Do some people really wish to live forever? On this earth?! We know that we will die. If we are alive, this only proves that we will experience death.
“Every soul will taste of death, then to Us you will return” Quran, 29:57
“Say: The death from which you flee will surely overtake you, then you will be returned to Him who knows the unseen and the seen, and He will inform you of (the truth) of what you used to do” Quran, 62:08
We might live until we’re very old, but yet we don’t know how well we’ll be living then. If you live too long, you’ll be getting weaker and weaker. There is a limit; no matter how healthy you are, you will decline.
“It is Allah who created you in a state of weakness, then He gave you strength after weakness, then, after strength, He gave you weakness and a hoary head” Quran, 30:54
“He whom We grant long life to, We cause him to reverse in nature. Will they not understand!” Quran, 36:68
Eternity on this earth is not the aim of any wise person. This life is not even enough interesting to remain in it forever! If you live forever, you might just go insane! Death brings balance to our lives. Without it, Life will be out of balance.
Luckily, we still have the accounts of many of the teachings of Muhammad, thousands and thousands of his sayings and teachings. Once he was educating his followers, when he said: “A person’s (good) actions stop after death, except for three things”.
See, he is talking about the only eternity that a person can have on this earth. We are told in the Quran that we will be rewarded for all our good deeds, which makes sense. Muhammad wanted to point out that there are three ways for a person to keep adding to his “reward account” (the bank account of our actions, be it positive or negative!), even after this person has been buried.
Here are the three things that Muhammad mentioned:
1. When you have a righteous child who keeps praying for you after you’ve passed away.
Well, you need some knowledge to accomplish that! You need to know how to educate your children, to protect them from their own weaknesses, to give them strength, both physical and spiritual. You can only do your best, then your effort will remain after you in a living good deed of yours. For every prayer that your child will do for you, God will give you more of his gifts in your next life!
2. A “running charity”.
This means a charity that keeps producing results. You can think of a non-profit that was established by the good will and efforts of some kind, smart and determined persons. They die, but the fruit of their work doesn’t. Say we have a scientist who invented something beneficial to mankind. In the Islamic tradition, we know that every single time that a human being benefits from this invention, the one who created it is rewarded. Every time one single person is cured thanks to the works of any who wanted to help and cure people, this person is rewarded for the good fruits of his works. While buried under the ground, every day new rewards keep adding up in his account. This is how well God rewards those who worked to benefit others!
3. Knowledge that keeps benefiting people.
This can be part of the “running charity” mentioned above. But knowledge has a very important place in the teachings of Islam, so it had to be mentioned by itself. Someone wrote a book a thousand years ago to transfer his knowledge and improve people’s life. Well, you know it. When you read that old book, and you benefit from it, God will be rewarding the writer for what his words have done for you!