Strange life, strange death

By Mohamedarif Suleman

(Nairobi, Kenya)

Heaven and hell. Two terms that are used in common conversation umpteen times. The realization of the gravity of the two is a little in the conscious life. It takes deals to slow down people. The hustle and bustle of urban life, the neo-culture of materialist superiority and the quest for unsurpassed success, often takes man away from the very two words that he probably uses more frequently.

Like ants trampled under our feet, many men and women sacrifice, not only their lives, but their dignity and their self esteem in the face of high handed individuals whose vociferous tone and ruthless nature earns them the crown of kings in this world. It is narrated, according to popular hadith, that on the day of judgement, the so-called respected individuals of this world will be humiliated on account of their impiety and the down-trodden of the terrestrial world, will be exalted and honoured, provided that they exhibited piety.

Just a fraction of a halt in the heart’s beat, and all the wealth, pomp, gruesomeness, is buried in a six-feet-deep grave. Imam Ali (AS), therefore, wonders how a man with such short and non-guaranteed life can afford to cultivate a habit that will harm him in the eternal phase of life.

It is even more severe when haughtiness and pride comes out of a Muslim. Either on account of his wealth or power, or his family and lineage, or his beauty, or dedication to worship. History is replete with examples of important men and woman who conquered their times but were seen as sinners in the eyes of Allah (SWT).

Allah (SWT) promises in the Holy Qur’an that He will offer suitable recompense for each and every good deed. All that is required is patience.

When we are told that we should live in this world as if we are to die tomorrow, part of the interpretation may also be that with such a consideration, we would stop humiliating others and walking over them for our personal gains. Conversely, if someone was to die today, the person who had humiliated him will naturally feel unforgiving towards himself. This being the greatest tragedy of our times that whenever people are living and amongst us, all we can do is condemn them, find faults with them and mock at them. But the very people, upon demise, become angelic, saintly, even infallible. “He was so this and he was so that…”. Behold, for such compliments to be showered upon one, he would have to die first!

No wonder Imam Ali (AS) that this world also said it is like a snake, glamorous to sight, but soft and slippery to touch. For a child, who has no knowledge about the venomous nature of a snake, the creature may be no different from a house cat or a cuddly dog, but if the child were to hold it, things would teach him differently.

Now here we are, most of us adults, living in this world, with the likeness of that child, trying to grab the snake to satiate our desirous self, and unwary of the fact that we will never ever completely get a hold of it.

It is not the subject of this article as to who should be humiliated and who should not. Perhaps the singular lesson that would befit impartial admonishment is the aspect of selfless submission to the will of Allah (SWT).

Neither for money, not for power. Not for fame will we ever forget the temporal nature of this world. For each kind of action, heaven and hell will bear the witness.

Heaven and hell. Two terms that are used in common conversation umpteen times. The realization of the gravity of the two is a little in the conscious life. It takes deals to slow down people. The hustle and bustle of urban life, the neo-culture of materialist superiority and the quest for unsurpassed success, often takes man away from the very two words that he probably uses more frequently.

Like ants trampled under our feet, many men and women sacrifice, not only their lives, but their dignity and their self esteem in the face of high handed individuals whose vociferous tone and ruthless nature earns them the crown of kings in this world. It is narrated, according to popular hadith, that on the day of judgement, the so-called respected individuals of this world will be humiliated on account of their impiety and the down-trodden of the terrestrial world, will be exalted and honoured, provided that they exhibited piety.

Just a fraction of a halt in the heart’s beat, and all the wealth, pomp, gruesomeness, is buried in a six-feet-deep grave. Imam Ali (AS), therefore, wonders how a man with such short and non-guaranteed life can afford to cultivate a habit that will harm him in the eternal phase of life.

It is even more severe when haughtiness and pride comes out of a Muslim. Either on account of his wealth or power, or his family and lineage, or his beauty, or dedication to worship. History is replete with examples of important men and woman who conquered their times but were seen as sinners in the eyes of Allah (SWT).

Allah (SWT) promises in the Holy Qur’an that He will offer suitable recompense for each and every good deed. All that is required is patience.

When we are told that we should live in this world as if we are to die tomorrow, part of the interpretation may also be that with such a consideration, we would stop humiliating others and walking over them for our personal gains. Conversely, if someone was to die today, the person who had humiliated him will naturally feel unforgiving towards himself. This being the greatest tragedy of our times that whenever people are living and amongst us, all we can do is condemn them, find faults with them and mock at them. But the very people, upon demise, become angelic, saintly, even infallible. “He was so this and he was so that…”. Behold, for such compliments to be showered upon one, he would have to die first!

No wonder Imam Ali (AS) that this world also said it is like a snake, glamorous to sight, but soft and slippery to touch. For a child, who has no knowledge about the venomous nature of a snake, the creature may be no different from a house cat or a cuddly dog, but if the child were to hold it, things would teach him differently.

Now here we are, most of us adults, living in this world, with the likeness of that child, trying to grab the snake to satiate our desirous self, and unwary of the fact that we will never ever completely get a hold of it.

It is not the subject of this article as to who should be humiliated and who should not. Perhaps the singular lesson that would befit impartial admonishment is the aspect of selfless submission to the will of Allah (SWT).

Neither for money, not for power. Not for fame will we ever forget the temporal nature of this world. For each kind of action, heaven and hell will bear the witness.

Imam Zainul Abideen (AS), while praying to the Almighty beseeches that for every degree of excellence that he gets from the society, he should be debased by a similar margin from within. Why, you may ask? Because, he was trying to demonstrate that evil is the excellence of this world, and unless balanced by an inner force, which is fond of humbleness and humility, hell and heaven may well exchange poles at the end of our accounting…

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Mohamedarif Suleman

About the author

Mohamedarif is a marketing professional and educationalist with a penchant for writing as a hobby since childhood. As he experimented writing about sporting events at first and then current affairs, he quickly developed a skill for observation of his environment and began to write on reform topics, especially in connection with the community. To further feed his pursuit of writing, he founded several newsletters and bulletins at his school and at the Husayni Madrasah in the 1980's, all the time learning from others already in the field not just about writing, but also about pre-press and production processes. He was also the editor-in-chief of the Knowledge Magazine in 1995–1996. A decade later, importing a flurry of ideas into his new home, Nairobi, he first founded a two page community newspaper then became a regular writer of the Friday Faculty before establishing the Community on Friday, a fully fledged Madrasah magazine in 1996. And while his writing at the community continued, he simultaneously started writing for a business weekly, pairing in with his newfound role as a marketing professional. During his time in Nairobi, he wrote several speeches for sitting chairmen and presidents while also giving some himself, developing his concurrent role as a public speaker and trainer.

With changing times and a decrease in advertising sponsorship, as well as a fall in overall readership, Mohamedarif transformed this publication into an electronic blog. Thus was born the Community on Friday in its present format.
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