Everything that appears to be beautiful and appealing in this world decays or ages one day. The end of man is similar, and there is by no means salvation from it. From birth, everyone goes through a steady process of ageing, ultimately ending up in death. Everyone knows this obvious fact, yet some people can't help but drift with the daily flow of events. They attach more importance to worldly tasks than they actually deserve.
However one fact renders this attachment meaningless: that life in this world has an end. It is the life in the hereafter that has no end. Chasing after benefits that one day will lose their significance is absolutely not wise. Pleading ignorance of this fact and orienting all one's efforts towards worldly objectives may lead man to an irrecoverable regret. So, avoid this never-ending regret. Never plead ignorance of the OBVIOUS fact that your life in this world will end one day.
Some people who are heavily occupied with mundane tasks and forget death ignore the supremely important fact: life in this world is rather short. Visualise the things you possess and attach importance to in this life; they will shortly decay and finally disappear. People you love will die one after another. Furniture will be broken, buildings will collapse, clothes will wear out… and everything you possess will rapidly deteriorate.
When you reflect on your past days, you realise with surprise that nothing properly satisfied you because time passed very quickly. Until this moment, it may well be that you have been unaware of this reality; yet now that you have grasped it, you must base your reasoning on more realistic grounds and reorient all your deeds and the conduct of your lives. Properly, you should try to earn the good pleasure of Allah, the Bestower of all favours in this world and the next. That is because, those who consume their lives irresponsibly will be greatly astonished in the Hereafter. When they will rise from the dead and stand before Allah, they will realise that they only stayed for a short time in this world. Allah explains this fact in the Qur'an in the following verse:
He will say: "What many years did you tarry on the earth?" They will say: "We tarried there for a day or part of a day. Ask those able to count!" He will say, "You only tarried there for a little while if you did but know!" (Surat al-Muminun: 112-114)
That is why you must never plead ignorance of the fact that this life is short and must never attach yourself to such short-lived values. Remember that everything is given to man to make him desire paradise and prepare for the hereafter, man's true abode.
Know that the life of this world is merely a game and a diversion and ostentation and a cause of boasting among yourselves and trying to outdo one another in wealth and children: like the plant-growth after rain which delights the cultivators, but then it withers and you see it turning yellow, and then it becomes broken stubble. In the Hereafter there is terrible punishment but also forgiveness from Allah and His good pleasure. The life of this world is nothing but the enjoyment of delusion.
(Surat al-Hadid: 20)
Allah created man in a most complete state and equipped him with superior characteristics. Yet, despite all its superior features, man has a rather fragile body, which is always vulnerable to external and internal threats. This creation surely serves to a purpose; to make him grasp his weakness before our Creator and to prevent him from a profound sense of attachment to this life.
Whether one is well off or poor, young or old, each moment, every human being is surrounded with similar weaknesses and imperfections. Every man feels thirsty, hungry and tired. Moreover, he constantly needs body care to keep himself clean and fresh. Only the never-ending needs of the body pertaining to hygiene is sufficient to remind man his weaknesses. Think of a rose, for instance. It never stinks despite the fact that it grows in soil, is fed with manure, and remains in a natural environment of dust and dirt. Under all conditions, it has a delicate fragrance. We need hardly mention that it needs no body-care. However, this is not the case for man. All efforts made to keep one's body permanently clean and fresh prove to be a vain endeavour.
Disease also reminds man how prone to weakness he is. Mere viruses, invisible to the naked eye, seriously affect the body, which otherwise is highly protected against all types of external threats. Medical interventions based on the use of advanced technology and drugs still fail to contribute to the well being of human beings. Microbes penetrating through a slight cut on the skin to body may cause a detrimental consequence like death. Alternatively, a rebellious cell in the body may suddenly cause cancer. By the time one learns he is cancer, it may be too late to treat this deadly disease.
Everyday, accidents constitute a considerable part of radio and TV news. Remember that there is no reason why one day, your or one of your immediate family members' name, would not appear in these news.
Accidents also pose serious threats to man. There are thousands of factors surrounding us that may suddenly divert the flow of our lives. One may lose his balance and fall in the middle of the street, for instance. A haemorrhage in the brain or a broken leg may well be traced back to such an ordinary accident. Or, while eating supper, one may choke to death on a fish-bone. One who ponders over these facts surely displays no futile devotion to this world. Therefore, as a man of understanding, you never plead ignorance that Allah creates your body inherently weak to remind you that this world is temporary. Draw lessons from these incidents and situations which serve as admonitions and warnings and put all your efforts not to lose an eternal life of bliss and ease.
Ageing is one of the issues people avoid to think. However, it is the unavoidable end for every person. The destructive effects of the passage of years on body are irrecoverable. Whether rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, one ages in the rapid flow of time….The effects of years become obvious firstly on face. Initially wrinkles around eyes and mouth appear and the colour of the skin becomes dull. The state of the skin of hands and neck almost manifest the old age. Bones become weaker and man starts to suffer from impaired thinking. These are the unavoidable consequences of ageing and man can never stop this process, though he shuns thinking about it:
Allah created you and then will take you back again. And some of you revert to the lowest form of life so that after having knowledge, you know nothing at all. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Powerful. (Surat an-Nahl: 70)
Never plead ignorance of the fact that, sooner or later, you will age one day and lose your physical strength like these people shown in the pictures.
As one grows older, physical and spiritual characteristics pertaining to childhood become more obvious. Elderly people fail to do many tasks requiring physical strength. It is possible that man could remain young until he dies. Yet Allah reminds man about the temporary nature of this world by making the quality of his life deteriorate at certain phases of life. Comprehending these facts, man avoids displaying a deep attachment to this life.
You also must never plead ignorance about the fact that one day you will also grow old and lose most of your physical and mental skills. So, while you are still endowed with these skills, start getting prepared for the hereafter.
The world is anything but serene and still. We are all vulnerable to natural threats, both internal and external. Meteor showers, asteroids are only a few of the factors likely to pose threats to the world from space. As for the solid earth, the planet's interior has an inner core of molten elements. It surely would not be an exaggeration to call this part of the earth, which remains invisible to our eyes, "a flaming core". There also exists an atmosphere surrounding the earth, which is a "shield" against external threats. Yet, no part of the earth is immune from the effects of atmospheric forces like thunderstorms, storms, or hurricanes.
Natural hazards may strike at any time. Though rarely, they cause considerable loss of life and property damage. Generally referred to as "natural disasters", earthquakes, lightning, flash floods, global wildfires, acid rain, and tidal waves have different intensities and effects. What is common to all these disasters is the fact that in just moments they can reduce a city, with all its inhabitants, to ruin. What is most important, no human being has the power to combat or prevent any of these hazards.
Disasters are constant reminders of the fact that the world is full of internal and external threats. Man never assumes that he might also be affected by such a disaster one day. Yet, Allah has the power to make him face such a terrible incident at a very unexpected time.
Despite being aware of this fact and frequently coming across with such incidents, some people pretend not to understand these issues. Each disaster is a reminder that developing an attachment for this life is a vain effort. These are surely warnings to those that can contemplate the significance of such events and draw lessons from them:
Do they not see that they are tried once or twice in every year? But still they do not turn back. They do not pay heed. (Surat at-Tawbah: 126).
Remember that Allah creates each disaster as a reminder for human beings that the world is anything but serene and still. So, you never plead ignorance that, through these disasters, Allah is warning you.
In the Qur'an, Allah informs us that He showed the right path to all people throughout world history and warned them through His messengers of the Day of Judgement and hell. These messengers became the leaders of faith in their separate societies and communicated the limits man has to observe to earn the good pleasure of Allah.
However, a majority of these people denounced the messengers sent to them and showed animosity towards them. The relevant verse follows:
How many cities spurned their Lord's command and His Messengers! And so We called them harshly to account and punished them with a terrible punishment. They tasted the evil consequences of what they did and the end of their affair was total loss. (Surat at-Talaq: 8-9)
How many wrongdoing cities We destroyed, and now all their roofs and walls are fallen in; how many abandoned wells and stuccoed palaces! Have they not travelled about the earth and do they not have hearts to understand with or ears to hear with? It is not their eyes which are blind but the hearts in their breasts which are blind. (Surat al-Hajj: 45-46)
As stated in the Qur'an, those communities who rejected to submit to the call of messengers faced various disasters. These disasters actually befell abruptly, at a time they never expected. However, we should consider one significant fact: those communities who resisted obeying the commands of Allah did not suffer from Allah's wrath without warnings. Allah sent them messengers to warn them with the hope that they would regret their behaviour and submit to Him. Yet, because of their arrogance, they brought Allah's wrath down upon themselves and were wiped off the face of the earth quite suddenly. The Qur'an gives an account of the stories of some communities:
And to Madyan We sent their brother Shu'ayb, he said: "My people, worship Allah and look to the Last Day and do not act unjustly on earth corrupting it." But they denied him so the earthquake seized them and morning found them lying flattened in their homes. (Surat al-'Ankabut: 36-37)
We seized Pharaoh's people with years of droughts and scarcity of fruits so that hopefully they would pay heed. (Surat al-A'raf: 130)
But when We removed the plague from them -for a fixed term which they fulfilled - they broke their word. Then We took revenge on them and drowned them in the sea because they denied Our Signs and paid no attention to them. (Surat al-A'raf: 135-136)
Exulting in affluence, some societies who led an extravagant life deserved Allah's wrath. These societies actually prepared the bitter end they faced with their own hands. Yet, despite all the crimes they committed against the Will of Allah, they still assumed that the approaching disaster was good for them.
When they saw it as a storm cloud advancing on their valleys they said, "This is a storm cloud which will give us rain." No, rather it is what you desired to hasten - a wind containing painful punishment, destroying everything at its Lord's command! When morning came you could see nothing but their dwellings. That is how We repay the people of the evildoers. (Surat al-Ahqaf: 24-25)
Do not repeat the mistake of these people. Never plead ignorance of the fact that you should draw lessons from the experience of the preceding generations that did not take admonition from the warnings of Allah. As stated in the verse "as to the Thamud, We guided them, but they preferred blindness to guidance.…." (Surah Fussilat: 17), do not prefer blindness and disregard that you should take admonition from all events our Lord makes you live through:
How many wrongdoing cities We destroyed, and now all their roofs and walls are fallen in; how many abandoned wells and stuccoed palaces! (Surat al-Hajj: 45)
Have they not travelled about the earth and do they not have hearts to understand with or ears to hear with? It is not their eyes which are blind but the hearts in their breasts which are blind. (Surat al-Hajj: 46)