Editorial - Death: A Gift for a Believer

Multitudes of men have walked on the surface of this Earth. They all belonged to different nations and cultures. A few of them made history for which they were remembered, whereas others, were never to be mentioned again. Although each one was personally different from the other - their habits, thinking and tastes differed - they all had two things in common: First, they were all delivered from their mothers womb, and second, they all tasted death. Who claims he has lived a thousand years?
We all admit the honourable rank of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) and his position in the eyes of Allah (s.w.t.). It is also undisputed that he is the last Messenger of Allah whose message will survive until the Day of Judgement. We also place his companions (r.a.) superior to others.
The day the Prophet (s.a.w.) passed away it was hard for his companions to believe such a thing could happen to such a highly ranked Prophet who remained active until his last breath. Umar (r.a.) ascended the pulpit and addressed that anyone who says that Muhammad (s.a.w.) has passed away I will slit his throat. It was not a strange thing to address; for the Prophet (s.a.w.) held an honourable rank before him. He was a Prophet whose miracles were numerous. Of which one is the living miracle, the Holy Qur'an. How can the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) leave his friends behind? Suddenly Abu Bakr (r.a.), the first nominated Khalifah, ordered Umar (r.a.) to descend the pulpit but Umar (r.a.) remained on it, fully convinced that he was right in what he was saying. Abu Bakr (r.a.) read the khutbah and recited the following aayat: "Muhammad is no more than a Messenger, and indeed (many) Messengers have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels (as disbelievers)? And he who turns his back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah, and Allah (s.w.t.) will give reward to those who are grateful." (Qur'an 144:3)
On hearing this, Umar (r.a.) and other companions were astonished that they had recited this verse many a time but on this occasion it did not come in their mind. They felt as if the aayat was being revealed to Abu Bakr (r.a.) and all agreed that Muhammad (s.a.w.) had passed away.
Such a great personality experienced death, should we be unmindful of it as if we will never experience it? Allah (s.w.t.) states, "Every soul shall have a taste of death. And only on the Day of Judgement shall you be paid your full recompense." (Qur'an 3:185)

What is Death?
Sheikh Jalaluddin Suyuti (r.a.) has recorded the verdict of the Ulama that death is not mere annihilation but a type of metamorphosis where the soul (rooh) is separated from the body like the movement from one dwelling to another. A believer's death has been explained analogously by some Ulama as the transference from a world of hardship to that of peace and luxury. (May Allah grant us such death! Aameen).

How did Death come about?
In Kitaab-ul-Zuhd, Imaam Ahmad has included the narrations of Hazrat Hasan Basri (r.a.) that, when Allah created Hazrat Aadam (a.s.) and his progeny the angels expressed much concern about the world being insufficient to accommodate all of them but Allah assured them by declaring, "I shall create death!
Hearing this, the angels became disturbed and when they remarked that would instill fear and remove the pleasure of life, Allah explains, "I shall create hope and ambitions.
According to Hazrat Mujahid (r.a.), when Hazrat Aadam (a.s.) was sent on Earth, his Sustainer said, "O Adam! Construct buildings destined for destruction and ruination; and beget for death."
O dweller of lofty mansions, very soon you will be buried in the sand lowly station.
Allah has an angel calling daily: Beget for death and create buildings for destruction.

Remembrance of Death
We are so engrossed in our worldly pursuits that the remembrance of death does not occur to us. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) has said, "The most intelligent person is the one who often remembers death. Constant remembrance of it prevents one from evil and sin and motivates him towards good morals. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) said, "The remembrance of death defeats joy."
The above narration clearly indicates that we are in this world for a purpose and not just for pleasure and entertainment. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) says, "Live in the world as though you are a wayfarer." Concerning this Hazrat Esa (a.s.) has said, "This world is like a bridge, cross it and not build on it."
Life in this world is very short which everyone has to surpass, until he meets his death. Allah says, "For every 'Ummah' (community or nation) there is a term appointed, when their term is reached, not an hour (nor a moment) can they cause to delay, nor (an hour nor a moment) can they advance (it)." (Qur'an 10:49)

How much do we remember Death?
Nowadays, when a person dies, the family and close relatives grieve over the deceased. After some time all is forgotten and much attention is given to the inheritance, so much so they begin to have disputes over it. The wealth of the deceased is valued more than the lessons to be taken from his death. If we remembered it frequently, we would certainly prepare for it.

Prepare for Death!
Intelligent students always prepare for exams. It is also a matter of intelligence to prepare for the account to be given after death. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) has mentioned in a Hadith, "Clever is the one who prepares for life after death." The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) has also said, "Take importance of life before death."
Once, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) came to the Masjid for salaah; when he noticed some people laughing and giggling. He remarked, "If you remembered death, I would not see you like this. Think of your death often. Not a single day passes when the grave does not call out: "I am a wilderness, I am a place of dust, I am a place of worms." When a believer is placed in the grave, it says; "Welcome, it is good of you to have come to me. Of all the people walking on the Earth, I liked you the best. Now you have come in to me, you will see how I entertain you." It then expands as far as the occupant can see. A door from Paradise is opened for him in the grave and through this door he gets fresh and fragrant air of Paradise. However, when an evil man is laid in the grave it says; "You are not welcome here. Your coming into me is very bad for you. Of all the people walking on the Earth, I disliked you the most. Now that you have been put into me, you will see how I treat you!" It then closes upon him so much so that his ribs of one side penetrate into the ribs of the other. As many as seventy serpents are then set upon him, to keep biting him until the day of resurrection. These serpents are so venomous that if one of them happened to spurt its venom upon the earth, not a single blade of grass would ever grow."