In the Name of Allaah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
"Until, when death comes to one of them (those who join partners with Allaah), he says: " My Lord! Send me back, so that I may do good in that which I have left behind!" No! It is but a word that he speaks, and behind them is Barzakh (a barrier) until the Day when they will be resurrected." Q23: 99-100
"The grave is the first of the Hereafter's domiciles; if one passes through it safely, what follows will be easier; and if one does not pass through it safely, what follows will be more horrible." Recorded by At-Tirmidhi authenticated by Al-Albani in Sahih-ut-Targhib wa-t-Tarheeb.
Man was brought from the state of non-existence to that of partial existence in the womb and eventually to full existence in the world wherein he possesses knowledge, hearing, intellect, sight; to live a life riddled with happiness and sadness. From young age man is subjected to two inevitable ends; death and/or old age.
As man toils in this world, death hunts him and he remains inescapable from it until it reaches him but just as the green lushful garden becomes barren and gets watered from above and afterwards gains life again so will man enter a new phase after death to be resurrected afterwards.
The 99th and 100th verses of the 23rd chapter of the Qur'an quoted above introduce the creation to the fourth stage of existence and this is none other than the stage of Albarzakh. Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen in Sharh Hadeeth Jibrael said "Barzakh is the stage that begins after death and ends at the establishment of the hour." A more stable state characterized by ceaseless enjoyment for the righteous and ceaseless punishment for the sinners till the Trumpet is blown into for resurrection.
A Qur'anic scholar and one of the prominent students of Ibn Abbas (RA) by the name Mujahid said: "Barzakh is a barrier between this world and the Hereafter." In other words, the departed soul is neither in this world nor in the hereafter and it is not necessarily in the grave as some are swallowed by animals while others are drowned, yet some are burnt.
It is pertinent to understand the path the human soul takes once it leaves the body. Grave is scary for the disbelieving (or disobedient) servant but comforting for the believers. So scary was the thought of grave to the Companions (RA) that Hani, the servant of Uthman bin Affan (RA) said that whenever Uthman stood over a grave, he would cry until he soaked his beard. He was told, "You remember Jannah and the Fire without weeping, but you weep when you remember the grave! And he quoted the hadith above.
Alongside the hadith in Sunan At-Tirmidhi that the Messenger of Allaah (Pbuh) said: "I have never seen a dreadful view but the grave is even more dreadful."
I take us through the Hadith of Al-Bara' bin 'Azib in the musnad of Imam Ahmad and the Sunan of Abu Dawud and others, authenticated by al-Albani in Sahih ul-Jami.
Rasulullah (Pbuh) said: "Verily, when a believing 'abd (servant of Allaah) is at the point of departure from the worldly life, and is about to enter the next life (close to death), angels descend from heaven. Their faces are white (and bright) like the sun. They carry with them a shroud from the clothes of Jannah, and embalmment from the fragrance of Jannah. They sit away from him at the limit of his eyesight. The angel of death then arrives, sits by his head, and says, "O good and peaceful soul, depart to Allaah's forgiveness and pleasure." on hearing this, the soul leaves the body (as easily) as water drops flow from the spout of a water skin; and he (the Angel of Death) takes it.
When the soul leaves his body, all angels between the heavens and the earth, and all angels in the heavens, pronounce Salah (they ask that he be forgiven) on him. All gates of the heavens open for him; the guardians of every gate implore Allaah that this soul ascends in their direction.
When the Angel of Death takes the soul, they (the other angels) do not leave it in his hand for as little as the blinking of an eye. They take it and place it in their shroud and embalmment. To this apply Allaah's words:
"...our messengers (the angels) take his soul, and they never neglect their duty." Q6:61
There emanates then from the soul the best smelling scent of musk that ever existed on the surface of the earth.
The angels then ascend with it. As they pass by gatherings of angels, they ask them, "What is this good soul?" they (the angels holding it) reply, "He is so and so, son of so and so," using the best names with which he had been addressed in the first life. When they reach the lowest heaven, they ask for permission to enter; and the gates open for them. The most elite (angels) of each heaven escort him to the next one, until he reaches the seventh heaven. Allaah then says, "Write My servant's records in 'Illiyyun (a place most high; the highest register)
"And what will make you know what 'Illiyun is? An inscribed register, witnessed by those nearest (to Allaah- among the angels)". Q83:19-21
Thus, his records are inscribed in 'Illiyun: and the angels are told, "Take him back to the earth, because I promised them that from it I create them, into it I return them, and from it I resurrect them once again."
He is then returned to the earth; and his soul is returned to his body, so that he hears the thumping of his companion's shoes as they walk away from his grave."
The hadith continues in the next series in shaa Allaah.
In conclusion, every sincere believing servant of Allaah will be pampered from the time of his death till resurrection. Special angels will come to extract his soul, the angles will constantly seek for Allaah's forgiveness for the soul and on each heaven, the elite angels will escort the soul.
Ever heard of the imperial guards of Napoleon Bonaparte? the republican guard of Saddam Hussain, the special strike force of General Abacha, The United States Navy SEALS, the KGB of USSR, The special air service (SAS) of the UK....well, all these are purportedly elite forces to offer special protection to the state. But Allaah's elite forces (angels) are there to escort any such person that lives a life of total obedience to Allaah, abandons sins for the pleasure of Allaah and does righteous deeds without associating partners with Allaah and dies upon Iman.
May Allaah take our souls upon Iman and may Allaah be pleased with us.
To be continued in shaa Allaah.
Email: email@example.com, Twitter: @amraabdul Instagram: @penabdul