Is Death The Extinction Of Life Or Is It Created As A Bounty?
Is death dissolution, a non-existence, decay, the extinction of life or is it created as a bounty?
“Who creates death and life that He may try you, which of you is the best in conduct”
Death is a discharge from the duties of life; it is a rest, a change of residence, a change of existence; it is an invitation to an eternal life, a beginning, the introduction to an immortal life. Just as life comes into the world through an act of creation and a determining, so too departure from the world is through a creation and determining, through a wise and purposeful direction. For the death of plant life, the simplest level of life, shows that it is a more orderly work of art than life. For although the death of fruits, seeds, and grains appear to occur through decay and dissolution, their death is in fact a kneading which comprises an exceedingly well-ordered chemical reaction and well-balanced combining of elements and wise formation of particles; this unseen, orderly and wise death appears through the life of the new shoots. That is to say, the death of the seed is the start of life of the shoot; indeed, since it is like life itself, this death is created and well ordered as much as is life.
Moreover, the death of the fruits of living beings and animals in the human stomach is the beginning of their rising to the level of human life; it may therefore be said “such a death is more orderly and created than their own life.”
Thus, if the death of plant life, the lowest level of life, is thus created, wise, and ordered, so also must be the death that befalls human life, the most elevated level of life. And like a seed sown in the ground becomes a tree in the world of the air, so a man who is laid in the earth will surely produce the shoots of an everlasting life in the Intermediate Realm.
As for the aspects of death that are bounties, we shall point out four of them.
The First: It is a great bounty because it is to be freed from the duties and obligations of life, which become burdensome, and is a door through which to join and be united with the ninety-nine out of a hundred of one’s friends who are already in the Intermediate Realm.
The Second: It is a release from the narrow, irksome, turbulent, and agitated prison of this world, and, manifesting an expansive, joyful, troublefree immortal life, it is to enter the sphere of mercy of the Eternally Beloved One.
The Third: There are numerous factors like old age which make the conditions of life arduous and show death to be a bounty far superior to life. For example, if together with your very elderly parents who cause you much distress were now in front of you your grandfather’s grandfathers in all their pitiful state, you would understand what a calamity is life, and what a bounty, death. Also for example, it is understood how difficult are the lives in the conditions of winter of the beautiful flying insects, the lovers of the beautiful flowers, and what mercy are their deaths.
The Fourth: Just as sleep is a comfort, a mercy, a rest, particularly for those afflicted by disaster and the wounded and the sick, so too is death, the elder brother of sleep, a pure bounty and mercy for those struck by disaster and suffering tribulations which drive them to suicide. However, as is proved decisively in many of the Words, for the people of misguidance, death is pure torment like life, and pure affliction, but it is outside the discussion here.
By Bediuzzaman Said Nursi