May 21, 2012
I’ve always been interested in what happens to us when we die. I have heard many versions but I guess I was looking for something in Islamic literature to read more about the Hereafter. And today, after copious readings of different reports and stories of near death experiences (NDE) and the people who came back to tell us, I was not surprised at all. I remember telling someone not long ago that I believed that what happens to us at the very moment of death, the struggle to die, is the same as what happens to a new born baby when he struggles his way out of the womb and comes spluttering and choking down the birth canal into life.
After birth, it is claimed you come into the light, and at death. After slipping out of life you also come into the light. The people whose documented experiences talk of a bright white light and the overwhelming sensation to come into the light where it is warm and comforting cannot all be false and made up; the experiences are too similar. Almost all of the NDE stories mention the light and some even claim that it is Jesus in the white light. I do not believe that all these experiences are lies.
I don’t have an NDE story of my own but can relate an incident where two boys, best of friends were in an accident together and one lived and one died. At the moment of the one boy passing on, one of the women standing at the bedside reported the still living boy speaking to his friend. When the boy had passed on, everyone was eager to hear what had been said. He said he told his friend not to die, to fight, but the boy stretched his arm out and said he was happy where he was and someone was waiting for him to go fishing.
Near death experiences, psychics, people reporting NDE stories which are documented in books and reports all point to an afterlife. Whether this is enough to convince people that there is indeed a Hereafter, I don’t know but would like to think that when we leave this world that there is a nice warm celestial light for us to step into and that we can also go fishing. Maybe that is heaven? Maybe you can write about it if you have something to add?
A Muslim learns that he must always be cognizant of death, and not fear it when it comes. As most of you know, when someone dies in the Muslim faith, the Muslim funeral machine goes into action, and everything must be done swiftly so that the body can be in the ground on the same day – even if it is midnight and the men have to use lamps at the grave site.
Dress code and decorum
The moment someone dies the death notice goes on to Radio 786 and people hear the news, or other people hear the news and pass on the message. Women step into their robes and put on their scarves. In half an hour the house is full of people. People phone one another to pass on the news. Doctors also know that when a Muslim person dies they have to give the death certificate right away, the planks and burial cloth must be bought, the washers of the dead must be picked up to wash and prepare the body for burial, one of the rooms have to be cleared out where the body will be washed and be on display for a few minutes. A Muslim person can grieve, but the crying must not go on and on. One has to accept death and thank God that the deceased has passed on and has entered another dimension.
Prayer meetings create an opportunity for socializing
There are many celebrations during a Muslim’s lifetime. When a child is born, a male member in the family must whisper a prayer in the child’s ear. The name of God is the first thing the child must hear. People are invited to the event and after prayers for the infant, there are refreshments and gifts. All gatherings and events start with prayer. Even a death is seen as an opportunity to get people together as everyone is so busy with their lives otherwise. When you receive news of a funeral you have to drop what you are doing in order to attend. In one room people are washing the body and preparing the burial cloth, in another room someone is writing the name of the deceased on a board, and in the kitchen there are the women busy preparing pots of food. There is sobriety, but also the buzz of life. When the men return from the cemetery, people sit and stand around talking and food is served. Socializing has importance in Muslim life. You see friends and relatives you haven’t seen for a long time and you can interact. Together you mourn for the deceased, and together you celebrate the different events like marriages, births and deaths. By the time you reach home five hours later, you are more aware of your own mortality..