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Saturday, December 25, 2010

BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND

If we may Islamize one of the chapters (with the above heading) in Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, we will urge you, the reader, to see yourself as attending the janaazah (funeral) of a friend. When you arrived at the maqbarah (graveyard) you noticed familiar faces: colleagues from your place of work, your close and distant kindred, fellow worshipers from your mosque and your neighbours. ‘You felt the shared sorrow of loosing, the joy of having known, that radiates from the hearts of the people there.’ But as the people who thronged the newly dug grave were about lowering the body into it, you suddenly realized that you were the one wrapped in that white kafan (shroud); you were attending your own funeral. Now, search your soul what these people will say about the type of person you were. How will your colleagues describe you? What kind of brother or sister have you been to your kin? What do you think your neighbour will relate concerning your character?
To begin with the end in mind gives direction, a road map, to our final destination – perpetual torment or eternal bliss. Start working towards whatever you desire to be said about you after you pass on.
‘Consider the words of Joseph Addison: “When I look upon the tombs of the great, every emotion of envy dies in me; when I read the epitaphs of the beautiful, every inordinate desire goes out; when I meet with the grief of parents upon a tombstone, my heart melts with compassion; when I see the tomb of the parents themselves, I consider the vanity of grieving for those whom we must quickly follow; when I see kings lying by those who deposed them; when I consider rival wits placed side by side, or the holy men that divided the world with their contests and disputes, I reflect with sorrow and astonishment on the little competitions, factions, and debates of mankind. When I read the several dates of the tombs, of some that died yesterday, and some six hundred years ago, I consider that great Day when we shall all of us be Contemporaries, and make our appearance together.”
The Qur’an says:
“O mankind! Fear your Lord! For the convulsion of the Hour (of Judgement) will be a thing terrible. The Day ye shall see it, every mother giving suck shall forget her suckling babe, and every pregnant female shall drop her load (unformed): thou shalt see mankind as in a drunken riot, yet not drunk: but dreadful will be the Wrath of Allah.” (Al Hajj, 22:1-2)
The two verses above describe the nature of the Last Day. Taqwaa, to keep one’s duty to Allah forms part of the Divine call on us to be in readiness for Judgement.
On taqwaa, Imam Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said it is ‘the fear of the Almighty; living in line with the contents of the Revelation; to content oneself with little, and preparation for the Day of Departure.’ He (may Allah be pleased with him) stood in the graveyard (of Madinah) and said: ‘Peace be upon the inhabitants of this graveyard. You have gone ahead of us, and we shall, Allah willing, join you. O inhabitants of this graveyard! As for your wealth; it has been distributed to heirs, your houses are inhabited by others, and your wives have wedded new husbands. This is the news we have for you. Now it’s your turn to inform us about the chronicle of what you have over there.’ Imam Ali was silent for a while, then he turned to his companions and said, ‘wallahi (by Allah), if they were to speak, they would’ve said – the best provision, for the Hereafter, is taqwaa.’
On the Last Day every nursing mother will forget her nursling and every pregnant one will be delivered of her burden. The Arabic word for nursing mother is murdhi’ i.e. a mother who is breast-feeding her baby; but the Qur’an uses murdhi’ah, meaning a mother that is carrying and giving suck to her baby now; she will forget, neglect the baby, throwing it away due to the terrible nature of that day. A mother throwing away her child!
Sometime in 1994 a molue bus caught fire on the Third Mainland Bridge, Lagos. A nursing mother was so engulfed in the flames that she couldn’t move. She remained in her seat with her right hand outside holding the baby as far away from the inferno as she could until somebody grabbed the baby from her to safety. She (the mother) did not come out alive. She endured the pain, exceeding torment of the fire so as to save her suckling babe. But on the Day of Recompense such a mother will throw the babe away and run. And you shall see mankind as in a drunken riot, yet not drunk: but dreadful will be the Wrath of Allah.
To begin with the end in mind makes our earthly sojourn more purposeful. We prepare for the destroyer of pleasure (death) and for the Day of The Great Assembly (Jugdement)!

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