(This is an abridged version of my original article written in Malay in 2001, see at http://haniff.sg/pesanan/apabila-ajal-tiba/ )
Almost every day we come across news of death in the media. Indeed, nothing is more certain in this life than death. The Quran says, “Every human being is bound to taste death…” (The Quran, 3:185)
A person can have any ambition, make a plan for it and strive hard to achieve it but there is no certainty that he will achieve his ambition in the future. But death, we do not have to plan or work towards it. One day, it will surely visit us.
Ironically, people today are busier planning and preparing for something that is uncertain than something that is so imminent like death.
Indeed, a wise person is the one who does not allow uncertainties to distract him from what is certain such as death.
Thus, he prepares himself to face death that may visit his loved ones unexpectedly. He also prepares his wife, children and loved ones to face death that will surely come to him too – spiritual, psychological and material preparation.
Often inability to cope with death of loved ones has serious repercussion. A mother plunged to death for the death of her son (ST, Nov. 28, 2001).
Preparing to face death does not mean disassociation from this temporal world. For Muslims, it is to ensure that everything that is done in this world is for the benefit of the Afterlife too – the true and eternal life.
The big concern also, for Muslims, is not facing death itself but the state when death visited each of them – whether he died as a good person in this world with sufficient provision for the Afterlife and that he will be missed by many or as a wicked that is despised by those who are in this world and in heaven?
Importantly also, Muslims should not only grieve over the death of the righteous but also over ordinary person. Emulating the Prophet whose care and concern extend every single member of his ummah (ummati…ummati..), Muslims should grieve with concern over the fate of every single person who died – whether his ultimate end is eternal happiness in heaven or suffering in hell?
When reflecting on death, two things that should always remain in our mind.
1. What will be our provision (reward / sin) to the Afterlife?
2. What legacy that we will leave behind (provision for our loved ones, pious children, charity, knowledge, etc. that are beneficial to all or despicable deeds that will only cause people to remember us with hate)?
May God Almighty awaken us from the ignorance of death, Amen.