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.