Not a cartoon I generally sit and watch again but it’s holiday season and my nephews were watching it and so I caught some of it. It reminded me of a scene which I have either previously written on, or if not, certainly spoken about. This scene is known as the “incinerator scene” and comes towards the end of the movie so there is a spoiler alert, but if you haven’t watched Toy Story 3, then you are around 7 years late to the party.
To cut a long story very short, the toys have been deposited onto a conveyor belt conveying rubbish into an incinerator, which is basically a devastating fire which is so hot that anything which falls into it becomes, basically, ash.
Our toys, who by the 3rd instalment we have grown to love, are on this conveyer belt and every time they try to move forward they realise that they are slowly being dragged to impending doom. There is a feeling of extreme desperation as they all start to look at each other and hold hands.
If we take a break from the story we can reflect about how this is an amazing analogy about our lives. I remember one of my teachers saying that:
“In this dunya (this life) we are either moving forwards or moving backwards – there is no standing still.”
Moving forward means moving towards Jannah because that is real and it is our goal – therefore “in front of us”. When we stay still, the conveyer belt of life takes us back and backwards is the hell-fire. The fire is also very real as Allah mentions it in the Quran (therefore there is no denying it) and Imam Tahawi (the 3rd century Islamic jurist and theologian) confirms in his classical Aqida text. It isn’t just some scary story which Allah tells us so that we may obey his commands and try to keep us to the straight path. There is a place called Hell which is full of torture and torment from amongst which will be a fire the likes of which is 70 times hotter than the hottest fire in the world – it is literally an incinerator.
Back to the story, and our protagonists, the toys, avert their eyesight and close their eyes as they get drawn closer to the fire. Presumably by now they can feel its heat starting to burn them, the smell of the fire will be filling their noses and it will be burning up the things which are in front of them. They will no doubt see columns of flame whipping up in front of them – this would put them in a state of haqqul-yaqeen i.e. certainty of knowledge that the fire is real because they can now feel it with their senses. They have now given up all hope and a human in this world is between hope and fear. We are told to be like a bird with one wing of hope and one wing of fear – hope in Allah’s Mercy and fear in Allah’s Wrath. As we get close to death, however, we focus on the Mercy of Allah. It is at that time when Allah’s Mercy is manifested in the form of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), or in the case of Toy Story the toys have given up all hope when suddenly, without warning and within moments of being plunged into the depths of the incinerating fire a light shines above and a giant claw moves down plucking them up and depositing them away from the fire.
That is the moment the audience breathes a sigh of relief, some wipe away a tear from their eye and the Muslim says alhamdulillah because we realise that many of us will be dragged out from the clutches of hell-fire by the Shafa’a (intercession) of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
This subject is long but of extreme importance. Allah has given certain creatures of His the ability to intercede or help out others in the next life. Chief amongst those is the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) who will have various categories of intercession. The main and greatest of these is the Intercession to begin the Day of Judgement. At a time when man-kind will be drowning in their own sweat standing at the mawqif (place of standing) after having been resurrected, for a period of perhaps up to seventy years, we will be begging Allah to start the accounting. At this stage the Prophet (SAW) will intercede on behalf of all creatures ever created by Allah and beseech Allah to start the accounting (hisab).
From amongst his other intercessions will be intercessions to remove people of his ummah from the Hell-Fire and to intercede on behalf of those who may have been destined for the Hell-Fire. All of this is with the permission of Allah. You can read a bit more about the intercession here or sit with a suitably qualified teacher to go over this with you.
But, Toy Story 3, which is totally fictional and perhaps without any inkling on behalf of the producers, gives us a reminder about an extremely important part of our religion i.e. that which happens after death. The Prophet (SAW) was so concerned and will be so pre-occupied with us, his ummah, on the Day of Judgement trying to secure as many of us as he can into Jannah. It grieves him to know that any of us may enter into the Hell-Fire. On that day when we will only care about ourselves, he (SAW) will only care about others.
So now, while we can, while we have the chance, should we not care about him? Should we not at least ask Allah to send His prayers upon the Prophet (SAW)? Were it not for him (SAW) we wouldn’t have Islam and so we needed him before, we need him now because his Sunnah is our only way of salvation, and we will need him after we die.
On the Day of Judgement he will be that ray of light in the darkness, that Sayyid we turn to when we have no-one else and he will intercede for us, he will try his hardest to request that Allah allow us to be admitted directly to heaven even though are not deserving.