The Life of This World According To The Idea of Karma
According to karmic belief, the life of this world never ends. Someone who dies returns to Earth in another body. This is quite untrue. Death means the end of the life of this world and the start of the life of the hereafter.
As we have said before, according to the concept of karma those who do good in their lives on earth will be rewarded with good in the life to come, while those who do evil will be rewarded with evil. Thus the concept of karma tells us that our earthly life is both the result of our previous life and the cause of our next life on Earth. At first sight, it might appear that the expectation of having another life after death would lead those who believe in karma to perform good actions—that is, it might seem that people who believe in the idea of karma will try to behave well in order to deserve good things in their next life, and will try to avoid evil.
However, karma does not provide a powerful enough motivation for someone who has not made a sincere decision to be virtuous, because people who accept the idea of karma believe that the wheel of birth and death is endless and that they will inevitably be reborn after every death. They think they will have an infinite number of chances. So when they do evil, they may think: "Even if I have a worse life next time, I can make up for it in the life after that". Thus we see that a philosophy based on such unsound foundations is incapable of keeping people from doing evil. Attachment to the life of this world is a weakness most people have. This attachment is the main reason why they come to accept a belief such as reincarnation – they absolutely refuse to give up their attachment to the earthly life. It is only by understanding the true nature of the life of this world that we can bring about radical changes in our behaviour and live in an ethical way.
'My people, worship Allah! You have no other god than Him. I fear for you the punishment of a dreadful Day.'
(Surat al-A'raf: 59)
The Unseen of the heavens and the earth belongs to Allah and the whole affair will be returned to Him. So worship Him and put your trust in Him.
(Surah Hud: 123)
Anyone who knows the real nature of the life of this world knows that we are created in order to serve our Lord, Allah, He Who created us and the whole universe and Who protects and cares for us. We also know that we are responsible to Allah for everything we do, say or think; we know that after death we will give account to Him. The Qur'an tells us how we were created in order to serve Allah as His servants in the following verses:
Mankind! Worship your Lord, Who created you and those before you, so that hopefully you may do your duty. (Surat al-Baqara: 21)
That is Allah, your Lord. There is no god but Him, the Creator of everything. So worship Him. He is responsible for everything. (Surat al-An'am: 102)
Those who confess Allah's power, the faithful who fear Allah's wrath, serve only Allah and obey His Will unconditionally; they avoid doing evil and perform actions that will be pleasing to Him. In the following verses, the Qur'an describes how the faithful fear Allah and what a wonderful reward they receive as a result:
Mankind! Heed your Lord and fear a day when no father will be able to atone for his son, or son for his father, in any way. Allah's promise is true. So do not let the life of this world delude you and do not let the Deluder delude you concerning Allah. (Surah Luqman: 33)
Say, "Shall I tell you of something better than that? Those who so their duty will have Gardens with their Lord, with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them timelessly, for ever, and purified wives, and the Pleasure of Allah. Allah sees His servants…" (Surah Al 'Imran: 15)
The believers who fear Allah are determined to fulfil their duty to serve Him throughout their lives, and to pray and perform good actions in order to avoid eternal suffering. In several verses of the Qur'an, Allah urges us to be constant in our prayers, in serving Him, in performing good deeds and in good character:
Everything in the heavens and earth belongs to Him, and the religion belongs to Him, firmly and for ever. So why do you fear anyone other than Allah? (Surat an-Nahl: 52)
Wealth and sons are the embellishment of the life of this world. But, in your Lord's sight, right actions which are lasting bring a better reward and are a better basis for hope. (Surat al-Kahf: 46)
Allah augments those who are guided by giving them greater guidance. In your Lord's sight, right actions which are lasting are better both in reward and end result. (Surah Maryam: 76)
And (the believers) are constant in their prayers. (Surat al-Ma'arij: 23)
To sum up, the only way for us to achieve a real superiority of moral character and to avoid compromise, even where it seems to conflict with our interests, is to have strong love for Allah and strong devotion to Him, to fear Him and to serve Him as His servants. The idea of karma does advise people to adopt certain good qualities. However, although everyone may have good qualities of their own, they are limited in number, are not permanent and depend on certain conditions. In order for them to be permanent, we must in all circumstances have faith in Allah and do everything that we do only in order to obtain His grace; we must know Him, acknowledge Him and fear Him.
Every believer knows that the beauty of this world is only passing. He never forgets that those who lived in great splendour hundreds of years ago all had to depart from this world, leaving behind them merely the faint ruins of that magnificence. Believers therefore spend their time in this world behaving in a manner that will be pleasing to Allah.
This world is a place where we are tested
The life of this world is a place of testing, a test that lasts no longer than the blink of an eye. Allah tests every individual by means of his reactions to the events he encounters in the life of this world.
In the Qur'an, we are told that we will have only one life in this world, and that the purpose of this life is to test us in preparation for our eternal life. That is to say, once we have experienced death there is no chance for us to return to this world and make up for the mistakes we have made. Allah tells us what the purpose of our life in this world is in this verse:
He Who created death and life to test which of you is best in action. He is the Almighty, the Ever-Forgiving. (Surat al-Mulk: 2)
For each one of us, this world is a place where we are tested by the events Allah makes happen to us, in order to see whether we will respond in a way that is pleasing to Him. In the Qur'an, Allah tells us that people will not be left to say, "We believe", and then not tested. (Surat al-Ankabut: 2)
Nothing that happens to us throughout our lives is a coincidence. Every event in our lives down to the finest detail of our fate has been created by Allah as a means of testing us. For instance, the fact that someone is rich or famous does not mean that they are receiving the reward for good deeds they have done in their previous life (as the idea of karma maintains). Rather, Allah is testing them by means of wealth and fame. The important thing is whether or not they will become spoilt as a result of their good fortune, whether or not they will be ungrateful and whether or not they will thank Allah. Similarly, it is erroneous to believe that someone who is poor and has a difficult life is suffering the consequences of bad things done in their previous life. Allah is testing them by means of trouble and poverty. One possible reason for their having a life of this kind is that Allah is seeing whether they will continue to trust in Him in the face of difficulties, and whether they will show strength of character.
Anyone who knows that all the good things in the world are gifts from Allah, who gives thanks to Allah for them and who lives by the limits set by Allah, using these good things in a way that will be pleasing to Him as set out in the Qur'an and the Sunnah, may expect to be well rewarded in the life to come. However, anyone who regards Allah's gifts as their own and forgets that they are gifts from Him, and who becomes spoilt and proud because of these gifts and departs from the correct path to do things that are prohibited, will meet with deserved punishment in the next world. In the afterlife, everyone will receive the just recompense for their belief, trust in and acceptance of Allah and His Messengers, or their rejection of Him and of them, and for the good and bad things they have done. Allah tells us in the following verse that everything we own and for which we are responsible is only to test us:
… Yet the life of the world, compared to the hereafter, is only fleeting enjoyment.
(Surat ar-Ra'd: 26)
Those are the people who trade the hereafter for the world. The punishment will not be lightened for them.
(Surat al-Baqara: 86)
Know that your wealth and children are a trial and that there is an immense reward with Allah. (Surat al-Anfal: 28)
Some people are tested by means of worries and difficulties in this world. The degree of the difficulties to which we are subjected, and the form these take, are entirely in Allah's hands. People who are tested in this way should in all circumstances have faith in Allah, think that every worry and difficulty will have a fortunate outcome for them, have patience and be content with what Allah sends to them. These things are expressed in the following words in the Qur'an:
We will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and fruits. But give good news to the steadfast: Those who, when disaster strikes them, say, "We belong to Allah and to Him we will return". Those are the people who will have blessings and mercy from their Lord; they are the ones who are guided. (Surat al-Baqara: 155-157)
You will be tested in your wealth and in yourselves and you will hear many abusive words from those given the Book before you and from those who are idolators. But if you are steadfast and guard against evil, that is the most resolute course to take. (Surah Al 'Imran: 186)
The life of this world is nothing but a game and a diversion. The hereafter is better for those who guard against evil. So will you not use your intellect? (Surat al-An'am: 32)
Those who think about the real nature of our life in this world and understand them, and who live their lives in accordance with this knowledge, will enjoy great happiness and peace of mind in the next world, where their real life begins. This is what Allah promises to those who have faith in Him. And our Lord, Allah, the source of boundless blessings, He Whose kindness and mercy are infinite, never fails to fulfil His promises.