by Khawlah bint Yayha
In last week’s Jumuah special I shared some gems of advice on how to deal with stress and worries in Islam. But I excluded one tip— a tip from the Prophet [saws] himself to us, a tip that’s a true stress buster, a wake up call, and a great piece of productivity advice. What is this tip?
Remember more often the destroyer of pleasures— death. [The Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) on the authority of Abu Hurairah]
Looking at the faces of our brothers and sisters in Syria, Gaza, and many more places, as they carry their lifeless children in their arms, begs the question: What is the difference between them and us?
When you ask them, most of these men, women, and even children say: We live with death on our doorstep. Literally any moment a bomb can drop on their houses.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, Wheresoever you may be, death will overtake you even if you are in a fortress built up strong and high. [Quran 4: 78].
Have you ever thought about the day that you’ll die? If so, how did you act on this thought?
Today we’ll discuss how remembering death can make you more productive in your life.
Are you Scared of Death?
Fear of death is a feeling affecting most people. We fear the unknown, and Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) made death a part of the unseen, a thing having to do with the soul, which remains a mystery to us. An example is a youth, full of energy, who all of a sudden drops dead. His limbs come to a complete standstill and his book of deeds is closed. If you’ve had a loved one pass away, you know the feeling; suddenly they’re just not there anymore.
If you’re a believer and you think positively of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala you’ll realise that by your death you’re returning to a generous and a merciful Lord Who will reward you for good deeds with good things and Who will pardon your bad deeds with His mercy and forgiveness. This will happen only if you’re a believer who trusts in Allah and if your heart is humble before Him. He is the Accepter of repentance.
Why Life and Death?
The purpose of our creation is nothing but to worship Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala . How do we know this? Because Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us this in His book. But what is the reason why Allah created life and death specifically?
Allah says in Surah al Mulk, ayah 2: He who has created death as well as life, so that He might put you to a test which of you is best in conduct, and [make you realize that] He alone is almighty, truly forgiving.
Here the clear answer is this: life and death are a test to see who among us would strive to be the best in deeds.
What is one of the differences between this world and Paradise? In this life there is death, while in the Hereafter there is no death. The inhabitants of Jannah will live forever. But on the flip side, those who are in the hellfire will also live forever. May Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) save us from this terrible fate.
This takes us to the following question: what are we doing in this life to prepare for a death that will lead us to an eternal life?
Are You Ready to Meet Allah?
Ibn al-Mubaarak said that Saalih Al-Mariy used to say, If the remembrance of death leaves me for an hour my heart becomes spoilt.
Imagine Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) takes your soul before you finish reading this article. Are you ready?
Do you know that your children will inherit the good and the bad that you leave behind? What kind of example are you giving?
Our ultimate goal is to be on such a level that when we die we know that we couldn’t have done more good deeds. Abdur-Rahman ibn Mahdee said, If Hammaad bin Salamah is told, ‘You will die tomorrow.’ He will not be able to increase anything in his deed, because his time is full of worship and remembrance of Allaah.’
So How Do You Prepare for Death?
The best way to prepare for death is life. Living your life in a good way is how you prepare for death. Remember the meaning of the ayah of Surah al Mulk: life and death is a test to see who is best in deeds.
So sitting back and being scared to die is not the way to remember death as the Prophet [Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam] advised you. The productive way to prepare is to make remembering death soften your hard heart, to make remembering death an inspiration for you to leave bad habits and let the thought of death motivate you to do the best you can.
We prepare for death by keeping our promises, by helping people in need, and by being good to our families.
Become productive by remembering death!
It is said that, Whoever frequently remembers death is honoured with three things: quick repentance, contentment, and energy for acts of worship; and whoever forgets death is punished with three things: delayed repentance, lack of contentment, and laziness in acts of worship.
Now look at yourself: are you often delaying your repentance and remaining unhappy with what you have? Do you feel too lazy to pray? All of these are signs that you don’t remember death in a productive way.
Three tips on how to remember death in a productive way:
1. Think about death and hasten to repent.
If you’re always thinking about death, you’ll think about the Hereafter and repent to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).
2. Think about death and be content with a little.
If you often remember death you know this world is just temporary, so the problems of the world don’t get to you.
3. Think about death and get energy to worship.
If death is constantly on your mind your heart feels the need to be pure, so that you can meet Allah (swt) with a pure heart.
Allah says: The day on which neither wealth nor sons will be of any use, except for whoever brings to Allah a sound heart. [Quran, 26:88-89]
An Ayah of Priorities!
Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) says, Until when death comes to one of them, he says, ‘My Lord send me back.’ [Quran, 23:99].
Qataadah said while commenting on this verse, By Allah, he would not wish by this statement to go back to his family and wealth nor to collect the good things of this world and satisfy his desires. He would rather wish to go back and do acts of obedience to Allah.
SubhanAllah, there it is, those are your priorities laid out for you!
May we be of those who love to meet Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and whom Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) loves to meet. Ameen.
Let’s learn something together and memorize a dua’ which has to do with life and death, which you should say every night before you go to sleep:
“Bismika Allaahumma amootu wa ahyaa.”
In Your Name O Allah I die and I live.
Make it a habit and say it every night from now on insha’Allah!
Pray you will benefit,
~ Khawlah bint Yahya, United Kingdom
THE AYAH JOURNAL, Qur’an & Productivity is a global project with the exciting goal to inspire every Muslim worldwide to open the Qur’an every day, pick one ayah and apply it to your own life by making acting on the ayah your mission for the day. Let’s bring back the message of the Qur’an to our daily life! Check www.ayahjournal.com and follow us on www.facebook.com/ayahjournal for vibrant Qur’an & Productivity tips.