Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Although we are supposed to be in this world like a wayfarer or stranger, and the hereafter is the priority, how does a Muslim balance his affairs and maintain his spirituality while being a normal person living in the world?
The Qur’an tells us that the believer’s goal is seeking the good in this life and the next. This is encapsulated in the Qur’anic supplication,
“Our Lord! Give unto us in the world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and guard us from the doom of Fire.” [Qur’an, 2.201]
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) told us, “Be in this world as a stranger or wayfarer.” [Bukhari, Tirmidhi, Ibn Maja, and Ahmad]
The wayfarer or stranger do not avoid comfort, enjoyment, or interests related to their journey or place of sojourn. However, they realize that their destination is more important than their fleeting journey or sojourn. Thus, they prioritize. They realize that this worldly life is a means to the next life. We seek the good in it, as a means to the good in the next life, not as an end in itself.
We have been instructed by the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) that, “From the excellence of one’s Islam is to leave that which does not concern one.” [Tirmidhi]
Some early Muslims said, “Whoever busies themselves with that which does not concern them misses out on much of that which does concern them.”
Mulla Ali al-Qari (Allah have mercy on him) mentioned in his expansive commentary on Mishkat al-Masabih:
“The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “From the excellence of a man’s Islam is leaving that which does not concern him.”
“That is, to leave that which is not important or befitting of him, whether in speech, actions, or thought. Thus, the excellence of a man’s Islam’ is its perfection, such that one remains steadfast in the submission to the commands and prohibitions of Allah, and surrenders to His rulings in accordance to His destiny and decree (qada wa qadr). This is the sign of the heart having been expanded by the light of its Lord, and the descent of quietude (sakina) into the heart. The reality of that which does not concern him’ is that which is not needed for a worldly or next-worldly benefit, and does not aide in attaining his Lord’s good pleasure, such that it is possible to live without it This includes excess acts and unnecessary speech This hadith may well be taken from Allah Most High’s saying, “And who shun all vain things.” (Qur’an, 23: 3 changed from Pickthall’s vain conversation’, for lagw is, as Baydawi explains: that which does not concern them of speech and actions’)
“And it has been related in a Prophetic hadith that, “The people of the Garden will not remorse except for moments that passed them by without remembering Allah.” (Tabarani from our master Mu`adh (may Allah be pleased with him)). So glad tidings to one who takes himself to account (hasaba nafsahu) before he is taken to account. Allah Most High has said, “O ye who believe! Observe your duty to Allah. And let every soul look to that which it sendeth on before for the morrow. And observe your duty to Allah! Lo! Allah is Informed of what ye do. And be not ye as those who forgot Allah, therefore He caused them to forget their souls. Such are the evil-doers.” (Qur’an, 59: 18) al-Awza`i said, `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Aziz wrote to us, Whoever is frequent in remembering death is content with but a little of this world. And whoever counts his speech from his actions speaks little except in that which benefits him.” [from: Sufism and Good Character, translated by Faraz Rabbani, © White Thread Press, www.whitethreadpress.com]