Abu Sulayman al-Darani and Umm Harun_
A Conversation on Death
Abu Sulayman al-Darani [d.205/830][i] – a great devout/ascetic (zahid) and early salaf – once asked Umm Harun (an extremely pious woman) whether she liked death:
|Abu Sulayman||: Do you love death? ([أ تحبين الموت؟] / a tuhibbina al-mawta).|
|Umm Harun||: I do not. ([لا] / la).|
|Abu Sulayman||: Why? ([لم؟] / lima).|
|Umm Harun||: Were I to disobey a human being, I would not wish to meet him; so how can I wish to meet Him[ii] when I have disobeyed Him?([لو عصيت آدميا ما اشتهيت لقاءه. فكيف أحب لقاءه و قد عصيته؟] / law `asaytu adamiyyan ma’shtahaytu liqa’ahu. Fa-kayfa uihibbu liqa’ahu wa qad `asaytuhu?).[iii]|
This is the point.
- We are here to worship Allah.
- We are only concerned about pleasing Him (SWT).
- Our perspective in life is shaped by the outcome expected in the Hereafter.
- What we do here in this world is only for the preparation of everlasting tranquillity and bliss in Paradise.
- This is why we read the Qur’anic literature on fear of Allah’s punishment and hope for His Mercy.
- This is why we remind ourselves of hadiths about the soul, questioning in the grave, the torment/punishment in the grave, etc.
** What is our religious state? Are we in a serious position of obeying Allah? What if we were to die now??
Remembrance of Death therefore is supposed to alert us to this unprepared state for the final judgement.
[i] See al-Sulami, Tabaqat al-Sufiyya, pp.68-73; al-Qushayri, al-Risala fi `Ilm al-Tasawwuf, pp.96-98 and Abu Nu`aym, Hilyat al-Awliya’, 9:254-280.
[ii] Meaning God.
[iii] Mentioned by Imam al-Ghazali in his Book Kitab Dhikr al-Mawt wa-ma Ba`dahu (trans. ‘Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife’ by T. J. Winter), p.12.