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    DEATH

    The following is a very good article on the subject of death - please read and convey it to your friends and relatives.

    DEATH

    The rising of the sun reminds of Sakhr, I remember him at every sunset, If it were not for the number of those weeping around me, for their brothers, I surely would have killed myself, they do not cry for anyone as dear as my brother, but I console myself by weeping for him, for I have said farewell to the day we separated, father of Hassan, with it my pleasures and happiness, how my sorrows go out to him and my mother, for him to awake in his grave and then to rest at night?

    With these phrases and others like them, Al-Khansaa’ mourned the death of her brother, Sakhr, and cried for him until she lost her eye-sight, falling into anguish, disparity and wishing for death. This is how Al-Khansaa’ saw death and this is how she handled it.
    In the battle of Al-Qadisiyyah, in an honourable stance of life and death, Al-Khansaa’ stood with her four sons and said to them: “You became Muslim and did not apostatise, and you emigrated and did not turn back, then you came to your old mother and placed her in the hands of the people of Persia. You are the sons of one man, as you are the sons of one woman. I did not betray your father, nor did I disgrace your uncle. Go, and be witnesses of the battle from the beginning to its very end.” All four of her sons were martyred, and when the news reached her she said her famous words: “All praise be to Allah, who honoured me with their death. I ask Him, glory be to He, to join me together with them, in the dwellings of his mercy.”
    What changed the picture of death in the eyes of Al-Khansaa’ from ignorance to Islam? Was honour sought from the death of her sons after losing her eyesight due to her crying over the death of her brother? And after the anxiety of death, prayers of meeting them in paradise were made? What change of heart and mind is this? What change is this that can change a human being from one life to another, and from one point of view to another?
    It is Islam, with its Aqeeda, which made death for a Muslim the meeting of Allah (swt). He (swt) said “Among the Believers are men who have been true to their Covenant with Allah: of them some have fulfilled their obligations, and some of them are still waiting: but they have never changed (their determination) in the least” [Al-Ahzab: 23]. There are the ones who wait and those who were truthful to the promise they made to Allah (swt), but their time has not come yet, so they wait. There are the ones who wait, yes! Waiting as if they are living in this world, remaining patient over it and waiting for their Ajal (decree of death) to come, for them to catch up to their companions, and to meet the countenance of their Lord; and why not wait when they were the ones who were truthful to the promise they made to Allah (swt), and Allah (swt) confirmed this for them and those like them, that they would not turn back and change their determination, so they were the ones who did not turn back and change. Of them are those who have moved on, their Ajal having ended, and there are those who wait for its coming, and prepare them-selves for it. Those who have not prepared for this meeting do not wait for it: “Say: The Death from which you flee will truly overtake you: then will you be sent back to the Knower of all things secret and open: and He will tell you (the truth of) the things that you did!” [Al-Jumu’a:8]. So the one who runs away from death, either does not believe in the meeting of Allah (swt) and wishes to seek the greatest amount of pleasure in this world for as long as he can, and Allah (swt) said, “Until, when death comes to one of them, he says: “O my Lord! Send me back (to life), in order that I may do good in that which I have left behind!” - No! It is but a word that he speaks; and behind them is a Partition until the Day they are raised up. Then when the Trumpet is blown, there will be no more kinship among them that day, nor will they ask of one another! Then those whose scales (of good deeds) are heavy, they are the successful. And those whose scales (of good deeds) are light, they are those who lose their ownselves; in Hell will they abide” [Al-Mu’minun: 99-103], or he is a Believer who is weak in his remembrance of Allah (swt) and the Day of Judgement, thus is heedless of the Akhirah (afterlife), too busy with his world, so when death comes to him, he becomes regretful and sorrowful: “Of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil deeds, until death faces one of them, and he says: “Now I repent” nor of those who die while they are disbelievers. For them have we prepared a painful torment” [An-Nisa: 18]. It was narrated that when death approached Abdul-Malik b. Marwan, he looked to a man washing his clothes near Damascus, twisting his clothes, then slapping them against his washing basin, when Abdul-Malik said: “How I wish that I were a cleaner, eating from the earnings of what my hands have earned day after day, not having desired anything in this world.” When this reached Abu Hazim, he said: “All praise be to Allah, who made them wish for what we have when death approaches them, and when death approaches us, we do not wish for what they have.”

    Dear brothers and sisters:
    Belief in that the ending of Ajal is the cause of death is a necessity that cannot be separated from it, causing one to be wary of death every second of every moment, and what follows this wariness of readiness and preparation is in line with the belief in the Akhirah, whose doors open upon death, where there is no more work, or Jihad or carrying of the Da’wa. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said to Abdullah b.Umar (ra), “If you awoke in the morning, do not speak to yourself of the evening, and if you reach the evening, do not speak to yourself of the morning. Take from your life for your death, and from your health for your illness, as you, oh Abdullah, do not know what your name will be tomorrow” [Bukhari]. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “The clever one is he who disciplined himself and worked for what is after death, and the feeble one is he who followed his desires, then made (vain) prayers to Allah”. And in the Sahih (authenticated) narration of when Jibreel (as) asked the Messenger (saw) about Ihsan, he (saw) said, “To worship Allah as if you see him, and if you do not see him, then he surely sees you”. Belief in death is worthless without the belief in the Akhirah, for death is the beginning of the path to the Akhirah; the everlasting life, the life where fate is decided; either complete bliss, or severe punishment. So whoever feared death and believed that its cause is the ending of Ajal, but did not carefully guard and account himself and did not imagine the Akhirah in a manner that prepares him to travel to it at any moment, will find no effect of his Iman upon his actions in this world, and if he is affected, then this will add up to no more that a few quick moments of guilt, without being followed up with careful guarding and accounting, thus he will very quickly go back to his old ways of disobeying Allah (swt) after the effects of what he saw heard or what reminded him wear off. ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan (ra), in the last Khutba he gave in his life, said: “Allah (swt) gave you this world to request the Akhirah, and did not give it to you for you to rely upon, for this world ends and Akhirah is everlasting. So let not that which ends make you disregardful, nor keep you busy from that which lasts. Choose to seek that which lasts over that which ends, for this world will be cut off and our return is to Allah.” Death reminds us of Akhirah, and there is no better reminder. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Increase the remembrance of that which destroys all desires” [Al Tirmidhi and said the Hadith is Hasan]. And he (saw) said, “If animals knew what the sons of Adam knew of death, you would not have found any fat on them to eat” [Al Baihaqi in “Al Sha’ab”]. Ibn ‘Umar (ra) said, “I came to the Prophet (saw), and I was the tenth of ten men, when a man from the Ansar asked: Who is the most clever and the most honourable of people, Oh Messenger of Allah? He (saw) replied: “Those who remember death the most and work the hardest to prepare for it; they are the clever ones. They have left with the honour of this world and the dignity of the Akhirah” [Ibn Majah (Summarised version) and Ibn Abi Al Dunya (Complete version) - Good chain of narrators].

    ‘Umar b Abdul Aziz (ra), in one of his Khutbas said, “Doubtlessly, for every travel provisions must be made, so provide for your travel to Akhirah with Taqwa (fear of Allah), and be like those who examined what Allah has prepared of rewards and punishments, so that you may desire and fear. And do not delay, as your heart may harden and you may be led to your enemy, for, by Allah, there is no-one who has more expectations than the one who is unaware that he may not awake after he goes to bed, or go to bed after he awakes, even though he may find glimpses of the fate of death between them. How many people have you and I seen in this world who walk about arrogantly, but only those who are confident of their being saved from the Hellfire will have their hearts at ease, and only those who have been protected from the tribulations of the Day of Judgement can be happy, for the one who does not nurture his wounds will only be cut once again from another direction, so how could he be happy? I seek refuge in Allah that I order you to do what I do not order myself, so that I lose my deal (with Allah), and my shame will show, and my weakness will be laid bare on the day that the rich and the poor will be made to show all, and the scales in it are set up. You have been burdened with a task, if the stars were bur-dened with it, they surely would have fallen, and if the mountains were burdened with it, they surely would have melted away, and if the earth was burdened with it, it surely would have been torn to pieces.”

    Every night ‘Umar b. Abdul Aziz (ra) would gather the Fuqahaa’ and remember death and the Day of Judgement and the Akhirah, and they would cry as if a funeral was before them. And it was said that if death were to be mentioned around him, he would shiver like a bird and cry until tears would run down his beard, once cry-ing making the whole house cry with him, and when the moment passed, his wife Fatima asked him: “May my father be sacrificed for you, oh Amir of the Believers, why do you cry?” He said: “I imagined the departure of the people from between the hands of Allah, and saw a group in Paradise and a group in the Hellfire.” Then he cried out and fainted.
    Death reminds us of the Akhirah, and involves much reminding and careful examination. Al-Hassan (ra) entered a room where a man was reading Qur’an to himself, and said: “The first of this matter (life) is made proper when its end is feared, and the end of this matter is made proper when its first is renounced.” Whoever imagines that his Akhirah may come at any moment must prepare for it the best he can. When Ahmed b. Khadhrawiyyah neared death, he said to his son: “My son, a door that I have been knocking at for 95 years is about to be opened upon me this hour, and I do not know if it holds for me happiness or misery.” And it was narrated that one of the pious Muslims was approaching his death and his wife began crying, so he asked her: “What makes you cry?” She said: “I cry for you.” He said: “If you wish to cry, then cry for your-self, for I have cried over this day for 40 years.” Do you see, my brothers, how it is if you have a long journey ahead! Would you disregard preparing for it and making yourself ready? If you did this, then you fall under one of these two categories: Either you do not really care about the trip, nor worry about it, nor do you give it any value whatsoever; or you are heed-less, as time means nothing to you. Death is a reality which we all believe in its coming, a belief that meets no doubt whatsoever. And at every passing day we come one day closer to death. So whoever reaches thirty years of age has come thirty years closer to death, and who-ever reaches sixty years of age has come sixty years closer to death, and so on. Who amongst us has prepared to travel at any moment… now… or in a short while… or tomorrow… or after it…? You only have two types of breath, one inhaling and one exhaling, and you do not know which one will take out your soul. Oh, Allah, we beg for your mercy and for peace on the day that we meet you.

    Death is a reminder, which is followed by careful accounting and guarding, as Al-Rabee’ b. Khaytham had dug a grave in his house, so that if he found hardness within his heart, he would enter it and lay down for as long as Allah wished and read: “O my Lord! Send me back (to life) in order that I may work righteousness in the things I neglected” repeating it, then he would reply to himself saying: “Oh, Rabee’, here, you have been returned, so work.” Remembrance is not crying and wailing and blaming one’s self when one is on the brink of death, or attending a funeral or visiting graves alone. Rather, remembrance of death is when a believer imagines that he will meet his Lord at any moment, and his actions will be cut off, as will his ability for repentance. So he will be aware of himself, careful to obey Allah (swt), wary of his Lord every second of his life. Anas (ra) said: I overheard ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab (ra) as he entered upset, and there was a barrier between us, saying: “Oh, ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab, Amir of the Believers, bravo! By Allah, Oh, son of Al-Khattab, you better fear Allah, or he will punish you.” And Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq (ra) said: “Whoever detests himself before Allah (swt), Allah will protect him from His anger.”
    Accounting one’s self and guarding it from mistakes is how a believer saves himself from the punishment of Allah (swt), preparing himself so that he may meet Allah (swt) obedient and in submission, committing himself to what Allah has ordered him, not getting tired, or compromising or giving up, rather treading the path of Allah (swt), withstanding the trials of the world and its disasters, renouncing what the created have to offer, seeking what the Creator has to give.

    The Messenger of Allah (saw) read the verse:
    “Those whom Allah (in His plan) wishes to guide, He opens their breast to Islam.” [Al-An’am:125] and said: “If the Nur (light) enters into the breast, it widens.” Then someone asked: Is there a visible sign of that, Oh, Messenger of Allah? He said: “Yes, increased renunciation of the dwelling of vanities (Dar Al-Ghurur), and the desire for the everlasting dwelling (Dar Al-Khulud), and preparation for death before its’ time.” [Al Haakim in “Al Mustadrik”] And Al-Saddi (ra) said: “He (is the one) who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deed” [Al-Mulk: 2], meaning those of you who remember death the most, and the best of you in preparation, and who are most cautious and fearful of it. Have you, my dear brother or sister, examined what Allah (swt) has enjoined upon you, firstly, as a Muslim and secondly, as a carrier of the Da’wa? Have you asked yourself if you have put forth the deserved effort, or have you been negligent in its undertaking? Have you realised that you are of the most burdened, and of the most responsible, and you are the most needy of people, in this day and age, of accounting yourself and subduing it to what Allah (swt) has enjoined upon it of actions, and to what your back has been burdened with of responsibilities?
    Have you realised, my brother, as you contemplate death, and remember the Akhirah, and cry, fearing the punishment of the Hellfire, and work, desiring the pleasures of Paradise; have you realised that what you have of enlightened thought, and precise understanding, and sincere awareness will not make you an oblivious Sufi or an ignorant Darweesh, or someone stuck in a corner with only the pillars and corners of Islam, crying and moaning? No, and it is not acceptable of you to do so, either. Rather
    you should be a carrier of the Da’wa, who sold his soul to Allah (swt), a political leader who cries upon hearing an Ayah, and a special moment can agitate his emotions.

    Did you not know that the Messenger of Allah (saw) was the most fearful of the people, and cried the most? Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq (ra) once said to him: “Your hair has become grey, Oh, Messenger of Allah.” So he (saw) said: “[Surah] Hud and its sisters have made my hair grey: Al-Waqi’a, ‘Amma Yatasaa’alun and Itha Al-Shamsu Kuwwirat.” And it was narrated by Ibn Najjar, of Ibn ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah (saw) overheard a reader reading: “With Us are Fetters (to bind them), and a Fire (to burn them)” [Al-Muzammil: 12] and he (saw) fainted. And it was narrated that when he (saw) was travelling to Makkah to liberate it, and the Muslims were fully prepared and armed, he (saw) saw a lark flying above his head, crying out, so he (saw) cried and said, “Who upset her by taking away her son? Give back her child.”
    When Allah revealed, “Do you then wonder at this recital? And will you laugh and not weep?” [An-Najm: 59-60] the people of Al-Suffa cried until the tears ran down their face, and when the Messenger (saw) heard this, he cried with them, causing the rest of the Companions to cry along with him, then he (saw) said, “The one who cries from fear of Allah will not be made to walk through the fire, and the one who insists on disobedience will not enter Paradise, and if you did not commit sins, Allah would bring another people who would commit sins, so that he may forgive them” [Al Baihaqi].
    Did you not know that ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab (ra), due to his strong stance upon the truth and his nerve, as well as the strength of his courage, would drop at the hearing of an Ayah and would be streaming tears whenever he was reminded of the afterlife; and on his ring he had engraved: “Death is enough of a reminder, oh Umar”.
    Did you not know that one of the Companions said of Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq, “If you saw him as he was preparing the armies, you would think that he does not depend on Allah whatsoever, and if you saw him as he prayed profusely to Allah for victory, crying and weeping, you would say:
    This man has not prepared a single thing, at all.”
    Have you not heard the saying of Allah (swt), describing the best of His creation, “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful amongst each other. You see them bowing and falling down prostrate (in prayer) seeking bounty from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure. On their faces are their (visible) marks, (being) the traces of their prostration. This is their description in the Taurat; and their description in the Injeel: is like a (sown) seed which sends forth its blade, then makes it strong; it then becomes thick, and it stands straight on its own stem, (filling) the sowers with wonder and delight, that it may enrage the disbelievers with them. Allah has promised those among them who believe and do righteous deeds, forgiveness, and a mighty reward.” [Al-Fath: 29] These are the leaders who established Islam and fought in the way of Allah (swt) until they met their Lord. As Ali bin Abi Talib (ra) said, describing them: “By Allah, I have seen the companions of Muhammad (saw), and I do not see anyone here today any-thing like them. They would awake ruffled and dirty, between their eyes what is similar to those who ride goats, for they have spent the night prostrating and praying, reading the book of Allah (swt), moving from their face to their feet, and when they awoke, they would mention Allah, the Most High, swaying like a tree would on a windy day. Their eyes have cried until their clothes have been soaked, and by Allah, it was as if that evening the people had been put to sleep.”

    Abu ‘Ubaydah Al-Baji said: “We entered upon Al-Hassan while he was ill, the illness which he died from, and he said: Greetings to you and welcome. May Allah greet you with peace, and may He make the everlasting dwelling (Paradise) lawful for you and I, if you are patient, and truthful and god-fearing. So do not make your share of this information, may Allah have mercy upon you, that you take it in one ear, while it goes out the other, for whoever saw Muhammed (saw), saw him coming and going, and he did not simply lay brick upon brick, or straw upon straw, rather knowledge was raised
    up to him, so he embarked upon it. Al-Wahi, Al-Wahi (the revelation, the revelation), to be delivered, to be delivered. Allah has blessed a slave with his mercy who lived life as it were once, so he ate little, and wore tattered rags, stuck to earth and exhausted himself in worship, crying when he made a mistake, fleeing from punishment and seeking His mercy, until his time comes and he is in that state.” [Ibn Habban in “Al Thuqaat” and Abu Na’eem in “Al Hilya”]
    This world, brothers and sisters, and what it has of pleasures and trials can make a Believer busy, no matter how measly the pleasures, and how insignificant the trials. They will keep him busy if he accepted them, and allowed them to keep him busy. Allah (swt) says, “Know that the life of this world is but play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting and multiplying, (in rivalry) among yourselves, riches and children. It is as the likeness of vegetation after rain thereof the growth is pleasing to the tillers; soon it withers; then you will see it grow yellow; then it becomes dry and crumbles away. But in the Hereafter is a severe torment (for the disbelievers - evildoers). And forgive-ness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers - good doers). And what is the life of this world, but a deceiving enjoyment? Race one another (in seeking) Forgiveness from your Lord, and a Garden (of Bliss), the width whereof is as the width of heaven and earth, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His Messengers: that is the Grace of Allah, which He bestows on whom He pleases: and Allah is the Lord of Grace abounding.”
    [Al-Hadid: 20-21]
    Death is no more than the truthful companion who continues to remind the Believer of his Akhirah, and as long as a Believer remembers his Akhirah and acts accordingly, then he is heading in a good direction and he will live his life in a state of remembrance and preparation for it. This is why the Messenger of Allah (saw) stressed the remembrance of death and to pre-pare for it, as he stressed the visiting of graves and praying for peace upon them, as it is the best admonition and the best of reminders. Abi Tharr (ra) said The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “Visit the graves, as it will be a reminder of the Akhirah, and wash the dead, as taking care of an empty body is an outstanding admonition, and pray over the Jana’iz (funerals), as it may sadden you, for the sad one is in the shade of Allah” [Ibn Abi Al Dunya and Al Haakim -Good chain of narrators]. And Ibn Abi Mulaykah said, The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “Visit your dead and pray for peace upon them, for there is an admonition for you in it” [Ibn Abi Al Dunya - Good chain of narrators].
    It has been narrated of Abu Hurairah that if he saw a funeral, he would say: “Move on, for we are to follow.” And Al-Dhaahik said: A man once said: Oh, Messenger of Allah, who is the most Zaahid (abstinent) of people? He (saw) said: “He who does not forget the grave and abandoned the luxuries of life, seeking that which lasts above that which ends, not counting yesterday as one of his days, and counted himself amongst the people of the graves”.

    In the Messenger of Allah (saw) we have a beautiful pattern of conduct to follow, and in the honourable companions we have integrity of conduct and forthrightness, and in those who preceded us, who were righteous, we have admonition and remembrance, for they were mindful to always remember death to help them remember and prepare for the Akhirah, and if death were to approach them, you would find them between one crying over himself out of fear and terror of Allah’s (swt) punishment, and one who has done righteous deeds for the sake of Allah (swt), hoping for the best, praying for his forgiveness, and one who is fully pre-pared and ready.

    As for the Messenger (saw), he began his preparation by praying for the forgiveness of those in the graves, and this was during the illness which he died from, where Abu Muwayhiba, the servant of the Prophet (saw), narrated: “The Messenger of Allah (saw) called for me in the middle of the night and said to me: “Oh, Abu Muwayhiba, I have been ordered to pray for forgiveness for the people of the graves, so come with me.” So I departed with him, and when he (saw) stood between them, he said, “Peace be upon you, dwellers of the graves. What you are in is more comfortable than what the people are in, for tribulations have approached like dark patches of night, one following another, and each one is worse than the one before it.” Then he came near to me, and said: “Oh, Abu Muwayhiba, I have been given the keys to the treasures of the world and lasting life in it, then Paradise, and was given a choice between this and the meeting of my Lord and Paradise, so I chose to meet my Lord and Paradise.” So I said: May my father and mother be sacrificed for you, take the keys to the treasures of the world and lasting life in it, then Paradise. But he said, “No, by Allah, oh Abu Muwayhiba, I have chosen to meet my Lord and Paradise.” He then prayed for forgiveness for the people of the graves and left, when the pain that he (saw) was going through showed upon him. As the pain increased, he (saw) saidto Al-Fadhl, with his head wrapped, due to the overwhelming pain, “Take my hand, Fadhl”. So Al-Fadhl took his hand until he sat on the Minbar, then said to Al-Fadhl: “Call the people.” So they gathered. He then praised Allah, and prayed for peace upon the companions of Uhud, and forgiveness for them and prayed much for them, then said: “and furthermore, oh people, I praise Allah between you, of whom there is no Lord worthy of worship other than Him. It has been made known to me that there are some (unful-filled) rights between yourselves, so whoever I have whipped his back (unjustly), this is my back, so take back your right, and if I have vilified someone’s honour, this is my honour, so take back your right. Although resentment is not in my nature, nor my disposition, but you would be beloved to me if you took from me what was rightfully yours, or if you forgave me the right, so I can meet Allah with my soul at ease, and even this, I do not see as sufficient until I undertake (the responsibility) over and over again.” He then stepped down and prayed Dhuhr, then returned and sat upon the Minbar, returning to his speech regarding resentment, and other matters. A man then stood and said:

    “Oh, Messenger of Allah, I have with you three Dirhams.” So he (saw) said: “Fadhl, give it to him.” Then he (saw) said: “Oh, people, whoever has something to finish, he should, and (do not fear) the embarrassment of this world, for the embarrassment of this world is less than that of the Akhirah.” So a man then stood, and said: “Oh, Messenger of Allah, I have three Dirhams which I took (unjustly) in the way of Allah.” He (saw) then asked: “Why did you take it?” The man replied: “I needed it.” He (saw) then said: “Take it from him, Fadhl.” and said:
    “Oh people, whoever fears something of himself, he should come forth and I will pray for him.” So a man stood, and said: “Oh Messenger of Allah, I am a liar and indecent and I sleep too much.” So he (saw) said: “Oh, Allah, bless him with truthfulness, Iman and lift away his sleep if he so wished.” and another man stood and said: “By, Allah, Oh Messenger of Allah, I am a liar and a hypocrite and there is not one crime that I have not committed.” when ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab (ra) stood and said: “You have disgraced yourself.” So the Messenger (saw) said: “Oh son of Al-Khattab, the disgrace of the worldly life is less than that of the afterlife; may Allah bless him with truthfulness, Iman and lead his matter to a good end.”

    [to be continued]


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