Death in Islam is the termination of worldly life and the beginning of afterlife. It is seen as the separation of the soul from the body, and its transfer from this world to the afterlife. Multitudes of men have walked on the surface of this Earth. They all belonged to different nations and cultures. A few of them made history for which they were remembered, whereas others were never to be mentioned again. Although each one was personally different from another – their habits, thinking and tastes differed – they all had two (2) things in common, first, they were all delivered from their mother’s womb (birth) and second, they all tasted death. Who claims he has lived a thousand years? According to Quran, “The Sun travels to an appointed place. This is the decree of the Mighty, the All-Knowing.” (Qur’an 36:38). Almighty Allah blesses us with all His gifts. The Sun gives us light during the day to help us see and it helps our crops grow so that we can eat. But the Sun also teaches us other things. The Almighty Allah causes the day to die with its setting and allows the night to take over, which is a time for rest. In this way, He may be showing us that all of us will eventually have to die just like the day. And when the Sun rises in the morning again after our period of rest, it is as if Almighty Allah is telling us that we too will be raised to life after we have died. These are all signs of Allah to teach us to take care of our life. One thing that we must remember is that death is inevitable, and everything except the Almighty Allah of course, will perish. Signs of death can be seen all around us. At funerals we see people who were once walking among us being buried in their graves. In the fall we see the leaves turn from green to yellow and fall one at a time, and in the winter we see trees, lifeless. In this way, all things in this world will wither away and die. According to an old fable, a man made an unusual agreement with Hazrat Izraeel (pbuh) – the angel of death. He told Izraeel (pbuh) that he would be willing to accompany him (as though he had a choice) only if Izraeel (pbuh) would send him a notice well in advance. The agreement was made. Weeks became months and the months into years. One bitterly cold night, as the man sat alone thinking of his success in life, Izraeel (pbuh) tapped on his shoulder. “You are here too soon” the man cried out. “You sent no messenger. I thought we had an agreement!” Izraeel (pbuh) whispered “Notice your hair, once it was full and black, now it has streaks of silver in it! Observe your face in the mirror and see the wrinkles. Yes! I have sent many messages through the years! I have kept my part. I am sorry that you are not ready for me but the order of Almighty God cannot be averted!” Hence, hair color turning gray from black or wrinkles on the face are also the signs of nearing death, and the Allah is the only one who can bring the dead back to life. Surely all men die, and just surely Almighty Allah give them life with His ability, and judges them on their deeds and actions. We know Allah is the Creator and can recreate us, because if one can do something he has the ability to do it again. On Resurrection Day Allah will re-create the dead for judgment, and then allow the doer of good to enter paradise but cast the evil-doer into hell. Hatred towards death and love of the world is the outcome of an ignorant person’s mind, who thinks that the happiness of this world is his prosperity and good fortune. The world beset with numerous troubles and anxieties is about to end in misery and does not enjoy eternity, perpetuity and sincerity. A poet has referred to this in the following words – “Do not give your heart to this world, for its example is of an unfaithful bride who has never loved you, even for a night. “Imam Ali (pbuh) says: “If man will see how speedily his death is coming toward him he will abhor ambitions and will give up admiring the world.”It is of utmost importance that man should hold death dear and consider it an opportunity of meeting with his Almighty, and not hate it and consider it as evil, but should take lessons from it. He should ask forgiveness from Almighty for his sins and tame the rebellious self (Nafs). When the call of his Lord comes, he should welcome it with open arms accepting it to be a blessing from Almighty. He should be contented with the decree (Qadr) of Almighty. In fact a believer always remembers death, since his or her main goal is to reach the Almighty Allah. True believers, those who are sincerely devoted to the Almighty Allah, anticipate death since to them it signifies the long-awaited meeting with their creator. Before a believer approaches the final moment of his/her life and death overtakes him, it is necessary that he wakes up from the state of negligence and prepares for the final everlasting place. This way he will be able to avoid bewilderment and the fear of the so-called untimely death. At the time of leaving this world, as attested to by the Holy Qur’an, a person will be in one of two states – either he will be of the Companions of the Right, or the Companions of the Left. If he is counted amongst the Companions of the Right, he will be in a good, final state, but if he is one of the Companions of the Left, he will be of those who have suffered a great loss. Once a man saw in his dream, that a Lion was chasing him!
The man ran to a Tree, climbed on to it and sat on a branch. He looked down and saw that the Lion was still there waiting for him. The man then looked to his side where the branch he was sitting on was attached to the Tree and saw that two Rats were circling around and eating the branch. One Rat was black and the other one was white. The branch would fall on the ground very soon. The man then looked below again with fear and discovered that a big black Snake had come and settled directly under him. The Snake opened its mouth right under the man so that he will fall into it. The man then looked up to see if there was anything that he could hold on to. He saw another branch with a Honeycomb. Drops of honey were falling from it. The man wanted to taste one of the drops. So, he put his tongue out and tasted one of the fallen drops of Honey. The Honey was amazing in taste. So, he wanted to taste another drop. As he did, he got lost into the sweetness of the Honey. Meanwhile, he forgot about the two Rats eating his branch away, the Lion on the ground and the Snake that is sitting right under him. After a while, he woke up from his sleep. To get the meaning behind this dream, the man went to a pious scholar of Islam. The scholar said: The Lion you saw is your Death. It always chases you and goes wherever you go. The two Rats, one black and one white, are the night and the day. Black one is the night and the white one is the day. They circle around, coming one after another, to eat your time as they take you closer to Death. The big black Snake with a dark mouth is your Grave. It’s there, just waiting for you to fall into it. The Honeycomb is this world and the sweet Honey is the luxuries of this world. We like to taste a drop of the luxuries of this world but it’s very sweet. Then we taste another drop and yet another. Meanwhile, we get lost into it and we forget about our time, we forget about our death and we forget about our graves. What is the reality of death? What is the philosophy of life and death? For answering these questions, first of all, we must clarify our perception regarding death. Usually, most of the people are alarmed and fearful upon hearing the word `death’, and to them, death appears dreadful and terrifying, whereas, according to the Islamic ideology, this terminology or this subject has a different appearance and can be perceived in a different way. Basically it can be said that those who fear death, consider it to be a negative entity. According to this insight, death is an end of life and a moment of everlasting separation of man with his life. Anyway, Islam does not possess such a dark and fear-instilling view of death because according to the Islamic view, death is a positive entity. The moment of death is a moment of rebirth of man and a moment of his hastening out from a confined region of this world into a world, which is wide, expansive and rapturous. A world, wherein, man is not troubled by anxieties, sorrows and the material and natural limitations. Of course, those who have habituated themselves to worries and limitations must free themselves of such habits. In other words, becoming free from the clutches of mother nature entails some transient hardships but after that, in place of a confined and dark place, man is taken into a world which is extensive, infinite and full of luminosity and happiness. According to this view, death is not annihilation but is inherent fallout of one stage of progress and development of man. Similar to an infant in the womb of the mother, which, after reaching a particular stage of its development, just should not and cannot stay in the confined and dark womb of the mother and obtain nourishment from her blood, but must come out and continue its development in a more extensive world. Similarly, after a certain period, he should attain freedom from the confined and limited world of nature and hasten to another world, which is appropriate for his eternity-desiring soul. In short, it is according to this view that life of man becomes pleasant and sweet and his death too, not only does not become a means of sorrow but also is regarded as an escape from the misfortunes, sorrows and limitations. And if his death is like the death of the champions and by his own choice and on the path of Truth and as a result, can be called martyrdom, then surely it will be more pleasant and more sweet, and in the moment of death and departure from the world he shall experience such pleasure that only the very righteous and the martyrs on the path of virtue and piety have the knowledge of, and these are the very people who can taste this pleasure. This is because, those pleasures cannot be described and if ever described, does not possess the same pleasure (which is gained by experiencing it). The reality of death, according to the Holy Qur’an (32:11), is `Tawaffa’ and not `Faut’. `Tawaffa’ means the angels commissioned to seize the soul of man, seize it and release it from the captivity of the body and then transfer it to another world, towards his Lord. The Holy Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) has said: “You have not been created to perish, but to remain forever. You only transfer from one home to another when you die.”“You have not been created to perish, but to remain forever. You only transfer from one home to another when you die.”In the Holy Qur’an, interesting and varied interpretations have been made, regarding death, the study of all the aspects of which, shall become very elaborate, hence we suffice by mentioning a few of the beautiful and expressive interpretations, which have appeared in some of the verses.(a) Meeting with Almighty Allah (b) Return to Almighty Allah (c) Seizing of the Soul. In some of the traditions, death has been referred to as a bridge, over which people, at the time of transfer from this world to the other world, shall cross and reach their goal, which is the other world. Concerning this Prophet Jesus (Hazrat Esa) (pbuh) has said: “This world is like a bridge, cross it and do not build on it.” In some of the traditions, death has been compared to clothes, which of course differs, with respect to a believer and an unbeliever. In some other traditions, death has been compared to sleep, in which the soul goes out of the body. The only fundamental difference between sleep and death is that the coming out of the soul from the body, at the time of sleep, is only for a short period of time. In addition, the connection between the body and the soul is not completely severed. On the other hand, researches pertaining to the soul have proved that the soul maintains a connection with the body in a very special manner. While, at the time of death and after that, the severance of this connection is more complete than that during sleep, although, after death too, a weak connection does exist for a certain period. The fear of death, for most of the people, is not a matter which requires any evidence because it is totally obvious and we also see that a lot of people manifest extra-ordinary sensitivity with respect to the term `death’ and its reality. Some of the people have comprehended the reality of death and are also aware of the Islamic insight regarding death. On the other hand, they have also obtained some information regarding the stations and the journey after death, however, in spite of all this, they still fear death. Man is on trial in this world. Here, everyone is being tested; if one acts rightly, one will succeed in the trial of life. Neglect of the task that lies before one is tantamount to failure. Those who do not strive to succeeding the trial of life are doomed to failure, whether they like it or not.
(The authors write regularly on Islamic topics exclusively for “The Kashmir Horizon”. Views are their own)
Trend of suicides in Kashmir: Our responsibilities, role of relationships
From the past couple of months, we see each and each day, suicides are common in our society. There are multiple reasons behind it both psychologically and mentally. The biggest reason behind this trend is the depression. Suicide is not a way to get rid from problems but a way through which new problems emerge. It is the act in which a person wants to end his life by taking harsh steps by consuming poison, jumping from a bridge and hanging himself. There is no end to it and in our society we have seen our young boys and girls are taking extreme steps to end their lives but question is why. Usually if we will see these steps are taken by those persons who feel that they are worthlessness, those trapped in bad habits, those in which society is responsible by passing negative comments to them. We can combat it collectively rather than blaming anyone for the same and we need to listen the ideas and share our thoughts with them so that they will not feel alienated in the society. Among suicides an urge originates to live, you can become useful member, you can take responsibilities of family but they have a little time during this event and if someone rescues they can start a new life and if life ends almighty knows what will happen to them. When we talk of relationships, there is larger responsibility to understand these issues and we have to play a major role to play over here better relationship with parents, friends and spouse is crucial so that to listen their concerns to help them, to cope with tense life situations by providing psychological support. There is a concern here is who is going to listen them, because many a times even parents do not pay attention to their children’s because of bad relationships due to their busy time schedule. We should try to make better relationships with them may be we may save some one’s life. A longitudinal study was conducted in Harvard University 60 years ago and still the study is going on.
Relationship is a pillar a backbone to save the society from this disaster parents should manage their time to spend with children and humbly try to listen their concerns because they need better relationship and through relationship we can accept and we have to accept them, love them and we should feel that they are our part.
In this study the researchers try to examine the life satisfaction of those persons who were famous, among the persons who were included in the study two of them were former US presidents, Noble prize winners, Persons who stepped on moon and various scholars from the Harvard university and only those persons were identified to be satisfied and happy with their life who were having better relationships with parents, children’s, and spouse and with the society as well. Analyzing all the facts I came to conclude that relationship is a pillar a backbone to save the society from this disaster parents should manage their time to spend with children and humbly try to listen their concerns because they need better relationship and through relationship we can accept and we have to accept them, love them and we should feel that they are our part.
(Author is teaching at Islamic University of Science and Technology -IUST Awantipora Kashmir, Views are his own)