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Life & Death
 

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

(Friday Speech was delivered by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, N. C., on November 20,1998)

Life and death are two clear and obvious facts; everyone knows that and no one disputes these two facts; the knowledgeable or the ignorant, the believer or the non-believer does not doubt these two facts.

The Qur'an has mentioned these two recurring facts in many of its verses; life and death have occurred countless times in front of people in the past and the present and will continue in the future.

All these verses confirm one fact and that is Allah alone is the one who gives life and He is the One who causes death. About this, Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Ghafir, (verse 68), what can be translated as, "He it is Who gives life and causes death. And when He decides upon a thing He says to it only: Be! And it is."

In another verse, Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Qaaf, (verse 43), what can be translated as, "Verily, We it is Who give life and causes death; and to Us is the final return."

Also, in another verse, Allah says about Himself, in surat Al-Hadid, (verse 2), what can be translated as, "His is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, It is He Who gives life and causes death."

Despite the fact that life and death are two recurring facts, they have continuously mystified and puzzled many people trying to answer questions like:

What is life? How and from where did life come into being? How did it manifest itself in a living being? Also, what is death? How did life exist in a living entity and how did this entity become after life had stopped? Many scholars and philosophers have tried helplessly to answer these questions. The result was that their attempts were helpless, useless, shortsighted, and illusions.

When Qur'an talks about these two facts, it does not try to reveal the secret of life and death, rather it emphasizes and clearly describes the result of life and its consequences, it also emphasizes the lessons that we should learn when the Qur'an talks about life and death so that the people will be guided. Among these lessons are:

  • Allah created life and death for a purpose, and that purpose is for a test. To know which of us commits good deeds or bad. Allah says in Surat Al-Mulk, (Verse 2), what can be translated as, "He is the One Who created life and death to test which of you is best in deeds."
  • Death is dictated by Allah; you can not escape it, you can not resist it and you can not keep it away from you. About this, Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Waqi’ah, (verse 60), what can be translated as, "We have decreed death to you all, and We are not unable."
  • Death is a definite end to every created being; no one is immortal except Allah. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Qasas, (verse 88), what can be translated as, "Everything will perish except His face." He also says in surat Ar-Rahman, (verse 26 & 27), what can be translated as, "Whatsoever is on it (the earth) will perish. And the face of your Lord full of Majesty and Honor will abide forever." He also says in surat Al-Ankabout, (verse 57), what can be translated as, "Everyone shall taste the death." He also addressed His prophet saying in surat Az-Zumar, (verse 30), what can be translated as, "Verily, you (O Muhammad) will die and verily, they (too) will die." In the authentic hadith, reported by Imam At-Tabarani and Al-Hakem the prophet (S.A.W.) said: "Jibreel came to me and said: Oh Muhammad, live as much as you want, you will die, and love whomever you want, you will part with them.."
  • Death is a definite end that occurs at a specific time and in a specific place; this does not change or does not happen before it is due or after it is due. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-A’araf, (verse 34), what can be translated as, "When their term is reached, neither can they delay it nor can they advance it an hour ( or a moment)." He also says in surat An-Nisa’, (verse 78), what can be translated as, "Where so ever you may be, death will overtake you even if you are in fortresses built up strong and high!." He also says in surat Al-Emran, (verse 145), what can be translated as, "And no person can ever die except by Allah’s leave and at an appointed term." Imam Muslim reported that: "Umu-Habeebah, the prophet's wife said: "Oh Allah make my husband’s life long, {the messenger}, my father {Abu Sufian}, and my brother {Mu'awiah}.", the prophet (S.A.W.) replied: "You have ask Allah to change a previously dictated end, and a defined number of days, and an already apportioned sustenance (things that are already dictated). Allah (S.W.T.) will not hasten anything before its time, and he will not put off anything till after its time, but if you asked Allah (S.W.T.) to shelter you from Hell Fire, and protect you from the punishment of grave, it would have been better." From this conviction, the believer attains an unshaken level of belief that every one has an end dictated by Allah (S.W.T.); no one can change that and no one can affect that; no one will die until it is time. From this understanding came the fruit of this belief that no fear, or fright, or running away from war will make life longer. Also, no courage or standing firm when attacked in a war will make life shorter. So, why is a coward! Being a coward will not make life shorter or longer. This way, Islam treats fear of death and teaches us to get ready for it and to look into ourselves to see what we have prepared for future.....the Day of Judgment. What is important is that every one should think about what they want from this life. Do they want to abandon the duties of belief and to worry only about this worldly life? Or do they want to look and work for the hereafter. Allah (S.W.T.) has made available for everyone what they want. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Emran, (verse 145), what can be translated as, "And whoever desires a reward in (this) world, We shall give him of it: And whoever desires a reward in the Hereafter, We shall give him of it." How different is this life from the hereafter, and how different is the interest in this life from the interest in the hereafter. Whoever wants to live for this life alone, he will live the life of animals, then he will die at his dictated time without delay. And whoever longs and yearns for the Hereafter, he lives the life of man that Allah (S.W.T.) honored him and made him on earth to live his life by Allah's rules, then he also will die at his dictated time not earlier.
  • Allah (S.W.T.) alone gives life and he alone brings it back at a specific time. This applies to the people who are sitting at home and among their families or the people who are protecting themselves inside a castle and the people who are fighting in the war battle. Time of death has nothing to do with war or peace, and it has nothing to do with how protected the place is..... Death comes when it is time (The end of life) Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat An-Nisa’, (verse 78), what can be translated as, "Where so ever you may be, death will overtake you even if you are in fortresses built up strong and high!." He also says in surat Al-Emran, (verse 154), what can be translated as, "Say:(O Muhammad)Even if you had remained in your homes, those for whom death was decreed would certainly have gone forth to the place of their death."
  • Since death is not known when it will come, then if someone wants to die as a Muslim, then he should be a Muslim from this moment without delay and every moment without exception. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Emran, (verse 102), what can be translated as, "O you who believe obtain taqwa of Allah as should be, and do not die except in a states of Islam." The prophet (S.A.W.) said in good hadith reported by Imam Ibn-Hibban and Al-Bazzar: "Remember often the one that defeats all joys: death, indeed whoever remembers it in time of hardship, it will alleviate it, and whoever remembers it in good times, it will make them less so." Imam Al-Ghazali said: "Death is overwhelming and dangerous; people are not aware of it because they do not reflect upon it and do not remember it often..... The best way to remember death is for a person to remember his friends and relatives who died before him, so he will remember their death and what happened to them under the ground, and remember their images when they were alive and their positions and situations and reflect upon how the dirt erased their nice images and how their body have disintegrated in their graves, and how they left behind their possessions, their jobs, their families. And how they were preparing and planning for themselves what they need for the next ten years, at a time when there is very little time between them and death... but they are not aware of it until death came at a time they did not expect, so it was unveiled for them the image of the angel of death, and were told where they are going; either Paradise or Hell Fire..... and the happy and successful person is the one who learned from others."

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