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Reflections Spiritual Purification

We Buried a Man Today: a Reflection on Death

I wrote this in the car on my way back home from the burial of a righteous soul. May Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (swt) have mercy on him and his family. Ameen.

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We buried a man today. And here I am now on my way home in the caravan of the living. For now.

For now, you and I are in the caravan of the living. But not because we’re headed for a separate land. Not because they’re going and we are not. Only because our caravan lagged behind. Right now we’re driving back to our homes, our beds, our TVs, our stereos, our jobs, our exams, our friends, our Facebook, and Gchat. Right now we’re driving back to our distractions, our idols, our deceptive illusions. But that’s just it. I’m not driving back to my home, my bed, my TV and my stereo. I’m not returning to my job, my exams, my friends, my Facebook and Gchat. I’m not on my way back to my distractions, illusions and idols. I’m driving back to where I began. I’m driving now to the very same place he went to. I’m on my way to the same place. I just don’t know how long my drive will take.

I’m driving back to where I began: with God. Because God is Al-Awal (the Beginning) and God is Al-Akhir (the End).

My body is taking me there, but it’s only a vehicle. When I get there, it will stay behind. As he did today. My body came from the ground and it will go back to the ground, as it came. It was only a shell, a container for my soul. A companion for a while. But I’ll leave it here when I arrive. Arrive—not depart. Because that’s my home. Not this. That’s why when Allah (swt) is calling the back the righteous soul, He says, ‘irjiee’: return (Qur’an, 89:28).

The beautiful, noble soul that we buried didn’t depart from life today. He just entered a higher—and God willing—better level of it. He only arrived home. But the body is made of the material world and so he had to leave it here. The body is of the lower world. The world where we need to eat and sleep and bleed and cry. And die. But the soul is of the higher world. The soul has only one need: to be with God.

And so while the body cries and bleeds and feels pain from the material world, the soul is untouched by these things. There is only one thing that can cut or stab or hurt the soul. There is only one thing that can kill it: depriving it of its only need: to be close to its Originator. To be near God. And so we should not weep for the arriving soul—It isn’t dead. We should weep instead for the one whose body is alive, but whose soul is dead because of its alienation from that which gives it life: God.

And so the believing soul races home, even while in this life.

O Lord, make my soul a sanctuary, a fortress within. That no one and nothing can disturb. A place of calm, silence, serenity, untouched by the outside world. The soul that Allah (swt) calls al-nafs al mutmaina (the reassured soul) (Qur’an 89:27). The soul that Allah (swt) calls back saying:

89:27

89:28

89:29

89:30

“(To the righteous soul will be said:) ‘O (thou) soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction! Come back thou to thy Lord – well pleased (thyself), and well-pleasing unto Him! Enter thou, then, among My devotees! Yea, enter thou My Heaven!’” (Qur’an, 89:27-30)

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