The truth of life and death has been the greatest issue of humanity since the first man. People ask, “What are you in this world, where do you come from and where are you going?” He sought answers to big and difficult questions like these. The most correct answers to these questions can be learned from the divine word. Our Lord, Who creates both life and death, states the following:
“[He] Who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving.” (Mulk, 2)
Imam Bediuzzaman Said Nursi explained that death is a creature like life, with the following sentences:
“The death of the seed is the beginning of the life of the hyacinth. Maybe because it is the same as life, even this death is as creature and regular as life. Since the death of living fruits or animals in the human stomach are the origin of their emergence into the human life, it can be said that the death is more regular and creature than their life.” (Mektubat, p.3)
Yes, the life’s coming into the world is through decreeing and creating. Life is the art and deed of Allah. There are many attributes that show life, such as hearing, seeing, breathing. These are the characteristics of the living beings. Willing, knowing and speaking are also signs of life. These attributes not only show the life itself, but also the existence of ‘life owners’ who are characterized by these attributes. For example, the number of the years that have passed from Prophet Adam (asm) to this century equals to the number of springs, summers and winters have come to life and have been archived in the records of the past. There are as many proofs of life as there are particles of the universe. It is outwardly obvious.
Just as life is the decree, act and creation of Allah, so death is a creation and decree. Death is not a deed without an agent that happens by itself and throws the realm of existence into the streams of non-existence. Death is a discharge. Just as people whose time for military service comes are called to military service with a serious work of the recruiting office and they start their duty, likewise, their discharge from the military is due to an order and work. It is not done randomly or without a plan.
Here, the ‘soldiers’ who are discharged (i.e. die) from the barracks of the world are discharged with a decree, within the circle of knowledge and power. Apparent deterioration of death is like putting a seed into the ground. In the hereafter, it will sprout and a new and eternal life will begin.
What is life and what is its purpose?
In the words of Imam Bediuzzaman, “Life is the most important goal of the universe, its greatest result, its brightest light and its most subtle substance.” (Lem’alar, p. 389)
The greatest purpose of the beings in the universe that are working together, helping each other, and working in harmony is to serve life. If we assume that the universe is a big factory, life is the most important product and result of this factory.
Life is the brightest light of the universe. Because seeing and understanding all the beauty, perfection and blessings in the universe is only possible with life. Without life, none of this can be understood. The beauty in the universe is realized by means of the creatures with the existence of life which is a mirror to the Divine Names. For example, the person in whom life is seen in the most perfect way shows the manifestations of the name Bari when he is created from nothing in perfect harmony, and the name Musawvir when he is given shape and form, and the name Razzak when he is fed, and the name Shafi when he is sick and healed.
Life is our Lord’s giving life to our body – Who is Hayy and Muhyi. So, what is the result of this life given to us? Of course, in a world whose attribute is ephemeral, these instances of beauty, perfection and beneficence cannot be seen forever. For this reason, the result of this life is eternal life, which is its purpose. Our duty is to be in gratitude and worship, to praise and love our Lord, Who gives this fruit of life to us. Otherwise, it is not just to live in this life for this world, and to satisfy the desires of the self, to be savoured in heedlessness and to chase after our fancies and whims. Those who understand the secret of life will be blessed with an eternal blissful life. And death is like a door to that life.
Is death a blessing or a punishment?
When we hear the word death, we first perceive it as something to be frightened of, cold and unpleasant, and we do not want to remember it much. However, our Prophet (pbuh) said, “Remember much [death] – the destroyer of pleasures!” (Ibn Majah). Although we try to forget death, many wars, disasters and epidemics always warn us about death. There are literally thousands of funerals in every wave of this world sea. A caravan comes and a caravan leaves.
For some, death is the loss of life, going into nothingness, rotting under the ground, the end of everything, the last point, an eternal separation from all loved ones and blessings. How painful this is for those who do not look at it with the eye of faith and cannot comprehend the secret of life! From this point of view, it is a complete punishment and trouble.
For some (for the people of wisdom and faith like Mawlana Jalaluddin), it is almost a wedding night. It’s reaching the beloved. To walk to the Almighty. To die is to be born into the real life, the eternal life. It is a journey to the eternal land. It is an entrance to the world of light. It is a discharge from one’s duties in the world. It is to stop working. It is to attain the secret of the verse “Every soul shall taste death.” It is the liberation of the soul from its body cage. It is to say “Labbayk/Here I am!” in return for the command “Irjii/Return!” This truth is mentioned in Surah Fajr as follows:
(Allah says to his believing servant: “Yaa nafsu’l-mutmainna (O the soul that has found peace with a perfect faith)! Return to your Lord as well-pleased and pleasing (to Him). (You are pleased with your Lord, and He is pleased with you!) Now join My (righteous) servants and enter My Paradise (with them)!” (Surah Fajr, 27-30)
May Allah grant us the opportunity to be one of His servants who are honoured with this address and find peace!