All actions of every man in the past, present, and future can be traced down to two basic emotions: pain and pleasure. Look at the people around you and look at yourself, the only reason you do absolutely anything in life is in order to avoid potential pain or to achieve potential pleasure. This is why you go to work in the morning, and this is why you close your eyes in a sandstorm. Now in the context of this have you ever asked yourself the following question:
Do you want to be a good Muslim in order to avoid going to Hell OR in order to go into Paradise?
It is very hard to be a good Muslim these days, not only non-Muslims, but Muslims are encouraging you to do sins, therefore if one is to stay on the course throughout his life, it is absolutely essential that he be highly motivated, and this is where the question above comes into play.
The question above contains the two motivations for virtually every action we do in our lives not only as Muslims but as human beings. So why am I asking you to choose between the two? Because one emotion is stronger than the other.
When I asked myself this very question, I was unable to decide immediately because for being a good Muslim, Allah has promised us not only the potential of avoiding pain but also the potential for pleasure, as seen by the Verses that follow:
As for those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds, for them are Gardens (Paradise) as entertainment, for what they used to do. (32:17, 19)
Theirs will be a bed of Hell (Fire) and over them coverings (of Hell-fire). Thus do We recompense the Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers, etc.). (7:41)
Then I began to ponder over my own life experiences, and asked ‘Am I more motivated to do work when I’m in fear of pain, or do I work harder when there is a potential for pleasure afterward’ and every time the answer came out that I work better when I’m in fear of pain. So what does all this mean and how can it help me get where I want in the Hereafter?
Well, what this means is that potential pain is a stronger motivator than potential pleasure for me, and now I can use this fact when I go through life having to choose between my desires and that potential pain.
For example, if I have a chance to take interest in my bank account I will not take it because I fear the “bed of Hell (Fire)” (from the Verse above).
Now I want you to figure out your own motivator by digging into your life experiences, it doesn’t have to be potential for pain, it could be the potential for pleasure that brings out the best in you, but it is absolutely essential for you to work this out.
Once you know the stronger motivator for you, you can control Shaitan from the palm of your hand, if he tempts you to do anything, motivate yourself not to do it by reminding yourself of the motivator, for example, if you are motivated by the fear of pain then read the compilation of Qur’anic Verses describing Hell. And if you are motivated by the potential for pleasure then read the compilation of Qur’anic Verses describing Paradise.