Why Fear of Death
This week has been a difficult week for me. I have had to deal with the internal turmoils of knowing that Allah’s promise is true and knowing how to apply this to my life.
On sunday night, the two year old son of a very close friend was killed in a freak accident. This has actually had me thinking a lot about life and death in general and my beliefs in specific. I believe Allah prepares us for our future roles and experieinces. I have always known that I wanted to raise a good Muslim son who would, inshallah, fight for the sake of Allah. I also know that inshallah, I want to be from those good women who are proud to have sons or husbands be shaheed. Yet, when all this occured, all I could think about was the fear of losing my son – who is not even born yet. It made me realize the immensity of the deeds these women have done in giving up their beloved children for the sake of Allah. These women raised, taught and played with their children. They knew the faces and the personalities. They loved these boys, but they were able to be not just patient with their son’s death but actually happy for the news of shahadah. It made me wonder if I could one day be the same.
I think about women who spend a lifetime carefully preparing their sons to be good Muslim men, good Muslim soldiers, and I wonder if I will ever be able to finally let go.
Because of this, I decided to make today’s class about death. We all know that we will die. We know this not only from experience, but also from the words of Allah and his Prophet, who taught us the actual significance of this knowledge,
Every soul shall have a taste of death: And only on the Day of Judgment shall you be paid your full recompense. Only he who is saved far from the Fire and admitted to the Garden will have attained the object (of Life): For the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception. (3:185)
Allah warns us that we are supposed to care about the next life more so than this life which is but “goods and chattels”. Unfortunately, we are so attached to this life and the accumulation of wealth (which includes our families and our children) that we forget the ultimate purpose. Allah warns,
Rivalry in worldly increase distracteth you; Until ye come to the graves. Nay, but ye will come to know! (102:1-3)
I think of the many times in countless hadiths that I read that people said to our beloved prophet, “My parents be sacrificed for you.” They are not merely saying insignificant words. This is powerful stuff. My gut reaction is to fear saying such words, for fear they may come true. But these companions found it so easy, May Allah reward them, because of their strong faith in Allah and His Messenger.
Allah has shown us the way to true salvation and jannah. It is the way of the previous Prophets,
And this was the legacy that Abraham left to his sons, and so did Jacob; “Oh my sons! Allah hath chosen the Faith for you; then die not except in the Faith of Islam.” (2:132)
It is the way of the seal of the prophet’s Muhammad (SAWS). It is the way detailed in the Quraan al Kareem,
…And if any of you Turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be companions of the Fire and will abide therein. (2:217)
Those who reject Faith, and die rejecting,- on them is Allah’s curse, and the curse of angels, and of all mankind; (2:161)
It is the complete acceptance of Allah, His deen and his Qadr. We are supposed to welcome death as a release from this prison. We are supposed to hope and pray for the shahadah or at the very least for al Jannah, so that when we see death, we are neither afraid nor saddened by it. We can miss those who preceed us, but we should not be disheartened by the death of someone close to us. If they are Muslims, we know that Jannah will eventually be theres and ours, and we shall meet again, inshallah.
The unbelievers of old feared death. Allah says,
Or like abundant rain from the cloud in which is utter darkness and thunder and lightning; they put their fingers into their ears because of the thunder peal, for fear of death, and Allah encompasses the unbelievers. (2:19)
And the Jews prayed to avoid it, wishing for life,
And you will most certainly find them the greediest of men for life (greedier) than even those who are polytheists; every one of them loves that he should be granted a life of a thousand years, and his being granted a long life will in no way remove him further off from the chastisement, and Allah sees what they do. (2:96)
I have personally seen the fear that the non-believers have of death. A group of students I used to have actually went to the dean to complain that I was scaring them by having asked them to write an essay on dying. They were so scared of the prospect they could not even contemplate it or write about it. May Allah guide them. We have been commanded by Allah and his prophet to reflect on death. It is by this reflection that we will realize the true meaning of life, to worship Allah so He will grant us Jannah.
The Muslim is supposed to realize that death is simply a passage from this life to the next, better life. We will be tested. We may suffer a bit, but we know that as long as we believe and live La ilaha il Allah, we will see al jannah and experience it forever. This is the promise of Allah.
Narrated Mu’adh bin Jabal: The Prophet said, “O Mu’adh! Do you know what Allah’s Right upon His slaves is?” I said, “Allah and His Apostle know best.” The Prophet said, “To worship Him (Allah) Alone and to join none in worship with Him (Allah). Do you know what their right upon Him is?” I replied, “Allah and His Apostle know best.” The Prophet said, “Not to punish them (if they do so).” Sahih Bukhari: Volume 9, Book 93, Number 470.
We can not fear death. We must be of those ready to welcome it fighting in Allah’s cause. We must be of those who fight to gain Allah’s pleasure and make His word supreme while not fearing that death may be a consequence of this fight.
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: Somebody asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! Who is the best among the people?” Allah’s Apostle replied “A believer who strives his utmost in Allah’s Cause with his life and property…” Sahih Bukhari: Volume 4, Book 52, Number 45.
We must recognize that all of us are born and will die and that the importance and significance of this lies in our beliefs and in how we live and die.
How can ye reject the faith in Allah?- seeing that ye were without life, and He gave you life; then will He cause you to die, and will again bring you to life; and again to Him will ye return. (2:28)
We are not to speculate that our death could be any different that what Allah has ordained, nor can we assume that we will live a long life. We may die very old, we may die tomorrow. We must recognize that this is from the unseen and we must therefore prepare for death.
O you who believe! be not like those who disbelieve and say of their brethren when they travel in the earth or engage in fighting: Had they been with us, they would not have died and they would not have been slain; so Allah makes this to be an intense regret in their hearts; and Allah gives life and causes death and Allah sees what you do. (3:156)
Say: Allah gives you life, then He makes you die, then will He gather you to the day of resurrection wherein is no doubt, but most people do not know. (45:26)
…We bring you out as babies, then (foster you) that ye may reach your age of full strength; and some of you are called to die, and some are sent back to the feeblest old age,…(22:5)
…no soul knoweth in what land it will die. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware. (31:34)
Narrated Abdullah: Allah’s Apostle, the true and truly inspired said, “(as regards your creation), every one of you is collected in the womb of his mother for the first forty days, and then he becomes a clot for an other forty days, and then a piece of flesh for an other forty days. Then Allah sends an angel to write four words: He writes his deeds, time of his death, means of his livelihood, and whether he will be wretched or blessed (in religion). Then the soul is breathed into his body. Sahih Bukhari: Volume 4, Book 55, Number 549
Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: Allah’s Apostle (p.b.u.h) said, “Keys of the unseen knowledge are five which nobody knows but Allah . . . nobody knows what will happen tomorrow; nobody knows what is in the womb; nobody knows what he will gain tomorrow; nobody knows at what place he will die; and nobody knows when it will rain.” Sahih Bukhari:Volume 2, Book 17, Number 149:
We do not know when we will die nor do we know when our children or our parents or our friends will die. We must prepare ourselves and them for this occuring at anytime and be grateful for whatever Allah ordains. The prophet warned us,
Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah’s Apostle said, “When carried to his grave, a dead person is followed by three, two of which return (after his burial) and one remains with him: his relative, his property, and his deeds follow him; relatives and his property go back while his deeds remain with him.” Sahih Bukhari:Volume 8, Book 76, Number 521.
Our deeds are all that will remain with us, so we must be sure that they, inshallah are good deeds. We must further remember the prophet’s saying, “O Allah! There is no life worth living except the life of the Hereafter…” (Narrated by Anas in sahih Bukhari: Volume 8, Book 76, Number 422)
This entire experience has made me appreciate our purpose on this earth and the scaricity of time that we have. None of us knows when, where or how we will die, all we know is that we will die, and after that death we will be judged and questioned about this life. We must assure ourselves that we have done all that we can to make this life a success for ourselves, our family and for our muslim brothers and sisters.. As Allah says,
These are Allah’s limits, and whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, He will cause him to enter gardens beneath which rivers flow, to abide in them; and this is the great success. (4:13)
He will put your deeds into a right state for you, and forgive you your faults; and whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, he indeed achieves a mighty success. (33:71)
May Allah give us the His Qadr with true hoping for the ultimate success: Jannah. Ameen.