Mohamedarif Suleman (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
So you may want to ask at what particular time in your life do you pause and reflect. When do you seriously transform your mundane business knowledge into profit for your next life travel? At what point do you really begin internalising the years of madrasah and majlis to get a clear ‘google map’ for safe navigation in the next world. The answer is clearly not as simple as the question.
‘O man, you are striving unto your Lord laboriously, and thus you are meeting Him’ – Chapter 84. V6, the Holy Qur’an. If anything, this verse is a confirmation of where we are headed, but is our unpreparedness resultant of the fact that unlike our trips to other countries, this out-of-the-world voyage is something we have not planned ourselves and so it is imaginably a distant promise by someone other than ourselves, making it all the more impractical for us to plan?
Young or old, male or female, any cast, any creed, one after the other, are falling down, into a far-off dimension where we can never reach out ever again. As you walk past familiar names at the cemetery, the ‘network signals’ are all around us but we could only receive these signals if our ‘handsets’ (read inner beings) were not switched off or on ‘airplane mode’ (worldly mode). One frequently gets amazed at how, completely oblivious of what surrounds us, many of us fleet past familiar tombstones without as much as a jolt or a jitter. More surprising is how we just can’t seem to stop talking – amongst the graves, while the burial is taking place or even when condoling the bereaved. Feels like nothing can distract us from talking, rightfully so, we do live in the midst of a generation of talkers.
Seriously, there are so many of us just eager to speak, there is barely anyone listening. Every second person wants to tell others of their strong beliefs in any given number of topics, every other person is also an authority on a wide range of topics that they cannot help but just display his or her verbose diction on the matter.
When people stop listening, they stop learning. Equally, those who are talking, cannot be listeners at the same time. Consequently and by astute logic, even the lessons presented to us in the face of death or by attendance at a graveyard, cannot be learnt because we are deaf in the face of things.
Naturally, we are going to rue this opportunity of learning that regardless of your bodily muscle power or build, irrelevant to your social status and breed, and unaffected by the mountain of dollars and cents you possess, death is inescapable and will come to us at anytime, not allowing us a moment longer to prepare. There in the graveyard, lay before our eyes, the lifeless bodies of the richest, most respected and the strongest of them who walked the same land that we are on today.
If for a moment, we can look beyond the concrete and the sand, we will inevitably see the sorrow that faces us should we fail to prevail upon the excesses of this world and brace for the life ahead.
A burial is the last place you want to plan to socialise with your friends, it is only in your solitude that you will hear those sounds, that will give you the realization of your finality as you see ants crawling in and out of a grave. These sounds are significant, it is in these practices that are entrenched in our real life existences. It is in these lessons that we can get to live the prescribed life of piety and submission to Allah (SWT)
The positive thing about our times is that knowledge is widespread, the negative sides, however, far outweigh the pros. We are failing to practice anything we learn yet we are anxious to preach to others, and also our knowledge is making us forgetfully arrogant such that we are going further and further away from our own truths.