Peace, one and all…
‘For it is said that after the departure of the Valar there was silence, and for an age Iluvatar sat alone in thought. Then he spoke and said: ‘Behold I love the Earth, which shall be a mansion for the Quendi and the Atani! But the Quendi shall be the fairest of all earthly creatures, and they shall have and shall conceive and bring forth more beauty than all my Children; and they shall have the greater bliss in this world. But to the Atani I will give a new gift.’ Therefore he willed that the hearts of Men should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein; but they should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else…
It is one with this gift of freedom that the children of Men dwell only a short space in the world alive, and are not bound to it, and depart soon whither the Elves know not…
But the sons of Men die indeed, and leave the world; wherefore they are called the Guests, or the Strangers. Death is their fate, the gift of Iluvatar, which as Time wears even the Powers shall envy’.
(J R R Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Of The Beginning Of Days)
In this beautiful passage, Tolkien explores the nature of human death in his legendary world. Here, death is a gift to humanity from the Divine, as a means of release from bondage and limitation. It is neither a punishment, nor a cause for fear, but simply the freely chosen return of this gift of life.
The Quran says: ‘Every soul shall taste death’ (3:185), and yet, this ‘tasting’ needn’t occur in fear. Rather, it is possible to meet death freely, to taste its freedom, as well as its sorrow. It is significant that the Quran says ‘taste death’ and not ‘end’. That is, we will taste death and then, we are promised, new life. We will be passed a new cup that raises us from our graves.
And our last prayer is in praise of God, Lord of all the Worlds.