Friday Sermon, May, 2, 2008
The Final Journey and Remembrance of Death
On the authority of Ibn ‘Umar who said: The Messenger of God (peace be upon him) caught my shoulder and said: “Be in the world as if you are a stranger or a traveler.” (Bukhari)
In another narration, it has been narrated from Salim ibn `Abdullah from Ibn `Umar that he said that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said to me, “Live in the world as if you are a stranger and just passing through (consider this world as a temporary abode) and consider yourself as one of those who is already deceased. When you wake up in the morning, do not desire that you shall live until the evening and when the evening comes do not think that you shall be alive until the morning. Make use of your health before you fall ill, and make use of your youth before you turn old, and make use of your life before you die, since surely you do not know tomorrow (on the Day of Resurrection) what group of people you will be gathered with.”
The message of this Hadith is that life is a temporary state because we live for a few years and then we die. We should consider ourselves as strangers passing through and should not worry about acquiring material possessions and luxury.
This hadith discusses the most important issue of training (of the human soul) and that is the remembrance of death. In the hadith, we see that it is been constantly mentioned that we must not have trust or reliance upon this passing world, just as it has been mentioned; “Love of the (material) world is the source of all sins.”
It is the love of this world which is also brought about when a person is negligent of the transient nature of the world and when he thinks that this world shall remain forever. When the person engages in such a transaction (with this material world), then he would naturally develop a love and affection for the world, and when this occurs, it is very difficult to separate his soul from the material world.
It is for this reason that one of the best ways of training a person and to combat against the performance of sins is to pay attention to death.
A person must be such that when he wakes up in the morning, he does not consider that he will remain alive until the evening, and when he enters upon the evening, he does not consider that he will remain alive until the following morning. It is this same issue, meaning the focus upon Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) and turning away from the material world which leaves a deep effect upon own soul. The person must know that at any moment, he is in the grips of danger. For example, pay attention to this same heart which makes the blood reach to all the parts of the body. The heart is the centre from which the blood is distributed, however it does not take its own food from the blood which is inside itself and in reality, the heart considers itself as equal to all the other parts of the body.
When a person knows that there is absolutely no guarantee in life and living, then why does he still go towards various types of sins? It is from this point that we must remember death and use this remembrance as the very powerful breaks on our lives (just as the breaks on a car) to prevent ourselves from committing sins.
Normally, most people are afraid of death and there is only a small group of individuals who laugh in the face of death and eagerly and earnestly welcome it with open arms.
However we should look at why death, its manifestation and even the mention of this word immediately causes trouble to some people!
(1) Lack of belief in the life after death:
The principal proof which we mention is that these people do not have faith in the life after death, and if they have faith in this, then we see that their faith is not something firmly rooted deep within them and this belief has not taken charge of their thoughts and emotions. The fear that man feels from destruction and non-existence is natural, we see that people are afraid of the darkness at night, why? This is so because darkness is the non-existence of light. Sometimes, they fear death, why? Since they think that they are traversing the same path of non-existence and annihilation.
However if mankind was to have complete faith and conviction that this material world which we are living in is a prison for the true believer and a paradise for the disbeliever just as the Hadith tells us: “The world is a prison for the disbeliever and a place of paradise for the disbeliever.” then he would not have this fear of death.
If mankind was to truly believe that this physical body is actually a receptacle for the soul and when this receptacle is broken, it is only then that the soul will be freed and at that time he will be able to fly and soar with his friends and acquaintances, and if he were to truly believe that “The Hijab, which covers over the life and realities of a person are due to the dust which makes up his body” , the without doubt he would truly wish to be freed and released from this covering!
If one was truly to believe that death is a garden of the higher spiritual realms and is not one for the spiritual beings and that this vessel that he is currently contained within is only good for the proverbial two or three days – truly if the person was to believe these things about death, then he would never fear dying – rather, he would take this world as the path to travel towards perfection.
(2) Love and attraction to this material world:
Another reason why people fear death is that they have an unreasonable love for this material world. They fear that death will bring a separation between themselves and that which they truly love and would cause their hearts to be separated from the beloved and from all of those things which have made their material life easy and full of pleasures and luxuries – and this is something which they can not handle.
3. No good deeds:
Since their tray of good deeds is empty and the tray of evil deeds is full, they fear death. We read in the Hadith that, “A person once came into the presence of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and asked him, ‘O’ Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)! Why do I not have love for death within me?’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, ‘Do you have any wealth?’ The man replied, ‘Yes I do.’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to him, ‘Have you sent any good for yourself?’ The man replied, ‘No.’ The Prophet then said to him, ‘It is because of this reason that you do not like death (since your book of good deeds is empty).’”
Another person went to see Abu Dharr and asked him the exact same question as the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked above that why does he feel hatred for death to which Abu Dharr replied, “You have a hatred for death since you have made this life habitable and have destroyed your next life.
It is natural that a person does not like that he should be transferred from a place which is habitable to a place which has been destroyed.”
Of the very important issues, which separates those who worship Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) from those who worship the material word is their understanding in relation to the issue of death. Those who believe in the Oneness of Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) recognize death as being a “second birth” and consider it as being the beginning of a new life and in their point of view, death is nothing but a transfer from one house to another house such that they are then freed from the impediments of this world and are brought into a wide, spacious next world.
However the materialists consider death as being the end of all things and it is because of this fact that they are not ready to sacrifice their lives for the greater worths and purposes or to offer a sacrifice except if it is done under duress and pressure. However those who sincerely worship Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) have no problem with killing and being killed in the path of Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) as a sacrifice and are ready to offer their life and wealth and only fear Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him). It is from this point that we can understand that to what extent does faith in the Resurrection play a role in the perfection of mankind. After the belief in the Resurrection, there is no other belief and conviction other than the belief in Tawheed, which can play a role in the building of the character of a person and we see that all of the Prophets were sent to invite people to these two issues and this constant reminder of the next life was done for a purpose.
Dear brothers and sisters in Islam, do you know: Why our prayers are not answered? Why our Duaa is not accepted?
You know Allah, Yet you do not obey Him, You recite the Qur’an, yet you do not act according to it, You know Shaitaan (Devil), yet you have agreed with him, You proclaim that you love the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, yet you abandon his Sunnah, You proclaim your love for Paradise, yet you do not act to gain it, You proclaim your fear for the Fire, yet you do not prevent yourselves from sins, You say “Indeed death is true”, yet you have not prepared for it, You engage yourselves with finding faults with others, yet you do not look at your own faults, You eat of that which Allah has provided for you, yet you do not thank Him, You bury your dead, Yet you do not take a lesson from it.”
Finally, dear brothers and sisters;
On the authority of Anas Bin Malik who said: The Messenger of God (peace be upon him) said: “Three things follow a dead person: members, his belongings, and his deeds- The first two come back and the third remains with him.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
This Hadith explains that the three things that follow a person’s funeral, family members and deeds, only a person’s deeds will be able to help him in the next life. Good deeds will stay with him and be beneficial.
Wa Salla Allah Ala Muhammad Wa Ala Aalihi Wa Sallam