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Remember death and decay

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#1 [Permalink] Posted on 12th August 2023 13:29

For the last few weeks we have been looking at the deeper meanings of the following hadith about having haya (modesty) before Allah: “Be modest before Allah, as is his due…. Modesty before Allah means protecting the head and all that is in it; and protecting the stomach and all that is inside it. Furthermore, you should remember death and decay, for one whose eyes are set on the Hereafter keeps away from worldliness. One who accomplishes all of this is one who is modest before Allah the Exalted.”


Today, we will focus on the directive “remember death and decay”.


Below are excerpts taken from the English translation of Mufti Muhammad Salman Mansapuri’s Urdu title ‘Allah Ta’ala se Sharam Kijiye’, edited by Andrew Booso to produce the title ‘The Path to Paradise’:


It is related in the Hadith that another requisite for modesty before Allah Most High is constant mindfulness of death and the events of the Hereafter. The maintenance of such a state prevents one from sinning and draws one towards [performing] acts of worship, as it makes us indifferent to this world.
Death is an undeniable reality, while all other issues are subject to dispute. People differ on even the concept of God, Messengers and the working of the universe; however, no one can dare deny death. Even the best devices and resources premised on science and technology cannot help avoid death.


The Qur’an asserts: “To every people is a term appointed. When their term is reached, they cannot cause a delay for even an hour, nor can they advance it” (7:34); and “Wherever you are, death will find you out, even if you are in towers built up strong and high!” (4:78).
Yet people appear to be blind to this evident truth, and do not like to mention it in public. If death is mentioned at some happy occasion, it irks such people, because they consider it to be unpleasant.


Advantages of Remembering Death
Allamah Suyuti, in Sharh as-sudur, reports that the ulama are of the opinion that he who often recalls death is blessed by Allah with a number of virtuous states.

They develop the habit of making immediate repentance and seeking Allah’s forgiveness if they commit a lapse, because they dread dying without having made repentance for any wrong actions.
They gain a heart full of contempt, because they are not afflicted by greed. Their state of contemptment fills them with true happiness and tranquillity. Consequently, such a person knows how to live moderately and correctly and is not fixated with amassing more and more.
They experience joy through worship, with full devotion and concentration; and delight that cannot be captured in words. This state is achieved because he thinks he may not get more time to worship, and hence he focuses on his acts of worship; and because he achieves a conviction in Allah rewarding good deeds.

Disadvantages of Forgetting Death
Allamah Suyuti also outlines the dangers of not recalling death frequently.

One develops the habit of deferring repentance, until death overcomes one whilst in the state of heedlessness.
One becomes increasingly greedy, unsatisfied with what one has; so one spends one’s whole life simply forming endless plans until one dies.
One becomes lethargic in performing acts of worship because one fails to realise that one will be answerable [for one’s conduct]. Furthermore, it does not occur to such a person that their failure to worship will entail a humiliation that makes wordy insults suffered in this life seems as wholly insignificant.

When being asked to identify the wisest person, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) quipped: “He who remembers death most makes the best preparation for the Hereafter. He is indeed wise.”


May Allah allow us to be well-prepared for our deaths and grant us contemptment in the life of this world.

Source: White Thread Press
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