© Muhammad Haniff Hassan, December 2001
Take this down – there’s nothing more certain in a person’s life than DEATH. Death is a promise that Allah ta’ala made as found in the Al-Quran:
“Every soul shall have a taste of death” Ali-Imran verse 185
If you’ve been reading the newspapers over the last two weeks, you could not possibly have missed the reports of death. The King of Malaysia passed away on 22 November, a young man was killed when he fell off his motorcycle and was run over by a taxi, a naked woman was found dead in a cheap motel and a man is on trial for the murder of his ex-wife.
For something that is so absolute, it is ironic that we seldom plan for death. Instead we tend to plan for what is less than 100% certain. For example, while a person may aim to be a doctor and makes plan towards that end, he will never know for sure if he will become a doctor in the future. On the other hand, even if a person does not plan or prepare for death, there is no question that death will pay him a visit one day.
So a wise mukmin should always prepare himself or herself for death. This includes not just for his or her own death but also for the departure of our love ones. Hence, it is necessary for us to prepare our spouse, children and relatives for the arrival of death. This entails preparation on spiritual and psychological aspects as well as ensuring their financial well-being.
Certainly we would not want our family to suffer the fate of Madam Chan Poh Cheng, whose grief led her to jump to her death soon after her only son lost his battle against cancer. (Straits Times, 28 November 2001).
Being prepared for the arrival of death does not mean to abandon our responsibilities in this world. It is a matter of ensuring that what we do in this world is for the best interest of our life in the Hereafter and will not jeorpadise it.
On the issue of death, we should not focus on the death itself. Instead we should concern on the manner we will die; Will we die in pleasant circumstances or otherwise? Will we die while in ibadah or while we are busy with the cares of the world? Will we leave the world while we are struggling for Allah’s cause or in vain? Will we depart as a servant of God or while we give full obedience to the world and man? Will we die with absolute submission (redha) to Allah or with utter disappointment and regrets?
When a pious person pass away, we should mourn because of the loss his departure has brought to the ummah. Similarly we should equally mourn the death of an ordinary person out of sympathy for we do not know whether he will experience peaceful existence or torture in the barzakh.
Imam Ghazali in his book “Bimbingan Mu’minin”, in the chapter on Remembering Death quoted Tsabit Al-Bunani as saying:
“In the past, when we visited funerals, we saw people who were full of sorrow and moved to tears out of the fear of death. But now, when we visit funerals, we saw people who were laughing, chatting or discussing the wealth that the deceased left behind and his family members. The family of the deceased were also thinking of their inheritance.
None of them were reflecting on what it would be like if they were the one to die, be placed in the coffin just like the deceased and then brought to the cemetery.
The only reason that a person is not reflecting on his own death is because his heart has been hardened by the effect of committing evil deeds and sins. It has come to the point that he forgets about Allah, His promise of what will happen on the Day of Judgement and the hardship that we will encounter then.
While we are being lulled by the luxuries before our eyes, we fail see what will be coming ahead and we lose ourselves.”
Ramadhan is always the appropriate time for us to build, uplift and renew our consciousness of death. As hunger is one of the stages leading to death, our consciousness of death and spiritual awareness will increase. Coupled with this is the current humanitarian crisis the world is experiencing where we find that the life of fellow mankind has become worthless.
So start remembering death and ask yourself:
1. What are my provisions for the Akhirat – are they good deeds or sins?
2. What am I leaving behind in this world – pious children, good deeds, legacy, a good reputation or things that would make others despise me?
When we realised how little provision we have for the Hereafter, how much sins we have committed and how little time we have and how many more responsibilities to be done, we will have no time for any ‘celebration’ (Raya) or Day of ‘Celebration’ means less to us.
If we do ‘celebrate’, we do it in the best interest of our life after DEATH.
May Allah taala wakes us from our daydream. Ameen