Death (Good versus Bad)

July 9, 2007

Everyone shall taste the death.  Then unto Us you shall be returned” (Translation of the Meaning of the Holy Quran, 29:57).  No doubt, death is a truth that no one can deny and it is our first stop of the Hereafter.  The knowledge of the time of death is known to no one except Allah (SWT) as the Holy Quran states, “And no person can ever die except by Allah’s Leave and at an appointed term” (Translation of the Meaning of the Holy Quran, 3:145). 

Rasoolullah (SAW) said, “Often remember the destroyer of pleasures (death)” (narrated by Tirmidhi).  Nevertheless, we should not wait for death and call for it as Rasoolullah (SAW) said, “No one should desire death.  If he is a good-doer, he can increase in his good, and if he is a wrongdoer then he may repent” (narrated by Bukhari and Muslim).  For two brothers can fight in jihad.  One would die a shaheed (martyr) while the other brother would live another year and in that extra year, the brother would garner more good deeds so that he would be higher in paradise.

However, as Muslims, we must realize it is crucial that we die in the state of pure Islam.  Rasoolullah (SAW) said, “Whoever dies upon something, he will be resurrected upon it” (narrated by al-Hakim).  Verily, a good ending will lead to a beneficial Hereafter while a bad ending will lead to a terrifying Hereafter based on the way we die for Rasoolullah (SAW) said, “By the One, other than Whom there is no deity worthy of worship, verily one of you performs the actions of the people of Paradise until there is but an arms length between him and it, and that which has been written overtakes him, and so, he acts with the actions of the people of the Hellfire and thus enters it; and verily one of you performs the actions of the people of the Hellfire, until there is but an arms length between him and it, and that which has been written overtakes him and so acts with the actions of the people of Paradise and thus he enters it” (narrated by Bukhari and Muslim) as this hadith can be mentioned for those people who act righteous in public and not in private for their hearts are not sincere.

 Therefore, as Muslims, we need to ensure a good ending for ourselves.  Causes of a good ending include:

  • Alistiqamah (steadfastness)
  • At-taqwa (piety)
  • Husn ad-dhan billah (having good expectations of Allah)
  • As-Sidq (truthfulness)
  • At-Toubah (repentance)
  • Remembering death and visiting cemeteries (and not worshipping them!)
  • Avoiding the reasons that would lead to a bad ending

Signs of the good ending (Husn al-Khatimah) include death by:

  • saying the Shahadah
  • doing a good deed
  • dying shaheed (a martyr)
  • on a Friday
  • due to a high fever or due to a plague
  • because of a disease of the stomach
  • in a collapsing building
  • giving birth
  • the modern version of a car accident not caused by oneself (note that Shaykh Ibn Uthaymin stated that dying in a high-speed car accident is like committing suicide)
  • by a lion or wild animal
  • in the city of Madinah
  • while teaching the Sunnah
  • in a sinking ship
  • while standing up against a dictator

Furthermore, as Muslims, we need to avoid a bad ending at all costs.  Causes of the bad ending (Soo al-Khatimah) include but are not limited to:

  • Corrupt belief and practice of innovations (For example, when group dhikr first evolved, Ibn Masood (ra) berated the people practicing such a practice for they thought they were doing better than the way of Rasoolullah (SAW).  Most of the berated people ended up becoming part of the deviant Khawarij sect).
  • Hypocrisy (privately behaving contrary to one’s public behavior)
  • Practicing sins and love of sins
  • Love of this Duniya and expecting to live for a long time (for we should plan as though we will live for a long time but we should live as though we will die tomorrow)
  • Unlawful love and attachments
  • Procrastination (ahhh)

Signs of a bad ending include:

  • saying words of kufr (disbelief)
  • displaying anger
  • committing sins
  • refusing to say the Shahadah
  • having unusual things in one’s grave
  • having one’s body decompose quickly
  • having one’s head refuse to face the qibla when placed in the grave

Indeed, Rasoolullah (SAW) said, “Whoever loves to meet Allah, Allah loves to meet him; and whoever dislikes to meet Allah, Allah dislikes to meet him” (narrated by Bukhari).

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