Lesson 4 : Transition To the Next World
We send heartiest greetings and salutations to those who have attained the glory of martyrdom in the way of Islam! They have been examples for us, showing us the way to Freedom, Faith, Love and Adoration for the true Islam. They remained steadfast to the end and were strong enough to keep up the dignity of Islam. A shaheed reminds us of the life after death - which is indeed the eternal life.
Let us look at a brief text written by a shaheed who embraced martyrdom during the early days of the Imposed war on the Islamic Republic of Iran. Read his words carefully and try to reflect on how he saw Shahaadah. He wrote:
"A human being comes to this world once and leaves this world once and that is for eternity! So why fear death? Why shouldn't one prepare oneself for death?
"Dear mother, shahaadah is another life-giving life. A shaheed gives a new, fresh spirit to Islam. Death is not an end to life but it is just a transfer to the next world, which is everlasting.
"Remind yourselves! One does not perish with death; rather it is another chapter to the real life.
"My beloved mother! Don't be afraid of death! A shaheed receives his continuous sustenance from the Merciful Lord and enjoys His blessings.
"I hope and pray that I attain this most beautiful status of shahaadah and may my wish of becoming a shaheed be fulfilled and may my Lord accept me."
Such were the words of the shaheed. Look at how he longs to taste the sweetness of Martyrdom! This is the spirit and true commitment in attaining shahaadah in Islam. Death is a natural and inevitable conclusion to life. It is the duty of a Muslim to understand this and accept it positively instead of looking at it as an ending.
There have been numerous traditions from our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.w.) and Aimmah (a.s.) regarding this important subject. From them we know that death is a different experience for each and every individual.
If a person is much attached to worldly pleasures and materialism and has forgotten why he was created in the first place, his experience of death will of course be very different from someone who has a understood the purpose of life and become an obedient servant of Allah (S.W.T.).
There remains no doubt in anyone's mind that a non-believer will face a death that will be full of misery, torture and despair. Those who do not obey the commands of Allah (S.W.T.) and do not believe in Him will suffer because they will be unable to give up the pleasures of this world. It will be very hard for them to leave its amusements.
Unlike the Kafir, a Mo'meens' death will be the complete opposite. For him, tasting death will be like removing old, shabby clothes and wearing new, beautiful ones. Because, he truly believed in the unseen world and remained faithful to Allah (S.W.T.) and His prophets, the Believer will gracefully enter Jannah. He will have finally achieved his wish to embrace the sweetness of death and meet with his Lord.
FOLLOWERS OF THE HEREAFTER
The Believers are those who love Allah (S.W.T.), accept His true message and seek His obedience and pleasure. They remain patient and steadfast in their deeds in order to accumulate their good deeds.
They choose to remain pure as the servants of Allah (S.W.T.) and they worship and serve Him alone. They live simple lives and prefer not to indulge in materialistic activities and worldly temptations. They accept all difficulties that come their way and all sorts of hardships just for His sake.
On the eve of Ashura (10th Muharram), our 3rd Holy Imam Hussayn (a.s.) said:
"Oh my beloved friends, Oh You who have been exalted with a high status in faith and piety! Perform Jehad against the enemies and in defence of Islam and its divine values.
I remind you that death is a bridge and transition to the next world. Is there anyone who does not want to free himself from remaining prisoners of this world? Rise above all and gain His acceptance. Death is indeed a garden for freedom seekers, surely the lovers of this world are indeed the lovers of being imprisoned."
Our 4th Holy Imam, al-Sajjad (a.s.) says:
"Death for a believer is like wearing beautiful clothes and removal of dirty clothes, thus removing all chains from the body.
"Death for a believer is a means to the most exalted abode, but for a Kafir, it is like wearing the dirtiest clothes and entering the wildest of places.
"It is a prestigious and honourable thing for believers."
A Holy Verse The Qur'an reminds us all about death saying: "Every soul shall taste death; We try you with evil and with good (by way of) a test; and unto Us shall you (all) be returned." Sura Ambiya, Verse 35
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT…
Death is a natural course of action, not an ending to life, but a journey to a new life.
The taste of death and its after effects for a non-believer is scary and dangerous.
The taste of death and its after effects for a believer is sublime, joyous and a beautiful experience.
Think and Answer
Do all people taste death and its aftermath in the same way?
Why is death difficult for some and easy for others?
What was the message of Imam Hussayn (a.s.) on the eve of Ashura?
Why do believers not fear Death?
What prevents a strong Mo'meen (Believer) from humiliating himself for the sake of worldly gains and pleasures?
ANECDOTE PRAYER OF THE PIOUS
A famous prayer of Abdul Qadir Jeelani (a man of great learning ) is as follows : "Spare and pardon me, O Allah (S.W.T.)! And if I deserve punishment, cause me to arise blind on the Day of Judgement so that I might not be ashamed to face other righteous men. Every morning after dawn, with my face on earth, I pray to You, O Almighty. O Allah (S.W.T.), I can never forget You. Please do remember me."
Introduction to Chapter Three
In The Name Of Allah (S.W.T.), the Beneficent, the Merciful
NUBUWWAH Seeking guidance from our Noble Prophets
When we travel to another city or country, we need to follow many rules and regulations before we can undertake our journey. Depending on our destination, we sometimes need a passport and at other times a visa. We also have to have vaccinations, health checks and ensure that our documents are in order according to the travel laws of the country we want to go to.
If we need laws and regulations just to go from place in this world to another, does it not make sense that we should also need a special set of rules for travelling to the next world? Just as in this world, a travel agent is trained to explain the rules to us, Allah (S.W.T.) has also trained a special set of people who were sent to teach us the laws for travelling to the hereafter. These are individuals who are familiar with the both the journey to the Aakhera and with the hereafter itself.
You must already have realised that we are talking about the numerous Prophets that Allah (S.W.T.) through His Mercy and Kindness sent to the different nations and tribes of the earth.
In this chapter, we hope to learn more about the need for the prophets that have been sent to us by Allah (S.W.T.). After having studied the important aims of these prophets, we shall then try to look at some of their teachings. We will also talk of the important aspect of leadership in Islam.
We must be willing to search for the difference between truth and falsehood as it is through such an aim that we will be able to give our commitment to the prophets sent by God. These prophets were sent to show mankind the path of truth i.e. Tawheed (Oneness of God) and to fight against falsehood i.e. Jahalat (Ignorance).
If we study the histories of previous societies, we will realise that those people who had absolutely no belief in One God and worshipped idols failed to build up morally sound communities. They had lost the essence of life and remained ignorant of the right path. It is for this reason, amongst many others, that the need for Ambiya and Aimmah (a.s.) as our perfect guides, arose in the world.
Lssson 5 : A Lesson On The Peak Of The Mountain
We were all sitting on the steps outside the front entrance to the school. The mid term holiday stretched out in front of us and everyone had an idea on how to best spend it.
Suddenly we hit on the perfect plan! Mountain climbing! There were some wonderful peaks to climbing just a few hours out of town and it was something none of us had done before. We all agreed that we definitely wanted to try it out but there were many questions in all of our minds. How would we go? Would it really be possible? What if we failed?
As we sat and discussed it, we managed to find solutions to all the problems except for one. "We can attempt it for sure," Baqir said. "But we need an experienced guide for this adventure, so that we can make it to the top of the mountain! Where can we get such a person?"
While some of the group nodded in agreement, I protested, "Why do we need a guide? We are strong and capable. We'll just make sure we carry all the necessities and a clear map for directions. Besides we see documentaries all the time and it doesn't look so difficult. Why can't we reach the top without a guide?"
Baqir's face fell at my words, "I'm surprised at your attitude, Hassan!" he said. "You are greatly mistaken if you think mountain climbing is an easy task. We know nothing about it - neither the roads nor the skills! What guarantee do we have that we will reach the top on our own? What happens if we have a problem? Imagine if we were caught halfway by a strong wind or a hurricane? Did you ever think what would happen if we got lost?"
"What Baqir says makes sense," Fatema said, "at the same time, I really want to see the peak of a mountain for myself and not just on the T.V. screen or in a photograph! I don't want to miss out on that just because we can't get a guide."
After that, everyone had something to say either for or against the idea and by the time we headed for home, we still had not come to any decision. Luck was on our side though and the following day, Hussein rang me up to tell me that he had the perfect solution.
Apparently his father had a lot of experience in mountain climbing expeditions and had agreed to be our guide for the trip. I quickly called Baqir and the others and we arranged to meet that afternoon at Hussein's house to plan for the trip.
By three o'clock we were all seated in sitting room of Hussein's house eager to get started. Hussein introduced us to his father - Uncle Mustafa - and we waited him to speak. "I understand that you would like to go mountain-climbing tomorrow," he said. We nodded our heads in reply. He smiled and asked us, "What measures and preparations you have made for the trip?"
As he waited for an answer, we looked at each other sheepishly. What amateurs we were! We wanted to undertake an adventure but hadn't even begun planning for it!
As Uncle Mustafa explained what we would need, we began to realise how different his advice sounded from the ideas we had in our minds. We decided that we would all start the journey at 4:00 a.m. the following morning. We were to go home and pack some warm clothes, hot drinks, lots of dried and canned food, dates and a First Aid kit, each.
The next morning, most of us reached Hussein's place before dawn and we prayed Salaatus-Subh together. By four o'clock, everyone was present and it was time to leave. As we drove to the mountainside, Uncle Mustafa went through all the climbing rules and emergency codes with us. He emphasized that we would have to be extremely disciplined if we wanted to make this trip a success.
In a couple of hours we reached the mountains and a beautiful sight greeted us! The high snow-capped mountains were bathed in the rosy hues of the early morning sun. It was awesome and we stopped for a while just to admire the beauty of the scene. The fresh air energized us and after having a quick breakfast, we finally began our big adventure!
What hard work it was! Sometimes we would be walking upright along the sloping paths on the mountain and at other we would have to be extremely careful and follow Uncle Mustafa's directions and he searched for stable footholds to pull ourselves up with. I had lost all track of time and when Uncle Mustafa announced that it was almost time for Dhohr, I was astonished! When we reached a small ledge, we all stopped and unloaded our baggage.
I hadn't realised how heavy my bag was until I shrugged it off and felt my shoulders lighten. Looking around and seeing the others with similar looks of relief on their faces, I grinned. It seemed that Baqir had been right after all! As I heard Uncle Mustafa's steady voice giving instructions,
I tried to imagine what it would have been like if we would have been there all alone without him. I didn't like the image that came to my mind and quickly pushed it away, silently thanking Allah (S.W.T.) for preventing us from making such a mistake.
We performed wudhoo with extremely cold water, which helped to energize us and after Salaat, our rumbling stomachs led us straight to the food. Uncle Mustafa had built a small fire and set our food to simmer over it while we prayed so that by the time we were ready for the meal, the food was deliciously warm! The fare was simple - just soup with bread and cheese - but it tasted better than anything I had eaten.
When I mentioned this, everyone agreed with me and Uncle Mustafa laughed saying that it was the fresh air and exercise that made the food taste good. I declared that I would make sure I spent more time in the fresh air if it had such good effects and that made everyone laugh.
After lunch, Uncle Mustafa said that we could rest for a few more minutes before continuing our climb. The food and excellent company had filled me with a warmth and I settled down with my back against the mountain, looking around. We were almost half way up and the sight around us was amazing! It was like being suspended in mid air. I could look down on the peaks of some of the smaller mountains and yet others rose up higher than even the one we were on. What majesty and beauty surrounded us! I could not help remembering Allah (S.W.T.), who had created all this and to whom even these great giants bowed in submission! My heart filled with love and joy for Him.
All too soon, Uncle Mustafa called out to us to begin and I reluctantly pulled myself away from my view. All of the sudden, I didn't want to climb any higher. What could be more beautiful than what I had already seen? I spoke to Uncle Mustafa as we began out ascent. He smiled and patted me on the shoulder. "I'll ask you that same question when we reach the top!" he said.
As the evening progressed, we all became more and more weary. It took all our concentration to keep our feet on the ground and move forward. It seemed to me as if the mountain rose endlessly above us and I despaired of ever reaching the top.
When Baqir slipped and almost fell. Uncle Mustafa made us pause and spoke firmly. " I know you are all tired but you must all be very careful as one mistake on your part could put all the rest in danger as well. Come on, remember how excited you were when we began the climb? Keep that enthusiasm in mind. It's not far and with the help of Allah (S.W.T.) we shall soon be at the peak."
His words encouraged us and as we started climbing with renewed energy, our eagerness caught on and the air was tense with excitement. Suddenly, we heard Uncle Mustafa cry out "Allaho Akbar!" and we knew he had finally reached the top. Urging each other forward we scrambled up as fast as we could and were pulled, one after the other, up the final ridge by his strong hand.
I dropped my bag, tired beyond belief and took a deep breath. Then I opened my eyes and froze at the sight that greeted me. Mountain peaks covered in blankets of white, were spread all around us, rising up from the clouds like islands in a pale sea. The rays of the setting sun on the snow made the most fascinating plays of light. Now the mountains seemed bathed in a gentle pink light, then they began to glow slightly in a golden-orange hue and suddenly they blazed in a fiery red furnace.
Spellbound, I could not tear my eyes away from the scene and from the silence around me, I knew the others were going through a similar experience. I felt a hand on my shoulder and Uncle Mustafa's voice spoke softly in my ear. "Well, Hassan, what do you have to say now?" I continued to look at the majestic view and searched for words to answer him. I could find only one. "Mashallah!" I whispered.
"Truly, there is no better answer." Uncle Mustafa replied. Uncle Mustafa then turned to the others and said, "Why don't we all recite a loud Salawaat to celebrate our victory?"
We willingly complied with his request, shouting it out at the top of our lungs. As the last words left our lips, I wondered at how perfectly fitting it sounded to hear the name of our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.w.) echo in the midst of the gigantic mountains.
We ate a quiet supper, watching the sunset and talking in soft tones until the time for Maghrib when we all performed wudhoo and stood together to pray. By the time we finished Isha, we wanted to do nothing more than sleep. Spreading out our sleeping bags we were all dead to the world in seconds! The last thing I remember before drifting of myself is the image of Uncle Mustafa with a mug of steaming tea in his hands softly reciting tasbeeh.
It felt like we had only slept a few minutes before we heard Uncle Mustafa giving Adhaan to wake us up for Salaatu-Subh. Bleary-eyed, we dragged ourselves out of our warm bags and performed wudhoo with the water that was now almost ice cold. It had the good effect of jolting us awake and by the time we finished praying, none of us felt like going back to sleep.
Uncle Mustafa took this opportunity to talk to us. "Well, children, Let us thank Allah (S.W.T.) that we were successful in achieving our aim. I must congratulate all of you for your bravery and discipline! It was your first attempt at climbing but you have made it. Let me ask you now, do you think you could have managed on your own?"
"Of course not!" We all protested.
"If you hadn't been our guide we would have failed in even the first step! We would never have reached the top!" Baqir said. "We might have been lost …" I added. "…or slipped and broken our bones …" Fatema joined. " …or monsters might have eaten us…" Hussein cried.
"I hardly think there are monsters in these mountains!" Uncle Mustafa laughed and he became serious and continued, "but you are all right in your answers, without a guide who knew about the task you wanted to undertake, you would not have succeeded. Look around and you will see that we have guides in every journey or trip we undertake. We also have guides in school and in madrassah."
He stopped to make sure we were listening and seeing that he had our full attention he asked. "Children! What do you think is the most important journey you will ever undertake?" There was silence, as we thought about his question.
"I think the most important journey is our life.
volunteered Fatemah timidly. It is the journey to the hereafter," "That is perfectly right!" exclaimed Uncle Mustafa, looking very pleased. "And when we as human beings understand the need for and provide guides in our daily worldly activities, does it make sense that Allah (S.W.T.), Who is perfect should not provide guides for the greatest journey He created for us?
"Of course He has! The prophets who were sent by Allah (S.W.T.) to show us the path towards perfection are these very same guides. Although they encountered many hardships and difficulties, they delivered the message of Allah (S.W.T.).
"They taught us that as Muslims, if we are to be successful in this journey, there are 3 crucial things we must achieve: Faith, Taqwa and Good Deeds "If we have the strong faith in Allah (S.W.T.), become God-conscious (taqwa) and perform good deeds, we will see the results of our actions in the form of great rewards from the Almighty.
"But if we fall into the trap of disbelief and mischief, the results will surely be severe punishment from Him. In preparing for this journey, we must be very careful of our actions. Just as we were so careful in trying not to slip as we climbed the mountain yesterday, we must take care not to slip in our actions either. Falling off the side of the mountain would have injured our bodies but falling from the Truth injures our souls which is worse."
I tried imagining falling off the mountain and remembered the fear I had felt when Baqir had slipped. I had never felt like that when I sinned and I was ashamed of myself. I told myself that from that point onwards whenever I was tempted to do wrong, I would bring up that image to remind myself of what Uncle Mustafa had said.
We talked a little more about the various prophets that Allah (S.W.T.) had sent down until the morning had dawned completely. Then we packed our things and taking one final look at the view that would always remain in our hearts, we started making our way down the mountain.
We all agreed that it had been a wonderful trip. Not only had we learnt a lot about climbing but surprisingly we had also managed to learn about Allah (S.W.T.) and Islam. How easy it was to find Allah (S.W.T.)'s message in everything - all it took was the desire to look for it!
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT …
- As imperfect human beings, we need perfect guides to show us the path to the eternal world. In order to journey on the road to the Aakhera, we need to follow a special programme that has been brought by the chosen ones of Allah (S.W.T.).
- These chosen individuals can be none other than the infallible Prophets who are aware of the requirements of human beings in reaching perfection.
- Men who accept the leadership of the prophets and Aimmah (a.s.) will gain eternal bliss and nearness to Allah (S.W.T.).
Think and Answer
- What is the most sacred journey in this world?
- How can the Prophets help in this journey? Give a practical example.
- In what ways can we remain safe on the road to the hereafter?
- What provisions have you made for this special trip?