By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Death is the most certain stage in life. Every person definitely has to pass through this stage. For every being that is bestowed with life, the arrival of death is a must. Every living being will one day die. Every eye that sees will one day lose its light. Every tongue that speaks will one day fall silent. Every person will one day be brought to stand before death’s door. At that moment, the world will be behind him. In front of him will be the Hereafter. He will be leaving a world that he will never visit again, and will be entering another world, which he will never be able to come out of. He will be removed from the field of action and taken to where he will have to face the eternal consequences of his actions.
Life is an unreliable thing, while death is absolutely certain. We are alive only because we have not died as yet, and we do not know when death will happen. Every moment, we are advancing towards death. We are closer to death than to life. People think that they are alive, but actually they are dead. We have no idea of when death will arrive. It can arrive at any moment. In fact, it keeps arriving every moment, and so it is more appropriate to say that it has already arrived, rather than to say that it will arrive in the future. This is why a Hadith report tells us to count ourselves among the dead, or the ‘people of the graves’.
Death nullifies everything. It is the most terrifying event in our lives. If death were simply the end of life, it would not be very terrifying. If death only meant that we would no longer exist as beings that walk, see and hear, it would, despite all its terrors, be simply an event that occurs at a particular moment, rather than an issue with eternal implications. But the fact is that death is not the end of our lives. Rather, it is the beginning of a new and eternal life. Death means entry into a world based on the eternal consequences of our actions in the life before death.
Every person is travelling from life towards death. For some, this journey is for the sake of this world. For others, it is for the sake of the Hereafter. Some people live in the things of this visible world. Others live in the things of the Invisible world. Some spend their lives rushing about to satisfy their desires and egos. Others are overwhelmed by the fear and the love of God.
Both types of people rest at night to overcome their tiredness and wake up the next morning so that they can again engage in the particular world that they enjoy. In this world, they appear to be the same, but this is not so in terms of what is going to happen after their deaths.
He who lives in God and the consciousness of the Hereafter is saving himself, while he who is lives in worldly pleasures and the desires of his ego is destroying himself.
(Translation of Maut ke Darwaze Par', in Maulana Wahiduddin Khan’s ‘Aakhri Safar’ (‘The Final Journey’)