By Sumayyah bint Joan
Upon hearing about the death of a fellow Muslim, it suddenly struck me how very fleeting life is, and that I was only a twinkling of an eye away from where he is now.
Death is the reality from which none of us can escape. It draws nearer every day, every hour, every minute. So I had to ask myself, if I were to die today, would I have done all that I could to ensure Allah’s Favor, and to evade His Wrath? Unfortunately for me, the answer was a resounding NOOO.
At the end of the day, I ask myself, what good have I sent ahead for the benefit of my soul? And again, the answers usually, very little. Time, it seems, is moving by so quickly. It seems just like yesterday that we started the “New Year,” yet we’re already almost a third of the way through it. A month seems like a week, a week seems like an hour and an hour feels like just minutes. This is why I’ve resolved to try my utmost, with the aid of Allah to take advantage of every opportunity to do good deeds, and not to put off until later, what I can do now. Death is coming, are you ready?
Allah says, “Every soul shall have a taste of death, and only on the Day of Judgement shall you be paid your full recompense. Only those who are saved far from the Fire, and admitted to the Garden will have succeeded. For the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception.” [3:185]
It is so easy for us to get caught up in the comings and goings of our everyday lives, that we tend to forget that we don’t have forever in this-worldly life, and get distracted away from our true aim and purpose. We tend to forget that we are here to worship Allah and to avail ourselves of the various opportunities He gives us to store up for ourselves treasures in Heaven. For He, Subhanahu Wa Taala, also says,
“O you who believe! Revere Allah, and let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow; and revere Allah. Allah is well Aware of what you do. And be not like those who forgot (disobeyed) Allah, and He caused them to forget themselves. Those are the disobedient. Not equal are the dwellers of the Fire and the dwellers of Jannah. It is the dwellers of Jannah who will be successful.” [59:18-20]
He also tells us that we do not know the hour of our own deaths, or in what land we will die. But He through His unending Mercy toward us, has given us ways to prepare for the inevitable now, because once we’ve passed from this life to the next, there is no coming back to do the things we should have done. For Allah says,
“Until death comes to one of them, he says, ‘My Lord, send me back. Perhaps I may do good in that which I have left behind.’ No, it is but a word that he speaks, and behind them is a barzakh until the day when they are raised up.” [23:99-100]
Allah has given us ways to protect ourselves from the punishment of the grave. One of these ways is by fighting in the Cause of Allah. It is reported that a man asked the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, “O Messenger of Allah, why are all the believers tested in the graves except a martyr?” He, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, “The flashing of swords over his head was a sufficient test for him.” (An-Nasai)
This may be difficult for most of us to do in this day and age, but Allah has provided us with many other ways to earn ease in the next life. These include reciting Surat ul-Mulk, because the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, “Surat Tabarak is the protector from the torment of the grave.” (Al-Hakim) He, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, also said, “When a human being dies, all of his deeds are terminated except for three types: an ongoing sadaqh, a knowledge of Islam from which others benefit, and a righteous child who makes du’a for him.” (Muslim)
Another way to earn a continuing reward is by reviving a lost Sunnah of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam. He, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, “He who initiates in Islam a good way gets his reward for it, as well as rewards similar to those who follow him into it, without reducing any of their rewards.” (Muslim)
For those of us who know of fellow Muslims who have already begun their journey, or who are about to enter, into the next life, there are things we can do to make the transition easier, insha’Allah. These include performing the Janazah prayer for the deceased, fulfilling the deceased’s vows, payment of the deceased’s debts and the supplications of the Muslims.
This life is fleeting. Death is coming. Let us get ready.