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Monday, 16 November 2015

Journey of the soul series: Death I

In the Name of Allaah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. 

"Until, when death comes to one of them, he says, "My Lord! Send me back. Perhaps I may do good in that which I left behind!" Q23:99-100
"Did We not give you lives long enough, so that whosoever would receive admonition could receive it And the warner came to you." Q35:37
Life presents two sets of people, there are those that will make good use of the opportunities presented before them to earn the ultimate pleasure of Allaah thereby longing to meet him at the time of death while some will be so carried away by many worldly distractions that worshipping Allaah becomes difficult until when death approaches them and the realization will dawn on them of how much time they have wasted in frivolous pursuits. Alas, to this second category no respite will be given because many admonishers have admonished them on the importance of the preparation for the Hereafter but they heeded not.

Death puts an end to all the hopes and aspirations for prosperity in this life, its sudden and inescapable reality awes people and bring them to the realization of how less a value this world is. Death is the key to grave, and it is the starting point of a long journey to the Hereafter.

All humans are subjected to four stages viz a viz; the stage in which he was in the womb of his mother, the stage in which he lives in this world, the stage of existence in the Barzakh (a barrier closing off the next life from this life by which none can return after crossing it) and the final stage of the Last Day after which there will be no any other stage, wherein he either enters Jannah (Paradise) or Jahannam (Hell).

Shaykh ibn Saalih al-'Uthaymeen outlined these four stages in Sharh (commentary of) Hadeeth Jibril. 

It can be deduced from the above that man was non-existent (Q 76:1) then came the stage of existence as a fetus (Q 76:2) with weakness and deficiency, then came the stage in which he is completely formed (Q 76:2-3) ready to live in this world of uncertainties and fluctuating emotions riddled with happiness and sadness, then he migrates to a more stable life in the Barzakh (grave, the barrier between this life and the hereafter) wherein he stays in a sort of permanent condition (either resting perpetually or being punished perpetually) but even this will be interrupted when the Trumpet is blown into for the second time for the Final Hour when he will stand up for the Ultimate Judgement that will transfer him either to a better and ever lasting condition of enjoyment in the Paradise or one that will sentence him to the worst and everlasting condition of being a denizen of Hell.

Just as cars survive on fuel or electricity that's how man lives in this world by the virtue of the soul housed in his body. Death introduces the stage at which the soul becomes disconnected from the body - a transition from the temporary to the permanent.

Allaah says: "Everyone (but Allaah the Creator of all) shall taste death. Then unto Us you shall be returned." Q29:57

Ibn Katheer in his exegesis of the above verse said that Allaah issues an all-encompassing statement to all His creations that wherever we are, death will catch up with us, so always obey Allaah and be where Allaah commands you to be, for this is better for you. Death is inevitable and there is no escape from it, and then you will return to Allaah, and whoever was obedient to Him will have the best reward.

Similarly, Allaah said in the 78th verse of the 4th chapter of the Qur'an that wheresoever you may be, death will overtake you even if you are in a fortress built up strong and high!

What is the reality of the life of this world? In one verse Allaah tells us the synopsis of this life"......and the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment." Q57:20

The word 'Dunya' is from the root word 'Dana'a' (base, lowly) or 'Dunuw' (imminent, close) and this meaning alone should strike a sensitive nerve in everyone that has a sound and balanced understanding. 

This world is a pathway either a path to Jannah (Paradise) or a path to Jahannam (Hell), it is a garden in which man sows his seeds either to germinate in Jannah or to germinate in Jahannam. May Allaah save one and all from Hell.

It is often said that we could be passing our death spot everyday totally oblivious of it but the time has been decided, the spot has been identified and Allaah will surely accomplish His purpose. Man is busy with how to improve his health, how to increase his income, how to consolidate his power and authority, how to remain relevant but he seldom bring death to the equation. 

How can man be so carried away and relegate the dreadful death to the tail end? Indeed, Allaah has spoken the truth when He said it perfectly in the 1st and 2nd verses of the 102nd chapter of the Qur'an that: "The mutual rivalry for piling up of worldly things diverts you, Until you visit the Graves (till you die)."

Our most beloved Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) said in a hadith recorded by at-Tirmidhi in his Sunan on the strength of Anas (RA) that: "Remember much the destroyer of pleasures (death). Imam Qurtubi said: "Our scholars may Allaah have mercy upon them said that the above Hadith is short but inclusive of a great reminder--but our hearts have become heedless that we need constant reminder about death otherwise - this Hadith and the verse of Al-Imran (Q3:185) is enough for those who listen and reflect."

Death introduces itself with pains and untold agonies of which none can escape from, not even the most beloved of Allaah was spared. The Hadith of Aisha (Ra) in Kitaabul Maghazi in Sahih al-Bukhari confirms this: "The Prophet (Pbuh) will dip his hand in a bowl of water and will rub his forehead with it saying: "Laa ilaha illa Allaah! Verily death comes with agonies."

Death has humbled tyrannical rulers, it has shattered hopes, it has brought down financial empires and kingdoms, it has silenced the arrogant ones, it has introduced the sinners and the heedless ones to the domicile of severe punishment yet it has put an end to the pains of others by introducing them to the Ultimate Pleasure of Allaah Who is pleased with their good deeds.

Man lives under two conditions of death, he either goes into his house never to come out (alive) again or he goes out of his house never to come in (alive) again. What have we in store for the preparation for the visitor that can never be denied entry (angel of death) into our homes?

In the Hadith of Anas (RA) recorded by both Bukhari and muslim that a man asked the Prophet (Pbuh) about the Hour. He said: When will the Hour be? He (Pbuh) said: "What have you prepared for it?"  we see clearly that it is imperative for us to always be in the anticipation of death by preparing for it with sound Iman and good deeds.

I end with two statements from our pious predecessors regarding death. 

At-Tameemi one of the pious predecessors said: "Two things prevented me from enjoying life; remembering death and remembering the questioning in front of Allaah."

Obviously, Islam does not forbid us from enjoying our lives but it emphasizes on legitimate means of enjoyment.

Imam Shafi'i said: "Some have died but their good character has kept them alive while others are alive but their evil character has killed them."


We could be next on the death list of the angel of death....do good before you expire. 

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