No Certainty

Ayah RathoreMarch 8, 2021Life and DeathInterfaith Connections

The concept of life and death has always been an interesting one. A cold, dead mystery surrounds it, one that we’re never sure will ever be solved.

In my faith, uncertainty is certain. What comes after death has always been a strangely normalized but still intimate and unanswerable question. Yet, also a question that continues to receive new answers continually. Because, after all, no matter how much we love to avoid the bitter, stinging truth, we all will die, and the fear of not knowing what will happen with us afterward is one that leaves us awfully numb. Shall we stay dead? Who knows? Not me, not you.

I grew up in a fairly broken household. Despite their trying to shelter me as much as possible, I took notice of all the fights and dirty looks certain family members would shoot others, and the fact that we were constantly moving never helped the instability, either. We are Muslim, but by the time I was born, my parents didn’t have the energy to teach religion anymore, having already taught it to my three far elder siblings. And due to this, even though my family tried to teach me about happiness and light, my outlook on life became darker than the usual child's. So, because of my rocky upbringing, my beliefs were also quite rocky, and I never had anything that was 100% certain in my life.

But here comes the more dreadful, common question: What is the meaning of life? I know, I know, I can feel you rolling your eyes. “How overused,” you think, wondering why all of us, all people, seem to have the same boring, innocent mindset when it comes down to life. I agree that everyone thinks the same. And it's because we’re scared. We’re scared of the truth, we’re scared we won't like it. And guess what, we should be. Because the unknown is scary. And we know nothing. At least, I don’t. My faith isn’t strong like other people's.

When we talk about death, you tend to wonder. Does it hurt? Will I go to heaven? Is there a heaven? Well, don't look at me for answers, I know just as much as you, or even less. That's the point. With death, you can't decide, and you don't know. You can go two ways: accept that you know not, and live until you can’t anymore.

You can take away a life whenever you want, whether it be your own life, or someone else's. It's almost funny how easy it is; one action, big or small, and it's gone, you're gone, they are gone. And you start to wonder about the possibilities, you start to wonder about the control you have.

That is, if you have any; for all you know, you don't even control yourself. You can't know.

You can go mad thinking and worrying about all you can’t control. Maybe because you can't control anything, you could be perceived as but a meaningless speck in a vast universe. One on the surface of a planet that decides your fate.

That is, if that's what you believe.

Because in the end, everything comes down to what you think. You're out here making an uneducated guess, and you will probably stick with it. In life, you decide what you want to do. You’re put into a laboring, unstable world, and you get no handbook. You live, and you learn, and then, in the end, when you take that somber last breath, you die with the knowledge that you made it, you did what you did and you lived with it, congratulations.

You live life judging things by your moral code. Something you create. It's humorous, really. Who are you to decide what is right or wrong, good or bad? Well, you are you, and you get to decide because you are the one who is living through all of everything pertaining to you.

When you create, you make mistakes, and one tiny mistake could ruin it all. All you built, all you've achieved, your life. Something you did can indirectly cause your death, and that surely shows a lot, huh? Well, no. Living in an age where you have immense information right at the tips of your tiny little fingers sounds exciting. But, when you constantly see people fail, and ultimately ruin everything they have, it really changes the way you live your life. As a small child, I was exposed to so much, I perceived everything at such a rapid pace, that I ended up just being scared of that “everything,” with not much faith to rely on.

You tend to think, as that is all you have. You have yourself, and then you have nothing. Because everything exists, then everything comes to an end, everything lives and everything dies. And we don't know why, we don't know. It hurts, it leaves a bubbling pain in your chest knowing you know nothing.

We are all life, we are all light, until we are not. We control everything, but we have no control. We learn so much, but we know nothing. We are all contradictions of all we think we have, and we will never have the closure of certainty. Until we do. I was raised by a Muslim father who was kind enough to let me independently figure out my beliefs; my devout Muslim mother, on the other hand, was not so kind. My mother has a mental illness, so a lot of what she taught me was not coherent. But, from all the good things I remember, light is the main one. She taught me that we are all pure until we choose not to be, and that really stuck with me.

And you read this and you think, “How does this explain anything? It gives no insight on what this person thinks, everything is all so mixed up.’’ And yes, my dear reader, that is the point. You decide, or you don't. Because nothing is certain, and everything is permitted.

Now, you’ve listened to all I've said, and I've said nothing, but so much. So, take from this what you will, or what you won't. Here is the end, the figurative death of this writing. The life exactly 1,055 words long.

Wait a minute, please, I'm scared.

Ayah Rathore is a sixth grader from Islamabad, Pakistan who is interested in reading, writing, drawing, swimming, acting, theater, musicals, history, music, animation, editing, and photography.