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Snakes & Ladders



Bism-illah irahman nirahim


In the name of Allah, the beneficent and most merciful

‘The life of this world is nothing but play and amusement. But far better is the house in the hereafter for those who are pious’. (6:32)



Allah (swt) has described this world as a game and a pastime, this fact is evident in many of the activities we indulge in. If we choose to reflect then there are deep lessons to be learnt in many of our normal routines.


In today’s day and age, there are advanced interactive games such as Wii and Playstation but many of us remember when playing board games was the favourite pastime for many families. The one game which has a strong familiarity with its set up and aims is ‘Snakes & Ladders’.  This board game was designed in a way that set out our path from start to finish, we have to get to the end by avoiding the ‘snakes’ and taking help from the ‘ladders’. If you land on a snake then you will fall below and if you land on a ladder, then you will be elevated to a higher place thus nearer to the finish. Such a simple game but upon reflection this is the very essence of life and the rules are the same. In our lives we make decisions and ultimately place our faith in Allah (swt) for the better outcome. It may be in relation to our employment or business or simply ones that ensure we avoid danger, an example of this is when we look left and right before crossing a road. These decisions are taken because of self-preservation, we want to avoid being harmed.


In all walks of life, there are unlimited moments and times when we let our guard down and weaken our faith meaning we drift further away from the gardens of Paradise. In effect we step on a snake and fall down. A friend once said to me ‘Just think there are people better than us who will be in the hell-fire’.  How true this may be but have we set out to correct it? Just reflect for some moments on the lack of regard we have for the divine teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Praying five times a day is absolutely obligatory on us and the time spent completing these prayers only amount to a fraction of our day. Why then do we avoid our salaat? We simply become ignorant to its importance and intentionally choose to ignore the ladder that Allah (swt) has placed in front of us. We look left and right when crossing a busy highway, in order to avoid serious injury and even death but transgress the limits of the divine orders of Allah (swt) with no thought of the consequence. We focus in our jobs ensuring that we are punctual and do our very best to progress hoping for great rewards but in reality we are so short sighted. In this world, no matter how hard we work there are no guarantees of the reward, but if we work and strive in the path of Islam, the reward cannot escape us and the promise of Allah (swt) is true. The inner-desires take us away and constantly distract us from piety and truth, this is called our nafs . These desires, which are based on dis-obedience are driven by the devil, who runs through our veins and lives within us. This Nafs are the things we like but are forbidden, the thoughts that we have but are impure and the feelings that will lead us to destruction in the hell-fire. As believers who have strayed, the decisions were ours and they were to follow our nafs and listen to Iblis.


If we reflect on the decisions we make and remember who we are and where we want to go, then we will become mindful of the snakes and will look for the ladders. We should reflect on the way we live in Islam, just as we avoid the dangerous roads and the loss- making ventures.


Do we believe and choose to pray rather than sleep? Do we choose to fast rather than eat? Do we choose to lower our gaze rather then stare? Do we love our brothers and sisters in purity or prefer to hate and defame? Do we seek Paradise by climbing the ladder of prayer and remembrance or wander into darkness with hell lying in wait.