Death and dying is equally important among all religions. Different religions have different values, beliefs, tradition, social customs and attitude regarding about death and dying. Among all of them, the most common experience is that a person’s death always leaves the shadowy moment among all the relatives and the family members. Death is always connected with us and we are at the state of transition. Every living body has to die. However, religion occupies a significance space regarding about death and dying. The religion has its own norms and values to define the death. Among different religions, Hinduism and Islam define death as the period of sorrow even-though Hinduism believes in reincarnation but Islam does not. Hinduism views life as a wheel of salvation while life means a way to meet the almighty Allah in Islam. Thus, two different religions have two different perspectives of viewing life and death depending upon their religions.
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The Bhagvada Gita also tells about the moral of life and death. During the battle of Kurukshetra, the Pandava brother, “Arjuna”, has to kill his guru, “Dronacharya” who taught him the most powerful skill of bow and arrow. Nobody can defeat the Arjuna in archery. Since, Dronacharya belongs to the Kaurava, the Pandava brother Arjuna has to kill his own guru to win the battle of Mahabharata. The Lord Krishna chants poem about birth and living. He said to Arjuna that death in unavoidable to those who are born and birth is certain for those who had died. So, there is no reason to grieve if something in unavoidable. So, death is an inescapable. Death always stands upon its honor in the battle field. It is fair to illuminate the injustice and inequality to obtain the mokshya known as liberation. Thus, the saying of the Lord Krishna to Arjuna provides him a moral sense and knowledge of being born into this universe and reacts upon the essence of justice against immorality.
Like in Bhagvada Gita, another holy scripture Ramayana also tells about the significance of death and dying. Bali and Sugriva are the brother of the same blood. Though Sugriva is younger than the Bali, Bali has treated him like a slave. However, Sugriva doesn’t argue about the matter. He just wants to take care of him for the whole life. Despite the circumstance, Bali has received a terrific boon after his tough meditation for twelve years. He has a greed upon his bravery and courageous. He has captivated Sugriva’s wife Tara for a long period of time. So, Sugriva is frustrated and asked about sharing of the Kiskindha kingdom. But, Bali refused it and threw him out of the kingdom. Sugriva doesn’t know what to do. One day, his follower Hanuman found Rama and Arjuna wandering in the dense forest and became closer to each other. Then, Hanuman introduce Rama and Arjuna with Sugriva and Sugriva told the events about how he has to live in mountain despite having the kingdom. So, Rama told Sugriva to call Bali upon the battle field. Sugriva did the same thing as Rama told to him. After a long battle between Sugriva and Bali, Rama killed Bali by using his archery. Upon his deathbed, Bali asked Rama about his crime. He asked what he has done to him. Who are you to kill him? Why you kill me like a terror? Why don’t you show in-front of me? Then Rama replied to Bali that he has done injustice with his brother. Rama told that his father Dasaratha taught him about the moral of law and order and finally for his last question, he replied to him that the kings used to hunt deer by shading in some corners. As soon as the message spreaded over the kingdom, Tara came on the spot and cried and begged his husband back from Rama. Rama told Tara that why are you crying without thinking that the body is dead only not the soul. If you think that the dead body is your husband then why don’t you think about his soul? You are on an illusion of body and soul. I respect his soul and he will be placed in a higher standard in the heaven. Tara realized that the body only decomposes not the soul. Even, if the person is dead, s/he will be highly recognized into the society for a long period of time.
Swami Nikhilananda, the great disciple of Ramayana also said that human being should not worry about the contemporary cause and effect which is known to them. He also added that body can undergo certain metamorphism where the internal reality or the soul doesn’t change rather than the illusion known as the Maya creates the desire and identifies as the self. We have to understand that the self in not the Brahmin.
Following these two great scriptures, Hinduism is the religion about reincarnation. The state of being human being today is the outcome of the deeds that have been conducted in the past. After several reincarnations, we are human being now. The salvation occurs only by achieving Mokshya and Mokshya can be achieved by learning Karma yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti yoga, taking the path of devotion and learning the Holy Scripture like Bhagvada Gita and the great epic Ramayana. The ultimate way of reaching the supreme goal is to unite with Brahman.
Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. While Hinduism believes in polytheism, Islam believes in monotheism. Islam means submission to the god. Literally, the meaning carries a greater detail. Islam or being a Muslim means high attitude of the self. Islam believes Muhammad as the messenger of the god. The god determines the lifespan of the person. It is the god’s mercy to take the person in younger age or in the older age. The Muslim believes that god created them and they have to move according to the way that the god wants. Some Muslim believes that after death, two black faced angels with blue eyes known as Munkar and Nakir visit the graveyard and ask the deceased about his life when he was alive. Upon interrogation, the person has to tell the truth. Depending upon the saying of the deceased, the process of punishment and comfort will be justified. Like in Hinduism, Islam also believes in heaven and hell where heaven means full of beautiful nymphs and the enjoyment with the spouse while hell means the place with thorns and evil souls.
When the person is lying on the deathbed, the priestly people read some passages from the Quran to facilitate the dying body to release from the physical world. After death, washing of the dead body is done and purified by the Moullana, the holy priest. The body is covered with the white cloth. The main difference between the Christianity and the Muslim is that no coffins come between the body and the earth. Building other structures are not allowed in Islam and as well as writing on the stone. Some Muslim believes that the graveyard should be dig deep enough to the dead so that the dead body can be able to sit up during the period of the Last Judgment. The grave is laid in the direction of north to south rather than east to west. The main reason behind doing that is the holy Mosque lies towards east to west. So, the deceased face is pointed towards the Mecca. It is customary to say Allah Karim which means upon the mercy of god we came into this earth and upon the mercy of him, we shall go.
Muslim views their life as a mission into this earth. The main mission is to take care of the whole life seriously as per the commandment of the god. The people have to be physically and as well as mentally fit to take care of the whole life. Spiritually, the people have to keep faith on Allah and strictly obey his saying. According to the Islam, no older person would be the burden into the society. When older person get sick or being incapable of helping themselves, the younger one should take care of them and offer them nutritious foods. The family members of the dead have to fulfill any debts of the deceased person as soon as possible. Just like in Hinduism, Islam also allows offering charity and fasting on the name of the deceased person. The family member can visit the grave to maintain the strong attachment with the deceased and as well as to observe the day of the judgment.
According to Islam, death should be properly understood because it is the part of the living. Sometimes, we feel scare of discussing about death and dying because we don’t want to die. We are so afraid of it. But, for Muslims, this is not the right attitude against the Allah. The Prophet Muhammad said that you have to live in this world like a traveler. Once come never return back. The destination of the journey is to meet with the almighty Allah.
Death is followed by the pain and suffering. Sometimes, people become agony on death and dying. They are pathetic. According to the Allah, pain and suffering is not the curse for the Islam people. It is taken as an assignment to see how people handle it, and how they response upon it.
The Quran states that Allah takes the soul at the time of death and those who are in the verdict of dying, Allah come around them and give them the clean cheat letting them to know that it’s the time to take a journey with Allah. The living and dying process is taken as the action where there is reaction thereafter. The faith of all Islam people is that the body and spirit unite together. So, Islam views death as the process or resurrection. The prophet also stated that being a Muslim means to challenge each and every circumstance that comes into the life. One should be capable of dealing with adversity and success. Whatever happens in life is already fixed and should take a high spirit and calmness to meet with Allah. The prophet also stated that the path towards the heaven is filled with obstacles and difficulties while the path towards the hell is filled with desire. It’s up to the people to choose the path of difficulty or the path of the desire. The path of difficulty is filled with knowledge, sacrifice, and purity while the path of desire is filled with anger, suffocation, and greed.
Molloy, Michael. Experiencing the World’s Religions: Tradition, Challenge, and Change. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.
DeSpelder, Lynne Ann, and Albert Lee. Strickland. The Last Dance: Encountering Death and Dying. Boston: McGraw Hill Higher Education, 2009. Print.
“Death and Dying.” KhutbahBank. Web. 15 Apr. 2011.
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