In some of the early accounts of al-Ghazali’s biography the following is related of which is translated. Al-Ghazali although a scholar was not a poet therefore some suspect the veracity of attribution of the poem to al-Ghazali.
Imam Ghazali woke up one early morning and as usual offered his prayers and then enquired what day it was, his younger brother, Ahmad Ghazali replied, “Monday.” He asked him to bring his white shroud, kissed it, stretched himself full length and saying “Lord, I obey willingly,” breathed his last.
And underneath his head rest they found the following verses; composed by him, probably, during the night.
Say to my friends, when they look upon me, dead
Weeping for me and mourning me in sorrow
Do not believe that this corpse you see is myself
In the name of God, I tell you, it is not I,
I am a spirit, and this is naught but flesh
It was my abode and my garment for a time.
I am a treasure, by a talisman kept hid,
Fashioned of dust, which served me as a shrine,
I am a pearl, which has left it’s shell deserted,
I am a bird, and this body was my cage
Whence I have now floron forth and it is left as a token
Praise to God, who hath now set me free
And prepared for me my place in the highest of the heaven,
Until today I was dead, though alive in your midst.
Now I live in truth, with the grave – clothes discarded.
Today I hold converse with the saints above,
With no veil between, I see God face to face.
I look upon the preserved tablet (Lawh al-Mahfuz) and there in I read
Whatever was and is and all that is to be.
Let my house fall in ruins, lay my cage in the ground,
Cast away the talisman, it is a token, no more
Lay aside my cloak, it was but my outer garment.
Place them all in the grave, let them be forgotten,
I have passed on my way and you are left behind
Your place of abode was no deweling place for me.
Think not that death is death, nay, it is life,
A life that surpasses all we could dream of here,
While in this world, here we are granted sleep,
Death is but sleep, sleep that shall be prolonged
Be not frightened when death draweth night
It is but the departure for this blessed home
Think of the mercy and love of your Lord,
Give thanks for His Grace and come without fear.
What I am now, even so shall you be
For I know that you are even as I am
The souls of all men come forth from God
The bodies of all are compounded alike
Good and evil, alike it was ours
I give you now a message of good cheer
May God’s peace and joy for evermore be yours.