Dunya is like a shadow, turn your back to it

Islam Contributor
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“The Dunya is like a shadow. If you try to catch it, you will never be able to do so. But if you turn your back to it, it has no choice but to follow.” (Ibn al-Qayyim)

This quote was made by the doctor of spiritual heart, the famous Imam, Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah. Many of us would have read this quote somewhere. And it is heartfelt, and timeless in its legacy and power. But have we considered it a bit earlier? Why did the Imam compare the Dunya to a shadow?

What does shadow mean here?

A dark image casts upon a surface when light falls upon an object. A shadow is a fake imagery, it is not real. Here Dunya is compared with the shadow which means that it is not real, it’s fake. Running after Dunya (worldly life) is just like chasing after a shadow (which is fake) instead of a person.

The second lesson shadow teaches us is that something real exists. The existence of Dunya indicates that there is a hereafter.

The third lesson of a shadow is its temporariness. The shadow is for a shorter period of time but the body is permanent. Similarly, Dunya( worldly life) is temporary and hereafter is permanent.

The fourth lesson of the shadow is that it is of little benefit and value. Shadow can be beneficial for a shorter period of time, but it does not mean that we pay too much heed to it. We are here to worship Allah and He will reward us in akhirah.

Love for Dunya

Let’s get back to the quote of Ibn-Qayyim he says that “Dunya follows the one who turns his back towards it, and that actually is true” the Dunya follows the one who turns his back towards it, and that actually is true”. Allah has made a promise in Quran that,

“And if you are thankful, I will certainly give you more”. (Quran 14:7)

Thank Allah for what we have, and He will increase it. Rather than complaining about life, we should admire every blessing of Allah that He has given us, and He will increase. By thanking Allah the Dunya will follow you on its own.

Allah has made another promise that is charity will increase our wealth. But I often ask: “Have you seen a charitable person who is poor?” And I have never found someone yet. By giving charity we turn our back to Dunya, and help the needy rather than fulfilling our own desires. When you help others when they are in their worst, Allah will reward you.

Allah says in Quran,

“But you prefer the worldly life. While the hereafter is better and more enduring”

The existence of man is temporary in this world, where his obedience to Allah’s will is tested. We just need to remember that there is a hereafter where we will be answerable to Allah Almighty. May Allah give us the strength to follow the right path; the path that leads to the obedience of God.


(Written by freelancer Sadaf Riaz)