Man and opportunity

Man and opportunity

Everyone, of course, has been given opportunities in the present world to act in the interests of his own salvation in the life after death. But these are opportunities which seldom present themselves.
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Publilius Syrus, a Roman writer of the first century BC who wrote in Latin is recorded as having said: “A good opportunity is seldom presented and is easily lost”. An observation that may well be taken out of the Roman context and applied universally. For it is a matter of common circumstance that chances to make progress in this world do not conveniently present themselves at every juncture. They are few and far between. But most people, unconvinced of how imperative it is to realise their special importance, fail to grasp them in time. Thus, golden opportunities are lost forever, and all that remains is regret at having so foolishly missed them.

The same is true of the Hereafter, but on a scale barely appreciable by human beings. There are whole different dimensions of eternal bliss or eternal damnation to be taken into consideration. Everyone, of course, has been given opportunities in the present world to act in the interests of his own salvation in the life after death. But these are opportunities that seldom present themselves. And then death—the great cut-off point—comes and puts an end to opportunities for all time.

After death, when man’s eyes are opened, he receives a severe shock. Now he finds himself doomed to eternal regret at having squandered unparalleled opportunities, thanks to his own ignorance, foolishness and lack of any sense of timeliness.

Everyone in this world should behave as a morally responsible servant of God and everyone is given equal opportunities to do so. Yet, in the Hereafter, there will be some who will flounder on the question of missed opportunities, while there will be others who will pass the divine test because of opportunities seized and turned to good advantage. It will be quite obvious on that day which of God’s servants availed of opportunities to serve Him, and which of them did not.

This ultimate reckoning should make us examine our lives with greater earnestness. We are sufficiently aware of the fact—considering that none of us are immortal—that we cannot go through life allowing one opportunity after another to slip through our fingers. We cannot surely expect to be offered unlimited chances for our own salvation. And once death intervenes, looking for alternative possibilities beyond the grave becomes meaningless. There we are ineluctably faced with an eternity of success or an eternity of failure.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan is an Islamic spiritual scholar who has authored over 200 books on Islam, spirituality, and peaceful coexistence in a multi-ethnic society.

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