In the name of Almighty God, the most gracious, the most merciful. All praise be to he that created life from water, and brought forth all varieties of organisms into existence. All praise be to he that created our father Adam, from clay, and breathed life into him, and ordered the mighty angels to prostrate before him. All praise be to he who created all, finite, mortal. All of us and every creature that walks, crawls, slithers, swims, or flies shall taste death. I ask the Almighty that I only die in state of utter submission to him. May the peace and blessings of God Almighty be on all his prophets and messengers from Adam to Muhammad.
This past week, we witnessed yet another horrible tragedy in another one of our American institutions of higher education. It reminded me of first of all, of how bad certain elements of our society have become. Personally, it makes me wonder what they really mean by us being a "civilized" society. If what I saw on my television screen last Thursday is what can be considered a part of a civilized society, I think I'd rather be raized by wolves, because wolves and other animals don't kill without a reason usually related to their survival. Animals don't go on killing rampages because someone made them feel inferior. Animals don't seek out another that wronged them, years later, to kill them. What I saw on thursday reminded me that as human beings we sometimes behave not as animals, but much lower.
I can't say enough how much heart felt sorrow I feel for the families of those who lost loved ones last thursday. I pray with all my heart that Almighty God fill their heart with hope, and that He has mercy on those poor people who so tragically lost their lives. When I contemplate the situation, I can't help but ponder what God almighty told us in his holy Qur'an. God almighty says, "" Verily, with ALLAH alone is the knowledge of the Hour. And HE sends down the rain, and HE knows what is in the wombs. And no soul knows what it will earn tomorrow, and no soul knows in what land it will die. Surely, ALLAH is All-Knowing, All-Aware. "" 31:34 If there is anything good that can come out of sensless tragedies like this, it is that it reminds us that death can come to us no matter how old we are, whether man or woman, black or white, Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu, or atheist. Death is the ultimate certainty. God says, "Every soul shall have a taste of death; In the end to us shall ye be brought back" .(Surah Al-'Ankabut The Spider 29:57). In fact we know, without any religious text, that death will come to us all. No prayer, no lucky charm, no science can prevent this ultimate truth. So this begs the question, how do you want to die? I have heard many creative answers to this question over the years, but ultimately, logically, in order to answer that question, one must consider what comes after death.
We know from the Qur'an and indeed all major religious texts that without a doubt, there is an afterlife. All spiritual traditions are agreed that for those who are "good" will be rewarded, and those who are "bad" will be punished. The problem is what is the definition of "good" and "bad". The ultimate good of course is to recognize that there is a God, and to do everything in our power and in our knowledge to live a life that recognizes his lordship over us. After that, it is to serve our fellow human beings. It is to grant others the rights that they have over you. The rights that your mother has over you, for enduring overwhelming pain and suffering in order to bring you into this world. The rights that your father has over you, the rights that your husband/wife has over you, the rights that your children has over you, the rights that your fellow man has over you, and even the rights that the earth itself has over all of us. And, it is about not exceeding the limitations of our own rights over others, especially the rights that Almighty God has over you. And, of course to define "bad" it would be the opposite of this. "Bad" is to disregard the rights others have over you. It is to deprive a childs right to his/her parents, it is to deprive an innocent mans right to live, it is to deprive the animal's right to be slaughtered humanely, and to deprive all others the right to live and love as they choose, and to impose one's own will on others.
One can only pray that these poor individuals who died last thursday, were on the right side of this spectrum. Whether you are a successful business man, an elderly person lonely in a rest home, or college student sitting bored in your class, death can come at any time, and any place. I once heard a quote from Confederate States of America general Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, when asked how he could remain so calm in the midst of such horror as that of battle. He replied something to the effect, " God has fixed my time of death, so I do not concern myself with that, but I strive to be ready whenever that time comes. That's how all men ought to live". Well Mr. Jackson, I completely agree. We shouldn't constantly be worried and paranoid about death, but rather we should live and love and enjoy our short time in this life, and make sure that when that Angel comes to us, to take our soul from our body, that we can be content that we will be leaving this life in a state that is pleasing to the one whom we ultimately will return, the Almighty, Allah, and if we can be content in that, we have nothing to fear.
...And Allah Knows Best...