“Every soul will taste death….” (Holy Quran 3:185). Oft times when we think of mawt, thoughts of growing old and passing away peacefully or from an illness come to mind; transitioning to the next life with thoughts of Jannah (heaven) is a normal occurrence. Many do not ponder the reality of mawt when it does not happen in the aforementioned manner, or often it’s reality escapes those who survive the deceased. However, these are not the normal ponderings of those who live outside the shores of Western societies or within their inner cities. Peoples of the earth’s poorest regions face mawt as a constant horror in their lives. In every part of the world, we are witnessing death in the most brutal of ways, through genocide, war, starvation and human deprivation. Social parasites are now the vehicle for spreading and disseminating what ultimately leads to death. This reality presents a plethora of questions concerning mawt and those who survive these victims of unnatural killings. How do survivors cope? Is it possible to maintain one’s sanity when losing a loved one or several to the reality of hunger, murder, greed, and copious other social ills?
Approximately 110 died of famine this week in Somalia. An estimated 3.9 million are at risk. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network, there are 71,000 severely malnourished children and 363,000 acutely malnourished children in need in Somalia. Mawt is imminent for many of them.
In Yemen, the poorest of Arab nations, approximately 10,000 civilians have been killed in 2 years and another 40,000 wounded. The United Nations estimates 14 million at risk of hunger. UNICEF has documented 462,000 Yemeni children with severe acute malnutrition, and 2.2 million in need of urgent care. Yemeni children are now dying daily.
About 1.1 million Rohingya live in Burmese concentration camps in Rakhine State. Approximately 1,000 are now dead, recent victims of a brutal army crackdown where mass rapes have also been documented. Zaw Htay, Myanmar’s Presidential Spokesman, claims the deaths are less than 100. This however, has been severely contradicted by survivors and members of the United Nations who are documenting the Human Rights atrocities including confirmed deaths.
Death by violence is growing in western nations. The United States has witnessed 229 people killed by law enforcement since the start of this year 2017. Organizations like ‘Mapping Police Violence’ and ‘KilledbyPolice.net’ find it increasingly concerning that the numbers of Americans killed by law enforcement officers are actually increasing instead of decreasing.
Survival is the most basic of human instincts, but it can also become one that is no longer welcomed or desired. Being a survivor or the one who remains after a person has passed on from this world requires faith, love, hope, and intrinsic motivation to continue on in life. In order to succeed in this regard, we must prepare ourselves for the state of affairs we are now faced with – that is, mawt in all of its forms.
First and foremost, we must reaffirm our belief in Almighty Allah. Acknowledge that the Creator is aware of our condition, experiences and all that our hearts contain. He is a loving and awesome Lord, and constantly worshiping, praising, and seeking His pleasure and aid will facilitate us in overcoming every obstacle, test and challenge that we are faced with. Allah, Glorified and Exalted, says: “Take one step towards Me, I will take ten steps towards you. Walk towards Me, I will run towards you.” (Hadith Qudsi).
We must be grateful. There is so much that every one of us has to be grateful for. Our Almighty Creator tells us, “If you are grateful, I will surely give you more and more.” (Holy Quran 14:7). Observing the suffering that occurs around the world, near and far, is a strong reminder of how fortunate we truly are. When we believe we are doing badly, a mere look into the situation of others will educate us that there are human beings far worse off than ourselves.
We must provide assistance to those experiencing religious, spiritual and emotional tribulations related to mawt if we are able. Mercy and beneficence are attributes of Almighty Allah. Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) has taught us that, “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” (Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim). Islam is a humane and compassionate way of life. Helping others in their time of need is integral to Islam’s teachings.
Finally, we must encourage others and remind ourselves to never forsake Iman (faith) and the power of dua (supplication). Imam Ali (Allah be pleased him) advised, “The person who is afflicted with hardship is not in greater need of praying than the one who has been spared affliction but is not immune from it.”
Mawt is a part of life. It can occur at any time or place whether we are prepared, accepting of whatever may accompany it, or are out of touch and/or removed from its certainty. We must do our best to be content with the Will of the Almighty Creator, while remembering that He knows what is best for us. Allah declares in Holy Quran, Surah Al Baqara, line 286: “On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear…..” This is a comforting truth, and it has the power to heal hearts.
Islamic Post Editorial