Rashid to stress embracing death to truly live life



Moral and ethical questions often surround death, dying and the afterlife — questions Hussein Rashid will explore in a Muslim context.

Rashid, who teaches a course at Hofstra University called “Life, Death, and Immortality,” will give a lecture at 2 p.m. today in the Hall of Philosophy titled “Embracing Death to Live Life.” Week Nine’s Interfaith Lecture theme is “From Here to Hereafter: Facing Death with Hope and Courage.”

Rashid will examine the moral and ethical considerations surrounding death, dying and the afterlife. He will also explore what particular visions of the Muslim afterlife look like. Some such issues include quality of life, assisted living and end-of-life considerations, such as assisted suicide.

“Elder care in its own right is a big question,” he said. “What does it mean to have a multigenerational household, and what effect does it have on the family?”

News about Islamist extremists wanting to kill themselves creates a popular notion of what the Muslim afterlife looks like — one that does not necessarily reflect reality, Rashid said.

“I think, generally, most Muslims see their afterlife as being something very different,” he said. “[I will be] really looking at not how the media portrays Muslim conceptions of the afterlife, but how Muslims themselves conceive of their afterlife.”

Rashid will also examine the dynamic debate that surrounds abortion in Islam, which is one that goes back centuries. Issues include how these debates are framed and what the considerations are, which includes the question of when life begins.

Rashid’s studies include the Abrahamic faith traditions’ treatment of life and death. Drawing comparisons and contrasts between the religions can obscure more than reveal, he said; instead, getting at the deeper core can illuminate how the traditions address how to struggle for and create a more just and equitable society. For example, there is a belief that Jesus will be present at the end times in both Christianity and Islam; however, Jesus plays a different role in each tradition.

“I don’t think saying that Jesus comes back in Muslim and Christian traditions is as interesting as saying that Jesus is different in both traditions, but the reason he appears in both is because we’ve got to work to justice in this world now,” Rashid said.

Although many religions, in some way, indicate that the afterlife is better than the physical life, a notion runs through that dictates one can’t wait for his or her life to be better, Rashid said, but rather must work to make the lives of others better.

“I look at it as a conversation between how you want your afterlife to look like and what you want this life to look like,” Rashid said. “How are they in conversation, and how does that impact that transition phase in your life?”