R'11 Day Twenty Three: Contemplation

Amy Winehouse. A 27-year old sister from Calgary with three small children. Jack Leyton. A well-known and loving Aunt in the Calgary Muslim community. And hundreds upon thousands upon millions of additional names will be listed here, both known and unknown to us personally.

Our names will someday appear on this list, but we cannot predict when or where or how.

Death within Islam is taught not be a foreign concept or an ending we are supposed to be afraid of. Rather, Muslims are taught to treat this life as if we are travellers, and to prepare for the hereafter which will be our permanent residence. I'm not sure about you, but if this world is meant to be traveled through, I'm going to have to start organizing MANY garage sales. The truth is that not many of us live our lives in this manner.

Hearing about Jack Leyton's death this morning really placed me in a mode of contemplation. While some Muslims claimed it 'wasn't a big deal' and 'he's a non-believer' (astakfirillah, who are we to judge?), the news hit home for me, not only because he was such a public figure and I was used to seeing him in commercials or reading about him in the news, but just the fact that his life ended...it truly saddened me. And I was shocked. I had to crank up the Quran recitation I was listening to while driving, as I tried to drown out my thoughts, but I felt like a zombie and kept regurgitating over and over again the following thoughts:

'What if today is my last day? What if I'm not married yet because I'm supposed to die before then? Am I prepared to die tomorrow? Will I be able to recite the Shahadah (a Muslim's proclamation of faith) in my grave when I am asked who is my Lord and what I believe?'


Then while I was at the bank and getting some paperwork done, the teller asked me "who do you want to name as the beneficiary of your funds?" That only added to my contemplative mode, and while I immediately responded "my mom", I simultaneously proceeded to think about my life and if I was ready to die. SubhanAllah, God knows, but I don't think I am...but we're all supposed to live each day as if it were our last. And this isn't a cheesy motivational line used to inspire Muslims, it's literally what our faith believes from a very spiritual standpoint.

This idea that we're supposed to live each day as our last is powerful, yet in the day-to-day hustle that we face, it soon becomes a distant thought. If we knew that tomorrow would be our last day, I know we'd pray ALL five prayers on time, and try to recite the longest ayats (verses) from the Quran that we know; we'd pray extra prayers, including Tahajud in the middle of the night; we'd sit with the Quran in our hands and recite until our throats were parched; we'd forgive anyone we'd ever held a grudge against and go around asking friends and family members to forgive us for anything we've done; we'd donate as much money as we could towards causes and people in need; we'd make extra efforts to extend 'Salaams' to everyone around us, be it friend, stranger, family, or foe; we'd keep our tongues in check and our minds focused.

Yet we don't have the luxury of knowing our expiration date. We all have an image of ourselves old and content with having lived life, passing away quietly in our sleep with family around us. Inshallah that we all are blessed to leave the world in this way...old, grey, wrinkly and content.

But why leave things up to chance? Since our life in the hereafter is dependent upon the life we live here, we must start investing now.

So let's say we start?

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