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A shadow chase

30 March 2011 1,509 views No Comment

Death is an imminent reality, the time of occurrence of which is not known to anyone. It will overtake each and every single one of us.  Some spend their lives working toward greeting it like a friend who they were longing to meet. Some, however, forget it; not knowing it could come at any time – taking their lives away with it. It’s the latter and the solution to heedlessness of death that will be the focus of this writing piece.

Allah subhanawat’Ala mentions in Surah ArRahman, “Whatsoever is on it (the earth) will perish. And the Face of your Lord full of majesty and honor will remain forever.” (ayaat 26-27). In his tafsir, ibn Kathir while explaining these verses mentions, “Therefore, Allah Alone is the Ever-Living Who never dies, while the Jinn, mankind and angels, including those who carry Allah’s Throne, shall die. The Irresistible One and Only, will alone remain for ever and ever, remaining Last, as He was the First.” This is the stark reality that is presented throughout the Qur’aan as a reminder to us as believers. The hadeeth “Remember the destroyer of pleasures (frequently)[1]” puts this reminder in perspective.

‘Ataa bin Abi rabaah said, the remembrance of death compels us to remember our sins, thus repenting to Allah subhanawat’Ala and coming closer to Him. It makes us content with the numerous blessing we have been bestowed with, which at the time of hardship don’t seem like a lot. It humbles us and makes us thankful slaves of Allah. Lastly, it discourages us from competing in worldly matters for the sole purpose of achieving that which is ephemeral, i.e., dunya.

The Khaleefah ‘Umar bin Abdul Azeez would invite scholars to share stories of death with him. ArRabee’ bin Khutaym had a grave dug in his house, which he would lie down in to soften his heart and remind himself of the life to come. He’d admonish himself by saying, “Work righteous deeds O Rabee’ before a day comes and you won’t be given a second chance…”

These were strong and intelligent minds who had the yaqeen, conviction, that they were sure to die one day, and as a result they made choices that would make all the difference in the life to come.

Striking a balance between remembering death and going about life was a goal our righteous predecessors gave priority to.  They had come to the realization that the relationship between this world and akhirah “is like the east and the west; the closer (one) comes to one side, the further away (he goes) from the other.”

Allah subhanawat’Ala beautifully reminds, “seek through that which Allah has given you, the home of the hereafter, (yet) do not forget your share of the hereafter[2].”  Surely, the companions of the Prophet did not forget this. Six of the ten Ashara Mubasharrah[3] were very rich. They used their financial success in causes that helped the society around them, which in turn helped them excel in akhirah.

Different factors help a person achieve happiness in this world. According to scholars in the field of psychology, these factors include realization of physical, mental, financial, social, spiritual, and career goals. The Prophet outlines them for us in the hadeeth of Abu Dardaa; he said, “Your Lord has a right over you, your soul has a right over you, and your wife has a right over you, so give each one his due.”[4]

It is apparent from the Quraan, hadith, and examples of scholars that in order to make the remembrance of death an integral part of our daily lives, we don’t have to be aloof from society, family, or friends.  On the contrary, Allah “created death and life to test (those who are) best in deeds.”[5] This can’t be done unless we fulfill the rights of those around us, fulfill the rights Allah has on us, and finally and very importantly, fulfill those of our goals and aspirations that we set are eyes on. The key is to do the aforementioned in ways that are pleasing to Allah subhanawat’Ala, and to remember the saying of ibn Umar: “If the nighttime comes, do not wait for the morning, and if the morning comes, do not wait for the night time.”[6] By taking heed of this profound saying, the quality of our lives would improve and the strength of our character would shine through.


[1] An-Nasaee: 258

[2] Soorat Qasas: 77

[3] The 10 promised paradise

[4] Bukhari: 1867

[5] Soorat Mulk: 2

[6] Bukhari: 6053

by Sibgha_z

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