In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
The Declining Day (Al-'Asr)
1. By the declining day,
2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss,
3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort
one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.
NOT long time ago, I went to a government community clinic about 15 kilometers away from my house for my regular diabetes and hypertension medical check up. After waiting for half an hour, I was called to Room 9 where a young male doctor was waiting.
While examining me with a stethoscope, the young doctor shocked me, saying that my heart was not beating 'healthily'. He politely told me to go to Room 5 to have my heart check up. There a nurse placed electrodes on my body which later on I knew as an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) procedure.
ECGs show the functioning of the heart's electrical system. Twelve electrodes are carefully placed on the skin to pick up the electrical pattern which can give information about the heart's ability to contract, the size of the heart, and the speed at which the heart is beating. Changes in the heart's electrical signature on an ECG may indicate a previous heart attack or other cardiac condition. An ECG shows the heart's electrical activity as line tracing on paper.
After having my 'papers' readied, I went back to the young doctor's room. He held up the 'papers' of my previous ECG test and the latest one and showed me their differences. The 'waves' (spikes and dips in the tracings) of the former was about even but the latter had 'high spikes' at regular intervals.
After 'more questioning and examining', finally the doctor set an appointment for me to undergo for another ECG test in a month time - cautioning me not to hesitate to go the emergency department of the state hospital if the need arises.
In 2002 at the age of 40 I was diagnosed of having diabetes and from the recent test, it was regarding my heart - I was hoping that 'the fast beating' of the heart was 'a false sign'. But could that be a sign that I was about to enter the world of 'old age'?
I must admit that I was down, but at home as I sat down, doing reflection and looking at some 'positive thinking leaflets' and my old notes, I knew I must not succumb to my own feelings.
A message written on a notebook left by an unknown person at a hotel room I stayed recently rose the spirit in me. It reads: "Always a better day tomorrow, so don't worry, enjoy what you have now!"
A leaflet by 'Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia' (Malaysia Health Ministry) which I picked up recently read:
Practise good mental health (Let's adjust to change)
Old age is another phase in the journey of life. Life for the elderly can be filled with positive and meaningful experiences.
Let's adjust to :-
Feeling of loneliness, isolation and abandonment arising from:
* Loss of your spouse
* Loss of your friends
* Children leaving home
* Loss of independence due to immobility
Financial difficulties arising from:
* Loss of income following retirement
* Increasing expenditure due to cost of medication and aids/equipments
Changes to your body:
* Movement and reaction time slow down
* Failing memory
* Stiffening joints and weakened muscles
* Eyesight and hearing become poorer
* Changes in sleep pattern
Early warning signs that show you are not adjusting well:-
* Losing your temper easily
* Feeling tired all the time
* Getting worried easily
* Persistent feeling of sadness
* Difficulty in coping with everyday activities
* Changes in sleeping patterns
* Changes in eating habits
Suggestions for good mental health
Talk to someone when you have problems:-
* Sharing your problems helps you to cope better
* Meet up with old friends
* Get involved in activities, societies or hobby clubs
Keep yourself occupied:-
* Share interests with neighbours, relatives, family and friends
Keep you body healthy:-
* Exercise regularly
* Eat healthily
* Drink plenty of water
Do things with your family, maintain a good family relationship:-
* Go for walks, meals, movies
* Share your hobbies
* Discuss issues
Be realistic about changes in:-
* Physical abilities e.g. strength
Be aware of your rights as they may make life easier:-
* Senior citizens discounts
* Financial assistance
* Welfare aid
Looking at my notes I took during 'tazkirah' (classes) at several 'masjids' around my house, what have the 'ustazs' (religious teachers) have to say about diseases and old age? Yes, what's the Islamic viewpoints about them?
An 'ustaz' said we must 'reda' (accept willingly) if we are diagnose with a certain disease...it is an 'ujian' (trial) from Allah SWT. In fact we should recite 'Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un (We surely belong to Allah and to Him we shall return) when we first heard about it.
He said if we could 'sabar' (be patience) with the 'ujian', 'insya-Allah (God Willing), He would raise our ranks. The 'ustaz' said many people only remember Allah SWT when they are in distress thus Allah SWT gave them 'trials' so that they could mention His name. How true because when ones fall sick, he/she would cried: "Ya Allah or Ooo Allah, please help me!"
Another 'ustaz' said: “At the brink of old age you will realize that the ‘nikmat’ (gift) of God will be taken away from you one by one. One ‘nikmat’ is we have to give way on food."
He said one will realize that his/her teeth would start falling, so he/she would have the ‘nikmat’ of eating good but ‘tough’ food such as beef declining as the days went by and when one is tested positive for having hypertension and is confirmed a diabetic then his/her ‘normal’ diet would have to go as well.
Then it is the time for ‘no more sugar please’ or please, no ‘kambing’ (mutton) for me.’ So you would realize that the ‘nikmat’ of having good food was being taken away from you.
As you get matured religiously, you will realize that everything you ‘own’ would not ‘stick’ with you. Your black and beautiful hair would be gone, being replaced by ‘silver’ ones; your body and bones would ache; your youthful look gone gone and when you look at the mirror an old tired face would stare back at you!”
At times while reminiscing our fate including our lost ‘ability and beauty’, we would question ourselves; why were we sent into this world and where we are heading for?
On why we were sent into this world, in Surat Adh-Dhariyat 51:56 (The Winnowing Winds) Allah SWT says, with the meaning; “I have only created jinn and men, that they may serve Me.” Yes, human existence along with jinn is to worship Allah SWT.
"Then would came a fateful day when your 'roh' (soul) leaves your body. Your body would be buried six feet underground in your grave. So everything would vanish from you except for one that is ‘Islam’. If you are a practising Muslim, your ‘amal’ (good deeds) would be by your side, but if you don’t have any…how are you going to face those days which is 'kekal' (forever)…,” says the ‘ustaz’.
So we have to be ‘syukur’ (thankful to Allah SWT) for being Muslims. And among human being to whom should we be thankful in bringing us on the straight path as Muslims? He is none other than Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
Only ‘Islam’ (our ‘amal’or work) would help us when we are buried deep inside our graves – everything else would vanish from us; where would be our status, power, posts, positions, youthful looks, strengths, cleverness, monies, luxury cars, bungalows, lands and so on; they are of no help at all.
But the Prophet s.a.w. had given us the assurance that after death there would be three things that could continously benefit a person: 1) sadaqa (charity) 2) knowledge that he spreads, and 3) children who pray for him. So 'grab' these things before it is too late!