All Praise is due to Allaah. We praise Him, seek his help, and ask His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allaah from the evil of our souls, and the adverse consequences of our deeds. Whoever Allaah guides, there is none that can misguide, and whoever He misguides, then none can guide him.
I bear witness and testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except for Allaah; He is alone, having no partners. I bear witness and testify that Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him, is His slave and worshipper.
Fear is something we all dislike, so it is human nature that we try to forget it and leave it. Whenever man experiences the emotion of fear, it is natural for him or her to do all that they can do to disregard or belittle such fear and seek refuge from it. This is the case for death. The concept of death is a concept which many people (Muslims and Non Muslims alike) do not enjoy talking about. Some people, as a reaction to a particular fear, laugh and make fun of that fear. There are television programmes which narrate stories of death, people dying in humilating and degrading states yet ridicule and take light of death .Death is like a leper, some would do all that they can to stay as far away from it as possible whilst others will mock it. Why? The Messenger of Allaah (May the Peace and Blessings of Allaah be upon him) said,
“Remember the destroyer of pleasures i.e. death, for indeed it is the reality”.
We live in a world where people are so engulfed in the affairs of this world and its pleasures that when death approaches them or they experience its hardships i.e. grief and loss etc, it is as if a great calamity has befallen them. To understand how they feel, imagine that from what we know about the Jannah described by Allaah in his Book and from His Messenger is given to us; we are allowed to dwell in Jannah, a chance to enjoy all its pleasures. The purified mates, the wealth, the clothes, the food and drink, the mansions etc. Imagine that all of a sudden that was all taken away after you had time to enjoy it. How would you feel? Devastated? Shocked? Distressed? This is how those who are so engulfed in this world feel when death strikes them. Their Jannah, their paradise of this world, the pleasures they indulged are taken away. This is the reality of this World.
Ponder over what our Lord has said about death:
“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).” 1
Death does not discriminate. It is not selective nor exclusive. It strikes the young and old. The man and the woman. The child and the adult. The healthy and the sick. The poor and the rich. Muslim and non Muslim. Allaah said,
“Wheresoever you may be, death will overtake you even if you are in fortresses built up strong and high!”. 2
You could have an army to protect you. You may be in a impenetrable fortress. You may even have access to the best medical aid possible. Death will still come. Everyone shall taste death and there is no doubt in it whatsoever.
The ayah above reminds us that death is a sign that our work, our tests and our trials have come to an end. We can no longer perform those missed prayers after death. We can no longer pay the overdue zakaat or debt. We can no longer study and memorise the Quran which we failed to do before death. Our ability to do good or even evil has come to end. The Messenger of Allaah said:
“When a slave dies his actions come to an end except three things: a continuing charity or knowledge which gives benefit or a pious child who prays for him” 3.
We will be given our reward or punishment based on what we did before death overtook us. That is either our removal away from the Fire and admittance into Paradise or removal away from Paradise and plunged into the Fire. Ibn Kathir said,
“When the term of this life comes to an end and the sons of Adam no longer have any new generations, and thus this world ends, Allaah will command that the Day of Resurrection commence. Allaah will then recompense the creation for their deeds, whether minor or major, many or few, big or small. Surely, Allaah will not deal unjustly with anyone, even the weight of an atom, and this is why He said, “And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full.”
Allaah then reminds the believer that the life of this world is nothing but a deception; and what breaks this deception? Death. The moment it strikes we realize the reality of this life. We will be filled with regret and sorrow, looking back at the time wasted in accumulating wealth and property that would be of no avail on the day we are held to account, and wishing we could go back before death overcame us in order to do good.
“Until, when death comes to one of them, he says, “My Lord, send me back. That I might do righteousness, in that which I left behind.” No! It is only a word he is saying; and behind them is a barrier until the Day they are resurrected.” 4
When a person is overtaken by death and if that person is a sinner, rebel, transgressor or a disbeliever; the moment of death is the most terrifying experience. Note that this does not apply solely to the disbeliever or the idolator, it also applies to Muslims who have disregarded their obligations and indulged in sin and vain desires.
In the Qur’aan it says:
“…And if you could but see, when the wrong-doers are in the agonies of death, while the angels are stretching forth their hands (saying): “Deliver your souls! This day you shall be repaid with the torment of humiliation, because of what you used to utter against Allaah other than the truth. And you used to reject His Aayaat.” 5
When the angels descend upon the sinful, disbelieving soul, they will come in the most hideous and terrifying forms, the likes of which his eyes have never laid upon in this world. He will try to withdraw from them whilst in a state of fear and shock. The angels will stretch their hands, “DELIVER YOUR SOULS!” The angels will rip the soul from the lifeless body. The soul will scream. The veins will pop. The muscle and flesh will be torn. Imagine ripping wet cotton from barbed wire. Indeed it would be pain and indeed it will be horrifying and indeed it is only the beginning of his punishment.
He will be questioned. He will be questioned and asked “who is you Lord? What is your religion? Who was you Messenger? He will answer with great difficulty and a voice will call from the heavens saying “My servant has lied! Furnish his grave with hell! Give him clothes from hell! And open for him the gate of hell!” The soul will be visited by a evil and hideous man, with the foulest of smells. The dead person will ask “Who are you?” He will reply “I am your evil deeds and will be with you till the day of judgement.” The soul will them be smashed with a hammer caperable of rendering mountains to dust. And the soul will cry with a cry so loud and so heart trembling that the everything in the heavens or the earth will hear it except man and jinn whom Allaah has made deaf. He will them be shown two windows. A window showing Paradise and a window showing Hell. It will be said to the disbelieving and rebelious soul, “This is where you could have been (Paradise) if you believed and this is where you’ll be (Hell fire).” He will beg, crying and pleading to the Master of the Day of Judgement, “Oh my Lord, Do not allow the hour to commence”.
This is death. This is the reality. It is the destroyer of pleasures. But for some death is not something to be feared. There are believers, certain Muslims whereby death acts a remainder rather than trigger fear. A reminder to prepare themselves in this world for the life that is running towards them. So may consider death a joy. You may say that this is a strange statement. How can death be something of joy?
“Indeed, those who have said, “Our Lord is Allaah” and then remained on a right course – the angels will descend upon them, [saying], “Do not fear and do not grieve but receive good tidings of Paradise, which you were promised. We [angels] were your allies in worldly life and [are so] in the Hereafter. And you will have therein whatever your soul desires, and you will have therein whatever you request [or wish].” 6
When the angels descend upon the righteous, believing slave, they will come in the most beautiful forms. They will be gentle and calm the soul. Praising and giving greetings of peace. They draw the soul in the gentlest of manner, smooth and tender. The believing soul will be questioned also. “Who is your Lord? What is your religion? Who was your Messenger?” He will answer with certainty and a voice will call from the heavens saying “My servant speaks the truth, so furnish his grave from Paradise, provide him with clothes from Paradise and open for him a gate to Paradise.” A beautiful person will join him in his grave. The soul will ask “Who are you?” The handsome person will reply “I am your good deeds and I will spend time with you until the day of judgement.” He will them be shown to two windows. A window showing Paradise and a window showing Hell. He will be told “This is where you would have been(Hell) if you disobeyed Allaah and this is what you will get because you believed (Paradise).” Out of joy and excitement he will call Allaah, “Oh my Lord, Start the Hour”.
This is the joy of death. And when death strikes the believers, they will rejoice as their hardship has come to an end. When death strikes the disbelievers will wallow in a pool of regret and sorrow as their hardship has just began. We all have the opportunity to experience the joy of death and yet we do not realise it.
Allaah the Most High has said,
O you who believe! Fear Allaah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared. [Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always], and die not except in a state of Islaam [as Muslims (with complete submission to Allaah)]. 7
This is what we must do to seize the oppoutunity to experience the joy of death and attain jannah. Fear Allaah! Adhere to the commandments. Abstain from the prohibitions. And always fear him. Notice that Allaah commands us to not allow death to come until we are in a state of submission to Allaah. Everyone knows that death is inevitable, and since we know this fact, we are commanded to prepare ourselves and submit to Allaah before it overtakes us.
I ask Allaah that He makes us of those who fully submit to Him. I ask Allaah that He forgives our sins and shortcomings and saves us from the torment of death and the grave and the hell fire. I ask Allaah that He removes us far away from His punishment and admit us to Paradise.