Man is destined to experiment with and go through two states: his state before death and his state after death.
On the issue of death, people are, typically, of two types:
- Those who are completely oblivious to death such that the only time the thought of it crosses their minds is when they see a dead person or hear that someone is dead. What is more, their death remembrance is one of lip service, as all that they do is to mumble vaguely the statement: “Indeed, we belong to Allah, and unto Him we shall indeed return.” 12:156] The fact that their return to Allah is verbal and impractical indicates that their remembrance was not genuine to begin with.
- Those who are too mindful of death that it becomes a fixture of their thinking. And the example of those is like the example of someone who sets out resolving to get to a certain destinationhe neither loses sight of his ultimate destination nor allows distractions and downtimes, rising along the way, to compromise his focus on the intended target.
In short, remembrance of death dispels implausible hopes and excessive cravings; and when that is the case, life troubles pale so much in ones eye he becomes immune to deviant temptations Further, keeping death in mind fills up one’s heart with content with what one already has of provisions; curbs one’s desire to indulge in envious, bestial rivalry over things material, and makes him focus instead on worship and devotion because he is certain that death may clamp upon him unannounced anytime. In other words, he is ready to answer the call of the Angel of Death whenever it is made.
On the other hand, fear and hate of death is an attitude peculiar to the unwise, and is, for the most part, attributable to all or one of four reasons: 1) attachment to carnal desires (food and sex), 2) worry over a fortune one will leave behind, 3) ignorance of one’s situation after death, or 4) fear of Allah’s punishment for one’s transgressions in life.
As for the first reason (attachment to carnal desires), this is akin to craving a disease in order to counter it with another disease. Because the essence of pleasure of eating lies in eliminating the pain of hunger, which is why one detests food when he takes his fill of it. This attitude is in fact similar to the act of one who exposes himself to the suns heat so as to experience the joy of being in the shade, a practice emblematic of utter absurdity. The second reason, however, is spawned by ignorance of the triviality and insignificance of this life and that which is in it particularly when contrasted with the glorious and eternal bliss Allah promises his dedicated servants after death. Therefore one who experiences this problem should seek genuine knowledge to acquaint oneself with the position of man after death and to be like the Companion Harithah who. describing the extent of his profound thinking about and preoccupation with the inevitable events of the Day ot Judgment, said to the Prophet, sallal lahu alayhe wa sallam: “… As if I were observing Allah’s throne looming large; and as if I were watching the inhabitants of Paradise paying visits to one another and the dwellers of Hellfire cursing one another in their doom.”This revealing knowledge is attained by profound study of the truth and essence of the ‘self’: how it relates to the body, the means to its perfection and the things that vitiate this perfection. In many verses of the Qur’an Allah points to the importance of this kind of knowledge and exhorts His servants to take a deep look into the ‘self.
Naturally, one may detest death because of a messy record of which he is not proud. This attitude, although understandable, should not make one abide in the square of regret and fixation forever. Rather, one should seek remedy immediately and waste no time to repent and reform. Because dwelling on regret is as ineffectual as the attitude of one who was bleeding because of a wound he had suffered, but did nothing. to stop the bleeding and busied himself instead with lamentation, cursing and regret over the amount of blood lost. It is far better to busy ones self with the future than to get consumed in the worry about past failings that cannot be redressed.
With regard to the state of man after death, people may be grouped into three types:
- Those who possess insight that enables them to view death as liberation from the bondage of life. They know for sure that no matter how long one may live, his stay in this world will be just like a flash of lightening that glistens across the sky for a brief time and then vanishes away. For those ones, relocating from this world to the other worries them but little, and even this little worry they experience is caused by their regret that they will no longer be able to indulge in the joys of worship of their beloved Lord, Allah. Asked about the unease he showed while dying, one special servant of Allah answered: “I’m worried because I’m about to take a path I never treaded before, and because I’m about to meet a lord whom I never saw before nor do I know what He will say to me or what I will say to Him.” Such a person doesn’t dread death because he is burning to meet his Beloved One who is not less desirous of meeting him. Ubadah ibn as-Samit narrated that the Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sal- lam, said, “Allah loves to meet the one who loves to meet Him; and He hates to meet the one who hates to meet him.” (Bukhari)
- Those who are devoid of insight, are happy with this life, totally immersed in its affairs, and whose inner self is so polluted that not only are they uninterested in the Hereafter, but are despaired of it. To those, transplanting to the abode of immortality hurts them the same way as rose water hurts a beetle. For they are not able to move from the world of filth and darkness whence they were basking to the world of purity and light from which they shrink. Their condition in this world and their lot in the next are best described by Allah in the Qur’an: “And whoever is blind in this [life] will be blind in the Hereafter and more astray in way.” [17:72]
- Those who assume middle position between the previous two ones. Although they know the perils of this world, yet they are attached to it. Those are like someone who occupies a filthy, dark house, gets attached to it, and hates to leave it although he accepted it grudgingly in the first place. But when this man leaves this house and sees the rewards invested by Allah on the righteous, he does not show any regret over the old house to which he was once attached, rather, he will say, “Praise is due to Allah, who has removed from us [all] sorrow. Indeed, our Lord is Forgiving and Appreciative. He who settled us in the home of duration (Paradise) out of His bounty. There touches us not in it any fatigue, and there touches us not in it weariness [of mind] .”[35:34-35]
And it should be pointed out here that it is perfectly possible that one mav love a place and still show little or no regret when he parts with it. Like a baby who cries out of shock when it first exits its mother’s womb, but when he grows up, he never wishes to return to that place which he once cried for. Moreover, death is a second birth, the gains of which far more exceed the gains of the firstprovided one is free from failings that make attaining perfection impossible. This is true because the development of a newborn into a perfect human is dependent on the freedom of its mother’s womb from all sorts of problems that may impede the baby’s ability to grow into a perfect man or woman