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
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
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.
From the moment you breathe for the last time, you will become nothing
but a "heap of flesh". Your body, silent and motionless,
will be carried to the morgue. There, it will be washed for the last time.
Wrapped in a shroud, your corpse will be carried in a coffin to the graveyard.
Once your remains are in the grave, soil will cover you. This is the end
of your story. From now on, you are simply one of the names represented
in the graveyard by a marble stone.
During the first months or years, your grave will be visited frequently.
As time passes, fewer people will come. Decades later, there will be no-one.
Meanwhile, your immediate family members will experience a different
aspect of your death. At home, your room and bed will be empty. After
the funeral, little of what belongs to you will be kept at home: most
of your clothes, shoes, etc, will be given to those who need them. Your
file at the public registration office will be deleted or archived. During
the first years, some will mourn for you. Yet, time will work against
the memories you left behind. Four or five decades later, there will remain
only a few who remember you. Before long, new generations will come and
none of your generation will exist any longer on earth. Whether you are
remembered or not will be worthless to you.
While all this is taking place in the world, the corpse under the soil
will go through a rapid process of decay. Soon after you are placed in
the grave, the bacteria and insects proliferating in the corpse due to
the absence of oxygen will start to function. The gasses released from
these organisms will inflate the body, starting from the abdomen, altering
its shape and appearance. Bloody froth will pop out the mouth and nose
due to the pressure of gasses on the diaphragm. As corruption proceeds,
body hair, nails, soles, and palms will fall off. Accompanying this outer
alteration in the body, internal organs such as lungs, heart and liver
will also decay. In the meantime, the most horrible scene takes place
in the abdomen, where the skin can no longer bear the pressure of gasses
and suddenly bursts, spreading an unendurably disgusting smell. Starting
from the skull, muscles will detach from their particular places. 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.
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
Man who is created alone should be aware that he will 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. The only asset one can take with him
when one dies is one's belief or disbelief.