Remembering Death

Islam
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DC Hidayah 2012: Theme Breakdown Series

Within our lives, we constantly anticipate the next task, the next deadline, the next day. There’s always something to look ahead towards, but for many of us, the foresight doesn’t go beyond this life. We remain unmindful of death, though this is the temporary life about which our beloved Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) has said, “By Allah, the life of this world, compared to that in the Hereafter, is but like someone who puts his finger in the sea, so let him see what it brings out.”1 Still, we persist in pushing our religion to the side.

We say that we will fulfill our obligations tomorrow, when we’re done with our college papers and business meetings, though there is a possibility that tomorrow may never come. We delay our religious obligations, overlooking the fact that our lives could be taken away within a matter of time. Allah (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Holy Qur’an, “When their specified time arrives, they cannot delay it for a single hour nor can they bring it forward.”2

But what significance does the constant remembrance of death hold in our lives? Our Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) gave us an exact answer. Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) says that an Ansari stood up in a gathering in the presence of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) and asked him, “Who is the most intelligent and careful person?” The Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) replied, “Those who remember death most and prepare for it most. These are people who have excelled in the nobility of this world and the honor of the Hereafter.”3 Through the remembrance of death, we are reminded that our actions are worthless unless done for the sake of Allah. Therefore, it encourages us to engage in our duties with ihsaan (i.e. excellence).

One step to applying the remembrance of death in our lives is detaching our hearts from the love of this world. According to a hadith related by Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) placed his hand on his shoulder and said, “Be in the world as if you are a stranger or a wayfarer.” In explanation of this, Ibn ‘Umar used to say, “When the night comes, do not wait for the day, and when the day comes, do not wait for the night. Take your health for your sickness, and take from your life for your death.”4 We need to prioritize our religious obligations over our worldly obligations, and not vice versa, to make use of our time in this world. The remembrance of death prepares us for death itself, which in turn prepares us for our meeting with Allah on the Day of Judgment.

The Hereafter is of tremendous importance in Islam. For this reason, a whole conference has been devoted to the topic this year. The conference consists of a number of scholars from all over the country who are coming to the DMV area to enlighten us about the realities of this life, death, and the Hereafter. DC Hidayah 2012’s The Last Day: Are You Ready? will take place on June 23rd from 10am to 10pm at the Washington Convention Center. To learn more about the conference and purchase tickets, visit www.dchidayah.org.

1[Muslim & Tirmidhi]
2[Surah An-Nahl: 61]
3[Reported by Tabraani, Ibn Maajah, Targheeb]
4[Sahih al-Bukhari (7/170)]

 


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