A Life of Purpose
Attempts to speak about death are usually suspended by those who feel uneasy hearing about it. We are almost always subconsciously assuming that death will come only when we grow older, and so we do not want to concern ourselves with such an unpleasant subject. Yet it is imperative to keep in mind that living for even an additional hour cannot be guaranteed.Death is that one appointment we can’t delay, but it also has no set time. Scary thought, I know. In a world filled with Blackberries, text messages, and Facebook, how many of us realize that in a moment, all of this can be gone? When we die, our friends won’t come with us; neither will our money or fancy car. All that we retain are those few deeds we have done. We are told in the Holy Qur’an: “Every soul must taste of death; then to Us you shall be brought back.” (29:57) Death is promised to all of us, and what is our response? We continue to lead futile lives. Sure, we fast those thirty days in Ramadan and rush to pray between classes. But how many of us can proudly say we are leading purposeful lives? Purpose is what gives a life meaning.
Every so often, we are shocked by the death of a young member of our community. We experience a short-lived rush to perform extra prayers, but the effect goes away quickly. Instead, we must learn to effectively reflect on our lives. Every day, we witness the deaths of people around us, but we pay minimal thought to the day when others will witness our death.
Attempts to speak about death are usually suspended by those who feel uneasy hearing about it. We are almost always subconsciously assuming that death will come only when we grow older, and so we do not want to concern ourselves with such an unpleasant subject. Yet it is imperative to keep in mind that living for even an additional hour cannot be guaranteed.
Life can be compared to fresh fallen snow. Our footprints show clearly, even if not to us. Let us dedicate ourselves to our Lord, the Holy Prophet, and the Pure Household (peace be upon them). Let us not be led astray by meaningless materialistic enticements. Every action is recorded, and when the Day of Reckoning comes, all that will vouch for us will be our deeds. Let us devote our lives to Islam, devote ourselves to loving others, devote ourselves to the community around us, and devote ourselves to creating something that gives us purpose and meaning.
Imam al-Hadi (peace be upon him) said: “People are respected in this world for possessing wealth and in the Hereafter for possessing righteous deeds.” An eye-opening tradition by Imam Ali (peace be upon him) states: “If man perceived his death and its speed towards him, he would certainly detest the world and its hopes.” We must live graciously among people. Kindness is praised in Islam, and it is a blessed virtue we can all improve on. It is truly when we give of ourselves that we have truly given; likewise, it is when we finally begin to give that we also receive.
Countless thoughts cross our minds in a day. What to wear? Should I attend class today? What to have for lunch? Breakfast? Dinner? We kill time on worthless avenues such as Facebook, texting, and arguing with others. All of this is time lost doing nothing of benefit. Time waits for no one, and it will pass whether we act or not. We must restore our lives into our hands, and we should become the agents of change for ourselves on others. A positive influence can easily be spread, and others can take heed.
The biggest fear that we must have is not of death. Death is promised to each and every one of us. Instead, our biggest fear should be an inadequate life. We have been blessed with a religion that is so encompassing, yet surely we are at a loss! We continually disregard the blessing of Islam in search of a worldly alternative.
The solution? There is no simple answer. We must be willing to change and become better people. So, before you head out for work or school tomorrow, kiss your parents on the forehead and speak to them in kind words. Set your alarm clock so that you wake up for morning prayers. Remember all those people you wronged? How about catching up with them and asking their forgiveness? That reading of the Qur’an? Stop putting it off, please! Remember: a chapter a day keeps the devil away! The most important message: we only pass this way once, so let our lives be an enhancement of every good to us and our death a comfort from every evil.