So don’t even try shaking hands with them 😉
(Taken at Boulders Beach, Cape Town. Of course, the sign actually means you’re not to pet the penguins. They bite, apparently – so it could get nasty. Especially now that it’s mating season.)
The following was written mostly after last Friday’s Jumuah. It’s more a personal reminder for me than for others – but if you can take something from it, I hope it will be a source of great benefit for you.
“Remember frequently the destroyer of pleasures” – goes the reported hadith (reported in Tirmidhi, Nasaa’i, Ibn Maajah).
There was a funeral prayer after Jumuah, and it got me thinking of the fragility of life. I thought of how literally it can be ‘one moment here, the next moment gone’.
How I expect to keep living – yet no such guarantee is given to me.
Why is that? Why do I just have this over-confidence that I won’t die at any moment? I could…I could go any time.
Yet I don’t remember that. And when I do, the impact of that thought doesn’t last long.
What about all the plans I have, or things I want to do?
What about Hajj?
What about the upcoming holiday I’m so looking forward to?
Why do I always assume I’ll have years – until maybe 60-odd – to live my life and improve?
The truth is, an instant, I could be gone. The end of my road. The beginning of my qiyammah – all within a second.
And I leave behind a mourning wife and daughter. My parents and brother. My family.
This work, which I try to do well, but struggle with so often in some ways.
My Islamic knowledge and books, lectures, ideas; and volunteer work.
The home that my wife and I have with our child.
The pieces I still want to write, and the impact I want to have on others.
The prayers I have yet to make; along with the fasting.
The moments I’ll regret – spent on too much luxury or leisure. Too much ‘relaxing’ non-beneficial, artificial things; and not enough time sitting alone – in nature, or just reflecting quietly – trying to gain that solitude I used to yearn so much for.
If I knew I was to die in a week, I think I’d spend my time much more wisely.
But now – knowing I could die any moment – why does that not inspire me to live better NOW? Why will I forget all these thoughts soon after I stop writing – and get back to work, and life?
Before I get to real taqwa – consciousness of Allah – isn’t a great starting step to have consciousness of death at all times?
Because I know that the moment I die – my book is closed (except for the few actions whose rewards go on). Do I want to die with regrets?
I pray for the help to truly live that hadith – ‘the destroyer of pleasures’ …I need to remember those words; and that phrase especially – because much of my life is ‘pleasures’ – which I justify indulgence in because of the responsibilities that so greatly fill my life. Like I need these things as a ‘break’….but Allah knows what is legitimate and what isn’t. While I often delude myself, and know – when it’s over – that those things cannot bring real happiness.
I wish, and pray, that I could live my life remembering my death. Because that seems the surest way for me to live a more conscious life.