One hundred and eight people die world wide every minute; a hundred and eight deaths, each death individually affecting many people. The loss of a loved one is something many of us have been through, or if we have not, we know that we will eventually go through it. We know this because we know death is inevitable. We’re all in this world, living in a race against time, trying to make the most of the life that we have been gifted with. The only problem: We don’t know when our time will run out. In the next minute I could be one of the 108 that has died and what would I have done in the 19 years of my life to make it worthwhile? How much time did I waste on useless, meaningless things when I could have been working towards the inevitable? I could have been preparing myself for it by, at the very least, keeping in mind that the Angel of Death can call for me at any time.
People die around us all the time; children, youth, elderly. All it takes is reading the obituaries in the local newspaper to realize how indiscriminating death really is. We attend funerals, give the family our condolences and move on. Our lives go on like nothing significant has just taken place. We fail to realize that the person who has died can no longer come back to undo the life that they lived. They can no longer come back and pray those missed prayers, take back the lies they told, or redo the fasts that they missed. Their time is up and this could be any one of us in the next minute.
The failure to comprehend how real death is, is especially present in those who are young. The young people, from any cultural or religious background, have this notion that somehow their youth makes them invincible, and death is no where close to them. This idea is also encouraged by adults. I have noticed, within my own culture, many adults saying things like, “They have their whole life to pray, let them play with their friends right now” about children who are baligh. They’re not doing them any favours by saying things like that. This attitude sets the foundation for their ridiculous belief of invincibility, allowing kids to think they have their ‘whole lives’ to do things for religion, insinuating this whole life will last decades. Fact of the matter is that they don’t know how long it will last, nor do they know when it is over, until death is at their front door barging in. Just within last year 4 people under the age of 25 that were somehow connected to me passed away, and I’m sure many of you know of many more; so no, the young are definitely not invincible.
Although most of the time death is not the main thing on people’s minds (or even at the back of their minds), there are times when the thought that you could die at anytime hits you hard. This occurs at times because you go through a near death experience (such as a bad car accident) that could have ended with you in a body bag. There is another situation, when it just hits you for no real reason; the sudden realization that I could die this second. Events like such make you vow to be a better person, to complete all your obligations, to do everything you can to prepare for it… but then they pass. They pass and you forget all about the realizations and the vows and go back to living the normal routine life that you were living before, living without the thought of death, as if we are going to live forever.
So many of us plan for the future; as children we know what we want to be when we grow up, our parents know they want us to be successful, able to support ourselves, have a family. We spend tonnes of money getting degrees, and planning for our future careers. We spend countless sleepless nights so that we’ll get the marks in school and are able to do that PhD that we always dreamed of doing. Lots of planning for a future that is so uncertain, a future that we don’t even know we will have. The only thing we know for certain is that we are all going to die. Why not spend some time planning for that too?
“Every soul shall have a taste of death; in the end to us shall ye be brought back.” – Surah Al-Ankabut.
It doesn’t get clearer than that.