“O you who believe! Let not your properties, nor your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. Whosoever does that, then they are the losers. So spend (in charity) of that with which We have provided you, before death comes to one of you and he says: ‘My Lord! If only you would give me respite for a little while (i.e. return to the worldly life), then I should give Sadaqah (I.e. Zakat – Obligatory charity) of my wealth, and be among the righteous.’ But Allah grants respite to none when his appointed time (death) comes. And Allah is All-Aware of what you do.”
[Surah Al-Munafiqun 63:9-11]
The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“Remember much, that which cuts off pleasure: Death, since no-one remembers it in times of difficulty, except that things are made easy for him, nor mentions it at times of ease, except that the affairs become constricted for him.” [Jaami’us Sagheer, no 1222]
Life in this World
Many humans live the life of this world, seeking the best that it has to offer, while ignoring what lies ahead of them upon death. This is a result of weak faith, for such people live only for what is before their eyes. The adornment of this world are but temptations to distract you from the true purpose of life and the reminder that you will indeed be responsible for all you do in this life.
Believing in death is part of belief in the unseen and is an essential part of faith.
As Allah Ta’ala says in the Qur’an:
“Alif Laam Meem. This is the Book without doubt, in it is guidance sure, for those who fear Allah, those who believe in the Unseen, are steadfast in prayer, and spend out of what we have provided.”
“Seek Allah’s help with patience and prayer. It is indeed hard, except for those who are humble. Who bear in mind that they will meet their Lord and that they are to return to Him.”
Death is a harsh and fearful reality faced by everyone who lives. No one has the power to avoid it, nor does anyone around the dying person have the ability to prevent it.
It is something, which happens every moment and is encountered by the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak. They are all the same because there is no plan or means of escaping it, no power, no means of intercession, no way to prevent it, nor to delay it, which shows that indeed it comes from One having tremendous power – so that the human is helpless in this regard and can only submit to it.
So in Allah’s hand alone is the granting of life, and in His hand is the return of what He gave at the appointed time, and after the allotted life span, whether the people are in their houses amongst their families, or striving to seek provision or striving for Aqeedah (correct belief). Reward and recompense are with Him, and He has full knowledge and power.
So the return of all is to Allah, and they will be raised up before Him, having no place of return except that, and no destiny but this one.
The only difference between people will be their deeds and intentions. But, with regard to their physical death, then it is one, death at the appointed time after the decreed span, and resurrection on the Day of Gathering of mankind when we will all face Allah. Then Forgiveness and Mercy, or His displeasure and punishment will be dealt out justly according to His will.
As Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Everyone shall taste death. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is removed away from the fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (a deceiving thing).”
[Surah Aal-Imran 3:185]
You must believe with absolute certainty the reality that the life in this world is limited and has an appointed beginning and an appointed end. Everyone’s soul will taste it and will depart from this life. The difference between these souls is their final destination: Paradise or Hell. We should exert all effort in attaining Paradise and pay great attention to avoiding prohibitions and deeds, which may inevitably lead us to Hell.
There are many ayah’s in the Qur’an that mention Death:
“Say: Verily, the death from which you flee will surely meet you, then you will be sent back to (Allah), the All-Knower of the unseen and the seen, and He will tell you what you used to do.”
“And we granted not to any human being immortality before you (O Muhammad), then if you die, would they live forever? Everyone is going to taste death, and We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good, and to Us you will be returned.”
[Surah Al-Anbiyah 21:34-35]
“(He) Who created death and life, that He may test which of you is best in deed. He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving.”
[Surah Al-Mulk 67:2]
There are many Prophetic Ahadith regarding death and the effect it should have on us.
From Al-Baraa’ ibn Aazib (radhiyallahu anhu), who said:
“We went out with Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) with the funeral of a man of the Ansar and we came to the grave and the niche in the side of the grave (al-Lahd), had not been dug out yet, so Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) sat and we sat around him as if we had birds upon our heads, and in his hand he had a stick with which he was striking the ground. Then he raised his head and said: ‘Seek Allah’s refuge from the Punishment of the Grave,’ two or three times. Then he said: ‘When the believing servant is leaving this world and going onto the Hereafter, angels with white faces – as if their faces were in the Sun – descend upon him. With them is a shroud from the shrouds of Paradise and perfume for embalming from the perfume of Paradise, so they sit away from him at the distance the eye can see and then the Angel of Death comes and sits by his head and says: “O good soul, come out to forgiveness from Allah and His good pleasure.” He said: “So it comes out, just as a drop flows out from the mouth of the drinking vessel, and he takes it but does not leave it in his hand even for the blink of an eye until they take it and places it in that shroud, and that perfume, and there comes out from him a smell like that of the best musk found upon the face of the earth.” He said: “So they ascend with it, (i.e. the persons soul) and they do not pass by any group of Angels except that they say: ‘Who is this good and pure soul?’ So they reply: “So and so, the son of so and so.” with the best of his names which he used to be called by in this world, until they come to the lowest Heaven, and ask that it should be opened for him, so it is opened for him, they accompany him through every Heaven until he is taken up to the seventh Heaven, and Allah the Al-Mighty says: “Write the record of my slave in Illiyun (signifying highness) and return him to earth to his body.” Then they say: “Who is your Lord?” So he will say: “My Lord is Allah.” So they will say: “What is your Deen?” He will say: “My Deen is Islam.” So they say: “Who is the man who was sent amongst you?” So he will say: “He is Allah’s Messenger.” So they say: “How did you come to know that?” So he will say: “I read the Book of Allah, and believed in it , and attested to it.” So a caller will call from Heaven: “Indeed My servant has spoken the Truth, so spread a place for him in Paradise, and a open a door to Paradise for him, so some of its fragrances and scents come to him and his grave is extended as far as the eye can see.” He said: “A person with a Handsome face, and beautiful clothes and good smell comes to him and says. ‘Receive good news, which will please you. This is the day which you were promised.’ So he says to him: “Who are you?, since your face appears to signify good.” So he says: “I am your righteous actions.” He therefore says: “O Lord, establish the Last Hour. O Lord establish the Last Hour – so that I may return to my family and wealth.”
But when the unbelieving servant is leaving this world and going into the Hereafter, angels with black faces descend upon him as far as the eye can see. The Angel of Death comes and sits by his head and says: “O foul soul, come out to Allah’s displeasure and anger.” So the soul spreads throughout the body, so he (the Angel of Death) drags it out, just as a pronged roasting fork is pulled out of wool. So he takes it, but does not leave it in his hand for the blink of an eye until they put it in those coarse sack cloths. Then there comes from him an offensive stench, like that of the foulest smelling corpse rotting upon the face of the earth. So they ascend with it (i.e. the soul), and they do not pass by any group of angels except that they say: “what is that foul smell!” So they say: “So and so, son of so and so,” calling him with the ugliest names which he used to be called with in this world, until they come with him to the lowest heaven, and ask permission to enter, and it is not opened for him.” Then Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) recited:
“…for them the gates of heaven will not be opened, and they will not enter Paradise until the camel goes through the eye of a needle (which is impossible).”
[Surah Al-A’raf 7:40]
So Allah Ta’ala says: “write his record in Sijjeen (a name signifying constriction) within the lowest earth.” Then his soul is flung down, and he recited:
“…and whoever assigns partners to Allah, it is as if he had fallen from the sky, and the birds had snatched him, or the wind had thrown him to a far off place.”
[Surah Al-Hajj 22:31]
So his soul is returned to his body and two Angels come and make him sit up. Then they say to him: “Who is your Lord?” So he will say: “Ah, ah, I don’t know.” So they will say: “Who is this man who was sent amongst you?” So he will say: Ah, ah, I don’t know.” So a caller will call from heaven: “You have lied so spread a place for him in the Fire, and open a door to the Fire for him.” So some of its heat and scorching air comes upon him, and his grave is constricted to the extent that his ribs interlace, and a man with an ugly face, unsightly clothes and smelling offensively comes to him and says: “Receive news of that which will grieve you, this is the day which you were promised.” So he will say: “Who are you?” He will answer: “I am your evil actions.” So the unbeliever will say: “O Lord, Do not establish the Last Hour.”
[Saheehul-Jaami, reported by Ahmed and others]
Death is Pre-Established
Death will occur at a fixed time. The time is, of course, unknown to us. The place, the time, the way in which each of us will die is known only to Allah. The death of each of us has been pre-recorded in a book by Allah. It cannot be brought about or avoided:
“Wherever you are death will find you out, even if you are in the towers built up strong and high…”
[Surah An-Nisa 4:11]
“It is He who gives Life and causes Death: and when He decides upon an affair, He says to it, ‘Be’ – and it is.”
[Surah Ghafir 40:68]
Death cannot be caused by anyone or anything, nor can it be stopped or delayed unless such is in agreement with what has been pre-written. Allah Ta’ala tells us:
“Nor can a soul die except by Allah’s leave, the term being fixed by writing…”
[Surah Aal-Imran 3:145]
This is where belief in Al-Ghayb (unseen) plays a big role. As humans we are deficient in our knowledge and as such we grasp that which is before us, comprehend it very well and use it for our benefit. We see the signs of Allah throughout the world before our eyes… the sun, the moon, day and night. etc., and it is these that we use to our advantage. However, the unseen, that which we have been asked to believe in without being able to see, is also an area of knowledge that we must grasp and use to benefit us as it contains much concerning our life in the hereafter.
The demise of a person contains a number of occurrences that we cannot see and perhaps are unaware of when they take place. When a person dies we cannot see what he sees, nor hear what he hears, nor feel what he feels. We don’t know what happens and of course no one has lived to tell of that experience. There are certain things we do not know that occur.
The stupors of death, called Sakaraatul Mawt, will be painfully felt by all. This fact is related in the Hadith concerning the death of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasaloam). Aa-ishah (radhiyallahu anha) related about the events before his death:
“There was a leather or wood container full of water in front of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). He put his hand into the water and rubbed his face with it, saying: “Laa illaaha illallaah !” No doubt death has its stupor’s.” Then he raised his hand and started saying: “O Allah, with the highest companions!” (and kept on saying this) until his hand dropped.”
Related by Al-Bukhari
The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was shown his place in Paradise and given the choice of living or dying and joining those “Highest Companions”. Refer to Surah Nisa: 4 Ayah 69 and Al-Bukhari – Volume 1, Hadith Number 516.
The best way to explain “The stupors of Death” is as follows: When a person is dying, they come in and out of consciousness, even when they appear conscious, they may be dazed and incoherent – that’s why it is so important, at this time to remind the person of Allah, always remembering, that (though you cant see what’s happening), it is a very trying and sometimes a confusing time for the dying person.
Repentance and Request To Return
Another inevitable occurrence at death is the desire to return back to life just to do one more good deed. This is especially true for the Kafir (unbeliever), and the transgressor. They will regret their lives and wish to return to put aright their deeds. It must be a frightening thing for them at death.
“Until when death comes to one of them (those who join partners with Allah), he says: “O my Lord! Send me back in order that I may work righteousness in the things I have neglected…”
[Surah Al-Mu’minun 23:99-100]
Once Sakaraatul Mawt approaches there is no turning back. When the rattling of death is heard in the throat, nothing can be reversed:
“Then why do you not intervene when it (the soul of the dying person), reaches the throat…Call back the soul if you are true.”
[Surah Al-Waqi’a 56:83,87]
It is then that the dying person sees the angels and he realizes Death is at hand. Once the angels are seen, man can grasp the reality of Al-Ghayb (the unseen), for he has witnessed the truth of it. Declaration of faith is of no avail at that time for it is no longer “Unseen”. Any repentance at this stage is rejected.
“Allah accept the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and repent afterwards; to them will Allah turn in mercy, for Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom. Of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil until death faces one of them and he says: ‘Now have I repented indeed’, Nor of those who die rejecting faith; for them We have prepared a punishment most grievous.”
[Surah An-Nisa 4:17-18]
Many people don’t repent or seek refuge in Allah, until they face difficulty. Then when they are in trouble and feel the need they have for Allah, they turn to Him and beg for His help and His mercy.
“When trouble touches man he cries unto Us – lying down on his side, or sitting or standing. But, when We have removed his affliction he passes on his way as if he had never cried to Us for the affliction that had touched him. Thus do the deeds of transgressors seem fair in their eyes.”
[Surah Yunus 10:12]
Incredibly, many people today feel no need for Allah at all. Repentance never occurs to them. They feel self-sufficient. As sincere Muslims, we should turn to Allah at all times, not just at times of trouble. Consider the stories of Prophet Yunus (alayhis salaam) and Fir’awn. They were in similar places and trouble. They both sought refuge in Allah in the same manner. Yet they were dealt with in different ways. Fir’awn was drowning at sea. When he realized his plight, he turned to Allah saying:
“…And I believe that there is no God but Him whom the Children of Israel believe in. I am of those who submit (to Allah in Islam).”
[Surah Yunus 10:90]
At his moment of death he declared his belief in Tawheed, which is the key to Paradise. Yet his repentance was rejected. When he supplicated to Allah, Jibreel (alayhis salaam) threw mud in his mouth so that the angels could not hear him.
Prophet Yunus (alayhis salaam) was in three dark places: way out to sea, in the dark of night, in the stomach of a whale. He supplicated:
“And remember Jonah, when he went off in anger, and imagined that We shall not punish him (i.e. the calamities that had befallen him!) But he cried La illaha illa Anta (none has the right to be worshipped but You, (O Allah), Glorified (and Exalted) be You above all the (evil) they associate with You. Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers.”
[Surah Al-Anbiyah 21:87]
Prophet Yunus (alayhis salaam) also sought refuge in Allah through his belief in Tawheed and was saved. Why Yunus (alayhis salaam) and not Fir’awn? Allah Ta’ala said:
“So, We answered his call, and delivered him from the distress. And thus We do deliver the believers (who believe in the Oneness of Allah, abstain from evil and work righteousness).”
[Surah Al-Anbiyah 21:88]
Fir’awn was not of true faith, therefore his repentance was rejected by Allah. True faith is always present, not simply in times of distress. Remember the mud thrown in the mouth of Fir’awn when he cried out. When Yunus (alayhis salaam) supplicated to Allah the angels responded saying: “A familiar voice from a well known slave.” A very important lesson from this is that we should try to remember Allah, at all times and asks Him for help even when we are in comfort and free of problems. By remembering Allah in easy times He will remember you in difficult times just as He did to Yunus (alayhis salaam).
Presence of Shaytan
Just as the angels will be present, Shaytan will be too. It is his last chance to try to turn man to evil. He will do what he can to cause him to die upon Shirk (Polytheism), or at least commit sin.
“Indeed Shaytan is present in all of your affairs, even at the time of eating. Therefore, if a morsel of food falls to the ground, one should remove any harmful thing from it, and eat it. Don’t leave it for Shaytan to eat. And when one finishes, he should lick his fingers, for no one knows where the blessing in the food might be.”
[Related by Al-Bukhari]
Shaytan can assume any form he desires in order to deceive man. He can come to you when you are dying in the form of your deceased Mother or Father or close friend saying:
“I come to you from the other life and I have found that Christianity is the truth.”
This is the time when the weak in faith may fail. Never consider yourself to be of firm, unshakable faith. Allah holds our hearts between His fingers.
Even those of great knowledge never consider themselves of unwavering faith. They fear that they may lose the gift of Islam. The Qur’an tells us of such people:
“…And those firmly grounded in knowledge say: ‘We believe in it, the whole of it is from our Lord. And none will grasp the message but men of understanding. O Lord let not our hearts deviate now after You have guided us, but grant us mercy from You, for You are the Granter of bounties without measure.”
[Surah Aal-Imran 3:7-8]
An example of Shaytan’s work at the time of death is seen in the story of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, the great scholar and founder of the Hanbali school of thought.
At his death, his son was beside him telling him: “Say Laa illaaha illallaah.” Imam Ahmad replied: “No! No!” The son was horrified and repeated to his father: “Laa illaaha illallaah.” And again Imam Ahmad said: “No! No!” He then lost consciousness. When he came to he told his son: “I see my devil saying: Ahmad! I was not able to deviate you!” The devil had come to him and tried to get him to admire himself for his righteous life by insisting that before he die, he say he was of the people of Paradise. Imam Ahmad reply was: “No!, No!, not until I die.”
Husnul Khaatimah (A Good Ending)
Life in this world is of many types yet death is only two. Just as there is only Paradise and Hell, there is only a good ending and a bad one. A good ending is known as Husnul Khaatimah. We know that a person who dies with Husnul Khaatimah is reassured by the angels that good awaits him. He has died with faith in Islam and his good deeds will benefit him all the more.
Of course there are stories of those who, Insh Allah died with Husnul Khaatimah:
** A young man helped a stranded elderly couple repair their car, which had broken down on the freeway. His friends left him with them and continued on their way Makkah. The young man stayed with the couple until their car was fixed and then went to Makkah. When he arrived, he went to the Haram (mosque), he prayed, and stayed in sujood for a long time until finally his friends became worried. When they touched him he fell over. He had died in prostration.
** A young man was changing a tire and while doing so, his car was hit from behind which then hit him. He was severely injured and kept mumbling the entire time. The ambulance came to take him to hospital, the medic noticed his constant mumbling, and tried to hear what he was saying, as he leaned over to listen, he realized that the young man was reciting Qur’an.
Suu’-ul Khaatimah (A Bad Ending)
As for a bad ending – Suu-ul Khaatimah – there are a few causes:
1) Corrupt Beliefs
Even though this person may perform good deeds, may even renounce the world in piety, some of his beliefs are false. He is convinced that his belief’s are true and correct. It doesn’t cross his mind that he may be in error. This discovery is only made when Sakaraatul Mawt reaches him. And, though he may be upon the truth in some of his belief’s, his falsehood will delete him.
“Say: shall we tell you of those who lose most in respect of their deeds? Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, while they thought that they were acquiring good by their works.”
[Surah Al-Kahf 18:103-104]
Whether such beliefs are held due to one’s opinions or are taken from others, the person falls into this danger. His good deeds are of no benefit to him. Without correct belief, which is based upon the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah, nothing will benefit him.
2) Persistence in Acts of Disobedience
The person who persists in sin will accustom his heart to sinful acts. They will become natural to him. All such deeds that become typical aspects of our lives will come to us at the time of death. If we are accustomed to righteousness and obedience and the doing of good deeds, it will be in this frame of mind that we die. And, if we have accustomed ourselves to a life of sin or persisted in certain sinful acts, these acts will fill our minds at death. If this occurs, if these acts of disobedience overcome our thoughts due to the active role they played in our lives, we will end our lives with Suu-ul Khaatimah.
We know from the Sunnah that a person should be encouraged to say La illaaha illaallah when he is dying, but some of us will be unable to say this due to such acts of disobedience that preoccupied us in our lives.
A few examples are:
** A person who was very fond of alcohol was dying. He was encouraged to say La illaaha illaallah, but all he could say was: “Pour another glass for me.”
** Two young men were driving around the city listening to music. They were in a very bad accident. One of them escaped with little harm, while the other one was badly hurt. When the friend who was not hurt realized that his friend was dying he encouraged him to say: La illaaha illallaah, all he could do was to sing the verses of the song he had been listening to in the car.
3) Deviation From The Straight Path
He who possesses correct belief and is upon the straight path, but then leaves it will cause himself Suu-ul Khaatimah. Man may know the truth and live in accordance with it for some time. Yet he follows Shaytan when he commands him to reject faith.
“Like the Shaytan when he says to man: “Disbelieve!” But when man disbelieves, Shaytan says: “I am free of you, I do fear Allah, Lord of the Worlds.” The end of both will be that they will go into the fire, dwelling therein forever. Such is the reward of the Unjust and the Wrongdoers.”
[Surah Al-Hashr 59:17]
4) Deterioration of Faith
Deterioration of faith begins in this way. A Muslim feels himself sufficient in his knowledge and fails to see his weaknesses. Slowly he loses even the knowledge that he has because he fails to put it into practice. He neglects the Sunnah and perhaps feels the spiritual path of faith is sufficient for him. Practical affairs, for which we take guidance from the Sunnah, such as; how to eat and sleep, how to pay Zakat, become unimportant to him. Though spiritual worship is rewarded, often the practical deeds are of more benefit to a Muslim in life and may even be of greater reward.
For example: Scholars are of the opinion that recitation of the Qur’an is rewarded, although seeking knowledge is of greater reward. Recitation without knowledge and practical application is fruitless.
“The similitude of those who were entrusted with the Taurat (torah), but who subsequently failed in those (obligations) is that of a donkey which carries books (but understands them not). Evil is the similitude of a people who falsify the signs of Allah; And Allah guides not those who do wrong.”
[Surah Al-Jumu’ah 62:5]
5) Weakness in Faith
Faith to many people is a matter of the heart, an inner belief. However, Islamic faith is much more.
The definition of faith in Islam is: A belief in the heart supported by words from the tongue and actions of the body. Faith in Islam cannot simply be an inner belief, nor words from the tongue, it must be backed up by deeds. This is where many Muslims fail in faith.
You cannot simply hope for Paradise, you must work for it. We must consequently pass many trials and tests in order to obtain it. If our actions do not convey what we carry in our hearts and voice from our mouths, our faith is weak, and therefore deficient. Often times, such weaknesses in faith are caused by one’s love for Dunya, the worldly life. The love of Dunya can become excessive causing faith to become so weak that one lives for this world only, dreading death, as it represents the end of worldly life, that he loves so much. If Sakaraatul Mawt reaches him whilst in this state, he will find himself doubtful in faith and can end with Suu-ul Khaatimah.
Often we are impressed with people particularly non-Muslims, who are well mannered and of impeccable behaviour. Yet they posses little or no faith. Such people will have their deeds rejected by Allah and will be those with Suu-ul Khaatimah.
The manners and behaviour with which they impressed people so much in this life will be of no help to them when they face Allah. Muslims may die with Minor and Major Suu-ul Khaatimah.
Perhaps, they were believing practicing Muslims, but fell into innovation in religion. Some may have fallen into one of the sects, whose followers claim to be Muslim. Whether or not they fall into the minor or major category depends upon the seriousness of that which they involve themselves in. Of course the most serious is that which concerns one’s Aqeedah, definitely casting one into the Major Suu-ul Kaatimah.
An example is found in the Sufi’s. Some of their beliefs are Kufr, while others, though they are contrary to Islamic teachings, do not cast them out of the fold of Islam. Such things show all the more reason to seek Islamic knowledge so that we may avoid falling into such falsehood, thinking that we are on the right path.
“Say: ‘Shall We tell you of those who lose most in respect to their deeds? Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life while they thought they were acquiring good by their works.”
[Surah Al-Kahf 18:103-104]
Those of the Minor category are those who have faith yet die upon sin. On the Day of Judgment, the Scale will weigh their deeds, good and bad. This will determine whether they are the people of Hell or the people of Paradise.
We Should All Ask Ourselves:
If I Die in the State I Am Today, Will I Die with;
Suu-ul Khaatimah Or Husnul Khaatimah???