By Imam Al-Qurtubi
Death is not the absolute end. It is just the discontinuation of unity between the body and soul. It is a change from one state to another and a transition from this present life to that of the hereafter.
The purpose of our existence is the worship of Allah as mentioned in the Book of Allah:
“And I [Allaah] created not the Jinns and Men except that they should worship Me [alone]” Soorah az-Zariyat (51): 56
This life, which we are living, is the testing ground for which there shall be only two consequences, Paradise or Hellfire. Unfortunately more than often we disregard death, as we are so attached to this world and the love of which has been established in our hearts.
“Certainly, they see it as distant, but We see it as near” Soorah al-Ma’arij (70): 6-7
Death only becomes a reality when a close beloved one dies. The heart feels heavy, the eyes shed tears and there is, at that moment, a present fear of death. If we were to spend even a single moment each day thinking about death, it would bring forth many concerns? The greatest being our Hereafter:
”He Who has created death and life, that He may test you, which of you is best in deed.” Al-Mulk (67):21
So we stop and consider what we are doing with our time and where we are heading, and then realize that much of it is wasted in light talk, in laughing, in pursuing that which is not going to benefit our Hereafter.
“This World in comparison with the world to come is just like one of you putting his finger in the sea. Let him consider what it returns with.” (Muslim)
The Prophet Muhammad (sallahu alihi wa-sallam) explained how this world is not even worth the wing of a mosquito! And how small is a mosquito, and then the wing of a mosquito- so what is the worth of the world we run after and are dearly attached to?
The Messenger of Allaah (sallahu alihi wa-sallam) referred to death as ‘the destroyer of desires.” [Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah)
Because when each one of us remembers the awesome reality of death and what is to follow after that, our present desires and wordy concerns seem so insignificant and futile, and the life of the Hereafter becomes our goal and we become interested in the means to attain that goal.
“But truly the home of the Hereafter is the actual life, if only they knew.” (Soorah al-Ankabut (29):64)
“Live in this world as if you are a stranger or a traveler.” (Saheeh al-Bukhari )
Does a traveler waste his time in gathering that which is of no benefit for his journey? Or does he immediately select that which shall facilitate him to reach his goal? In the same way, we too must get into the good habit of striving to do as much as we can today and everyday, not putting off things for tomorrow, or after exams, or the age of sixty. . !
“If you survive till the evening do nor expect to be alive in the morning and if you survive till the morning, do not expect to be alive in the evening. And take from your health for your sickness and [take] from your life for your death.” [Saheeh al-Bukhari vol.8, p.284, no.425]
“And die not except in a state of Islaam” Soorah al-Imran (3):102
So we keep our hearts moistened and alive with remembrance of Allaah, and we remember death in order to remember the Hereafter, and finally we close with a citation from Imaam ash-Shaafi’ee: “O my soul, it is not except a few days patience, As if her extent were a few dreams. O my soul pass quickly on through this world, And leave it, For indeed life lies ahead of it.”
Taken from Paradise and Hell-fire (At-Tadhkirah Fihw Alil Mawta Wal-Akhira)