By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
21 September 2014
MAN comes to this world equipped with an excellent mind and an excellent body. Therefore, the first thing one must think of is how he came into being. Then, the world in which he finds himself is an exceptionally favourable one for him to survive in. Here he finds an earth where he can live in comfort. There is the sun which continuously gives light and energy to him. Here is fertile soil in which all kinds of crops can grow. There is abundant water, which is essential for sustaining life. Here there is air which unceasingly provides him with oxygen to breathe.
This planet earth inhabited by man supports him in numerous ways. Here, there is a life-support system of a very high order. Without this, it could have been impossible for man to survive or make progress. It is a fact that man has been granted so many blessings that it is impossible to count them all. Only some of these blessings have been discovered by science. These too are so immense in number that even if someone studied them all his life, he would not be able to learn about all of them.
This situation poses a great question which no man or woman can overlook. Man's own astonishing existence and the beautiful world around him compel him to ponder upon how all this came about.
We Have To Ask These Questions:
Who made me? Who has created this world? Who created this most meaningful life-support system and gave it to me? Everything in this world is a great blessing and everything is silently giving a call and inviting us to ponder over this matter and discover who the provider of all these blessings is.
There is another very grave matter linked to this question and that is the ephemerality of human existence. Man is born with the most precious faculties. He possesses a miraculous mind. He wishes to achieve limitless progress by making use of his extraordinary talents. Human life appears to have an eternal character but, within less than a hundred years, while man is still on his life's journey, some unknown power intervenes and takes him away and sends him to another world.
Why this happens is an extremely serious question. And it certainly needs to be answered. Any man or woman who is serious about his life can never rest contented without knowing the answer to this question. It is only the right answer to this question that can give a proper explanation of the present life. Moreover, the answer to these questions will tell us what should be done to make life meaningful and successful in the real sense.
Everything in this world is a great blessing and is silently giving a call inviting us to ponder over this matter and discover who the provider of all these blessings is.
Such questions have been objects of reflection throughout human history. Many great minds have devoted themselves to finding answers to them. The answer which has satisfied the minds at a universal level is that there is a God of this world; He is its Creator, its Lord, sustaining the entire world with His almighty powers; and then that this world has been created under a special creation plan.
According to this plan, man is an eternal creature. But the Creator has divided human life into two parts, a small part of which is placed in the stage of life before death, while the major part is placed in the life after death. Death does not mark the end of life rather the entry into another world so that man may spend the rest of his life in eternal environs.
The Greatest Unawareness
The dead have left the world—this reality is known to everyone. But there is something of which many people are unaware, and that is that they too have to die one day. They too are going to face the same fate as that faced by others. It is strange that people see others die every day, yet they exempt themselves from these happenings. It is as if everyone is silently agreeing that others had to die and they have died, but that death is not going to come to me.
This lack of awareness is most fatal. This is that strange unawareness or thinking which is known as 'Ostrich thinking'. Whether or not anyone thinks about death, death awaits him or her.
Death is like an earthquake at an individual level. The earthquake comes without any warning. Similarly, death too comes without prior announcement. Everyone is helpless in the face of an earthquake. Similarly, everyone is helpless in the face of death. Death comes all of a sudden. Like the earthquake it shatters the castle of man's illusions. Man may want to prevent the approach of death, but he will never succeed in doing so.
Death is governed by its own laws and proceeds without man's consent. This situation demands that man should be extremely sensitive about death. He should feel every night that the next morning he may not see the light of day. Every night when he goes to bed, he should feel that his eyes may not open again in this world.
If man is thoroughly conscious of this fact he will be shaken to the core. Life for him will not mean living in the simple sense. It will rather be the herald of death. Fortunate are those who become aware of this sudden onslaught of death and make full preparation before death actually comes.
Death for Everyone
'Life has become for me a waiting period for death', said an old man. In reality, life is a waiting period for death for everyone although most people do not grasp this fact. The only difference between an old and a young man is that the reality which is accepted by the old man compulsively will be accepted by the young man only if he ponders over it. For an old man, death is a compulsive discovery. For a young man, it is a conscious discovery. A highly successful American businessman, on reaching 90, felt that he was no longer able to function either physically or mentally. Now the next stage that he was going to face was death.
One day he expressed his feelings to someone in these words:
I am going to take a fateful leap into the unknown. This fate awaits everyone who is born into this world, whether he is weak or strong, rich or poor, white or black, literate or illiterate, powerless or powerful. The day is to come for everyone, when he will take the fateful leap towards death—even to the one who had been denying that there is a life after death.
The wise man is one who realizes this reality in advance. It is this reality which has been expressed in a tradition of the Prophet in these words:
The wise man is one who controls his desires and works for the life after death and the unwise man is one who follows his desires and pins all his hopes on God.
Strange Game, Strange Loss
In the first quarter of the twentieth century, the British government was at its zenith. In those times they built a new city (New Delhi) within the bounds of Delhi. It contained the Vice Regal Lodge, Parliament House, India Gate, huge official buildings, a network of broad avenues and beautiful parks, etc. This world of New Delhi in those days was so distinguished that it was regarded a 'political Taj Mahal.'
Death does not mark the end of life rather the entry into another world so that man may spend the rest of his life in eternal environs.
When this 'political Taj Mahal' was ready, it was visited by a French leader. He was very well read. He knew that the world had seen a democratic revolution and that, like other empires, the British Empire too was certainly going to come to an end one day. Therefore, he expressed himself in these words: "What a magnificent world they have built to leave." This is the story of everyone in this world, with the sole difference that some built small castles and others built big castles. The end of this magnificent 'political Taj Mahal' was that British rulers finally left it on August 15, 1947.
The same end awaits all men and women. Certainly the time is going to come for everyone when, all alone, they will have to leave this world leaving their castles behind them. This happening takes place before us each and every day. But no one learns anything from this. Everyone is living as if whatever has happened with others, will not happen to them.
Whether or not one expresses this in words, it is a fact that in this matter every man and woman has exempted himself or herself, although the reality is that no exemption will be made for any human being.
Old Age, Death
Man is born into this world as a baby, becomes an infant and then he reaches adolescence. He grows old and finally within a period of a hundred years he dies. It happens to all men and women—compulsory aging after adolescence and afterwards, compulsory death.
This is the story of every individual whether he be rich or poor, ruler or ruled. Man appears to be invested with powers. But in the matter of death he is totally powerless. Just as an earthquake comes all of a sudden governed by the unilateral laws of nature; similarly, death too comes from the Creator on a unilateral basis. Man has no say in this matter.
Fortunate are those who become aware of this sudden onslaught of death and make full preparation before death actually comes.
This state of affairs demands that man should remember death at every moment. He should be ready to die at any time. He should be engaged all the time in introspection as to what preparation he has done for the life after death, and what he has in store for his journey after death. People maintain a life's diary but what is more important is to write the diary of death. Everyone should record in his diary as to what he thought today about death. For instance, hearing of someone's death, should remind us of our own death. When we witness that person's last rites and see his body being lowered into the grave, it should remind us that one day we too would be buried in the same way.
One who sees his own death in the death of others is the truly living person. A living person does not wait to undergo a fatal experience and only then learn a lesson from it. The truly alive person is one who learns lessons from others' experiences.
Source: Spirit of Islam Issue 21 September 2014