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Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Questions on death and burial?|
|06/19/05 at 01:09:12|
my relative died recently, i was just wondering what happens to her now, where is she???
will she be in the company of others i dont know??? another thing i am confused about is
the soul, does anyone have a description of what is soul, you can image a body, we all
can see our own bodies, but what does the soul look like???
another thing what should we do with the dead, i mean what is sunnah and bidah regarding
period immediate before and after burial.
|Re: Questions on death and burial?|
|08/11/05 at 00:40:08|
Sorry Anonymous. I meant to write back to this when you wrote in June, but forgot.
So please check out this article I wrote a few years ago.
I also found this article from a woman who's son passed away. She takes some information from the above and has some other notes.
Take care inshallah and may Allah have mercy on your relative.
Journey to the Eternal Life
By Roslaini Iljas Rasuman | Posted June 27, 2004
As a small child, I experienced the first death in my family when my younger brother Ramzi died at the tender age of two. I loved him dearly and until several years later, I used to shed tears every time I remember him. I was taught then that there is heaven and hell, and that we would be either punished or rewarded depending on our good or bad actions. My brother Ramzi passed away in infancy so Inshaallah (God willing), I was told that he was going to Jannah (paradise). That made me feel so good. At that tender age however, thoughts of the afterlife made my head spin because I was not ready to grasp its full meaning. It was when I reached adulthood and began to read the Qur’an that the concept of death and afterlife became clearer to me. Alhamdullillah (praise be to God), Allah (swt) revealed to us through divine guidance and inspiration what death is all about and what is in store for us in the eternal life. The Holy Qur’an is perhaps the only religious book in the world that devotes about one third of its contents on the Day of Judgment to warn unbelievers and wrongdoers of the eternal doom that awaits them in hell and provide assurance and mercy to believers and righteous men on their eternal bliss in paradise. Other deaths in the family followed including my dearest father in 1993, beloved maternal grandmother in 2002 and my beloved son, Hamdani in June 2003. It was my son’s death however that prompted me to seriously reflect and ponder on what really happens after we die, where we would be while waiting for the day of judgment and what hell or heaven would be like. Heartbreaking and painful as it was, I fully accepted the fact that my son had reached his appointed term on earth in accordance with Allah’s will. I had no regrets whatsoever on what he could have been or could have accomplished had he lived longer in this transitory world. What I was concerned most of all was his eternal life in the hereafter. Questions crossed my mind like what occurred during his death and what his condition is after death. I knew that he had great faith in Allah (swt) and tried his best to fulfill his duties to Him, his parents, relatives, friends and other people. Unlike my brother Ramzi, however, my son died at the age of 23 and like any of us, he certainly had some sins and wrongdoings. So while I tirelessly pray to Allah (swt) to bless his soul and forgive his sins, I also wanted to know how to seek Allah’s sympathy and mercy that He may grant him a final home in paradise. I therefore reviewed various verses in the Holy Qur’an and read on various articles pertaining to death and the Day of Judgment. This exercise greatly helped me deal with my son’s death and gave me much needed strength to cope with my grief. This article is based on my readings about death and the Day of Judgment written by Muslim scholars including Sheikhs Suhaib H. Abdul Gaffar, Huma Ahmad and Dr. Bilal Philips.
For many people, the thought of death is dreadful, morbid and depressing so they avoid learning or even discussing about it. As Muslims, we should not take this attitude. It is incumbent upon us to learn, understand and constantly remember death so we can live our lives accordingly. Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, “Live in this world as though you are a stranger or a traveler (passing through it). Death is the end of our journey in our present life and the beginning of our journey to an eternal life. The following verses of the Qur’an confirm that death is inevitable and that every soul shall taste of it. "Every soul shall have a taste of death: and only on the Day of Judgment shall you be paid your full recompense." (Qur’an 3:185) "Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good, by way of trial. To Us must you return." (21:35). "Every soul shall have a taste of death: In the end to Us shall you be brought back." (29:57). No man, irrespective of who he is or what beliefs he holds can deny the fact that he shall die one day. My son Hamdani had his own reflections of death when he wrote: “Life has its moments. When we grow old and time will take the very essence of life away, we all follow this chain of destiny…we DIE!!! But why do we despair? There hast no right to go against the will. We are all bound to die no matter what the cause. We die and there’s no way anyone can take it away from the rightful owner…not even ourselves. We tend to decay, decompose, just not to death. No matter what we do, even the most expensive medicine, the most powerful magic can stop this. Why do you feel so scared? Let me tell you this, go with your life as normal as you can get, enjoy but know what’s coming to you for you’ll never know when God almighty will take your life away, no matter where or how you are, he’ll just take the very heart of you and pull it to where he wants you. For my friend, never live for your own sake, take care of yourself, choose your life and live it well! “
While death is a certainty, is there really life after death? For unbelievers who deny the life hereafter, the Qur’an emphatically states that skeptics and disbelievers have no sound basis for their denial of life after death when Allah (swt) said: They say, 'There is nothing but our present life; we die, and we live, and nothing but Time destroys us.' Of that they have no knowledge; they merely conjecture. And when Our revelations are recited to them, their only argument is that they say, 'Bring us our father, if you speak truly.' (45:24-25). Allah (swt) will certainly raise all the dead. A day will come when the whole universe will be destroyed and the dead will all be resurrected to stand before Allah (swt) for judgment according to their beliefs and deeds. Islam teaches that God is just. He will punish the sinners and wrongdoers and reward those who sincerely believe in Him and live in full submission to His will. True reward and punishment is not possible in this present life, which is only a trial in preparation for the next realm of existence. God's attributes of justice and mercy will therefore be fully manifested during the Day of Judgment when He will shower His mercy on those who suffered for His sake in the worldly life, believing that an eternal bliss was awaiting them. But those who were arrogant to accept Him, abused His bounties and denied the life to come, will be in the most miserable state. “Those who disbelieve say: The Hour will never come unto us. Say: Nay, by my Lord, but it is coming unto you surely. (He is) the Knower of the Unseen. Not an atom's weight, or less than that or greater, escapes Him in the heavens or in the earth, but it is in a clear Record. That He may reward those who believe and do good works. For them is pardon and a rich provision. But those who strive against our revelations, challenging (Us), theirs will be a painful doom of wrath.” (34:3-5). “Is he, then, to whom we have promised a goodly promise the fulfillment of which he will meet, like the one whom We have provided with the good things of this life, and then on the Day of Resurrection he will be of those who will be brought arraigned before God? (28:61). Those who deny eternal life also become slaves of their passions and desires, and make fun of virtuous and God-conscious persons. Such persons will realize their folly only at the time of their death and would wish in vain to be given a further chance in the world when Allah (swt) says: “Until, when death comes unto one of them, he says, 'My Lord, send me back, that I may do right in that which I have left behind!' But nay! It is but a word that he speaks; and behind them is a barrier until the day when they are raised. And when the Trumpet is blown there will be no kinship among them that day, nor will they ask of another. Then those whose scales are heavy, they are successful. And those whose scales are light are those who lose their souls, in hell abiding, the fire burns their faces and they are glum therein” (23:99-104).
The World of Barzakh
When the person’s soul leaves his body and his short life on this earth comes to an end, he enters the world of Barzakh (state between death and resurrection). The dying man experiences things, which cannot be seen nor understood by people around him. What occurs during death is however vividly described in the hadiths (sayings) of Prophet Muhammad (saw) through divine guidance and inspiration, as briefly described as follows. When someone begins to die the Angel of Death, Izraeel comes to take the soul out of the body. "Say: 'The Angel of Death, put in charge of you, will (duly) take your souls. Then shall you be brought back to your Lord." (32:11). "Wherever you are, Death will find you out, even if you are in towers built up strong and high! " (4:78). For those who lived a good life, the soul yearns to meet its Lord and leaves the body with ease, like a drop of water pouring out. A light like the sun's rays and a sweet fragrance come out to the soul. Then it ascends amid rows of angels where it is brought from the lowest heaven to the seventh heaven and presented to Allah (swt) who instructs the angels to record all of the believer’s deed in Illiyyin. Nay! Truly the record of the pious is preserved in Illiyyin. And what will make you know what Illiyyin is? A Register inscribed. To which bear witness those nearest to Allah.” ( 83:18-21). For unbelievers and those who led a life of evil, the removal of the soul is tough and difficult. Sometimes, more than one angel has to work together to beat the face and back of the deceased. “And if you could see when the angels take away the souls of the disbelievers, they beat their faces and their backs, (saying) ‘Taste the punishment of the blazing Fire. This because of that which your hands had sent forward. And indeed, Allah is not unjust to His slaves.” (8:50-51).“Then how will it be when the angels will take their souls at death, beating their faces and their backs?” (47:27). The evil soul is then brought to heaven but is rejected. Allah (swt) instructs that his deeds be recorded in Sijjin. "Nay! Truly the record of the evildoers is preserved in Sijjin. And what will explain to you what Sijjin is? A register inscribed.” (83:7-9). After their deeds are recorded, the souls are returned to their bodies temporarily for questioning by two angels, Munkar and Nakir who questions the soul about who his God is, his religion, his messenger and his source of knowledge. The believer and good soul is able to answer all these questions after which a carpet from paradise is spread out for him and a gate is opened into paradise for him and his grave is made very spacious as far as the eye can see. His good deeds will appear to him in the form of a beautiful man with beautiful garments and fragrant scent. He will then implore Allah (swt) to bring the last hour so that he could rejoin his family and his properties. The evil soul on the other hand will not be able to answer any of the questions. A carpet of fire will then be spread for him and a gate of fire will be opened for him. His grave will be narrowed and his ribs will be pressed together. His evil deeds will appear to him in the form of a man with a hideous face and garments and foul odor. He will then implore Allah (swt) not to let the last hour come.
In death, the body remains in the ground while the soul is in Barzakh or the period between death and resurrection. However, these two are still connected so the person could feel bliss or punishment. When Allah desires bliss or punishment for the soul, He connects it to the body. This is dependent on the will of Allah and dependent on the person’s deeds. We usually think of the grave in fear. Outwardly the grave is still and quiet but inwardly, it contains secrets and terrors , which an ordinary person cannot perceive. We are scared and fearful but not aware of the delight it can contain. It is said, that the bliss of the grave is better than any delight that this world can offer. The liberated souls of those who are in bliss visit each other and discuss what happened in the world they have left and its people. Allah says, "Whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger, they are with those whom Allah has blessed, the prophets, the sincere, the martyrs and the righteous. Very excellent companions they are!" (4:69). On the other hand, various forms of punishment rain down on a person in the grave according to the type of evil deeds they committed. There are hadiths of the Prophet (saw) about the Night Journey, which contain descriptions of the many types of punishment he saw in Barzakh. There are those who are driven like cattle and forced to eat herbage more bitter than aloes and the bitter fruit of Zaqqum (tree in hellfire) and driven on to the hot stones of Jahannam (hell) because they did not purify their property by paying Zakat. There are those who have to eat foul putrid meat because they fornicated. Some of them have bellies as big as houses and whenever one of them gets up, they are knocked down and say, "O Allah, do not let the Hour come!" These are people who devoured usury. Some of them are screaming with their mouths gaping open while they devour hot coals , which come out of their anuses. These are people who consumed the property of orphans. Some of them cut pieces from their own sides and eat their own flesh. They are the slanderers. Some of them have brass nails with which they scratch their faces and chests. They are those who were backbiters and maligned peoples honor. Some people were cracking open their heads with a stone. Every time they did this, their heads were restored to what they were like in the first place. This went on and on without stopping. They are the people who turned away from the prayer.
Based on information that was extracted from the “The Day of Judgment” by Sayed Akhtar Rizvi, the question of reward and punishment is very complicated. Allah (swt) decides everything according to His own plan, which is based upon His mercy and justice, justice for all and mercy for the believers. Every case is therefore dealt with in its own merit. However, there are three broad groups of people in Barzakh who receive different types of treatment after death and before the Day of Resurrection. As directly quoted from this information, these are as follows: First are the true believers, perfect in their faith and virtuous in their deeds. They lived a blameless life, and if there was some mistake or sin (because 'to err is human') their worldly troubles (illness, poverty, death of near and dear ones, troublesome neighbors or tyrant spouse, etc.) and/or agony at the time of death were sufficient to be counted as its retribution and atonement. Allah knows that they deserve reward. Still, the Day of Judgment has not arrived, and they cannot be sent to Paradise straight away. By the rule of the Law, they should be left without any reward till they are resurrected; but the Mercy of Allah decrees that they should not be left in abeyance. Therefore, they are questioned about their beliefs, and on giving correct answers, they enter a state of bliss, which gives them the satisfaction of knowing that their future is assured. They find pleasure and happiness in their grave, and wait eagerly for the Day of Judgment. Second are the confirmed unbelievers and hypocrites, whose lives are devoid of any good deed. If there was any good deed, the worldly blessings (health, wealth, good family and friends, prestige and power, etc.) and/or the ease at the time of death were sufficient rewards. Allah knows that their place is Jahannam (Hell): but He will not send them there before the Day of Judgment. So, to give them a foretaste of their punishment, they are questioned about their beliefs, and when they do not give correct answers, their graves are turned into punishment cells. The third consists of those who are neither perfect believers nor confirmed unbelievers. The children, the lunatics, those who because of one reason or another were not in a position to differentiate between the right and wrong path, those who were so far from Islamic environment that they were not aware of the truth of Islam, those who did not know about Islam but at the same time were not enemies of Islam, those whose religious beliefs were not based upon logical understanding but they just followed what their families were following; even those non-believers who love the Holy Prophet (saw) and his Ahlul-Bait (as.), without knowing that they were the True Guides sent by Allah; all such people come under this group. Such people will not be subject to the questioning and squeeze of the grave. They will be left in a state like deep slumber and Allah will decide about them on the Day of Judgment. Till then, there is neither reward nor punishment for them. After these three main groups, there still remains a group in between, which must be described here to complete the picture. This group is of those who had committed so many sins that these could not be wiped out by worldly troubles and agony of death. If Allah decides such a believer should come on the Day of Judgment clean from all blemishes and free from all sins, then He may put him under punishment in Barzakh. However, if Allah decides to leave his case in suspense till the Day of Judgment, then it will fall under the third group. Anyhow, all these things depend upon the Justice and Mercy of Allah.
After the state of Barzakh, the next part of the journey is the rebirth from what is left of our bodies to a new life. According to Huma Ahmad in his article on “Death in Islam”, the process is similar to the rebirth of a plant from its own seeds. The embryos of human beings will germinate and the new life will start on the Day of Rising. Allah instructs Angel Israfeel to blow the trumpet twice. The first is to ready every seed for germination. Water of Life is poured upon these seeds in their graves. The soul comes back from Barzakh to join its biological entity. The second blow of the trumpet will cause those seeds to germinate and produce every person back to normal. They will come out of their graves in a state of shock, naked without any clothes or shoes. "The trumpet will be sounded when all that are in the heavens and in the earth will swoon except such as will please Allah (to exempt). Then will a second one be sounded, when, behold, they will be standing and looking on!" (39:68) "The trumpet shall be sounded, when behold! From the sepulchers (men and women) will rush forth to their Lord! They will say: 'Ah! Woe unto us! Who had raised us up from out beds of repose?' (A voice will say: ) 'This is what Allah, Most Gracious had promised, and true was the word of the messengers!" (36:51-52). Everyone will be raised up with the same identification features down to our very fingerprints. "Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones? Nay, We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers." (75:3-4)
The journey then continues as each of us is taken to a place of Assembly. "On that day We shall leave them to surge like waves on one another. The trumpet will be blown, and We shall collect them all together.” (18:99). All will be waiting for the Court of Allah, the Court of Justice to decide for them. The Day of Assembly is a day of fear, agony and anxiety. It is a day when each of us will be concerned about what will happen to us personally and will not care about our parents, spouse or children. "At length, when there comes the Deafening Noise--that day shall a man flee from his own brother, and from his mother and his father, and from his wife and his children. Each one of them, that Day, will have enough concern (of his own) to make him indifferent to the others." (80:33-37). There will be countless people, sweating, anxious and fearful of the fate that awaits them. "O mankind! Fear your Lord! For the convulsion of the Hour (of Judgment) will be a thing terrible! The Day you shall see it, every mother giving suck shall forget her suckling babe, and every pregnant female shall drop her load (unformed). You shall see mankind as in a drunken riot, yet not drunk; but dreadful will be the Chastisement of Allah." (22:1-2). Each person shall then be grouped behind his or her prophet or leader and put in lines waiting for the Court of Allah to take place. ”On the day We shall call together all human beings with their (respective) Imams" (17:71).
Day of Judgment
The next stop brings us to the Judgment Day, a day when Allah will judge everyone directly with absolute justice. The Prophet (saw) said: "Every servant of Allah will remain standing before Allah on the Day of Judgment until he has answered five questions about five things: His life--how he spent it; his knowledge--how much he acted upon it; his wealth--how he acquired it and how he spent it; and his body (and health)--how he used it." Each person will then receive a book that contains each and every thing that he has done from the time of birth till death and which will not miss out on any single detail. "Then he who is given his Record in his right hand, soon will his account be taken by an easy reckoning, and he will turn to his people, rejoicing!" (84:7-9) "And he that will be given his Record in his left hand will say: "Ah! Would that my record had not been given to me!" (69:25) Their faces will be in gloom and they will be distressed with fear and anxiety. They will wish and beg to start their life all over again on the earth. Allah will also select a phird group of people: "And those Foremost (in Faith) will be Foremost (in the Hereafter). These will be those Nearest to Allah. In Gardens of bliss: a number of people from those of old, and a few from those of later times. (They will be) on Thrones encrusted (with gold and precious stones), reclining on them, facing each other." (56:10-16)
The Eternal Life
The end of our journey is near as we enter the everlasting realm, comprising the Garden and the Fire. We shall pass over Hellfire, some of us remaining while others continue on. "Not one of you but will pass over it: this is, with thy Lord, a Decree which must be accomplished. But We shall save those who guarded against evil, and We shall leave the wrongdoers therein, (humbled) to their knees." (19:71-72). Hell will be a place of ambush where inhabitants will not know any joy, peace or delight but only pain, excessive heat and many unimaginable suffering. There are numerous verses of the Quran providing description of hell. Allah (swt) says: “These two antagonists dispute with each other about their Lord: but those who deny (their Lord)—for them will be cut out a garment of Fire: over their heads will be poured out boiling water. With it will be scalded what is within their bodies, as well as (their) skins. In addition there will be maces of iron (to punish) them. Every time they wish to get away thereform, from anguish, they will be forced back therein, and (it will be said), “ Taste ye the Penalty of Burning!” (22:19-22). The Prophet (saw) said: "The mildest punishment to be inflicted upon a person in Hell is that he will be made to wear a pair of sandals made of fire which will be so hot that they will make his brain boil like things boil on a stove. He will imagine that no one is undergoing a punishment more severe although his punishment, in reality, will be the mildest in Hell. Others who are not qualified to enter Paradise or Hell may be taken to a waiting station called Al- A'raf, to wait until forgiveness is given to them through the Mercy of Allah. Others will finally end their journey with their life in Paradise. It is the last destination, which every person works, hopes and prays for. It is reserved for believers who lived a life of faith and fully submitted to Allah’s will, laws and commandments and were loyal and obedient to Him. Paradise is a garden of flowing waters with mansions, food, fruits and anything that one can desire. It is a life of excitement, peace and happiness. "And their recompense shall be Paradise, and silken garments, because they were patient. Reclining on raised thrones, they will see there neither the excessive heat of the sun, nor the excessive bitter cold. The shade will be close upon them, and bunches of fruit will hang low within their reach. (76:12-14). The righteous (will be) amid Gardens and fountains (of clear-flowing water). Their greeting will be “enter ye here in peace and security.” And we shall remove from their hearts any lurking sense of injury: They will be brothers, joyfully facing each other on thrones of dignity. There no sense of fatigue shall touch them, no shall they (ever) be asked to leave. (15: 45-48.). These are just some of the numerous verses of the Quran where Allah (swt) provides a glimpse of the delights of paradise. However, these descriptions are allegorical for nothing in this world could compare with what is in paradise as Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "Allah, the Almighty, says, 'I have prepared for My righteous servants that which no eyes have ever seen, no ears have ever heard and no heart has ever conceived.'" This is the True Life as Allah says in the Quran: "What is the life of this world but amusement and play? But verily the Home of the Hereafter – that is Life indeed, if they but knew." (29:64).
Paradise is the aim and the hope of every Muslim. But where we finally end up, either in Jannah (paradise) or Jahannam (hellfire) depends on the purity of our faith, our deeds and what we worked for in this life. For the living, there is still time to reflect and ponder on the admonitions in the Quran about the doom of those who do not take heed. However, time is very precious and flies quickly. We should act now before it is too late. For the dead, their opportunity to do good has ended with their death. However, the chance to harvest good from deeds, which were done prior to death, remains. The Prophet (saw) is reported to have said: “When a man dies, his acts come to an end, except in three cases: an ongoing charity, knowledge from which people continue to benefit, and a righteous child who prays for him.” By Allah’s permission, prayers for our departed loved ones will benefit them. The prayers of other Muslims on behalf of the dead will also benefit the dead. Other deeds that we can perform to benefit our departed family members include fasting on their behalf for fasts they have missed, performing hajj on their behalf, paying their financial debts, and giving charity on their behalf. I would like to end here by sharing a prayer (both in Arabic and English) for the dead, which I have been using in my daily regular prayers to benefit my son, father, and all departed loved ones. This prayer was taught to us by the family of Brother Abdul Aziz, an Arab Muslim family residing in Ames, Iowa, who greatly provided us comfort and assistance during the funeral rites of my son in June 2003. May Allah (swt) reward them for their good deeds.
Allahumma Agfir Lil-Muslimeena Wal Muslimat, Wal-Mumineena Wal Muminaat, Al-ahya’e Minhum Wal Amwat, Allahuma Agfir Lahum War-Hamhum, Wa Afihim, WaFu Anhum, Wa Akrim NuZulahum, Wa Aanis Wah’shatahum, Wag’silhum Bil’ma’e Wa Thalji Wal Barad, Wa Naqihim Min Al-Thunoobi Wal Khataya Kama U’naqa A’thawbo Al-Abyadu Min Adda’nas. Allahumma WanQulhum min Deeqil Luhood, Wa Marati’ed Dood, Ela Jannatika Jannatil Khulood, Fee Sidrin Makhdoon, Wa Talhin Mandood, Wa Thil’lin Mamdood, Wa Ma’in Maskoop, Wa Fakihatin Katheerah, La Mak’too’atin Wal Mamnoo’a, Wa Furishin Marfoo’a. Allahumma Jazihim Bil-Hasanati Ihsana. Wa Bissa’ye’ati Afwan Wa Gugrana, Allahuma wa Askin’hum Al Firdaws Alaa, Ma’a Anna’bi’yeena Wa Siddee’qeena Wa Shu’hada’a Wassa’liheen, Wa man Tabi’ahum Bi’ehsa’nin Ela You’mid’deen. ( Oh Allah, forgive the Muslims (males and females) and the believers (males and females), the dead ones and the ones that are alive. Oh Allah, forgive them and have mercy on them. Have sympathy on them and make their graves wide open, and entertain them in their graves, and clean them with water and ice, and eliminate their sins and wrongdoings just like washing the dirt from a white dress. Oh Allah, transfer them from the small and narrow graves, and from the place where insects reside, to Your Heavens, the eternal and everlasting heavens, in nice places, and a wide variety of foods, and extended shade, and flowing water, and plenty of fruits, fruits that are not forbidden and fruits that will never run out. Oh Allah, award them good for the good things they did, and forgive them for the wrong things they did. Oh Allah, grant them AL-FIRDAWS (the highest level of paradise), with the prophets and their companions and the pious ones and whoever follows them in righteousness until the Day of Judgment, Amien)
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