By Fatima Ariadne
But First, A Story….
One time, Prophet Noah (peace be upon him) walked pass a woman who sat on her house’s door crying. He asked her, “O mother, why do you cry?”
“O Prophet of God, I just lost my son in death. He’s still 300 years old, he’s still too young to die!”
“Do not grieve, mother”, Prophet Noah (pbuh) consoled her, “there will be people after us whose lifespan will only be 80 years old”.
The old woman startled at the answer, and responded, “If I only have 80 years to live, I will surely spend the rest of my life in prostration!”
On the Thin Line
The night I gave birth to my daughter, my first child, was perhaps the most scariest moment I could remember. After bearing pain for 12 hours, delivery on 23:45 and…
I almost died on the table. It almost cost me life.
Seeing me almost passed out, midwife went panic. My family, seeing me in frantic, keep screaming at me so I could stay conscious. My father recited some Quran verses and that’s when I felt a glimpse of energy returned to my body.
That was in February 2015.
I believe there’s always Divine reason and lesson for everything. My near death experience reminds me how fragile life can be. We often forgot that life is a precious treasure, not some passing thing to be taken for granted.
On the other hand, standing in the gate of death can really changes your perspective about life. You’ll start to question : Have I accomplished my mission, my duty in this life before I’m going to the next one? How did I spent time in this world? What are misdeeds I haven’t repented on?
Because honestly, I’m not ready to die. And I don’t think I’ll ever be ready. I wish it is as simple as crossing over to the other side, but it’s not. If I die tomorrow, I’ll most likely end up in hell anyway, for all my sins and misdeeds – and I don’t say this so I can look humble. That’s just a fact – I’m a sinner.
Seeing from the Death Perspective
Talking about bucket list, these are among the things I want to do before I die :
Worldly aspiration : become a wealthy entrepreneur before 40, learn alternative healing, traveling to exotic places, guide my children to love knowledge and be visionary. etc
Spiritual aspiration : become humanitarian, save environment, travel to two holy cities (hajj) and fund my parents’ hajj, learn Maliki and Hanafi sacred law. etc
But do we really need bucket list? My answer, it depends.
“Remember the destroyer of pleasures – death” (Hadith)
So, maybe you’ve heard before about ”remembrance of death”. That’s when you think of death, what things will happen after that, and then evaluate whether you have prepared enough in this life for the next one. After all, life is only a season to farm, and death is time to harvest.
And since contemplating death is a form of dhikr or Islamic meditation in itself, you can start doing these things.
1) Imagining life in a time frame
“what will I do if I only have 30 days to live?”
“what will I do immediately if I only have 7 days to live?”
”what will I do now if I only have 24 hours to live?”
There’s a saying that often misattributed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), but contains a good message on it :
“Strive for your worldly life as if you’ll live forever, strive for your afterlife as if you’ll die tomorrow”.
2) Looking at life, from Death’s perspective
Sit down and quiet your mind. This exercise is best done in solitude and a calm atmosphere like in masjid, after prayer, or in the darkness with candle.
Now imagine, see yourself as ”having dead” right now.
Your time is up. You’re now dead. Your spirit have crossed over to another shore. You have left your worldly life behind. Your loved ones, people you know, they all stay behind and continue their lives without you. You are now standing alone. In the other world.
You’re waiting for Divine judgement. Your book is closed, what is done is done. You can’t reverse time, you can’t go back to life anymore to fix things up. What had been promised – God’s words – is here and now.
Unrepented sins, unchanged deeds or misdeeds, unpaid regrets, mixed with your prayers, good deeds, charity, all compassionate acts, whether hidden in private or shown in public — every single of them are recorded in the book, waiting to unfold.
At this moment, suddenly all the petty things in life doesn’t matter anymore. Your favorite TV shows, the latest dress or suit you admire on the mall the other day, the latest album of your favorite band or singer, a fight with boss or co-worker, your bills….They all just melt away.
Now, the only company is your deeds and your faith.
You’re terribly anxious. What is next?
You can’t go back to worldly life anymore. That is certain.
Now, this is the very moment of truth. Feel it, grasp the feeling strongly to every inch of your cells and being. Then contemplate your worldly life, which you’ve left behind.
What are the things that pops up in your mind immediately?
What are the things you wish you’ve done, things you wish you’ve never missed?
Times wasted for things that do not benefit you here?
These are what come up in my mind :
– Unrepented sins, people whom I’ve hurt but never ask forgiveness from
– Whether my deeds and worship are sufficient to redeem my soul or not
– Whether I’ll be saved or not
3) The Deathbed
”People who are dying asks for more time, but those who still have time are making excuses and procrastinating” (Ali ibn Abi Thalib)
This is less ”extreme” than the second exercise, basically you imagine yourself in your deathbed.
You’re lying down on bed. Your power has whithered. One by one, your life force diminishing, like falling leaves. Your breath, your time in this world could be counted by hours at the clock. You might be alone, or surrounded by loved ones who are looking at you.
You arrive at the end of your life. “Verily every soul shall taste death”. But you’re still conscious. You begin to wonder what it’s like to leave this body, to cross over to the other world.
Grasp this moment tightly, really feel it to your entire cell of being. What are things that immediately pops up in your mind, if right now you’re in your deathbed?
Is it satisfaction that you have fulfilled your mission toward Creator? And that you’re ready to move on?
Regret? Do you think of things you should or shouldn’t have done?
4) “Will I be sorry in Afterlife, for doing this”?
And that’s where the temptation is at. Sin is like a slow burn. You indulge now, you pay later. Tragically, sometimes. Not to mention the enjoyment of sin never last forever, for example two hours perhaps, but the price to pay in afterlife is much heavier and longer.
I have had people contacting me, ”I’m easily fall into sin, please tell me how can I stop this”.
So I’d tell them, I’m also a sinner and struggling with that. But the solutions can be : 1) repent as soon as possible, 2) shift yourself from negative environment, and 3) ok here’s the key…
Every single time you’re tempted to follow the path of Satan, just shift your mind to those like Exercise #2 then ask yourself :
”will I regret what I’m doing now, when I’m standing facing my Creator, in afterlife court?”. “Is it worth my afterlife?”.
Muraqaba’l Maoot – The Most Powerful Meditation to Contemplate Death
Credit goes to a user from Sunniforum (I forgot his name) who shared this vivid meditation guide. May this be of benefit!
Our future home is here
Meditation On Death
At bed time when you are laying in your bed, turn of all phones, laptops, ipods, ipads, myphones, iphones whatever phones and such things, and think like this:
The time has come for me now that I sever my hearts connections with all worldly things, all of the worldly transient things, all worldly transient beings, all worldly emotions, all worldly frustrations and stress, and I start a connection with my heart and Allah. As I am cutting off my hearts connections with the world and all that is in it, I can feel a connection now building with Allah. I can feel the presence of Allah. Now my real vision is opening, now my real sight is opening. Now my reality is opening to me.
Disconnect from the world, its things and its people, and ponder over your death in the following manner. Close your eyes, do not move your tongue or limbs, try to dive as deep into this thought as possible, try to live and experience what you are about to read. Don’t see yourself in the follow scenario from a third person view, but actually live and take on what you are about to read. Lay there lifeless and imagine:
I have gotten into a tragic accident and I am now laying in a hospital bed. I am laying in a hospital bed. I am now laying in a hospital bed. My beloved mother, who I dearly love, is standing beside me crying watching me die, my father who provided me safety my entire life is standing by me crying, helpless, watching me take my last breath. My family is in my hospital room, no one can help me, no one can do anything to save my life. I am now dying. I am dying, I am dying. The doctor has said there is nothing more they can do for me. This is it, I never thought this moment would come, I am dying.
“What have I attained by gaining worldly status? What have I attained by accumulating gold, silver, wealth and learning a trade? I have to die one day, my death is certain, I can do whatever I wish in this world but my death is certain!”
Now my breathing is slowing down, my heart beat is slowing down, my soul is at my throat. I cannot save my own life, my life is in the hands of someone else. I am now dead. My soul has left my body. My mother and father are crying, my siblings are crying, no one could save me, no one could help me. I had the best medicine and doctors but they could not help me. I am now gone from the world I never thought I would leave. My worldly possessions mean nothing now, all of the money and gold I accumulated mean nothing, my investments my business mean nothing now, I am dead.
They have picked up my body and are now moving my body to the morgue. In the worldly life I had full power to go wherever I wanted to go, but today my body is being taken to the morgue, the mortuary, where dead bodies go. I am a dead body, I am helpless. Now people are coming to make ghusl to my body. In the worldly life, I showered myself, now I am powerless. The people are now moving my hands and legs, I have no power in my hands, I have no power in my legs, I am lifeless. I have died.
Now they are covering my body in just one white sheet. In the worldly life I wanted to wear the best of clothes, the expensive fragrances, the best shoes, today I am wrapped in one white sheet. I am leaving my entire wardrobe behind, I am leaving my expensive shoes behind, I am leaving my beautiful fragrances behind, nothing is coming with me but this one white sheet I have on. The reality has struck me:
“My soul has to surely go one day, what I sow in this world I have to reap one day”
The people have gathered around, they have lifted me and now they are carrying me to the masjid. Before this I traveled in the best of cars, I wanted the best of transportation, airplanes, expensive luxury cars, motorcycles, I wanted the best and hottest cars of the time, today my corpse is my transportation. I now have to enter the masjid.
In the worldly life I had so many chances to go to the masjid for salaat, to ask forgiveness for my sins, to prepare for this day, I avoided the masjid, I procrastinated in going to the masjid, today I have no choice but to go, my body is being forced to go and I cannot stop it. Now they are starting my salaat ul janaza. In the worldly life I read janaza for countless people heedless that one day people would be praying salaat for my janaza, today is my janaza. My body is in front of the gathering, the imam starts the salaat. They are offering my salaat ul janaza.
Now the salaat is over and the people are rushing to grab my janaza, to carry me on their shoulders, straight to the graveyard. They are holding me and carrying me, they are rushing to bury me. In the worldly life I went to so many places I shouldnt have gone, today I am going to the place I have to go.
I am now laying on top of my grave. In the worldly life I lived in lavish homes, I wanted the biggest and best house, I was hooked to Hollywood cribs, I wanted to live in the homes of the movie stars, in mansions. I am about to enter into a hole in the ground 6 feet long and 3 feet wide, this is my lavish house, dirt, this is my home until Day of Judgement.
Now they are lowering my body into my grave. My family, my friends, my beloved ones are now lowering me into a hole in the ground. No one is coming with me, I have to go into my grave alone. Now all relations are cut off, all connections are broken, I am now going into this stage of my life alone, to meet with my Creator. My friends who I tried to please cannot help me. The world I tried to please cannot come with me to help me.
I am now in my grave. All around me are dirt walls. My family and friends are throwing dirt on me. This is my reality, this was certain to happen one day. I thought I would never see this day, I thought I had it all, I wanted a lavish life, big home, fancy car, status, wealth, but this is my lot; I am being buried covered in dirt. I can feel the pressure of the dirt as it covers me, its pressing my chest, its covering my entire grave. I look up and see the sky, my last view of the world, the view is getting smaller and smaller as the dirt piles on. Now it’s completely closed – I am in complete darkness.
Now people are making dua for me. I can hear them walking away. My family has now left me alone in my grave, they are going back to their busy lives. My friends have now left me in my grave, they are all returning back to their busy lives. My hang outs are done, my friendships are over, my parties are over, my socializing is finished. They are back in their life, I am left in my grave, alone in darkness. There is no cell phone, no internet, no worldly possessions, no wealth, no degree, no honor; of all of the things I worked so hard to accumulate in the world nothing came with me. Its complete silence and darkness.
Suddenly I see two frightening beings coming towards me. They grab hold of me, I cannot run, they sit me up. With voice like thunder they ask me who my Rab is, they ask me who my Lord is…today I cannot cheat on the answer, shrewdness does not work today, I will only answer with what is in my heart.
If I had taken Allah sincerely to be my Rab, if I obeyed Allah and lived a life following Allah then today I would answer correctly telling them that Allah is my Rab. If I had lived a life contrary to the commandments of Allah I will answer incorrectly and suffer terrible consequences. They ask me what my deen is…I cannot make up an answer, I will only answer with the lifestyle I had lived in the world, if I lived a deeni lifestyle then today I will answer correctly that my deen is Islam. If I had lived a life contrary to deen I will answer incorrectly. They show me the Prophet salallahu alayhi wa sallam, they ask me to identify him, to tell them who he is. I cannot make up any answer, my heart will only answer today, if I lived a life on sunnah I will answer that he is Muhammad salallahu alayhi wa sallam who I believed as the last messenger of Allah and who I tried to emulate. If I lived a life contrary to sunnah I will answer incorrectly.
If I answered everything correctly my grave will now become a garden from the gardens of paradise, I will be clothed with the clothing of paradise, the angels will put the fragrance of paradise on me, the window of paradise will be opened to me, Allah will show me my abode in paradise, my grave will expand as far as my eyes can see.
If I answered incorrectly my grave will become a pit from the pits of hell, snakes and serpents will be unleashed on my grave to bite me until Day of Judgement. My grave will press down into me breaking my ribs like eggs, punishment will start in my grave. My grave will be utterly dark until Day of Judgement, full of snakes and insects biting me and stinging me.
Try to dive as deep into this thought of death as you can, forgetting your surroundings, lose yourself in the thought of your death. At the end of meditation on your death, open your eyes to what is now your new life. You are now starting a new life, a life where your heart is no longer connected to worldly things. You live in the world, you carry on with your worldly responsibilities but the world is now dead to your heart. Your heart is now connected to Allah. Your heart will no longer allow you to sacrifice this new connection simply to fulfill worldly gains and to enjoy worldly pleasures. Then ask Allah to give you a good end.