Upon hearing about the death of a fellow Muslim, it suddenly struck me how very fleeting life is, and that I was only a twinkling of an eye away from where he is now.
Death is the reality from which none of us can escape. It draws nearer every day, every hour, every minute. So I had to ask myself if I were to die today, would I have done all that I could to ensure Allah’s Favor, and to evade His Wrath? Unfortunately for me, the answer was a resounding NOOO.
At the end of the day, I ask myself, what good have I sent ahead for the benefit of my soul? And again, the answers usually, very little. Time, it seems, is moving by so quickly. It seems just like yesterday that we started the “New Year,” yet we’re already almost a third of the way through it. A month seems like a week, a week seems like an hour and an hour feels like just minutes. This is why I’ve resolved to try my utmost, with the aid of Allah to take advantage of every opportunity to do good deeds, and not to put off until later, what I can do now. Death is coming, are you ready?
Allah says, “Every soul shall have a taste of death, and only on the Day of Judgement shall you be paid your full recompense. Only those who are saved far from the Fire, and admitted to the Garden will have succeeded. For the
life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception.” [3:185]
It is so easy for us to get caught up in the comings and goings of our everyday lives, that we tend to forget that we don’t have forever in this worldly life, and get distracted away from our true aim and purpose. We tend to forget that we are here to worship Allah and to avail ourselves of the various opportunities He gives us to store up for ourselves treasures in Heaven. For He, subhanahu wa taala, also says,
“O you who believe! Revere Allah, and let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow; and revere Allah. Allah is well aware of what you do. And be not like those who forgot (disobeyed) Allah, and He caused them to forget themselves. Those are disobedient. Not equal are the dwellers of the Fire and the dwellers of Jannah. It is the dwellers of Jannah who will be successful.” [59:18-20]
He also tells us that we do not know the hour of our own deaths, or in what land we will die. But He through His unending Mercy toward us has given us ways to prepare for the inevitable now because once we’ve passed from this life to the next, there is no coming back to do the things we should have done. For Allah says,
“Until death comes to one of them, he says, ‘My Lord, send me back. Perhaps I may do good in that which I have left behind.’ No, it is but a word that he speaks, and behind them is a barzakh until the day when they are raised up.” [23:99-100]
Allah has given us ways to protect ourselves from the punishment of the grave. One of these ways is by fighting in the Cause of Allah. It is reported that a man asked the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, “O Messenger of Allah, why are all the believers tested in the graves except a martyr?” He, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, “The flashing of swords over his head was a sufficient test for him.” (An-Nasai)
This may be difficult for most of us to do in this day and age, but Allah has provided us with many other ways to earn ease in the next life. These include reciting Surat ul-Mulk, because the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, “Surat Tabarak is the protector from the torment of the grave.” (Al-Hakim) He, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, also said, “When a human being dies, all of his deeds are terminated except for three types: an ongoing sadaqh, a knowledge of Islam from which others benefit, and a righteous child who makes du’a for him.” (Muslim)
Another way to earn a continuing reward is by reviving a lost Sunnah of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam. He, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, “He who initiates in Islam a good way gets his reward for it, as well as rewards similar to those who follow him into it, without reducing any of their rewards.” (Muslim) For those of us who know of fellow Muslims who have already begun their journey, or who are about to enter, into the next life, there are things we can do to make the transition easier, insha’Allah. These include performing the Janazah prayer for the deceased, fulfilling the deceased’s vows, payment of the deceased’s debts and the supplications of the Muslims.
This life is fleeting. Death is coming. Let us get ready.
THE mind of a person, worn out with age, is occupied with many questions. These are actually important questions to consider and answering them truthfully is essential to understanding all aspects of life: “What is the purpose of this life that passes so quickly? Why should I remain positive with all the age-related problems I have? What will the future bring?”
The possible answers to these questions fall into two major categories: those given by people who trust Allah and those given by disbelievers who do not trust Him.
Someone who does not trust Allah would say, “I spent my life chasing vain pursuits. I have put 70 years behind me, but to tell the truth, I still have not been able to grasp what I lived for. When I was a child, my parents were the centers of my life. I found all happiness and joy in their love. Later in life, as a young woman, I devoted myself to my husband and children. During that time, I set many goals for myself. Yet by the time they were achieved, each of them proved to have been a passing whim. When I rejoiced in my success, I headed toward other goals and they occupied me so that I did not think about the real meaning of life. Now at 70, in the tranquility of old age, I try to find out what was the purpose of my past days. Is it that I lived for people of whom I have only dim memories now? For my parents? For my husband whom I lost years ago? Or my children whom I see rarely now that they have their own families? I am confused. The only truth is that I feel close to death. Soon I will die and I will become a faint memory in people’s minds. What will happen afterwards? I really have no idea. Even the thought of it is frightening!”
There is surely a reason for why a person falls into such hopelessness. That is simply because he or she cannot comprehend that the universe, all living things and human beings have purposes to fulfill in life.
These purposes owe their existence to the fact that everything has been created. An intelligent person notices that plan, design and wisdom exist in every detail of the infinitely varied world. This draws him to recognition of the Creator. He further concludes that since all living things are not the consequences of a random or mindless process they all serve important purposes.
In the Qur’an, the last surviving revealed guide to the true path for humanity, Allah repeatedly reminds us of the purpose of our life, which we tend to forget, and thereby summons us to clarity of mind and consciousness. “And He it is Who has created the heavens and the earth in six days and His Throne was on the waters, that He might try you, which of you is best in deeds….” (11: 7)
This verse provides a full understanding of the purpose of life for believers. They know that this life is a place where they are tried and tested by their Creator. Therefore, they hope to succeed in this test and attain the good pleasure of Allah and hence the Paradise.
However, for the sake of clarity, there is an important point to consider: those who believe in the ‘existence’ of Allah do not necessarily have true faith; they do not put their trust in Allah. Today, many people accept that the universe is the creation of Allah; yet, they little comprehend the impact of this fact upon their lives.
Therefore, they do not lead their lives as they should. What these people generally regard as the truth is that Allah initially created the universe but then, they believe, He left it on its own.
Allah, in the Qur’an, addresses this misapprehension in the following verse: “If you (Muhammad, peace be upon him) ask them: “Who has created the heavens and the earth,” they will certainly say: “Allah”. Say: “All praise and thanks are Allah’s!” But most of them understand not. (31:25)
“And if you ask them who created them, they will surely say, “Allah.” How then are they turned away (from the worship of Allah Who created them)? (43:87)
Due to this misapprehension, people cannot relate their daily lives to the fact that they have a Creator. That is the basic reason why each individual develops his or her personal principles and moral values, shaped within a particular culture, community and family. These principles actually serve as “life-guides” until death comes. People who adhere to their own values always find comfort in the wishful thinking that any wrong actions will be punished temporarily in Hell. The same rationale suggests that eternal life in paradise will follow this period of torment. Such a mentality unwittingly eases fears of the grievous penalty at the end of life. Some, on the other hand, do not even contemplate this issue. They merely remain heedless of the next world and “make the most of their lives”.
However, the above is false and the truth is contrary to what they think. Those who pretend not to be aware of the existence of Allah will fall into deep desperation. In the Qur’an, those people are characterized as follows:
They know only but the outside appearance of the life of this world ( i.e. the matter of their livelihood, like irrigating or sowing or reaping), and they are heedless of the Hereafter. (30:7)
Surely, little do these people grasp the real face and purpose of this world, and they never think that life in this world is not perpetual.
There are some phrases commonly used by people regarding the shortness of this life: “Make the most of your life while it lasts “, “life is short”, “one does not live forever” are phrases always referred to in definition of the nature of this world. Yet, these phrases contain an implicit attachment to this life rather than the next.
They reflect the general attitude of people to life and death. Having such a strong affection for life, conversations about death are always interrupted with jokes or by raising other subjects thus attempting to minimize the seriousness of the matter. These interruptions are always on purpose, a deliberate effort to reduce such an important subject to insignificance.
Mortality is surely a grave topic to ponder. Until this moment in his life, it may well be that the person is unaware of the significance of this reality. Yet, now that he has the chance to grasp its importance, he must reconsider his life and his expectations. It is never too late to repent to Allah, and to reorient all one’s deeds and the conduct of one’s life in submission to the will of Allah. Life is short; the human soul is eternal.
During this short period, one should not allow temporary passions to control one. A person should resist temptation and keep himself away from everything that will strengthen his bonds to this world. It is surely unwise to neglect the next world just for the sake of the temporary joys of this one.
Nevertheless, disbelievers who cannot comprehend this fact spend their lives in vain being forgetful of Allah. Moreover, they know that it is impossible to attain these desires. Such people always feel a deep dissatisfaction and want even more of what they currently possess. They have endless wishes and desires. Yet, the world is not an appropriate arena in which to satisfy these desires.
Nothing in this world is perpetual. Time works against both what is good and what is new. No sooner does a brand-new car go out of fashion than another model is designed, manufactured and marketed. Similarly, someone may crave others’ stately mansions or opulent houses with more rooms than occupants and with gold-plated fixtures, which once he has seen, he loses interest in his own house and cannot avoid regarding them with envy.
An endless search for the new and better, attaching no value to something once it has been achieved, deprecation of the old and placing all hopes in something new: these are the vicious circles that people have everywhere experienced throughout history. Yet an intelligent person should stop and ask himself/herself for a moment: why is he or she chasing temporary ambitions and has he ever gained any benefit from such pursuit? Finally, he should draw the conclusion that “there is a radical problem with this viewpoint.” Yet people, lacking this kind of reasoning, continue to chase dreams they are unlikely to achieve.
Nobody, however, knows what will happen even in the next few hours: at any time one may have an accident, be severely injured, or become disabled. Furthermore, time flies in the countdown to one’s own death. Every day brings that predestined day closer. Death surely eradicates all ambitions, greed and desires for this world. Under the soil, neither possessions nor status prevail.
Every possession with which we are being stingy, including the body, will also vanish and decay in the earth. Whether one is poor or wealthy, beautiful or ugly, one will be wrapped in a simple shroud one day.
Allah enjoins on believers to warn others about these facts, and calls upon them to live only to fulfill His will, as He says in the following verse:
“… Verily, the Promise of Allah is true, let not then this (worldly) present life deceive you.” (31:33)
And the Hour is coming without any doubt, and Allah will raise up all those in the graves. (Surat al-Hajj, 7)
Death is coming closer by the day. Whether you are young or old, death is a little closer to you every day, even every minute. You cannot resist time or prevent death’s approach. Nothing you do can change the fact that you and those close to you are only “temporary” beings. Like every other living being, you are advancing toward the Day on which your life will end.
Humanity is not the only part of creation that is subject to death. All other creatures, Earth itself and the whole universe have a day of death fixed for them. The Day of Judgment is a day of terror and unimaginable fear. But at the same time, it is the most wondrous. Everything on Earth will be flattened, the stars will be extinguished and fall in rapid succession, and the Sun will be wrapped up in darkness. All human beings who have ever lived will be gathered and made to witness this Day. This Final Day will be dreadful for the unbelievers, and its Lord will be Allah, Who owns all that exists.
The Day of Judgment, contrary to many people’s beliefs, is approaching; it is not in the distant future. When it arrives, Earth and everything belonging to it will be destroyed. Ambitions, desires, anger, expectations, lusts, enmities, and pleasures will cease. Plans made for the future will become meaningless, for those who had forgotten that they will be returned to Allah, preferring this world over the eternal life and its misleading wealth, beauty, and pleasures, will have met their end. On this day, everyone will witness clearly Allah’s existence and will come face to face with the death that they had tried so hard to forget. Their attempt to forget Allah and the Hereafter is finished, and a new beginning, one which will be eternal and bring no happiness to the unbelievers, is awaiting them. From the very first moment of this eternal life, the punishment is so fearsome that those who experience it will beg for “death” and “annihilation.” The beginning of this life is the Day of Judgment and, “the Hour is coming without any doubt.”
Life On Earth Is Temporary, And Death Is A Certain Reality
From your earliest childhood onwards, you head for certain goals or are guided by others. You probably will have a family and a job, try to earn more in order to have a better life, educate your children, and hope that they will have a better life than you did. Once a week you meet the other members of your extended family. You take vacations, go to work, and spend the rest of your time at home. Except for a few hiccups on the way, your life progresses orderly and you usually encounter nothing outside the ordinary.
Everything in your life seems to be premeditated, and everyone’s life is like everyone else’s. You need to work to realize these goals, and you need to have a family to continue your lineage. According to this worldview, what else could you possibly want besides “a good job” and “a nice family?” Having achieved these goals, you expect to lead a happy life. In this way, everything is wonderful and you will live happily ever after.
However, some important changes are happening in your body and environment. Many cells with diverse functions fulfill their purpose and die. As you age, it becomes harder to replace them. Your body is aging visibly, as seen through your illnesses and weaknesses. Time moves fast, and the impossibility of reversing it becomes clearer every day. Thinking that you were going to live happily and comfortably forever, you are nevertheless nearing death. Thus, this worldly life can never give the sense of contentment and peace you expect. When this “satisfying” life ends, you will come face to face with the real truth.
Given this fact, none of your life ambitions should become your true purpose in life. This life is a temporary trial to separate the righteous from the evildoers. Allah reveals this reality in the following verse:
He Who created death and life to test which of you is best in action. He is the Almighty, the Ever-Forgiving. (Surat al-Mulk, 2)
The true purpose of life is not a decent job and a nice family. Rather, everybody has been created for one purpose: to serve Allah. We become attached to our children, rank, and status but with the first instance of death, these worldly pleasures lose their value and importance. Everybody knows this, but many choose to ignore it. And so such things should not be the ultimate goal of life. We must reflect carefully and realize what is the real purpose and the true gain. Allah reveals the true purpose of our creation, as follows: I only created jinn and man to worship Me. (Surat adh-Dhariyat, 56)
Only by fulfilling this responsibility can we expect the gifts of the Hereafter. Most people have some unfounded expectations and comfort themselves with them. But this is a great error. If one has nothing to expect from the Hereafter, there is only one possibility left: To become nothing with death, a possibility that is scarier than all the others. The unbelievers develop various methods of forgetting this possibility because they fear it so much.
Among these methods are not talking about, discussing, or remembering death, even though it is a certainty for everyone. Everybody acts as if it does not exist. That most people behave in such a way might be reassuring to some extent, but in reality, they are all misguided. People know about death, the Last Day, and the Hereafter, but refuse to ponder them. They are satisfied with this worldly life or at least make themselves believe that they are. However, Allah reveals that death will find everyone:
Say: “Death, from which you are fleeing, will certainly catch up with you. Then you will be returned to the Knower of the Unseen and the Visible, and He will inform you about what you did.” (Surat al-Jumua, 8)
The universe and all of its contents, not just humanity, will die on the Day of Judgment, for on that Day the trial will end. Many people will recognize its coming by its signs, and the events leading up to the universe’s death will be literally hair-raising. Finally, on that Day, Allah will raise up all those in the graves and all people on the Earth will be called to account. Those who did not expect to experience such a Day will no longer be able to deny it, and so will bow to Allah’s will whether they want to or not. Allah has prepared a spectacular end for the universe, and despite most people’s attempts to deny this reality, the Day of Judgment will come at its appointed time.
Many people wonder as to how a person with a scientific and logical temperament, can lend any credence to the belief of life after death. People assume that anyone believing in the hereafter is doing so on the basis of blind belief and one will get result here during the life.
Concept of peace and human values or good or bad is useless without the concept of hereafter. One thing or act can be bad in the eyes of a person but could be good or beneficial for another one.
Every human being wants justice: Do the human law provide justice to all human kind?
The people who do injustice should be punished: Can we punish a murderer of 100 people as compared to a murderer of a single person?
This life is a test for the hereafter: If it is not, then why few people are wealthy and enjoying luxuries of life and why few are poor and don’t even have enough food to eat. Life is a test for both of them.
Final justice will be on the day of judgment. No human law can provide 100% justice to all human kind. There will be definitely a day of judgment for final justice.
When we pack our bags to go visit our friends, we remember to pack our clothes, shoes, and other little things.
Since we could know right from wrong, we have started packing our bags and will finish when our souls leave us.
Have you packed your prayer in your bag of provisions everyday? Have you packed your fasting? Have you packed your reading and memorizing the Qur’an?
Our bags are called life. We have to pack everyday because we don’t know when Allah will call us back, so we have to be ready for the journey.
And on the way up to Allah, you don’t get any U-turns so that you could go back and get the things you forgot to pack. So start packing if you already haven’t, and don’t forget, there’s no such thing as too many bags when we’re packing for our trip to Allah.
ABU Al-Darda (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Three (people) make me laugh, and three make me cry.
Those that make me laugh are
1. A person who puts his hopes in this worldly life while death pursues him,
2. A person who is heedless (of his Lord) while (his Lord) is not heedless of him, and
3. A person who always laughs while he does not know whether he has pleased Allah or angered Him.
What makes me cry is being separated from my beloved:
1. Muhammad and his party (the Companions),
2. The horrors of the time of death, and
3. Standing in front of Allah on the Day when the secrets will be revealed and I do not know if I will then go to Paradise or Hell?”
– Ibn Al-Mubarak, Al-Zuhd wa Al-Raqa’iq.
If a sick person doesn’t realize that they are sick, the doctor will never be able to cure her. So realizing that there is a spiritual sickness is a sign that your faith is strong. I have the following words of advice for you:
Al-Haakim reported in al-Mustadrak, and al-Tabaraani reported in al-Mu jam, that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: Faith wears out in the heart of any one of you just as clothes wear out, so ask Allah to renew the faith in your hearts. (Reported by al-Haakim in al-Mustadrak, 1/4;. Al-Haythami said in Majma al-Zawaa id, 1/52, It was reported by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer and its isnaad is saheeh. ) This Hadith tells us that our faith will become weak but we will have to strengthen it with various actions and different good deeds. If we try to implement the following, In Sha Allah it will help us all.
On a weekly basis, try to attend some Halaqah or an Islamic gathering. That is a great way of keeping the battery of Iman and actions charged.
A good suggestion would be that you join some weekend or evening Islamic course or something of that sort. You will find good company there which will be a means of strengthening your faith and Iman. And when you feel like you are all burnt out , there will be others there who will guide you and help you out and get you back up on your feet again.
Try to read some portion of the Quran everyday and make Zikr of Allah. It will not be a bad idea to start off the day by reciting Surah Yaseen.
Try to have a daily Halaqah of reading from a Hadith book at home. The most widely used Hadith book in English is probably Riyadh us Salihin. Set aside a time at home, and try to sit down with other family members. It does not have to be long. Even five minutes or ten minutes will suffice. A daily dose of the words of Allah and his beloved Prophet Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam goes a long way in keeping us attached to our faith.
After prayers or whenever, try to recite as many times as possible the words which are mentioned in the following Hadith: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: Do not forget to say in every prayer, Rabbi a inni ala dhikrika wa shukrika wa husni ibaadatika (O Allah, help me to remember You, thank You and worship You properly.). (al-Nasaa i, 1303)