This is Part 2 of a 4-part series on leading fuller lives by increasing our awareness of our death.
The Quran contains a very short chapter called Al-Takaathur, containing only 8 verses, the first two of which say:
“The mutual rivalry for piling up of worldly things diverts you. Until you visit the graves” (Quran 102:1-2)
When I tell my work colleagues that I visited a cemetery with some friends last weekend, I receive a queer look. “Did someone in your family die?” asked one of them. “Why did you go with your friends, isn’t that weird?” asked another. I answered “No” to both of them; “Why should I need a reason to go to a cemetery?”
Visiting a cemetery is to become acquainted with what our final destination looks like. It helps put our lives in context. Why is this so? The Quranic verse above starts simply with two Arabic words – al-haakum al-takaathur – that can be translated in multiple ways:
These two words combined together are perhaps Islam’s simplest yet most powerful rejection of materialism – the constant piling up of material possessions. So what is the solution to avoiding this state? The following verse says, “Until you visit the graves”.
What does this mean?
These two verses can be interpreted as either: 
The first interpretation is almost a statement of the obvious. The second is perhaps a call to action. Much as how the Quran itself is merely a reminder to mankind, a cemetery is a very powerful reminder to each of us that our lives are short and limited, and thus our time on this Earth is precious and valuable.
How do you go about visiting a cemetery?
It’s simple – just go to one! No excuse needed and no need to wait for a funeral. A couple of practical points you may want to consider:
If we want to avoid continuously running the rat race of this world, “al-haakum al-takaathur” in the words of the Quran, then a pause, a rewind and a reality check, is a good place to start.
I truly believe that if more people made an effort to visit a cemetery every now and then, we would realise how short and valuable our time in this life is, and how we are all just travellers on a journey. And after all, what kind of traveller am I, if I don’t know my destination?
Written By Hassan
Hassan is a mechanical engineer in the energy sector. He regularly blogs about faith, community and current affairs at www.increasingspeed.com. This article was originally published on www.increasingspeed.com
 Exegesis of Quran, Surat Takathur http://www.linguisticmiracle.com/tafsir/takathur
 Merits and etiquette of visiting the deceased, Az-Zahraa Islamic Centre http://www.az-zahraa.org/marhumeen/MeritsEtiquette_Deceased.php
Previously in this series: