What are the benefits of thinking about death?
As stated in the hadith “Death is sufficient advice”, there are many lessons awaiting the thinking mind in the phenomenon of death.
Excess love of the passing pleasures of the world, and desire for fame and fortune are symptoms of spiritual disease. Envy, conceit, hypocrisy and lust are nothing but products of the love of the world. One of the most decisive remedies in protecting oneself from such malicious habits and spiritual shortcomings lies in the contemplation of death, the grave and events of the Afterlife.
Defeating the ego, becoming free of its damaging dominance and thereby purging the love of the world from the heart is the main objective of tasawwuf. Contemplation of death has therefore been an implemented method in many a tariqah, where the disciple spares five to ten minutes during his daily wird to reflect on death.
The Ottoman tendency to establish graveyards in town centers, by roads and in the courtyards of mosques, was only to provide an incentive for contemplating death. A Western traveler who picked up on this could not help but say, “Turks live with their dead.”
Preparing for the Hereafter by frequently remembering death and brushing aside the desires of the ego will help one avoid the agonizing remorse that may come with the final breath. The Almighty informs that a person, who during the throes of death suddenly comes to his senses as if waking up from a dream, is bound to plea, in deep remorse:
“My Lord! Why did You not respite me to a near term, so that I should have given alms and been among the doers of good deeds?” (al-Munafiqun, 10)
To avoid going through this tragic ordeal of remorse, we therefore need to open our eyes while we still have the time and begin to prepare for the impending life of eternity before the opportunity is forever lost.
Hasan Basri –Allah have mercy on his soul- had attended a funeral. Following the burial, he asked the man next to him:
“Do you think this person is right now wishing to return to the world to increase his good deeds, prayers and repentance over his sins?”
“Of course he is” assuredly replied the man.
“Then what is stopping us from thinking like him?” responded Hasan Basri. (Ibn’ul-Jawzi, al-Hasan’ul-Basri)
 Haythami, Majmau’z-Zawâid, Beirut1988, X, 308.
Source: Osman Nuri Topbaş, Contemplation in Islam, Erkam Public.