contributed by Mohamed A Khalfan (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
f not many, some of us may have witnessed a member in the family on a death bed drifting towards the end of his life. Death is a process. Whatever may be the duration, long or instantaneous, no mortal escapes the taste of pangs or the stupor of death. (Q.50:19).
The crucial moment of mortal life is the end of it. His parting thoughts already scare him to death, so to speak. We would not however know what goes on at the time, woefully, in the mind which he wants to make known desperately but the tongue becomes tied up. However, some Ahadith help us to know.
The process of stupor proceeds in phases. The person comes to know that it is now death that is staring at him and then yields. While still gripped with scare he speaks only when pressed to speak and his words are incoherent. Then speech is entirely lost but he can hear those gathered around.
The scare is heightened when he loses hearing. He can see the lips moving of those peering down at his face but they are soundless. His eyes then appear steely and glassy – half open while he goes into deep unconsciousness. After a while, he is no more. The soul has vanished (faniyya). The eyes are now fully closed by someone passing a hand over them.
The thoughts that overwhelm at the time of death with scare are referenced to the hadith of the Prophet (S.A.W.) stating: “Man is asleep but wakes up upon death”. He wakes up to the truth about the life of mortality, which is a fleeting moment, and the wealth that he strived for and amassed and now leaves behind taking with him the accountability for all his deeds, fair and foul as if he was going to live on indefinitely.
Perhaps the deceased was one of those who committed and piled up sins which Allah (S.W.T.) assured as unforgivable: those of shirk which may have featured in his daily life and those of the dues owed to the poor but denied to them and he usurped them as his own money.
Allah (S.W.T.) points out in the Qur’an: Who can be truer than He in His words. Let us heed to the following verses interspersed in the Qur’an, which are in Allah’s (S.W.T.) words a stark admonishment of those who die having failed the horrible test of wealth.
Allah (S.W.T.) warns: “Abundance diverts you until you come to the graves.” (Q 102: 1, 2).
“…. who piles up wealth and considers it a provision (against mishap). He thinks that his wealth will make him last forever.” (Q.104:02, 03).
Further warning: “Know that this world’s life is only sport and play, gaiety and boasting among yourselves, and vying (rivalry) in the multiplication of wealth among yourselves and children; as the likeness of vegetation after rain, whereof the growth is pleasing to the farmer, but afterwards, it dries up and you see it turning yellow, then it becomes straw. And in the Hereafter is a severe punishment, and (also) forgiveness from Allah and His pleasure; and the life of this world is but delusion (deception).” (Q. 57:20).
The verses that follow warn of consequences after death. Allah (S.W.T.) further warns “O’ you who believe! Spend out (in the way of Allah) of what We have given to you before the day comes in which there is no bargaining, neither any friendship nor intercession ….” (Q. 02:254).
“You harken to your Lord before there comes the day from Allah for which there shall be no averting; you shall have no refuge on that day nor shall it be yours to make a denial.” (Q.42:47).
“O’ you who believe! Let not your wealth or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah; and whoever does that, these are the losers.” (Q.63:09).
“And spend out of what We have given you, before death comes to one of you so that he should say: My Lord! Why didst Thou not respite me to a near term, so that I would have given alms and been of the doers of good deeds?” (Q.63:10).
“And Allah does not respite a soul when its appointed term has come, and Allah is Aware of what you do.” (Q.63:11).
And indeed how many of us do die ‘presumed’ to be in the state of a true Muslim — with the due care of our duties to Allah (S.W.T.) also ‘presumed’ to have been well taken — when indeed in contrast the trust placed by Him in us for Zakat owed to the poor was abused in our entire life? (Q.03:102). The presumption is delusive or worse, is a self-deception.
For example, a rich man may have a greater reason to want to “live” up his life if he lives for others and for the society also and be remembered, or else he simply vanishes unsung having missed to “live” but only “existed” once upon a time! The only false consolation for him is that he was not alone but almost like many others of his kind. He has a big company in his chastisement as if that will profit him in any way! No soul carries the burden of another soul.
Send Me Back!
Imam Ja’ffar Sadiq a.s said that at the time of death man shall say, “Send me back my Lord, send me back, haply I may do good in that which I left.” (Wasaelush Shia, Vol. 6 p.18). The following verses confirm this:
– “Until when death overtakes one of them, he says ‘Send me back my Lord, send me back” (23:99). See also (32:12) of similar language!
– “Lest a soul should say: ‘O Woe to me! For what I fell short of my duty to Allah, and most surely I was of those who laughed to scorn” (39:56) Upon seeing his Book of Accountability on the Day of Reckoning, he laments (Ref. 69: 25, 26, 27): “My wealth has availed me nothing” (69:28).
– “Or it (soul) should say had Allah guided me I should certainly have been of those who guard (against evil)” (39:57) and against the sin. “Or it (soul) should say when it sees the punishment: Were there only a returning for me, I should be of the doers of good.” (39:58)
– “Aye! My communications (ayaat) came to you but you rejected them……. (39:59).
– “….or could we be sent back so that we should act other than we did act? Indeed they have lost their souls and that which they ‘forged’ has gone away from them” (07:53).
He would perhaps not have known of any of the verses quoted or indeed of what the Quran had revealed and admonished probably because he like many others in the community did not study and reflect on the Quran (Tadabbur ul Quran). (Q.47:24).