In Islam, we are encouraged to think often about death. Our Holy Prophet Mohammad has said “Most intellectual of man is he who remembers the death most.” If you’re like me, you may wonder why we would be asked to think about death? I have wondered that too. Why would anyone want to think of death? It’s not rosy or cheerful, it’s frightening. But what Islam teaches is that one who desires death, only does so because they desire to meet their creator, which should be a part of our ultimate purpose.
In the past, I often approached the subject with caution, fear and ignorance at times. I didn’t want to speak of it. When someone in the community passed away, and there would be a funeral-type gathering at our mosque, I would avoid attending. I would wait for my parents to come home and ask them details of the event, just to imagine it in my head. My mother would tell me how many people shed tears, including herself. Even though she didn’t know the person closely, but because those who she cared for were grieving, she felt sadness too.
It isn’t until I became an adult, and more importantly a parent, that I’ve come to the realization that A. Death is inevitable, it happens to every single person and it is a part of life. And B. We actually should remind ourselves of death, everyday if possible. I guess the more you grow up, the more experiences you live through and the more you learn that this life is just a moment. And death is not as far or foreign as we thought when we were young.
As I approach my 30’s, I am in a very similar position my parents were not too long ago. They have attended a fair share of funeral and memorial programs for their dear friends’ parents. And after years of avoiding attending these sort of events, now I have began to feel the importance of going, offering my condolences in person and feeling sadness over someone’s passing. I take my children, so that they can be familiar with this process, as it is a part of life. Not something to be feared or forgotten about.
And if I’m being completely honest, it feels really good. It feels good to remember death. To remember that this world is a fragment. The distractions around us, the screens and commerce, fluff and fraudulent, we will be free of it someday.
The only thing that worries me is leaving behind my children to live in a world where I’m not there to protect them.
As I have started to think more frequently about death, I recently asked my father if he has reached a point where he welcomes death without fearing it. He said that he had reached that point long ago, and he would welcome it at anytime. I have often heard this from much older people, like my grandmother, who waited anxiously to rest her soul. And I’ve heard of many people who knew they were going to die, when they did. They expressed it to family members, they saw it in dreams and they were right.
I don’t want you to think that I’m obsessed with dying and I think about it all the time. It’s still something very difficult for me to dwell on. I am more open to discussing it, but not thrilled about it or anything. But I do think that if we take the time to remind ourselves that our life here is short, and death is nearer than we may think, then we are more likely to live a better life overall. It certainly does put many things into perspective.
“Every breath is a step towards death” – Imam Ali (a.s.)
How do you feel about the thought of dying? Share your thoughts in the comments.
*Disclaimer: I didn’t know what to categorize this post as, so it’s here in Motherhood.
8 thoughts on “Thinking about Death More”
About death, I used to ignore it or I didn’t think about it. I used to feel that I was too young to think about death. Until the first year of my collage, one of my friend died. I didn’t know him well, but he was humble and always smiled to everyone. He was murdered. I was shock and so were my friends. Though I didn’t know him well, it was hard to accept. The following years I kept on hearing news people around my age passed away. I’ve been thinking about death more more. How close death is for everyone without looking at their age.. But sadly, my faith hasn’t been steady and it makes me frustrated..
#sorry for rambling..
Agreed! It does not really hit you until you see it close. But believe me, take one step at a time and with patience approach it like a life lesson, learn about it through people or books and you will be fine.
Fiska, thanks so much for your comment. I also felt i was too young, even back in college I never really gave serious thought to anything like that. But i think in your case, the death of a friend really catapulted you to think about death and face it. Having strong faith takes time and effort, and i think most of us struggle with it..
I agree it is definitely not something we grow up thinking about or imagining but do question ourselves out of curiosity to see what our heart responds to it, and then we realize it is something we are afraid of. I think knowledge is the key to many doors. When we go into what actually death and hereafter is about, we find out there is good and there is bad, and we are in charge of what we get. There was a phase when I could not obsessing over afterlife and wanted to know everything at once (in one night) so that I am not surprised and I ended up with a lot of fearful sleepless nights. I had to make peace with my self, reminding that there is also a lot of good that can comfort you in the afterlife (especially the fact that the Imam (a.s) visit us during the first night, provided if we have visited them).
My sources ? I read a book, ” Journey to the Unseen World” and watched a youtube video for more dramatic experience :)).
Book link: https://www.amazon.com/JOURNEY-UNSEEN-WORLD-Rooh-Safar/dp/1519105797
I literally just said I want to re-read that book because I think now at this point in my life, i will think about it differently. Great resource for anyone with questions about the afterlife, thanks for sharing Sakina.
Agreed, there was a time I couldn’t sleep with the fear that I might die while sleeping. Also I did lack any interest in the world, but it didn’t work out good for me. Then I have to take a step ahead and think it positively, as now I don’t think that fear of death is a bad thing, like I do think alot about death, and I feel so frightened that what if Allah SWT is not happy with me, this fear makes me focus on my deeds all the time and try to make them better and having good hopes in that way.
I like what you said about channeling your fear into an effort to work harder on pleasing God. Thank you for commenting! I love reading others’ thoughts, because we don’t exactly bring up this subject in our friend circle lol