Saturday, July 19, 2008

THE JOURNEY OF DEATH

Kullu Nafsin dhaikatul maut"Every soul must taste death..."Suratul 'Ankabut - 29:57 Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon"..Indeed we are from Allah and indeed to Him we will return." Suratul Baqara 2:156 There are only two things that are certain in one's existence. One is birth - as in the above aya - indeed we are from Allah - and the other is death - and indeed to Him we will return. We prepare for the birth of a child, even calling the mother an 'expectant' mother but we do not call ourselves 'expectant' marhumeen even though the journey of death to the aakhira' is inevitable and unavoidable. However, sooner or later, because of our old age or illness, or that of someone we love, or the news of the death of someone in the community, we are forced to face the reality of death, realising the need for preparation for the journey. According to an old fable, a man made an unusual agreement with Izraeel - the angel of death. He told Izraeel that he would be willing to accompany him (as though he had a choice) only if Izraeel 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 tapped on his shoulder. "You are here too soon" the man cried out. "You sent no messenger. I thought we had an agreement!". Izraeel 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 Allah cannot be averted!" The Prophet (S.A.W.) has said:"You have not been created to perish, but to remain forever. You only transfer from one home to another when you die." Imam Husayn (A.S.) said to his companions on the day of Ashura:"Death is nothing but a bridge over which you pass from this world of distress and affliction towards a vast heaven of eternal bliss. Who amongst you does not like to migrate from the (worldly) prison to the (heavenly) palace? And as for your enemies, it is like migrating from the palace towards the prison." How do we prepare for the journey of death?When one undertakes to travel in the world there are numerous preparations to be made: i) Tickets (means of travel) ii) Passport iii) Visas iv) Inoculations/Health certificates v) Clothes (befitting the particular climate of the country of destination) vi) Money (in the right currency or recognised changeable funds) vii) Ensure that all is settled at home e.g. bills paid... viii) Leave behind someone trustworthy to look after affairs. The same criteria applies to the transitional journey of death. The only difference being that we must be prepared all day, every day as the date of travel is not known.Fortunately, the tickets are provided by Allah and we do not have to bear the cost. Since there is a choice of destinations, the passport and visa requirements vary.For the destination of the pleasure of Allah (Janna), the passport must confirm bay'at to Allah, his Prophets and the Aimma. It must also testify to tawheed, adala and qiyama.For the destination of Jahannam, there is no need of a passport at all. The visas for Janna are even more difficult to obtain. Numerous qualifications are required amongst them truthfulness, patience, salaa, zakaa, amr bil ma'ruf, nahyi anil munkar... The clothes are simple and easily obtainable - A kafan. The Prophet (S.A.W.) has said:"One of the qualities that purify the heart is to acquire a kafan." Make sure all debts are paid or provisions made for them; be they in monetary terms or in the form of someone's feelings. Always keep a record of the dues to Allah (qadha wajibat). The funds to spend there must be in the right currency. In the hereafter, the only acceptable currency is thawabs. Besides daily wajibat and good deeds it is essential to invest in an investment that will yield constant return until qiyama (thawab e jari). Leaving behind someone to look after your affairs can be in the form of bringing up a righteous child and/or serving mankind by giving zakaa of time, wealth, knowledge... which will adopt this role. How does death come?When death approaches and the five senses cease to function, one sees (in spiritual vision) the whole of his/her life flash by. One also sees 3 things which claim to be friends: i) One of them says - I will remain with you till your death This is worldly wealth and assets. ii) The second says - I will accompany you to the entrance of your grave. These are family and friends. iii) The third one says - I will remain with you forever. These are his good deeds (thawab). Imam Zaynul Abedeen (A.S.) has said:" Allah has said - I do not hesitate in any order except the death of a believer. He/she dislikes death and I do not like displeasing him/her. Therefore, when the time of death comes, Allah sends two angels to the believer - one is called Muskhiya and the other Munsiyya. Muskhiya makes the person generous (encouraging him/her to leave everything behind) and Munsiyya makes him/her forget the world. The angel of death (Izraeel) then arrives to remove the soul."

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