Why do people die?
Death is the only guaranteed in this life. Allah teaches us that after a person is born he will spend a certain amount of time on earth then He will die and that applies to all human beings. Therefore, death is the natural progression of a human being just as growing up is. It does not matter if you’re a king or if you’re a beggar, if you hide in a mighty fortress, or if you have a thousand surgeries, nobody can avoid or cheat death.
Allah says in the Quran:
Everyone shall have to die (Holy Quran)
In another place Allah says:
Where ever you are, even in a mighty fortress death will find you
Death brings an end to our temporary life on this earth. It is an occasion of sorrow and grief for the loved ones of the deceased. Not even the most foolish of people would deny the concept of death.
Are we born sinless?
Whenever a child is born it is born free of all sin and is a pure individual. Some people believe that a child is born sinful, but Islam has taught us that a child is born free of all sin. It is born is a state of Fitra, which can be seen as a natural state of submission to Allah, and acknowledging Tawheed.
When a child grows it gets corrupted and the child beings to learn from its family and the environment in which it lives. This child is no longer on the Fitra unless the parents are Muslims and teach the child about Allah and his Deen.
Therefore, every child is born in a natural state of submission to Allah and is called a Muslim. A person accepting Islam and becoming a Muslim is known as reverting to Islam rather than converting to Islam. This is because it is reverting or returning to the natural state in which it was born.
Why does Allah make some people poor?
Allah has chosen certain circumstances for people to test them in this life. For example, Allah has made some people richer than others, Allah has made some people cleverer than others, Allah has given some people more knowledge and others less, Allah has made some strong and others weak. Allah is testing us by how we use these things.
When we die we will be asked about these special blessings Allah has given us within our lives and what we did with them. If Allah gave us wealth, what did we do with it? how did we spend it? Were we grateful to Allah? … Does anybody know when they will die?
No, nobody knows when their time is up. This is something that Allah has kept exclusive for Himself. Some babies die at birth, and some people live over the age of 100, but nobody knows for certain. Many a time we have seen or heard when a doctor has said for certain that this person won’t last the day yet he recovers and outlives the doctor!
We do not even know how we will die. Some people die in their sleep, some due to some terminal illness, some people die in a very healthy state for no apparent reason at all! No body knows when they will die or how they will die.
The Ahadith of the Prophet (PBUH) teach us that Allah has appointed the Angel Izrail who is also known as the Angel of death (malakul mawt) over death. He is responsible to take out our souls and end our lives.
What is our duty to a Muslim who has died?
We should try our best to comfort his/her family, and we should try and understand what grief and sorrow they must be feeling. It is a Sunnat of the Prophet (PBUH) to say comforting words to the family of the deceased.
The holy Prophet (PBUH) has taught us what should be done to the deceased. A dead body is given a wash before it is buried. It is then covered with white sheets and fragrance is spread over it. A funeral prayer is conducted before burial. This prayer is called Salatul Janazah.
Salatul Janazah is a collective obligation (Fardh Kifayah) on all the Muslims of the locality of the dead person. If a number of them join in, the obligation is discharged on behalf of all. But, if no one joins in, everyone will be considered sinful before Allah. Attending the Salatul Janazah holds great reward. The method of performing this special Salah will be covered in details under Fiqh Inshallah.
Islam does not like the idea of burning the body and then burying the ashes or scattering them out to sea. People who do this either believe that there is no life after death, or believe that if this is done, Allah would not be able to bring them back to life and account them for their deeds.
What happens once the person is in the grave?
The grave is the first stage of Aakhirah. It has been narrated that whenever Hadhrat Uthman (RA) used to stand by a grave, he would cry so excessively that his blessed beard would become wet. Someone asked, “Why do you not cry so much when mention is made of Jannah and Jahannam as you would cry when mention is made of the grave?” He replied, “I have heard the Holy Prophet say, The grave is the first stage from the stages of the Aakhirah. Whoever passes it easily all the other oncoming stages will be easy on him, and whoever is afflicted with punishment for him the oncoming stages will be even tougher.”
The first thing that happens is that two angels by the name of Munkar and Nakeer approach the person and ask him/her three questions. A true believer will have no problems answering these questions.
The questions are:
- Who is your Lord?
- What is your Religion?
- Who is your Prophet?
In the grave, a person, according to how he/she lived their lives in this world will either be rewarded or punished. This has been proven from the Quran as well as the Hadith of the Prophet.
In one Hadith the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said:
The grave is either a garden of Paradise or a pit from the pits of Hell
In another very lengthy Hadith the Holy Prophet (PBUH) explains:
When a true believer is laid to rest in his/her grave, the grave says, “out of everybody who has walked upon me, you were the most liked to me. Now you shall see how I will treat you.” Then the grave expands itself as far as the eye can see. Then a window from Paradise is opened for him and he/she will continue to smell fresh and beautiful fragrances till the Day of Judgement. When a non-believer is laid in his/her grave, the grave say unto him/her, “out of everybody who has walked upon me, you were the most disliked to me. Now you shall see how I treat you. Then it squeezes the person so tightly that the person’s ribs go into each other. Then serpents are released on that person, and they are so venomous that if they were to spit their venom onto earth not one blade of grass would live. And they would continue to bite him/her till the Day of Judgement.
In a famous Hadith the Holy Prophet (PBUH) has mentioned that the two things that bring upon the punishment of the grave are:
- Not taking care when relieving oneself
- Walking around stirring things up, and breaking friendship.
May Allah save us all from the punishment of the grave. Aamin.
What do you advise we do?
Remember death as much as possible. Make use of your time, keeping in mind that a time will come when I will have to die and go and lie in the grave.
It is very strange that if a person is experiencing great pleasure and having a good time, and he was to find out that the police were looking for him, and they had a warrant for his arrest, all of his happiness, enjoyment will go away. It would be a miracle if he could sleep at night. On the other hand we know that the Angel of death is always awaiting the order of Allah to extract his soul and he will have to experience the agony of death, yet this seems to have no effect on his lifestyle?
Remembering death is a means of preparing for death
- non-attachment towards the world
- not accumulating wealth
- repentance from sin
- making use of valuable time
- eagerness and attachment in his/her worship