Why is is that we fear talking about death? No one can deny the reality of death and yet we tend to avoid thinking about it and confronting it.
In the very popular hadith in which our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) told his companions that a time will come when the Muslims will be large in number but so weak and insignificant like the foam of the sea, he explains that the main reason was wahan, which was defined as two things:
1- Love of dunya: This doesn’t imply that Muslims should hate this world. Rather, we should love this world and use it to plant our seeds of goodness but our primarily focus should be attached to the Hereafter and pleasing Allah.
2- Hatred of death: This is when we hate the topic of death and see it as too depressing and serious. Allah describes the hypocrites as people who would stick their fingers in their ears to avoid listening to such topics that would seem scary like thunder and lightning.
“Or [it is] like a rainstorm from the sky within which is darkness, thunder and lightning. They put their fingers in their ears against the thunderclaps in dread of death. But Allah is encompassing of the disbelievers.” Surah Al-Baqarah 2:19
Even the Children of Israel were challenged by Allah to wish for death if in fact they were the chosen people of God. However, Allah exposes them by saying that they will never wish for death, in fact they will try to escape it because of the evil deeds they have committed but the reality is that there will be no escape when the time of death arrives.
In contrast, the Prophet gave us the good news of the one who is optimistic about meeting Allah:
“Whoever loves to meet Allah, Allah will love to meet him, and whoever hates to meet Allah, Allah will hate to meet him.” ‘Aisha RA or one of his wives said: “But we all dislike the idea of death.” He said, “It is not what you are thinking. When death approaches the believer and he is given the news of Allah’s pleasure and honour, nothing will be more dear to him than what lies ahead of him, so he will love to meet Allah and Allah will love to meet him. But when death approaches the disbeliever and he is given the news of Allah’s wrath and punishment, nothing will be more disliked by him than that what lies ahead of him, so he will hate to meet Allah and Allah will hate to meet him.” Sahih Al-Bukhari
Does this mean that we should wish for death? The Prophet PBUH taught us in another hadith:
“No one of you should wish for death. Either he is a doer of good and will do more, or he is a doer of evil but perhaps he may stop.” Sahih Al-Bukhari
So the longer we live, the more good we can do and the longer chance we have to seek forgiveness for our mistakes and shortcomings.
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Do We Really Die?
In order to answer this questions we first need to define who we really are. Give it a thought. Are you any of the following?
- You body
- Your mind and knowledge
- Your relationships
- Your possessions
- Your job and business
- Your achievements
- Your social status
The reality of the matter is that you are actually none of the above. Simply because you are separated from all of the above when death arrives. Your body decomposes and everything you know means nothing. All the people you know can’t help you anymore. All your possessions do not accompany you in your grave. You leave everything behind except for your deeds and faith. The only part of you that remains after you die is your Ruh. That is who you really are. At the moment of death, your Ruh leaves your body into another dimension called barzakh. The moment of death is the moment of separation of the real You from the false You, which is also known as your Ego.
“And the dying one is certain that it is the [time of] separation.” Surah Al-Qiyamah (75:28)
The Grand Deception
One of Satan’s biggest deceptions is to make mankind forget who they really are and make them have a false perception of themselves. The Ego makes you define your Self based on materialistic things like your body, possessions and social status as mentioned earlier. The deeper reality of why most people fear death is actually because your Ego is afraid to be exposed to reveal the reality of who you really are. The moment of death is when the deluded human being will realize the reality of this grand deception because everything will become clear and the veils of deception will be lifted. The truth of the matter is that you are your Ruh, which is blown into you by Allah. This Ruh never dies. Ths Ruh was stationed temporarily on your body as a test. The true believers will realize this reality before they die and will live a life of balance by taking care of their worldly affairs and not forgetting to take care of the Ruh. If you remember from a previous post, the human being is made of five elements and each of the elements need to be fed and taken care of to achieve harmony, happiness and inner peace in life:
1- Body: Food, drink, sleep, pleasures
2- Mind: Read, think, ask, explore, reflect
3- Heart: Love, care, mercy
4- Nafs: Values such as Gratitude, Optimism, Sincerity, Humility, Confidence…etc
5- Ruh: Remembrance of Allah, prayer, reading Quran, good company, listening to advice and reminders.
As for the deluded, they will live their entire life only focusing on taking care of the body by indulging in food, drink, sleep, and fulfilling their bodily desires. They will forget their true essence of Ruh and will not put any effort to nourish it and satisfy its needs of remembering Allah.
“Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to ‘die before you die’ and find that there is no death”. Eckhart Tolle
So all that is not you is your Ego or false Self. Death is when the stripping away happens and the truth is revealed to you that you were in essence your Ruh. So how do you ‘die before you die’? Well, by simply killing your Ego and being humble.
“[It will be said at the time of death], “You were certainly in unmindfulness of this, and We have removed from you your cover, so your sight, this Day, is sharp.” Surah Qaaf 50:22
When your Ego dies, you will no longer:
- Think that you are better than others and you will see beauty in every person around you
- Have a burning desire to win and won’t mind losing and failing to learn and move on
- Want to always be right and will accept it when you are wrong
- Hesitate to say sorry
- Define yourself by your possessions and the brands you wear or carry to be noticed
- Be upset when people don’t appreciate you
- Seek authority and power
- Feel offended and disrespected, because you only seek honor and respect from Allah alone.
When your Ego dies, you will feel freedom, happiness and inner peace. This is really the core concept of being a slave of Allah. The title of slave is the lowest title you can attribute to yourself in this world. Most people struggle and fight to get superior titles like General, Commander, Minister, Prince, King, Dr. Whereas Allah has honored the believers by giving them the lowest of all titles. When you accept the title of being a slave of the True Master Allah, He will raise you higher than all of His creation.
So the opposite of death is not life, it is birth. Life doesn’t stop when you die, your Ruh remains alive and continues its journey until you meet with your body on the Day of Resurrection and then you spend your life in eternal happiness or misery depending on what choices you make in your life.
Are All Graves Scary?
It is unfortunate that many people think that graves are all about punishments, snakes, scorpions and torture. There are two sides to the coin and if you are optimistic and focus on pleasing Allah in this world and the next then your grave will be an awesome place to be in where you will have your own view of your jannah in the Hereafter.
The Prophet pbuh said: “The grave is one of the gardens of Paradise, or one of the pits of Hell.”
Death is Natural
There are endless signs of Allah’s creation where He teaches us that death is a natural transition of life:
- Clouds have to die for us to get rain.
- Rivers have to die when they meet the ocean
- Oxygen has to die to merge with two Hydrogen particles to give us water (H2O)
- Seeds have to die by ripping open to allow plants to grow
- The sun has to die by setting somewhere in order to rise elsewhere
Imagine There was No Death
- How long you would have to be stuck in traffic or in queues?
- How much food you would have to cook for the ‘big family’?
- How big your house must be to accommodate ‘everyone’?
- What would the unemployment rate look like with your grand grand father never retiring?
- How much laundry you would have to make everyday?
Reflecting on this question really makes you feel grateful that Allah created death.
As advised by our beloved Prophet Muhammad pbuh, think about death regularly and remember it by visiting the graveyard. Here are some of the benefits of remembering death:
- Helps you stay focused on the real priorities of life
- Helps you control your evil temptations and desires
- Helps you stay humble and keeps your Ego in check
- Helps you to stop procrastinating and start taking action
- Helps you replace hate with love
- Helps you replace anger with forgiveness
- Helps you replace jealousy with love
- Reminds you that life is short. It is not worth spending it in misery, pain and suffering. Stay happy:)