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That’s why we should be prepared

If there’s any issue that is naturally abhorred by man but yet presents itself every now and then in various ordinary and extraordinary ways, it…

If there’s any issue that is naturally abhorred by man but yet presents itself every now and then in various ordinary and extraordinary ways, it is the subject matter of death; the only most inevitable event in man’s life. Most often, death is seen by many as sudden not necessarily because they have no answers to when, where and how of it, but simply because many forget or like to forget about death than they remember or discuss it. However, the teachings of the Qur’an and hadith of the Prophet (SAW) suggest that death is more gradual than it is a sudden event. This would be clarified shortly.

Today’s discourse is not the first of its kind on this page. For instance, death was the subject matter of this column when the piece “Peeping at death”, was published on January 28, 2012. Also, the piece “Sudden demise: A lesson for all” was the topic discussed on this page on November 28, 2015. Similarly, “Glimpses from the indeterminate, inevitable event” was the substance of the piece published on this page on Saturday, May 22, 2022. Today again, we have reasons to remind ourselves of being wayfarers in a journey that nearly everything about it including the last bus stop and the time of arrival are unknown.

The expression in recent weeks on the lips of many people in the community I come from somewhere in Niger State was that death has become more sudden than usual. The community almost became a popular destination for Azrail, the Angel of death, because no day passed in the just-ended month of Ramadan without burying at least one dead person. Sometimes, two people were buried in a day. Some of those who died in recently were hale and hearty few moments preceding their death. Some went to bed at night with no sign of illness only to be woken up dead at dawn. Others took their Sahur (early morning) meal in Ramadan but did not live to see the sun rrising A few died while receiving or advancing payment for the items sold or purchased at a market shop. If it were in the primordial days, some residents of the community would have deserted the town for some fetish reasons. At a point, members of the community were not rushing to pick calls for fear of receiving the sad news of someone’s death. 

A lot of people see death as sudden because of their failure to create time, however little, to muse over death. Let us find time to attend a funeral and be part of the procession to the burial ground. By that, we would be able to ascertain whether or not the grave is bigger than the room we currently occupy. Grave is traditionally a residence meant to accommodate only one person at a time. Even if the space in it were mistakenly widened beyond the body-size of the tenant, none of the deceased’s closest relations including

 wife/wives, children, parents, friends, colleagues, aides and maids would be ready to follow him/her into the underground apartment. 

Death comes in different ways. Imam Bukhari relates on the authority of Ibn Umar (RA) who reported that the prophet (SAW) once took him by the shoulder and said “Be in this world as if you were a stranger”. Now Ibn Umar (RA) 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 death”. Illness, whether brief or protracted, is therefore one of the ways through which death peeps at man. Apart from sickness, accidents, misfortunes, or other forms of adversities, death could occur without necessarily being preceded by any warning signs. That’s why we should be prepared and ready for it, anytime, anywhere. 

But how prepared are you to meet the Angel of death? Do the dresses and abayas in your wardrobe containing getzner, lace, English wax or super-wax, and vlisco materials include your alkafani (white shrouding sheet)? Did you devout reasonable time during the just-concluded Ramadan fast to seek forgiveness and mercy of your sins from Allah? Even in a pervasively corrupt, sinful, unjust and wicked society like ours, some people still see death as sudden because they think time is not ripe for them to repent and seek forgiveness of their shortcomings from Allah as if they were told of the appointed time of their demise. 

Let us heed the teachings of Islam so that when we eventually meet our Lord, we would have no need to appeal to Him (SWT) to return us back to this material world (which is not possible) to put forth good deeds. 

The more we remember the nature of death, the more we realise the nothingness of life and how closer we are from it. Imagine, for instance, that when you went to sleep last night; you did not wake up this morning but instead answered your Creator’s call to the next world. If you had an opportunity to communicate with those who survived you, would you tell them in death that you are proud of the life you lived; given the spiritual relationship you maintained with Allah (your Creator) and that which you kept with fellow creatures?

We should, therefore, not postpone today’s repentance for tomorrow. Allah states in Qur’an 4:18 “Of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil until death faces one of them and he says: ‘Now have I repented’; nor of those who die rejecting faith; for them have we prepared a punishment most grievous.” 

To prepare for death, one of the steps include repentance. Leaders should repent from being public officers who betray their mandate; from being corrupt judges; from being self-seeking legislators; from being mendacious scholars; from being exploitative businessmen and women; from being irresponsible parents; from being wicked husbands; from being disobedient wives; from being defiant children; and from being bandits, kidnappers, or their sponsors. 

While we pray that Allah forgives those who have gone before us as believers in the religion of Islam; we also pray that Allah makes our end, when it is time, most fulfilling, amin.

 

 

 

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