The World is an Illusion

Learn about the illusion of the physical world.

Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (fhip) said that the life of this world is an illusion, and its ornaments are our money and children. It is a mirage from which the human being does not wake up except after the physical death.

This is his (fhip) advice to the people of the earth:

“In the Name of Allah The Abundantly Merciful the Intensely Merciful: {Indeed, Allah is not ashamed to present an example of a mosquito or what is smaller than it. And those who have believed know that it is the truth from their Lord. But as for those who disbelieve, they say, “What did Allah intend by this as an example?” He misleads many thereby and guides many thereby. And He misleads not except the defiantly disobedient}

My beloved ones, do not ever anger Allah, even if it was Halal (permissible). And don’t ever prefer anything from the world (the Dunya) over the hereafter. The entire world is not even worth one atom from the hereafter. And when we say an atom, that is just to describe, but even tenth of an atom would be too big for the world. The world is not worth anything at all. Yes my beloved ones, it is an illusion. And I hope that you understand that it is truly an illusion. An illusion and nothing other than that. I hope that you comprehend that. Everyone in it and on it are an illusion. [An illusion] which the human being does not wake up from except after he/she gets rid of this body. Look around you. Look in everything. You will find that everything is temporal. [You will find that] what you were fighting for yesterday, today you will find it boring and that you wish to get rid of it. At death, the world (the Dunya) becomes as such. I will make it closer to you. If you buy a product today for example and before that, you were wishing for that product and you were hoping to buy it. And today it became between your hands. How much time do you need in order that this product becomes a normal matter to you? A little time will pass and you will have had enough of it. As such is the worldly life. If you fill your eyes with it, you will lose interest in it and you will no longer want it. Look at everything in the world, and look at the entire globe from above. If someone comes to you and tells you that it all has become yours, and that you will live a hundred thousand years so that you can see it inch by inch, and not just for one time but several times. There will come a day when you will be bored with it and your eyes will be filled from it. If it was a reality, and if it was permanent for us, we would never get bored of it. And the proof [is] that life in it is short, while life in paradise is eternal, because the hereafter is a real life, and not an illusion, and the Dunya (the world) is the illusion. Now has the idea reached you my beloved ones? Whoever sells his/her hereafter for his/her Dunya is a hundred percent loser. And the winner in it is the one who works for his hereafter, such a work that would brighten his face in front of his Lord. {And the worldly life is not but play and amusement; but the home of the Hereafter is best for those who fear Allah, so will you not reason/understand?}”

– Sayings of Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (PBUH), p.19-20, hadith 14

He (fhip) also told a parable about the world:

“Tell the believers to step away from the illusional fleeting world for by God it is an illusion that has no value, so do not let it fool you. I shall tell you a parable that you can tell your brothers perhaps they shall take heed from it. 

Once there was a lone son who had a rich father. One day the son went to his father and said to him: My father, I have fallen in love with a young woman who is extremely beautiful and I want you to marry me to her”. So the father became very happy and he said to his son: “Let us go get you engaged to her my son!” So the father and the son went to the house of the beautiful woman and when the father saw the young woman he became amazed and was blown away by her beauty and he liked her and became greedy and he said to his son: “My son, this woman is no good for you for she is very beautiful and deserves a rich man whom is able to make her happy. I shall marry her”. 

So the father and the son quarrelled greatly and they went to the police station so that the sheriff may judge between them. The sheriff said to them: “What is the matter?” So they told him the story and the sheriff said: “Let us then call forth this girl and ask her whom she wants”. So the sheriff sent for the girl and when she arrived the sheriff was stunned by her beauty and he said to the father and to the son: “This woman is not beneficial for you nor you, this woman can only be with a man who has authority, power and money”. So he said: “And therefore I shall marry her”. 

So they all quarrelled and their voices were raised and they were shouting and the mayor of the city heard that there was a problem, so he asked that everyone come and be present in front of him in order that he investigate the matter. So all of the quarrelling parties arrived, the father and the son and the officer, they all arrived at the mayor’s. The mayor said to them: “Let us see this girl that caused all of this”. 

So he sent forth for the girl. Upon her arrival, the mayor was shocked at her extreme beauty and just like the rest, he began to quarrel with them all over this woman. All of the parties then went to the king and told the king of the country about what had happened and just like every time, the king requested that the girl be present, and when he laid eyes on her he said: “This is not for you nor you nor you, no one deserves this woman except for the king of a country so that he may make her live like a princess”. So they all quarrelled and it was here that the young woman said: “I have the solution”. They said to her: “What is your solution?” She said: “I shall run and you all run after me and whoever catches me first I shall be his and I shall marry him”. So everyone agreed and the beautiful woman ran and all ran after her. 

And suddenly everyone fell, the father, the son, the sheriff, the mayor and the king all fell into a giant hole in the ground”. The woman turned to them and said: “I am the world and whoever runs after me shall fall into the grave while they do not expect it and while they are filled with sin”. 

The Imam (pbuh) said: “So leave this world my sons for by God, you shall not feel yourselves, and will suddenly one day find that your life is over and you are old and full of sins and misdeeds and there does not remain for you except that you get sick and face humiliation and suffering, may God grant you all success. Yes by God, it is a fleeting illusional world that has no value to it, and I say this because I see some people these days trying to chase this beautiful woman, the world is like a woman wearing makeup, if she washes off the makeup her faults and defects appear.” 

Sayings of Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (PBUH), p.15-17, hadith 7

Once you realise that this world we live in is not real, you might ask yourselves how the truth can be obtained. Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (fhip) said:

“If you truly believe in your mind and in your heart that this worldly life is inevitably perishing, that everything in it is an illusion, and a mirage, and if you become convinced with this, believe me, you shall be from the winners. It is the nafs that is dangerous, do not let it overcome you, the nafs that commands evil, fight it with all your strength, for you are all stronger and fiercer than it and do not care about the ornaments of the fading dunya (worldly life) for it is but an illusion.”

Sayings of Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (PBUH), p.48, hadith 119

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