Remembering death is the solution for many problems of this world. It can cure hard-heartedness and it can end sins and unmindfulness. The way to achieve a desire for, even a love of or looking forward to death is to remove all attachments to the world. Spend your wealth in the way of Allah and you'll want to meet Him. If you preserve it, you'll want to remain with it. This has been suggested by the Prophet (saw).
'Aisha (ra) says: "The Prophet (saw) used to fast frequently during the month of Shaban since the list of those who have to die during the year is prepared during this month. A man is engaged in getting himself married but his name is recorded amongst the dead. A person is going to perform Hajj but his name is included in the dead."
Origin of Death
Hazrat Hasan (ra) is reported to have said that when God created Adam (as) and his progeny, the angels humbly pointed out to God that the offspring of Adam (as) would not be accommodated on the Earth. God proclaimed that He would bring death into Being. The angels said that if He created death they would not be able to lead a pleasant life. God proclaimed that He shall inspire them with hope. (Ibn e Abi Shaiba)
Barzakh (time between death and Day of Resurrection)
Hazrat Sa'id b. Jubair (ra) is reported to have said: "When a man dies, the members of his family in Barzakh welcome him in the same way as the living persons receive a man in the world on his return from a foreign country." Hazrat Shabit Banani (ra) is reported to have said: "When a man dies his relatives in Barzakh, who are already dead, surround him and feel much greater pleasure in meeting him than that felt by a living person in the world at the time of receiving a man on his return from a foreign country." Hazrat Qais b. Qabisah (ra) is reported to have said: "The Holy Prophet (saw) disclosed on one occaison that a disbeliever could not speak to the dead. Somebody asked him whether the dead could converse with one another. He replied in the affirmative and added that they also pay a visit to one another."
Pangs of Death
Hazrat Yazid Raqqashi (ra) is reported to have said: "If the people should know about the pangs of death which the dead person has to undergo, they would begin to lament over the pangs of death to be sustained by them rather than their actual death."
Hazrat Auzair (ra) is reported to have said that the effect of the pangs of death is felt by the dead up to the Day of Resurrection. According to Hazrat Shaddad b. Aus (ra), death is the most severe of all the sufferings experienced during the span of life in this world or the next. It is more sharp than the teeth of a saw, more piercing than the edge of the blades of scissors and more torturing than being baked in a cauldron. If the dead rise form the grave and give a description of the pangs of death sustained by them, no person would be able to pass the time comfortably in this world or enjoy a sound sleep.
It is said that when Moses (as) died, Almighty God asked him how did he feel the agonies of death. He replied that it seemed to him as if an alive sparrow was being roasted in such a way that its soul lingered in the body and it found no way to escape. He is also reported to have said that his condition was just like an alive goat which was being flayed.
The Angel of Death
It is said the Angel of Death used to just come to people and they started to curse him and fear him. He complained to Allah who created illnesses and the like so they cursed those instead.
Hazrat Hasan Basri (ra) is reported to have said that when a person dies and the members of his family start weeping, the Angel of Death stands at the door of the house and says that he has not deprived the dead person of his livelihood. So long he had to benefit himself out of his subsistence, he did. He has not cut the span of his life short. He is bound to visit the house again and again till all the members of the household would taste the cup of death. Hazrat Hasan Basri (ra) is reported to have sworn to the effect that if the members of the bereaved family could have a look at the angel of death and hear him, they would have forgotten the dead body and turned to their own selves.
Hazrat Ibrahim (as) desired the Angel of Death to show him the shape he assumed at the time of extracting the soul of the transgressors. The Angel of Death told him that he would not stand this dreadful sight but Hazrat Ibrahim (as) insisted on that. Then the angel requested him to turn his face and so he did. After a moment, the angel of death allowed him to see. When Hazrat Ibrahim (as) looked up, he beheld a dark black man (like a ghost) with long and bristled up hair, clad in black apparel, emitting filthy smell, flames leaping out from his mouth and nostrils and lightning glittering in his eyes. No sooner did Hazrat Ibrahim (as) see the apparition than he fainted.
An episode of 'Umar bin 'Abdul 'Aziz (ra)
One day Hazrat 'Umar b. 'Abdul 'Aziz (ra) joined a funeral party. When he reached the graveyard, he went to a remote place and sat there and began to think about something. Somebody, addressing the Caliph, enquired the reason of his sitting alone at a place especially when he was the guardian of this dead body. He told him that he had come there at the call of the grave. The grave had spoken to him the following words: "O 'Umar b. 'Abdul 'Aziz, why don't you ask me the manner in which I welcome those who come to meet me." Hazrat 'Umar bin 'Abdul 'Aziz (ra) asked the grave to tell that. The grave said: "I snatch their coffins and tear their bodies into pieces, suck their blood and eat their flesh. Shall I tell you how I disembody the joints of a dead body? I seperate the shoulders from the arms, the arms from the wrists, the hips from the body, the hips from the thighs, the thighs from the bones, the knees from the shanks and the shanks from the feet." Afer saying that, Hazrat 'Umar b. 'Abdul 'Aziz (ra) began to weep and said: The stay in the world is short-lived but its allurements are many. Who is honoured in the world is dishonoured in the life Hereafter, who is wealthy here, is a beggar there. He who is young is bound to decay and he who is alive is bound to die. One should keep himself away from it lest it should deceive him because it turns away its face very soon. Foolish is he who is taken in by its baits. Where are those who were enamoured of it and who populated big cities, dug canals, planted big gardens and departed after staying for a short time? They always thought of their sound health but the improvement in health provoked the lusts of the flesh in them and they indulged in committing sins. Their abundant wealth was an envy of all men in the world. Even though they had to face difficulties, yet they amassed large sums of money. The people were jealous of them but they went on accumulating wealth. They bore troubles ungrudgingly for the sake of amassing wealth. The lust has deformed their bodies. The worms have eaten up their joints and bones. They used to take rest on comfortable beds, exalted thrones and cosy cushions and had a train of attendants to wait on them. Their friends, relatives and neighbours were always ready to flatter them. Can anybody tell about the hardships borne by them? The poor, the rich, all are lying on the same ground. Where is the wealth of the wealthy? Has his wealth helped him? Has the poverty of the beggar harmed him? What has become of their fluent tongues? What has become of their eyes which used to roll in their sockets in all directions? What has become of their soft skin, beautiful and good-looking faces and their tender bodies? What a ruin worms have wrought to their bodies; turning dark, their flesh being eaten up, their mouths covered with dust, limbs disembodied and joints broken. Where are their servants, who attended them and were at their beck and call? Where are their apartments where they used to take rest? Where are their treasures of wealth which they had amassed? Neither did their attendants make provision for for their food enabling them to eat in the grave, nor did they provide them with a bed and a pillow. They threw him on the ground without any tree or a plant of flower to cast shade upon him. Now they are lying forlorn in darkness. They remain unaffected whether it is day or night. They can neither meet friends nor call any one of them. What a change their tender figures have undergone! The bodies of all men and women are decomposed. Their limbs are disembodied, their eyes get out of their sockets, their necks are seperated, their mouths are filled with water and pus and the worms and insects crawl in all parts of their bodies. They are in a deplorable condition and their spouses have been bound to nuptial ties with another person and have been enjoying themselves. Their sons have taken possession of their properties and the inheritors have distributed the property. But there are also fortunate beings who are enjoying themselves in the grave, their countenances are fresh. These are the same people who remembered this home (grave) while lying in a home of deception (world) and preferred to meet the demands of the Hereafter to the demands of the mortal world, and made the provision and preparations for a journey towards the grave. When a aman is destined to die sooner or later, he should not entangle himself into the allurements of the world. Does he think that the world will stand by him? Does he think that he will live forever in this transient world?
When the Angel of Death approaches him, nobody will save him from his clutches. He is bound to leave behind him in the world his huge buildings, the ripe fruit of his gardens, his cosy cusions and his summer and winter suits. Sweat will stream down his body. He will feel thirsty and the agonies of death will make him toss in the bed.
The man, who today on the death of his brother, his son, his father, shuts their eyes, who on one occaison washes the dead body and shrouds it in the coffin, while on other occaison participates in the funeral gathering and lays the dead body in the grave, must bear in mind that he will pass through the same trial tomorrow. Then Hazrat 'Umar bin 'Abdul 'Aziz (ra) quoted two verses, the translation of which is given below:
"The man always runs after a thing which is bound to perish, and is engrossed in high hopes and great expectations. He does not know that day-dreams can never be realized. He spends his day in forgetfulness and passes his day in unmindfulness and passes his nights in slumber, while death is hovering over his head. He will repent of what he is doing today. He is leading his life like that of animals."
It is said that hardly a week had elapsed after this incident when Hazrat 'Umar bin 'Abdul 'Aziz (ra) passed away.
When a person dies, if they were pious persons, as they are carried to the grave they ask to be hurried along. And if they are wrongdoers, they curse their predicament and ask where they are being led to.
A woman who lost her family in a tragedy said: "A person who would ponder over patience and impatience would see much difference between them. The reward of patience is noble and for impatience there is no reward."
Then she recited these verses: "I endured because endurance is the best thing to rely upon. If any advantage could be obtained by impatience I must have adopted it. I endured many a misfortune that if these fell even on mountains, these must have broken into pieces. I exercised full control over my tears and thus barred them to come out. Now, those tears are falling within my heart."
The Death of Prophets
It is a tradition from Abu Huraira (ra) that the Holy Prophet (saw) said Hazrat Dawud (as) was an embodiment of modesty. Whenever he went out, he used to close the door of his house. One day he went out after bolting the door as usual, but on his return, he found a man standing inside the house. He asked: "Who are you?" He told: "I am that being who is not afraid of the kings even and whom none can refuse admittance." He said: "By God! You are the angel of death. You are welcome. You have brough the commandment of the Almighty God." After saying this, he lay down by covering himself with a sheet and the angel of death extracted his soul.
It is a tradition from Tibrani on the authority of Hussain (ra) that the Archangel Gabriel (Jibrail) visited Prophet Muhammad (saw) during the days of his last illness, and asked: "How are you?" The Holy Prophet (saw) told him that he was seriously ill. In the meanwhile, the angel of death knocked at the door and asked for permission to come in. Hazrat Gabriel said: "O Muhammad (saw), that is the Angel of Death (Izra'il). He seeks your permission to come in. Prior to this, he never asked for such permission and would never ask after this." Muhammad (saw) said: "Let him come in." Gabriel permitted him. The angel of death appeared and stood up before the Holy Prophet (saw) and said: "Almighty God hath sent me to you with His explicit instruction to do as you like me to do. So, if you allow me to seperate the soul from your body, I will do this, otherwise not." The Holy Prophet (saw) asked him: "Are you authorized to do so?" He replied in the affirmative with the remarks: "O, Messenger of Allah, Allah hath given me such a command." Then Gabriel told the Holy Prophet (saw): "God is very eager to meet you." Thereupon, the Holy Prophet (saw) said: "O angel of death! Comply with the order of Allah." Upon this, the angel of death seized the breath of Hazrat Muhammad (saw).
- From "The Spectacle of Death" by Khawaja Muhammad Islam