The Angel is Sent

Bismillah. 4 am and I can’t sleep. I figured I should do something worthwhile 🙂

This is a continuation of our hadith about the Creation in the Womb of the mother. This section is regarding the remainder of the hadith in which the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) told us:

“The angel is then sent to him and he breathes into him the spirit. He is commanded to issue four decrees: to record his sustenance, his life span, his deeds, and [whether he will be] unhappy [by entering Hell] or happy [by entering Paradise]. I swear by Allah, other than Whom there is no God, certainly, one of you will definitely perform the deeds of the people of Paradise until there is not between him and Paradise except an arm’s length and then what has been recorded will overtake him and he shall perform the deeds of the people of Hell and enter it. And, certainly, one of you will definitely perform the acts of the people of Hell until there is not between him and Hell except an arm’s length and then what has been recorded will overtake him and he shall perform the deeds of the people of Paradise and enter it.”

The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said that the angel is sent, not an angel. This shows that the duty of looking after and caring for a fetus is that of a specific angel.

“and he breathes into him the spirit (ruh)”

What is the ruh or spirit/soul? It is basically the life of the individual. Allah says:

And they ask you, [O Muhammad], about the soul. Say, “The soul is of the affair of my Lord. And mankind have not been given of knowledge except a little.” (17:85)

With all of man’s advancements in science and technology, physics and biology, we still know very little, if anything, about the soul.

When is the ruh breathed in?

This is a very important question, as this deals with the matter of when the fetus actually becomes a human life. A common anwer is that this occurs at 120 days after the human is in the womb. To answer this question, we must look at the Qur’an and Sunnah. The author goes into many different hadith and ayaat and analyzes them, so I will just try to give the gist of it and his conclusions.

There are basically two opinions that I could discern from his discussion: 1) the ruh is breathed in at 120 days, or 2) the ruh is breathed in some time after 40 days.

Recall that the three stages discussed were nutfah, alaqah and mudhghah. Some scholars believe that each of these stages is 40 days, totalling 120, at which time the soul is breathed in. And some scholars believe that collectively it is 40 days, at which time the soul is breathed. Imam Az-Zarabozo seemed to lean towards the opinion that the ruh is breathed in at 40 days.

Does the breathing in of the ruh imply beginning of life?

It seems to be the opinion of the majority of the scholars – if not consensus – that the breathing in of the ruh implies the creation of a new human being. Muhammad Yaseen has supported this conclusion with a number of arguments. One of which is : Adam ‘alayhis salaam was created from clay, but the turning point in his creation was when the ruh was breathed into him.

The Four Decrees

This is pretty self explanatory 🙂 Do you remember what the four things that the angel records?

  1. His sustenance
  2. His life span
  3. His deeds
  4. His destination of heaven or hell

“I swear by Allah…”

There are several points of emphasis in this portion of the hadith. The first is swearing by Allah. The second is the presence of the word inna. And the third point of emphasis is the presence of the letter laam in the word liya’mal or “definitely perform.” All of these stress the certainty and truthfulness of what is about to be said. The speaker would not use this much emphasis unless necessary. The need to do so is if someone would reject or think odd of what the person is about to say.

The rest of the hadith states: “…one of you will definitely perform the deeds of the people of Paradise until there is not between him and Paradise except an arm’s length and then what has been recorded will overtake him and he shall perform the deeds of the people of Hell and enter it. And, certainly, one of you will definitely perform the acts of the people of Hell until there is not between him and Hell except an arm’s length and then what has been recorded will overtake him and he shall perform the deeds of the people of Paradise and enter it.” This is indeed something remarkable and unexpected.

The Last Impression

The important point here is that a person will be judged according to his belief and action at the time of his death.

This is a very scary thought. We should never feel content with our deeds or safe from Hell. Just because we seem to be in a good state of iman one moment, we don’t know if we will be in that state tomorrow, or even before we go to bed! We should always pursue things that will strengthen our faith and keep it strong.

I remember Muhammad Al Shareef saying that there is no stagnance in Islam. You are either becoming weaker, or you’re becoming stronger. May Allah always keep our hearts firm and steadfast on the deen and make the best of our deeds our last. Ameen. Say ameen!

Change

It is a simple thing for a person’s heart to change. The Arabic word for heart, qalb, comes from the fact that it can change completely from one direction to another. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

“It is only called the qalb because of how it can change. The similitude of the heart is like a leaf hanging by the trunk of a tree that is being blown upside down by the wind.”

The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to make this du’aa` often: “O changer of the hearts, make my heart firm upon Your religion.” The companion asked him, “O Messenger of Allah, we have believed in you and what you have bought. Do you fear for us?” He answered, “Yes.

Verily, the hearts are between two of Allah’s fingers and He turns them any way He wills.” (at-Tirmidhi)

Hope

Of course, just as we discussed before – a believer’s iman has two wings – of both fear and hope. Just as we must fear Allah and fear that we may falter, we must have hope in Allah’s mercy. Alhamdulillah for Allah’s mercy 🙂

This portion of the hadith should give hope to those of us who are currently committing sins and realize we are wrong, but somehow can’t pull ourselves from the situation. If we try to strive and correct ourselves, inshaAllah one day we will change our ways one day. When we do, we will start performing the deeds of the people of Paradise and die in that state.

Those of us who are sinning now should realize that we can still change – it is never too late for change – and we can die upon high iman inshaAllah.

In the next post, inshaAllah, we’ll address some of the fiqh issues related to this hadith – such as abortion, etc.

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