Wednesday, 11 July 2007

How Believers Treat Death

Multitudes of men have walked on the surface of this Earth. They all belonged to different nations and cultures. A few of them made history for which they were remembered, whereas others, were never to be mentioned again. Although each one was personally different from another; and their habits, thinking and tastes differed; but they all had two things in common - first, they were all delivered from their mother's womb, and second, they all tasted death. Who can claim that he has lived a thousand years?

We all admit the honourable rank of the Holy Prophet Muhammad SAW and his position in the eyes of Allah SWT. It is also undisputed that he is the Last and Final Messenger of Allah whose message will survive until the Day of Judgement. We also place his Companions RA superior to others.

The day the Prophet Muhammad SAW passed away, it was hard for his Companions RA to believe such a thing could happen to such a highly ranked Prophet who remained active until his last breath.

Saiyidina Umar ibn Al-Khattab RA ascended the pulpit and addressed: (mafhum)

"Anyone who says that the Prophet Muhammad SAW has passed away, I will slit his throat."

It was not a strange thing to address; for the Prophet Muhammad SAW held an honourable rank before him. He was a Prophet whose miracles were numerous. Of which one is the living miracle - the Holy Qur'an. How can the Messenger of Allah SAW leave his Companions RA behind?

Suddenly Saiyidina Abu Bakr As-Siddiq RA, ordered Umar RA to descend the pulpit, but Umar RA remained on it, fully convinced that he was right in what he was saying.

Abu Bakr RA started his speech, and recited the following Ayat of the Qur'an:

"Muhammad is no more than a Messenger, and indeed (many) Messengers have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels (as disbelievers)? And he who turns his back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah, and Allah will give reward to those who are grateful." (Surah 144: Ayat 3)

On hearing this, Umar RA and other companions were astonished that they had recited this verse many a time but on this occasion it did not come in their mind. They felt as if the Ayat was being revealed to Abu Bakr RA and all agreed that Muhammad SAW had passed away. Such a great personality experienced death, should we be unmindful of it as if we will never experience it?

Allah SWT states in the Qur'an:

"Every soul shall have a taste of death. And only on the Day of Judgement shall you be paid your full recompense." (Surah Al-Imran: Ayat 185)

The grand Imam, Shaykh Jalaluddin Suyuti RA has recorded the verdict of the Ulama that death is not mere annihilation but a type of metamorphosis where the soul (Ruh) is separated from the body like the movement from one dwelling to another. (As described in his kitab - Sharhus-Sudur).

A Believer's death has been explained analogously by many Ulama as the transference from a world of hardship to that of peace and luxury. May Allah grant us such death. Ameen.


In Kitab-ul-Zuhd, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal RA has included the narrations of Hasan Basri RA that, when Allah created the Prophet Adam AS and his progeny, the angels expressed much concern about the world being insufficient to accommodate all of them. Allah SWT assured them by declaring:

"I shall create death!" (Riwayat Ibn Abi Shaybah)

Hearing this, the angels became disturbed and when they remarked that it would instil fear and remove the pleasure of life, Allah declared:

"I shall create hope and ambitions."

According to Mujahid RA, when Adam AS was sent to Earth, Allah SWT said to him:

"O Adam! Construct buildings destined for destruction and ruination; and beget for death." (Riwayat Abu Nu'aim)

"O dweller of lofty mansions, very soon you will be buried in the sand (a lowly station). Allah has an Angel calling daily: 'Beget for death and create buildings for destruction'. "


We are so engrossed in our worldly pursuits that the remembrance of death rarely or does not occur to us.

Rasulullah SAW said:

"The most intelligent person is the one who often remembers death."

Constant remembrance of it prevents one from evil and sin and motivates him towards good morals.

The Holy Prophet SAW said:

"The remembrance of death defeats joy."

The above narration clearly indicates that we are in this world for a purpose and not just for pleasure and entertainment.

The Holy Prophet SAW says:

"Live in the world as though you are a wayfarer."

Concerning this, the Prophet Isa AS has said:

"This world is like a bridge, cross it and do not build on it."

Life in this world is very short which everyone has to surpass, until he/she meets his death.

Allah SWT explains in the Qur'an:

"For every Ummah (nation) there is a term appointed, when their term is reached, not an hour (nor a moment) can they cause to delay, nor (an hour nor a moment) can they advance (it)." (Surah 10: Ayat 49, Tafsir Al-Qurtubi)


Nowadays, when a person dies, the family and close relatives grieve over the deceased. After some time all is forgotten and much attention is given to the inheritance, so much so they begin to have disputes over it. The wealth of the deceased is valued more than the lessons to be taken from the person's death. If we remembered death frequently, we would certainly prepare for it. This is only common sense.


Intelligent students always prepare for their examinations. It is also a matter of intelligence to prepare for the account to be given after death.

The Holy Prophet SAW has mentioned in Hadith:

"Intelligent is the one who prepares for life after death."

The Prophet Muhammad SAW also said:

"Take importance of life before death." (Riyadhus Salihin)

Once, the Holy Prophet SAW entered the Masjid for Solat, when he noticed some people laughing and giggling.

The Prophet SAW remarked:

"If you remembered death, I would not see you like this. Think of your death often. Not a single day passes when the grave does not call out: 'I am a wilderness, I am a place of dust, I am a place of worms'. When a believer is placed in the grave, it says: 'Welcome. It is good of you to have come to me. Of all the people walking on the Earth, I liked you best. Now you have come in to me, you will see how I entertain you.' It then expands as far as the occupant can see. A door from Paradise is opened for him in the grave and through this door he gets fresh and fragrant air of Paradise.

However, when an evil man is laid into the grave, it says: 'You are not welcome here. Your coming into me is very bad for you. Of all the people walking on the Earth, I disliked you the most. Now that you have been put into me, you will see how I treat you!' It then closes upon him so much that his ribs of one side penetrate into the ribs of the other. As many as seventy serpents are then set upon him, to keep biting him until the Day of Resurrection. These serpents are so venomous that if one of them happen to spurt its venom upon the earth, not a single blade of grass would grow."


It is stated in a Hadith that a person will be raised in the state he dies.

The Prophet Yusuf AS who had been given the Leadership of Egypt, prayed so that Allah gives him death in the state of being Muslim and be raised amongst the righteous. Although being a Prophet of Allah, yet the Prophet Yusuf AS feared that Allah would raise him amongst the leaders, as he was the Leader of Egypt. This was the extreme humbleness of the Prophet Yusuf AS.

How lucky are those souls who after finding out about the signs of their death, turn towards Allah, ask His repentance for any previous sins and prepare for it by doing good deeds. Such people are the ones who are truly gifted with the Kalimah Shahadah at the time of death, or a good outcome before departing from this world.


There is no doubt that there is a cure for every disease. If anyone is infected with a disease then it may be cured through medicine, and his/her life may prolong to some extent. But one day that same person will experience something with no cure at all. That thing is - Death.

Allah SWT says:

"Wherever you may be, death will overtake you even if you are in fortresses built up strong and high."

The Holy Prophet SAW said:

"When Allah decides for a person to pass away at a certain place, he makes a need for that person at that place." (Riwayat Tirmidhi)

Another tradition has been narrated on the authority of Kuthaima RA that once the Angel of Death, Izraeel AS appeared in the form of a human being in the court of the Prophet Sulaiman AS and gazed continuously at a person present there for some time.

That person asked the Prophet Sulaiman AS:

"Who was that person?"

The Prophet Sulaiman AS told him:

"That was the Angel of Death."

The person remarked:

"The Angel of Death had gazed at me in such a manner as if he was determined to take my life."

Sulaiman AS asked him:

"What do you want?"

The person requested the Prophet Sulaiman AS to take him to India. Sulaiman thus commanded the cloud to pick him up and drop him in India. Consequently the cloud carried him to India.

The Angel of Death then came to Sulaiman AS.

Sulaiman AS asked him:

"Why did you fix your gaze at that person?"

The Angel of Death said:

"I wondered why Almighty Allah had commanded me to take the life of this person in India whereas he was sitting here in your presence."


There is a bind between the body and the soul. This can be explained by portraying the attraction between two magnets. It is hard to pull them apart. Likewise, the attraction of the soul to the material body is more due to the love of the materialistic world. In other words, the more the magnetic field in both the magnets, the greater the attraction will be. Similarly, the more the love towards the worldly life, the greater the pain of pulling apart of the soul from the body will be.

Imam Ghazzi RA explains, that the soul is removed from the body in stages, as mentioned in the Holy Qur'aan.

It is first taken out from the feet, followed by the shin and then the thighs after which the chest is affected and at that moment the power of speech is lost. When the soul is taken from the throat, the faculties of sight and hearing are exterminated. There are two things here. Firstly, the pain felt at the introduction of death. Secondly, the pain felt at the extraction of the soul. Here the latter is implied.

The severity of death varies from person to person. A Believer feels the pain similar to the hair that is taken out from flour by a finger. Whereas, the disbeliever feels so much pain that it is impossible to describe.

The severity of death has been mentioned in numerous Ahadith, some of which are as follows:

Anas bin Malik RA has reported that Rasulullah SAW had mentioned: that the grasp of Mala'ikatul Maut is more severe than one thousand hacks (cuts) with a sword. Sharhus-Sudur)

There is a narration regarding the Prophet Musa AS that he was questioned by Allah after death about how he had undergone the experience of dying. The Prophet Musa AS replied that it could be described as the case of a live bird being put into a hot boiling pot of bubbling oil.

In another narration, the Prophet Musa AS is reported to have replied that the experience was like that of a goat being skinned alive by a butcher. (Sharhus Sudur)

It is narrated from Shaddad ibn Aus RA that there is not as much pain, torture in being split by a saw, shredded by scissors or scalded by fiercely boiling water than in experiencing death.

Abu Qatadah RA reports that Rasulullah SAW said that all distress, displeasure and agony at the time of death can be likened to that of an ant-bite.

The Prophet Ibrahim AS asked the Angel of Death to show him in which form he visits an evil person. The Angel of Death replied, "You will not be able to tolerate the sight." The Prophet Ibrahim AS insisted, and so the Angel of Death told him to turn around, while he transformed himself, after which he told Ibrahim AS to look. Upon seeing the physique of the Angel of Death he fell unconsciousness due to the pitiful sight. Thereafter, the Prophet Ibrahim AS remarked that the sight was so horrifying that just by looking at him was enough punishment for the evildoer.

It is a pity for us today that we are attentive enough to remember our worldly matters but forget to remember death.

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