend life on this earth to necessarily be comfortable or satisfying but merely a trial of limited duration. This life will never be perfectly good. But it will never be perfectly bad, either. Focus on the good and it will grow. this life is only one brief stage on its journey from God to God. And our Lord informs us repeatedly that our temporary life on this earth is merely a trial, a test, an examination period.
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