This Hadith is a foundation for limiting one's hope in this life. A believer shouldn't consider this life as his homeland or permanent residence, his heart being completely tranquil and at ease within it. Rather, he should stay in it as if he were on a journey, preparing himself to leave. The advice of the prophets and their followers encourage this.
Allah said, narrating from a believer at the time of Pharaoh that he said:
"Oh my people, surely this worldly life is nothing but a (quick, passing) enjoyment, and certainly, the hereafter - that's the home that will last forever." [Soorah Ghafir 40:39]
Ali Ibn Abi Talib used to say, "This life has begun travelling away, and the hereafter has begun travelling forward, and each has its children. So, be one of the children of the hereafter, and don't be one of the children of this life. For today there's action with no account, and tomorrow there will be account with no action."
Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz said in a sermon, "This life is not your permanent abode. Allah has prescribed that it will come to an end and He's prescribed for its people to depart from it. How often has a thriving population been ruined for something so insignificant, and how often has a joyful resident been made to depart something so insignificant? So, prepare well, may Allah have mercy on you, for the journey with your best preparations. And take provisions, for the best provision is a conscience that's fearful of Allah."
If this life is not a permanent residence or homeland for a believer, then a believer's condition in it must be either one of two states:
For this, the Prophet advised Ibn Umar to live in this life in one of these two states:
In this state, the believer is abandoned as if he were a stranger in this life, appearing to be a resident, yet really in a strange land. His heart's not attached to this strange land. Instead, his heart is attached to his real homeland that he's returning to. He's only staying in this life to fulfil his objective – preparing for his return to his home.
Al-Fudhayl Ibn 'Iyyaadh said, "A believer in this life is worried and sad. His worry is the objective of preparing himself. And whoever's condition in this life is such, then he has no concern other than taking provisions from what will benefit him during the return to his homeland. He doesn't compete with the people of the land, among whom he's merely a stranger, in what they consider honourable. And he doesn't become worried if he seems insignificant among them." Al-Hasan (Al- Basri) said, "The believer is like a stranger. He's neither worried about being insignificant in it (this life), nor does he compete for honour in it. He's in one state and most other people in another. Whenever Allah created Adam (u), He made him and his wife live in Paradise. Then he was put out of it, yet promised to return – him and his righteous offspring. So, the believer's always longing for this, his first homeland..."
In this state, the believer considers himself in this life as a traveller, not permanently residing in it. He's only moving along at one of the many points of his journey until he ends his travels, which is death. Whoever's condition is like that then his main concern is nothing more than to acquire provisions for his journey. He's not concerned with an abundance of enjoyment in this life. For this reason, the Prophet advised a group of his Companions that their main objective in this life should be to obtain the provision of a traveller.
One of the Salaf wrote to one of his brothers, "My brother, it appears to you as if you're a resident. However, you're really only constantly travelling, and you're moving quickly. Death is heading towards you, and this life is passing behind you. What's passed of your life will not return to you (to correct it) on Resurrection Day."
Al-Fudhayl Ibn Iyyaadh said to a man, "How many (years) have come upon you?" He replied, "Sixty years." He said, "So then, for sixty years you've been heading to your Lord and you're about to reach Him." The man said, "To Allah we belong and to Him we're returning!" Al-Fudhayl then asked him, "Do you know what that statement means? You're saying, 'I belong to Allah as
a servant and I'm returning to Him.' So, whoever knows that he belongs to Allah as a servant and that he'll return to him, then he should know that he'll be stopped. And whoever knows that he's going to be stopped, then he knows he'll be questioned. And whoever knows that he'll be questioned, then he should prepare an answer for that questioning." The man asked, "So what do I do?" He said, "It's easy." The man again asked, "So what is it?" Al-Fudhayl replied, "Do good in what remains (of your life), then what has passed should be forgiven. But if you do evil in what remains, then you could be taken to account for what passed and for what remains."
Some wise people said, "Whoever spends all his days and nights riding on his animal, then he'll be taken to his destination even if he doesn't move."
Al-Awzai wrote to one of his brothers, "You're surrounded from every side. Know that you are moving forward with each day and night. So, beware of Allah and of standing between His hands. And your final promise is with Him. Peace."