Saturday, July 21, 2018

Death and the Purpose of Life

"Exalted is He who holds all control in His hands; who has power over all things; who created death and life to test you and reveal which of you does best- He is the Mighty, the Forgiving"-- (Surah Mulk, 67: 2-3).

"God has humbled the son of Adam with death, and has made the world an abode of life, then an abode of death, and made the Hereafter an abode of recompense, then an abode of eternal abiding" --- Prophet Muhammad (sa)  

As a religion, Islam is an appeal to the conscience of the humans to deploy their God-given Free Will to lead a clear and pure life in the path of God. It is an open invitation to everyone to recognize the true purpose of life- the Worship of the Divine to the exclusion of all other so called 'deities'- by purifying their souls, by getting rid of the spiritual and moral diseases that otherwise come in the way of such higher realization. And 'Muslims' are those who subordinate and surrender their personal needs and desires to conform to the Will and commandments of Allah and His Messenger and strive in His cause. The trade-off they have to make is between the chance gains of this life and the enduring rewards of the Hereafter. Hence, to live in obedience to the dictates of religion and to die in that state of submission to the Will of Allah, is a conscious choice that every true believer makes through her belief and practice in every day life. 

In his Friday Sermon of 20 July 2018 (06 Dhul Qaddah 1439 AH), Muhyi-ud-Din Al Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius speaks about the transient nature of our worldly life to remind us about the inevitability of our accountability in the world to come. 

In this eloquent discourse steeped in Qur'anic wisdom and illuminating insights, Hadhrat Khalifatullah (atba) provides a series of practical guidelines that followers of the Divine Path can keep in mind in their everyday life. For, everyone has to be prepared to face the record of their deeds on the Day of Resurrection. As Hadhrat Saheb (atba) notes, a believer can prepare herself for that ultimate reality of Facing God on the Day of Judgement in the following way: by recognizing the truthfulness of the Divine Messages and prophecies chronicled in the Qur'an and the Ahadith; by learning from the exemplary lives of the Divine servants of the past; by recognizing the value of invoking fervent prayers directed to the court of the Almighty for steadfastness and courage to remain in the spiritual path, and also by recalling the fleeting nature of life and the unavoidable journey to the grave after deathIt is also instructive to note that embracing the True Path/Faith is a favour that one does to one's own self and nobody else, and it is certainly not a favour to God. Our extolling God cannot add to His glory, nor does our disobedience to His Elects can take away of His grandeur and dignity. On the other hand, when you earnestly strive in the path of glorification and sublime obedience, God bestows purification and radiance to your soul in this very world- indeed happy endings are for the truly devout. Whether to remain in obedience to God and receive the benefits of enduring blessings, or to disobey the Divine commands in search of fleeting pleasures that will only bring ultimate loss- that is the choice that every human has to make in life, reminds Hadhrat Khalifatullah (atba).  

Read the Friday Sermon Below: 

Recall Death

For all of us, our journey on earth is limited. Sooner or later we will have to return to our Creator and present ourselves before Him. Those who fear Allah the most have only one wish, which is, to stay in His obedience - the obedience of Allah - throughout their lives. This, in order to prevent them from dying while they were in disobedience of Allah because the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Every slave will be resurrected in the state upon which he died” (Muslim)

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) here speaks of our state when we die either as a disbeliever or as a believer. Each individual must therefore seek by all means to hold firm to his faith, the true faith (i.e. Islam), throughout his life on earth so that when he dies, despite that his family may be crying over losing a loved one, but the person (now dead), will be happy to join his Creator. For this, he must:

(1) Believe in the word of Allah and Muhammad (pbuh).

It is so easy for us to believe in the words of people like us. If we are told that tomorrow there will be an increase in the price of fuel, how many of us will rush today itself to the gas stations to refuel?

In the fourth chapter of the Holy Quran, Allah says: “Allah! There is no god but He: He will surely gather you together on the Day of Judgment, about which there is no doubt. And whose word can be truer than Allah’s?” (An-Nisa, 4: 88)

From this verse, it is clear that everything that Allah and His Messenger (pbuh) predicted will certainly happen. So be sure of the following words:

Truly, man is a clear witness against himself, despite all the excuses he may put forward.” (Al-Qiyamah 75: 15-16).

This Day, We shall seal up their mouths, and their hands will speak to Us, and their legs will bear witness to what they used to earn.” (Ya-Sin 36: 66).

So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant), shall see it. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant), shall see it.” (Az-Zalzala 99: 8-9).

Do not give up the Quran. If you abandon it you will only reap sadness because the Quran contains our healing. Allah tells us about the Quran: “And We reveal of the Quran that which is a healing and a mercy for believers though it increase the evil-doers in naught save ruin.” (Bani Israel 17: 83).

And if we turn our backs on the Quran, Allah says to us: “And whoever turns away from My remembrance - indeed, he will have a depressed life, and We will gather him on the Day of Resurrection blind.” (Taha 20: 125).

Know that this Quran was sent to remove our sadness because in the same Surah, Allah tells us: “We have not sent down the Quran unto you to cause you distress.” (Taha 20: 3).

(2) We must learn the stories of the prophets before we leave this temporal world.

Allah says to the Holy Prophet (pbuh): “All that we relate to you of the stories of the messengers, is in order that We may make strong and firm your heart thereby: in them there come to you the Truth, as well as an exhortation and a message of remembrance to those who believe.” (Hud 11: 121)

These stories are, in fact, filled with lessons for us to reflect on. For example, the sea that opened before Musa (as) or Allah’s response to the invocation of Yunus (as) from the stomach of a fish, without forgetting the words of Ibrahim (as) when he was going to be thrown into a great fire: “Allah suffices for me...”, and many more. They are the ones we must take as models.

(3) Invocations (Dua).

One of the greatest and most effective weapons that believers have at their disposal but which they neglect is invocation (Dua). And yet Allah Himself and His prophets have taught us the best words we can use to invoke Him. Allah teaches us in the Holy Quran:

(They say): ‘Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after You have guided us, and grant us mercy from You. Truly, You are the Grantor of bounties without measure.’” (Al-Imran 3: 9).

'The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the believers. Each one (of them) believes in Allah, His angels, His books, and His messengers. ‘We make no distinction (they say) between one and another of His messengers.’ And they say: ‘We hear, and we obey: ‘(We seek) Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the end of all journeys.' (Al-Baqara 2: 286)

The invocation that was taught to us by our Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is as follows: Ya muqallib al-qulub, thabbit qalbi ‘ala deenika - O You who turn hearts, strengthen my heart in Your religion.

(4) Know the importance of staying steadfast in the obedience of Allah.

It is necessary for us to reflect on the words of Allah who speak to us of a sure and most trying state of our life. The Sakraat (The state where our soul is permanently detached from our physical body for the hereafter). Our loved ones shall be powerless (against the death of their loved one) that day, but let’s see what Allah tells us in the Holy Quran:

Lo! those who say: Our Lord is Allah, and afterward are upright, the angels descend upon them, saying: Fear not nor grieve, but hear good tidings of the paradise which ye are promised. "We are your protectors in this life and in the Hereafter: therein shall ye have all that your souls shall desire; therein shall ye have all that ye ask for!- A gift of welcome from One Forgiving, Merciful.” (Fussilat 41: 31-33).

See for yourself the importance of standing firm (of being steadfast in our faith, the true faith – Islam) and taking Allah as our Protector and trusting in His All Power and Existence as our One Creator.

(5) Know the value of this temporal world.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “What is the example of this worldly life in comparison to the Hereafter other than one of you dipping his finger in the sea? Let him see what he brings forth.” (Muslim) This leads us to think about how this world is nothing compared to what Allah has reserved for us in the hereafter.

Allah says in the Holy Quran: “O you who believe! What is the matter with you, that when you are asked to march forth in the Cause of Allah you cling heavily to the earth? Are you pleased with the life of this world rather than the Hereafter? But little is the enjoyment of the life of this world as compared with the Hereafter.” (At-Tauba 9: 38).

(6) Remember death and the grave.

Imagine your body, wrapped in a white sheet, lying in your home, waiting for you to be placed in the Janaza. Along the way, you will be accompanied by your loved ones, your wealth and your actions. But once you are placed in the grave, two of them will return, your loved ones and your wealth. You will find yourself at that moment with your actions only. It is up to you, as long as you have the time, which of your actions will accompany you in your grave.

Hasan Al-Basri (ra) said, “O son of Adamyou are nothing but a mere collection of days. Whenever a day passes by, a part of you passes away.”

(7) Know that none of our deeds benefit or harm Allah.

Our efforts to stay in the obedience of Allah will benefit no one but us. In a (sacred) Hadith Qudsi Allah has said:

O My servants, you will not attain harming Me so as to harm Me, and you will not attain benefiting Me so as to benefit Me. O my servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to become as pious as the most pious heart of any one man of you, that would not increase My kingdom in anything. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as wicked as the most wicked heart of any one man of you, that would not decrease My kingdom in anything. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to rise up in one place and make a request of Me, and were I to give everyone what he requested, that would not decrease what I have, any more than a needle decreases the sea if put into it.” (Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah).

So ask yourself, if I remain in the obedience of Allah, who will benefit from it? Just like if I disobey Allah, who will be to blame and find himself in trouble? The choice is yours.

May Allah help us all to remember death, and do all that we can to live our life in the obedience of Allah so that our present and future life be safe from the pangs of evil and against the discontent of Allah. Our existence depends on it! Insha-Allah, Ameen.