“By Allah, if only the corpse you cried over could speak, and he recounts the moment of his death to you, you will surely forget the corpse and cry over your own self” (Ghazali)
By Fatima Ariadne
In Eastern Europe, there was a castle built with labyrinth-like corridors and a lot of fake doors. Walk one corridor, and you’ll be led to another. Open one door, and there’s actually no room behind it – just a wall. Such peculiar castle rooms was designed to serve one purpose : to deceive the angel of death, make him lost amid the twisted corridors, so he won’t pick up the owner to afterlife. Do you think this works? Well but just to show that some people can really go to a great length to avoid death. I’m sure it will remind you to these verses :
“Wherever you are, death will found you out, even if you are in towers built up strongly…” (Suraa An-Nisa : 78)
“Even if you’ve remained in your homes, those whom death was decreed upon would certainly have gone forth to the place of their death” (Suraa Ali Imran : 154)
Another shocking true story, a 13 year old boy survived from Titanic with his mother and favorite teddy bear. But 6 days later, he died from a car accident. Escaped from one jaw of death, he was swallowed by another. The teddy bear he brought, Polar, became well-known. In every Titanic memorial, Polar is reproduced and shared to the victims’ families.
“Say : the angel of death, who is set over you, shall take your souls. Then you shall be brought to your Lord. And if only you could see when the sinners will stoop their heads before their Lord (they would certainly say), “Our Lord, we have seen and heard, so send us back (to worldly life) that we shall do righteous good deeds. Verily, we now believe with certainty”
(Suraa As Sajdah : 11 – 12)
Our Future Home is Here
1) Strive for better deeds everyday while you’re living
Imagine a soccer match that has unlimited time. Would the players be so motivated to score a goal? You bet! It’s a law of nature in us humans to appreciate thing when it’s scarce or limited. Gold is precious not because they’re shiny, but because they’re scarce. If this earth is covered with gold in abundance, like sea, you can bet that it won’t be as valuable and highly sought after anymore. It’s the nature of supply and demand, really.
It’s not about when you’re gonna die, but how you fill your life with the best deeds while you’re living.
Ask this question to yourself : if you die this evening, will you be ready?
What legacy have you left behind? With your current state of heart, deeds, and imaan (faith), will you be happy to see your Lord? Or ashamed?
No one wakes up in the morning thinking that they’ll die from something unexpected that very afternoon, or evening.
A companion of Prophet was once asked, “why is it we hate death?”. His answer was, “Because you have built and established this world so much, while destroying your hereafter. Hence, you hate to go from the place you’ve established, to the place you have destroyed”.
2) Give your loved ones the best they can have as long as you both are living
I remember this beautiful quote from movie “Troy” where Brad Pitt who played the role Achilles said – the gods and goddesses are envy to mortals. Because humans are not immortal, every moments are precious, and they realized they must value every moments of their life to live it for the best.
Too often we heard regret words from people who lost their loved ones from death “if only I do this and that while he’s living”, “if only I take care of my mother and spends quality time with her while she lived”.
In “Woman Power” book by Dr. Laura Schlesinger, a woman who was ungrateful to her husband when he still lived, lamented this after he’s dead :
“I didn’t tell him I appreciated all he did and all he was. Today, a year after he died at forty-nine from cancer, I cry for all my son and I have lost. Today I would tell him how much I loved, needed, appreciated him, twenty times a day if it would make him happy. I know that he was the greatest guy in the world. I wish with all my heart that I had a second chance…”.
How many times you ignore your loved ones (spouse, parents, siblings), not appreciating their existence and what they did for you while they’re around? Since death is unpredictable, ask yourself – what would you do today if you knew tomorrow your loved one will be gone?
Never wait until it’s too late!
3) Death is a bridge
“Crossing Over” by Guy Longtin
One day a scholar lady asked in our class, “if you want to enter the paradise, raise your hands” – all hands were raised. “If you want to die, raise your hands”. No hands were raised.
“How come? If you want to enter the paradise, okay your deeds will be accounted and God will decide if you deserve the paradise. But you must die first to get there. Now, anyone wants to die?”. The girls silenced, some giggled.
When I was a toddler, I asked my mum once : “Mummy, what does it feel to die? If I die, what will happen?”
Her speaking tone turned to worry “honey, please refrain from that talk”.
It was until I learned about the hell and paradise concept, I could understand a bit why adults fear death. But the question remained is : which part of the death most people feared of, is it fear of the awaited eternal damnation? Fear of separating from everything they know and love in this world? Or simply, fear of the unknown of crossing over? I bet with my hijabs it was mostly the second and third. At least I know personally one person in my life, who has a chronic fear of impending doom – and he doesn’t believe in afterlife.
The truth, death is just a bridge. A beginning of another life. It’s not actually the soul-body separation to be feared of, but rather what kind of life awaiting us beyond this bridge. Are we ready? Are YOU ready?
4) Count yourself before you’re counted
Some wise reminders to ponder :
“Take account of yourself before you’re taken to account. Weigh yourself before you’re weighed” (Umar ibn Khattab r.a)
“A believer is a guardian of his own self : he accounts himself for Allah. Those who take account of themselves in this world will be audited lightly in the Afterlife. Those who take this issue lightly will find their Afterlife auditing very difficult” (Hasan Al-Bashri)
Even Abu Hurairah (r.a) himself didn’t feel safe from the Afterlife punishment. In his death bed, he wept and uttered these words :
“Surely I am not crying for being attached to this world, but rather for the long journey awaiting me, and the little provisions I have prepared for it. This morning, I am descending upon either paradise, or hell, and I have no idea towards which of the two I will be taken!”
So why would we, whose worship quality is much lower than the Prophet’s companions, feel safe from the Eternal consequences?
5) Happy Ending or Sad Ending?
In around 2001, there was an ironic news (true story) spreading around in our local newspaper. A small theater group was playing a drama “God is Dead”. In one of the scene, the “God” was covered in white sheets and coffin by “angels” because he’s dead. Just several moments after the theater show is over, a screaming, cries, and panic were audible from the backstage. The actor playing the role as God was truly found dead!! Audiences, including media who reviewed the show – witnessed he lived, he breathed, walked, and talked throughout the half of scenes.
In his book “Al Jawaabul Kaafi”, Ibn Qayyim wrote that he was with a person in his death bed, and he said to the ill “say laa ilaaha ilallah (no deity to be worshipped but Allah)”. But he answered “what’s the use for me. I never do my prayers for Allah, even just once”, and died.
Also in another book, he told about a person who lived for music as if music is in his blood. Before he died, instead of saying laa ilaaha ilallah, he’s singing a song until the spirit left his physical body.
And I’m sure you peeps have heard about the story of a man who had killed 100 persons and wanted to repent. He was told to go to a village full of wise, religious people. In the middle of his journey he’s dead. He entered the paradise because his distance is only one cubit closer to his destination than of his previous place.
May Allah grants all of us the husnul khatimah (death’s happy ending), ameen.
Al Ghazali’s Last Words
Before we parted, let me share a beautiful poem from an all-time adored scholar Al-Ghazali. It’s his last words before he’s death. Hope it can make your day!
“Say to my friends, when they look upon me, dead
Weeping for me and mourning me in sorrow
Do not believe that this corpse you see is myself
In the name of God, I tell you, it is not I,
I am a spirit, and this is naught but flesh
It was my abode and my garment for a time.
I am a treasure, by a talisman kept hid,
Fashioned of dust, which served me as a shrine,
I am a pearl, which has left its shell deserted,
I am a bird, and this body was my cage
Whence I have now floron forth and it is left as a token
Praise to God, who hath now set me free
And prepared for me my place in the highest of the heaven,
Until today I was dead, though alive in your midst.
Now I live in truth, with the grave – clothes discarded.
Today I hold converse with the saints above,
With no veil between, I see God face to face.
I look upon “Lauh-Mahfuz” (The Great Book of Creations) and there in I read
Whatever was and is and all that is to be.
Let my house fall in ruins, lay my cage in the ground,
Cast away the talisman, it is a token no more
Lay aside my cloak, it was but my outer garment.
Place them all in the grave, let them be forgotten,
I have passed on my way and you are left behind
Your place of abode was no deweling place for me.
Think not that death is death, nay, it is life,
A life that surpasses all we could dream of here,
While in this world, here we are granted sleep,
Death is but sleep, sleep that shall be prolonged
Be not frightened when death draweth near,
It is but the departure for this blessed home
Think of the mercy and love of your Lord,
Give thanks for His Grace and come without fear.
What I am now, even so shall you be
For I know that you are even as I am
The souls of all men come forth from God
The bodies of all are compounded alike
Good and evil, alike it was ours
I give you now a message of good cheer
May God’s peace and joy for evermore be yours.”
(credits to sunnahonline.com for the reference of no.4)