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On Death

Seeing a funeral procession, a curious passer-by approached one of the mourners and asked: “What illness did he suffer from, I wonder? What did he die of?” Turning his tearful gaze toward this inquisitive stranger, the mourner gave the curt reply: “He died from having been born.”

Yes, once born we must surely die.  For the believers, however, death is only the passage to life in the Hereafter.  Our Master gives this good news in one of his noble Traditions:

“The believers do not die; they are transported from the ephemeral abode to the eternal abode.”

But what is the prerequisite for this? Let us hear from the venerable founder of the Jerrahi Order, Pir Nureddin al-Jerrahi, sanctified be his lofty spirit:

Happy are they who, calm and content, give praise to God alone;
Constant in remembrance and in prayer, pure light they shall become.
If anyone so loves the Truth that he speaks the Truth always,
Wisdom shall be his, and ultimate forgiveness he shall own.
Higher than the Throne the hearts of those who Say that God is One;
They catch a glimpse of it and circle dizzily around.
Do not frown at the sight of a beggar in humble attire;
Those accustomed to arrogance will finally be Despised.
Do not become a distant stranger, far removed from God.
This poem of Sheikh Nureddin, Qutb, is to Azmi addressed;
Happy are they who pass on, from one abode to the Next.

“Those who have said: ‘Our Lord is Allah,’ and then remained steadfast, to them the angels keep coming down to say: Be not afraid or sad, but glad tidings of the Paradise you have been promised.” [41:30]

All our worldly endeavors, all the achievements of which we are so proud, where do they end but in the grave?  Sooner or later this life is done, and all is suddenly as naught.  In this fleeting life, every single thing is temporary, transitory and impermanent.

For instance, health and fitness do not stay with us.  We scrape and save up to the age of fifty, with many sacrifices, but then where does our nest-egg go, except on doctors’ bills? How true is the saying: “In our youth, we spend our health on making money; in our later years, we spend our money on getting back our health.”

Wordly power is likewise doomed to pass away.  Many great cities are now in ruins.  Where are the owners of those empty palaces and mansions?

With youth it is the same.  It comes and goes as quickly as the Spring, leaving a few sweet memories behind.  Indeed, a whole lifetime is nothing but a dream or nightmare.  We fall into this world of dream or nightmare while sleeping soundly in our mother’s arms, suddenly awaking from it when our head strikes the mortuary slab.

“Every soul shall taste death.  Then to Us you shall be returned. [29:57]

Adapted from Irshad, by Sheikh Muzaffer Ozak al-Jerrahi, 1988

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