“What is the meaning of life?”
A Vietnamese friend once asked me whilst rowing through the calm lagoon at Ha Long Bay. Despite the serene atmosphere, I heard the alarm in my brain went off. Alert! Alert! Alert! Within seconds, I felt panic building up. My brain jammed as it tried to come up with the right response, but none passed through my lips. Not even a syllable. After a few moments passed, I lamely dismissed the question and changed the topic. Almost immediately I felt shame engulf me with my lack of response. I tried to correct the situation but it was too late.
“My Iman had dried up, faith was slipping through my fingers like sand and problems mounted day by day. Soon enough, I hit rock bottom.”
I could still feel the slight pang in my heart regretting the unjust answer to my friend. I knew the answer, yet I failed to comprehend any reasoning that accounted to my lack of courage. Was I being skeptical, to assume the answer would contradict with my friend’s faith? Or could it be that the problem laid within myself, the idea that I would be labelled as a hypocrite in failing to provide an answer that represented my faith.
Maybe that was an indication from God Almighty. My hesitation in providing an answer, seemed like a warning that I should take caution in the future. A warning that my soul may be lacking with a spiritual boost to lift my Iman. Unfortunately, during that time, I was blinded with all the temporary worldly fascinations that I tended to make the same mistakes over and over again.
I reminisced, wondering when I has become such a hypocrite; proud to be called a Muslim, yet intentionally I let months pass by without reading the Quran. There were multiple occasions in a week when I failed to pray on time, and more instances when I let my mouth speak foully and eventually tarnish the faith that I used to hold dear. My Iman had dried up, faith was slipping through my fingers like sand and problems mounted day by day. Soon enough, I hit rock bottom.
Nevertheless, I believed God had created such a turn of events to test my determination, to see how far I will be able to practice my faith outside of my comfort zone and how swiftly will I stand back up after I fall in desolation. The repetitive trials only meant that I have yet to resolve and strive to be a better person. As mentioned in the Quran:
“…Surely Allah does not change the conditions in which people are in until they change that in themselves…” (Surah Ar-Rad:11)
My experiences felt like a roller coaster ride; there were times when I reached the highest peak and unexpectedly plunged down to the lowest point in life. Life would still ride on and it would only be purposeful if it was being directed towards the right direction. All praises to God Almighty, I have restored my faith and often revitalize my Iman. May my heart have constant clarity to answer the question, what is the meaning of life? And that is to attain fulfillment by worshipping Allah SWT, God Almighty.
“You shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in your personal selves, and you shall certainly hear much that will grieve you from those who received the Book before you and from those who worship many gods. But if you persevere patiently and guard against evil then that will be a determining factor in all affairs.” (Surah Al-Imran: 186)