Imam Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazali woke up one morning and offered his prayers. He asked for his white shroud, kissed it, and stretched himself out full length. Then saying, "Lord, I obey willingly", he breathed his last.
Underneath his headrest they found the following verses:
Say to my friends, when they look upon me, dead
Weeping for me and mourning me in sorrow
Do not believe that this corpse you see is myself
In the name of God, I tell you, it is not I,
I am a spirit, and this is naught but flesh
It was my abode and my garment for a time.
I am a treasure, by a talisman kept hid,
Fashioned of dust, which served me as a shrine,
I am a pearl, which has left it's shell deserted,
I am a bird, and this body was my cage
Whence I have now flown forth and it is left as a token
Praise to God, who hath now set me free
And prepared for me my place in heaven,
Until today I was dead, though alive in your midst.
Now I live in truth, with the grave clothes discarded.
Today I hold converse with the saints above,
With no veil between, I see God face to face.
I look upon "Loh-il-Mahfuz" and there in I read
Whatever was and is and all that is to be.
Let my house fall in ruins, lay my cage in the ground,
Cast away the talisman, it is a token, no more
Lay aside my cloak, it was but my outer garment.
Place them all in the grave, let them be forgotten,
I have passed on my way and you are left behind
Your place of abode was no dwelling place for me.
Think not that death is death, nay, it is life,
A life that surpasses all we could dream of here,
While in this world, here we are granted sleep,
Death is but sleep, sleep that shall be prolonged
Be not frightened when death draweth night,
It is but the departure for this blessed home
Think of the mercy and love of your Lord,
Give thanks for His Grace and come without fear.
What I am now, even so shall you be
For I know that you are even as I am
The souls of all men come forth from God
The bodies of all are compounded alike
Good and evil, alike it was ours
I give you now a message of good cheer:
May God's peace and joy for evermore be yours.
'Al-Ghazali Letter to a Disciple: Ayyuha'l-Walad'
By Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al- Ghazali (Author), T. J. Winter (Translator)
'Work for your terrestrial life in proportion to your location in it, and work for your afterlife in proportion to your eternity in it.' This is part of the advice that the great theologian and mystic Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1058-1111 AD) put down in his Letter to a Disciple. An old disciple of al-Ghazali had studied the Islamic sciences, including the many works of his master, for most of his life. Faced with the proximity of death, he turns again to his master this time asking for a summary of all his teachings. Letter to a Disciple is al-Ghazali's response. The emphasis in this short treatise is on religious and spiritual action and on putting into practice the knowledge that one has acquired. Letter to a Disciple can be considered as the last testament of he who is regarded as Hujjat al-Islam, the 'Proof of Islam'. This new translation is presented here as a bilingual, English-Arabic, edition.