I was reminded recently of the brevity of life. A 23 year old girl from my school had passed away in her sleep. Though we were not friends, I think back to my few interactions with her and I remember her warm manner. May God envelope her in His mercy and grant her family patience.
People die all the time; in situations as tragic as war, as painful as illness and as peaceful as a 90 year old sleeping soundly in their bed. And always, always because God had chosen that particular time for that particular person to leave this world.
Again, I think back to my few interactions with the young girl. While she was just as pleasant to talk to- I understand that I too one day will depart this world and I wonder if my interactions with people were and are just as pleasant; whether with travelling commuters, university peers, work colleagues, relatives or best friends.
What does it mean to live a good life? From a personal perspective (entirely sourced from my understanding of Islam), it is to abide by Islamic principles and ensure your dealing with others is kind, compassionate and loving.
Simply put, Muslims abide by five pillars of Islam: that is to believe that there is no deity but God and that the Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him) is God’s Messenger; to pray five times a day; to give Zakat (a compulsory payment given annually to charity); to fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan and to make the Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah if one is financially and physically able to.
These pillars form the basis of Islam, but noting that this world requires living and interacting with others, it is important that every action one does towards another is in harmony with the same state one has when praying or fasting – In Surat Baqarah (v.215), God says ‘They ask you [Prophet] what they should give. Say, ‘whatever good things you give should be for your parents, close relatives, orphans, the needy and travellers. God is well aware of whatever good you do’.
Further highlighting the duty that one has towards easing the burden of another, there is a Hadith in which the Prophet Muhammed says ‘”Verily, God will say to his slave when He will be taking account of him on the Day of Judgement, ‘O’ son of Adam, I was hungry and you did not feed me.’ He will answer: ‘How could I feed you? You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say: ‘Did you not know that my slave so and so who is the son of so and so felt hunger, and you did not feed him. Alas, had you fed him you would have found that (reward) with Me.’ ‘O’ son of Adam, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink.’ He will reply: ‘How could I give You drink? You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say: ‘Did you not know that my slave so and so, the son of so and so felt thirsty and you did not give him drink. Alas, if you had given him, you would have found that (reward) with me.’ ‘O’ son of Adam, I became sick and you did not visit Me.’ He will answer: ‘How can I visit You? You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say: ‘Did you not know that my slave so and so, the son of so and so became sick and you did not visit him. Alas, had you visited him, you would have found Me with him.”‘
In addition to this Hadith is a beautiful commentary by Shaykh Aaidh ibn Abdullah Al-Qarni in his book ‘Don’t be sad’: ‘Here is an interesting point, in the last third of the hadith are the words: ,…’you would have found Me with him.’ This is unlike the first two parts of the hadith wherein: ‘You would have found that (i.e. the reward for feeding and giving drink) with Me.’ The reason for this is that Allah is with those whose hearts are troubled, as is the case with the person who is sick’.
This Hadith can be applied to not only those who are hungry, thirsty or unwell but to those near to us and not so, who are upset, hurt, resentful, or need a word of kindness to remind them of the very miracle of their own being.
Ultimately it is God’s pleasure we should seek, but I truly believe that how we treat His creation is one path to seeking just that.
So I think back to my interactions with others, to the brevity of this life. If we have hurt others, we should seek their forgiveness, and If we are angered by the acts of another, we should inform them in order to reconcile, or forgive and move on. If we can help another, then we should and If we can think well of others, then we should. Maybe then, others may do the same.
You who believe, be mindful of God, as is His due, and make sure you devote yourselves to Him, to your dying moments (3:102)