By Maria Javaid.
This is a two-part series on the concept of death. This is the first part. Check out Part Two here!
Death: the destroyer of pleasures; the inevitable end.
There comes a time in life where we realize that death is an inescapable reality. This realization strikes some when they are still young and lively, others when their oldness is signaling that their time is near and yet others, just a few moments before their death. Nevertheless, the sooner we meet this realization, the better we spend our lives, as long as our concept about afterlife is based on accountability rather than meaningless oblivion.
The remembrance of death can be channeled both negatively or positively in our minds. In a positive perspective, it is what makes us cautious and mindful of our actions, making all that we do before our death, purer and sweeter in Allah’s sight.
Conversely, the fear of death can leave us paralyzed in intense fear without anything productive sourced from it. We may fear the pangs of death, being disconnected with our loved ones or not having accomplished our dreams.
Quite interestingly, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) foretold this phenomenon saying that there will be a time in the Ummah when people shall love life but despise death. As Muslims, we have to conquer the fear of death so rather than it being a source of paranoia, hate and annoyance, it becomes a source of motivation, mindfulness and piety.
Despising death means fleeing from it whenever it is mentioned and avoiding the subject entirely. Another aspect is going in to a state of denial subconsciously. However, if we truly want to drive it towards positivity, the first step is acceptance.
There can be endless debate about afterlife, but there is no question about death, no matter what ideology a person has. At most, we may try to forget that we’ll ever die to live on carelessly, but whatever we do, we can never run away from death when it finally approaches us. Death is not predictable, nor do we know when we shall die. It may come in the form of an accident when we are in the best of our health or as a sickness when we are within hospital walls. That is why, we cannot take our life for granted.
Allah (SWT) asks us in Surah Al-Takwir “So then where are you heading?” [81:26 ]
The truth is, that no matter where we are in our life currently, ultimately, we are heading back towards our Lord. So while we invest so much of our efforts in building a happy and secure future in this life, how is it that we tend to neglect building our afterlife?
Since it is absolute and inevitable for everyone, all that matters is how soon we come to this realization and how we channel it in our present lives. Living life to the fullest is an urge a person any person who has realized his or her mortality may have, but what gives this realization a much greater purpose is seeing afterlife in the Islamic perspective of accountability.
Like any journey, the journey from this life to the next requires dedicated preparation. Islam clearly describes every part of this journey and beyond, from the stupors of death, the process of the soul leaving the body, the funeral, the situation within the grave, to The Day of Judgement and our new life thereon. The more knowledge we gain about this in the light of Qur’an, the more we may learn about to make each of these steps easier upon us.
So, what really do we learn in Islam about making this journey and our afterlife better?
Check out Part Two of this series to find out a few pointers to get started with!