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"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."
(Qur'an Al-Munafiqun 63:9-11)
The Messenger of Allah (saws) 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."
Saheehul-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 (swt) 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."
(Qur'an Al-Baqarah 2:1-3)
"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."
(Qur'an Al-Baqarah 2:45-46)
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)."
(Qur'an Al-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."
(Qur'an 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."
(Qur'an Al-Mulk 67:2)
There are many Prophetic Ahadith regarding death and the effect it should have on us.
From Al-Baraa’ ibn Aazib (ra), who said:
"We went out with Allah’s Messenger (saws) 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 (saws) 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 (as) 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 Illiyon (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 (saws) 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)."
(Qur'an Al-Araf 7:40)
So Allah (swt) 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."
(Qur'an 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..."
(Qur'an 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."
(Qur'an 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 (swt) tells us:
"Nor can a soul die except by Allah’s leave, the term being fixed by writing..."
(Qur'an Al-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.