|Kitab-ul-Taqdeer (Book of Destiny)|
‘IS THE MOMENT OF DEATH PRE-DESTINED?
Among the religionists, a widespread belief is that every person (in fact, every creature) has a pre-determined life span, and that the moment of death is unavoidable as well as unchangeable. This concept of pre-determination is also believed to be applicable to matters of one’s health. But, the fact of the mater is that, the adherents to this belief do everything within their power to cure an illness when it strikes. This attitude in blatantly contradictory to the belief held.
Belief and Action
Discrepancy in belief and action is a destroyer of nations.
Thought and practice must go hand in hand. Incidentally, the religionists see a certain psychological advantage in having faith in pre-determination. For example, it is supposed to alleviate fear of death in fighting soldiers.
The human body, like everything, is subject to natural physical laws.
“Every living being has to die” – (3/184), “Even if you take
refuge inside strong fortresses!” – (4/78). “You cannot run away from it!” – (62/8). So much so that the Messenger himself was told: “They (your opponents) have to die, and so have you!” --- (39/31).
Sura Aal-e-Imran says (traditionally translated) in 3/144: “No one can die but with Allah’s izn (order) – this has been written down!” Please consider
Death through Allah’s ‘izn’
carefully the terms ‘izn’, ‘kitab’ and
‘ajal’ used in this verse (refer to Chapter 6 where the Quranic sense of these terms is given ---izn: divine law, ajal: period or end of a period; Kitab: code of law). Thus, the above verse (4/144) means that life and death occur according to divine (natural) law. The time-period spanning a man’s birth and death (ajal) is his age which is determined according to the divine law: “Every period as a law ---” (13/38). The end of such a period (death) cannot be shifted forward or backward –“ (63/11). That is ‘death’ is the moment when age (period of time) ends, whenever it occurs. So, the problem of its occurring before or after ‘the determined moment’ simply doesn’t arise. The really relevant question,
Can Man Control Aging?
therefore, is whether age (time-period between
birth and death) can be shortened or lengthened. ‘Young’ and ‘old’, in connection with age, are relative terms, measured against ‘normal’ age-span of a particular group. It is a known scientific fact that the normal life expectancy in any given group can be controlled through hygiene, eating habits, prevention and treatment of disease, and the standard of living etc. It applies to groups as well as individuals.
This fact is referred to by the Quran as” “Age is not pro-longed or shortened for anyone except according to law ---“ (35/11). It is obvious that the precise period of time (age) is not pre-determined. It can be controlled through
Rules of Death
natural physical laws mentioned above in addition to factors
like hereditary tendencies, as well as post-natural care, physical and mental well-being etc. These very rules (values) determine one’s, and a group’s, age: “We have established laws of death for you (all) ----“ (56/60). It is Man’s choice to violate, or abide by, those rules: “And don’t put yourselves to death with your (own) hands! --- (2/195). Furthermore, the principle in point is amply shown by the punishments (and the difference thereof) for deliberate and accidental killing of a human being – cold-blooded murder is punishable by a sentence while accidental killing may be dealt with ‘blood-money’ ---- (4/92-93).
Sura Maaeda: “Whoever kills someone without due cause (cold-blooded murder) or spreads anarchy (treason, mutiny, rebellion etc) really kills the entire mankind. And whoever gives life to one person really gives it to the entire human race!----“ (5/32). How can a life be saved if it is pre-destined to end at a particular moment in time? This is why battling soldiers are instructed to take precautionary measures for their safety --- (4/71). In times of danger, the prayer congregation will be held in groups taking turns in guarding their fellow soldiers (4/102).
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We are left with the problem of fear of death. This can be dealt with by examining, and then accepting, the Quranic concepts of life and death. It
Conviction in the Hereafter Eliminates Fear of Death
basically says that human existence does not end with the physical death. A human being,
having led a Quranic life, becomes equipped to move into the next evolutionary phase after death: “Death and life have been created so that you can test yourselves for capabilities of better work: --- (67/2). Iqbal, Poet of the East, so beautifully puts it one of his Persian works: “A convinced man smiles in the face of death”.
As to the deeds which develop the human potential (for travel to the next phase of life, the basic principle is to uphold a permanent value when it gets
To Die in Allah’s Cause
tangled up in a tie with a physical value. The most
attractive the physical value, the more weighty the deeds to disregard it for a permanent value. The most important physical value, in fact for all life, is self-preservation (saving one’s life). One who puts his life on the line in Allah’s cause deserves the highest merit. Such people do not really die: “But they are alive and your are not aware of it!---“ (2/154). Iqbal, once again, has put it so eloquently in his works to be enjoyed by readers with access to either Persian or Urdu.