Amongst the most difficult of situations that a human being faces is the death of a dear and
beloved one. What makes this so difficult is simply the fact that the person goes away and
will no longer be seen. Naturally it is this void that causes the searing pain and hurt
accompanied by every death. However when we believe and accept that everything in this
world is but temporary, even the separation of a dear one, then to surmount the pain
accompanied with death becomes much easier. It is very beautifully and aptly said that,
“missing people reminds you that you are not in Jannah yet. Jannah is the land without
separation where you will be with those you love.”
Thus the intent behind this article is to shed light on a few aspects with regards to loved ones
we have lost but most important our own deaths which we all are afraid of.
Firstly, the reason that people grieve is that they cannot physically see the person who has
"died" with their eyes on a regular basis anymore. The soul has exited the body, but they both
still exist of course in another world hidden from us, and we still meet the soul when we
ourselves undertake the "younger brother of death" i.e. sleep. When we dream of our dear
deceased in reality it is in reality having met their souls in the spiritual realm .A dream is
actually nothing other than a visit to the hereafter and a good opportunity to see how our
relatives, friends and others are faring. It is for this reason that some scholars say that the
state we see our deceased in is a reflection of their actual states in the hereafter. If in our
dreams they appear sad or happy then this is exactly what they are in the hereafter.
Indeed one of the most obvious, fool proof and easiest methods to not only look forward to
death but to grow comfortable to the idea and less hating of it is appreciating the concept and
nature of sleep. Is there anyone who is afraid to sleep? After a long and tired day don’t we all
look forward to a good nights sleep? As we are about to slip into bed and go to sleep every
night, are we afraid or frightened as in: “oh no, I’m about to go to sleep!!!” Definitely this is
not the case. Then why should we be afraid of death when the fact that what takes place at the
time of sleep is exactly the same process as what happens when you die: your soul exits the
body. This is referred to clearly in the Qur’aan:
“It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death and those that die not (He takes) during their
sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to
life), but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed. Verily in this are signs for
those who reflect.” (Surah 39, verse: 42)
Therefore death is as natural a process to a human as sleep is. Furthermore, just as naturally
as we are born, become toddlers, mature, enter old age is the process of dying. So, there
should not be anything horrifying about the process of death itself to an intelligent person and
the one who understands death as it ought to be understood.
When someone passes away and we are left to gaze at the body, we should not for an instant
think that nothing is taking place. There is definitely more to it than that which meets the eye.
Should you walk into a room where someone is sleeping; if it weren’t for the breathing the
person would look like he is literally dead. However, you and I know that this is far from
reality since at that very moment he is probably vividly dreaming of a battle taking place,
flying through the air or sailing the seas or maybe enjoying himself on some luxurious remote
island .That sensory input, which is being processed by the person, is from his internal senses
i.e. the very real senses of the soul. Just as we have external physical senses that effect a
reaction on our body, so do the internal senses (for example, when one wakes up sweating
from a dream, etc). . The point is we see the dead, motionless and lifeless laying on the floor.
The reality, however, is that much is taking place with him. He knows it but we don’t unless
our internal senses are turned on which 99% of the time they aren’t.
Death has been described as a metamorphosis: a moving from one state to another, In the
urdu language the demise of someone is very aptly referred to as ‘intikaal’, meaning
transference or transformation. The soul is not restricted by physical laws such as when you
travel to distant places in your dream whether it be Australia or Mars. Similarly, when you
die your internal body, the soul, has no restrictions whatsoever and can be, for the believer,
fully utilised. With the human experience, this is a valid and true observation. Death is
metamorphosis par excellence.
So whilst we should not be afraid of death itself we have to be afraid of the state in which we
will die. We cannot sin freely and merrily look forward to death; the way of Islam teaches
one to have a realistic and balanced perspective. The punishment of the grave is a dauntingly
real phenomenon for the unbeliever and the sinning believer for both will have to pay the
dues and the price of sin. When you experience trauma in a dream such as when you are
beaten up or something similar, the experience will be vividly more real in the grave.
However, when one of the companions of the Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Salam was on
his deathbed, he said to the Messenger that he found himself in a state where he is hopeful of
Allah’s mercy and fearful of His wrath. The Prophet of Allah Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Salam
replied that, "never have these two things been united in the heart of a bondsman in
circumstances such as these without Allah granting him that for which he hopes, and
delivering him from what he fears." The believer is one who is practical, realistic and
intelligent and who does not fear the process of death but does fear the punishment in the
grave, these are two different matters altogether. Don't hate or fear death, but do be warned of
what may follow.
The Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam said, “the gift of a believer is death.” If someone
told you that they have a gift for you and that he will present it to you either in 1, 2, 10 or 40
years' time, no matter when he gives it, you will look forward to it. This is the attitude we
need to have towards death. May we live a life of faith, contemplation and anticipation.
Another word for death in Urdu when someone dies is ‘wisaal’: meeting. Death is the
meeting with the King Himself; let’s look forward to it.