Every Soul Shall Taste Death

“The eyes surely tear,
and the heart is surely in pain,
but (with my tongue) I will only say that which is pleasing to Allah,
and we are indeed sad at being separated from you, O Ibrahim.”

— Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam), upon losing his child Ibrahim at 2 years old.

Almighty Lord Allah (Subhanahu Ta ‘ala – exalted is He) says in the Quran:

“Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the dominion, and He is Able to do all things. Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving;” [Surah Al-Mulk, 67:1-2]

Every one of us has to die. In this regard Allah mentioned in the Quran that everyone has to die including the Prophet himself:

Allah says in the Holy Quran:

“Verily, you (O Muhammad Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) will die and verily, they (too) will die.” [Surah Al-Zumar, 39:30]

Allah also said that every soul shall taste the death:

“Every soul will taste death. Then to Us will you be returned.” [Surah Al- ‘Ankabut, 29:57]

No one knows when and where one will die. No one even knows how someone is to die. In this respect Allah says in the Quran:

“Verily, Allah! With Him (Alone) is the knowledge of the Hour, He sends down the rain, and knows that which is in the wombs. No person knows what he will earn tomorrow, and no person knows in what land he will die. Verily, Allah is All-Knower, All-Aware (of things).” [Surah Luqman, 31:34]

Al-Muhye, Al-Mumeet: The Life-Giver, the Life-Taker

These two names of Allah often come together. These names are not mentioned in this exact form in the Quran, but their meaning is conveyed in numerous places. Allah (Subhanahu Ta ‘ala – exalted is He) says:

“It is He Who gives life, and causes death (yuhyee wayumeetu), and to Him you (all) shall return.” [Surah Yunus, 10:56]

Allah gives life to things that are dead. We all witness the death of nature around us; a seed—a lifeless thing—is planted and given nourishment, and grows into a tall sturdy tree that gives us flowers and fruits. Then in autumn, the leaves fall, and the trees stand inanimate through the winter. But come spring, the flowers bloom again. Indeed He is al-Muhye: He gives life. And perhaps the greatest manifestation is our own life: the growth of a human being, with a soul, from a sperm and an egg. Indeed, these are signs for people who reflect:

“He brings out the living from the dead, and brings out the dead from the living. And He revives the earth after its death. And thus shall you be brought out (resurrected).” [Surah Ar-Rum, 30:19]

It is understood that Allah alone is the One Who gives life, and it is He Who takes off life. In this regard, Allah says in the Quran:

“He it is Who gives life and causes death (yuhyee wayumeetufa). And when He decides upon a thing He says to it only: “Be!” and it is.” [Surah Ghafir, 40:68]

While life and death are from Allah, we have to remember that they are to take place with the permission of Allah alone. Each one ‘s life and death are decided by Allah. It is stated in the Quran:

“And no person can ever die except by Allah ‘s Leave and at an appointed term. And whoever desires a reward in (this) world, We shall give him of it; and whoever desires a reward in the Hereafter, We shall give him thereof. And We shall reward the grateful.” [Surah ‘Ali- ‘Imran, 3:145]

Allah (Subhanahu Ta ‘ala – exalted is He) makes us to die daily while sleeping. He makes most of us to wake up from our temporary death so we can praise Him and to worship Him. The Quran states:

“It is Allah Who takes away the souls at the time of their death, and those that die not during their sleep. He keeps those (souls) for which He has ordained death and sends the rest for a term appointed. Verily, in this are signs for a people who think deeply.” [Surah Al-Zumar, 39:42]

Allah has assigned an angel responsible for taking our souls out of our body. The angel ‘s name in the Quran is (malaku almawti) Angel of Death. Allah informs us in Holy Quran:

“Say: “The angel of death, who is set over you, will take your souls, then you shall be brought to your Lord.”” [Surah Al-Sajdah, 32:11]

The life of each and every human being on this earth is a short one, but the deeds and actions of a true believer are eternal if he knows how to channel them in the right directions. As far as the life span of a human being is concerned, our beloved Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said:

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said: “The lifespan for my Ummah is from sixty years to seventy (years).” [Reported by: at-Tirmidhi, 2331, This hadith is Hasan]

The lifespan of the Prophet’s (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) Ummah is between sixty and seventy years. The lifespan of the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) as well as of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and Ali (May Allah be pleased with them) was between sixty and seventy years, though ‘Uthman (May Allah be pleased with him), lived longer than this.

Life in this world is a temporary one. The real (Permanent) life is the one of Life Hereafter. In this respect the Quran states:

“And this life of the world is only amusement and play! Verily, the home of the Hereafter, that is the life indeed (i.e. the eternal life that will never end), if they but knew.” [Surah Al- ‘Ankabut, 29:64]

“Everyone shall taste death. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (a deceiving thing).” [Surah ‘Ali- ‘Imran, 3:185]

We are here on a trial basis, we are here on a temporary basis, and we are here for a passage to Paradise or Hell. The real life of an eternal rest is that of the hereafter. In this respect Allah says in the Quran:

“”O my people! Truly, this life of the world is nothing but a (quick passing) enjoyment, and verily, the Hereafter that is the home that will remain forever.”” [Surah Ghafir, 40:39]

Without coming to this world, and without dying we can ‘t go to paradise. We can ‘t dream to go to the final destination without tasting death. So we have to die whether we like it or not. Death is truth (Haqq). It is a passage to Paradise. Therefore, it is important that we remember the death and prepare for it.

Our beloved Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) reminded us that we have to remember death, as it is the one that defeats all types of pleasures.

Narrated by Ibn Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said: “Increase your remembrance of the One which defeats pleasures.”

While we are to remember death, we have to prepare ourselves to meet it – before it meets us. In this regard our beloved Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said: “Do for your life as if you are to live eternally, and do for the hereafter as if you are to die tomorrow.”

Allah says in the Quran:

“Everyone is going to taste death, and We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good, and to Us you will be returned.” [Surah Al- ‘Anbya ‘, 21:35]

Death is simply a continuation of life, a transition from one place to another. We are believers in the next life, so death is not really the “end” in that final sense. Because of that, we can reconcile ourselves with death now; by planting a seed, by being there for our loved ones and making amends for wrongs, by becoming more humble, and by building, not destroying. We make peace with death by re-arranging our priorities while we are able to, and by laying the groundwork for being able to say the shahadah before we die: la ilaaha illa Allah (there is no god but Allah).

There is a second relationship with death: when those we love are taken away. When it comes to those we love, sometimes we feel angry at death. How dare “death” take our loved ones away from us? But the truth is, Allah is al-Mumeet: He is the One who takes away life.

This may be reassuring, but it does not truly take away the pain of separation. Yet this pain is normal. The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) talked about it when he lost his son, as did the Prophet Ya ‘coob ‘alayhis salaam (peace be upon him) when he lost Yusuf (‘alayhis salaam). And imagine when the Companions lost their Beloved (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam).

Imagine when the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) went on hajj (pilgrimage), and gave his famous farewell sermon. After more than 20 years of struggle, lots of ups and downs, pain and joy, the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) and his companions finally go on hajj in a free Makkah. After the farewell sermon, the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) passionately asks, “Have I relayed the message?” The Companions respond in the affirmative; how could anyone say no? They were finally praying by the Kaaba. Muslims were being dispatched to different areas in the Arab world, inviting others to Islam. The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) looks up at the sky, saying, “O Allah, bear witness.”

Not long after, the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) becomes ill. In his final days, he cannot even lead prayers. He faints several times in a day. He says, “Truly death has its agonies,” [Bukhari]. When he passes away, and the Companions pray for the first time after the Prophet ‘s (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) death, Bilaal (radhiallahu anhu) gave the call for morning prayer and during it he broke down in tears and sobs. His crying tore the hearts of all others who had been part of the living.

The pain at the separation from the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) never truly left the Companions. Bilaal (radhiallahu anhu) moved out of Madinah, unable to be there without the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam). This is natural. Perhaps nothing can replace someone ‘s presence with you, especially not the Prophet’s (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam). And this is why we hear of so many Companions asking to be near the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) in Paradise. They were hurt by the parting, but they also had something to work towards.

Allah (Subhanahu Ta’ala) is so generous that when He takes away the life of someone, it is not the end of your relationship with them. As one of the living, your prayers for them still benefit them. If they gave continuous charity (sadaqah jariya), it goes on for eternity. If you love someone, truly love them, then be a cause of goodness for them in this life and the next. Do not let the time that you spend with them be a gossip session. Seek to truly benefit each other by making a conscious effort to do something, even if very small, for the sake of God. That is the meaning of love — it will carry on until after death.

So do not treat death like it is the end, but prepare for it like it is. Invest your life in such a way that you will see the fruits in the hereafter, because surely “every soul shall taste death,” [Surah Al- ‘Ankabut, 29:57]. And we are advised to “worship your Lord until there comes unto you the certainty (i.e. death).” [Surah Al-Hijr, 15:99]. If any of us had any doubt that death is coming, Allah (Subhanahu Ta’ala), being al-Mumeet, surely removes any such doubt.

And when your time comes, know that your soul is being taken by Allah (Subhanahu Ta’ala), who both gives and takes away life. And to Him we shall return. In that there should be awe, a sense of comfort and a call to action.

Our Relationship with Al-Mumeet and Death

1- Priorities

Prioritize things in your life. Work on your character, increase in good deeds, find your passion and figure out how to use it towards good. Let go of animosity because it only brings you down.

2- Pray as if it were your last prayer

Learn and understand the internal element of the various prayer actions, one of the most effective ways to get khushoo’ (devotion) in prayer is by praying as if it were your last, as the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) advised.

It was narrated that Abu Ayyub said: “A man came to the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) and said: “O Messenger of Allah, teach me but make it concise.” He said: “When you stand to pray, pray like a man bidding farewell. Do not say anything for which you will have to apologize. And give up hope for what other people have.” [Ibn Majah, 4171, classed as Hasan]

3- Live the way you wish to die with sincerity

The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said: “When Allah wills good for His slave, He sweetens him.” He was asked, “What is this sweetening?” He said, “Allah guides him to do righteous deeds before he dies, then He takes (his soul) whilst he is in that state.” [Ahmad]

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) also said, “Whoever gives charity and that is the last of his deeds will enter Paradise.” [Ahmad]

Sincerity is key here: the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) narrates a story of a martyr, a scholar and a man who gave much to charity. Amazing as these deeds are, what these three sought from their deeds were attention and fame. And those people will not be in Paradise [narrated in Muslim]. May Allah protect us.

4- Du’a (supplication)

Since He (Subhanahu Ta’ala) is the One who causes death, He is also the One who can give you a good death.

The Prophet Yusuf (as) made a supplication: “Cause me to die as a Muslim (the one submitting to Your Will), and join me with the righteous.” [Surah Yusuf, 12:101]

None of us knows what our state will be, so one of the most important things is to remember that only Allah (Subhanahu Ta’ala) can give us what we desire, and He is al-Mujeeb (the One who responds to prayers) so we should ask Him to only take our soul when we are in the best, most sincere state; to make our best deeds the final ones; and to accept from us the best of what we gave. The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said, “A person whose last words are la ilaha ila Allah [there is no god but Allah] will enter Paradise,” [Abu Dawud].

May Allah make us of them.

5- Love

If those whom we love have passed away, then we can still benefit them and bring them good by praying for them. And if we are fortunate enough to still have our loved ones around us, then it is the perfect time to transform our relationship with them from one that is limited to this life to one that lasts for eternity. Allah (Subhanahu Ta’ala) tells us in the Quran:

“And those who kept their duty to their Lord will be led to Paradise in groups, till, when they reach it, and its gates will be opened (before their arrival for their reception) and its keepers will say: Salamun ‘Alaikum (peace be upon you)! You have done well, so enter here to abide therein.”” [Surah Al-Zumar, 39:73]

It can start with something simple: start a monthly gathering with a few friends and family and do something that brings you tranquillity, make a messaging or email group and send daily hadith, or have a yearly charity project that will benefit you even after you pass away. More importantly, make sure your intention is sincere. Follow it with actions and du’a, and let Allah (Subhanahu Ta’ala) elevate your relationship.

But be sure that you are sharing the Haqq (truth) and not Baatil (faleshood / fabricated information, not of religion).

6- Sadaqah Jariya: Ongoing charity

Abdullah bin Abi Qatadah narrated that his father said: “The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said: “The best things that a man can leave behind are three: A righteous son who will pray for him, ongoing charity (sadaqah jariya) whose reward will reach him, and knowledge which is acted upon after his death.”” [Ibn Majah, 241, This Hadith is Hasan (Sahih) and a similar chain is mentioned in Sahih Muslim].

Death does not have to be the end. We can leave behind things that bring benefit to and help people, and that also benefit us long after we are gone. The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) gave us some examples of that:

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said: “The rewards of the good deeds that will reach a believer after his death are: ‘Knowledge which he taught and spread; a righteous son whom he leaves behind; a copy of the Quran that he leaves as a legacy; a mosque that he built; a house that he built for wayfarers; a canal that he dug; or charity that he gave during his lifetime when he was in good health. These deeds will reach him after his death.'” [Ibn Majah, 242, classed as Da’eef (Weak)]

Moreover, we are told:

Narrated by Anas bin Malik: The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said, “There is none amongst the Muslims who plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, but is regarded as a charitable gift for him.” [Sahih Bukhari, Book #39, Hadith #513]

It is important to remember that the opposite is true. Do not leave behind something that is a ‘bad legacy’; that harms others spiritually or materially and may harm you after you are gone.

7- Pay your debts

The Day of Judgement is also the day on which debts are paid. It is important to make sure that we leave this world without any outstanding debts, whether it is money that you owe people or even an apology.

The debtor is a prisoner, as the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said: “Your companion is being detained by his debt.” [Narrated by Abu Dawood, 3341; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Sahih Abi Dawood.]

Islam takes the matter of debt very seriously and warns against it and urges the Muslim to avoid it as much as possible.

It was narrated from ‘Aaishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) used to say in his prayer: “Allaahumma inni a’oodhi bika min al-ma’tham wa’l-maghram (O Allah, I seek refuge with You from sin and heavy debt).” Someone said to him: “How often you seek refuge from heavy debt!” He said: “When a man gets into debt, he speak and tells lies, and he makes a promise and breaks it.” [Narrated by al-Bukhari (832) and Muslim (589).]

Al-Nasaa’i (4605) narrated that Muhammad ibn Jahsh (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

We were sitting with the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) when he raised his head towards the sky, then he put his palm on his forehead and said: “Subhaan-Allaah! What a strict issue has been revealed to me!” We remained silent and were afraid. The following morning I asked him, “O Messenger of Allah, what is this strict issue that has been revealed?” He said, “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if a man were killed in battle for the sake of Allah, then brought back to life, then killed and brought back to life again, then killed, and he owed a debt, he would not enter Paradise until his debt was paid off.” [Classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Sahih al-Nasaa’i, 4367.]

The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) refrained from offering the funeral prayer for one who had died owing two dinars, until Abu Qataadah (may Allah be pleased with him) promised to pay it off for him. When he saw him the following day and said, I have paid it off, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Now his skin has become cool for him.” [Musnad Ahmad (3/629); classed as hasan by al-Nawawi in al-Khalaasah (2/931) and by Ibn Muflih in al-Adaab al-Shar’iyyah (1/104). Similar chain is mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari]

Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Fath al-Baari (4/547):This hadith indicates how difficult the issue of debt is, and that it should not be undertaken except in cases of necessity.” End quote.

It was narrated from Thawbaan (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said:

“Whoever dies free from three things – arrogance, cheating and debt – will enter Paradise.” [Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1572); classed as Sahih by al-Albaani in Sahih al-Tirmidhi.]

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