Monday, December 15, 2008
The first death of someone which had a profound effect on me was when my school friend died after finishing his form 5. He was a brilliant student, very intelligent and everyone predicted a bright future for him. He was leaving for US in a few days time. He drove to KL from Penang with the view of gong to the US embassy to finalize his visa – his car got involved in a collision and he died instantly.
I was shocked when I heard this. We were only 17 then. Though I KNEW that people do die at any age, but I never really was AWARE you can die at 17. AT 17, you are not really aware of how to value life. You are also not taught about death in schools or at homes which is odd because death is a certainty. One must be “prepared” for what is certain. My friend’s death made me reflect deeply and read as much as I can on death.
I realized there is no fortress to keep out death. It is natural.
"Wherever you are, death will find you out, even if you are in towers built up strong and high!" If some good befalls them, they say, "This is from God"; but if evil, they say, "This is from you" Say: "All things are from God." But what has come to these people, that they fail to understand a single fact? (Quran 4:78)
But how does one prepare for death? The loss of loved ones may be a difficult experience for many. It may bring about feelings of loss, intense sadness, guilt even, helplessness or even anger. But death is a certainty as it is a natural trait of transience. It reminds us of our inevitable exit from earth as we know it. It reminds us that we are bound to be separated from everything that is known to our senses. It seems as if all that was life was just a dream that went by so fast. It seems that we have been deceived into accumulating things that we now have to leave behind.
“Every soul shall have a taste of death: And only on the Day of Judgment shall you be paid your full recompense. Only he who is saved far from the Fire and admitted to the Garden will have attained the object (of Life): For the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception” (Quran 3:185)
I know some people who fear death. I know some others who look forward to it as a return to “their maker”. Others have expressed their wish to remain long enough to ensure that those under their care are well provided for. There are many motivations why people want to live as there are for why they want to die. Many too, for a while, float in life letting life’s flow take them where it may without active participation.
But what is death? Some say that it is the ultimate termination of life, full stop. Such people do not believe in an afterlife. They say you are born, then you die.
“And they say: "What is there but our life in this world? We shall die and we live, and nothing but time can destroy us." But of that they have no knowledge: they merely conjecture”. (Quran: 45.024)
I believe that death is the process of going into the next phase of life. I used to marvel at how water changes to steam, goes up, becomes clouds and falls as water again. Death is like evaporation. Water evaporates changing to steam, not dying. It is “raised again” as water – the hydrologic cycle (water cycle). Of course some do not believe this:
“The Unbelievers say: "What! when we become dust,- we and our fathers,-
shall we really be raised (from the dead)?” ( Quran 27:67)
Allow me to share this short poem I wrote in remembrance of my late friend:
water in the mug
releasing vapour into the air,