“…and she went on and told me all about the good place [Heaven]. She said all a body would have to do there was to go around all day with a harp and sing for ever and ever. So I didn’t think much of it. But I never said so. I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go there, and she said not by a considerable sight. I was glad about that, because I wanted him and me to be together.” -Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Mark Twain may not be a legitimate source for Christian theology, and he may have been dead for quite a while now, but I think his bitter and slightly sacrilegious view of religion may still be relevant. After all, I’m sure that everyone knows someone who’s said, “Who wants to go to heaven anyway? It’s all boring, sitting around on clouds and singing.”
As a Muslim, I pitied the Christians and their limited heaven, but at the same time, I could relate to the ones who thought Heaven was absolutely the dullest thing that could happen to you post-mortem. I never said anything about it though, and kept that foolish sentiment to myself. I told myself that even if I wasn’t too enthusiastic about striving for Heaven, I should at least realize that I’d rather not be in hell. So I opted for heaven by process of elimination, and secretly hoped that it would have video games.
I’m not joking, I wish I was, because when I write this out it sounds monumentally stupid, but it’s the truth. I was hoping that Heaven had video games, and roller-blading, and snow-boarding, and anything and everything entertaining that my lil’ heart could possibly desire, because at the time, I wasn’t interested in eternity with a spouse, righteous company, refreshments and the favor of Allah.
My God, I was such an idiot. How long did it take me to realize that video games are an empty, mind-numbing vortex that provide no real happiness. An hour or two of entertainment, yes, but no happiness. It’s the same with all other ‘entertainment,’ it’s empty. It can busy you for a bit, but it can never make you happy. It doesn’t matter what you talk about, whether its video games or fast cars or collecting expensive crap, none of it can make you truly happy. How many people are there in the world that have everything that money can buy, all the entertainment, all the material wealth, and still turn to drugs or suicide out of misery? Things and stuff can’t make man happy, so what does? What would you surround yourself with if you had an eternity to fill?
A loving spouse. The company of good people. The best food you have ever eaten in your entire life.
Does it still sound boring? Not to me anymore. I can think of nothing more beautiful, more peaceful, than reclining in a garden with my head on the shoulder of a loving husband, in a relationship made whole and perfect by Allah, who has removed all enmity, bitterness, or rancor from our hearts. (7:43) I can think of nothing more enjoyable than the company of righteous friends and the righteous members of my family (52:17-24), seated in honor and ease (37:41-49), in perfect security and with no fear of illness, fatigue, or death. (56:11-38) Imagine never again having to feel the heart-breaking ache of watching someone you love suffer, or the people you cherish grow old and near death.
Haven’t you ever been somewhere and had such a nice time, such a lovely time, that you sighed, “I wish this would never end?” In Heaven it’s always beautiful, it’s always lovely, it’s more perfect than you could ever imagine, and it never ends. (50:31-35) There is no stress (43:68-73), there are no worries, and what’s more, there is the unbelievable feeling of having accomplished the greatest thing you could possibly have achieved in your life- the Pleasure of Your Creator. There is no fear of sinning or of displeasing Allah. The test is over, you already passed. You have been freed from the trials of your worldly life and your reward- your loving spouse, the good people and family that were separated from you by death, and an eternity of absolute happiness awaits you.
“That,” Allah says in the Qur’an, “Will be the Supreme Achievement.” (44:51-57)
Sounds like a good place to me. Too bad nobody every told Mark Twain about Islam…