Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Knowledge about our future- Death and Grave

Alhamdulillah, unlike other religions, Islam gives a lot of insight into the subject of our future, The Eternal Hereafter. Allah SWT, in The Qur'an has given us a lot of descriptions in details and stages of what is going to happen in the future. And the traditions (ahadeeth) of our Prophet Sallallahu alihiwassalam add to this. This enables us to increase our belief in the Hereafter, with more certainty and vision- that it will happen for sure, and that we have a purpose in the life of this duniya, to work towards a great future and avoid sins and actions that will displease Our Lord. If we remember this in each breath we take, then InshAllah, with His Mercy and Blessings, we will be successful.

When someone dies, his personal yaum-al-qiyamah (Day of Judgement) has started. In fact, the recompense starts at the time of death itself. For the believer, who is waiting to meet his Lord Almighty, he is eager to leave this world; he leaves this world with high state of emaan we say, and as he dies, the angels welcome him and give him glad tidings, SubhanAllah.

Prophet Sallallahu alihiwassalam said: “…when the time of the death of a believer approaches, he receives the good news of God’s pleasure with him and His blessings upon him, and so at that time nothing is dearer to him than what lies ahead of him. He therefore loves meeting God, and God loves meeting him.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

For the one who disbelieved, and was disobedient to Allah SWT, he dreads meeting with his Lord, and knows it is not going to bring good to him. Prophet Sallallahu alihi wassalam warned us: “When the time of the death of a disbeliever approaches, he receives the evil news of God’s torment and His Requital, whereupon nothing is more hateful to him than what is before him. Therefore, he hates the meeting with God, and God too, hates the meeting with him.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

As death approaches the wicked disbeliever, he is made to feel something of the heat of the Hellfire. This taste of what is to come causes him to plead for a second chance on earth to do the good he knew he should have done. The evil soul leaves the body with great difficulty, drawn out by the angels as a thronged skewer is dragged through wet wool.

Allah says in the Qur'an:

حَتَّى إِذَا جَآءَ أَحَدَهُمُ الْمَوْتُ قَالَ رَبِّ ارْجِعُونِ - لَعَلِّى أَعْمَلُ صَـلِحاً فِيمَا تَرَكْتُ كَلاَّ إِنَّهَا كَلِمَةٌ هُوَ قَآئِلُهَا وَمِن وَرَآئِهِمْ بَرْزَخٌ إِلَى يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ

“Until, when death comes to one of them, he says: ‘O my Lord. Send me back to life (on earth) in order that I may do good deeds in the things that I neglected.’ By no means! It is only an utterance that he says. And before them is a barrier (preventing them from returning: the life of the grave) until the Day (of Resurrection) they are resurrected.” (Surah Al-Mu'minoon: 99-100)

Allah says:
وَلَوْ تَرَى إِذِ الظَّـلِمُونَ فِى غَمَرَاتِ الْمَوْتِ وَالْمَلَـئِكَةُ بَاسِطُواْ أَيْدِيهِمْ أَخْرِجُواْ أَنفُسَكُمُ الْيَوْمَ تُجْزَوْنَ عَذَابَ الْهُونِ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ غَيْرَ الْحَقِّ وَكُنتُمْ عَنْ ءَايَـتِهِ تَسْتَكْبِرُونَ

And if you could but see when the wrongdoers are in the agonies of death, while the angels are stretching forth their hands (saying): "Deliver your souls! This day you shall be recompensed with the torment of degradation because of what you used to utter against Allah other than the truth. And you used to reject His Ayah with disrespect!'' (Surah Al-An'am: 93)

Allah SWT says:

وَلَوْ تَرَى إِذْ يَتَوَفَّى الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ الْمَلَـئِكَةُ يَضْرِبُونَ وُجُوهَهُمْ وَأَدْبَـرَهُمْ وَذُوقُواْ عَذَابَ الْحَرِيقِ

And if you could not see when the angels take the souls of those who disbelieved… striking their faces and their backs and saying, "Taste the punishment of the Blazing Fire." (Surah Al-Anfaal: 50)

Recompense and questioning starts in the Barzakh (transition phase between this life and the Aakhirah) itself. One will go through what he/she deserves on account of his/ her deeds in this world. The questioning will be a cake walk for the true believer. It dies not matter whether one knows the answers to the questions that the Angels Munkar and Nakeer will ask, in this world. At that time, only the one who died with strong emaan, and the one who pleased Allah Azza Wajal will be able to answer the questions. There is no time factor in the Hereafter. Two people who are equal in their status of emaan and in deeds, but lived and died in different times, will experience in their Barzakh what they deserve equally. We ask Allah SWT to protect us from the 'Adhaab of the trials and horror in the Barzakh (grave), aameen. And we ask Allah to always keep us on the straight path, living by His commandments.

The true believer and the righteous, the one who will be accepted into Jannah, will have his grave roomy and spacious and filled with light. He is shown what would have been his abode in Hell - had he been a wicked sinner - before a portal is opened for him every morning and evening showing him his actual home in Paradise. He will have a blissful journey and the angels will be waiting to welcome him in the heavens. Allah SWT says:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ قَالُواْ رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ ثُمَّ اسْتَقَـمُواْ تَتَنَزَّلُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَلَـئِكَةُ أَلاَّ تَخَافُواْ وَلاَ تَحْزَنُواْ وَأَبْشِرُواْ بِالْجَنَّةِ الَّتِى كُنتُمْ تُوعَدُونَ - نَحْنُ أَوْلِيَآؤُكُمْ فِى الْحَيَوةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِى الاٌّخِرَةِ وَلَكُمْ فِيهَا مَا تَشْتَهِى أَنفُسُكُمْ وَلَكُمْ فِيهَا مَا تَدَّعُونَ - نُزُلاً مِّنْ غَفُورٍ رَّحِيمٍ

Verily, those who say: "Our Lord is Allah,'' and then they stand firm, on them the angels will descend (saying): "Fear not, nor grieve! But receive the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised! We have been your friends in the life of this world and are (so) in the Hereafter. Therein you shall have (all) that your souls desire, and therein you shall have (all) for which you ask. An entertainment from the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.'' (Surah Al-Fussilat: 30-32)

However, for the doomed, his experience in the grave will be a torturous one. The floor of his grave is set alight with some of Hell’s fierce fire, and his grave is made narrow and constricted to the extent that his ribs become intertwined as his body is crushed. Then, an incredibly ugly being, wearing ugly garments and giving off a foul and offensive odor comes to the disbelieving soul and says: “Be grieved with what displeases you, for this is your day which you have been promised.” The disbeliever will ask: “Who are you, with your face so ugly and bringing evil?” The ugly one will reply: “I am your wicked deeds!” The disbeliever is then made to taste bitter remorse as he is shown what would have been his abode in Paradise - had he lived a righteous life - before a portal is opened for him every morning and evening showing him his actual home in Hell. Allah mentions in His Book how the wicked people of Pharaoh are, at this very moment, suffering from such an exposure to Hell from within their graves:

النَّارُ يُعْرَضُونَ عَلَيْهَا غُدُوّاً وَعَشِيّاً وَيَوْمَ تَقُومُ السَّاعَةُ أَدْخِلُواْ ءَالَ فِرْعَوْنَ أَشَدَّ الْعَذَابِ

The Fire, they are exposed to it, morning and afternoon. And on the Day when the Hour will be established (it will be said to the angels): "Admit Fir`awn's people into the severest torment!'' (Surah Al-Ghaafir: 46)

Zaid Ibn Thaabit Radhiyallahu anh narrates that when the Prophet Muhammad and his Companions were once passing some graves of polytheists, the Prophet’s horse bolted and almost unseated him. The Prophet Sallallahu alihiwassalam then said:“These people are being tortured in their graves, and were it not that you would stop burying your dead, I would ask God to let you hear the punishment in the grave which I (and this horse) can hear.” (Sahih Muslim)

May Allah SWT always guide us on the Sirathul Musthaqueem, and grant us high positions in Jannathul Firdaws. May He save us from the torment of the grave and the Hell-fire, aameen.

And Allah knows best.

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