Friday, December 18, 2009

"Preparing for Death"

God Almighty is All Wise and Knower of All Things

It is quite interesting for me to receive a question about Islam's view on death from someone who is not of the Islamic faith. For those who are not familiar with the teachings of Islam, we should perhaps cover a few basics before attempting to answer this most honest and in depth question.

There is a small chapter at the end of the Holy Quran called "Al Asr" and it carries a very heavy meaning which can solve a lot of the problems with the dealings of life and death of the human being. Let us consider the plus or minus translation into the English language:
{By the passage of time*1, all of the humankind are in a state of great loss*2, except for those who come to the correct belief*3 and do the deeds of righteousness; and encourage and exhort one another to Truth*4 and encourage and exhort one another to steadfast patience}
{وَالْعَصْرِ (1) إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ (2) إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ}
Transliteration: Wa Al-`Aşri, 'Inna Al-'Insāna Lafī Khusrin, 'Illā Al-Ladhīna 'Āmanū Wa `Amilū Aş-Şāliĥāti Wa Tawāşaw Bil-Ĥaqqi Wa Tawāşaw Biş-Şabri

1. Allah Almighty God, swears an oath of great consequence
2. Meaning "Hell" as a result of their dealings while on earth
3. Oneness of Allah (Tawheed or monotheism)
4. Here "Truth" means anything and everything pertaining to pure montheism (see: Islam)

From the above quoted portion of the Quran and verses related to it, the scholars of Islam have concluded the following:
A) All of us are born with a purpose to be fulfilled before death – Worship of the One True God, Alone and on His terms and conditions.
Note: Quran says: "I have only created Jinns and men, that they may serve Me" [Adh-Dhairiat: 56].
{وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ} [الذاريات: 56].
Transliteration: Wa Mā Khalaqtu Al-Jinna Wa Al-'Insa 'Illā Liya`budūni

B) All of us will die and be in the grave.
Note: Quran says: "Every soul shall taste death" [Al-Ankabut].
{كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ} [العنكبوت: 57].
Transliteration: Kullu Nafsin Dhā'iqatu Al-Mawti

C) All of us (believers and non-believers) will be recreated (resurrected) on the Day of Judgment.
Note: Quran says: "Surely from Allah you came and to Him is your return."
And "Do they not think that they will be resurrected, on a Great Day? The Day when all mankind will stand before the Lord of the Worlds?" [Al-Mutaffifin: 4-6].
{أَلَا يَظُنُّ أُولَئِكَ أَنَّهُم مَّبْعُوثُونَ (4) لِيَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ (5) يَوْمَ يَقُومُ النَّاسُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (6)} [المطففين: 4-6].
Transliteration: 'Alā Yažunnu 'Ūla'ika 'Annahum Mab`ūthūna, Liyawmin `Ažīmin, Yawma Yaqūmu An-Nāsu Lirabbi Al-`Ālamīna

D) Each person will receive his/her "Book of Record" (listing of all their deeds).
Note: Quran says: {يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنسَانُ إِنَّكَ كَادِحٌ إِلَى رَبِّكَ كَدْحاً فَمُلَاقِيهِ (6) فَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ بِيَمِينِهِ (7) فَسَوْفَ يُحَاسَبُ حِسَاباً يَسِيراً (8) وَيَنقَلِبُ إِلَى أَهْلِهِ مَسْرُوراً (9) وَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ وَرَاء ظَهْرِهِ (10) فَسَوْفَ يَدْعُو ثُبُوراً (11) وَيَصْلَى سَعِيراً (12) إِنَّهُ كَانَ فِي أَهْلِهِ مَسْرُوراً (13) إِنَّهُ ظَنَّ أَن لَّن يَحُورَ}
Transliteration: Yā 'Ayyuhā Al-'Insānu 'Innaka Kādiĥun 'Ilá Rabbika Kadĥāan Famulāqīhi, Fa'ammā Man 'Ūtiya Kitābahu Biyamīnihi, Fasawfa Yuĥāsabu Ĥisābāan Yasīrāan, Wa Yanqalibu 'Ilá 'Ahlihi Masrūrāan, Wa 'Ammā Man 'Ūtiya Kitābahu Warā'a Žahrihi, Fasawfa Yad`ū Thubūrāa, Wa Yaşlá Sa`īrāan, 'Innahu Kāna Fī 'Ahlihi Masrūrāan, 'Innahu Žanna 'An Lan Yaĥūra

Translation: "O man! Verily, you are returning towards your Lord with your deeds and actions (good or bad), a sure returning, so you will meet (i.e. the results of your deeds which you did), Then, as for him who will be given his Record in his right hand, He surely will receive an easy reckoning, And will return to his family in joy!, But whosoever is given his Record behind his back, He will invoke (his) destruction, And shall enter a blazing Fire, and made to taste its burning. Verily, he was among his people in joy!, Verily, he thought that he would never come back (to Us)! [Al-Inshiqaq: 6-14].


E) Each person will be held accountable for what he/she has done.
Note: Quran says: {فَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْراً يَرَهُ (7) وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرّاً يَرَهُ} [سورة الزلزلة: 7-8]
Transliteration: Faman Ya`mal Mithqāla Dharratin Khayrāan Yarahu, Wa Man Ya`mal Mithqāla Dharratin Sharrāan Yarahu
Translation: "Every person will see any good they have done, even an atom's weight. Every person will see any evil they have done, even an atom's weight" [Al-Zalzalah: 7-8].

F) None will take away the sins or punishment for another.
Note: Quran says: {لاَ يُكَلِّفُ اللّهُ نَفْساً إِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ}
Transliteration: Lā Yukallifu Allāhu Nafsāan 'Illā Wus`ahā
Translation: "Allah does not burden a person beyond his ability. He will be rewarded for that which he has earned, and punished for that which he has earned" [Al-Baqarah: 286].

G) None will make intercession with the Almighty except as He Wills.
Note: Quran says: {مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِهِ} [سورة البقرة: 255]
Transliteration: Man Dhā Al-Ladhī Yashfa`u `Indahu 'Illā Bi'idhnihi
Translation: "Who is there that could come between Allah and what He has created except that He give them permission?" [Al-Baqarah: 255].

H) The final destination of Heaven or Hell will be made known then.
Note: Quran says: {لَتَرَوُنَّ الْجَحِيمَ}
Transliteration: Latarawunna Al-Jaĥīma
Translation: "Verily, You shall see the blazing Fire (Hell)" [At-Takathur: 6].

I) None will enter the Paradise except by the Mercy of Allah.
Note: Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: «None shall enter the Jennah (Paradise) except with the Mercy of Allah» When asked by his companions: “Even you? O, prophet of Allah?” And He replied: «Even me»

J) None will enter the Fire except those who have earned it.
Note: Quran says: {فَأَنذَرْتُكُمْ نَاراً تَلَظَّى (14) لَا يَصْلَاهَا إِلَّا الْأَشْقَى}
Transliteration: Fa'andhartukum Nārāan Talažžá, Lā Yaşlāhā 'Illā Al-'Ashqá
Translation: "Therefore, I have warned you of a blazing Fire (Hell). None shall enter it except the most wrected." [Al-layl: 14-15].

Death is like a journey to a land from which there is no return. So before you die, be sure to pack three things to take along with you on the journey:
Proper identification (I.D.) [Book of Record of a Person's Life]
This covers two very important categories:
Faith (belief)
Actions (deeds)
They must both be correct to insure an easy transition into the Next Life and a proper place in the Paradise in the Hereafter.

Enough nourishment to last for Eternity

Sufficient garments or coverings

Let us begin with the Covenant of faith with the ONE TRUE GOD & Acts of worship to Him Alone without partners. This means anyone who comes to the understanding: "There is only One True God who is the only Creator, Sustainer and God of all that exists."
This can be understood as “Oneness of Monotheism”
It might be better understood by breaking it down into the following three categories:
1) “Oneness” of Lordship

2) “Oneness” of Worship

3) “Oneness” of Characteristics

Correct Beliefs
Three (3) Things Asked at Death:
Question
Only Acceptable Answer
1. Who is your Lord? [God Almighty]

2. What is your religion? [Submission to His Will]

3. Do you confirm His prophets? [Yes] From Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Jesus & Mohamed

Immediately you will find those who will argue that this is not fair. After all, Muhammad, peace be upon him, was sent by Allah with the message of Islam only 1,400 years ago. So, what about all those who lived before him? And what of those who came afterwards and never heard of Allah, Islam and Muhammad, peace be upon him?

And the answer is quite simple. Islam is the only true religion brought by all of the prophets of Almighty God [Allah]. They all preached a message of total surrender to the One and Only True God of the Universe. If the person lived the life of "Surrender, Submission and Obedience to the Almighty, in Sincerity and Peace"; then they in fact, lived as a true Muslim without ever knowing the Arabic terms.
This means that all of the followers of all of the prophets of Almighty God from Adam to Moses to Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them all, will find that they will be supplied the correct answers to these questions when asked.

After the angel of death removes the soul from the body, the angels will carry the soul of the one who has died up to the heavens and when they come to Allah the Most High, He will reject any who are not in possession of the correct answers [mentioned above]. After the questioning the person will be then reunited with his or her own dead body and spend the remainder of time waiting for the Day of Judgment.

2) Nourishment: [Proper Deeds]
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, taught his followers:
"He is not a believer who goes to sleep at night with a full stomach while his neighbor's remains empty."
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said:

Charity is a necessity for every Muslim
He was asked: "What if a person has nothing?"
The Prophet replied: «He should work with his own hands for his benefit and then give something out of such earnings in charity»
The Companions of the Prophet asked: "What if he is not able to work?"
The Prophet said: «He should help the poor and needy»
The Companions further asked: "What if he cannot do even that?"
The Prophet said: «He should urge others to do good»
The Companions said: "What if he lacks that also?"
The Prophet said: «He should check himself from doing evil. That is also an act of charity»

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: «Your body has 360 joins and each of them requires an act of charity every day» And, «Even meeting your brother with a cheerful face is an act of charity».

Acts of charity and kindness only for the sake of the Almighty. These good deeds will accompany the person throughout his or her life in the grave until the Day of Judgment. On the Day of Judgment they will all see their deeds clearly.

There are two angels who record all the actions and deeds of the individual from birth until death. The angel on the right records all of the good deeds while the angel on the left records all of the bad ones.
As soon as the person intends to do a good thing, a good deed is recorded for him/her.
After doing the good deed, ten full good deeds are recorded for the person (or 70 or 700 or as much as Allah Wills).
If a person encourages others to do a good deed, then a matching reward is recorded for the one calling to the good deed.

Another angel on the left, records all of the bad and evil deeds of the person as follows:
If the person intends to do a bad deed, but stops himself from it because he/she knows it is wrong, then a full good deed is recorded for them.
If the person intends an evil or bad deed but does not have the chance to commit it, then nothing is recorded either way.

If the person commits a bad deed, the angel on the left begins to record a bad deed in his/her “Book of Records”, but the angel on the right stops him and asks him to wait to see if the person might repent. After a while the angel on the left again begins to record the bad deed but again the angel on the right stops him with the same pleading. This continues for a while and if the person refuses to seek the forgiveness of The Almighty, then one full bad deed is recorded to his/her account.

At anytime that a person should commit a bad deed, he/she should immediately seek forgiveness from the Almighty and follow up the bad deed with a good one.

Additionally, when a person performs the obligatory prayers on time in accordance with the teachings of Islam, all the sins from the most recent prayer are forgiven.

When a person attends the Friday prayers according to the teachings of Islam, he/she is forgiven for all of the sins for the previous week since the last Friday service.

When a person makes the obligatory pilgrimage to Mecca during the month of Zul Hijah on the Islamic calendar, all the sins since birth are forgiven and the record is wiped clean for a fresh start. All previous good deeds remain in place.

In the case of the one who comes to Islam from some other faith group, all of his/her sins are forgiven and wiped clean and all of the previous ones are held in place.

The person is as pure and innocent as a new-born baby but with the exception that all of the deeds previously committed whether bad or good are all purified to become mountains of good deeds for the new comer to Islam.

3) Garments: [Morals and Behavior]
He is not a believer who goes to sleep at night with a full stomach while his neighbor's remains empty
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said that Allah said: "I declare war against the one who is hostile to My worshipping servant. My worshipper does not come closer to Me with anything more beloved to me than by doing what I have ordered him to do. My servant keeps coming closer to Me by performing extra acts of worship until I love him. Then I become his hearing; his sight; his grip; his step and if he asks anything of me, I will grant it, and if he seeks My Protection, I will protect him. And I do not dislike anything more than taking his soul, for he dislikes to die and I dislike to disappoint him." [Narrated by Abu Huraira in Bukhari].
«إن الله قال: من عادى لي وليا فقد آذنته بالحرب، وما تقرب إلي عبدي بشيء أحب إلي مما افترضت عليه، وما يزال عبدي يتقرب إلي بالنوافل حتى أحبه، فإذا أحببته: كنت سمعه الذي يسمع به، وبصره الذي يبصر به، ويده التي يبطش بها، ورجله التي يمشي بها، وإن سألني لأعطينه، ولئن استعاذني لأعيذنه، وما ترددت عن شيء أنا فاعله ترددي عن نفس المؤمن، يكره الموت وأنا أكره مساءته»

Forgiveness, Honesty, Respect & Fairness in dealings with others is the best covering. Teachings of Islam regarding the best of morals and behavior are vast and numerous in number. We will list only a few:

Let the one who believes in Allah and the Last Day either say good things or remain silent.
The tongue is one of many endowments Allah bestowed upon His slaves. The person who uses the tongue to comply with the orders of Allah, the teachings of the Qur'an, and the teachings of the Prophet may earn blessings in this world and the in Hereafter. However, the one who uses his tongue in disobedience does not display thankfulness to Allah and leads to his own destruction.
Certainly, being thankful to Allah means not using the endowments bestowed by Allah in what is forbidden.

«Whoever is a liar - is not from among us» [Narrated By Al-Bukhari].
«من غشنا فليس منا»
It is narrated on the authority of 'Abdur-Rahman b. Abu Bakra that his father said: We were in the company of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) that he observed: «Should I not inform you about the most grievous of the grave sins?» (The Holy Prophet) repeated it three times, and then said: «Associating anyone with Allah, disobedience to parents, false testimony or false utterance». The Holy Prophet was reclining, then he sat up, and he repeated it so many times that we wished that he should become silent. [Narrated By Al-Bukhari].

Your body has rights on you, so give your body its rights.
Together with a group of friends, his mother had gone inside this ancient House of God to inspect it. On that particular day it was open because of a festive occasion. She was pregnant and labor pains suddenly gripped her. She was unable to leave the Kabah. A leather mat was brought to her and she gave birth on it. History has recorded that he is the only person who was born inside the Kabah itself, Hakim ibn Hazm.

"Whoever says: «There is none to worship but Allah (sincerely), he will enter Paradise» [Corrected By Al-Albani].
«من قال: لا إله إلا الله مخلصا دخل الجنة»
On the authority of Anas, who said: I heard the messenger of Allah say: «Allah the Almighty has said: "O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as its»
[Corrected By Al-Albani, who said that it was a good and sound Hadith].
«قال الله تعالى: يا ابن آدم، إنك ما دعوتني ورجوتني غفرت لك على ما كان منك ولا أبالي، يا ابن آدم، لو بلغت ذنوبك عنان السماء ثم استغفرتني غفرت لك ولا أبالي، يا ابن آدم، لو أنك أتيتني بقراب الأرض خطايا ثم لقيتني لا تشرك بي شيئا لأتيتك بقرابها مغفرة

"Allah will not even look at the one (on the Day of Judgment) who does not honor his parents."
{وَقَضَى رَبُّكَ أَلاَّ تَعْبُدُواْ إِلاَّ إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَاناً إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلاَهُمَا فَلاَ تَقُل لَّهُمَا أُفٍّ وَلاَ تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلاً كَرِيماً (23) وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ وَقُل رَّبِّ ارْحَمْهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِي صَغِيراً} [سورة الإسراء]
Transliteration: Wa Qađá Rabbuka 'Allā Ta`budū 'Illā 'Īyāhu Wa Bil-Wālidayni 'Iĥsānāan 'Immā Yablughanna `Indaka Al- Kibara 'Aĥaduhumā 'Aw Kilāhumā Falā Taqul Lahumā 'Uffin Wa Lā Tanharhumā Wa Qul Lahumā Qawlāan Karīmāan, Wa Akhfiđ Lahumā Janāĥa Adh-Dhulli Mina Ar-Raĥmati Wa Qul Rrabbi Arĥamhumā Kamā Rabbayānī Şaghīrāan
Translation: "Your Sustainer has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your lifetime, do not say to them a word of contempt nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say: My Sustainer! Bestow on them Your mercy, even as they cherished me in childhood." [Al-Isra' :23-24].

«The best of you is the one who learns the Quran and teaches it» [Narrated By Al-Bukhari].
«خيركم من تعلم القرآن وعلمه»

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: «The example of him (a believer) who recites the Qur'an is like that of a citron which tastes good and smells good. And he (a believer) who does not recite the Qur'an is like a date which is good in taste but has no smell. And the example of a dissolute wicked person who recites the Qur'an is like the Raihana (sweet basil) which smells good but tastes bitter. And the example of a dissolute wicked person who does not recite the Qur'an is like the colocynth which tastes bitter and has no smell» [Sahih Muslim].
«مثل المؤمن الذي يقرأ القرآن مثل الأترجة. ريحها طيب وطعمها طيب. ومثل المؤمن الذي لا يقرأ القرآن مثل التمرة. لا ريح لها وطعمها حلو. ومثل المنافق الذي يقرأ القرآن مثل الريحانة. ريحها طيب وطعمها مر. ومثل المنافق الذي لا يقرأ القرآن كمثل الحنظلة. ليس لها ريح وطعمها مر»

«The life of this world is a prison to a believer, and a paradise for the disbelievers» [Narrated By Muslim].
«الدنيا سجن المؤمن وجنة الكافر»

Qiyam al-Layl
It is described as an act of worship that connects the heart to Allah, may He be exalted, and enables it to overcome the temptations of life and to strive against one’s own self, at the time when sleepers are tossing and turning in their beds. It is one of the measures of sincere determination. It was a habit of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and therefore a habit of his companions. It is the act of praying at night.

Oh yes! -
Don't leave behind a mess - leave behind a Will! One important note: Even if a person has no bad deeds at all and he or she has mountains of good deeds it will still not be enough to gain entrance into the Paradise of the Almighty. Why? Because of the saying of the prophet, peace be upon him:
«None shall enter the Jennah (Paradise) except with the Mercy of Allah», When asked by his companions: “Even you? O, prophet of Allah?” And He replied: «Even me» [Narrated By Al-Munthiri]
Don't Die Without IT
And finally and most important of all regarding the death of anyone, Allah says in the Holy Quran:
{وَلاَ تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ}
Transliteration: Wa Lā Tamūtunna 'Illā Wa 'Antum Muslimūna
"And do not die, except in complete submission to Almighty Allah (Islam)." [Holy Quran 3:102]

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