“The life of this world is nothing but diversion and play, but the abode of the Hereafter is indeed Life, had they known!” [Surah Ankabut: 64]
How prepared are we to devote our lives to Allah (swt)? There are many examples from Islamic history of situations in which those who claimed to believe, failed to deliver upon this claim. One of the most infamous examples from the time of the Prophet is that of the Battle of Uhud. The Prophet (peace be upon him) had instructed the Muslim soldiers to remain in their position on Mount Uhud during the battle but when they saw the rest of the soldiers gain victory and begin to take the war booty, so that they would not lose out, they judged that it was OK to leave their position to secure some booty for themselves. As a result, the battle was lost. (Click here to learn more about the Battle of Uhud)
These soldiers were men who were prepared to die on the battlefield in the way of Allah but in turn, they gave their Prophet up so easily because of a worldly distraction. The consequences of this action were devastating. We may shame these soldiers for selling their obligation to the Prophet, the representative of Allah on earth, for mere selfish material gain but do we ask ourselves – how different are we as individuals?
Can we remain steadfast when the world attempts to distract us from our goal of Islam? We must understand within ourselves, in our private moments of reflection, that every waking moment must be a moment lived in the service of Allah, preparing ourselves for the next life – our permanent and final abode. Thus, we must acknowledge death for its imminent reality. When we allow ourselves to consider death and realise that love of this world is the root of every wrong action we are clearing the path for ourselves to travel the ultimate journey of perfection.
To strip ourselves of worldly attachment means to strip ourselves of anything that is an obstacle in our pursuit of Allah. It is ridding ourselves of anything that will not benefit us in our real life – the hereafter. Wealth and children. Whatever may give us physical or mental pleasure such as relationships, praise from people. Whatever occupies our mind and in turn our time such as television series, gossip, social media likes and the opinions of others.
Stop and think. What is it that occupies your mind in its wandering moments? What is it that prevents you and I from obeying our Lord, from seeking His love and from working towards the Hereafter?
The beauty of Islam is that it teaches the importance of balance, this world can be enjoyed but with Allah before our eyes. If everything we do is done for the sake of Allah, then we are not hurting our hereafter and we are also working on the most important of relationships – that between us and our Creator.
Attachment to this world is dangerous because it can prevent belief from truly entering our hearts. Strong belief is the armour that we will carry with ourselves from the moment we die to secure a peaceful and pleasant delivery from this world to the next and a beautiful abode in the next life. It is every individual’s responsibility as soon as they become baligh (of Islamic age) to learn and understand their belief system.
Ayatullah Najafi Quchani employs poetic licence in his book Journey of the Unseen World, to give us a glimpse of what death will be like when it visits us. He describes the questioning of the grave by Munkar and Nakeer, the great peril each soul finds itself in in its great struggle to answer these questions. Who is your Lord? Who is your Prophet? What is your book? What is your Qibla?
If we have not delved deep enough to understand our beliefs in this life then we will find it immensely difficult to respond when we are filled with so much fear. Only firm recognition and cognizance of our beliefs can allow us to answer and find relief from the questioning. We must have full knowledge of our Aqaed with logic and proof. It is compulsory for every baligh individual, responsible in the eyes of Allah, to seek this knowledge. Knowledge of worldly subjects is of no use if it is not accompanied by knowledge of our belief system.
Death is a reality that no one can deny, whether you believe in God or not. We witness people departing this world around us all the time, in the news, on social media, even in our communities and families. Death knows no age and no race. Healthy or unhealthy, no human being can ever know when they shall taste death but as the Almighty reminds us, “Every soul shall taste of death; and We try you with evil and good for a testing, and unto Us you shall be returned.” [Surah Al Anbiya: 35]
Such a truth must be met with a prepared soul, a soul that can rejoice that it has made the most of its time on earth, a soul that has been nurtured to return to its Beloved.
So how can you and I prepare our souls for death? Here are some practical tips:
- Train yourself to be wary of death, to be conscious of your purpose (Allah), to attain Taqwa (piety)
- Recite Surah Takathur before sleeping
- Contemplate on your day’s actions before sleeping and seek forgiveness for any sins
- Expose yourself to death – Volunteer to take part in Ghusl Al Mayyit (Washing of the dead person)
- Visit the graveyards
- Remember the dead often by reciting Quran and giving charity in their name
- Attend funerals and burials
- Buy a shroud and place it under your pillow