I don’t know who said this: “To God, many come, but few tarry.”
Or words to that effect.
Could it be Jesus, God Bless Him? The words do have a Biblical ring.
Or maybe no one ever said it – and I just made them up.
Regardless, the words speak an eternal truth about the nature of God and Man – as some people would say.
“Man,” as you should know, is not my word.
Thomas Jefferson used it: All Men Are Created Equal. Sad, but he did.
Thomas Paine used it: Rights of Man. Even more sad, but he did too.
If I am not mistaken, Yusuf Ali uses it in his translation of the Qur’an, and quite a few times, which is nothing short of a disaster.
Alhamdulillah, I don’t. At least to the extent I am aware.
Instead, I try to use the words that render the expressions in the Qur’an – Annaas, Al-Ins and Al-Insaan – the best and the closest to the original text of the Qur’an: People; Human Being; the Human.
So, the words “Many Come, Few Tarry” provide a remarkable insight into the relationship that binds human beings to God.
The word “tarry” means to wait; to stay; to stick around.
The fact is that these words, “Many Come, Few Tarry,” as a characterization of human relationship with God, speak an eternal, and a very disconcerting truth, about who we are as human beings.
These words seem to say:
While many of us may be tempted to come to God initially – and enlist to do Allah’s work, as in Working for Allah – most of us would leave after a while.
There are a number of reasons why this happens. But the most important one – and it is the only one that really matters – is the fact that their names are not on Allah’s Final List.
In other words, these are people who failed to make the Final Cut.
Looked at from a worldly point of view, reasons for this human attrition in the business of Working for Allah could be many. One of them is motivation.
That is right!
Many of those who leave midway to find a more comfortable personal niche elsewhere are people who came into this work with mixed motivations to begin with.
They wanted other things than Allah and his work.
Or they wanted more things than Allah and his work.
Evidently, the Aayat A-Laisallahu Bi-Kaafin 'Abdah? was not enough for them. Allah was not a sufficient reason for them to stay and work for him till their death.
Most likely, many of them loved themselves more than they loved Allah and his Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, all claims to the contrary.
This created in many of them a discipline deficit when it came to Working for Allah on a sustained basis. So, they began doing things their own way. Not being accountable to the leadership, or to the Jama’at.
And they began dropping out of Working for Allah at one stage or another as suited them.
Some, soon after they joined the work, while some others hung around till it was time for them to go.
Or till someone or something finally came along to embrace and claim them and dangle in front of them what they had always been quietly – quite possibly even unconsciously – hankering after.
The Qur’an provides a very graphic and detailed portrait of these people. Here is just one of those many Aayaat in the Qur’an:
Wa Maa Aktharunnaasi wa Lau Harasta B-Mumineen.
“When it comes to Iman, most people will not make the Final Cut, no matter how much it may bother you.”