With the approach of Ramadan following is a handy infograph presenting tips on how to prepare ourselves for the blessed month. Designed by Khalil Aleker for Islamographic.com.
Click to enlarge.
It is human nature (more specific in women) that they dwell in their past, hold grudges, taunt and are sarcastic about the times that have been wronged by others; they chase luxuries, hoard wealth, and the list goes on. As much we remember all this, we must remember our death, too. Death is inevitable. We all will face it sooner or later.
“Everyone shall taste death. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (a deceiving thing).” (Al-Imran 3:185)
She was laid in her grave. I was more worried about what she will be facing. It is said that the grave clenches itself for the wrongdoers and spaces up itself for the righteous. It is not for us to judge, whether a person has been good or bad – Allah (swt) is the Supreme Authority, Who will decide, and His judgement would be fair. We still have time to retrospect about our own selves than to pinpoint others. Who knows whether we are going to live for the very second minute? It aches to even assume that one day it will be my own parents, my siblings, my offspring, and my spouse. Do I really love them when I claim so? Will I be able to see them burning in hellfire? Will I be able to bear the endless pain of hell?
We still have time to retrospect about our own selves than to pinpoint others. Who knows whether we are going to live for the very second minute?
“That is the recompense of the enemies of Allah: The Fire therein will be for them the eternal home, a (deserving) recompense for that they used to deny Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.).” (Fussilat 41:28)
Nouman Ali Khan explains it very nicely that we get immune to constant pains at some point in this world and then we don’t feel the intensity. But in the later world, we will not get immune. We will feel the intensity the same way we felt it for the first time. Our body will not get used to it. It will be as severe and as fresh, as it was the first time we experienced it. The torment will be eternal, hence, no escape.
Am I striving to lead a righteous life? Am I contributing or trying to protect my loved ones from going astray? Am I prepared to meet my Lord? Am I bringing up my children to be happy and content to face their Lord? Why are we afraid of death? It is not because we fear losing our loved ones. It is because of the underlying fear that we ourselves have – the fear to meet our Lord, to face His wrath, to see our bad deeds leading us to hell (Astaghfirullah), to imagine ourselves alone in our dark, gloomy graves, where we will be stung by scorpions and snakes. We are aware of all this. The Quran warns us so many times, if we go through it, but we do not have time to open it and to read it, to comprehend it or to implement it. I am among those, too. We are aware, yet we are letting ourselves fall for the petty things. We know we will be questioned about our prayers, yet we are not offering any or delaying them. We associate others with Allah (swt) by believing in amulets (Taweez), going to shrines and making vows; believing that it is the doctor or red chilies that will cure the ill ones amongst us, when Allah (swt) is the One in authority to give health and recovery; doctors are just a medium.
“Hunafa’ Lillah (i.e. to worship none but Allah), not associating partners (in worship, etc.) unto Him and whoever assigns partners to Allah, it is as if he had fallen from the sky, and the birds had snatched him, or the wind had thrown him to a far off place.” (Al-Hajj 22:31)
“After the soul becomes in the hands of the Angel of death (Azrael – Izraeel) the other present angels take the soul and prepare it in a coffin with good fragrance of musk or the worst odor(depending on one’s deeds) and take it up on a trip across the Seven Heavens towards Allah. In the case of the soul of the person with Faith in Allah the angels in each Heaven welcome it and know it is a good soul because of its beautiful smell that has come from towards earth. But in the case of a disbelieving person, the gates of each Heaven will not easily open for it and the angels will point to its bad odor. Until the soul reaches the Seventh Heaven and Allah knows what type of person he was and Allah commands his record to be written in “Illiyeen” (in the highest place) or Sijjeen (in the lowest earth). Then Allah will command to take it back to earth. So the angels gently return back the believing person’s soul to his body. As for the unbelieving person’s soul, the angels throw it from the Heaven to go back to its body.” (Tafseer ibn Katheer)
We must pray for our deceased ones and give charity on their behalf. We must also work for our eternal abode ahead. Death is not an end but a newfangled beginning. We are going back to our home where our parents (Adam and Hawwa) were – that is Jannah. It is a moment of rejoice, if we have done well for the life hereafter.
I was walking back home with my husband quite late in the night, but the streets were still crowded. There was a buzz of cricket going all around, “What’s the score? Who is batting?” Someone asked my husband too, but he said he didn’t even know that there was a match that day.
Because of the crowd, we decided to sit at a friend’s store that was still open; he too had the commentary of the match running on the radio. Soon a Burqa-clad woman came and sat next to me. She looked quite odd. I had to blink my eyes in order to confirm what I was seeing, and the next moment, I shrieked, as it turned out to be a skeleton. The first thought to come to my mind was that it could only be the angel of death or the devil; no doubt no one else could see her.
I started reciting: Aoodhu billahi min-ash-Shaitan ir-Rajeem, with my heart beating very fast. I tried to scream but no voice came out of my mouth. I turned to see where my husband was, and lo – I was comfortably sleeping on my bed. It was a bad dream. I was so relieved. I read the Duas to be read according to the Sunnah, when we see a bad dream. I spit on the left three times, sought refuge in Allah (swt) from Shaitan and the evil of what I had seen; I did not relate it to anyone; I turned and slept back on the side opposite to which I was sleeping previously.
When sleeping, think that this might be me my last sleep, and I might get up in the grave; when waking up in the morning, think that this might be the last dawn to save myself from the hellfire.
After that dream, some thoughts kept disturbing me; the angel of death could be hovering by. Let us think: have we collected enough good deeds, and more importantly, have we repented for our sins? The foremost act is to seek forgiveness from those, whom we have hurt or from those for whom we carry a grudge or who were a victim of our backbiting, because if we do not, then on the Day of Judgement we will have to compensate their bad deeds with our good deeds. Moreover, Allah (swt) wants us to return to Him with a Qalbe Saleem – a heart which is pure: clean from impurities of Dunya, its lust, hatred, jealousy and all other negative traits, which make our heart dirty. He has stated in the Quran,
“The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail. Except him who brings to Allah a clean heart (clean from Shirk (polytheism) and Nifaq (hypocrisy)).” (Ash-Shuara 26:88-89)
Prepare for death! Every time you stand to pray five times a day, think that this might be your last standing before Allah (swt) in Dunya. Also, when sleeping, realize that this might be your last sleep, and you might wake up in the grave; when waking up in the morning, understand that this might be the last dawn to save yourself from hellfire. All these thoughts will save us from gossip and vain talks; they will keep us on our toes and help us prepare for the afterlife Insha’Allah.