“Allah Guides to His Light Whom He Wills.” (Surah An-Nur)
The Journey of Death and Life
Bismi Lahi Riahmani Rraheem “Every soul with taste death…” (Surah Ali-Imran, 185)
Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) in this verse is telling us about the reality and experience that every single person is going to go through, the experience of death and not just dying. This experience is a part of our long journey of life that we must go though in order to cross into another life after death.
An Inevitable Journey
Our life is laced by the written Qadr of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), and we travel through this Qadr, as Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) described: “Say, “Indeed, the death from which you flee – indeed, it will meet you.” (Surah Al-Jummah, 8)
In this ayah Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) is telling us that death is not travelling to us, but that we are travelling to it! Everywhere we go we are shortening the time and the distance of that meeting and that is why Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) tells us that we do not know when the meeting will happen but we can be assured that it will: “Wherever you may be, death will overtake you…” (Surah An-Nisa, 78)
That is why one-third of the Qur’an speaks about life after death. Our life before and after death is one continuous life for us, and that is why The messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wasalam) said: the wise person is the one who accounts himself for his actions and words and works hard, while the foolhardy is the one who follows their desires and keeps wishing for things to happen.
Life and death run in parallel; they go together and they were created together, as Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) says in Surah Al-Mulk (2): “The One who created death and life in order to test who will be righteous in their deeds.”
Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) in this verse started with death and not life because death comes before life. We all were dead before coming to this life as we were non-existent. So our journey goes from death to life to death to life! Also, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) may have mentioned death first because death is the most serious reality in our life; when we come to this life we have different choices presented in our lives, but when we die no choice remains.
As we serve and treat those who are in this life with dignity and honour, it is actually more important to deal with those who left this life with dignity and honour. As humans we should continually be learning: Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) tells us of the children of Adam (alaihi salam), when one son had killed the other and he did not know what to do with the body until Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) sent him the example of the bird who showed the son of Adam (alaihi salam) how to bury the body, and hence we learned how to bury a body with dignity and honour.
When someone dies we take them to their ultimate place: they are no longer going to sleep in their bed, sit at the table where they shared food with family, wear the clothes used to wear;
now they have a different set of clothes to wear on their journey from death until the day of resurrection.
Serving those who have died is a great service (ibadah); to look after the body after the soul has departed, to prepare the body and to ensure that the body is buried with dignity and honour, all is a great service. We should remember we are doing this for ourselves when we serve those who have died as it is the only fact in my life and a matter of time that I will be upon the same.
Wasiyah: To the Family and Friends
Remember what Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) said about what the righteous ones say when they are faced with a grave calamity or test:
“Indeed, we belong to Allah and indeed we return to Him. Those are the ones upon who are blessings from Allah and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.” (Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 156-157)
In the journey of death, it is critical to remember that this is an enormous calamity, and that is why Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) referred to this calamity as a musibah. This calamity entails that you will no longer see the one you used to see all the time. By Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) referring to it as a musibah it shows that it is understandable for people to grieve, to be sad and to miss those whom they love.
Allah’s messenger (Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wasalam) buried Sayeda Khadijah, the one whom he loved, the first to believe, the one who supported him, and the one who gave everything from her wealth, time and life to defend him, He (salallahu alayhi wasalam) buried her. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) buried all of his children, his Uncle Hamza (alaihi salam) and his son Ibrahim (alaihi salam). When burying Ibrahim (alaihi salam) the Sahaba saw tears in the eyes of Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa salam), and so they said: “Even you Ya Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa salam)?” To which Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa salam) said: “The eyes send their tears and the heart is saddened, but we do not say anything except that which pleases Allah (subhana wa ta’ala). [Turning to Ibrahim (alaih salam)] Indeed, O Ibrahim! We are bereaved by your departure from us.”
Grieving and missing someone is understandable, and it is the Sunnah, however, it is very important to do what is best for the deceased: making dua and reading Qur’an for them, visiting those whom visited, looking after those they looked after, and whenever we remember them to make dua for them and to make mention of all their goodness, and to forget where they may have erred. And we should remember what Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) said in a Hadith: whoever is going through a test, they should remember the greatest test is my departure from this life.
Wasiyah: To All
Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) makes us all go through the journey of death in our daily lives, as He said in Surah Az-Zumar (42):
“Allah takes the soul of people when they die and those who did not die Allah taks their souls while they are asleep.”
As we cannot resist sleep and cannot live without it – when we go to sleep we are no longer decision makers, people of authority, not rich or poor, and we become people who cannot respond to anything! This shows us the power of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), the One who controls life, writes our direction and as He said in Surah Al-Waqiah (60): “We have decreed death among you…” and in Surah Ar-Rahman (26-27): “Everyone on earth will perish. And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.”
So the absolute is that we will die and we do not have the ability to reject it or cause it delay, because Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has absolute power over us: “And He is the subjugator over His servants, and He sends over you guardian-angels until, when death comes to one of you, Our messengers take him, and they do not fail [in their duties].” (Surah Al-Anam,61)
Living in this life it is very important to remember the Hadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) that was narrated by Abdullah ibn Omar (radiallah anhu): Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) said to me live in this life as a stranger or as a traveler, and consider yourself from the people of the grave. In relating this, Abdullah ibn Omar (radiallah anhu) used to say: if you wake up in the morning do not think you are going to live until the evening, and if you are alive in the evening do not think you will be alive until the morning; take from the time of good health before it goes bad; do things while you are a alive before you die.
We have very limited time in this life and this life often deceives us. It is of utmost importance to remind ourselves and one another about what is to come, and to be concerned with the absolute future.
We beg Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) to gather us with Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam), or Shafi and our Guide, and we beg Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) to make it easy for us to follow His guidance, implement His teachings into our life and to purify our intentions. We beg Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) to fill our heart with His love and the love of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam).