Sitting outside in the courtyard of al Masjid al Haraam in Makkah, I look on at the hustle and bustle of people coming out of the Masjid peaceful and satisfied, after the short but serene meeting with their Creator in Isha Prayer. As I move my lips slowly in zhikr, I notice a sudden disturbance in the normally walking crowd of worshippers…I look again to find out three funeral processions rushing toward the road…I scan the covered, lifeless bodies on the stretchers being carried — and my heart fills with dread and fear — as I wonder:
“How long before I am the one being carried like that?”
I feel my mind travelling back, down memory lane… to another scene from another place.
We were all gathered in her room.., we all saw her fingers and toes slowly turning a slight hue of blue. I felt my gaze moving toward her face and I noticed her eyes staring into mine for a second and then at the others present in the room. I tried talking to her but all she did was stare at us and at times into space – Suddenly, at the continuous insistence of my mother she uttered the testimony of faith and stared straight ahead — her eyes expressionless and blank! The loud, alarmed cries around me make me realize that she was no more and that she had passed away peacefully to the next world!
My dear nani, may Allah [subhanahu wa taála] forgive her and bless her with Al Firdaws. The scene of her peaceful death that I witnessed five years ago still lies fresh in my mind and I feel my skin shiver and my eyes well up, every time I remember that day.., every time I remember those eyes that were staring ahead watching and feeling things that we could not! I remember how I helped in washing her lifeless body and how we wrapped her in three pieces of plain white cloth!!The way we covered up her face and tied a knot at the head never to see her again in the life of this world!
I remember and I feel hot tears flow down my cheeks. I think about her lifeless body being washed by others and I wonder:
‘Is it long before I would be the one lying there being washed by others?’
My grandmother was blessed, Masha Allah, she lived to be 84 years and got to see her great grandchildren! But is everyone as fortunate as she was…?
Do we feel certain that we would live to be 80? Do we feel secure and safe from death which can pounce on us any given moment? Have we prepared for this ‘destroyer of worldly pleasures’? What if today is our last day…what if we die today…would we like to meet our Lord as we are…loaded with sins??
Remember when the teacher used to come take our exam papers and we used to plead,
“mam…one minute more, please! Please…!”
That is how it is going to be…..EVEN WORSE!!!! =\
Allah [subhanahu wa taála] says; “Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection. So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion.(Al Qur’an 3:185)
Every time I remember my grandmother’s death I wonder about the infinite blessings of Allah that we seem to be taking for granted. We seem to be wasting away the precious moments of our precious lives in trivial worldly pursuits with no fear of what lies ahead of us – our final meeting with Allah.
Have we ever thought about these continuous favors and blessings of Allah that keep descending to us…He gives and gives and all that ascends up to Him is our ungratefulness and disobedience. He [subhanahu wa taála] is in no need of us – small insignificant sinning beings that we are! Yet if we are thankful for His innumerable favors and obedient to His commands it is our own selves that we benefit. But do we really realize this fact..?
We seem to be totally lost in the zest and glitter of this life.., the idea of obeying, pleasing and thanking Allah at some small corner of our minds. Have we ever pondered on the verse where Allah says,
“Whatever you have will end, but what Allah has is lasting. And We will surely give those who were patient their reward according to the best of what they used to do. Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do.” [An Nahl, 96- 97]
SubhanAllah! What more do we need? Allah tells us clearly the result of obeying Him. So do we still hesitate?
Allah, the Most Merciful, keeps on giving us chances to mend ourselves, repent and turn back to Him with good deeds. But are we utilizing these opportunities?
We instead play games. We accept and follow some of His commands and leave others by giving petty excuses because of being occupied with sins.
We know about the obligation of prayer on time, but we ignore. The men know about the importance and reward in congregation, but are too lazy to walk to the nearest Masjid. We are commanded to be dutiful to our parents, but we mistreat them. We know Riba (interest), bribery, and plucking of eyebrows are Haraam, but we pretend as if it doesn’t matter. We know Hijab is obligatory, but all we say is ‘Insha Allah soon’! But what if that ‘soon’ never comes.
Ibn Umar said: Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu alyhi wasallam) took me by my shoulder and said: “Be in this life as if you were a stranger or a traveler on a path and If you reach the evening then do not expect to reach the morning, and if you reach the morning then do not expect to reach the evening. Take from your health before your sickness, and from your life before your death.” [Reported by al-Bukhârî]
We have been neglecting the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet for quite some time now…and the results are quite obvious! Let us take a look around us…let us just note the continuous disruption and unrest in the World today.., the crazy bombings/suicide attacks, the sudden major catastrophes in the form of earthquakes, floods, heavy rains and dangerous infectious diseases!
Let us just witness how we are bringing harm and destruction on ourselves! We read, we observe, we witness the numerous signs and warnings given by Allah – but again, we forget and we ignore.
What if the punishment of Allah strikes us while we are in a state of disobedience and ungratefulness?
“Do then those who devise evil plots feel secure that Allah will not sink them into the earth, or that the torment will not seize them from directions they perceive not? Or that He may catch them in the midst of their going to and fro (in their jobs), so that there be no escape for them (from Allah’s punishment)? Or that He may catch them with gradual wasting (of their wealth and health). Truly! Your Lord is indeed full of Kindness, Most Merciful.” [An Nahl 45-47]
What if the angel of death arrives when we are busy disobeying Allah? A wise person once said, “The people are sleeping and they wake up only when they die.”
Indeed we are too arrogant, too proud to increase in fear of Him and in obedience to Him! We might often have witnessed mothers scolding and punishing their naughty disobedient children. They warn once or twice and then they punish! Right?
But what about Allah [subhanahu wa taála]? The Most Merciful says in His Noble Book, “And if Allah were to punish the people for what they have earned, He would not leave upon the earth any creature; but He gives them respite for a specified term. And when their time comes, then indeed Allah has ever been, of His servants, Seeing.” [Surah al Fatir 45]
Unlike Humans, He [subhanahu wa taála] gives us respite and infinite opportunities to remember and turn back to Him in sincere repentance and obedience! Let us just stop procrastinating and become of those who respond to each and every command of Allah saying “We hear and we obey!”
It may look difficult when we think of it especially when we think of what our family and friends might say…but then it is not that hard…we just supplicate to Allah for strength and guidance…start with it…Insha Allah there will be no regrets!! Do we think that we will have regrets after following Allah’s orders?
THINK ABOUT IT!!
“If Allah should aid you, no one can overcome you; but if He should forsake you, who is there that can aid you after Him? And upon Allah let the believers rely.” [Surah ale Imran 160]
Let us just submit to Allah wholeheartedly…, act on His orders and avoid His prohibitions! Let us just live for Allah and watch how our life will be filled with happiness and success. Let us just ignore what the rude and ignorant people say…Let us just take Allah as our friend…and He sure is the best of friends!
I conclude with the Hadeeth of our beloved Prophet (sallallahu alyhi wasallam) which gives me goose bumps every time I read it..
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَيُمْلِي لِلظَّالِمِ حَتَّى إِذَا أَخَذَهُ لَمْ يُفْلِتْهُ
“Verily, Allah will give respite to the wrongdoer until he seizes him and he cannot escape.” Then the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam recited this ayah, “And thus is the seizure of your Lord when He seizes the cities while they are committing wrong. Indeed, His seizure is painful and severe.” [Surah Hud 11: 102]
(Saheeh Bukhari Tafseer Surah Hud in Tafsir At Tabari)
May Allah Taála guide us and help us act on His guidance, before it gets too late. May He protect us from His Anger, His punishment and the Fire of Hell. And May He forgive us our sins and remove from us our misdeeds and cause us to die with the righteous! Ameen!
Edited Version published in Saudi Gazette in 2010