Sometimes it is a minor incident that wakes one up to the reality of life. In 1413 Hijri, I traveled to Riyadh in order to meet a friend of mine. He had to work late on the day of my arrival, so I went directly to my hotel. Being a quiet season, there were not many people in the hotel. The porter directed me to a room on the fourth floor far away from the activities of the hotel staff after entering the room; I placed my briefcase on the bed and went to the washroom to make ablution. I closed the washroom door behind me, and after washing up, I went to the door to get out. To my vexation, the door was jammed and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t open it. I tried many times using different techniques. Soon I realized that I was stuck in this constricted place with no window, no telephone, and worst of all, no one nearby to whom I could call for help. I remembered my Lord and supplicated to Him for assistance. I stood absolutely powerless for twenty minutes, though it seemed to be more like three days. For those twenty minutes I sweated, my heart rate increased alarmingly, and my body began to shake. The main cause of my high level of panic was that this had happened suddenly, without warning, and that I was in a strange place with no means of contacting anyone for help.
After what seemed like a lifetime, I decided to try and force the door open using bodily strength. I began to shake and jerk the door with my weak, skinny body. I continued to shake it until I tired and needed to rest. I carried on in this manner for a while, taking rest whenever I became exhausted. Finally, the door gave in and I emerged with the sort of feeling that someone might have who has come out of his grave. I praised and thanked Allah. I remembered how weak human beings are and how helpless we can become in the passing of an instant. Then I remembered our shortcomings and our forgetfulness of the Hereafter.
(And be afraid of the Day when you shall be brought back to Allah.)
(Quran 2: 281)
(Wheresoever you maybe, death will overtake you even if you are in fortresses built up strong and high!) (Qur’an 4: 78)
Death comes in ways that we do not expect. I have read and heard of men who go forth seeking death, and in the end, they are granted a long life. Meanwhile, there are others who go forth seeking safety and who end up dying in the very place that they felt most secure. One person seeks treatment for a sickness and in this way meets his death while another lives dangerously and remains safe. How perfect is Allah, the Most-Wise; He has created everything and planned everything according to his divine Wisdom.