During the last couple of weeks, we have witnessed natural disasters and accidents across the world. An earthquake in China’s north-western province of Qinghai on April 14 claimed more than 2000 lives. The crash of a Russian airliner took the lives of the top hierarchy of Poland’s military and political elite on April 10, including its President Lech Kaczynski and 96 others. And ash from a volcano in Iceland, which clouded the airspace over Europe for the last week, caused over US$ 1billion of losses to aviation industry after the cancellation of more than 95,000 flights.
In all these were these incidents human skill, technology and efforts failed to prevent huge losses of lives and money. These incidents remind us that despite all the technological advancements, our capabilities are still limited and we do not possess absolute authority over our lives. These natural disasters also remind us of a very basic fact of life – death.
Despite witnessing deaths all around us, a large number of us tend to consciously ignore this most obvious reality of life. The reason for this is our deep involvement in the affairs of this short life. But the question arises whether this ignorance can help us in avoiding death? And is this the best strategy to achieve the ultimate success in the life? The most obvious answer to this question is No.
No matter what we do, we cannot avoid death. Every one of us shall face it whether poor or rich, healthy or sick, old or young, leader or led and none of us can escape it. We know this; not only through our experience but through the word of Allah (SWT). The Creator of this universe describes the reality of life and death in Al-Quran in these words:
“Every soul shall have a taste of death: And only on the Day of Judgment shall you be paid your full recompense. Only he who is saved far from the Fire and admitted to the Garden will have attained the object (of Life): For the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception.” (QS Al `Imran: 185)
Since death is an undeniable fact, the best strategy would be to embrace this fact and prepare ourselves accordingly. Allah (SWT) and his true messenger Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) have already told us that this life is actually an opportunity for us to prepare for the next life which is eternal. This short life is a test and those who would pass this test will be rewarded in eternal life. Allah (SWT) describes this in Al-Quran:
“He Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deed: and He is the Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving” (QS Al-Mulk/67:2)
Once we embrace the reality of death and start preparing for it, our lives will become very meaningful and purposeful. It will deter us from committing sins and soften our hard hearts. In fact this attitude would help us in both this life and the next life.
The Prophet (PBUH) instructed a companion: “Abundantly remember the destroyer of pleasures (meaning death)” (An-Nasaa’i). This advice consists of a few words but it is concise and very effective. Indeed, he who remembers death as it should be remembered will hold himself accountable and question himself about his deeds and aspirations.
A person who understands that his time here is short and limited, would definitely try to use this opportunity in best possible way to prepare for the next life. His attitude towards his parents, children, relatives and colleagues would be totally different from a person who is not mindful of his short stay in this world. The death-conscious person will treat everyone with kindness as stipulated by Islam. He will perform all his duties towards Allah (SWT) and society according to the teachings of Al-Quran and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and shun anything that is against the teachings of Islam.
In this way, a person would become a blessing for his family, colleagues and eventually for the entire society. Meanwhile, his deeds would also ensure his ultimate success in the test of life, entitling him for reward from Allah (SWT) in eternal life.