Like this phenomenal world, life is not without an end. And like rose flower, it is also never without thorns. Penultimate week, some sad news that came to my knowledge corroborate the message, which the title of this piece seeks to convey. The sad news were either about death or illness. Of course, similar sorrowful or depressing events have happened in the past. Although death is as old as life, it is most often seen to be novel each time it occurs. The fact that death occurs to different people under different circumstances suggests why no nation of people in human civilization has ever claimed familiarity with it.
On a hot afternoon, I called a friend on phone but he immediately rejected the call. He soon sent a text message that he was at a burial ground. After some hours, he called me back and said his neighbour had died few hours earlier. He told me that he and the deceased along with others in their neighborhood observed Subhi (early morning) prayer in congregation. My friend said he left the mosque in company of the deceased got to his house while he proceeded upward. My friend explained that the deceased until the latter got to his house while he proceeded upward. My friend further explained that the deceased left his house for work well and hearty in the morning. Some hours after he arrived office, he went to buy credit units for his phone from a nearby recharge card vendor. It was when he attempted to bring out money from his pocket to pay the vendor that he fell down on the ground. He was immediately rushed to the hospital for medical attention. Unfortunately, he died before reaching the hospital. We say “Inna lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Raju’un” meaning “From Allah we came and to Him is our return”. A man who had no headache at Subhi time did not leave to observe Zuhr (noon) prayer of the same day. Sound health is, therefore, not a barrier to death. Every day is, indeed, a privilege.
- Kidnappings, killings put Nasarawa on edge
- Maggot therapy: We’ve saved 30 patients from amputation – AKTH entomologist
Not too long ago, death approached a colleague of mine in the same manner. He woke up in the morning with no complaints of ill-health. His driver who was to drive him back to Abuja where he worked had arrived at his house, about 250 kilometers away from Abuja. When his bags had been arranged in the car, he stood in the middle of his living room to bid everyone farewell. Suddenly, he felt some pains in his chest and asked to be taken to the nearest hospital. On their way to the hospital, he died. Again, we say “Inna lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Raj’un”. While we call it sudden death, it is not sudden according to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasalam, SAW) who said, “Be in this world as though you were a stranger or a traveler.” Now Ibn Umar used to say “When evening comes on you, do not expect morning; and when morning comes, do not expect evening. Take from your health (a precaution) for your sickness, and from your life for your health”. Imam Bukhari relates this hadith on the authority of Ibn Umar.
Whenever it occurs and no matter the circumstances under which it visited its victim, death is expected to remind the living of the inevitable end of life. Besides the reality stated in Qur’an 21:35 that “Every soul shall have a taste of death,” the nature of death is awe-inspiring enough to deter us from transgressing all the bounds set by Islam. Among the knowledge of the five things which Allah (SWT) has concealed from man is the knowledge of the place every living soul will die as mentioned in Qur’an 3:31. Of course, the time at which every soul will depart this world is also hidden from every being.
Some people suffer from prolonged illness without death coming their way. At times, people recover after many years of illness, sometimes to live long again. I knew of someone who survived a stroke. By Allah’s wish, he lived after that for about three decades. Allah, the Omnipotent, does as He wish. A few days ago, a relative of mine who had been ill without any improvements in the course of treatment for nearly two years started responding positively. For many months, neither could she eat solid food nor stand on her feet without help. Now, she began to ask for solid food which she eat to satisfaction. She could now turn on her sides while on the bed without any assistance. Allahu Akbar!
In the same way that sound health cannot avert death when it is time for it, illness isn’t also an invitation or gateway to death. Between life and death, therefore, is a chance to live. This chance, which is without any empirical principles, makes living on this planet a privilege. In fact, everything about this life is a privilege. Unfortunately, many of us fail to take the least advantage of this privilege. Some of us open our hearts for the devil to lead us to the path of destruction; the path that leads to ingratitude and disobedience of Allah’s injunctions contained in the Qur’an and interpreted by the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Like the motto of Boys Scouts, we are supposed to be prepared for the unescapable journey that we don’t have answers to its when and how. While some people are pious enough to accept the realities about death, others live as if life in this world is eternal. When some people would declare that they have collected their ‘boarding pass’ to the world beyond as a way of figuratively expressing their readiness to meet their Lord, many on a daily basis are daringly planning not just for 2023 but for the life they would live in decades to come. This is even as many of the Signs of the Hour foretold by the Prophet (SAW) have come to pass. May Allah (SWT) put among His obedient servants to dwell in bliss, here and in the hereafter; and may Allah (SWT) also make our departure from this world and our meeting Him be in peace and infinite mercy, amin.