Tafseer Art: Every soul shall taste death

“And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion.”

Surah Al-Imran, verse 185

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Every now and then, we need a stark reminder that this world is only temporary. When we are worrying ourselves about things which will have no importance in the afterlife, we lose sight of the bigger picture, of what really matters. Allah reminds us again and again in the Qur’an that the Day of Judgement is coming, a day when we will all stand trial before our Lord for our actions on earth. In the first verse of Surah An-Nahl, Allah states “The command of Allah is coming, so be not impatient for it.” In the original Arabic, the past tense is used, so the verse translates literally as “The command of Allah has come.” The past tense is used here to express inevitability and nearness, acting as a reminder to the believers of our fate.

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While most people are willing to forget their mortality, death will not forget us. Every soul shall taste death. On the other side of death is judgement day, and on that day only safety from the fire and entrance into paradise equals success. Everything in this world that has nothing to do with this truth is an illusion. The earthly results of a man’s actions are often quite different from the ones he will see in the next life. After the life of this world, the stage of receiving the fruit of your good deeds begins. What is of true importance is what will happen in that eternal life rather than in this transient one.

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While it may seem disheartening that this world is merely illusory, it is important not to lose hope. Things we do here still matter, and will follow us to the next life. Using the material world and its merits as a means for attaining human development, not only is not blameworthy, but necessary and essential. The most important thing is that the material world and its pleasures do not become the ideal and final goal of Man.

Tafseer Art: Remembrance of Allah

“So remember Me; I will remember you. Be thankful to me and never ungrateful.”

Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 152

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Remembrance of Allah is one of the basic concepts of Islam. Being mindful of Allah leads to receiving blessings in everything we do, which is why so many daily actions, from waking up to leaving the house, has a dua (prayer) attached to it. Remembering Allah brings Allah’s attention and favour upon the believer, while heedlessness results in Allah abandoning the believer and his needs. In Surah At-Tawbah, verse 67, Allah states “They [the hypocrites] have ignored God, so He has ignored them.”

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The verse from Surah Al-Baqarah indicates a balance in the relationship between Allah and His servant, a give and take relationship. It speaks to Allah’s power and generosity that He bestows such favours on us when all we can do in return is remember Him. On one end of the scale, there is Man with his ignorance, poverty, mortality, and feebleness, while on the other end, there is Allah, the All-Knowing, the All-Sufficient, the Eternal, and the All-Mighty, who wants us to remember Him in order to show our gratitude for the great blessings He has given to us. The remembrance of Allah is a prerequisite to being thankful to him, hence the term ‘remember’ has preceded the term ‘thankful’. This is an illustration of the consideration of Allah’s honour for Man as a reflection of His Grace unto his servants.

I’ve done something a little different with this Tafseer Art. Since this verse resonated with me so much, I wanted to express the conflict and resolution that was in me when I read it.

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I must find balance in my relationship with Allah. I know He is Al-Karim, The Generous, but first I must remember Him, it is only fair. The verse continues: “Be thankful to Me, and never ungrateful.” In the very structural order of this verse, Allah is showing me how it goes. I must first remember Him, and He promises to remember me back. Then I can be thankful to him for bestowing me with his blessings. In remembering Him, I am saved from arrogance.  Oh, have I learnt that lesson. I give what little I can, and He returns it in abundance.