Life slips away second by second. Are you aware that every day brings
you closer to death or that death is as close to you as it is to
As we are told in the verse "Every soul shall taste death in the end;
to Us shall you be brought back." (Surat al-'Ankabut: 57) everyone
who has ever appeared on this earth was destined to die. Without
exception they all died, every one. Today, we hardly come across the
traces of many of these people who passed away. Those currently
living and those who will ever live will also face death on a
predestined day. Despite this fact, people tend to see death as an
Think of a baby who has just opened its eyes to the world and a man
who is about to breathe his last. Both had no influence on their
individual birth or death whatsoever. Only God possesses the power to
inspire the breath of life or to take it away.
All human beings will live until a certain day and then die; God in
the Qur'an gives an account of the attitude commonly shown towards
death in the following verse:
Say: "The death from which you flee will truly overtake you: then you
will be sent back to the Knower of things secret and open: and He
will tell you (the truth of) the things that you did!" (Surat al-
The majority of people avoid thinking about death. In the rapid flow
of daily events, a person usually occupies himself with totally
different subjects: what college to enroll in, which company to work
for, what color of clothing to wear next morning, what to cook for
supper; these are the kinds of major issues that we usually consider.
Life is perceived as a routine process of such minor matters.
Attempts to talk about death are always interrupted by those who do
not feel comfortable hearing about it. Assuming death will come only
when one grows older, one does not want to concern himself with such
an unpleasant subject. Yet it should be kept in mind that living for
even one further hour is never guaranteed. Everyday, man witnesses
the deaths of people around him but thinks little about the day when
others will witness his own death. He never supposes that such an end
is awaiting him!
Nevertheless, when death comes to man, all the "realities" of life
suddenly vanish. No reminder of the "good old days" endures in this
world. Think of everything that you are able to do right now: you can
blink your eyes, move your body, speak, laugh; all these are
functions of your body. Now think about the state and shape your body
will assume after your death.
While all this is taking place in the world, the corpse under the
soil will go through a rapid process of decay. Skin and soft tissues
will completely disintegrate. The brain will decay and start looking
like clay. This process will go on until the whole body is reduced to
However, our beloved prophet, Muhammad (PBUH), was reported to have
said that the dead body of prophets, pious people and martyrs would
not decay in the grave and that there is enjoyment in the grave just
as there is punishment in it.
There is no chance of going back to the old life again. Gathering
around the supper table with family members, socializing or to having
an honorable job will never again be possible.
In short, the "heap of flesh and bones" to which we assign an
identity faces a quite nasty end. On the other hand, you - or rather,
your soul - will leave this body as soon as you breathe your last.
The remainder of you - your body - will become part of the soil.
Yes, but what is the reason for all these things happening?
If God willed, the body would never have decayed in such a way. That
it does so actually carries a very important inner message in itself.
The tremendous end awaiting man should make him acknowledge that he
is not a body himself, but a soul "encased" within a body. In other
words, man has to acknowledge that he has an existence beyond his
body. Furthermore, man should understand the death of his body, which
he tries to possess as if he is to remain eternally in this temporal
world. However this body, which he deems so important, will decay and
become worm-eaten one day and finally be reduced to a skeleton. That
day might be very soon.
Despite all these facts, man's mental process is inclined to
disregard what he does not like or want. He is even inclined to deny
the existence of things he avoids confronting. This tendency seems to
be most apparent when death is the issue. Only a funeral or the
sudden death of an immediate family member brings this reality to
mind. Almost everybody sees death far from himself. The assumption is
that those who die while sleeping or in an accident are different
people and what they face will never befall us! Everybody thinks it
is too early to die and that there are always years ahead to live.
Yet most probably, people who die on the way to school or hurrying to
attend a business meeting shared the same thought. They probably
never thought that the next day's newspapers would publish news of
their deaths. It is entirely possible that, as you read these lines,
you still do not expect to die soon after you have finished them or
even entertain the possibility that it might happen. Probably you
feel that it is too early to die because there are many things to
accomplish. However, this is just an avoidance of death and these are
only vain endeavors to escape it:
Say: "Running away will not profit you if you are running away from
death or slaughter; and even if (you do escape), no more than a brief
(respite) will you be allowed to enjoy!"(Surat al-Ahzab: 16)
Man who is created alone should be aware that he would also die
alone. Yet during his life, he lives almost addicted to possessions.
His sole purpose in life becomes to possess more. Yet, no one can
take his goods with him to the grave. The body is buried wrapped in a
shroud made from the cheapest of fabrics. The body comes into this
world alone and departs from it in the same way.