Death. Amazing Isn’t It?
Death is an amazing thing. Death is a phenomenon because if you don’t want to think of where you came from, everyone at some point has to think about where they’re going. There is a point in your life where you will become absolutely certain of your mortality. It comes to people at different stages in their lives: for some people it happens really early, and for others it happens really late. So the idea is that once you embrace this meaning which is your mortality and that you will be brought back into the Divine Presence, that will completely alter your life. You will never be able to look at the world in the same way and this is the spiritual goal of the spiritual path. Now, there are five reasons why people fear dying, and the majority of people fall into these categories: 1. People have a fear of pain, in other words, it’s very human to fear the pain that comes with death. It is mentioned in the Qur’ān as ‘sakrat al mawt’ [50:19]. 2. The fear of loss, separation, leaving this world and loved ones. 3. The fear of meaninglessness: the feeling that your life didn’t turn out the way you wanted and that you didn’t do what you wanted to get done. 4. Fear of the unknown and what’s going to happen in the next world – many people will say well, there’s nothing. Somebody was debating with Pascal about belief in the afterlife and he said, “Well, if I’m right, you’re in big trouble, and if you’re right, I don’t have a problem. 5. Fear of non-being: it’s hard to imagine ourselves to just not be here at all. One of the things about death is that it actually invigorates your experience of life because you begin to think, ‘this might be the last time I’m actually with you. I might never see you again’. We go to work and come home and think that its always going to be like this, but there’s people all over the country getting phone calls… “I hate to tell you this but your husband was in a car accident… I hate to tell you this but your tests came back positive, you have terminal cancer…” This is going on all over the world, everywhere and we forget that. We go into the mode of thinking that ‘its always going to be alright, she’ll always be around, he’ll always be around’.
Once you accept your own mortality, which Heidegger calls ‘A being unto death!’ you can nurture and enter into humanity.
— Shaykh Hamza Yusuf