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  • Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

The Beginning, Not the End

On July 18, 1981, a railway guard by the name of Jabir Husain set off on his very last official journey on the railways. On the following day, his long period of service would be over. It was with a great sense of pleasurable anticipation that he contemplated the life of retirement which now stretched out before him–a life of ease with the freedom to do exactly as he pleased. As he was setting off on this last journey, he said with great satisfaction to his colleagues, “From tomorrow I shall be starting out on a new life!” Prophetic words, for this journey was to be his last in more senses than one. The express train on which he was travelling was a mere sixty kilometers away from its destination when it collided with a goods train and Jabir Husain was killed outright. A railway officer, commenting on this irony of fate said, “Just another sixty kilometers and it would have been the end of his official journey.” (Indian Express, 18 July 1981).

Who does not picture to himself a long and eventful life? Everyone thinks that he will reach some great and interesting turning point in his life in just “another sixty kilometers”. But before the sixty-kilometer mark can be reached, the angels of death swoop down upon him, and catching him unaware, bear him off to another world. Everyone is constantly making plans for the life he will lead tomorrow, but it is only when death strikes with lightning speed that he quite finally understands that his ‘tomorrow’ will be–not in this world–but in the next, eternal world. Where he had believed implicitly that he was nearing the end of some agreeable terrestrial journey and approaching some highly coveted goal, he was, in fact, upon the brink of eternity–at the beginning of things, not the end.

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