Long hopes are extremely blameworthy. They lead one to work for prosperity of his worldly life at the expense of ruining his Hereafter. The Messenger of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) said, “The first fold among this nation will be saved by detachment from this world and short hopes, while the last will perish by greed for this world and long hopes.”
And he said (may God bless him and grant him peace), “Four things are of wretchedness: dry eyes, hardness of the heart, greed, and long hopes.” The Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) prayed, “I seek Your protection from every hope that may distract me!”
‘Ali, may God honor his countenance, said, “What I fear most for you is that you follow your passions and have long hopes. Following passions repels from the truth; and having long hopes causes you to forget the Hereafter.”
It is a maxim that he whose hopes are long, his works are bad. [To harbor] long hopes is to feel secure that you will remain in this world for a very long time. Is shows and excessive foolishness and extreme stupidity, for long hopes push away certitude [about death] and [attracts] attachment to the illusion [of a perpetual life].
If you say to such a person in the evening, “Are you certain you will live until morning?” or if you say to him in the morning, “Are you certain you will live until evening?” he will say: “No!” Still, he works for this world as if he is never to die, to the point that should he be told that he will remain in this world forever, he will be incapable of adding more desire and greed for it. What can be more foolish than that?
Furthermore, long hopes are at the root of a number of evil character traits and acts which hinder obedience [of God’s commands] and invite to sin. Examples of this are avidity, avarice, and the fear of poverty. Among the worst are finding comfort in this world, working to improve one’s lot in it, and striving to amass its debris. He has said, may blessings and peace be upon him, “I was sent for the ruin of this world, he who makes it prosper is not of me.”
Long hopes bring about procrastination, which is a most sterile thing, for it never gives birth to anything good. It is said that most of the woeful howling of the people of the Fire is due to [their] procrastination. For he who procrastinates is ever lazy in obedience, slow in repentance, until death overtakes him, then he will say: “O Lord! Were you to only reprieve me for a short time, that I may give charity and be one of the righteous” (63:10).
But it will be said to him: “God will not delay a soul whose time has come” (63:11). Did We not give you lives long enough that he who reflects may indeed reflect, and the warner came to you? So taste! For the unjust have no helper (35:37). The procrastinator leaves this world with endless sorrow and limitless regret.
O my brother, shorten your hopes, and let your time stand before your eyes and your hope behind your back. Seek help in this by remembering the “defeater of pleasures” (death) in abundance, the “disperser of companies.” Reflect on those who have preceded you, relatives and acquaintances [who have passed on]. bring to mind just how near death is, for it is the nearest thing lying in wait. Be ready for it; expect its pouncing upon you any time.
The Messenger of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) used to say, “By He in whose Hand is my soul, I never raised my eyes thinking I would lower them before my soul is taken, nor have I ever eaten a morsel thinking that I would swallow it without choking on it because of death.” Sometimes he rubbed the wall for tayammum, and, when it was said to him, “Water is near,” he replied, “How do I know that I will ever reach it?”
Al-Siddiq, may God be pleased with him, used to recite, “Every man wakes up in his home with death nearer to him than the laces of his sandals.”
The Proof of Islam, may God have mercy on him, wrote, “Know that death does not pounce at a specific time, situation, or age, but it is certain to pounce. Therefore, preparing for it has priority over preparing for this world.”
Imam ‘Abdallah ibn ‘Alawi al-Haddad, Two Treatises (Mutual Reminding & Good Manners) of Imam al-Haddad