Palaces and the Angel
By Dr A Q Khan
February 25, 2013
Recently President Zardari officially took possession of ‘Bilawal House’ in Lahore. From all reports, it is just as grand as a palace of any Middle Eastern ruler.
I received an SMS about this palace a few days ago. How much of it is true, only insiders would know. According to the information received, it stands on 200 canals of land, has been built in the record time of less than a year, has 20 drawing rooms, three conference rooms, facilities for staff and residences for servants. The grounds are said to have five bomb-proof bunkers, two helipads, a runway for planes and a mosque. The whole is surrounded by a 22-feet high, three-feet-thick RCC wall. There is sufficient space and facility to accommodate 10,000 people at any one time.
It is also reported that this grand palace was built, fully furnished and the garden landscaped by property tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain, who then gifted it to the president. The cost is reported to be about Rs5 billion. Gifted or not, is it going to be added to President Zardari’s taxable income. Will he have to prove where the money for maintaining and running it has come from, like us lesser mortals have to do?
Reading about Bilawal House, I was reminded of a story I read long ago. A certain king, probably in Persia, built himself a splendid palace. There were coloured marbles, crystal chandeliers and decoration pieces from Germany, tiles from Samarkand, carpets from Afghanistan, Bokhara and Persia and the designers and masons came from Samarkand.
The pillars were decorated with gold leaf and the bathroom fittings were also made of gold. A huge amount was spent on its construction. When it was completed, the king invited rulers from neighbouring countries and threw a lavish party. After feasting he showed his palace to his guests.
They were all totally overawed by the splendour of it all and appreciated everything. He then asked them if they could point out any defects so that he could rectify them. All but one dervish-looking ruler applauded everything. However, the “dervish” king remarked that there was a hairline crack in one of the walls.
The host, not all too pleased, asked for it to be pointed out to him. To which came the reply: “You won’t be able to see it. It is the crack through which Hazrat Izrail (AS), the Angel of Death, will enter into this palace to take away your life. You will then be buried under a mound of earth and reduced to a handful of dust to be blown away by the wind. This palace will then be of no use to you.” All those present were stunned, but could do nothing but agree.
The Almighty has warned those living in palaces in these words: “Wherever you are, death will find you out; even if you are in towers built up high and strong” (4:78.) At another place we are reminded: “Don’t you see how your Lord dealt with the people of Aad of the city of Iram, with lofty pillars the like of which were never produced before in all the land. And with the Thamud people who cut out huge rocks in the valley (Petra in Jordan) and with Pharaoh, Lord of Tents. All these transgressed beyond bounds in the lands and heaped therein mischief upon mischief. Therefore did your Lord pour on them a scourge of diverse chastisements.” (89:6-13.)
And in Surah Yasin it is written: “Don’t they see how many generations before them We destroyed? Not to them will they return. But each one of them – all – will be brought before Us for judgment.” (36:31-32.) and listen carefully to what has been said in Surah Momin: “Do they not travel through the earth and see what the end of those before them was? They were even superior to them in strength and in the traces they have left in the land. But Allah did call them to account for their sins and none had they to defend them against Allah.” (40:21.)
See how our rich and mighty are intoxicated with their power and wealth and are ignoring the stern and clear warning given by the Almighty. In Surah Qaf we read: “But how many generations before them did we destroy for their sins – stronger in power than they? Then did they wander through the land. Was there any place of escape for them?” (50:36.)
In Surah Talaq we are reminded: “How many populations that insolently opposed the command of their Lord and of His apostles did we not call to account, to severe punishment? And we imposed on them exemplary punishment. Then they tasted the evil result of their conduct and the end of their end was perdition. Allah has prepared for them a severe punishment. Therefore, fear Allah, o you men of understanding.” (65: 8-10.)
All the Surahs quoted are to remind the rich and powerful (and ignorant) rulers and citizens to pay heed to what the Almighty has warned of in unambiguous terms. We have the example of Qarun, whom Allah punished for his arrogance and ingratitude for all the wealth with which he had been blessed (Surah Qasas 28:76-84). When requested to be grateful and give thanks to Allah, he replied: “All this has been given to me on account of a certain knowledge that I have.”
There are more recent examples too – i.e., King Farouk, the Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein, Hosni Mubarak, Qaddafi, Marcos, etc. The present rulers should realise that their lofty, fort-like palaces, bullet-proof vehicles and their army of security guards stand no chance against the Angel of Death, Hazrat Izrail (AS). He comes at the appointed time and nothing and no one can change that!