I have been thinking about death for a number of months, almost daily. I keep receiving reminders almost everywhere I go.
In the space of a few days, I saw many situations that were abnormal. Maybe these situations or things were always there and my eyes were not open, maybe, it wasn't my eyes and it was my heart that needed to be open? I am grateful for being able to see the truth and this lead to this article on Death.
Here is a list of some of things that I experienced: I was thinking about a friend who had passed away some time ago, I saw a picture of a graveyard, I saw a man clean mud from his shoes, even though I did not ask him where the mud came from, he said he had just come from the graveyard, then I passed by a gathering of people preparing for a funeral prayer. This was all in a space of week, it really had an impact on me. We are constantly surrounded by remembrance of death and like a bad joke we shrug if off and turn away. Is it that simple? We shrug and turn away and see this as not a problem but why is this so common? However this does not work ...
This is the true certainty, that we will face in life, that one day we will die, full stop. This life that we enjoy so much will come to an end then the real tests will come, that is when it's too late.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "Remember often, the ender of pleasures."
Is this not death? The end? One brother once advised me to pray as if I was dead. It did not make sense to me at that time but later, after some reflection, it made sense. When you are dead then you will realise what the prayer meant to you and what it will mean.
Imagine that, one day, the angel of death will visit you and it will not come for anyone else, he is coming for you; To take your soul back to were it came. Are you ready now? We don't know, do we, when it could be anytime now and we would be none the wiser. How much time have we wasted, watching television, on the Internet, chatting with friends and failed to commit to what actually benefits us? You cannot argue in the grave because that's when it's too late, you have your chance and you squirmed your way out of the issue. I was sent a video about a football player who died on the football field; It was almost as if his soul was being ripped out of his body.
Bara reported: the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) sat at the edge of a grave and shed tears until the Earth in front of him was wet. He said, "O' brothers, prepare yourselves for a day like this when your time comes." (Ibn Majah)
What do you think of two people, who are living on a fault line, where an Earthquake could hit at anytime; one is fortifying his home for it and the other is doing nothing. He says, "Why should I prepare for it, when it is going to happen anyway?" Allowing his logic to run away with him and the other says, "When you are ready for the Earthquake then it will not come as a shock!" An Earthquake hits, whose house would you rather be in? The man who had a house of straw or the man who prepared his house well with bricks? Either way we are going to die. But in reality the man who build the strong house was building, was working his house for the afterlife and his work will not go in vain; rather all his effort will be recompensed by Allah (Mighty and Majestic). As for the man who had the house of straw, how much reward can he hope for? Well lets see, he did little so he will receive little. Yet, we know Allah (mighty and Majestic) repays us for the smallest amount of good. But who would you rather be?
How many us business people do not trade with Allah (mighty and Majestic)? Why don't we supplicate asking for good works, pray, fast, read the Quran, there are so many things that we could be doing.
Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: Someone came to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and asked for advice. He said, "Stop wanting and hoping for things that are in the possession of others. Stop being ambitious. Wanting what others have is certainly the worst of poverty. Make each of your prayers as if it will be your last prayer. Prevent yourself from doing things for which you will be later, be sorry." (Imam Bayhaqi)
The word mortal is interesting, the Oxford dictionary definition is something leading to death, this comes from a Latin word "mort" which means death. This, to me at least, seems quite similar to the Arabic word "Mata" death. The "Encompassing dictionary" gives the definition of death as the opposite of life.
That's quite final isn't it?
Is it the End?
We do know that we will die one day but that is not the end, that is the beginning of the afterlife, the first station of the next world. If you are a believer then this will be easy for you, if you aren't then it will be worse than you could possibly imagine, much worse.
We know that what follows the grave is the resurrection, the traverse, the standing, the reckoning, the final path and then to Paradise or Hell. Death is by no means and end, it is the beginning of the next life. The place we can look forward to reaping the rewards of afterlife. There is a saying, "The world is a plantation of the afterlife," some attribute it to Sheikh Abdul Qadir Al-Gilani (may Allah show him mercy).
It is scary to know that the actions that we do here will last forever and if they are good we will be happy about them but if they are bad we will abhor to see the ugliness of the works. So if an action will last forever do you want a good action forever or a bad one forever? Works will be given forms on the Day of Judgement, would you like something ugly to come near you?
Anas ibn Malik (may Allah show him mercy) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "Remember death often: it will prevent you from sinning and help you to repent from your sins." (Ibn Abu Dunya).
Death in modern culture
Death is ridiculed, ignored, mocked and many people find it difficult to speak about, hence the number names for it are many. Kicking the bucket is one of many. Yet even the hardest atheist will not be able to deny that his death is coming one day, this is a certainty that no one can deny except the foolish.
Family of Imran 3:143
"And verily you used to wish for death before you met it (in the field). Now you have seen it with your eyes!"
Here are some interesting proverbs on death:
"Death is a remedy for all ills."
"Nothing is certain but death and taxes."
"One funeral makes many orphans."
"Shrouds have no pockets."
(Geddes and Grosset English dictonary and Thesaurus p.1022)
"No matter how we put it, death is hard to think and talk about." "It is much more difficult, however, to comprehend what it is or might be to no longer be alive." The Psychology of death by Robert Kastenbaum p.197.
Death is inescapable and it is something we have certainty with so we must prepare for that last moment which come when we least expect it. We may be busy with something and we will not be able to complete it, we may be at home or outside. Wherever we are when the time comes, the time it will not be put off, the time is now and it will happen now. Do not be a person who is in loss at this time because he failed to the good works that he should have. The time is over and now all he has is regret. We have no time to waste because if we waste time then we are losing reward.
Imam Ghazali (may Allah show him mercy) said, in Inner dimensions of Islamic worship, that, "When you hear the call to prayer given by the caller, let yourself feel the terror of the summons on the Resurrection day." If we can internalise this then we will hear five calls for death, five calls for resurrection, everyday.
The gathering 62:8
"Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Lo! the death from which you shrink will surely meet you, and afterward you will be returned unto the Knower of the Invisible and the Visible, and He will tell you what you used to do."
It is not easy to think about death, its very difficult. Death is also a means to another life so it's a door out of this one which leads to a permanent abode...
Recently, my grandmother passed away. It was something that was expected as she was ill, frequently. I was shocked at some of my relatives responses to her passing. Death is decreed and there is nothing that we can do to prevent it or delay it.
Nor is it any kind of injustice, this life is not the end of everything nor is it everything. This is place of action that will determine our final abode and how foolish we are if we do not prepare for that abode.
Allah (the exalted) owns us and has given everything to us, he has warned us about death, so where is the injustice? The real injustice is what we have done to ourselves, where we have lived lives without boundaries and we did not care. We are unjust to ourselves, there is no injustice upon ourselves.
Ponder the following verse from the Quran, the Dominion (67:1-2):
"Blessed is He in Whose hand is the Sovereignty, and, He is Able to do all things.Who hath created life and death that He may try you which of you is best in conduct; He is the Mighty, the Forgiving."
Please supplicate for her and if you want an explanation about tribulations see previous work on this subject by clicking on the 17 benefits of tribulation label.