Word 39: The one who knows oneself as eternal being thinks eternally

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We discussed that the Nafs (I) is a being that is free from matter, and therefore, the material laws do not apply to it. Our Nafs do not have length, width, depth, height, weight, or smell. Since it is immaterial, it is free from the effects of matter and the properties that are related to matter. One of the properties that occurs to material objects is destruction. The object’s face disappears as the constituent parts of matter split apart. For instance, the face of the body is obviously destroyed when the various human parts—hands, feet, head, ears, eyes, and so on—are separated from one another. A book’s face is gone if all of its pages are torn apart. A book page that is torn to small pieces will have its face destroyed. Degradation and destruction are among the characteristics of matter. There are inconsistencies and contradictions everywhere in the material objects. Fire, for instance, is in contradiction to water. Material things are always changing and vanishing. This world is not the home of survival and eternal, but rather the home of devastation and death. One of the features of the material world is destruction. “Everyone upon it is perishing” (Ar-Rahman:26).

This material world is the world of composition. To create a material shape, atoms, molecules, particles, and cells are mixed together. Since the Nafs is immaterial, it is not composed of components that their separation would destroy. The Nafs is not a material item; it is simple, not composite. As a result, it is free of deterioration and damage. Since the Nafs cannot be destroyed, there is no decay or destruction, so it is immortal. The Nafs have no time restriction. It is impossible to state: Does it exist till then? The Nafs is an everlasting entity. People will comprehend that “I” or “Nafs” is an everlasting entity that is indestructible when they become conscious of the immateriality of the Nafs (I) and realize it in their hearts.

On the other hand, materialists deny the soul’s existence. It’s because the real information and logic were not conveyed to them. A researcher’s mind will accept a logical argument presented clearly and concisely. They have not seen a teacher, heard reasoned words, or sought the help of celestial prophets or divine saints to learn these realities; instead, they have fashioned something out of their own brains. They claim that humans are nothing more than the material body—that is, our actual, natural body—and that they only believe in matter. It is all that makes us, and when it is gone, neither we nor our identity will be left. We were able to demonstrate with the evidence we supplied that “I” is a reality apart from the body. It is not a component of the body, and it is not annihilated when the body is destroyed.

Similar to while you’re sleeping. Your senses are deficient, your perceptions are flawed, your eyes are closed, and your hearing is impaired. However, in your dream, you see, hear, and smell. Who’s paying attention? With which ear are you hearing? Which eye are you using to view things in the dream, and who is seeing them? In dreams, who is the one who touches? In dreams, who is the perceiver? You say: I dreamed. How would you view figures if you dreamed and were in this body? How were you able to hear? Therefore, we have a reality that we refer to as our “I” or “Nafs” in addition to this physical body. Because of this, we say, “My” body. That “My” is who? How do you relate your body to your “I” if that “My” is the same as your body? In Arabic, “Nafs” means self.

Death is rebirth; it is not annihilation. A shift from one realm to another occurs with death. You have a body in the realm of dreams that, with it, you can see, hear, smell, or touch after your physical body ceases functioning. That body and the one on the bed are not the same. Your body in dreams is associated with the realm of sleep, which you perceive via that body. Every world we inhabit will have a body customized to meet its unique requirements. The material body will be destroyed here at death. Death is the separation of “I” from our material body. We are, therefore, eternal and undestroyable.

Unfortunately, for many Muslims, death is annihilation, and there is no difference between them and unbelievers when it comes to Resurrection. One of the principles of our religion is faith in the Hereafter. This is the state for many Muslims, who do not have much confidence in the Hereafter. People with “Barzakh” bodies continue their lives after death. What is the quality of life after death, one may wonder? What occurs when we enter the “Barzakh” (purgatory) realm once this one ends? The Qur’an itself contains references, and our hadiths have generalizations. It’s difficult to respond to this. For instance, how can someone explain to someone who has never seen this material world what occurs in its daily life? How is it possible for him to explain the mother, father, kid, marriage, earth, sky, and sea, among many other occurrences?

Imam Baqir (A) was asked: “What is death? He said: It is the same sleep that takes you at night, with the difference that death lasts longer and a person will not wake up from it, except on the Day of Resurrection. When a person in a dream sees various types of happiness that he cannot describe and also sees things from the types of fear that he is unable to describe, then what is the state of happiness or fear in a dream? This is death, so prepare for it”. “Death” is the earliest question that has ever entered the human mind. How come? People have witnessed other humans’ deaths since childhood. Therefore, they asked themselves, “What will happen?” If I pass away? What will happen next? Most people on Earth fear dying! Although no one has experienced death, everyone fears passing away.

As a result, to represent “death” in stories, films, and theater, a ghastly black ghost is often shown, accompanied by the statement, “This is the visage of “death.” They didn’t pass away to experience death, did they? Why, then, do people fear death? This is a result of ignorance in humans. When people know nothing, they panic. What causes humans to fear the dark? Because they are unaware of their surroundings. When night falls, they become fearful in the same place where they were sitting throughout the day without any anxiety. Why are you scared of this room when it’s the same one? Because they are unaware of their surroundings. “Death” is equivalent. People are terrified of death because they do not understand what death entails or what it is. “Death” is so lovely that nobody would want to be here if they understood how sweet it is. Because death is so lovely, God Almighty, in his mature wisdom, has made “death” seem unpleasant for man, making him wish to live on in this world. It goes without saying that we are discussing the essence of death, and we are not discussing what will happen to good or bad people after death. The essence of death is delicious and fearless.

Imam Javad (A) said: “Death is the same dream that comes to you every night, but this time its duration is longer”. Are you afraid to sleep? You say to yourself, “Let’s take a nap and be fresh,” when you’re fatigued. It’s the same with death: it’s enjoyable to die and to leave this world behind.

Amir Al-Mu’minin Ali (A) said: “The world is a house full of troubles and known for betrayal. Its condition will not remain stable, and its family will not survive. There are various states, and there are changing turns. Life itself is unpleasant, and security is rare in it. Its people are the targets of arrows, whose arrows are aimed at them and destroy them with death”. The Guardians of God are described by Prophet Muhammad (S) as follows: “The soul would have left their body if it weren’t for the time that God has decided for them to be in this world”. Because of their enthusiasm for the Hereafter, the soul could not be placed in their body. Those who see themselves as everlasting beings and understand that death is only a new birth do not dread death.

The analogy Allameh Hassanzadeh used frequently to describe “death” was that it is similar to having two twins in a mother’s womb. After one of them is born, the one inside the womb becomes sad and says, “Oh my brother, he is gone; he is dead.” The born one says, “Brother, come this way and see what is going on,” after opening his eyes and seeing this life. Why have you become accustomed to that little, dim womb? Visit us to learn about the current state of the world! According to Allameh Hassanzadeh, if your heavenly eyes become open, you will see those who have passed on to the afterlife beckoning you to come to see what’s happening. What on earth are you doing in that little, shadowy world? Visit us to check out what’s happening! Death is fearless.

A former student of Allameh’s passed away. The conversation began while Allameh sat next to his coffin: “Did you see, my dear, did you see? I told you there’s no fear of dying, but you said you’re afraid of dying. Did you see how easy it was? There’s no fear of dying! Look how wonderful it is! Have you noticed how comfortable and relaxed you are now?” The Holy Prophet (PBUH) was speaking to those who had died in the Battle of Badr. Umar returned his gaze and declared, “O Messenger of Allah, they are dead and do not understand what you are saying. Why are you talking to them?” “They hear better than you, yet they cannot respond,” the Holy Prophet (PBUH) replied.

Before Karbala, Imam Hussain (A) told his companion: “Everyone who comes with me would be martyred, and anyone who does not come with me would not see the face of salvation, the face of triumph, the face of victory, and the face of openness”. To be killed is victory. To be killed in their footsteps is victory and the opening of the doors of God. But it is true for the one who believes that death is not annihilation.

“I have never been terrified of death”, said Amir Al-Mu’minin Ali (A). It didn’t matter to me whether death came to me or I came to death. He always launched a solo strike into the heart of the enemy’s force. They never saw Amir Al-Mu’minin turn away from the enemy or escape. When the Prophet (PBUH) intended to scare the unbelievers, he threatened them with the presence of Ali (A) and stated, “If you disobey and disobey, I will send Ali to your war.”

Someone asked Amir Al-Mu’minin Ali (A), “Why don’t you get yourself a fast and sharp horse to use in battle”? “I don’t need a horse because I never run away from an enemy attack, and if I attack someone and he runs away, I don’t follow him!” he said. Amir Al-Mu’minin Ali (A) said: “I swear to God, if all the Arabs support each other to fight me, I will not turn my back on them”! Therefore, according to the narrations, he wore armor in battles that only covered the front of his body. They asked him the secret of this, and he said: “I do not turn my back to the enemy in battle, so it is not necessary to cover my back with wear armor”. He also said: “By God, the interest of Ali, the son of Abi Talib, in death is more than the interest of a child in his mother’s breast”. Imam Ali’s bravery is mentioned in many hadiths from Sunni and Shia scholars.

Say, If the Final Home with God is yours alone, to the exclusion of all other people, then wish for death if you are sincere” (Al-Baqara:94).

Say, “O you who follow Judaism; if you claim to be the chosen of God, to the exclusion of the rest of mankind, then wish for death if you are sincere.” (6) But they will not wish for it, ever, due to what their hands have advanced. God knows well the wrongdoers. (7) Say, “The death from which you flee will catch up with you; then you will be returned to the Knower of the Invisible and the Visible, and He will inform you of what you used to do.” (8)” (Al-Jumu’a:6-8).

This verse has a lot of words in it, and it means that God’s Guardians wish for death. But the verse of the Holy Quran says: “You will find them, of all mankind, the most eager for life, even more than the polytheists. Every one of them wishes he could live a thousand years; but to be granted a long life will not nudge him from the punishment. God is Seeing of what they do” (Al-Baqara:96).

Of course, the one who wants the world to reach perfection is extremely good. In the Sahifa of Sajjadiyah, Imam Sajjad (A) states: Dua 20, paragraph 5: “Bless Muhammad and Muhammad’s Household, give me to enjoy a sound guidance which I seek not to replace, a path of truth from which I swerve not, and an intention of right conduct in which I have no doubts! Let me live as long as my life is a free gift in obeying Thee, but if my life should become a pasture for Satan, seize me to Thyself before Thy hatred overtakes me or Thy wrath against be becomes firm!”.

When Allameh Tabatabaei spoke about eternity, may God Almighty bless him and grant him peace, he used to cry. We do not have one day or two left in this life; rather, we have an endless existence in the Hereafter. We have to make ourselves the best way possible. Allameh Hhassanzadeh in Elahi Nameh said: “God, what will happen in the end, and what should be done with eternity”. “Some people will be blinded on the Day of Judgment; they will be blind forever, deprived of seeing the truth forever! But whoever is blind in this, he will be blind in the Hereafter, and further astray from the way” (Al-Isra:72).

Thinking about eternity has two meanings:

One is considering what to do and what belongings to bring to the Hereafter. “Alas, due to the minimal preparation and the far travel distance. There is still a long way to go until we reach that place until we reach the Day of Judgment until we reach heaven” (Amir Al-Mu’minin Ali (A)). Now, given the way we live today—wherever you go, you can find a restaurant and a store where you can buy any meal you want—we might not be able to really comprehend this. But in the past, when they wanted to travel from one place to another city, for instance, they would have to travel for two or three days, bringing food and water with them. There would be no restaurants along the way, no stores where they could go shopping, and since money was not in people’s possession at all, they would have to bring their luggage. We have to think of eternal life; we have to make ourselves. We need preparation for this long journey. We need to gain knowledge and good deeds as much as we can. This is reality, not a joke.

Another interpretation is that what is eternity itself? Think about it for a long time: Who doesn’t have it? What type of creature am I? And what do we expect to come out of this excitement?! Let us think about it. Thinking about the Resurrection purifies and frees us from worldly temptations and whims. “We distinguished them with a distinct quality: the remembrance of the Home” (Sad:46). Don’t let the world’s gloss and color deceive you; instead, let’s take a seat and consider eternity. I’m not suggesting that the worldly life is bad, but the love of it is bad. To be clear, I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t own a house and a car, but our priorities should be elsewhere. Both of these things should not satisfy us, nor should the glamour of this world. When eternity lies before us, we won’t battle over a plot of land, and we will not fight over a million bucks. When our minds are elsewhere, we will realize how little this world is. We are temporary residents who would want to spend a few nights in this property before they tell us that it is not ours. We are tenants. Some people dedicate their entire lives to creating a world that is not theirs. Visitors arrive here and go after a few years. This is not where we’re going. As Jesus (A) stated, “This is a bridge”. Jesus remarked to his followers, “This world is like a bridge; they told you to cross it, but they didn’t tell you to mend it. Why are you mending this bridge? Cross across this bridge”.

Don’t be greedy, don’t buy ten houses, and don’t let all your thoughts be on gathering money; don’t think so much of greed to gather money for your children! At one point, we have to leave. Who told you to prepare a house for your children? Don’t they have a creator? Don’t they have sustenance? What have you done for your eternity? “Who gathers wealth and counts it over” (Al-Humaza:2). Take note of how strongly the Qur’an criticizes people who aim to amass riches and money. These individuals visit mosques, offer prayers, and consider themselves to be believers. They constantly consider boosting their money by purchasing automobiles and homes. We must exercise caution so as not to be fooled by the glamour of this world. Till the end of his life, Allameh Tabatabaei (a great Quran interpreter and Islamic philosopher) was a renter.

A student of Allameh Hassanzadeh once said: “We understood from his words that when he was studying in Tehran, he was a tenant in a very poor area, and life was difficult. He explained to us that sometimes he would visit the bakery and purchase only half a loaf of bread for our dinner. His wife had gone to bed hungry on some nights”. Allameh once remarked: “I received letters offering me a professorship in mathematics and astronomy from various foreign countries, including America, Germany, France, Hyderabad, and several others. I won’t be leaving Imam Sadiq University”, he retorted. Well, they could earn money, so it’s not like they couldn’t. He added, “I can do much more than you right now if I want to make money.”

Poverty was the life of Amir Al-Mu’minin Ali (A). “Ali lives a penurious life because he lacks money”, according to Talha and Zubair, the Prophet Muhammad’s (S) companions. “This year, do not give the impoverished the revenue from my endowments, gardens, or estates”, Imam Ali (A) said. “That is, bring them home, and we will give them away to the underprivileged”. The storyteller stated: Upon bringing the money bags, they were placed on the porch, which was completely occupied! He gave the impoverished all of this money, yet he continued to live in poverty.

The key takeaway is that since everyone is put to the test in some ways, we must resist being duped by the love of the world. “We will certainly test you with some fear and hunger, and some loss of possessions and lives and crops. But give good news to the steadfast. (155) Those who, when a calamity afflicts them, say, “To God we belong, and to Him we will return (156)” (Al-Baqara:156). “And know that your possessions and your children are a test, and that God possesses an immense reward” (Al-Anfal:28).

To summarize, we are eternal beings who must think forever for ourselves. We shall eventually depart this worldly life, and we must leave everything behind. So don’t be deceived by the world; Satan’s duty is to adorn the world. Satan makes this world appear extremely attractive to us. The recollection of death enlightens a person. We will die; we will live for a while, but at last, we will leave this world. What’s the difference between living in a castle and a little house as we need to depart soon? There is no time left, beloved, since we must study, worship, do good things, and remember God while we are young. It is preferable to go on a spiritual journey while we are young. You will no longer be able to accomplish these activities as you become older. We won’t have time because we’ll be too preoccupied with our children and grandkids. I’m telling myself these things to bring my attention to the Hereafter, but you, lovely ones, who are all nice, I’m fighting with myself, but I’m shouting loudly so you can hear how wretched I am, how needy I am.

Amir Al-Mu’minin Ali (A), in the fabulous Dua of Kumail, said: “O Allah, my tribulation is tremendous, And my bad state is excessive, And my acts are inadequate, And my fetters have tied me down, And my far-fetched hopes have held me back from my gain. And this world with its delusions, my own soul with its offenses, and my delay have deceived me. O my Master! So I ask You by Your might not to let my evil works and acts veil my supplication from You, And not to disgrace me through the hidden things You knowest of my secrets, And not to hasten me to punishment for what I have done in private: My evil acts in secrecy and my misdeeds. And my continuous negligence and my ignorance. And my manifold passions and my forgetfulness. And by Your might, O Allah, be kind to me in all states. And be gracious to me in all affairs!

My God and my Lord! Have I any but You from whom to ask removal of my affliction and regard for my affairs! My God and my Protector! You put into effect through me a decree in which I followed the caprice of my own soul. And [I] did not remain wary of adorning my enemy. So he deluded me through my soul’s caprice, and therein, destiny favored him. So, in what was put into effect through me in that situation, I transgressed some of Your statutes. And disobeyed some of Your commands. So Thine is the argument against me in all of that. I do not argue what Your destiny put into effect through me therein nor in what Your decree and Your tribulation imposed upon me. Now I have come to You, My God, after my shortcoming and my immoderation toward myself, Proffering my excuse, regretful, Broken, apologizing, Asking forgiveness, repenting, Acknowledging, submissive, confessing. I find no place to flee from what occurred through me, Nor any place of escape to which I may turn in my affairs, Other than Your acceptance of my excuse and Your entering me into the compass of Your mercy. O Allah, so accept my excuse. Have mercy upon the severity of my affliction. And release me from the tightness of my constraints. My Lord, have mercy upon the weakness of my body, the thinness of my skin, and the frailty of my bones. O You who gave rise to my creation, to the remembrance of me, to the nurture of me, to goodness toward me, and to nourishment on me, Bestow upon me for the sake of Your having given rise [to me] with generosity and Your previous goodness to me! O Allah, my Master, and my Lord!

Muhammad Mahdi Me’marian

All praise is to God to the extent that He deserves it.

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