There will be a day, soon approaching, which will overcome us in its presence. A day where we won’t wake up to hear the birds chirping uncharacteristically early in the spring; where we won’t answer the calls that are incessantly ringing on our cell phones. A day where our tea will go unsipped, and our shoes will sit formidably still in the dark corners of our room. A day where we won’t call out in recognition to the people whose faces we recognize, or whose voices we find comfort in; where our to-do lists will be placidly forgotten – for there is no course of action that we will be able to cling to.
The only certainty of that moment will be the death that enshrouds us, and the death that has overcome us – the day that no longer considers itself a new beginning when all we can look forward to is the end. We might go about our busy lives, forgetting to pause and reflect or to move and reflect or to breathe and reflect upon the warnings of Allah – but a silence, almost too forbearing in nature, will creep up on you, perhaps silently, perhaps wickedly. Reminding you, for the briefest and uninterrupted of moments, that you – yes you – will die.
You might start writing something enthusiastically, overcome by the urgency of your task, and suddenly, sweepingly you stare down at your hands. Hands that will, no doubt, become fodder in a grave whose brightness is unknown. And maybe this creepingly small thought will shake you to the core – for in the busyness of your day and the quickness in your tasks, what is it exactly that you do anyway if it doesn’t ultimately lead to your protection in what really matters?
This life – oh, not a life – this mere existence that we feign importance on, hurts at times with an acuteness that cannot be soothed with any worldly balm, or wooed distractingly by any worldly charm. Nothing in fact can ease your heart besides Allah. Nothing. We might stare blankly into space realizing as it begins to dawn – whatever you do right now will not matter unless you do it for Allah. And doesn’t that thought scare you? Doesn’t that thought just itch away at the recesses of your mind and erode the very thought you had of life, when you’ve convinced yourself that you’re routine is safe, that your relationships are safe, and that your existence ultimately is safe? How foolish a thought!
And suddenly, it hits you – with more force than you ever were aware of, whipping away at the folds of your existence like a gust of unexpected wind whipping away at your clothing. If you continue this little dance with your mind, this little charade that you’ve bubbled around yourself for fear of acknowledging the truth – your mere existence will have passed away, without so much a thought or a care – because really, did you think? And did you care? Or were you too fulfilled with your false sense of importance to actually think that your life mattered outside of what you intended for Allah? Indeed, the soul is weak. And you – your soul the weakest.
“Truly in the heart there is a void that can not be removed except with the company of Allah. And in it there is a sadness that can not be removed except with the happiness of knowing Allah and being true to Him. And in it there is an emptiness that can not be filled except with love for Him and by turning to Him and always remembering Him. And if a person were given all of the world and what is in it, it would not fill this emptiness.”
-Ibn al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyya