And knowing and believing that there is Hisaab -- total and complete accountability before God after death -- we humans would not only behave better, and live a better life in this world, we also would not worry too much about what we have in this Duniya, in this world.
A Father Dies, a Son Grieves, And an Entire Community Prays for Mercy: That Is Islam for You! Sidheek C S The ways of Islam -- the ways of Allah really, for, Islam is...
This other news, the one about the Narrow Cylindrical Dark Hole, 10 feet deep, and the 10 feet of dirt on top, can be Good or Bad, depending on who you were...
There is not a doubt that we are all on our return journey to God – each and every one of us.
The Qur’an makes that categorically clear.
Wa Inaa Ilaihi Raaji’oon!
“We are all marching back to God!”
The first step in this return journey was our arrival in this world as a newborn baby, I should think.
Or was it our conception in our mothers’ wombs?
Or was it the encryption that was written when we were still in our fathers’ loins?
Or was it some earlier time when our return journey to God was really ticketed and commenced?
Regardless, it seems to me, the train is on the move, for each one of us, regardless of our gender, age or station in life.
And this train of life is unstoppable – for all of us. That is one thing human beings have not been able to figure out how to do: stop the train of life from moving.
For, in this world, to be alive is to be marching to one’s death. Because life in this world is the precursor to death.
Death that leads to life. Death that separates one life from another.
So, for us humans, our beginning is our end. And our end a new beginning.
But what is striking is how we approach our end – the end of time as it were. For, the Hadith Sharif says, when an individual dies, that is the end of time for that individual.
It is Qiyaamat (Day of Resurrection) so far as that person is concerned.
That is how the Hadith Sharif characterizes that situation.
But I am intrigued by how people seem to approach their destination. Some people, it seems to me, just sit and wait for the train to slip into the station.
But some others, even as they know the platform is approaching, keep themselves busy doing whatever it is that they have been doing.
These are two very different approaches to one’s end of time.
One is to wait for the icy fingers of death to reach out and grab you – and be mindful of it all the time.
Even though constantly reminding oneself of one’s own mortality and impending death – for, death is impending for all, old as well as young, for, as I said earlier, to be living is to be dying – is an Islamic requirement.
And the other, to put it out of your mind and just keep on working – especially, if you happen to be one of those who think or say they are Working for Allah.
They are people who, if they are holding a plant in their hand intending to plant it, they want to finish planting it, if they can, before they are whisked off.
And that, by the way, is also a Hadith Sharif.
They are people who want to keep doing their work till the very last picosecond (one-trillionth part of a second) of their life on earth, while the angels are busy doing their own job preparing to parcel them off from the mortal coils of Duniya (as Shakespeare calls it) into the immortal life of Aakhirah – the life that is forever.
Khaalideena Feehaa Abadaa!
Humans have a predictable trajectory in life. Some a bit different than some others in some minor details no doubt. But the basic process -- and the basic beginning and end -- is all the same.
We are all born weak and vulnerable, just as the Qur'an says.
And then we grow to great strength and resourcefulness and accomplishments, many of us, again just as the Qur'an states.
And then the curve inflects, and we return to a new state of feebleness and dependence as life fades and as strength drains from our limbs and muscles and bones.
We increasingly become a slave of time and tide, doing things only as we are able to do them, if do them at all.
As always -- we should not forget this, as always -- suddenly the mind and body seem to have their own calculus by which they operate. And the Law of Diminishing Returns comes increasingly into play.
That means it now takes more time and more effort and more resources to do what at one time seemed effortless and instantaneous.
The arrogance of personal self-sufficiency and omnipotence falls by the wayside as we turn to everything and everyone in sight for help and support and assistance.
The flame inside flickers for many for a while and then eventually dies.
Life returning to the life-giver!
There are minor variations to this theme in some of the details. But the fundamentals of the story have not changed over time.
Nor are they ever likely to.
The Qur'an sums up the entire human saga -- a saga for which there are no exceptions -- in the following words:
Innaa Lillahi Wa Innaa Ilaihi Raaji'oon!
"God is the origin -- of all.
Just as God also is the end -- of all."
We -- see how personalized this is -- all come from God. And indeed we all shall return to him.
No truer words were ever spoken.
And no human being, in their right mind, can possibly miss being a live and active witness to this unfolding of the invariant saga of human life on earth, episode after episode after episode.
Every man's -- and I suppose every woman's -- "permanent" address, as they call it, in this most obviously and stubbornly impermanent world, is as follows:
Name: whatever that is
Door Number: whatever that is
Street: whatever that is
Town, city or village: whatever those are
Country: whichever one that is.
None of these things is real. And everyone knows that. They are all arbitrary, make-believe, fleeting, impermanent.
In Hiya Illaa Asmaa-un Sammaitumoohaa!
Everyone knows that a few years from today -- whatever the length of time -- none of these pretenders to permanence will be found to exist.
They will all be gone and they will all have turned to dust and found space in the vast empty space of shoddy and faded collective human memory.
Qur'an says it most clearly:
Kullu Shaiy-in Haalikun Illaa Wajha-h.
"Everyone and everything shall perish except God Almighty."
And yet the human story is one of desperately searching for permanence in a place which by its very nature is not permanent.
How foolish can a human being be!
Ever looking for permanence where there is none.
And ever ready to trade the impermanent for the permanent.
Human beings are like little children on a playground. They are too busy with their toys and too excited about playing. It does not occur to them that at any moment their mother will call...
The battle of wits between the advocates of Faith and Skepticism never advanced much beyond the argument that Hazrat Ali, Radiyallahu Anhu, put forward 1400 years ago.
Hazrat Ali wrote a little couplet in which he said this – he was a great poet and literary figure by the way, among so many other things:
"Islam places in the hands of all of us a most personal and intimate miracle: How to defy death every time it strikes.
Here is how.
“Everything shall perish,” the Qur’an declares, “except him!”
Reference is to God.
Islam defines human mortality in a way that is truly death defying.
“Everyone must taste death,” says the Qur’an.
“Death shall lay its hands on you even if you were inside fortified towers,” the Qur’an says elsewhere.
This is nothing new or special to Islam, this teaching about the inevitability of death to all. It is common human observation.
It is the reality of life on earth.
But the way Islam frames the whole human life, and then contextualizes its end on earth, is most simple, elegant, heartwarming and, yes, death defying.
This is the lesson the Qur’an drills into every heart and mind: “We all belong to God.”
For those who truly believe in this message, there is nothing more comforting or life-affirming.
We are all God’s People; we are all divine possessions; that is what that message says.
Innaa lillah, are the words of the Qur’an defining the basic relationship of human beings to God: “We belong to God; we are his.”
And most certainly, he shall not forsake or abandon us – that is the loud and clear implication.
So, what happens when life on earth ends?
From the point of view of the Qur’an, nothing could be more self-evident: “We all return to him.”
We all go back home.
In the words of the Qur’an, Wa innaa ilaihi raaji’oon: “And to him shall we all be returning.”
What an elegant and economical equation – the very soul of parsimony and simplicity, as scientists would call it, even though some scientists may have all kinds of fits when we mention God.
But that is what the Qur’an teaches: “We all belong to God and it is to him that we shall all be returning.”
Hear the inimitable Qur’an put it all together in its own divine, immortal words: Innaa lillahi wa innaa ilaihi raaji’oon!
You reach this point and you are face to face with a miracle – a two part miracle.
Part one is the realization that you belong to God; and that it is he that is your true owner and master.
Part two is the understanding that one day – any day – God can and shall call you back to him.
If you believe and internalize the two parts of this divine-human equation, you are almost immune from Fear and Grief – at least as immune as it is possible for a human being in this world to be.
To me, this is nothing short of a miracle, a death-defying miracle.
What is more: Anyone, anywhere, can see this miracle with their own bare eyes, and hear it with their own mortal ears, every time a Muslim’s death is announced within the hearing of another Muslim.
Immediately, upon hearing of another Muslim’s death, a Muslim will cry out, Innaa lillahi wa innaa ilaihi raaji’oon: We all belong to God and we shall all be returning to him.
That means every time someone dies, Islam teaches Muslims the miracle of being able to pull a message of life from that news of death.
This is an ongoing miracle that anyone can see with their own eyes wherever there are Muslims.
And that alone should be enough to show them – to show anyone anywhere in the world – that Islam is not a man-made system.
And that Islam could only have come from God.
And this has gone on for over 1400 years: the miracle of Muslims reacting with this most life-affirming message of Innaa lillahi wa innaa ilaihi raaji’oon – to themselves and to everyone else – every time they hear the news of someone’s death.
Nothing has changed from the time since the Qur’an and the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, placed the power of that miracle in the hands of the people who would choose to believe in them.
This death-defying miracle alone should be enough to wake up the world to smell the perfume of Islam and come forward to embrace it." (Dr. Pasha)
"When our body is sick, it is only our life in this world that may be at risk. For, death will surely put an end to all bodily pain and suffering.
And then there is the hope of eternal bliss for the soul.
But when our soul is sick, it is perdition in both this world and the next world that we risk.
For, a sick soul will make our worldly life miserable for us, while at the same time raking up enough negative credit to ruin our next life as well.
A sick soul will guarantee us hell in life and hell after death.
And often not just for us." (Dr. Pasha)