< Thoughts & Readings


Saturday, March 06, 2004  

An Exposition of the Excellence of the Remembrance of Death, However Done The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) has said, 'Remember often the Ender of Pleasures,' by which he meant, 'Make pleasures distasteful thereby until your inclination towards them is broken and you devote yourself to God (Exalted is He!).' And he said also (may God bless him and grant him peace), 'Were the beasts of the field to know what the son of Adam knows of death you would not find a single plump one to eat.' Said 'A'isha (may God be pleased with her), 'O Emissary of God! Shall anyone be resurrected alongside the martyrs?' 'Yes,' he replied. 'He who recalls death twenty times in one day and night.' The entire reason for this merit is that the remembrance of death must needs result in an aversion to the abode of beguilement and demand that one make preparations for the Afterlife, while heedlessness of death summons one to indulgence in worldly desires. The Prophet (may God bless and grant him peace) has said, 'Death is a precious gift to the believer'. This he said because 'the world is the believer's prison,' in which he is incessantly in difficult circumstances due to suffering [the passions of] his soul, and because of the struggle with his desires and the repulse of his devil. Death for him is a release from this torment, and for him this release is a 'precious gift'. And the Prophet said (may God bless him and grant him peace), 'Death is an atonement for every Muslim'. By this he was referring to the true Muslim and the sincere believer, from whose tongue and hand the Muslims are secure and in whom the qualities of the faithful are not realized, who has not been polluted by any but the smallest and most trivial of sins. From these he is purified by death, which atones for him following his avoidance of the major sins and his performance of the obligatory works of religion. 'Ata' al-Khurasani once said: 'The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) passed by a gathering from which laughter was ringing out. "Disturb your assembly by recalling the Spoiler of Pleasures." He said. "And what is the Spoiler of Pleasures?" they asked. "Death," he replied'. According to Anas (may God be pleased with him) the Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) said, 'Remember death abundantly, for to recall it wipes away sins and makes one abstemious in the world'. The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) once went out to the mosque and noticed a group of people talking and laughing. 'Remember death!' he said. 'By Him in Whose hand lies my soul, if you knew what I know you would laugh little and weep much.' A man was once mentioned and highly praised in the presence of the Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace). 'How is your companion's remembrance of death?' he asked. 'We have scarcely heard him mention it,' they replied. 'Then your companion', he said, 'is not as you suggest'. Said Ibn 'Umar (may God be pleased with him), 'I once came to the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, in a group of ten people. A man from the Helpers [al-Ansar] enquired, "Who is the most intelligent and generous of men, O Emissary of God?" And he replied, "The most diligent in recalling death, and the one who is best prepared for it. Such are the intelligent ones, who have gained the honour of this world and the dignity of the next". (Narratives) Al-Hasan, may God (Exalted is He!) have mercy upon him, said, 'Death has exposed the world's faults, and has left no joy to any thinking man'. Said al-Rabi' ibn Khuthaym, ' There is nothing concealed for which the believer waits that is better than death'. He also used to say, 'Let no-one know of me, and throw me in to my Lord.' A philosopher once wrote to one of his brethren as follows: 'O my brother! Beware of death in this abode before you travel to an abode in which you long for death but find it not.' When death was mentioned in the presence of Ibn Sirin all his limbs would become lifeless. 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz used every night to gather together the doctors of the Law, and they would remind one another of death, the Arising and the Afterlife until they broke out in tears as though at a funeral. Ibrahim al-Taymi said, 'Two things have severed me from the pleasures of this world: the remembrance of death, and calling to mind the standing before God (Great and Glorious is He!).' Said Ka'b, 'The world's misfortunes and cares become trivial for the man who is conscious of death.' Said Mutarrif, 'In a dream I once saw someone declaiming in the very centre of the mosque of Basra, "Remembering death the hearts of the Godfearing has broken. In nought save distraction, by God, is how you see them".' Said Abu Ash'ath, ' We used to call on al-Hasan, and [his conversation] was of nothing but Hell, the Afterlife, and the remembrance of death.' Safiya (may God be pleased with her) told of an old woman who once complained to 'A'isha (may God be pleased with her) of the hardness of her heart. 'Remember death frequently', she told her, 'and your heart will be softened'. This she did, and her heart was indeed made soft. She went to thank 'A'isha (may God be pleased with her). When David (upon whom be peace) remembered death and the Resurrection he would weep and his joints would become dislocated; when he remembered the [Divine] attributes of Mercy he would become himself again. Said al-Hasan: 'Never have I seen an intelligent man without finding him to be wary of death and saddened by it.' Said 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz to one of his divines, 'Admonish me.' 'You shall not be the first caliph to die,' he replied. 'Tell me more,' he asked. 'Of your ancestors from Adam,' he said, 'not one has not tasted death; now, your turn is come.' At this, 'Umar wept. Al-Rabi' ibn Khuthaym dug a grave in his house, and used each day to sleep therein so that by this expedient he might remember death unceasingly. 'Were the remembrance of death to leave me for a single hour', he was wont to say, 'it would become corrupted.' Mutarrif ibn 'Abd Allah ibn al-Shikhkhir said, 'This death has indeed spoilt the pleasure of those that seek pleasure, therefore seek out that pleasure in which there is no death.' 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz once said to 'Anbasa, 'Remember death abundantly, for if your life is easy it will make it hard, while if your life is hard it will make it easy.' Said Abu Sulayman al-Darani, 'I once asked Umm Harun whether she loved death. "I do not," she replied. "Why not?" I enquired, and she said, "Were I to disobey a human being I would not wish to meet him. So how can I wish to meet Him when I have disobeyed Him?"' -Hujjatul Islam, Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, The Remebrance of Death and the Afterlife (Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt wa-ma Ba'dahu); Book XL of The Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya' 'Ulum ad-Din)



posted by SuFiSTiC | 3/06/2004 04:32:00 AM |
As for him who fears to stand before his Lord and restrains the ego its desires, the Garden is shelter.
(The Snatchers:40)
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "The Fire is surrounded by all kinds of desires and passions, while Paradise is surrounded by all kinds of disliked, undesirable things."
(Bukhari)
Whoever does good at night is rewarded during the day and whoever does good during the day is rewarded at night. Whoever is sincere in abandoning a desire is saved from catering to it. God is too noble to punish a heart that has abandoned a desire for His sake.
(Abu Sulayman ad-Darani)
Beware of your ego, and trust not its mischief;
The ego is worse than seventy devils.
(Arabic Poem)
Abu Bakar Balkhi
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I seek God's forgiveness, and do not claim that my intention in producing this Blog is confined to good religious purposes; how may I do so when I am aware of the hidden desires, egotistic passions, and worldly wishes that I harbour? I do not claim innocence for myself; the ego is indeed an inciter to evil, save when my Lord shows mercy; my Lord is indeed Forgiving, Merciful. O God! I seek Your protection against my committing idolatry [shirk] knowingly, and Your forgiveness for that of which I am not aware! I ask God to make me and all other believers benefit from this Blog and to render my production of it purely for the sake of His Noble Countenance.

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