Friday, May 5, 2017

The Absolute Submission

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Allah Says (what means): {And it is not [possible] for one to die except by permission of Allah at a decree determined..} [Quran 3:145]

The eternity we all wish for, Muslim or Non-Muslim, is everlasting life in Heaven, Paradise, the Garden of Eden, the Blue Yonder, whatever you want to call it, with its beauty, splendor, ease, and closeness to the Divine Light of our Creator, but who is willing to make sure that the lilt of their voice is recognized when they are lying amongst white sheets with tubes fixed, cloudy eyes staring, barely able to lift a finger to make the Shahadah, doctors and nurses rushing around in their futile dealings, all those involved anxiously awaiting the inevitable moment.

Which beliefs will bring you comfort at that intersection of life and extinction? The belief that this is it and there is no more? Can you really reconcile your fleeting lifetime to this thought, and not feel that your life had no meaning? We are warned that if we are not ready for death, if our connection to this lifetime is too strong, that at that precise moment when we need Allah, we might end up pushing Him away in blinding fright, clawing at the shreds of lifetime we recall in our stupor of death. This scenario could result in an eternity; I will say it again, an eternity {i-tur-ni-tee - definition - adj 1. infinite time, past or future. 2. the endless period of life after death} of punishment in Hell. You know, fire hotter than any 70 fires in the lifetime, smoke, ash, boiling fluids to drink... alright, alright, I'll leave the rest to your lively imagination.

My point is, who will you call upon and expect an answer? How can you call on Allah when He doesn't recognize the sound of your voice? How late is too late?

To feed my ever-constant yearning for tidbits on our earthly departure, I stayed up recently, way past my bedtime, to watch a documentary about death. They showed a series of people who were close to death, young and old, and how the living around them reacted to their slow weaning off of this life. There was a current of palpable dread coming through the TV directly into my living room as the families surrounded their loved ones, struggling with their own mortality. The patients' faces were white, frozen, mouth drooping open, with no strength left, the muscles no longer willing to obey the commands of the brain to pull the jaw closed, unaware of the clamor around them, stripped bare, as all is peeled away at death. It was then that I realized that these valiant attempts to heal were for the living, and that those passing on were fighting a whole different battle. They looked calm on the outside, but we are told that they are in turmoil, agony, at the time of death.

Where is the line between living and dying? Does the spirit know before the body does? Let's stop right now to see how fine a line this is. Take a minute and hold your hand over your mouth and nose, letting no air in or out. Okay, now hold it...hold it... hold it.... there, now breathe—ahhh that wonderful elixir of existence. That was a small taste of death; the simple, but complex tightrope we walk every day. The fact that we have life speaks to something vivid that must fade, like calico patterns left to bleach in the sun. No one wants to die; Allah chooses who lives and dies and this is written before we are born. The critical point is not when, but how you die. Will it be the good, peaceful death, being eased out of your shell like a drop of water from a jug, eager to meet your Lord, or the reluctant passage out, being yanked, kicking and screaming, like a swatch of wool being pulled from a thorny branch, in paralyzing fear of Divine retribution? I know which one I am going to work for in the time allotted to me.

In my very early years as a Muslim, I had a brother die in his sleep. He was only 50 years old at the time; and, unaware of his imminent fate, went to bed and never woke up. That sobering event had a profound effect on me, and put me on a quest to learn all I could about the "destroyer of pleasures." After that time, I never missed my prayers before sleep. Whether Allah gives us a long illness with purification and a chance to make amends, or He takes us suddenly like my brother, we need to be ready. I realized then that no matter who you are or what you own, at that precise moment of death, it is between you and your Lord. We have all heard the Prophetic saying that three things follow you to your grave; your family, your possessions, and your deeds. The first two come back, leaving only your deeds to speak to how you lived your life, but do we really internalize this and live it every moment? Ask anyone who has had a car accident how quickly lives can change—it's an instant, and we must be ready with good works and remembrance of Allah waiting for us in our personal `Ethereal Bank'.

For Muslims born into the religion, this will be your reality also. You are not immune to the trappings of death and its suffering and there are no guarantees on that day. For converts to this beautiful religion, do you want your non-Muslim families making your decisions for you at that moment, or the strength of your Lord lovingly watching over you because He knew your pleading voice in the lifetime. For non-Muslims, the Mercy of our Creator is given to all on Earth until death, and then it is reserved for those who believed and called on Him at all times.

If these words caused a ripple in the folds of your heart, then take time right now to connect to the Merciful, the Compassionate One... He is waiting for you.


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