THE VOICE WITHIN
There was a country a long time ago where the citizens would change their king every year. The person who would become king had to agree to a contract that he will be sent to a remote island after one year of rule.
So, after a king finished his term, the people would dress him up in expensive robes and jewelry, put him on a caparisoned elephant and take him around the cities to bid farewell. For all the kings, these fil moments were of sadness. Thereafter, the subjects would escort their king on a boat to the island and leave him there with tearful goodbyes.
Once, while on their way back from the island, the people discovered that a ship had sunk nearby. They saw a young man who had survived by holding on to a floating piece of wood. As they needed a new king, the people picked up the young man and took him to their country. They then requested him to sit upon the throne and rule over them for a year.
At first the young man refused, but later after much persuasion and reflection, he agreed. The citizens told him about the one-year rule, and banishment to the island thereafter.
Barely a week into his reign, the new king asked the ministers if they could show him the island where all the past kings had been sent. They agreed and took him there. It was overgrown with thick jungle, echoing with the cries of vicious animals.
Undaunted, the king went in alone. And then, one after the other, the king discovered the bones and remains of all his predecessors. He at once understood that soon after they had been left on the island, the predators had come for them...
The king then went back and requested his ministers to provide him with a hundred strong workers. His wish was carried out. The king took the workers to the island and ordered them to clear out the jungle, except the fruit trees, and elimite all deadly animals. He kept visiting the island every month to see how the work progressed.
In the first month, all the deadly animals were hunted down and many trees were felled. In the second month, the whole island was cleaned up. The king then directed the workers to plant gardens and orchards in different parts of the island. He also began taking useful animals like chickens, ducks, goats and cows there during his trips.
In the third month, the king told the workers to lay roads, build houses and set up dockyards for ships. Over the next months, the island turned into a beautiful, lively place. The young king meanwhile lived a simple and frugal life, saving nearly all his earnings to store in the island.
When nine months passed, the king called a meeting of the citizens and told them of his desire to retire to the island there and then, despite three months of his reign still remaining. The people did not know what to make of their king’s request, but refused to let go of him before his term was up.
After three months, the citizens began their yearly ritual of farewell to the king. This time however, things were different. The young king happily dressed up in full royal glory and joyfully bid his subjects goodbye. He seemed unusually happy and relieved to take leave from the kingdom.
The mystified citizens asked: “Your Highness, how is it that the kings before you had cried at this moment, while you are smiling and having a good time?”
And the departing king replied: “Don’t you know what the wise say? When you were born into this world, you were crying while everyone around was smiling. So, live such a life that when you are dying, you will be smiling while everyone around you will be crying.”
“I have lived that life here. While the other kings immersed themselves in the luxuries of this kingdom, I always thought of the future and planned for it. I turned that deadly island into a lovely abode where I can live in peace and comfort.”
The life in this world is to prepare for the life hereafter. Lest we get lost in this world’s distractions, it is to the Prophet we need always look up to. It is his teachings we should keep in our hearts to live the worthwhile life.