Recently I had the chance to visit the graveyard which left me an indelible mark on my soul and my perception. As I was walking through the graveyard, I noticed that almost all the graves had tombstones on which the names and the dates of birth and death of the deceased were ingrained. One particular engraving captured my attention. Under the name of the deceased was engraved ‘Ph.D’. The moment I saw it, a series of questions whirled through my mind. I couldn’t process this information. Something inside me was shaken. What was the reason behind writing these words? Why did they choose to engrave this title on the deceased’s tombstone? Was it to impress visitors? Was it the wish of the deceased? Or was it something that gives the deceased and others a sense of achievement or satisfaction? My mind couldn’t comprehend what good and honor this degree held at that moment. Would you really enjoy your merits at this time? Was there any worth to this degree if this is not any beneficial for others? Instantly, my thoughts shifted to the concept of ongoing charity in Islam. My heart couldn’t appreciate the beauty of our religion which teaches us how to continue our charity even if you are not alive. How to keep reaping the fruits of your labor even when you don’t exist.
Most precisely, in our religion like everything has a purpose, knowledge also serves a higher purpose. It is just not limited to just titles and degrees and some worldly achievement yet it can only bear fruits if we spend it wisely and for the purpose of benefiting mankind. That Ph. D doesn’t mean anything if it is just meant to be written on our tombstones once we pass away. It can truly leave a lasting mark if we make our knowledge worthwhile, make it ever lasting by teaching it to others and spending it in the most productive manner. Imagine if all those days of hard work, endless efforts, and sleepless nights earned us nothing but mere recognition of Ph. D or M.D or an engineer or a hafiz or a Sheikh or an Imam. Was that the real purpose behind all these struggles?
It is true that in today we have numerous prestigious titles, knowledgeable people and encyclopedias but the stark reality is, there are very few who have taken their knowledge to the next level.There are only handful of people who make their knowledge ever lasting which is the essence of our religion. Ironically, we may observe that not a single particle is wasted in our ecosystem yet there is an abundance of knowledge and information that remain meaningless and worthless. Since when has the purpose of knowledge been merely to display a fancy and prestigious name tag when you are six feet under?
That leads to the fact that what legacy we all are leaving behind? Is it our wealth, talent or knowledge? These verses of Surah Yaseen beautifully captures the idea in these words:
Indeed, it is We who bring the dead to life and record what they have put forth and what they left behind, and all things We have enumerated in a clear register.