Death and the Advice of Imam Al Qurtubi

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Think, O’ you who are deceived by this world, of death and its agonies, how difficult and bitter a cup it is. What a true promise death is! How fair a judge it is!Death is enough to fill the heart with fear and the eyes with tears, to separate people, destroy pleasure and put an end to all worldly hopes. Have you given any thought,

O’ son of Adam, to the day when you will die and will be taken out of your place? When you will move from spaciousness (of this world) to the confines (of the grave), when friends and loved ones will let you down, and brothers and friends will desert you?When you will be taken from your bed and placed in a hole in the ground, and instead of a soft blanket you will be covered with dust and earth?

O’ gatherer of wealth, O’ industrious builder, by Allah you will have nothing left of your possessions except shrouds, and even they will be destroyed and will vanish as your body disintegrates and turns to dust. Where is the wealth that you amassed? Will it save you from these terrors? No indeed, you have left it behind for those who will not praise you, and you have come with your burdens (of sin) to One Who will not excuse you. 

Imagine yourself, O’ you who have been deceived by this world, when the agony of death and stupor of death overwhelms you, and you start moaning in the throes of death.There will some who will say, ‘So and so has made a will, and his wealth has been calculated,’ others will say, ‘So and so can no longer speak, he does not recognise his neighbours and he does not speak to his brothers.’ It is as if I can see you listening to these words and unable respond.

Imagine yourself, O’ son of Adam, being taken from your bed to the place where your body will be washed and shrouded, and being forsaken by your family and neighbours, wept over by your friends and brothers.Imagine the one who has washed your body saying, ‘Where is the wife of So and so to forgive him? Where are the orphans? Your father has left you and you will never see him again after this day.’ Where is the wealth that you have gathered and prepared for hardship and terror? There is no money in your hand when you are dying. The wealth and pride that you enjoyed have been replaced with humiliation and poverty.What has become of you,

O prisoner of your burdens, O’ you who have been taken away from your family and your home?  What was it that concealed the right path from you, and caused you to have no interest in making provision for your long journey and time of difficulty?Did you not know,

O’ you who were deceived by this world, that this journey to the Day of intense horror was inevitable, when the time spent gossip would be to no avail?That is the Day when you are standing before the Sovereign, the Judge, and the blows struck by your hands, the places where feet took you, the words uttered by your tongue, the actions of all your limbs and faculties, will be counted against you.If Allah has mercy on you, you will go to Paradise, otherwise you will go to the Fire of Hell.

O’ negligent one who ignores these matters, how long will this negligence last? How long will you delay? O you think that the issue is insignificant? Do you think that the matter is easy? Do you think that your situation will help you when it is time for you to depart? Or that your wealth will save you when your actions condemn you? Or that your regret will help you when your feet are slipping? Or that your friends will show you any sympathy when you are gathered (for judgement)?No, by Allah, you are wrong in your thinking, and you will inevitably come to know the reality. You are not content with enough, you never have your fill of that which is haram, you do not listen to lessons, you are not deterred by warnings.You persist in following desires and you go about your life without guidance. You are happy with the things that you have accumulated but you do not think what lies ahead.

O’ you who are sleeping unaware, wandering without guidance, for how long will the neglect last? Do you think you will be left alone and let off, and that you will not brought to account tomorrow? Or do you think that death can be bribed? Or do you think that death distinguishes between gazelle and lion? No, by Allah, wealth and sons can never ward off death from you. Nothing can benefit those who will be forgiven except righteous deeds. So good news to those who listen and understand, who practise what they preach, and are deterred from following their whims and desires, those who know that the victor is the one who pays heed, and that man will have he has striven for.So wake up from this negligence, and make righteous deeds the provision with which you equip yourselves. Do not wish to attain the status of the righteous when you are weighted down with the burden (of sin), doing immoral deeds, when Allah is watching you even when you are alone.Do not be so deceived by hopes and wishes that you neglect to strive.

One poet said,
 Take provision from this life to help yourself in the Hereafter.Strive for the sake of Allah and do good deeds.     
Do no accumulate too much in this world,     
For that accumulation will eventually diminish.     
Would you like to accompany people     
Who have provision when you do not?”
Source: Tadhkirat Al Qurṭubī

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