“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.
- 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.
- The second group fear death because their repentance is, as yet, incomplete and wish for more time to rectify their affairs.
- The third love their Lord and are pleased with (and yearn for) the means by which they are reunited with their beloved.
- 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 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!!