To us must you return
M Yusuf Khan/HINDUSTAN TIMES New Delhi, August 30, 2007
A friend called the other day, sounding pensive. He had lost a dear friend the previous day. His friend had sent a ‘friendship day’ SMS to him and thirty others wishing them well and hoping to enjoy their friendship for many years.
He died that very afternoon of a massive heart attack. My friend’s biggest regret was that he did not reply immediately but postponed messaging to the evening, an evening that never came.
The Quran says: Every soul shall have a taste of death … to us must you return (35:21). If there is any thing certain in this life it is death. Yet the very mention of it is considered inauspicious and unpleasant.
We are scared of so many things in life and we try to overcome the fear by rationalising. Somehow we do not apply the same approach to our fear of death.
Death, most believe, is transition from one life to another. But the next life is not the extension of the one we are living and that is the scary part.
We go to another world or life alone, not knowing what awaits us. But the Sufis look at the death differently. They long to be united with their beloved God and for them death provides the opportunity to fulfill their mission.
The uncertainty of life should never be a reason for gloom. On the contrary it should encourage us to treat every day as special, make us try and complete our unfinished tasks with a sense of urgency.
It should urge us to enjoy every moment and to be nice and kind to the people around us. When Alexander the Great, who ruled half the then known world, died, his hands were placed outside the coffin as willed by him.
This was to remind all that everyone, pauper or the king, would go from this world empty-handed. In most Sufi orders, death is remembered as a daily ritual in one form or the other. It brings humility, softens the heart and makes us humane.