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Thread: The Lessons from Death

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    The Lessons from Death

    Life slips away second by second. Are you aware that every day brings
    you closer to death or that death is as close to you as it is to
    other people?

    As we are told in the verse "Every soul shall taste death in the end;
    to Us shall you be brought back." (Surat al-'Ankabut: 57) everyone
    who has ever appeared on this earth was destined to die. Without
    exception they all died, every one. Today, we hardly come across the
    traces of many of these people who passed away. Those currently
    living and those who will ever live will also face death on a
    predestined day. Despite this fact, people tend to see death as an
    unlikely incident.

    Think of a baby who has just opened its eyes to the world and a man
    who is about to breathe his last. Both had no influence on their
    individual birth or death whatsoever. Only God possesses the power to
    inspire the breath of life or to take it away.

    All human beings will live until a certain day and then die; God in
    the Qur'an gives an account of the attitude commonly shown towards
    death in the following verse:

    Say: "The death from which you flee will truly overtake you: then you
    will be sent back to the Knower of things secret and open: and He
    will tell you (the truth of) the things that you did!" (Surat al-
    Jumu'ah: 8)

    The majority of people avoid thinking about death. In the rapid flow
    of daily events, a person usually occupies himself with totally
    different subjects: what college to enroll in, which company to work
    for, what color of clothing to wear next morning, what to cook for
    supper; these are the kinds of major issues that we usually consider.
    Life is perceived as a routine process of such minor matters.
    Attempts to talk about death are always interrupted by those who do
    not feel comfortable hearing about it. Assuming death will come only
    when one grows older, one does not want to concern himself with such
    an unpleasant subject. Yet it should be kept in mind that living for
    even one further hour is never guaranteed. Everyday, man witnesses
    the deaths of people around him but thinks little about the day when
    others will witness his own death. He never supposes that such an end
    is awaiting him!

    Nevertheless, when death comes to man, all the "realities" of life
    suddenly vanish. No reminder of the "good old days" endures in this
    world. Think of everything that you are able to do right now: you can
    blink your eyes, move your body, speak, laugh; all these are
    functions of your body. Now think about the state and shape your body
    will assume after your death.

    While all this is taking place in the world, the corpse under the
    soil will go through a rapid process of decay. Skin and soft tissues
    will completely disintegrate. The brain will decay and start looking
    like clay. This process will go on until the whole body is reduced to
    a skeleton.

    However, our beloved prophet, Muhammad (PBUH), was reported to have
    said that the dead body of prophets, pious people and martyrs would
    not decay in the grave and that there is enjoyment in the grave just
    as there is punishment in it.

    There is no chance of going back to the old life again. Gathering
    around the supper table with family members, socializing or to having
    an honorable job will never again be possible.

    In short, the "heap of flesh and bones" to which we assign an
    identity faces a quite nasty end. On the other hand, you - or rather,
    your soul - will leave this body as soon as you breathe your last.
    The remainder of you - your body - will become part of the soil.

    Yes, but what is the reason for all these things happening?

    If God willed, the body would never have decayed in such a way. That
    it does so actually carries a very important inner message in itself.

    The tremendous end awaiting man should make him acknowledge that he
    is not a body himself, but a soul "encased" within a body. In other
    words, man has to acknowledge that he has an existence beyond his
    body. Furthermore, man should understand the death of his body, which
    he tries to possess as if he is to remain eternally in this temporal
    world. However this body, which he deems so important, will decay and
    become worm-eaten one day and finally be reduced to a skeleton. That
    day might be very soon.

    Despite all these facts, man's mental process is inclined to
    disregard what he does not like or want. He is even inclined to deny
    the existence of things he avoids confronting. This tendency seems to
    be most apparent when death is the issue. Only a funeral or the
    sudden death of an immediate family member brings this reality to
    mind. Almost everybody sees death far from himself. The assumption is
    that those who die while sleeping or in an accident are different
    people and what they face will never befall us! Everybody thinks it
    is too early to die and that there are always years ahead to live.

    Yet most probably, people who die on the way to school or hurrying to
    attend a business meeting shared the same thought. They probably
    never thought that the next day's newspapers would publish news of
    their deaths. It is entirely possible that, as you read these lines,
    you still do not expect to die soon after you have finished them or
    even entertain the possibility that it might happen. Probably you
    feel that it is too early to die because there are many things to
    accomplish. However, this is just an avoidance of death and these are
    only vain endeavors to escape it:

    Say: "Running away will not profit you if you are running away from
    death or slaughter; and even if (you do escape), no more than a brief
    (respite) will you be allowed to enjoy!"(Surat al-Ahzab: 16)

    Man who is created alone should be aware that he would also die
    alone. Yet during his life, he lives almost addicted to possessions.
    His sole purpose in life becomes to possess more. Yet, no one can
    take his goods with him to the grave. The body is buried wrapped in a
    shroud made from the cheapest of fabrics. The body comes into this
    world alone and departs from it in the same way.

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