By Kazi Wadud Nawaz, New Age Islam
15 April 2017
From Scientific point of view “Death is the termination of all the vital functions which keep an organism alive. When, because of some reason, the nutrients/oxygen etc don't reach the cells of our body, they cannot function. If this is permanent...the cells constituting the body cannot carry on the basic processes it needs to stay alive. If the basic unit of our body is not working....we die.” This is the Physiological aspect of death.
Understanding the meaning of life and its survival from scientific and religious point of view is very important for comprehending the significance of life and death as divine creation.
Death is not a journey towards an unknown destination. From religious point of view death is the starting point of a journey predestined and pre-planned by Allah (swt) for traversing eternal life-cycle of mankind from the life on earth to Hereafter. The Journey – its Route and Destination have been clearly chalked out in the Holy Quran and pin-pointed by the Holy Prophet (PBU) thousand and one times. So there is no scope for a Muslim to deny it. It’s a journey from Finite to Infinite and from mixed domain in worldly life to the spiritual domain of Here-after. Withdrawal of Divine Command from corporeal entity means death. Death is a Gate-way that guarantees freedom of Soul from its Material Bondage.
Life and death are integrated aspects of eternal life cycle of mankind. Every Cell of our body has been infused with necessary divine command in the form of ‘genetic information’ as a motive force to promote organ-Specific Biological function. The whole process of divine creation including all life-forms unfurls through Divine Synthesis of Matter and Spirit. Death is just the reverse- analytical process of dissociation of the two that gives rise to an all pervasive physical torment and agony for a living being.
Modern Medical Science defines Death as “permanent cessation of the critical functions of the organism as a whole” Critical functions are those without which the organism as a whole cannot function: control of respiration and circulation, neuro-endocrine and homeostatic regulation, and consciousness.
Death is defined as the irreversible loss of all these functions. The debate centering around “whether this loss is a process or a vent is seemingly insolvable”. Modern Medical Science is yet to resolve this polemics.
Finally, death is a biological phenomenon for which we have constructed pragmatic medical, moral and legal policies on the basis of their social acceptance.
Improvement of science and technologies for organ transplantation, cardiac surgery, brain repair and prosthetic support for brain functions (for example, stem cells, neurogenesis, neural computer prostheses, cryonic suspension and nano-neurological repair) might one day change the current ideas of irreversibility and constrain medical science and society to revise its definition of death.
Qur’anic Concept of Death is more spiritual than physical. Destabilizing the Divine Balance [Meezan] in Physico-Chemical Systems that keep any living being alive, through Withdrawal of Divine Command (Ruh) means death. .
Death is the cessation of all Physical and Bio-chemical processes necessary for life caused by disruption in Transmission Net work of Genetic Information resulting from withdrawal of Divine Inspirations that keep the whole life process going.
From Quranic Point of View “Death” is the Gate-way or Entry Point towards continuity of Human Life-Cycle from physical to spiritual domain of Infinite Dimension. As for the Holy Qur’an, death is a phenomenon more spiritual than physical, the last drama of life to be staged through withdrawal of divine command from each cell of the body. According to the holy Quran Sleep and Death have close similitude in respect of withdrawal of divine command, the only difference one is temporary and the other is permanent. Every time we sleep we die, and wake up on being resurrected again-this is what the Quran says about sleep and death [Verse-39:42].
The holy Qur’an has drawn a clear line of demarcation between the death of believers and unbelievers, and that between the righteous and evil doers. Physically both deaths are same but spiritually they are far apart. Attitude and treatment of the angels in charge of death on the earth and post-death interrogation in the grave-all will be different [verses-45:21, 41:30-32]. The believers will taste death only once but the nonbelievers multiple times in “a state of nothingness” viewing hells in a continuous state of nightmare [Verses 2:28, 40:11 &40:46].
The Following Two Qur’anic Verses Reveal the Essence of Spirituality of Death of Mankind
“Yea, when (the soul) reaches to the collar-bone (in its exit), and there will be a cry. Who is an enchanter (to restore him)? And he will think that it was (the time) of parting, And one leg (the last step in the world) will be joined with another (the first step in the Here-after)r, That Day the Drive will be (all)to your Lord!”[Verses-75:26-30]
“Then why do you not (intervene) when (the soul of the dying man reaches his throat, and you the while (sit) looking on. But We are nearer to him than you, and yet see not. Then why do you not’ if you are exempt from (future) account, Call back the soul, if you are true ( in your claim of independence)?[ Verse56:83-87]
That death is an occasion when mankind gets his creator very close to him is no-doubt a good news and happy occasion for the believers but certainly a bad news and unhappy moment for the non-believers.
The Verses 75:26-30 has clearly described death as a vital link between here and here-after that marks the transition and ensures continuity of eternal life-cycle of mankind.
Crossing the Border of life doesn’t mean it’s absolute separation from the life on earth – what remains of life is its spiritual bondage in respect of our worldly performance-“the last step of the worldly life will be entangled with the first step on the here-after”-of course a determining factor which depending on the Mercy of Allah will decide the course of divine judgment and the life here-after.
Engr. Kazi Wadud Nawaz is an NGO Development Consultant
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