"Every soul shall taste death. And We test you by evil and by good by way of trial. To Us must you return."[ The Holy Qur'an 21:36 ]
I’m not going to make this article a theological writing piece; but nonetheless I figured its necessary to remind ourselves of the ‘reality’ of death through the Divine legislation of the Holy Qur’an which serves as a constant torch of guidance through the darkest of alleys that the twists and turns of our life winds us all up with.
I remember as a child growing up to Michael Jackson's songs, partaking with utter zest and zeal in the hysteria that had gripped the 80’s and the 90’s, whilst crooning to his catchy tunes and offbeat lyrics.
“The King of Pop”, as they’d call him; became an integral facet of contemporary music in general and mainstream media in specific. Everything from movies, advertisements and sell out concerts, is what defined the captivating craze of the ‘MJ Mania’ that overwhelmed audiences of all ages.
As a pre-teen, my mother would give me pocket money, about 50 Rupees a month; and I remember how I’d save up and spend days waiting just to hit the music store and buy the next MJ album that I could grapple my little paws on. By the time I reached 13, I had the original box set of all his albums from “Off the wall” and “Thriller” to “Bad” and “Dangerous”
Heck, I even got my groove goin’ and the mojo running’ when it came to the majestic ‘Moon Walk’. Yep, trying to mimic Jacko at every opportunity and chance I’d get; the moonwalk would be something that would take one to a whole new world of fantasy, enchantment and magic; a world where anything would be possible; well at least for a 13 year old. Of course, my moon-walking shenanigans came to an end the day I slipped trying to replicate the noble deed whilst taking a shower and falling flat on my bum. It’s funny how the scorch of sheer pain can help a person start a new leaf eh? Hmm.
In essence, apart from having the honor of being one of the most successful recording artists of all time, one of the most celebrated musicians in modern history and possessing the coveted title of the highest selling album of all time (Thriller); Michael Jackson has left an imprint on the lives of people around the world in ways that many politicians, social workers, humanitarians and religious figures never even come close to in a lifetime.
His music has been the intrinsic sound of the soul; a soul that everyone at one point or another regardless of age, nationality, language or social status could relate to. He has had more following than the Dalai Lama, more sell out stadiums than Manchester United and ofourse more controversy than Rosie O’Donnell caught like a deer in the headlights with a stolen Double Cheeseburger from McDonalds at 2 am.
However, inspire of the allegations, accusations, mudslinging tactics, denigration of image, demeaning of character and a plethora of other personal battles that MJ had to fight through (regardless of them being true or not), I’d like to think that at least as a ‘human being’ – if not as a prodigious musician or a revered celebrity - he has truly made a ‘difference’ for the ‘good’, in the lives of people around the world from every part of the known hemisphere; more than the ‘bad’ that people have attributed his persona with.
Even as a child inspire of the grit and grind of the industry and the lifestyle that came with it, MJ as the lead vocalist of the group “The Jackson 5” alongside his brothers; touched hearts, moistened eyes and stirred consciences that inevitably changed the course of many peoples lives in more ways than one; something that it still continues to accomplish till this very day and most certainly will even after his passing. One of my favorite songs from The Jackson 5 was: “I’ll be there”, a song that my late mother used to tell me so much about when she’d reminisce about the Jacksons, while growing up to them back in her own teenage years as a kid.
I'd like to point out one very important thing to hate mongers and people who have nothing better to do than 'judge' another human being whilst undermining their 'worth' faster than a declined paycheck:
At the end of the day, regardless of religion, caste, nationality or gender – we’ve all been put in this world for a reason by the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth and the reason is simple: “Righteousness”. Righteousness comes in many forms, whether it be moral, ethical, religious, social or otherwise; at the end of the day when all is said and done, any human being who can influence the life of another for the ‘better’, is more 'human' in my book than the people who ‘talk’ much yet actually ‘do’ less.
Moreover, after years of consistent untrue and hyped up rumors ( some stemming as far back as the early 90’s), It had finally recently been confirmed that Michael Jackson had embraced Islam after all; a reversion that many had attributed to the efforts by his elder brother Germaine Jackson who became a Muslim many years back in the late 80’s himself.
As Muslims, we know that Allah swt alone is the ‘Knower’ of the ‘seen’ and the ‘unseen’ and hence it is Allah swt alone that knows what we harbor in our hearts. He is The Omniscient, The Exulted, The Supreme and most of all : The Best of Judges
"Say: Whether ye hide what is in your hearts or reveal it, Allah knows it all” [The Holy Qur'an 3:29]
If Michael truly did proclaim the ‘Shahada’ with an open heart, a humble mind and a sincere natural disposition of submission to the Almighty, then I can only say one thing:
Michael, Allah swt has blessed you with the gift of Islam and the beauty of true guidance through the bounty of His endless mercy, by the end of your illustrious life, just before the cold bite of death grasped you in its unrelenting womb. That alone, is a one of the biggest signs from God that unflinchingly reminds us:
“And whomsoever Allah wills to guide, He opens his breast to Islam” [ The Holy Qur’an 6: 125 ]
“Whomsoever Allah guides, he is the guided one, and whomsoever He sends astray, those, They are the losers” [ The Holy Qur’an 7:178]
There are people who would say: What difference does it make if MJ is dead? Does it really affect or change peoples lives?
To such individuals, I would say this: Hopefully nobody's going to ask the same 'question' the day you die, which is why its best to 'atleast' humble oneself upon the news of death concerning another human being, if not more.
Death is the epitomy of reality and everyone is going to die one day.
What matters though is not 'how' you 'die', but 'how' you actually 'live' and step number one is to remind ourselves consistently of the fact that life by its very nature is too short, while the glitz and glamor of the world will never give anybody anything except a complimentary pass to the prison our mortality that we can never set ourselves free from, until death knocks on the door and slides in our last meal.
In closing, I’d like to quote something that ‘should’ resonate as a shining testament of ‘profundity’ through the essence of all human kind in general and the purity of passion with which this man we know as “The King of Pop” decorated the lives of millions by giving them the gift of ‘hope’, in specific.
“Think about umm.. the generations and say we wanna make it a better place for our children and our children’s children, so that they, they..they know it’s a better world for them”
– Words from an 8 year old cancer stricken girl at the opening of MJ’s song: “Heal the world”
We’ll miss you…now and always!
Special Thanks to My Friend Ali Ashraf
Smile and believe that today will be the one you remember most. For it is your memory of this day that reminds you how magical life can be. To be able to see and feel those who touch our hearts make them such an important part of tomorrow. It is today that leads us to tomorrow and those we take with us make it all the more worthwhile.