Superstitions And Facts
Throughout history, man has successfully coped with many seemingly intractable
problems. But death has remained inescapable. Everyone who appears on
this earth no matter when, is destined to die. Man only lives until a
certain day and then dies. Some die very young, while still babies. Others
go through all phases of life and face death in their latter years. Nothing
a man possesses, neither property, fortune, status, fame, grandeur, confidence
nor good looks can repel death. Without exception, all men are helpless
against death and will remain so.
The majority of people avoid thinking about death. It never occurs to
them that this absolute end will befall them one day. They harbour the
superstitious belief that if they avoid the thought of it, that will make
them immune from death. In daily conversations, those who intend to talk
about death are interrupted out of hand. Someone who does begin to speak
about death, intentionally or not, recalls a sign of God and, even if
only to a very slight degree, removes the thick cloud of heedlessness
covering people's eyes. Nevertheless, a majority of people who make insouciance
a way of life, feel uneasy when such "disturbing" facts are presented
to them. Yet, the more they try to escape from the thought of death, the
more the moment of death will obsess them. Their devil-may-care attitude
will determine the intensity of the terror and bewilderment they will
experience at the moment of death, on the Day of Judgement and during
the eternal torment.
Time works against man. Have you ever heard of a man who has resisted
ageing and death? Or, do you know anybody who will not die? This is quite
unlikely! Unlikely because man has no influence whatsoever on his body
or on his own life. That he himself did not decide his birth makes this
fact obvious. Another piece of evidence is man's desperateness in the
face of death. The owner of life is the One who grants it to man. And
whenever He wills, He takes it back. God, the Owner of life, informs man
about this in the verse He revealed to His Prophet:
We did not give any human being before you immortality.
And if you die, will they then be immortal? (Surat al-Anbiya': 34)
At this moment, there are millions of people living around the world.
From this we conclude that countless people appeared and passed away since
the creation of the first man on earth. They all died without exception.
Death is a certain end: for people in the past as well for those currently
alive. No one can avoid this inevitable end. As the Qur'an puts it:
Every self will taste death. You will be paid your wages
in full on the Day of Resurrection. Anyone who is distanced from the Fire
and admitted to the Garden has triumphed. The life of the world is just
the enjoyment of delusion. (Surah Al 'Imran: 185)
Assuming Death to be Coincidence or Bad Fortune
Death does not occur by chance. As is the case with all other incidents,
it happens by God's decree. Just as the birth date of a man is predestined,
so also is the date of his death right down to the very last second. Man
rushes towards that last moment, rapidly leaving behind every hour, every
minute granted to him. The death of everyone, its location and time, as
well as the way one dies are all predetermined.
Despite this, however, the majority of people assume death to be the
last point of a logical sequence of events, whereas its actual reasons
are known only to God. Everyday death stories appear in newspapers. After
reading these stories, you probably hear ignorant comments like: "He could
have been saved, if necessary precautions had been taken" or "He would
not have died, if so and so had happened." Not a minute longer or less
can a person live, other than the time determined for him. However, people,
who are remote from the consciousness granted by faith, view death as
a component of a sequence of coincidences. In the Qur'an, God warns believers
against this distorted rationale which is peculiar to disbelievers:
You who have faith! Do not be like those who disbelieve
and say of their brothers, when they went on journeys or military expeditions,
'If they had only been with us, they would not have died or been killed.'
God will cause them to regret their words. It is God Who ordains life
and death. God sees what you do. (Surah Al 'Imran: 156)
Assuming death to be a coincidence is sheer ignorance and imprudence.
As the verse above suggests, this gives great spiritual anguish and irresistible
trouble to man. For disbelievers or those failing to have faith in the
Qur'anic sense, losing a relative or a loved one is a cause of anguish
and remorse. Attributing death to bad luck or negligence, they think there
could be some leeway to avoid death. This is the rationale which indeed
adds to their grief and regret. This grief and regret, however, is nothing
but the torment of disbelief.
Nevertheless, contrary to the received wisdom, the cause of death is
neither an accident, nor a disease nor anything else. It is surely God
Who creates all these causes. Once the time granted to us terminates,
our life ends for these apparent reasons. Meanwhile, none of the material
resources devoted to saving one from death will bring another breath of
life. God underscores this divine law in the following verse:
No self can die except with God's permission, at a pre-determined
time... (Surah Al 'Imran: 145)
A believer is aware of the temporary nature of the life of this world.
He knows that our Lord, Who gave him all the blessings he has enjoyed
in this world, will take his soul whenever He wills and call him to account
for his deeds. However, since he has spent his entire life to earn God's
good pleasure, he does not worry about his death. Our Prophet Mohammad
(pbuh) also referred to this good character in one of his prayers:
Jabir ibn Abdullah narrated, "When God's Apostle (peace
be upon him) commenced the prayer he recited: God is the Greatest; then
said: Verily my prayer, my sacrifices, my life and my death are for God,
the Lord of the worlds." (Al-Tirmidhi, 262)
The Distorted Understanding of Destiny
People entertain many misconceptions about destiny, especially when death
is the issue. Nonsensical ideas, e.g. that one may "defeat one's destiny"
or "change one's destiny" are prevalent. Deeming their expectations and
assumptions to be destiny, some unintelligent and ignorant people believe
it is destiny that changes when events do not proceed as they anticipate
or predict. They assume an unwise attitude and act as if they have read
destiny beforehand and events have not proceeded in line with what they
have read. Such a distorted and inconsistent rationale is surely the product
of a narrow mind bereft of an adequate understanding of destiny.
Destiny is God's perfect creation of all events past and future in timelessness.
God is the One who creates the concepts of time and space from nothing,
Who keeps time and space under His control and Who is not bound by them.
The sequence of events which was experienced in the past or which will
be experienced in the future is, moment by moment, planned and created
in the sight of God.
God creates time, thus He is not bound by it. Accordingly, that He follows
the events He Himself created together with the ones He created is implausible.
In this context, there is no need to say that God does not wait to see
how events come to an end. In His sight, both the beginning and end of
an event are plain. Similarly, there is no doubt about where this event
is situated on the plane of eternity. Everything has already taken place
and finished. This is similar to the images on a film-strip; just as the
images on a film cannot exercise any influence on the film and change
it, human beings who play their individual roles in life cannot influence
the flow of events recorded on the destiny-strip. Human beings have no
influence whatsoever on destiny. Just the contrary, it is destiny which
is the determining factor in people's lives. Man, an absolute component
of destiny, is not separate and independent from it. Let alone changing
destiny, man is unable to go beyond the boundaries of destiny. For a better
understanding, we can draw a parallel between a man and an actor in a
film. The actor cannot slip out of the film, acquire a physical existence
and start making changes in the film by deleting unfavourable scenes or
adding some new ones. This would surely be an irrational suggestion.
Consequently, notions of defeating destiny or diverting the flow of events
are sheer fallacy. One who says: "I defeated my destiny." is only deceiving
himself-and the fact that he does so is a matter of his destiny.
A person may remain in coma for days. It may seem unlikely that he will
revive. Yet, if he does recover, this does not mean that "he defeated
his fate" or "doctors changed his fate." This is simply an indication
that his time is not yet over. His recovery is nothing but a component
of his own ineluctable fate. His fate is like that of all other human
beings determined in the Sight of God.
… And no living thing lives long or has its life cut
short without that being in a Book. That is easy for God. (Surat al-Fatir:
Our Prophet (pbuh) said the following to a believer who was praying to
God to enable her to derive benefit from her loved ones:
You have asked from God about durations of life already
set, and the length of days already allotted and the sustenances the share
of which has been fixed. God would not do anything earlier before its
due time, or He would not delay anything beyond its due time. (Book 33,
Number 6438, Sahih Muslim)
Such incidents are the means by which God displays to man the endless
intelligence, wisdom, variety and blessing inherent in His creation and
the way He puts man to the test. Such variety adds to the appreciation,
amazement and, ultimately, to people's faith. In disbelievers, however,
they produce sensations somewhere between uncertainty, astonishment and
perversion which, owing to their ignorant mentality, makes them assume
a more rebellious attitude towards God. Meanwhile, awareness of such a
heedless outlook on the part of disbelievers, makes believers feel more
grateful to God for allowing them to have faith and wisdom, which makes
them superior to disbelievers.
According to another piece of received wisdom, the death of a person
dying in his 80s is "destiny" whereas the death of a baby, a young or
a middle-aged man is a "dire event." To be able to accept death as a natural
phenomenon, they try to make death fit their established criteria. Thus
after a long and severe illness, death seems acceptable while, death by
a sudden sickness or accident is an untimely disaster! That is why they
often meet death in a rebellious spirit. Such a stance is a clear sign
of being bereft of an ultimate faith in destiny, and consequently in God.
Those nurturing such a frame of mind will be doomed to live in constant
grief and trouble in this life. This is actually the beginning of the
eternal torment which results from being faithless.
The Belief in Reincarnation
One of the common irrational beliefs people hold about death is that
"reincarnation" is a possibility. Reincarnation means that on the physical
death of the body, the soul transmigrates to or is born again in another
body with a separate identity in a different time and location. Recently,
it has become a perverted movement attracting many adherents among disbelievers
and followers of superstitious beliefs.
In technical terms, the reasons why such superstitious beliefs receive
support-on the basis of no concrete evidence whatsoever-are the concerns
disbelieving people subconsciously harbour. Having no faith in the Hereafter,
people are afraid of being reduced to insignificance after death. Those
of poor faith, on the other hand, feel uneasy about the thought of being
sent to hell since they are aware, or at least, consider it a probability,
that God's justice entails their punishment. For both, however, the idea
of the rebirth of the soul in other bodies at various times sounds extremely
alluring. Thus, particular circles who exploit this distorted belief succeed
in making people believe in this fallacy with the help of a little window-dressing.
That their followers do not demand any further evidence encourages the
efforts of these opportunists.
Unfortunately, such a perverted belief also finds adherents in Muslim
circles. These are mostly the type of Muslims who are anxious to project
an intellectual and liberal self-image. There is another serious dimension
to this issue that deserves mention; such people strive to confirm their
views with the help of Qur'anic verses. To this end, they distort the
explicit meanings of the verses and fabricate their own Qur'anic interpretations.
Our intention here is to emphasise that this perverted belief is totally
at variance with the Qur'an and Islam and wholly contradictory to the
verses of the Qur'an which are absolutely precise.
These circles claim that there are a few verses in the Qur'an which corroborate
their perverted views. One of these verses is the following:
They will say, 'Our Lord, twice You caused us to die
and twice You gave us life. We admit our wrong actions. Is there no way
out?' (Surat al-Mu'min: 11)
On the basis of this verse, people who believe in reincarnation claim
the following: man is given a new life after he has lived in this life
for some time and then dies. This is the second time he comes into being
and also the period during which his soul completes its development. After
the second death following this second life, they claim, man is resurrected
in the Hereafter.
Now divorcing ourselves from any prejudices, let's analyse this verse:
from the verse, it is evident that man experiences two states of living
and dying. In this context, a third state of being dead or alive is out
of question. This being the case, one question comes to mind: "What was
man's initial state? Being dead or alive?" We find the answer to this
question in the following verse:
How can you reject God? Did He not give you life when
you were dead and will He not cause you to die and then give you life
again? Will you not return to Him at last? (Surat al-Baqarah: 28)
The verse is self-explanatory; initially, man is dead. In other words,
owing to the very nature of his creation, he is originally made up of
inanimate matter such as water, earth, etc., as the verses inform. Then,
God made this heap of inanimate matter alive, "created and shaped" it.
This is the first death and thus the first rising from the dead. Some
time after this first rising from death, life ends and man dies. He returns
to earth again, just as in the first phase, and is reduced to insignificance.
This is the second transition to the state of death. The second and last
event of rising from the dead is the one taking place in the Hereafter.
Since this is the case, there is not a second resurrection in the life
of this world. Otherwise, this would necessitate a third resurrection.
However, there is no reference to a third resurrection in any of the verses.
Both in Surat al-Mu'min: 11, and Surat al-Baqarah: 128, there is no reference
suggesting the possibility of a second resurrection in the life of this
world. On the contrary, these verses explicitly reveal the existence of
one resurrection in this world and another one in the Hereafter.
Yet followers of reincarnation invest all their hopes in these two verses.
As is evident, even these verses put forth as evidence by the followers
of reincarnation alone refute this distorted rationale. In addition, several
other verses in the Qur'an make it clear that there is only one life where
man is put to the test and that it is in the life of this world. That
there is no return to this life after death is stated in the following
When death comes to a wrongdoer, he says, 'My Lord, send
me back again, so that perhaps I may act rightly regarding the things
I failed to do!' 'No indeed! It is just words he utters. Before them shall
stand a barrier until the Day they are raised up.' (Surat al-Mu'minun:
The dialogues in the verse make it clear that after death, there is no
return to this life. Meanwhile, in this verse, God draws our attention
to the fact that disbelievers entertain desperate hopes about a second
raising from the dead, a second return to this life. However, the verse
clarifies that these are just words suggested by disbelievers which have
That the people of Paradise will not experience another death other than
the "first" death is described in the following verse:
They will not taste any death there - except for the
first one. He will safeguard them from the punishment of the Blazing Fire.
A favour from your Lord. That is the Great Victory. (Surat ad-Dukhan:
The great bliss of the people of Paradise is described in another verse.
This bliss is due to the fact that they will not experience another death
except for the first one:
Are we not going to die, except for our first death?
Are we not going to be punished? Truly this is the Great Victory! (Surat
The above verses leave no room for further questions. The conclusion
is, there is only one death which man experiences. At this stage, the
following question may arise: "Despite the reference to two deaths in
the previous verses, why is only one death mentioned in Surat as-Saffat:
58?" The answer to this question is given in the 56th verse of Surat ad-Dukhan,
which says: "They will not taste any death there
- except for the first one." Indeed, there is one and only one
death that man meets consciously. He encounters it, and with all his senses,
perceives it. This is the death one meets at the moment his life ends.
He surely cannot perceive the very first state of death since at that
time he is deprived of senses and consciousness.
In the face of such definite and clear explanations as the Qur'an brings,
maintaining that there are more deaths and states of rising from the dead
and holding that there is transmigration of the soul would be an overt
denial of the Qur'an verses.
On the other hand, if God had created a system in this life based on
reincarnation, then He would definitely have informed man about it in
the Qur'an, which is the only guide to the true path for humanity. If
this had been the case, God would surely have provided a detailed account
of all phases of reincarnation. However, in the Qur'an, which provides
every sort of information related to the life and the next life of believers,
there is not a single hint about reincarnation, let alone a direct reference
The Veil Of Heedlessness
Man is intrinsically selfish; he is extremely sensitive about issues
linked to his own interests. Ironically, he displays indifference towards
death, which ought to be a matter of paramount concern. In the Qur'an,
this state of mind peculiar to "those who do not hold firmly to Faith"
is defined by God in one word: "heedlessness".
The meaning of heedlessness is a deficiency in full comprehension of
facts owing to a blurring of awareness or even total unawareness and the
resultant failure to arrive at sound judgements and give pertinent responses.
An example of this is given in the following verse:
Mankind's Reckoning has drawn very close to them, yet
they heedlessly turn away. (Surat al-Anbiya': 1)
People feel certain that one who is afflicted by a fatal or incurable
disease will die. Yet, no less than this patient, these people who harbour
such feelings of certainty, too, will die. That this will happen some
time in the future or very soon does not change this fact. Often, heedlessness
obscures this truth. For instance, it is highly probable that someone
afflicted with HIV will die in the near future. Yet, the fact remains
that it is also highly probable -if the truth be told, it is certain-that
a vigorous person next to him will one day die. Maybe death will come
upon him long before it comes upon that "HIV-stricken patient." This will
most likely be at some quite unexpected moment
Family members grieve over patients on their deathbeds. Yet, hardly ever
do they grieve over themselves, who will definitely die one day. However,
given the certainty of the event, the response should not vary depending
on whether it occurs shortly or at some far-off time.
If, in the face of death, grief is the correct response to give, then
everyone should immediately start grieving for himself or for another.
Or, he should overcome his grief and strive to have a deeper understanding
To this end, being acquainted with the reasons for heedlessness will
Causes for Heedlessness
- A Lack of Sagacity: The majority of the individuals making up society
are not accustomed to thinking over serious issues. Making heedlessness
a way of living, they do not concern themselves with death. Any mundane
problems they fail to solve keep their minds constantly occupied. Trivial
issues, already "congesting" their narrow minds, do not allow them to
give serious thought to grave issues. Thus, they spend their lives drifting
in the daily flow of events. Meanwhile, at the death of somebody, or when
the conversation turns to the subject of death, they derive comfort from
blurted phrases and simply avoid the subject. They are people with narrow
minds harbouring trifling narrow thoughts.
- The Complexity and Vividness of Life: Life flows very fast and it is
alluringly vivid. In the absence of exceptional mental effort, man is
likely to take no notice of death, which is bound to overcome him sooner
or later. Not having faith in God, he is too distant from concepts like
destiny, putting trust in God and submission to Him. From the moment he
becomes conscious of material needs, he strives to ensure a good living.
Such a person does not even endeavour to avoid death because he is already
engrossed in worldly concerns. He constantly chases after new plans, interests
and objectives and, one day, unpredictably and therefore with no preparation,
faces the reality of death. Then he has regrets and wants to return to
life, but to no avail.
- The Deception of Population Increase: One of the reasons for heedlessness
is the recurrence of births. The population of the world keeps increasing;
it never shrinks. Once dragged into the spiral of life, however, man may,
because of misconceptions, believe in alluring yet utterly illusory notions
like "births replace deaths", thereby maintaining an equilibrium of population.
Such a rationale makes conditions ripe for the formation of a heedless
outlook upon death. However, if from now on, no more births ever occurred
around the world, we would still witness deaths one after another and,
as a result, a shrinking world population. Then the horror of death would
start to be felt. Man would see the disappearance of the people surrounding
him one by one and would realise that the inevitable end would likewise
afflict him. This is similar to what those sentenced to the death penalty
feel on death row. Each day, they witness one or two people taken out
for execution. The number of people in the cells steadily decreases. Years
pass by, but still every day, those still alive go to sleep in a state
of anxiety over whether the next day it would be their turn. Never do
they fail to remember death, not for one second.
Ironically, the actual situation is no different from the aforementioned
example. New-borns have no effect whatsoever on the ones destined to die.
This is only a psychological misconception. The inhabitants of the world
who lived 150 years ago are not around today. The following generations
did not save them from death. Likewise, 100 years from now, those currently
living, with a few exceptions, will not be alive. That is because the
world is not a permanent place for man.
Methods Of Self-Deception
About from the reasons which make us disregard death and plunge into
heedlessness, there are also certain defence mechanisms which people employ
to deceive themselves. These mechanisms a few of which are mentioned below,
reduce man to the level of the ostrich which buries its head in the sand
to avoid a disagreeable situation.
- Postponing thinking about death to the latter years of life: People
generally take it for granted that they will live until their mid-sixties
or seventies. This explains why generally young and middle-aged people
employ this defence mechanism. With such calculations in mind, they postpone
thinking about such "gloomy" issues to the latter years of their lives.
In their youth-or their prime-they do not want to "blur" their minds with
"depressing" issues. The latter years of life are inescapably the time
when one cannot get the best out of life and this period is thought by
many people to be the most appropriate phase in which to think sedulously
about death and become prepared for the next life. This also brings spiritual
relief, since it provides a sense of doing something for the Hereafter.
Nevertheless, it is evident that making such long-term and inconclusive
plans makes no sense for one whose next breath is not even guaranteed.
Every day he sees many people of his age or even younger ones dying. Obituaries
constitute a considerable part of daily newspapers. Every hour, television
channels report news of deaths. Often man witnesses the death of people
surrounding him. Yet, little does he think that people around him will
also witness his own death or read about it in the newspaper. On the other
hand, even if he lives for a very long time, nothing will change in his
life, since his mentality will remain the same. Until he is actually facing
death, he just postpones thinking about death.
- Making the assumption that one will "serve one's sentence" in hell
only for a certain period: This view, which is prevalent in society, is
nothing but a superstition. After all, it is not a belief having its roots
in the Qur'an. In no part of the Qur'an do we find any reference to "serving
one's sentence" in hell for some time and then being forgiven. Quite the
contrary, in all relevant verses, there is specific mention of the separation
of believers and disbelievers on the Day of Judgement. Again we know from
the Qur'an that believers will remain in Paradise for all eternity, while
disbelievers will be cast into hell, where they will suffer everlasting
They say, 'The Fire will only touch us for a number of
days.' Say, 'Have you made a contract with God-then God will not break
His contract -or are you rather saying about God what you do not know?
'No indeed! Those who accumulate bad actions and are surrounded by their
mistakes, are the Companions of the Fire, remaining in it timelessly,
for ever. Whereas those who believe and do right actions, such people
are the Companions of the Garden, remaining in it timelessly, for ever.
(Surat al-Baqarah: 80-82)
Another verse stresses the same point:
That is because they say, The Fire will only touch us
for a number of days.' Their inventions have deluded them in their religion.
(Surah Al 'Imran: 24)
Hell is a place of unimaginable torment. Consequently, even if remaining
in hell only for a certain time were possible, a man of conscience would
never consent to go through that suffering. Hell is the place where the
attributes of God, al-Jabbar (The Compeller) and al-Qahhar (The Subduer)
are manifested to the utmost degree. The torment in hell is incomparable
to any pain in the world. A person who cannot endure even a burn on his
finger saying he can readily undergo such torture is merely demonstrating
weak-mindedness. Furthermore, a person who does not feel terrified by
the Wrath of God fails to give God due esteem. Such a person, entirely
deprived of faith, is a poor man who does not even deserve a mention.
- Thinking "I already deserve Paradise": There is also a group who assume
themselves to be the people of Paradise. Engaging in some minor deeds
they assume to be good deeds and avoiding some wicked deeds, they think
they are ripe for entry into heaven. Steeped in superstition and mouthing
heresies which they associate with religion, these people actually adhere
to a faith completely divorced from that of the Qur'an. They present themselves
as true believers. However, the Qur'an classifies them among those who
ascribe partners to God:
Give them this parable. Once there were two men. To one
of them We gave two vineyards surrounded by date-palms, with some cultivated
land in between. Both gardens yielded their crops and did not suffer any
loss, and We made a river flow right through the middle of them. He was
a man of wealth and property and he said to his companion, while conversing
with him, 'I have more wealth than you and more people under me.' He entered
his garden and wronged himself by saying, 'I do not think that this will
ever end. I do not think the Hour of Doom will ever come. But if I should
be sent back to my Lord, I will definitely get something better in return.'
His companion, with whom he was conversing, said to him, 'Do you then
disbelieve in Him who created you from dust, then from a drop of sperm,
and then formed you as a man? He is, however, God, my Lord, and I will
not associate anyone with my Lord. (Surat al-Kahf: 32-38)
With the words, "But if I should be sent back to my Lord", the garden
owner expresses his lack of sound faith in God and the Hereafter and consequently
reveals that he is an idolater who harbours doubts. Meanwhile, he claims
that he is a superior believer. Moreover, he feels no doubts that God
will reward him with Paradise. This insolent and inferior character of
the idolater is very common among people.
These people, deep inside, know that they are entirely fraudulent, yet
once they are questioned about it, they try to prove their innocence.
They claim that observing the commandments of religion is not so important.
Furthermore, they try to clear themselves, claiming that the seemingly
religious people they see around them are immoral and dishonest. They
try to prove that they are "good people" by stating that they do not mean
any harm to anyone. They state that they do not hesitate to give money
to beggars, that they have been serving honestly in public service for
years and these are the things that make a sincere Muslim. They either
do not know or simply pretend not to know that what makes a man a Muslim
is not getting along well with people, but being a servant of God and
obeying His commandments.
In an endeavour to base their distorted religion on some kind of rationale,
they subscribe to certain fallacies. This is actually typical of their
insincerity. To legitimise their own life, they seek refuge in slogans
like: "The best form of worship is to work" or "what matters is sincerity
of heart." In the words of the Qur'an, this is just "inventing lies against
God" and it merits the punishment of eternal Hell. In the Qur'an, God
describes the situation of such people as follows:
They think they deceive God and those who have faith.
They deceive no one but themselves, but they are not aware of it. (Surat
- Double-Standard Rationales: Sometimes when people think about death,
they assume they will disappear for all eternity. Such a startling idea
makes them develop another defence mechanism; they only give half credence
to the fact that "there is an eternal life promised by God." Such a conclusion
raises some hope in them. When they consider the responsibilities of a
believer towards his Creator, they prefer to completely ignore the fact
of an eternal life. They comfort themselves thinking: "After all, we shall
be reduced to insignificance, decomposing completely in the soil. There
is no life after death." Such an assumption represses all fears and concerns,
such as giving an account of one's deeds on the Day of Judgement or suffering
in hellfire. In both sets of circumstances, they lead their lives in heedlessness
until the end of their days.
The Consequence of Heedlessness
In the previous sections, as we have said, as long as one lives, death
inevitably calls itself to one's attention. These reminders sometimes
prove to be beneficial, prompting man to re-examine his priorities in
life and to re-evaluate his outlook in general. But there are other times
when the above-mentioned defence mechanisms take over, and with each passing
day, the veil of heedlessness before one's eyes becomes thicker.
If disbelievers await death in a tranquil mood and have an irrational
feeling of comfort, even when they are intensely aware of its approach
in the latter years of their lives, it is because they are completely
swathed in this veil. That is because death for them connotes restful
and sound sleep, tranquility and calmness, and an eternal relief.
Contrary to what they think, however, God, the One who creates every
being from nothing and the One who makes them die and who will give life
to all creatures on Judgement Day, promises them eternal regret and grief.
They will, too, witness this fact at the moment of death, a time when
they assume they will go to an eternal sleep. They realise that death
is not total disappearance, but the initial moment of a new world full
of anguish. The terrifying appearance of the angels of death is the first
sign of this great torment:
How will it be when the angels take them in death, beating
their faces and their backs? (Surah Muhammad: 27)
At this moment, the pre-death arrogance and insolence of the disbelievers
turn into terror, regret, desperation and eternal pain. In the Qur'an,
this is referred to as follows:
They say, 'When we have been absorbed into the
earth, are we then to be created afresh?' In fact, they deny they will
ever meet their Lord. Say: 'The Angel of Death, who has been given charge
of you, will carry off your souls, and then you will be sent back to your
Lord.' If only you could see the evil-doers hanging their heads in shame
before their Lord: 'Our Lord, we have seen and we have heard, so send
us back again and we will act rightly. Truly we are now firm believers.'
(Surat as-Sajdah: 10-12)
There is No Escape From Death
Death, especially at an early age, seldom comes to mind. Considering
this as the end, man even escapes from the thought of it. However, just
as physical avoidance provides no cure for death, neither does avoidance
of thinking about it. Besides, it is impossible to ignore death. Every
day, newspapers run headlines about the deaths of so many people. You
frequently come across hearses or pass by cemeteries. Relatives and associates
die. Their funerals or visits to offer condolences inevitably bring death
to mind. As one witnesses the death of others, and especially the death
of beloved ones, he inevitably thinks about his own end. This thought
hurts him deep inside, making him restless.
No matter how strongly the individual resists, wherever he seeks refuge
or how he tries to escape, he may actually encounter his own death at
any moment. He has no other choice. Ahead of him, there is no other exit.
The countdown never stops, not for a moment. Wherever he returns, death
meets him there. The circle encloses constantly and finally catches up
Say: 'Death, from which you are fleeing, will certainly
catch up with you. Then you will be returned to the Knower of the Unseen
and the Visible and He will inform you about what you did.' (Surat al-Jumu'ah:
Wherever you are, death will catch up with you,
even if you are in impregnable fortresses. (Surat an-Nisa': 78)
That is why we need to stop deceiving ourselves or disregarding facts
and strive to earn the good pleasure of God during this period predetermined
by Him. Only God knows when this time will be over.
Our Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) also said that one of the best ways to prevent
one's conscience from hardening, and attain a good character is by frequently
Abdullah ibn Umar narrated, "Gods's Messenger (peace
be upon him) said, 'These hearts become rusty just as iron does when water
affects it.' On being asked what could clear them he replied, 'A great
amount of remembrance of death and recitation of the Qur'an.'" (Al-Tirmidhi,