In the Name of God, the Merciful the Compassionate
(This is a conversation held with some young people who are surrounded by temptations but have still been able to retain their power of judging what is happening around them.)
Death is inevitable and, whether willingly or unwillingly, everyone will enter the grave. Apart from the following three ways, there is no other way of entering into it:
First way: For the believers, the grave is the door to a world more beautiful than this one.
Second way: For those who confirm the next life but follow the way of dissipation and misguidance, it is the door to a solitary imprisonment, an eternal jail, where they will be separated from all their loved ones. Since they do not practice their belief, that is exactly how they will be punished.
Third way: For the unbelievers and the misguided who do not believe in the Hereafter, it is the door to eternal “execution”; that is, it is the gallows on which both they and their comrades will be executed as an eternal punishment. Since they believe death to be an execution with no resurrection, they will be punished eternally.
The appointed hour is secret. Death may come at any time to cut off anyone, without differentiating between young and old. In the face of so awesomely threatening a reality, miserable man will surely search, as a matter of the utmost urgency and concern in his life, for the means to deliver himself from eternal punishment and from an unending imprisonment. Surely man will search for the means to change the door of the grave into a door opening onto a permanent world of light and eternal happiness.
Death will be experienced in these three ways; this is a fact which was reported by one hundred and twenty-four thousand truthful reporters—the Prophets, in whose hands are signs of truthfulness in the form of miracles. This report of the Prophets has been confirmed by millions of saints relying on their discernment, vision and intuitions. Also, innumerable painstaking, truth-seeking scholars have proved it rationally with their decisive proofs at the level of “certainty depending on established knowledge.” All these groups are unanimously agreed that it is only through belief in God and obedience to Him that one can save oneself from eternal punishment and imprisonment and make of the grave a way to eternal happiness.
If only one single reliable reporter had warned that a particular way carried a one percent risk of the traveler perishing on it, one would lose one's appetite for that way because of the distress and fear that one percent risk of perishing caused. However, hundreds of thousands of truthful, authoritative reporters—Prophets, saints and painstaking scholars—and with demonstrable proofs of their truth, have warned that misguidance and dissipation carry a one hundred percent risk of the gallows of death and eternal punishment. By contrast, belief and worship remove both gallows and imprisonment, and change the grave into a door opening onto an eternal treasury, a palace of lasting happiness. Assume that in the face of such an extraordinary, awesome and mighty warning, miserable man—especially one who claims to be a Muslim—does not truly believe and worship. Then I ask you how he will be able to overcome the anxieties that come from waiting for his turn to be invited to those gallows, even supposing he had been given rule over the whole world and all its pleasures.
Old age, illness, misfortune, and numerous instances of death everywhere in the world, open up that frightful pain and remind us of it. Even if the people of misguidance and dissipation seemingly enjoy innumerable kinds of pleasure and delight, they are most certainly in a hellish state of spiritual torment, albeit a profound stupor of heedlessness makes them temporarily insensible to it.
For an obedient believer the grave is the door to an eternal treasury and endless happiness. Since, by reason of the “belief coupon,” a ticket from the allocations of Destiny for billions worth of gold and diamonds has come up for him, he constantly expects the invitation, “Come and collect your ticket” with a secure and solid, profound pleasure and spiritual delight. This pleasure is such that if it were to take on the material form of a seed, it would grow into a private paradise. However, one who abandons this great delight and pleasure for the sake of indulging the drives of youth, and chooses in a lustful, dissolute manner, temporary illicit pleasures, which resemble poisonous honey certain to give innumerable pains, falls to a degree a hundred times lower than an animal. Such a person will not be like Western unbelievers—for they, if they deny their own Prophet, may yet recognize another. If they deny all the Prophets, they may yet recognize God; if they are atheists, they may yet possess some good qualities which are the means to certain perfections. But a Muslim knows both the Prophets, and his Lord, and all perfection by means of the Prophet Muhammad (upon him be peace and blessings). So, any Muslim who abandons his instruction and breaks with his line, he will no longer recognize any other Prophet, neither will he find any support in his soul to preserve any human perfection. The Prophet Muhammad (upon him be peace and blessings) is the last and the greatest of the Prophets, superior to all with respect to his mission, miracles and accomplishment. He came with a universal religion and Message encompassing all time and peoples, and is therefore the cause of pride for mankind. A Muslim who abandons the principles of his training and the fundamentals of his religion will most certainly not be able to find any light or achieve any perfection. He will be condemned to absolute loss and decline.
So, you unfortunates who are addicted to the pleasures of worldly life and, troubled about your future, struggle to secure it and your lives! If you want pleasure, delight, happiness, and ease in this world, be content with what is religiously lawful. That suffices for your enjoyment. You must have understood from the foregoing explanations that in each pleasure forbidden by religion lie a thousand pains. Suppose the events of the future—for example, of fifty years hence—were also shown in the cinema in the same way that they now show events of the past. Those who are now leading a dissipated life would weep with horror and disgust at the things with which they entertain themselves.
Those who wish to be permanently, eternally happy in this world and the next should follow the instruction of Muhammad (upon him be peace and blessings) on the firm ground of belief.
So, you unfortunates who are addicted to the pleasures of worldly life and, troubled about your future, struggle to secure it and your lives! If you want pleasure, delight, happiness, and ease in this world, be content with what is religiously lawful.
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.