On a recent trip out of state I had the fortunate opportunity to spend a lot of quality time…with myself. Away from distractions, stresses, obligations etc. For some reason, Allah had willed that I ponder more over death and what’s to come after life. This is always a sensitive subject because nobody really wants to go too deep into the topic. It’s a really frightening idea to consider. The absolute idea that once we die, we will be lowered into a 6 foot hole in the ground, with 6 foot walls of mud, dirt, and bugs all around us. Shrouded in only two pieces of cloth, taking with us nothing but what we hope were good deeds. Never being able to say another word, do another deed, or change anything we’ve done in our lives.
For this reason, I wanted to share an article I rewrote from an Islamic magazine many years ago, Al Jumuah. This article was one article I read that I found incredibly powerful and real. I do not promote, endorse nor represent any views of the people of Al Jumuah magazine, this was just one article I wanted to share.
“I only lived 26 years. My 27th birthday was exactly 2 weeks away. I always imagined I would live long. At least until age 60. It wasn’t imaginable that I would have such a sudden death. I had graduated from the University of Southern California three years earlier with a degree that means absolutely nothing right now. Shortly after, I landed a job as the marketing director of a major clothing company. Aside from the usual life problems, I was living a normal life. My girlfriend of 4 years was starting to pressure me into us getting a place together. I knew I wasn’t supposed to have a girlfriend in the first place but I enjoyed her company and friendship. I wasn’t ready to give that up. I used to always tell myself that eventually I’d marry her. Plus what would these few years of living a sinful life mean by the time I got older? My job, girlfriend and life long friend took up the majority of my time. It seemed I never had time to offer salah (prayer). I hardly had time to sit down and eat. Offering salah was something that continuously bugged me. The more I postponed my salah, the more it irritated me. I did give an effort to keep up on my salah. But for the last 2 years of my life I gave up. I pretty much stopped making salah altogether.
I never made it home in time to make salah. SAW 3 was a walk through the rose garden compared to what I was about to experience. I was doing about 85 on the 10 freeway. At 12 midnight, 85mph is not considered speeding. Omar flipped through the FM radio stations searching for a song he liked. Malik had fallen asleep in the back seat. I began to dose off too. I used to hate when that happened. I shook out of what seemed like a 10 second snooze. I tried to keep my eyes open. But again I dozed off. Omar screamed, “HEY!” it was too late. The car struck the center divider and spun back into the flow of traffic. An oncoming car hit my door. That car was also hit by another vehicle. We finally came to a halt somewhere in the middle of the freeway, a hundred yards from the spot of the collision. I didn’t feel any pain. I was just dizzy. I heard Omar and Malik moaning as good civilians tried to pull us out from the wreck.
I wasn’t rescued until the firefighters arrived. It was quite a task recovering my battered body from my totalled car. Breathing became difficult. The fire fighters huddled around me and frantically applied device after device . “He’s not gonna make it,” I heard one of them say. I’m not gonna make it? How? I didn’t feel like I was dying. I felt nothing. My heart started pounding. I was soaked in blood and sweat. I saw Malik standing over me with tears in his eyes. “Don’t quit on me”, he told me. At that time I knew it was over. I started to cry. The fire fighters moved him away as they made last attempts to revive me. I died.
An angel came to me and removed my soul. I watched him fly away with it in disbelief. “How could you? I’m not even 27,” I pleaded. “Its time,” he told me and left. Two minutes later they pulled a white sheet over me. Omar and Malik, apparently doing better than me, pulled the sheet back to look at me one last time. They cried their eyeballs out. I had known them since I was 13 years old and had never seen either of them cry. It was a depressing sight.
The ride to the morgue, until then, was the worst experience I ever had. I was alone. It was dark and cold. I really missed my mom. I missed my brother. I missed my sister. I wished I had spent the night with my family instead of with Omar and Malik. I worried what my mother was going to do when she saw me in this state. I was ugly. When we finally arrived, I was placed in another cold room with dozens of other dead people. I missed my family so much. Every so often a family came in to view their dead. I wasn’t. Hour after hour passed. No mom. No dad. I started to cry again. Then one odd hour I recognized voices. My father walked in with my mother in his arms. His face worn from stress. Hers wet with tears. They cried. I stared back. I wanted to tell them I loved them. I couldn’t. I wanted to hug them. I couldn’t. Mom stroked my bloodied hair and left.
I was to be buried the next day. When my parents left, it hit me. I never made Isha (evening prayer)! My heart jumped out of my chest. I owed Allah a salah and failed to deliver it to him. I had hundreds of missed salahs over the past 2 years. Now I was about to face him. I felt powerless. For those of you who have never experienced guilt at death, there is not a worldly feeling that amounts to it. It is a guilt and sorrow at another level. I tried getting up to make Isha but I couldn’t move. It was over. I had no second chance.
Then I began to think back I never knew my memory was so good. I had more than enough time to ponder my burial. I literally remembered every salah I missed and the reasons I missed them. Most were laziness, procrastination and neglectfulness. I knew I was in trouble. I wish they would take longer to bury me. I failed. I failed. I failed.
My girlfriend paid me a visit, she was a devil. When I was alive I saw her as an angel. My pretty angel who loved me and who would do anything to make me happy. If I had the ability I would have cursed her and demanded her to leave the morgue. She put her hand on my forehead. I had allowed her to do that for the past four years. Now that I apposed it I could do nothing about it. The devil cried for hours at my side. She would just not leave. I felt cheated, I felt like she pulled a prank on me for the past couple years of my life. I hated this devil, she was ugly, she smelled horrible. She finally left as she walked out the door, my heart was filled with fear and anxiety.
The funeral was simple. My body was washed, I didn’t seem to care about my naked body being exposed. My worries far surpassed my desire to be modest. I was wrapped in 2 white sheets. About three hundred people attended my funeral, I was saddened not to see my mom at the funeral. I wish she came to see me one last time before they put me in the ground. I never knew so many people cared about me, many just stared at the tightly wrapped figure in disbelief. Others cried, and cried some more.
The mass prayed for me. Thousands of individual prayers were made. They asked Allah to have mercy on me. They asked him to forgive me. I wanted to pray for myself. But I couldn’t speak, I was helpless. I was carried to the hole in the middle of the barren desert. The people followed, it seemed like slow motion. I didn’t want to go. If I had 24 bonus hours I would pray nonstop. They lowered my body into the ground. The anticipation was eating away at me. I had surely failed in life. I thought back on everything I had worked so hard to accomplish. I earned a college degree, I had a well paying job. I spent hours and hours in the weight room since I was 16 developing my body. I had a pretty girlfriend who loved me. In that life it was a badge of honor. But as they were lowering me into the grave, which seemed like it took forever, I realized I couldn’t use any of those accomplishments.
If only I had been that dedicated to making salah five times a day, daily. I would have been at peace right now. Instead I am a nervous wreck beyond anything you all can comprehend.
Dirt fell on the hole, darkness overcame my new home. The last shovel of sand filled the grave. Everyone sadly walked away. The graveyard started to empty. Family by family, mine was the last to leave. The attendant left. By nightfall it was just me, all alone. My wrapping was soaking in sweat. I nervously awaited the angels to come question me. They finally did. My final judgment has not been reached yet. I am waiting for judgment day. Still laying here alone as day comes and night falls. Soon I will meet Allah, himself and he will decide whether to forgive me or not. I can only lay here, and wait. Wait in hope the All forgiving, the Most merciful forgives me and does not punish me. I hope. This is all I have right now. Hope.”
I want to know what you know. Let’s talk about this.