We all want to be happy! Alhumdulillah, as Muslims Allah (swt) has provided us an opportunity to attain eternal happiness that is in Jannah, of course.
While we are mentally prepared to go to Jannah and experience Allah’s (swt) exquisite bounties, many of us are not prepared for the transit journey, leading to our final destination: death.
How many of us talk about death or even think about it? Death is often discussed. We attend funerals and watch death depicted in the mass media. However, this is not the accurate depiction of what we as Muslims believe about death. As a result, many different misconceptions have taken root in our minds; a few common ones are discussed below, Insha’Allah:
I am a Muslim, so I have a free ticket to Jannah
Many of us believe that just because we were born into a Muslim family and belong to some lineage of pious ancestors, it automatically guarantees our entry into Jannah, regardless of whether we pray or fast or perform any good deeds. Nothing could be further from the truth! Allah (swt) is not impressed by titles. We need the right deeds and mindset to get to Jannah, Insha’Allah. The Qur’an dispels this myth in the following manner:
“That was a nation who has passed away. They shall receive the reward of what they earned and you of what you earn. And you will not be asked of what they used to do.” (Al-Baqarah 2:134)
I’m too young to die
This commonly repeated phrase is heard in countless action movies. When faced with a deadly situation the protagonist dramatically exclaims, “But I am too young to die!” And then he/she struggles to cheat death, proving to be successful and you see them triumph, living “happily ever after.” So, is there really an age when one can be considered too young to die? As Muslims we must remember that death can come any time regardless of the person’s age and you cannot cheat death.
When I die that is “The End” of my story
The mass media causes us to believe that while we are on this earth, we have all the time to enjoy ourselves, and be successful and happy. When we reach the grave that is ‘the end’ and nothing happens after that. My loved ones will weep over my grave, and then everyone will move on – end of story.
In reality, Islam tells us that when we are lowered into our grave, two angels Munkar and Nakeer will come and ask us questions. This period is called “Qiyamat As-Sughrah” or minor resurrection. In the grave, our judgement begins and based on this our place in Jannah or Jahannum is decided. We don’t sleep in our graves as many of us are led into believing. We bide our time and wait for the actual Day of Resurrection.
The most direct way of cultivating the quality of Ihsan and Khushoo in any worship we do is by remembering death and reminding ourselves that the ultimate goal is Jannah for which we are striving each time we pray, give charity or recite the Quran.
As we clear our minds of these common yet deadly misconceptions, we need to also learn why remembering death is a key element of our spiritual well-being and existence.
The first and foremost reason is the need for preparation. This test is greater than any other worldly examination for which we have prepared. Do you think it’s a wise thing to avoid or delay preparing for such a big exam coming up? We know that death is certain to come. Allah (swt) says in the Quran:
“Everyone is going to taste death…” (Al-Anbiya 21:35)
Striking the right kind of balance
When we constantly remember death, we are able get our priorities straight. One doesn’t burden oneself too much with the temporary goals of this world where one only finds short-lived happiness in materialistic luxuries like the latest cars or designer clothes. Rather, he/she only gives as much attention as is necessary for the smooth running of his affairs but his heart yearns for Jannah and Allah’s (swt) pleasure and that is his true goal.
The Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever has the hereafter as his goal, Allah makes his heart rich, makes his affairs focused, and the Dunya will come to him whether or not it wishes to. And whoever has the Dunya as his goal, Allah will place poverty before his eyes, make his affairs scattered, and nothing from the Dunya will come to him except what was decreed for him.” (An-Nasai)
The sign of an intelligent believer
A man came to the Prophet (sa) and asked: “Which of the believers is most virtuous?” He replied: “The best in character.” He asked: “Which believer is most intelligent?” “Those who remember death the most, and are best prepared for what is coming after it. They are the intelligent ones.” (Ibn Majah)
The wise thing to do is to remember death and prepare for it. To avoid thinking about it and kidding ourselves will only lead to our loss, not only in this world but in the Akhirah too.
Remind ourselves that we do not have a lot of time
Once, the Prophet (sa) heard his wife, Umm Habibah (ra), praying: “O Allah, allow me to enjoy my husband, Allah’s Messenger (by prolonging my life), and my father, Abu Sufyan, and my brother Muawiyah.” The Prophet (sa) responded, “Truly, you have asked Allah about time spans which are designated, days which are already numbered, and provisions which are already divided. Allah will not hasten something before its time or postpone something after its time. Had you asked Allah instead to save you from the punishment of the fire, and the punishment of the grave, it would have been better for you.” (Muslim)
Further, it is mentioned in the Quran: “And on the Day when He shall gather (resurrect) them together, (it will be) as if they had not stayed (in the life of this world and graves) but an hour of a day. They will recognize each other. Ruined indeed will be those who denied the meeting with Allah, and were not guided.” (Yunus 10:45)
Alhumdulillah, in the Quran, Allah (swt) tells us the true meaning of ‘success’ and how one can attain it.
Imagine the extent to which individuals will regret their actions on that day if they spend all our lives in useless endeavours, running after temporary enjoyment and gains, and end up with no good deeds to make the scales heavy in the Akhirah, by means of which they can attain Allah’s (swt) mercy.
Cultivating the quality of Ihsan in our worship
At times, we complain that when we stand to pray Salah, we easily get distracted. When we extend our hand to give charity, we find our intentions tainted with motives other than Allah’s (swt) pleasure. The most direct way of cultivating the quality of Ihsan and Khushoo in any worship we do is by remembering death and reminding ourselves that the ultimate goal is Jannah for which we are striving each time we pray, give charity or recite the Quran.
A man came to the Prophet (sa) and said: “Oh Messenger of Allah give me advice and summarize it.” The Prophet (sa) said: “When you stand to pray, pray as if it is your last prayer, don’t speak with that which you would apologize for tomorrow, and be hopeless for that which is in the hands of the people!” (Ahmad)
Be amongst the successful ones
“Who believe in the Ghaib and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and spend out of what we have provided for them [i.e. give Zakat, spend on themselves, their parents, their children, their wives, etc., and also give charity to the poor and also in Allah’s cause – Jihad,]. And who believe in (the Quran and the Sunnah) which has been sent down (revealed) to you (Muhammad [sa]) and in that which we sent down before [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel), etc.] and they believe with certainty in the Hereafter. (Resurrection, recompense of their good and bad deeds, Paradise and Hell,) They are on (true) guidance from their Lord, and they are the successful.” (Al-Baqarah 2:3-5)
In this world, everyone seems to have a different definition of success. Alhumdulillah, in the Quran, Allah (swt) tells us the true meaning of ‘success’ and how one can attain it. This success is the means through which we can live lives of eternal happiness, the kind of happiness we have never experienced before. So, if we remember death as we live through each day, we can rid ourselves of the love for this world and diligently work towards attaining eternal happiness in Jannah, Insha’Allah.
Transcribed from a lecture that was part of a workshop titled “Quest towards Happiness” conducted by “Friends of Allah- Al-Wali” in 2013. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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