It takes a lot of emotional guts and rational courage to ask questions about certain issues in life. We shun certain questions either because we know they have no answers or because it invites scorn from others. We are afraid that we may be looked down upon by those around us.
Thinkers and scientists of the past were the fearless ones who dared to ask questions unmindful of both the above mentioned reasons. The prophets went a step ahead in not only asking questions and finding answers, but also built a social order based on those experiences.
However, Jaihoon came across an interesting set of questions posed by an interesting person. Both her age and the questions defied ‘my’ common sense.
For her, the questions seemed simple as did the answers. The propositions she put forward was very straightforward that left me with nothing to argue.
She began by asking ‘Can we see HIM’?
Even before I thought of ‘thinking’ about the answer, she interrupts with another question “Can we see HIM if we die?”
“Well, die…?”. I asked in disbelief.
Now dying is not that simple, is it? Which living creature would be prepared to die? With one excuse after another, my mind began to calculate the pros and cons of life versus death. And I somehow concluded that it was better to spend more days on earth.
But the questioner was too ambitious to stop there. Not acquainted with the phenomenon of death, she asked again, “How old we have to be to die?”
“oh! There is still a lot of time left”, I comforted her.
But I knew well that it wasn’t such. It is hard to say when exactly we will hear that final knock on our soul reminding that ‘the ajal has arrived’.
The questioner then posed a serious challenge to me. “Let us all die, so that we can see HIM”.
This daring statement from the 3-year old questioner reminded me of the Quranic challenge that mocks the self righteousness of the unbelievers. According to Quran, death for them is a bitter experience that they try to avoid at ay cost.
Say “O you of Jewry! if you think that you are friends to Allah to the exclusion of (other) men, then express your desire of death, if you are truthful!”. But never will they express their desire (for death) because of the (deeds) their hands have sent on before them! And Allah knows well those that do wrong! [62: 6,7]
Meeting Death face to face is indeed a matter of great trial for the faith of the believer. Not everyone can receive the Angel of Death with a smile. In fact death is the test-tube where the solution of faith is examined.
Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, while describing the last moments in the life of Allama Iqbal, writes
“Although Iqbal’s illness was long and protracted the end was sudden and very peaceful. He breathed his last in the early hours of April 21, 1938, in the arms of his old and devoted servant, leaving behind a host of mourners all over the Islamic world. There was a faint smile playing on his lips, which irresistibly reminded one of the last criterions, which he laid down for a truthful Muslim.
I tell you the sign of a Mumin-
When death comes there is smile on his lips.
The conversation ended.
And the 3-year old questioner left the twenty plus listener speechless. My hesitation to accept death meant the need to re-examine my own faith. However I made a silent prayer that the Holy Prophet had recited while on deathbed-
Allahumma hawwin alayya sakaraathil mauth!
– O Allah! Make the torment of death easy upon me!
After a conversation with the three-year old. Feb 28, 2002