Frequently Remember The Destroyer of Pleasures

Peace, one and all…

In a powerful hadith, God’s beloved Messenger (ﷺ) is reported to have said:

‘Frequently remember the destroyer of pleasures’
Sunan Ibn Majah 4258

The narrator added that this destroyer is none other than death.

Each and every one of us must face death, and so it is an ever-present reality. Our life here is temporary and one day we each must take our leave of the world, bidding farewell to all that we have known. In this day and age, we seem to talk less and less about death and dying, and have almost come to see it as some sort of health care failure. It might well seem strange, therefore, to be encouraged to contemplate death. Some of the following questions come to heart in this regard. What is death? What does it mean to die? What happens when we die?

Reading this hadith in this moment underlines several important truths for me. Firstly, all of our worldly ambitions, our career goals, our pursuits, will come to an end.
Every diversion will one day cease, and we will come face to face with a seemingly harsh reality: there will come a time when I no longer exist here; my earthly story will come to an end. Secondly, this means I must prepare for death now. That means two things to me: time is short, so I must take the Way now, waiting until some ill-defined tomorrow is dangerous. It also means that I must strive to live, as authentically as I can. I must become truly me, a me liberated from my ego’s demands and freed from other people’s ideas of me.  I must prepare for death now by contemplating its meaning, and resolving to act accordingly. I must come to know myself fully. Not as an abstraction, but as a real creation. To live more deeply, I must therefore be reborn. Sufi tradition teaches us to ‘die before you die’, meaning letting go of every unhelpful attachment, every wayward blockage, everything that holds us back from life and its source, Allah. We must be liberated from ourselves to live well and thus, die well.

This is not a morbid tradition, quite the opposite in fact. There is light here. Death destroys all our pleasures, and does but clear the way for God. The Quran says: ‘Every nafs will taste death’ (3:185; see also 21:35), and I find great relief in these words. This world is not my true home, and one day this ego, this nafs, will pass away.

And praise be to God who maketh it so.

This fascinating interview speaks powerfully to the need to reflect upon death openly and to not be afraid of it. Death is a natural part of life, and help exists. It is well worth watching.

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