By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan for New Age Islam
15 November 2017
Think! Think! Think!
If a man were to emerge from out of a sealed-up cave all of a sudden, everyone would be completely astounded. They would think this to be some sort of very strange miracle.
An infant emerging from its mother’s womb is a similar sort of miracle. But even though people witness this event, they don’t think it to be anything extraordinary at all.
Why this difference? It is because rarely, if ever, does a man emerge from out of a sealed-up cave, while an infant emerging from a woman’s womb is an everyday thing. The latter is something that people have got used to. They take it for granted. They do not think it necessary to give it any thought at all.
If people were to really seriously reflect on the phenomenon of a child emerging from a woman’s womb, they would discover the existence of the Creator. When they see and deeply reflect on a living human being born, a being that can move, see, hear and make sounds, they would realise that every human being is a mobile sign of the Creator’s existence. Every human being would seem a living introduction to the Creator.
When a human being is born and comes into this world, he finds that there is an elaborate life-support system in place for him. This life-support system is so complete that it magnificently fulfills every need, small or big, of human beings. From the earth to the sun, everything in the world, without exception, is engaged in the service of man.
Then the day arrives when a person suddenly dies. Man desires eternal life, but generally within a hundred years he dies, against his will, leaving behind this world forever.
Every human being who comes into this world faces two things: first, life, and, after that, death. If you seriously ponder on this, you will discover a really important reality—and that is, our receiving birth and coming into this world is not for us to be rewarded for something, but, rather, for us to be tested. Life in this world is a test, not a reward.
In this world, we humans have freewill. We have been given freewill in order to know who among us uses our freewill properly and who misuses it, or, in other words, who among us leads a principled life and who does not.
If you seriously think about the issue, you will discover that death actually is the day of our appearing before our Creator. We human beings are eternal beings, our lifespan being divided into two parts: the pre-death period, and the post-death period. The pre-death period is for us to be tested, while the post-death period is for us to be rewarded or punished, according to our previous record.
Today, we find ourselves in this world as living, conscious beings. When we die, we are taken away from this temporary world and are transferred into the next world, which is an eternal world.
This moment is sure to arrive for all of us. This is an unimaginably serious moment. In the post-death period of our lives we will still be the same beings, but all our possessions would have been left behind. Left behind forever, too, will be this world. And extending before us will be the eternal world where we will reach without any material possessions at all.
Wise is the person who prepares himself for that impending day.
Age and Health
A man whom I knew died at the age of 45. The first time I met him he appeared to be very strong and healthy. But later, he developed cancer. Despite receiving treatment, his cancer worsened, so much so that he died. In his last days, he had become just a bag of bones. His digestive system had become so bad that he could not eat even simple food. Even drinking water was very difficult for him. At that time, when anyone would come to meet him to inquire about his health, he would say, “Don’t think about me. Instead, think about yourself! Be grateful that you have a healthy body and that you can eat and drink and walk about. All these things are gifts of God. Whenever He wants, He can take them away, and then nothing will remain with you.”
Man has been given a healthy body. On being born, it appears as if a human being obtains this healthy body automatically. That is why people take it for granted. They never think that this healthy body of theirs is entirely a gift from God, and that, acknowledging this gift, they should bow down before Him.
The same is true about age. As long as man is alive, he thinks that this life will continue forever. He never thinks about his death.
This, without any doubt, is the biggest mistake.
It is this that is the test that every single one of us is being put to. In this test, the people who succeed are those who think more about death than life and who consider everything that they have as a gift of God. It is these people who pass the examination of life. In contrast, those who do not acknowledge God and who have forgotten death fail the examination of life. For the former there is eternal Paradise, and for the latter, eternal Hell.
In the Quran (35:37), God says about those who will be cast into Hell:
“There they will cry out, ‘Lord, take us out! We shall do good deeds, and behave differently from the way we used to.’ But He will answer, ‘Did We not make your life long enough to take warning if you were going to? The warner did come to you. So now have a taste of the punishment.’”
Several traditions of the Prophet having a similar meaning have been recorded in various books of Hadith. According to one such tradition, the Prophet is reported to have said that a person who is blessed with a long life does not have any excuse to present before God regarding his ignorance of the truth.
Man first experiences childhood, then youth, then middle-age, and then, after that, old age. Old age is the last possible stage for anyone in this present world, because the next stage after it is death.
In this sense, old age is a sort of ‘prior notice’ of one’s impending death. In old age, the organs of the body become weak, and some of them even stop functioning. This is a sign that the moment of death is coming near. It is, one could say, a compulsory reminder of death.
Old age makes one stand at the mouth of one’s grave.
If your mind is alert and awake, when you enter old age you will know that very soon the moment of your death will arrive and that you will then be brought before God to account for your life on earth. In this way, the experiences of old age can truly shake you up. They can remind you of the Hereafter.
Old age tells man that his journey does not stop in this world, and that he will now have to enter the next world and face the Divine Court on the Day of Judgment.
Undoubtedly, that person is the most unfortunate who gets a long life but does not learn from his old age. He remains heedless, so much so that he dies in that state.
Taking Lessons from Old Age
Old age is not something undesirable. Old age contains an opportunity—to learn invaluable lessons. In the Quran (35:37) God says: “Did We not make your life long enough to take warning if you were going to?”
Man is born into this world for a limited period of time. As soon as he is born here, his countdown begins. Till around the age of 35 his graph moves upwards. Thereafter, it begins to decline, after which there is middle-age, old age, and then death. Along the way, one faces numerous difficulties, such as sickness, accidents, and various other challenges.
In this way, one by one, everything begins to be taken away from man: first, youth, then health, then peace, and so on, till death arrives and everything that man had thought to be his own, even his bodily existence, is taken away from him. After this, all that remains is the soul.
Death is the most serious experience anyone could go through. It signifies that whatever one had earned in his pre-death phase will be taken away from him forever. After this is the post-death phase. In this phase, only the good deeds that a person had done in the pre-death phase will be of any help to him. This reality is described in the Quran in the following words (59:18): “Believers! Fear God, and let every soul look to what it lays up for the future. Fear God: God is aware of what you do.”
Everyone is a Traveller Towards Death
According to a news report, the British reality TV star Jade Goody was diagnosed with cancer. The report went on to say that “she has started planning for her funeral”, adding that she wanted “people to cry over” her. “Most people plan their weddings. But I am planning my funeral”, Goody explained.
Jade Goody wasat the peak of her profession when, suddenly, in August 2008, she was told that she was suffering from cervical cancer. She then cancelled her professional plans for the future and decided to prepare for her death.
This same story is that of every other human being, too. People are busy celebrating this or that event, but they die before they can do all this, leaving this world forever and reaching the next one. Hence, what every person ought to do is recognize that his pre-death phase of life is only a temporary journey and put all his attention on preparing for the never-ending post-death phase of life.
People celebrate their birthdays, even though every birth anniversary is actually an announcement that one’s life has been reduced by an entire year. Given this, what people really should do on their birthdays is to remember their impending death, because while there is no guarantee that their next birth anniversary will arrive, their death certainly will.
Wise is he who remembers this greatest reality—the reality of death.
What is Death?
If you look up the dictionary, it defines death as ‘The permanent cessation of life’.
This dictionary definition of death presents a negative picture of death. It seems to suggest that man is born as a complete being, and that after being alive for a limited period of time he comes to a complete end, being completely extinguished once and for all. According to this definition, all our desires and abilities, and even our very being, completely cease with death.
Islam presents a different understanding of death. According to Islam, death is not the end of life. Rather, it marks the beginning of the second phase of life.
Islam teaches that man has been created as an eternal being and then his lifespan has been divided into two phases: the pre-death phase, and the post-death phase. Our pre-death phase is our preparatory phase, while our post-death phase is when we continuously receive and experience the results of whatever preparation we may have made in the pre-death phase of our lives.
According to this Divine Creation Plan, we must understand the pre-death phase of our lives as a preparatory period and spend it in suitably preparing ourselves for our eternal life in the post-death phase. This is because the post-death phase is not a phase for action, but, rather, for reaping the results of our actions of the pre-death phase.
Death is actually an announcement about life, which declares: “Whatever you need to do, do it today, because tomorrow is not the day to do it!”
Death is to leap from the known world into an unknown one. It is to leave ‘one’s own’ world and enter ‘someone else’s’.
How utterly astounding this happening is! And yet man’s heedlessness is so utterly strange that even though he sees people dying all around him, he does not get astounded by it! Every person’s death is a loud announcement to other people, calling out to them: “The fate that befell me will befall you, too!” But, yet, people remain completely unmindful of their impending death, of the day when, in a state of utter helplessness, they will have to give themselves up to the angels. Death is a reminder of that day that all of us will face one day. Death’s assault is an entirely one-sided affair. It is a contest between power and powerlessness. In this affair, man can do nothing at all but accept the decision of the other party in complete helplessness. He must unilaterally accept his defeat.
Death is a dividing line between the two phases of our life—the pre-death phase and the post-death phase. Death takes man from this present world into the next one. It is a journey from having power to being completely powerless. It is to have finished one’s examination and enter the phase where one faces the examination’s results.
In the pre-death phase of his life, man does not accept Truth. Death arrives in order to make him completely helpless and compel him to bow down before Truth. It comes so that one who did not accept Truth while he had freewill in this world may be compelled to bow before it in the Hereafter.
While in this world man does not bother to utter even a few words in support of Truth. But when death arrives he will want to use all the words in the dictionary in support of it! At that time, however, there will be no one to hear his words. Today, man behaves arrogantly, but when death overtakes him, he will become humble. But at that time there will be no one to value his humility!
New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism