Nov 5, 2011 - guest blogs    3 Comments

Remember, Remember (guest post)

“Remember, remember the 5th November”

by Br. Khalid

For those in the UK, the above will be the instantly recognisable refrain associated with Guy Fawkes Night and the famous Gunpowder Plot.

Legend has it that Mr Fawkes and his conspirators were disenchanted with the then King, James I, and hatched a plot to kill him at the state opening of parliament.

By sheer luck, the police got wind of the plan and caught the entire gang in the basement of the House of Commons moments before they were about to light the numerous kegs of gunpowder they had dragged down there.

So pleased was James I with the foiling of the assassination, that he instigated a day of thanksgiving on November 5th (the day of the capture) and the rest, as they say, is history.

Besides reminding us that terrorism was alive and well in the 17th century, it seems odd that the day is  more remembered for Guy Fawkes than James I and like, Christmas, is nowadays just an excuse for family get togethers and celebrations (fireworks, bonfires etc) rather than having any real significant meaning.

It so happened that whilst I was pondering this quaint English tradition that I chanced over an interview with a certain Simon Cowell.

Mr Cowell for the uninitiated is the self styled music mogul of a generation and the man responsible for the X Factor.

Talking about the sudden demise of his father in the late 90s, he made these interesting comments:

“It was a horrible, horrible, horrible time, like I said. You believe everyone is going to live for ever and they don’t. And all the stuff you think you care about, the hit records and stuff like that, it’s just meaningless.”

“I can’t admit things, that’s why I can’t go to funerals and stuff like that. I find it very, very difficult to deal with that kind of reality. I shut myself off totally because it affects me so badly.”

It is said that there are four types of people when it comes to attitudes towards death and the afterlife.

  1. The first group are so engrossed with this life and worldly pleasures that they simply deny it’s existence, since remembrance thereof will fill them with sorrow at that which they have to forsake.
  2. The second group fear death because their repentance is, as yet, incomplete and wish for more time to rectify their affairs.
  3. The third love their Lord and are pleased with (and yearn for) the means by which they are reunited with their beloved.
  4. The fourth and last group, are those who are perfectly reconciled and content with Allah’s will such that they care not for themselves whether they live or die and happily resign themselves to the decision of their Lord.

It is always astounding how discussing death can be like the huge elephant in the room amongst non Muslims (as well as some Muslims) especially since everyone recognises it as a “reality” but still continue to deny it.

It is like that email which is  too hard to deal with or an assignment too complicated and wearisome that one would rather bury it and not have to deal with it in the hope that it will magically disappear.

It is indeed the height of folly that people strive with the utmost effort to chase their ‘dreams’ whilst completely ignoring the ‘reality’ before them.

Of course, Islam gives great counsel on the remembrance and contemplation of death and our Prophet saw exhorted us to do so often so that we would not be beguiled by this world and it’s charms.

With that in mind and with Halloween fast approaching, perhaps we should all be donning Grim Reaper costumes and go around chanting:

Remember, remember the shatterer of all pleasure

Not quite as catchy as the original ditty I grant you, but far far more relevant!!


  • Hamid al-Qasyrasi (rahimahullah) said:

    “Though we know death is certain, we have not prepared ourselves for it.

    Though we know paradise is definite, we have not worked for it.

    Though we know the hell fire is certain, we have not feared it.

    So why are you delighted?

    What are you waiting for?

    Death is the first visitor from the Almighty bringing good or evil tidings… so get closer to your Lord!”

  • Jazaks for the quote hamza81 and jazaks to br khalid for the article and reminder! May Allah make us of those who recognize the dunya for the veil it is. wsalam

  • Jazak Allahu khayran for the sobering reminder.

    On a lighter note I had a conversation with a Scottish sister just a few hours after reading your post and was able to sound at least somewhat educated about British culture when she mentioned the 5th of November – something I hadn’t heard of before your educational post. :)