We receive a large number of eMails from all over the world and this one came in from a non-Muslim named S.W. He asks the question about "Preparing for Death":
I am trying to make a list of things to do before I die and would like some suggestions? Could you please comment as to what Islam says about death?"
Thank You, S. W."
Answer from Sheik Yusuf Estes,
USA Muslim Chaplain (imam)
Allah Almighty is All Wise and Knower of All Things
For those who are not familiar with the teachings of Islam, we should perhaps cover a few basics before attempting to answer this most honest and in depth question.
There is a small chapter at the end of the Holy Quran called "Al Asr" and it carries a very heavy meaning which can solve a lot of the problems with the dealings of life and death of the human being. Let us consider the plus or minus translation into the English language.
"By the passage of time*1, all of the humankind are in a state of great loss*2, except for those who come to the correct belief*3 and do the deeds of righteousness; and encourage and exhort one another to Truth*4 and encourage and exhort one another to steadfast patience."
- 1. Allah swears an oath of great consequence
- 2. Meaning "Hell" as a result of their dealings while on earth
- 3. Oneness of Allah (Tawheed or monotheism)
- 4. Here "Truth" means anything and everything pertaining to pure montheism (see: Islam)
From the above quoted portion of the Quran and verses related to it, the scholars of Islam have concluded the following:
- A) All of us are born with a purpose to be fulfilled before death – Worship of the One True God, Alone and on His terms and conditions.
Note: Quran says: "Allah only created you all for the purpose of worshipping Him."
- B) All of us will die and be in the grave.
Note: Quran says: "Every soul shall taste death."
- C) All of us (believers and non-believers) will be recreated (resurrected) on the Day of Judgment.
Note: Quran says: "Surely from Allah you came and to Him is your return."
And "Do they not think that they will be resurrected, on a Great Day? The Day when all mankind will stand before the Lord of the Worlds?"
- D) Each person will receive his/her "Book of Record" (listing of all their deeds).
Note: Quran says: "Nay! Truly, the Record of the wicked is a Preserved Record."
And "Those who receive their books in their right hands will be successful." and "Those who receive their books behind their backs will be the losers."
- E) Each person will be held accountable for what he/she has done.
Note: Quran says: "Every person will see any good they have done, even an atom's weight. Every person will see any evil they have done, even an atom's weight."
- F) None will take away the sins or punishment for another.
Note: Quran says: "Allah does not burden a person beyond his ability. He will be rewarded for that which he has earned, and punished for that which he has earned."
- G) None will make intercession with the Almighty except as He Wills.
Note: Quran says: "Who is there that could come between Allah and what He has created except that He give them permission?"
- H) The final destination of Heaven or Hell will be made known then.
Note: Quran says: "Verily, You shall see the blazing Fire (Hell)."
- I) None will enter the Paradise except by the Mercy of Allah.
Note: Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: “None shall enter the Jennah (Paradise) except with the Mercy of Allah.” When asked by his companions: “Even you? O, prophet of Allah?” And He replied: “Even me.”
- J) None will enter the Fire except those who have earned it.
Note: Quran says: "Therefore, I have warned you of a blazing Fire (Hell). None shall enter it except the most wrected."
Death is like a journey to a land from which there is no return. So before you die, be sure to pack three things to take along with you on the journey:
- 1) Proper identification - I.D.
- 2) <![endif]> Enough nourishment to last for Eternity
- 3) Sufficient Garments or Coverings <![endif]>
1) Proper I.D.: [Book of Record of a Person's Life]
This covers two very important categories:
They must both be correct to insure an easy transition into the Next Life and a proper place in the Paradise in the Hereafter.
Let us begin with the Covenant of faith with the ONE TRUE GOD & Acts of worship to Him Alone without partners. This means anyone who comes to the understanding: "There is only One True God who is the only Creator, Sustainer and God of all that exists."
This can be understood as “Oneness” or “Tawhid of Islam.”
It might be better understood by breaking it down into the following three categories:
1) “Oneness” of Lordship [Tawhid Al Ulu hiyah]
2) “Oneness” of Worship [Tawhid Al Rubbu biyah]
3) “Oneness” of Characteristics [Tawhid Al Asma was Siffat)
|Three (3) Things Asked at Death:|
|Only Acceptable Answer|
|1. Who is your Lord?||
|2. What is your religion?||
|3. Who is your prophet?||
Immediately you will find those who will argue that this is not fair. After all, Muhammad, peace be upon him, was sent by Allah with the message of Islam only 1,400 years ago. So, what about all those who lived before him? And what of those who came afterwards and never heard of Allah, Islam and Muhammad, peace be upon him?
And the answer is quite simple. Islam is the only true religion brought by all of the prophets of Almighty God [Allah]. They all preached a message of total surrender to the One and Only True God of the Universe. If the person lived the life of "Surrender, Submission and Obedience to the Almighty, in Sincerity and Peace"; then they in fact, lived as a true Muslim without ever knowing the Arabic terms.
This means that all of the followers of all of the prophets of Almighty God from Adam to Moses to Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them all, will find that they will be supplied the correct answers to these questions when asked.
After the angel of death removes the soul from the body, the angels will carry the soul of the one who has died up to the heavens and when they come to Allah the Most High, He will reject any who are not in possession of the correct answers [mentioned above]. After the questioning the person will be then reunited with his or her own dead body and spend the remainder of time waiting for the Day of Judgment.
2) Nourishment: [Proper Deeds]
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, taught his followers:
"He is not a believer who goes to sleep at night with a full stomach while his neighbor's remains empty."
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said:
"Charity is a necessity for every Muslim."
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: "Your body has 360 joins and each of them requires an act of charity every day." And, "Even meeting your brother with a cheerful face is an act of charity."
There are two angels who record all the actions and deeds of the individual from birth until death. The angel on the right records all of the good deeds while the angel on the left records all of the bad ones.
As soon as the person intends to do a good thing, a good deed is recorded for him/her.
After doing the good deed, ten full good deeds are recorded for the person (or 70 or 700 or as much as Allah Wills).
If a person encourages others to do a good deed, then a matching reward is recorded for the one calling to the good deed.
Another angel on the left, records all of the bad and evil deeds of the person as follows:
If the person intends to do a bad deed, but stops himself from it because he/she knows it is wrong, then a full good deed is recorded for them.
If the person intends an evil or bad deed but does not have the chance to commit it, then nothing is recorded either way.
If the person commits a bad deed, the angel on the left begins to record a bad deed in his/her “Book of Records”, but the angel on the right stops him and asks him to wait to see if the person might repent. After a while the angel on the left again begins to record the bad deed but again the angel on the right stops him with the same pleading. This continues for a while and if the person refuses to seek the forgiveness of The Almighty, then one full bad deed is recorded to his/her account.
At anytime that a person should commit a bad deed, he/she should immediately seek forgiveness from the Almighty and follow up the bad deed with a good one.
Additionally, when a person performs the obligatory prayers on time in accordance with the teachings of Islam, all the sins from the most recent prayer are forgiven.
When a person attends the Friday prayers according to the teachings of Islam, he/she is forgiven for all of the sins for the previous week since the last Friday service.
When a person makes the obligatory pilgrimage to Mecca during the month of Thurl Hijah on the Islamic calendar, all the sins since birth are forgiven and the record is wiped clean for a fresh start. All previous good deeds remain in place.
In the case of the one who comes to Islam from some other faith group, all of his/her sins are forgiven and wiped clean and all of the previous ones are held in place. The person is as pure and innocent as a new-born baby but with the exception that all of the deeds previously committed whether bad or good are all purified to become mountains of good deeds for the new comer to Islam.
3) Garments: [Morals and Behavior]
He is not a believer who goes to sleep at night with a full stomach while his neighbor's remains empty
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said that Allah said:
"I declare war against the one who is hostile to My worshipping servant. My worshipper does not come closer to Me with anything more beloved to me than by doing what I have ordered him to do. My servant keeps coming closer to Me by performing extra acts of worship until I love him. Then I become his hearing; his sight; his grip; his step and if he asks anything of me, I will grant it, and if he seeks My Protection, I will protect him. And I do not dislike anything more than taking his soul, for he dislikes to die and I dislike to disappoint him."
Forgiveness, Honesty, Respect & Fairness in dealings with others is the best covering. Teachings of Islam regarding the best of morals and behavior are vast and numerous in number. We will list only a few:
Let the one who believes in Allah and the Last Day either say good things or remain silent.
"Whoever is a liar - is not from among us."
Your body has rights on you, so give your body its rights.
"Whoever says; "There is none to worship but Allah" (sincerely), he will enter Paradise."
"Allah will not even look at the one (on the Day of Judgment) who does not honor his parents."
"The best of you is the one who learns the Quran and teaches it."
"The life of this world is a prison to a believer, and a paradise for the disbelievers."
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@2007 October 3, www.YusufEstes.com