What happens exactly to a person when he is dying?
Imagine yourself at the moment of your death.
What thoughts cross your mind? Memories of family and friends? Panic? Regrets? Remembrance of Allah? What is death? What happens to us after we die? What is life in the Hereafter like, this new and strange world after death? Do we lose consciousness of this life? Where does our soul go? Do we feel and think the same?
The ineffable feeling of crossing the boundary between this world and the next cannot be described in words, nor imagined in the mind, but can be understood only through divine revealation and inspiration. Let us for the next few moments seek an understanding of this, death, the only certainty in life.
Sometimes we may not want to know about the processes that occur after we die because we are afraid or don’t want to think about it. However, this is not the attitude of a Muslim. We should be foremost in learning and understanding death, so we can live our lives accordingly. The prophet (sawa) said, “Live in this world as though you are a stranger or a traveler (passing through it).” [Muslim] We are on a journey and should know about the whole journey’s itinerary, not just one part.
Death is inevitable. It is the one thing that we can be certain about in life. We are born to die. Every soul shall have a taste of death no matter who they are. This is confirmed for us many times in the Quran:
“Every soul shall have a taste of death: and only on the Day of Judgement shall you be paid your full recompense.” (Quran 3:185)
“Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good, by way of trial. To Us must you return.” (21:35)
“Every soul shall have a taste of death: In the end to Us shall you be brought back.” (29:57)
Death is not pure annihilation, but rather both the living and dead are aware, but there is a difference that can’t be compared. Death is merely movement from one world to another. It can be described as a journey through a wormhole to a separate dimension of existence.
WHERE DO I COME FROM AND FOR WHAT PURPOSE?
Some people must be asking themselves this question. I was one of those people and finally put this question to my father, anticipating to receive a clear and positive answer.
But unfortunately, his explanation was similar in pattern to that of all religious people, which made me more confused rather than clearing my doubt.
I am not surprised to know that millions of human beings have come into this world and died after many years without knowing why Allah (s.w.t.) created them. And of those who are alive, how many knows the answer?
Those who have the knowledge, are working to reach that ultimate goal, but the unfortunate ones have involved themselves in one thing or the other and finally they had to leave it all behind and go in front of their maker with an empty hand.
Although my father’s answer was correct, somehow I did not find it satisfactory.
His answer was that all those who believe in Allah and live by the principles of Islam, would be rewarded in the next world and all those who reject Him and His last Book, will be punished and sent to hell.
Don’t we all say the same thing to our children?
I feel we owe them a more explicit clarification than just these words.
After studying the Holy Quran, Allah (s.w.t.) blessed me with that knowledge I was seeking for many years. At last, I came to know what is my mission and also who is this Satan whom we have to avoid.
In the beginning, nothing existed whatsoever except Allah (s.w.t.). He created alone everything including this world. Satan, who was from Jinn family, was one of those who served Allah (s.w.t.) along with angels. When Allah (s.w.t.) created the best of His creation, the Human Beings, He commanded Satan to make obeisance to Adam, but Satan refused. As a result of his disobedience, Allah (s.w.t.) expelled him. Satan said, “This human being whom you have honored above me. If you should respite me to the day of resurrection, I will most certainly cause his progeny to perish except a few.” Allah (s.w.t.) said: “Be gone! For whoever of them will follow you, then surely hell is your recompense, a full recompense: and beguile whomsoever of them you can with your voice, and collect against them your forces riding and on foot, and share with them in wealth and children and hold out promises to them; and the Satan makes not promises to them but deceive.”
Allah (s.w.t.) has prescribed a code of conduct for the human beings and showed them both the right way and the wrong way. Then He has left them free to choose between these two ways; but He had revealed to them through Quran that, those who follow the right way, will have angels to guide them and protect them at all times whereas those who pursue the wrong course, will have Satan and his descendents as their companions, misguiding them and inspiring them to do all sorts of evil acts.
What is our mission besides being wary of Satan?
Allah (s.w.t.) created us for only one purpose and that is to worship him. He state in Quran: “I have only created Jinns and men that they may worship Me; no support do I require from them nor do I require that they should feed Me.” (Surah: 51-56-57)
The sole purpose of our existence, therefore, is worship. We are here neither for building castles nor to stay forever. Unfortunately, many English translators of Quran translated the word “Ebadah” as serving, without any elaboration on that word. “Ebadah” does not only mean serving but also worship.
Worship also means the act of paying divine honor to the supreme being, reverence, submission, respect, loving or admiring, devotion, to adore, to idolize. These are just a few meanings of the word worship.
Our Prophet Mohammed (P.B.U.H.) says in His Hadith: Allah (s.w.t.) created this whole universe for the benefit of human beings. But He created the human beings for Himself. We are created to adore Him as he adores us, to believe in Him. fear Him and obey His commands. He did not create us for any other purpose.
Those who worship Allah (s.w.t.) must set up regular prayers. But why pray?
Allah, states in Quran: “Keep up prayer; surely prayer is a timed ordinance for the believers.” (Surah: 4-103)
The word prayer means “Salat” in Arabic, which also means communication. We must establish proper communication with Allah (s.w.t.) if we wish to succeed in our mission. It is proper contact that will lead you to adoration and affection for which we are here.
We exist in this world due to communication; a person, who takes his life away, has no contact with anything or anyone. He has an empty heart with no feeling.
When Allah (s.w.t.) commands us to pray or set up contact with Him, it is to develop adoration for Him in our heart.
Another reason for praying, is to show our gratitude to Merciful Allah (s.w.t.) who created us and all other things in this world for our benefit.
It is a common practice of people with good manners to say “Thank You” to express their appreciation of favors done by others. Then, what about expressing our gratitude to the Creator of the universe who has been and is still bestowing blessings upon us in abundance, every second of our lives? Ought not we show our deep appreciation and gratitude to Him for all His favors, in a befitting manner?
Compulsory prayers for Muslims are five times a day, the total duration of which will not exceed on hour out of twenty-four hours of the day. Can this be considered sufficient reciprocation? Certainly not!
Regular and proper prayer fetches unlimited benefits. Besides creating affection, it will also guide you to live in accordance with the principles laid down by Allah in His Book. Through proper communications, we build up our whole life. Through contact, we create love and affection for our parents and our friends. The more you communicate, the closer we get to each other. A person, who is in touch five times a day, is definitely closer than the one who is in touch just once a week.
Only through communication, you will be able to find Allah (s.w.t.). Work hard and persevere in trying to find Allah through prayers, but before you do so, find yourself.
Those who refuse to set up proper contact with Allah, are bound to make many errors which will eventually lead them to hell fire. Instead of cultivating affection in their heart for Allah, they reject Him and start adoring this material world or their own Gods.
Most of the people in this world have heard about Allah (s.w.t.) but their heart lacks any kind of love for Him, while Allah (s.w.t.) created us with an instinct to cultivate affection and adoration for Him in our hearts. Those who are true Muslims teach their children how to develop this instinct; but non-believers kill such instinct in their children and create adoration in those innocent hearts for what, they themselves adore; this is the reason why there are so many different religions.
It is not because the non-believers have studied their religion and found Islam to be wrong and their religion right that they continue with their faith; in fact many of them do not know anything about their own religion. The whole problem is due to that affection they have given to their religion through prayers and that block their mind. There are others who are fully aware that Islam is the true religion, but cling to their old belief out of stubbornness.
Affection towards Allah (s.w.t.) can be developed in one’s heart only after he approves of his conduct and a non-believer can never achieve this because of his disobedience.
Those who are in regular contact with Allah through their religion will start emulating him. The well-known saying goes: “Know me by the company I keep.” Allah (s.w t.) is all Merciful, Kind, Generous, understanding etc. He is far from being tyrant, aggressor or murderer.
Therefore, every person must ask himself or herself whether they have honestly been able to establish real contact with Allah and whether he is pleased with them the way they conduct their lives.
Those who are truly in contact with Allah (s.w.t.) and those with whom he is pleased, will be full of love and affection for their brothers and sisters in humanity and will do all they can to alleviate their miseries and solve their problems. They will be unselfish and always ready to serve their fellow human beings in every possible way.
A true Muslim is the one who, when seeing another brother suffering, will feel as if a part of his own body is suffering.
Believers who maintain regular contact with Allah (s.w.t.) are the only ones who live a disciplined life in this world; and those who are not believers are in no way different from spoil children who feel they have better knowledge than their parents.
Since it is not possible to live without some sort of discipline, every nation or country formulated its own constitution, but it has been proved that these man-made laws and constitutions did not succeed in guiding the people to an orderly and disciplined way of life. Who, then, can guide us properly to lead a healthy and good life but the one who created us?
Islam offered the only practical constitution in the world, which deals with every aspect of life such as religious, social, economic aspects etc. Moreover, Islamic religion is not merely a faith, but a complete way of life, which defines in clear terms each and every action of human beings throughout his life.
Religion cannot be inherited nor will it be accepted by Allah (s.w.t.) by mere feelings. Islam calls for action. Only those who live by the principles of Islam can call themselves Muslims. Moreover, the closer you get to Allah (s.w.t.), the more hardships you will be subjected to. The straight path is paved with unlimited problems and hardships. To what extent prayers of those who are Muslims, helped them in developing affection for Allah, (s.w.t.) in their heart? Will they be prepared to sacrifice their life and worldly possessions for the sake of that adoration?
The closer one gets to Allah (s.w.t.), the more he will understand Allah’s justice. He will then fear Allah’s punishment for disobeying Him and will live in accordance with His command. However, apart from this fear of punishment, it is important for believers to have the fear of being deprived of His love. The more closer one gets to Allah, the greater this fear becomes, which makes him refrain from committing any sin. Such people are the ones who will inherit paradise.
Allah states in Quran: “Those who fear Allah will inherit two heavens.”
He also states: “Fear Me if you have faith.”
Sound argument and criticism help to achieve perfection in every field. Allah (s.w.t.) is challenging all human beings about the authenticity of His living miracle, His last revelations, i.e. the Holy Quran. Why not face the challenge and also find out what those miracles are instead of turning away in haughtiness since Allah (s.w.t.) threatens all those who reject His last book with hell-fire.
Do not let your affection prevent you from searching for the truth, It is not true that all religions are the same. According to Quran, the only religion that will be accepted by Allah, is Islam.
Islam demands of every adult to conduct a deep study of the religion that you are born in and convince yourself that it is the right faith you want to follow. You may rely on the judgment of your parents as long as you are a child and not capable of taking your own decision, but thereafter, your religion becomes your responsibility.
Respecting and obeying parents are of course, Islamic commandments, but that does not mean one must follow the opinion of his parents in important matters such as religion as their opinion may quite likely be wrong. As a matter of fact, when parents are adherent to a wrong religious principle, they are apparently going against the will of Allah (s.w.t.) and if one obeys the parents, he will be disobeying Allah (s.w.t.).
If you wish to know why Allah sent different prophets at different times to preach His religion, it was because men kept changing His book to suit their purpose: it was, therefore, necessary to send another messenger with another book. Allah (s.w.t.) has stated in Quran that the present old testament and the Bible are not the same as were originally revealed. Men have changed these several times. Even now, they keep changing its text very often whereas Quran is still intact and Allah (s.w.t.) has promised to guard it against any corruption. For this reason, you will observe that although billions of copies of Holy Quran have been printed in its original Arabic language all over the world, not one word or even a dot has been changed.
Allah stated in Quran: “Surely we have revealed the reminder and we will most surely be its guardian.” (Surah: 15-9)
A very good example of the effect of prayers and the affection it creates in one’s heart, can be had by looking at a Catholic and a Protestant. Although both are Christians, the Catholic are known to be more devoted than the Protestants and therefore, they are more serious about their religion.
Another example is the idol worshipper he has, through prayers, developed deep affection and adoration towards his idols. These idols are his gods or the images of gods, as he names them and they have become a part of his life and his feeling toward them are very strong. It is this sense of affection which prevents the idol worshippers from discussing religion and makes them take the attitude of “What is good for my parents is good enough for me,” not realizing human beings are individuals and no one can carry the burden of other person’s crime.
In today’s world, we find many hippies and among them there are many wise men. Why is it so? Why have they detached themselves from their families and friends and live a gypsy life? Is it for sex or are they tired of working? In many cases, this may be true, but a large number of people become hippies for neither of these reasons. They are educated, sensible and very serious people.
It is all because Allah (s.w.t.) the Merciful, wished to awaken these people by means of several signs such as anxiety, pressure or sickness, to the fact that they were not created for this materialistic world but for a much better reason. As a result of this, the contentment and peace of mind they had before, have now vanished and they became restless and disturbed.
Consequently, many of them start using drugs to escape from this restlessness but others try to search for peace and tranquility through religion. But which religion? Christianity? They were born in the Trinitarian Faith and it could not give them that peace and tranquility. Those who were fortunate, finally found peace and contentment through the proper religion which is Islam and it also helped them in cultivating love and adoration in their hearts by way of regular prayers. But the unfortunate ones went deeper into trouble when they began to search for it through Hinduism or Buddhism, and there are others who do not become hippies nor try other means to search for peace and contentment but instead, take their life away by committing suicide which takes place everyday in Europe and America.
We have now come to the conclusion that one of the reasons why Allah (s.w.t.) commanded us to pray, was to set up communication with Him. And as for those Muslims who are regular in their prayers and still lead un-Islamic life, it is evident that their contact with Allah (s.w.t.) was never established.
And when Allah (s.w.t.) commands us to worship Him, it is because He wants us to love Him only and also live as a free person in this world and with honor and respect since we are supposed to be His representatives.
He sent you with full authority over all his other creations and he wants you to maintain your freedom all your life. But unfortunately, many people are unfair to themselves and choose to become slaves of their evil desires. There are millions who have gone to the extent of loosing their dignity and honor and have fallen to the lowest ebb because of that slavery.
A one-time real man has now chained himself in slavery to Mr. Gold who dictates his life and he obeys without any shame. He is also to protect Mr. Gold although it brings nightmares and keeps him awake most of the time in the night. As he is about to leave this world. Mr. Gold will assure him that they will meet again in hell-fire.
There are others who are slaves of their sexual desires. The moment they sight a woman, they pant like a dog and will do anything to spend an hour with her. Humiliation they do not mind and self respect they have none.
Let us not forget the devoted Muslims who become un rewarded slaves of their own children or their wives. Those who have preferred slavery to freedom, have not only damaged their inner self but also their physical body.
Since all their life they live on their nerve, hypertension and diabetics are their common ailment and characteristically, they become intolerable, bad temper and nasty mood are their best companions. Peace of mind and tranquility have long since disappeared from them and those who still have some feelings left, are haunted by death and insomnia becomes their constant companion.
Only those who maintain the philosophy that there is none but one Allah and truly worship Him, are able to keep their freedom throughout their existence and lead a very happy and contented life.
A man once asked Imam Jaffer Al-Sadeq (P.B.U.H); “What is the distance between a man and heaven?” He replied : “Only two feet; the first one, suppressing one’s evil desires and the second, not to be afraid of death.”