Cleavon Little, Whitney Houston and the Remembrance of Death

I was watching Blazing Saddles (1974, Dir: Mel Brooks) again last night when I began to wonder what had happened to Cleavon Little, the guy who plays the role of the black Sheriff in the film. After a quick search on the internet I found that he had died back in 1992 of colorectal cancer at the young age of 53.

I read an interesting stat a few years back which said that almost a quarter of the Qur’an is devoted to reminding its readers and listeners of the inevitability of death, the afterlife and the importance of properly utilising the time we have on earth to promote good and challenge injustice.

Islamic civilisation and culture strongly encourages the remembrance of death and this is in quite stark contrast to modern culture here in the UK where it almost seems to be viewed with some embarrassment.

Anyway, then I woke up this morning to the news that Whitney Houston had died. The cause is as yet unknown but it would appear to be likely to be at least partly due to her well-publicised problems with substance abuse.

Atheists like to remind us that there is no evidence of an afterlife and they are correct. The Qur’an, by way of response, draws an analogy between a natural phenomenon and life after death to impress on its readers the need to look beyond the grave.

God is He that looses the winds, that stir up cloud, then We drive it to a dead land, and therewith give life to the earth, after it is dead. Even so will be the Resurrection! (Qur’an 35: 9)

Update: My favourite Whitney song? It’s Not Right, But It’s OK.

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2 Responses to Cleavon Little, Whitney Houston and the Remembrance of Death

  1. KMH says:

    Inayat, you wrote,
    “Islamic civilisation and culture strongly encourages the remembrance of death and this is in quite stark contrast to modern culture here in the UK where it almost seems to be viewed with some embarrassment.”
    In what way does Islamic civilisation culture encourage remembrance of death, and in what way does the UK’s modern culture view it with embarrassment?

  2. KMH: Islamic culture strongly reinforces the remembrance of death by encouraging regular visits to cemeteries, praying for forgiveness, asking God for admittance to Paradise, being part of gatherings where the name of God is repeatedly invoked and death warned about etc. Whenever I am with friends who are devout Muslims, they always remind each other about death too. It really is very common.

    I have lived in the UK all my life and just don’t see the same culture of remembrance of death – or anything approaching it – amongst wider society. This may perhaps be due to the decreasing role of Christianity in public life. I don’t know.

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