What Consolation did the Prophet Muhammad Brought Concerning Death?
I was, on one occasion, sitting on the top floor of a hotel. The graceful dancing of the leaves, branches, and trunks of the poplar trees in the fine gardens opposite me, each with a rapturous motion like a circle of dervishes at the touching of the breeze, pained my heart, grievous and melancholy at being parted from the brothers and remaining alone. Suddenly I recollected the seasons of autumn and winter and a heedlessness overcame me. I so pitied those graceful poplars and living creatures swaying with perfect joy that my eyes filled with tears. Since they reminded me of the separations and deaths beneath the ornamented veil of the universe, the grief at a world full of deaths and separations pressed down on me. Then suddenly, the light of the Muhammadan Truth came to my help and changed that grief and melancholy into joy. Indeed, I am eternally grateful to the person of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, for the help and consolation which came to me at that time, for only a single instance of the boundless grace of that light for me, as for all believers and everyone. It was as follows:
Picturing those blessed and delicate creatures to be trembling at death and separation and going into non-existence in a fruitless season—which is the view of the heedless—so heavily weighed on my feelings of passion for permanence, love of beauty, and compassion for fellow-creatures and living things, that it changed the world into a kind of hell and the mind into an instrument of torture. Then, just at that point, the light which Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, had brought as a gift for mankind lifted the veil and showed in place of extinction, non-existence, nothingness, futility and separations, meanings and purposes to the number of the leaves of the poplars, results and duties which may be divided into certain sorts:
One sort of the duties of creatures relates to the Names of the Majestic Maker. For example, just as if an engineer makes an extraordinary machine, everyone applauds him, saying ‘What wonders God has willed! May God bless him!’, so too, by carrying out its functions properly, the machine congratulates and applauds its engineer. Everything, every living creature is a machine of that kind, congratulating and applauding its Maker.
Another sort of purposes for the lives of things like poplar trees is that they are each like a text, a book through study of which conscious living beings acquire knowledge of God. Having left their meanings in the minds of conscious beings, their forms in their memories and the tablets of the world of symbols or immaterial forms, and on the records of the world of the Unseen and in the sphere of existence, they depart from the material world and pass into the world of the Unseen. That is, they are stripped of an apparent existence and gain numerous existences pertaining to meanings, the Unseen and knowledge.
Indeed, since God’s existence and His Knowledge encompasses all things, in truth, there is no room in the world of believers for non-existence, eternal extinction, and annihilation and nothingness. As to the world of unbelievers, it is full of types of non-existence, separations and extinctions. A widely circulated proverb teaches this: For whom God exists, everything exists for him; for whom God does not exist, nothing exists for him.
In short: Just as belief saves man from eternal punishment at the time of death, so also it saves everyone’s particular world from the darkness of extinction and non-existence. But unbelief, absolute denial of God in particular, changes the pleasures of life to painful poisons, and terminates both man and his particular world with death, casting him into dark pits like those of Hell. Those who prefer the worldly life over the Hereafter should heed this, and let them either find a solution for this or accept faith and save themselves from fearful, eternal losses.
Glory be to You, we have no knowledge save that You have taught us. Surely You are the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.