When I was growing up, I was distinctly detached from my faith. You could say I was in a type of oblivion. Yes, we believed, we prayed here and there, and fasted in Ramadan, but faith was not a priority for me. I was more worried about the clothes I wore, the brands I displayed, or how I styled my hair. That is, until my classmate Jim died my sophomore year. Then reality hit me, and it hit me hard.
Jim and I had a bunch of classes together my freshman year but none our 2nd year. I ran into him in the hall after school one afternoon in September. We had the typical catching-up conversation and then separated by wishing each other well. I didn’t know that that would be the last time I would see him. After we talked, he headed home, crossing the street right outside of our school. As he made his way across the busy street, his shoe fell off. He ran back to retrieve it only to get hit by a speeding van, which catapulted him into the air. He landed headfirst onto the concrete and died from a brain hemorrhage a few days later. Dead at 15 – how could that be possible?
That was the first time I truly cried in my life. I mourned his loss with a heavy heart and couldn’t help but think that could have been me. What had I done to prepare for death? Who even wants to think about death? What if I returned to my Lord right this minute? Was I ready to answer Him for the choices I had made?
So many thoughts rushed through my mind. How were my prayers? How were my fasts? What had I said with my tongue? What had I looked at with my eyes? What had I listened to with my ears? Will people miss me after I’m gone? Will they even care? What had I done for others anyway?
I once witnessed a burial where attendees spoke ill of the deceased as they lowered her body into the ground. Is this who we are? Is this our state: to not even have mercy on the dead?
None of us can deny that we will all taste death (Surah Anbiya: 35). It’s inevitable. When the Angel of Death comes to us, how will we meet him? Will he come to us as a beautiful being or a foul-smelling one? When he pulls the soul from the body, will it be like pulling hair out of butter or a painful separation?
Will we know how to answer the questions in the grave?
1. Who is your Lord?
Do we even know our Lord? Does Allah come before everything else in our lives? How have we obeyed Him?
2. What is your religion?
How have we lived our Islam? Is it just practiced when it’s convenient for us?
3. Who is your Prophet?
Have we remembered him (S) and lived his sunnah in this life to remember him in the next life?
What is going to save us from this reckoning? What is going to save us from the punishment of the grave? It’s our deeds. It’s our salah. It’s our fasts. It’s our sadaqah. It’s our Qur’an. They will surround us in the grave as our shields, our protection. The Qur’an, specifically, will come to us as a beautiful companion to give us company in our lonely grave until the Day of Judgment. How will that Day be for us, though?
We are reminded in Surah Zalzalah, “When the Earth is shaken to her utmost convulsion and throws up her burdens from within...” (99: 1-2). Did we walk like a burden on this earth? The mountains will be removed, the earth will be leveled, the sun will be lowered to a mile away, and every soul since Prophet Adam (A) will be sweating to answer for his/her deeds.
People will be running to each of the prophets to be saved, but they will reply, “No! Save me! Save me!” There will be one prophet, though, who will be pleading instead, “Ummati! Ummati! My ummah! My ummah!” That is our beloved, our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. He will be asking to save us, his ummah.
Are we part of his ummah? Are we representing him properly? Do we even know him? How will we recognize him? Do we love him? He will be standing next to the fountain of Kawther ready to quench our thirst. There will be people rushing to him to get a drink. However, some of them will not be able to reach him. A giant barrier will stop them. He (S) will call out to the angels, “Why are those people being stopped to drink from my hands?” He will be informed that those individuals believed but were of the wrongdoers. How awful would it to be counted amongst those? We finally get to meet him, but under what title? How will we feel? How will it make him (S) feel?
Then how will we be judged thereafter? How will our life be presented to us? Will we receive the Book of Deeds in our right hand from the front or in the left hand from the back? How will our deeds measure up on Allah’s Scale?
That day we will be watching the real ‘YouTube.’ Everything we did will be played back for us. Every sin, every mistake, every slander, every word (spoken, written, or shared), every broken promise, every second of our lives will be judged and questioned. We will face those we’ve wronged. How many people will that be?
How will we cross the Bridge of Siraat on the Last Day? It will be thinner than a strand of hair! If we fall crossing it, it’s straight into the Hellfire. The shows, the movies, the idle talk, the useless surfing and browsing and swiping, the life pursuits we chased after…what will save us? There’s narration that a giant hand will grab some who fall off the bridge. It will reach down and yank them back up. What is this hand that will save them? It’s the salawaat that were sent upon the Prophet (S) in one’s lifetime. Have we remembered him today? Have we even mentioned him today?
Let’s remember him together: Allahumma sali ala Sayyidina Muhammad. May we be of those that live a life worth dying for.