Are we prepared for death?
Reflections On The Inevitability of Death
Are we prepared for death?
I recently took to reading a couple of pages of the Quran every night, in a bid to make it a regular daily habit. Because otherwise, I found that with all the good intentions in the world, the Quran would just be sat on my side table waiting for me to have that spare hour or so (which never happened), to get really involved with it.
And alhamdulillah I’ve found it to be beneficial. Two pages may not sound like a lot, but over the course of a week or a month, you notice that your bookmark is getting closer to the end, without you having needed to carve out more than a few minutes each day.
But there’s another really lovely benefit to reading the Quran before bed.
In that quiet space, when your mind has drowned out all the noise from the day’s activities, you find yourself left with room to actually reflect on what you’re reading…and on one particular night, that happened to be death.
But it wasn’t a morbid reflection, or the usual fear of death that you find some preachers try to drill into us…but more a realistic reflection on the fact that one day, we will actually die.
Ok…nothing new right?
We’re all very aware of this fact, and as Muslims, we recognise that we can go at any time – young or old – as death does not discriminate. But I wondered if, at the age of 39, I would be one of the lucky ones to be blessed with another 39 years…and if I was, would I feel any more ready to die at the age of 78?
Do old people just suddenly have a switch that goes off when they reach a certain age, that alerts them to the fact that they’re going to die soon and then they actually accept this fact? Or do we always continue living in the state I find myself in now, where although I know we’re all going to die, in reality it feels as though death is a hundred years away…something that will happen so far into the future, that it almost feels like a different lifetime altogether.
When would I actually feel ready to die? 70? 80? Never?
It made me reflect on how my father, may Allah have mercy on his soul, lived out his later years. Before he was diagnosed with cancer, his favourite place to be was the sitting room, sat in front of a huge Quran, reciting out loud, his voice filling the room and hallway. Whenever I’d stop by for a cup of tea it would be the first thing I’d hear once I’d opened the front door.
My father’s main focus was definitely Allah…and I’m sure we all have elders in our families that seem to have a certain ‘nour’ – a light – exuding from them, due to the amount of time they spend in worship.
And as my father neared his death, knowing that he was going, he remained focused on his worship and accepting of the fact that he was to return to Allah – but at the same time sad at the thought of leaving his family. He cared for nothing else, so much so that he didn’t care for conversations about what was to be done about property or money after he was gone. He’d taken care of what was necessary, but his focus was on family, where he was to be buried, and ensuring that he was able to keep up his worship.
Allah takes the young and old, as a reminder to us that we can go at any time and that tomorrow is never guaranteed. And although we understand this on a basic level, does our day to day behaviour really reflect this understanding? And if it doesn’t, then do we really know and accept that we’re going to die?
Because if we did, surely we would be more like those elders, who are focused on their spiritual development, and who would never miss a prayer for example, no matter what TV show was on. Because they know, at the end of the day, that they don’t have much time left and nothing is more important than connecting with Allah.
And although we do see death around us regularly, and it does make us reflect for a day or two; we soon get busy again with the routine of life and may not stop to ponder upon death until the next time someone we know passes away.
But how differently would our lives look, if we lived them in the same way as someone who knows that they’re actually dying soon…if it was as real to us as our next birthday?
Death doesn’t have to be morbid, or full of fear.
Instead, we can fully accept it, and know that we’re 100% going to meet our Creator, and that it will feel as real as you reading this right now, or being with your friends and family later today. If we’re able to accept the reality of it into our day to day lives now, surely it would be something that we did prioritise in thinking about, instead of pushing it to the back of our minds, almost as though it’s going to happen to a different you, in a different lifetime.
And when we fully accept it as something that’s just going to happen, that’s meant to happen, how will this change our perspective on worship?
Are we likely to miss prayers, or not make an effort to wake up for fajr? Are we going to be more likely to watch what we say about others and become aware of our own shortcomings instead? Will we be more likely to prioritise our time, and spend more of it reflecting on our blessings and thanking Allah for what we do have, rather than being focused on and chasing what we don’t have?
Being ready to die just means being ready to accept the fact that we’re going to meet Allah soon.
And if that becomes real to us in our day to day lives, then it will also start to make logical sense to put as much effort into being presentable before Allah, as we do in making sure we’re presentable in front of friends, family, and followers in our other day to day activities. We carve out more of a space for worship in our lives, without it coming from a place of pressure or fear…but more from the acceptance that we’re soon going to meet The One, The Greatest, The Almighty.
Be ready to die…but in the most spiritual and productive way possible. In a way that enriches our day to day lives, without losing focus of our ultimate purpose in life.
My final reflection is that we often hear that we were created to worship Allah…and I wholeheartedly agree. However, a simple shift in how we see this sentence can have a powerful effect on our worship.
We were created to worship Allah…but it’s not why we were created. It’s how we were created.
Worshipping Allah is already an innate part of us. We don’t need to ‘become’ a worshipper, it’s already within us to be this way. All we need to do is realise it, accept it, and submit to how we’ve been created. Our heart and soul yearn to worship Allah, and that’s why when we remember Allah, our hearts find peace.
It’s how we were created.
And once we insightfully see this, worship becomes a lot more effortless, because all we’re doing is letting our heart and soul do what it was created to do.
May Allah make it easy for us all to become closer to Him and gain His pleasure, Ameen.