Alexander III of Macedon (356 – 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon.
As a military commander, he was undefeated and the most successful throughout history. On his way home from conquering many countries, he came down with an illness. At that moment, his captured territories, powerful army, sharp swords, and wealth all had no meaning to him. He realized that death would soon arrive and he would be unable to return to his homeland.
He told his officers: "I will soon leave this world. I have three final wishes. You need to carry out what I tell you." His generals, in tears, agreed.
"My first wish is to have my physician bring my coffin home alone." After gasping for air, Alexander continued: "My second wish is scatter the gold, silver, and gems from my treasure-house along the path to the tomb when you ship my coffin to the grave." After wrapping in a woolen blanket and resting for a while, he said: "My final wish it to put my hands outside the coffin." People surrounding him all were very curious, but no one dare to ask the reason.
Alexander’s most favored general kissed his hand and asked: "My Majesty, We will follow your instruction. But can you tell us why you want us to do it this way?" After taking a deep breath, Alexander said:
"I want everyone to understand the three lessons I have learned. To let my physician carry my coffin alone is to let people realize that a physician cannot really cure people’s illness. Especially when they face death, the physicians are powerless. I hope people will learn to treasure their lives. My second wish is to tell people not to be like me in pursuing wealth. I spent my whole life pursuing wealth, but I was wasting my time most of the time. My third wish to let people understand that I came to this world in empty hands and I will leave this world also in empty hands." He closed his eyes after finished talking and stopped breathing. 1The Final Three Wishes of Greek King of Macedon – Alexander The Great
So what exactly do we take with us when we die?
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, "When the human being dies, his deeds come to an end except for three: ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge, or a righteous child who prays for him." 2Sahih Muslim 1631 Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Muslim.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "The believer's shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity." 3Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 604
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity." 4Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498
"The Muslim community was under siege for the first few years, with the enemies combining their forces to try to crush the Muslim state. However, after the great victory against the allied forces of the Arab unbelievers and the Jews, the situation brightened up for the Muslims and their fortunes vastly improved. The Prophet could lead a life of riches, had he so wished. He, however, preferred a life of poverty. He did not wish to change his life style in any way." 5Prophet Muhammad : Preferring a life of poverty
His Legacy was that of Islam
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "If I had (a mountain of) gold, I would love that, before three days had passed, not a single (coin) thereof remained with me if I found somebody to accept it (as charity), excluding some amount that I would keep for the payment of my debts." 6Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Hadith 334
The Prophet taught that charity increases wealth. It says in the Quran 2:261, The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a seed [of grain] which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing (sahih international translation).
The Prophet also taught that charity purifies wealth
A man once said to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): "I have plenty of property, a large family, a great deal of money, and I am a gracious host to my guests. Tell me how to conduct my life and how to spend (my money)." The Prophet replied: "Give (regular charity) out of your property, for truly it is a purifier, and be kind to your relatives and acknowledge the rights of the poor, neighbors and (those in need who seek your help)." 7Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 3
So, let’s prepare for our akhira by giving in charity even if it be just one date-fruit, doing works of beneficial knowledge and raising righteous children. Because it is these things which will benefit us once we leave this world and not gold and riches.
|↑1||The Final Three Wishes of Greek King of Macedon – Alexander The Great|
|↑2||Sahih Muslim 1631 Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Muslim.|
|↑3||Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 604|
|↑4||Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498|
|↑5||Prophet Muhammad : Preferring a life of poverty|
|↑6||Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Hadith 334|
|↑7||Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 3|