“FORGET NOT TWO THINGS: DO NOT FORGET ALLAH ALMIGHTY AND DO NOT FORGET DEATH!”
Contemplation reminds a person of their mortality.
It is said:
“Do not forget two things:
Don not forget Allah Almighty and do not forget death.”
It can come at any moment, unexpectedly. A concern for the Hereafter needs to take root in the heart.
How acceptable are our acts of worship, we cannot know. There are so many things that we need to do and that we cannot do. We are in heedlessness of these things.
All particles will be accounted for. So, we need to become individuals whose lives journey on the horizon of the Hereafter. This is what Allah Almighty demands of us. A person is to become aware of their servanthood and of their powerlessness. “My Lord!” they must constantly say.
They must always think:
“In Whose dominion do I live?”
We are careful even when we pay someone a visit. The house we call upon is not our own. They host us and we exercise due caution.
A believer needs to think:
“In Whose dominion am I living? Who owns this dominion? Who is the true owner of this dominion? For which purpose is the coming to the world and whereto is the departure? To what place is this flow? Why is there death?”
This means that the servant needs to be in consciousness of this.
They are to raise their heads and reflect by means of looking at the heavens. What harmony Allah Almighty has created in the heavens. Trillion, trillion, trillion stars… No number, no estimation, beyond human comprehension. It is said that there are as many heavenly bodies as grains of sand on earth.
Allah Almighty declares in the Qur’anic chapter al-Mulk, “You do not see any fault or incongruity in the creation of the All-Merciful. Look yet again: can you see any rifts?” (67:3) Do you see any traffic accidents? Does the moon malfunction?
Allah Almighty declares in Surah al-Dhariyat:
“And the heaven, We have constructed it mightily; and it is surely We Who have vast power, and keep expanding it.” (51:47)
And the heavens keep expanding and expanding. This is the observation in our day too.
A reflection on the composition of soil:
Allah Almighty declares:
“Then, let human consider his food.” (80:24) Let them look at what they eat and look at this soil, the verse says. What things come forth from the black soil?
“That We pour down the water in abundance,” He declares. “Then We split the earth in clefts; and so We enable grain to grow therein, And grapes, and edible plants, And olive-trees and date-palms, And gardens dense with foliage, And fruits and herbage. As a means of livelihood for you and your animals.”(80:25-32)
Both we and our animals benefit. And we make use of our animals. Animals are for us also. Some are a milk factory. That animal does not know what elements are within it; it doesn’t know its milk. It doesn’t know how much lactose it has.
The chicken is an egg factory. The chicken has no idea how much protein there is in it.
And so, everything similar to these is also thus.
So the servant has to broaden their reflection and say, “My Lord!” To be able to read this lesson. In other words, to be able to turn the pages of the universe.
This universe is a Divine kitchen. Separate tables are prepared at any given moment for all creation. The cat’s food is different, the human being’s food is different, the bird’s food is different, the snake’s food is different. Separate tables are prepared for all of them. There is nothing lacking. All of them live and maintain their existence. And to the human being, also, Allah Almighty bestows countless bounties from this kitchen, from the earth’s kitchen.
What is recommended for a Muslim, for this reason? When beginning to eat, they are to begin with the Basmala to Allah Almighty. They are not to forget Him. They are to reflect when eating. Who bestowed these bounties? Why did He bestow them? Where will you use this strength, this power that He gave you? How much will you serve in the way of Allah? This is how you are to use this strength, this force. And you need to complete this with the Hamdala. You are to finish with thanks to Allah Almighty.
Again, Allah Almighty calls the human being to reflection by means of their creation:
How did they come into being from a fertilised ovum, from a substance so minuscule it was almost non-existing? How did all these devices come into existence within them? What phases did they undergo in the mother’s womb? How did they come into the world as a human being? Do their parents determine their shape and form, their colour, their fate? Do the parents have a role here?
In this case, this is a Divine determining. “A fertilised ovum,” Allah Almighty declares. Something so small it is almost nothing. A “clot clinging”, He declares, a blood clot, something suspended. A formless life of flesh. The head is big, as are the legs and the feet too. After this, it again assumes a beautiful form. Then, bones. The bones are clothed in flesh. From which a human being emerges.
Allah Almighty asks:
“O human! What is it that deludes you concerning your Lord, the All-Munificent?” (82:6-8)
In other words, look at your past, your history, your arrival into this world and reflect upon it. Look at your child and reflect upon them. Do you have a role in them?
A contemplation of transience.
kullu nafsin dhāiqatu l-mawt
“Every soul is bound to taste death…” (3:185; 29:57; 21:35)
kullu man ‘alayhā fān
“All that is on the earth is perishable.” (55:26)
And Allah Almighty commands us:
walā tamūtunna illā wa-antum mus’limūn
“…and see that you do not die save as Muslims (submitted to Him exclusively).” (3:102)
“Whatever you do, do not die in any other way,” He says.
How will a person die as a Muslim?
If you help Allah, in other words if you practice Islam, and enable others to practice it, if you are a good believer, if you can be a believer who manifests mercy upon you, if you enjoin the good and forbid the evil…
Allah Almighty declares, [concerning] the world, the passage of this life:
waman nu’ammir’hu nunakkis’hu fī l-khalqi afalā ya’qilūn
“Whomever We cause to live long, We may also reverse him in nature. So will they not reason and take heed?” (36:68)
We grant youth, strength and power at the beginning, He says. Then, nunakkis’hu fī l-khalqi, “We reverse them in nature,” He says. Old age begins, the body returns to weakness and their hair and beard turns grey.
afalā ya’qilūn: “So will they not reason and take heed?”
Where is that youth, that strength and power? To which place is the departure?
Allah Almighty reminds us of the Hereafter in everything, reminds us of majesty.
Allah Almighty declares:
afalā ya’qilūn: “So will they not reason and take heed?”(36:68)
afalā ta’qilūn: “…Will you not understand and come to your senses?” (2:44; 3:65; 2:44, 7:169…)
liqawmin ya’qilūn: “…for a people who reason and understand.” (2:164, 230; 45:5…)
la’allakum ta’qilūn: “…that you may understand the truth.” (2:73, 242; 6:151; 57:17…)
in kuntum ta’qilūn: “…if you reason and understand.”(3:118; 26:28)
afalā tatafakkarūn: “…Will you not, then, reflect?”(6:50)
la’allahum yatafakkarūn: “…so that they may (be stirred to) reflect.”(7:176; 59:21; 16:44…)
la’allakum tatafakkarūn: “…that you may reflect.”(2:219, 266)
Allah Almighty constantly invites us to reflection. For reflection is a key to belief.
The earth on which we step, on which we tread, is filled with the bodies of the millions of people to our day. Like millions of overlapping shadows. They die, are buried, return to the soil once more and return to the place from which they came. The same elements. The elements in the human being are identical to those in the soil. They return to the soil once more. In other words, when the human being looks at the soil, they ought to see their future. When they look at the soil, they ought to see what lies ahead. They will come to the world once more… Those who come forth from earth will become an essence. That essence will be transferred from the father to the mother. And a human being will thus come into being. They will likewise be sustained with the earth, again with the soil…
And so, everything is a manifestation of Divine majesty…
Thus, Allah Almighty declares:
“Will you ever not reason and understand?” (2:44; 3:65; 2:44, 7:169…)
In short, what a tragic end it is for those who live unaware of the truth of Reckoning and in the dissatisfaction of their carnal desires, and who forget their Lord: Allah Almighty declares:
“And do not be like those who are oblivious of God and so God has made them oblivious of their own selves.” (59:19)
This is where the greatest calamity lies. Why have we come to this world? We see the streets; we see the mistakes. They have no idea! Wrongdoing comes across as sweet music. So, to be aware of the journey between the cradle and the grave. To be aware of the comings and goings. To be aware of this passage.
The best answer to the question, “What is life?” is this: It is the moisture of the soil and the harness of the tombstone. This is the answer. This is why our ancestors built cemeteries in the middle of cities. In front of mosques. See and feel to your core your own future when passing by!
‘Uthman, may Allah be well pleased with him, has beautiful words of counsel:
“O children of Adam,” he says. “Know that if you remain heedless of your own soul and fail to prepare for your own self, others will not make preparation for you. Do not ever forget that you will assuredly appear before Allah. So, see to making preparations for your soul and make ready provisions for it. Whatever you do, do not leave this task to others.”
And so, our Lord wants servanthood from us. That is, we are in a severe test, a heavy trial. Time is a great blessing. But we have failed to recognise its importance. Allah Almighty commands us to look at His constant favours:
walayālin ‘ashr: “And ten nights,” He declares. “By ten nights.” (89:2)
This means that these are all His blessings. He grants ten nights in Rabi’ al-Awwal, ten days before the Festival of Sacrifice and the last ten nights of Ramadan. These are all great blessings for us. These are days and nights of Allah Almighty’s grace and favour.
Allah Almighty declares:
wanaḥnu aqrabu ilayhi min ḥabli l-warīd:
“We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.”(50:16) We know what is inside us and Allah knows. No one else does.
For this reason:
qad aflaḥa man zakkāhā:
“He is indeed prosperous who has grown it [his carnal soul] in purity.” (91:9)
qad aflaḥa man tazakkā:
“Prosperous indeed is he who purifies himself (of sins, and of his wealth by spending from it in God’s cause and for the needy).”(87:14)
Feelings are to be reformed and intentions are to be pure.
There is to be such degree of purification that Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi says:
“Let those going on the Pilgrimage seek the Lord of the Ka’ba there. Let them meet the Lord of the Ka’ba there. If they are able to find the Lord of the Ka’ba there, they will be able to find the Ka’ba everywhere.” Of course, figuratively speaking.
alā bidhik’ri l-lahi taṭma-innu l-qulūb:
“Be aware that it is in the remembrance and of and whole-hearted devotion to Allah that hearts find rest and contentment.”(13:28)
If hearts are together with Allah Almighty, their existence forever continues in line with His approval and favour.
There is a Jibril hadith, when Allah Almighty sends Archangel Jibril. When the Messenger of Allah defines ihsan, or perfect goodness, he says:
“Ihsan is that you worship Allah as if you see Him. For while you do not see Him, truly He sees you.” (Muslim, Iman, 1)
So, there is to be a journey from belief to perfect goodness. And this is what Sufism is. To be conscious of constantly being under Divine watch…