|Life and Death||| Print ||
Article on Life and Death. .
Proclaim! (Read / research / understand!) In the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, who created man out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood. - Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountifull. He who taught (the use of) the pen -- taught man that which he knew not. (96 / 1-5)
What is life? What is death? What is life after death going to be like? These are perplexing questions that have been raised by so many people since the creation of mankind. Life can be explained by religious people, philosophers, scholars, and educators or by scientists including biologists or other professional groups of people. Each group may look at life, death and the life after from their own perspectives and specialties. Life is the combination of soul and flesh. The characteristics of life are exemplified by movement, respiration, sensation, hearing, speaking, thinking, seeing, eating, drinking, urination, defecation, perspiration, reproduction, etc., etc. Some may lose one or more of these essentials of life and still may function as a living creature. The most important characteristic of life for a human being is his intellect, his brain, thinking capacity, and his being able to think, manage and make sound decisions.
All these factors are to cease as soon as life cease Therefore, what makes life stop and end is the departure soul that was introduced to the flesh after fertilization t place and after the zygote had been formed. What is the composition of the soul? Where did soul come from? Where does it go after a person dies? These are all perplexing questions that may not have one full complete satisfactory answer. Many more questions have been raised: How the soul (Ruh) was introduced into the flesh and how is it taken out from body is a question that has no direct answer. After death, where does the soul go? Does the soul visit the deceased person in the grave? How does it come again to life on the Day of Judgement? How is the flesh to be reborn from grave? Would the new flesh be composed of the same organic and inorganic matters after the person is resurrected?
More questions were and are to be raised. How a life in the grave could be envisioned when the flesh has been catabolized to its constituents of inorganic matters, car dioxide (C02) water and energy? What type of life (if there is one) would it be in the grave? What type of fife in hell paradise does one expect to have? All these and many more questions are being raised, and they do need some answers. One may not find all the answers in a document or in a series of documents. We will at least try to discuss some of the major issues of this life, the after death and especially life in the grave as well as the life of the hereafter (Hell. and Paradise). We need to combine scientific and Divine (Islamic / religious) knowledge in presenting some of the answers and in doing so, it should make each one of us contemplate, reflect, think, react, and decide which road to Mow and how to follow it in this life. As all of us are no doubt aware, life is short. No one knows when, where and how he/she is going to die, but we can be certain we are going to die.
Almighty Allah tells us in the Holy Quran: "Kullu Nafsien Thaa Ikatul Maut" - Every soul (Person / Body) will taste of Death ". Everyone will have to leave behind every thing that they "earned or acquired" in this life. As they came to this world, naked and penniless, they will leave this world in the same way. We are required to die in certain way as Almighty Allah has decreed: "Walaa Tamootunna Illa Wa Antum Muslimoon " - And die not accept in the state of Islam" i.e. with firm belief and full submission to the will of Almighty Allah. At the time of death, one should be grateful to Almighty Allah (God) that someone will take care of his- body and Ghusul him/ her/ shroud him / Salah upon him/ and put in the grave with respect.
Phase One: The first life is the life in the womb of the mother where the soul is to join the flesh after the Zygote is formed after conception. In Surah Ra'd Almighty Allah informs us that He is fully aware of what is in the womb of every mother, as well as the term of the fetus: Allah knows what every Female (Womb) does bear, and by how much the womb falls short (of the time or number) or do exceed. Every single thing is before His sight in (due) proportion. (13:8).
Almighty Allah informs us that He brought us from the wombs of our mothers while we were unaware about anything around us. Then He developed our sight, hearing, thinking, etc. This description is explained in Surah Al-Nahl (The Bee). Allah says the following: It is He Who brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers when you knew nothing; and He gave you heating and sight and intelligence and affections: That you may give thanks (to Allah). (16--78) The Qur'an is very explicit about the creation of man through the process of fertilization, the formation of the zygote and the series of biological, physiological and spiritual developments that take place in the wombs of mothers. In Surah AI-Hajj (The Pilgrimage), Allah describes the whole process of the four types and forms of life that a person has to go through.
The Qur'an states the following: Mankind! If you have a doubt about the resurrection, (consider) that We created you out of dust, then out of sperm, then out of a leech-like clot, then out of a morsel of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed, in order that We may manifest (Our power) to you; and We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term, then do We bring you out as babes, then (foster you) that you may reach your age of full strength; and some of you are called to die, and some are sent back to the feeblest old age, so that they know nothing after having known (much), and (further), they see the earth barren and lifeless, but when We pour down rain on it, it is stirred (to life), it swells, and it puts forth every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs). This is so, because Allah is the Reality: it is He who gives life to the dead, and it is He Who has power over all things. And verily the Hour will come: There can be no doubt about it, or about (the fact) that Allah will raise up all who are in the graves. (22-5-7)
Phase Two. The second life is the one we are living here on this planet where the flesh and the soul are united and are working together in unison. However, it should be stated that life on this planet is short. It is one of the segments of the life span of mankind that they have to go through. It is temporal and not eternal. It is a life of tests and examinations; a life of enjoyment and entertainment; and a life of rewards and turmoils.
It is a life of preparation for the following life to come and Almighty Allah states that: " Wamaa Galaqtal Jinna wal Insa Illah Liya’budoon" We have not created Jinn and Mankind for any other purpose except to worship us". One has to make sure to leave at anytime without his knowledge or even without his permission. The Prophet Muhammad (saw) stated: Kun Fid Dunya Ka anaka Gareeb Au Abirus Sabeel " - Live in this world as if you are a stranger passing through". Our Prophet (saw) also declared: "Remember death very often; it ruins tastes and terminates amusements!"
To die does not mean to cease to exist. It is an event that does not annihilate existence. Death is the termination of the soul's attachment to the body. It is an act of the soul leaving the body. Death is a matter of man's changing from one state into another. It is to migrate from one home to another. 'Umar (ra) said, " You have been created only for eternity, for endlessness. Only, you will migrate from one state / form to another!" Death is a blessing, a gift for the believer. It is a disaster for the sinful. It is relief for the poor, and torment for the rich Wisdom is a gift endowed by Allah. Ignorance is the cause of straying from the right way. Cruelty is man's ugly aspect. Worship brings good humor, joy, and a sacred light to the eyes. Weeping with fear of Allah polishes the heart. Laughter dopes the heart with, venom.
Man does not wish for death. Yet, in fact, death is more useful than mischief. Man likes to live. Yet, in fact, death is better for him. With death the true believer gets disentangled from the torment and exertion of this world. With the death of the cruel, countries and peoples attain relief It will be pertinent to quote an old couplet of poetry, which was inspired by the death of a cruel enemy of the religion: Neither he had comfort, nor did people see peace with him. He's at last tumbled down; patience, o thou, who'll be with him!
Phase Three. The third life is that of the grave, where the soul and flesh are separated from one another. The flesh goes into the soil and is catabolized back to its original sources, namely: silicon, magnesium, calciun-4 potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, energy, and water. However, after separation the soul is taken to Isthmus (Al-Barzakh), and is stored there until the Day of Judgement. Although, there will be frequent visitations of the soul to the grave (according to the prophet saw) for reward or punishment.
The belief in the Last Day is an article of faith (Iman) and explained to us in much detail by the Prophet (peace be upon him) and also of what will happen after death, belief in the trials of the grave, (Adhab al kabr). As for the trial, people will be tried in their graves and every one will be asked: "Who is your Lord? What is your religion? Who is your Prophet?" Allah will affirm the believers with the true words in this life and in the Hereafter, so the believers who lived righteous lives, acquired knowledge and practiced the fundamental principals of Iman and Islam will say: Allah is my Lord, Islam is my religion, and Muhammad (peace be upon him) is my Prophet." (We would be in spiritual state and will not be in a position to lie). Ibn al-Qayyim (ra) dealt with the subject of Barzakh in which he mentions opinions of various scholars concerning the abode of souls. Mentioning the most correct position he explained, "It is said that the abodes of the souls in Barzakh vary considerably. Some of them are in the highest reaches of the heavens, such as the souls of the Prophets, peace be upon them all. Their status also varies as observed by the Prophet, peace be upon him, during the night of Isra and Mi’raaj."
Some souls are in the form of green birds that roam around freely in Paradise. These are the souls of some of the martyrs, but not all of them. The souls of some martyrs are prevented from entering Paradise on account of their debts or some other similar thing. This is supported by a report by Ibn Hanbal in his Musnad from Muhammad ibn Abdallah ibn Jahsh that "A man came to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and asked, '0 Allah s Prophet! What would I have if I am killed in the cause of Allah? The Prophet, peace be upon him, replied, 'Paradise.' But, when the man got up to go, the Prophet added, 'Unless you have some debts to pay.."
Some souls will be locked out at the gate of Paradise, in accordance with this Hadith: "I have seen your companion locked out at the gate of Paradise." Other souls are restricted to their graves as is evident from the Hadith about the martyr who had stolen a cloak (He had stolen it out of the spoils of war before their proper distribution) when he was killed, the people asked, "Will he have bliss in Paradise?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "By Him in whose hand is my soul, the cloak which he stole causes a fire to flare over him in his grave." The abode of others is at the gate of Paradise, as described in a Hadith by Ibn 'Abbas that, "The abode of martyrs is in a green dome, on a bright river, near the gate of Paradise. Their provision comes from Paradise in the morning and in the evening." (Ahmad)
Others remain confined to earth, for these souls cannot rise to heaven. Indeed, these are base, earthly souls that do not mix with the heavenly souls, just as they do not mix with them during their sojourn on earth. A soul that is oblivious to its Lord, blind to His love, negligent of His remembrance, and remiss in seeking His pleasure is a despicable earthly soul. After separation from its body, it cannot go anywhere, but remains here.
On the other hand, the heavenly soul in this life clings to the love of Allah and to His remembrance, and seeks His pleasure and nearness. After separation from its body, it will join other kindred heavenly souls. In the Barzakh (Literally an interval, a separation or a partition, Al -Barzakh may be defined as the intervening state between death and the Last Day) and on the Day of Resurrection a person will be with those he loved. Allah will join some souls with others in the abode of Barzakh and on the Day of Resurrection, placing the believer's soul with other pure souls, that is, other pure souls kindred to his soul. A soul, after separation from the body, joins other kindred souls whom in their nature and deeds are similar to it and stays with them. (i.e. The righteous, virtuous, the prophets and the martyrs). Some souls would be thrown in an oven or a pit along with other fornicators and harlots. Other souls would be in a river of blood, floating therein and swallowing rocks. The two categories of souls - the blessed and the damned - do not share a similar abode, for there are souls that reside in the highest reaches of heavens, while the others, low and mean earthly souls, cannot rise above the earth. When one ponders the Hadith and traditions on this subject carefully, one can easily find the reason for this.
There is no contradiction in the sound traditions on this subject. In fact, they are all true and each supports the other. It is important, however, to understand the soul and to appreciate its essence and the laws that govern its functions. Indeed, the soul is something completely different from the body. It is in Paradise, but at the same time is attached to the grave and the body in it. It is the swiftest thing in moving, relocating, ascending, or descending from one place to another. These souls are divided into various categories: the ones that are free to move about, those that are confined, the ones that are celestial, and the others that are earthly and of a low order. After separation from their bodies, souls do experience health and sickness, and they feel far more pleasure and pain than they experienced when they were joined together.
Phase Four. The fourth phase of life is the one in the hereafter, which starts with the blowing of the horn. People are to be resurrected fi7om their graves through their own embryos, namely, the 'Ajaf of the Sacrum. (The Coccyx) Then there will be the Assembly and the Judgement, which are followed by Hell and Paradise; or people are to be stationed among the waiting lists in the areas of A'raf. This trial will be followed either by delight or punishment, until the Resurrection (al-youm-al Qiyamah al-Kubra) will take place. The souls will be returned to their bodies and the Resurrection, which Allah has told of in His Book (the Quran) and through His Prophet, (saw) and about which all Muslims agree, will occur. The people, naked, barefoot, uncircumcised, in different shapes and forms, will rise from their graves to face The Lord of The Universe, while the sun moves nearer to them and their own sweat overwhelms them. Everyone will be resurrected according to the way he lived and performed on the Dunya. Then the scales will be set so that people's deeds may be weighed. "Those whose scales are heavy (with good deeds) will be successful and those whose scales are light (lacking sufficient good deeds), will lose their souls eternally to Hell." (Mu'minun 23 / 102-103)
The Records of the People’s Deeds
The records will be distributed-the records of deeds. Some will receive theirs in their right hands, and some in their left or behind their backs. For Almighty Allah , said: "Every person is held responsible for his [or her] deeds. On the Day of Resurrection We shall bring out for him a scroll, which he will see, spread open. (He will be ordered): Read your own record; It is sufficient that you judge yourself today." (Al-Isra' 17 / 13-14) . Allah will remind the people of their deeds, talk privately to His faithful 'abd (worshipper) and remind him of all his faults. So it has been described in the Book (the Quran) and in the Sunnah. As for non-believers, they will not be reminded in the manner of the one whose good deeds and bad deeds are balanced, because they will have no good deeds. Rather their (evil) deeds will be counted, verified and presented so that they admit to them, and will be punished for them. Everyone will be rewarded or punished for every single atom of good or bad that He / She did on the Dunya.
Al-Hawd (The Prophet's Fountain.)
In the Court of Judgment is the Prophet's Pool (Hawd) with its water whiter than milk and sweeter than honey, its drinking vessels as numerous as the stars, and its length a (travel for) a month and its width a (travel for) a month. Whoever drinks from it will never thirst.
As-Sirat (The Bridge Over Hell)
The Sirat is stretched over Hell. It is the bridge between Paradise and Hell. People cross it in accordance with their deeds. Some cross as quickly as the eye winks; Some cross as if a flash of lightening; Some cross as if wind; Some cross as a noble horse would; Some cross as a camel rider might; Some cross it running, some walking; Some cross it crawling; And some are snatched and thrown into Hell. The bridge has hooks to snatch the people according to their deeds. Whoever passes over it enters Paradise. If they cross the Sirat, they will be halted over a bridge between Paradise and Hell to settle accounts between themselves; If they are cleared and purified, they are permitted to enter Paradise.
Ash-Shafa'ah (The Prophets Intercession)
The first to knock at the gate of Paradise will be Muhammad (peace be upon him); And the first Ummah to enter Paradise will be his Ummah. And he (Muhammad) (peace be upon him) has three intercessions to perform on the Day of Resurrection: His first intercession will be on behalf of the people still held for judgment, after all Prophets, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, the son of Mary, have passed over intercession and it reaches him (Muhammad). His second intercession will be on behalf of the people of Paradise in order that they may enter it.
These two intercessions are unique to him His third intercession is to be on behalf of those who warrant Fire. This intercession is for him (Muhammad), for all prophets and saints and for others, so that they may intercede on behalf of those who deserve Fire, preventing them from entering it, and on behalf of those who have entered into the Fire, taking them from it. Allah, The Exalted, out of His Generosity and Mercy, sends some people out from the Fire without intercession. Space will be left unfilled in Paradise, so Allah will create more people for it, and bring them into it. The Hereafter includes judgment, reward, punishment, Paradise and Hell. These are mentioned in detail in the Revealed Books, in the traditions of the prophets, and in the inherited knowledge from Muhammad (peace be upon him) what is sufficient and satisfactory (in this regard), and whoever wishes to seek it can find it.
Al-Oadar (Divine Decree)
The people of the Sunnah believe in Qadar (Divine Decree) whether good or bad. Belief that fate has two parts, each part includes two things: The first part is belief that Allah, The Exalted, knows what the creatures will do in accordance with His Ancient Knowledge, which He described as being of Eternity; He has known all their states of obedience and disobedience, all their sustenance and their life span. Allah wrote in al-Lawh al-Mahfuz (the Preserved Tablet) the fate of creatures: "The first thing He created is the pen (al-qalam), He said to it: 'Write'. It said: 'What shall I write He said: 'Write what will take place until the Day of Judgment.' Whatever is to strike a human being will never miss him, and whatever is to miss him will never strike him. The pens had been dried and the scrolls had been folded as Allah, The Glorified, and The Exalted, said: "Did you not know that Allah knows (all) what in heaven and earth? Verily, all put down in a record. Indeed, that is very easy of Allah." (at-Hajj 22/70)
And He said: "No disaster befalls earth but it is in a record before We created it. Indeed, it is easy of Allah." (al-Hadid 57/22) This predestination which belongs to His Knowledge- is in some places summarized and in others detailed. He has written in the Preserved Tablet whatever He has willed: When He creates the body of the foetus and before blowing the soul into it, He sends an angel to it and orders him to write four words, his livelihood, his life span, his deeds, and if he is happy or miserable and so forth. Extremist Qadariyah of the past rejected this kind of predestination. But these days very few reject it. The second step is the executed Will of Allah and His Inclusive Ability. The belief in that whatever Allah wills, will come to pass and whatever He does not will, will never occur, that whatever motion or silence is in heaven or earth is by the will of Allah, The Glorified. Nothing takes place in His dominion except what He wills, and He, The Glorified, The Exalted, is capable of all that exists and all that does not exist.
There is no creature on earth or in heaven except Allah the Glorified, is his Creator. There is no creator beside Him and there is no Lord other than Him With aft that, He ordered the creatures to obey Him and His messengers, and He forbade them to disobey Him. Almighty Allah loves the pious, the doers of good and the just. He is pleased with those who believe and do good deeds; He does not like unbelievers; He is displeased with transgressors; He does not ordain immorality; He does not wish disbelief for His creatures; And He does not like corruption.
Creatures are the performers in reality, but Allah is the Creator of their deeds; The 'abd (human being) is the believer and the unbeliever, the righteous and the wicked, the praying and the fasting; The 'ibad (human beings) have power over their actions and they have their own will; But Allah is their Creator and the Creator of their power and their will, as He, The Exalted, has said: "To whomever of you wills it, follow the Straight Path. You have no will unless Allah, The Lord of the Universe, so wills." (at-Takwir 81/ 28-29)- This degree of predestination is rejected by most of the Qadariyah - those whom the Prophet (peace be upon him) called the Fire Worshipers (Majus) of this Ummah (Islam). Others who affirm this Attribute of Allah exaggerate it to the extent of stripping the human being of his power and his choice, taking the wisdom and advantage from Allah's acts and rules.
Among the fundamentals of the people of the Sunnah is that religion and faith are utterance and action - the utterance of the heart and the tongue and the action of the heart, the tongue and the limbs - and that faith increases with obedience and decreases with disobedience. In spite of this, AN al-Qiblah (Muslims) are not to be considered unbelievers as a result of their committing faults and sins (Maasi and Kabair) as the khawarij consider them. Rather, brotherhood in faith remains firm despite faults, just as Allah, The Exalted, has said in the punishment Verse: "If the heir of a murdered person forgives his brother (in faith) it is preferred that he follow his forgiveness with leniency (in collecting the blood-money" (al-Baqarah 21178)
And He has said: "If two groups of believers fight each other, try to make peace between them. However, if one of them attacks the other (and refuses to make peace), fight the attackers until they return to the Ordinance of Allah; Then, if they return, make peace between them justly, and act equitably. Indeed, Allah loves the equitable. Believers are indeed brothers, therefore make peace between your brothers." (41-Hujurat 4919) The people of the Sunnah do not completely strip the Muslim transgressor from the faith. And they do not believe that he will stay in Hell forever as the Mu’tazilah claim. Rather (they believe that) the transgressor enters under the name of the faith just as Allah has said: "And liberate a slave who is a believer."(an-Nisaa' 4192).- He may not enter under the name of absolute faith as Allah, The Exalted, has said: "Indeed, the believers are those whose hearts, when Allah is mentioned (in their presence), fill with piety,, and whose faith, when His Words are recited to them, increases." (41-Anfal 812).
As the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "The adulterer is stripped of faith while committing adultery, the thief is stripped of faith while stealing, the drinker is stripped of faith while he is drinking and anybody who puts a show of greatness to attract the people's eyes, is stripped of faith. (al-Bukhari and Muslim) And it is said: He is a believer with incomplete faith; or he is a believer by his faith and transgressor by his sin. So he is not given absolutely the name (of faith), nor is he stripped completely of the name.
It should be stated that the first 'three phases of life have a definite fife span and definite number of days, months, and years. The fourth phase of life (The hereafter) is an eternal one. There is no retreat and there is no way that a person will be able to come back to this life. Hence, one has to make use of the life span on this planet and develop, ready to enter the final phase before it is too late. One should prepare himself long in advance in every aspect of fife: spiritually, socially, economically, psychologically, and with good intention, as Almighty Allah states in the Holy Quran:. " 0 (you) soul in (complete) rest and satisfaction. (0! you developed / purified"Self") Come back to your Lord, well pleased (yourself) and well pleasing unto him. Enter you then among my devotees, enter you in my heaven”. 89/:27-30.
In each abode the soul enjoys a peculiar status and position altogether different from what it has in other abodes. Blessed indeed is the sours Originator and Creator, Who gives it life, causes it to die, makes it happy or subjects it grief and sorrow. Blessed is He who appointed for it various levels of success and failure, and distinguished them by various grades in accordance with their knowledge, performance, faculties, and morality.
Whoever truly understands and appreciates this cannot, but bear witness to the fact that there is no deity except Allah, Who has no partners. With Him alone rests all authority, praise, and all that is good, and to Him alone all affairs return for decision. His is the absolute authority, and all dominion, might, honor, wisdom, and perfection free of any defects or imperfections. He is known through the testimony of His truthful Prophets and Messengers. They did indeed come with Truth. Reason testifies to its truthfulness, and nature supports and confirms it. And anything that contradicts this testimony is untrue.