Every Soul Shall Taste Death

And finally I’ve done the next part of the akhirah series. I can’t wait till my mother in law comes back home and I have time to do these sort of things… 🙂


Anas ibn Malik reported that a person asked the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him): “When would the Last Hour come?” Thereupon, Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) kept quiet for awhile. Then he looked at a young boy in his presence, belonging to the tribe of Azd Shanilwa, and he said:

“If this boy lives, he would not grow very old till the Last Hour would come to you.” (Muslim 41/7052 also see Bukhari 8/76/518)

Once a person dies, their day of judgment has come. There is no more time for tawbah, no time to earn good deeds, no  time left at all — it is time for judgment. And so that is why we begin the discussion of the akhirah and the day of judgment with death – it is the “minor” day of judgment.

Al Qiyaamah as Sughra is the proper term for the minor resurrection.

For Every Soul

Hasan AlBasri says, “I have never seen anything that is certain with no doubt in it but people deal with it as if it is doubt with no certainty like death.” (That was a mouthful!)

In our discussion of the hadith of creation, we learned that our life span is predetermined and we shall die whenever Allah has decreed. We will not die before or after that time; just at the fixed time when Allah has decreed. We cannot evade death, Allah says: “Where so ever you may be, death will over take you, even if you are in fortresses built up strong and high.” (4:78)

There is no way around death. Everyone will die. Allah subhaana wa ta’aala says: “Everything will perish save His Face. His is the decision and to Him you shall be returned.” (28:88)

In the Qur’an, Allah mentions the story of thousands of people who left a city trying to avoid the plague. Even though they left the town, Allah simply said to them “die” and they died. (see the tafsir of 2:243) Often times we think we attempt to evade destiny, but find it on the path we took to avoid it.

If anyone were to be spared thir life, it would have been the person most beloved to Allah – the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. But Allah says: “You shall die and they will die.” (39:30) And indeed the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did die. Everyone will die. 

The Word Mowt (death)

Life and death are opposites, and the Arabic language actually defines them in terms of opposites. The definition of al-Hayaat (life) is “the opposite of al mowt (death)”. And the definition of al mowt is “the opposite of al hayaat.”

The root meaning of al mowt is stillness ; everything that has come to a standstill is dead. The root meaning of al hayaat, therefore, is movement.

So what is barzakh?

Up until I read it in ‘Umar al Ashqar’s book The Minor Resurrection, I thought barzakh was an Urdu word 🙂 In Arabic, barzakh means a barrier between two things. In the shari’ah, it refers to the period from death until the Resurrection. Allah says:

“…And behind them is barzakh until the Day when they will be resurrected.” (23:100)

The Destroyer of Pleasures

“Frequently remember the destroyer of pleasures.” RasulAllah described death as the destroyer of pleasures.

Were we to remember death more often, we would definitely not care about everything pleasurable in this life. We would forget our materialistic needs, our cars and clothes and desires, and focus solely on building what is eternal: the deeds we need for when we die.

We are certain about death – Muslim and nonMuslim. Have you ever seen someone deny death? Hasan Al Basri said that we deal with death as if it is doubtful. Each of us knows we are going to die – how much have we prepared for it?


There is a period before death called al-ihtidhaar. It is preparation for death. During this stage, the angels descend. Allah says:

“…Until when death approaches one of you. Our Messengers take his soul and they never neglect their duty.” (6:64)

During this stage, angels descend and the person going through death can see them.

According to the hadith of Al-Baraa` ibn ‘Aazib, the Messenger (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

“When the believing slave is about to depart this world and move to the Hereafter, angels come down to him from the heavens, with white face like the sun. They bring with them a shroud from Paradise and aromatics (for embalming) from Paradise, and they sit in front of him as far as the eye can see. Thn the Angel of Death (‘alayhis salaam) comes and sits at his head, and says, ‘O good soul (according to one report: ‘O peaceful soul’), come out to the forgiveness from Allah and His pleasure.’ Then it comes out like a drop of water from the mouth of a jug, and they take it…

But when the disbelieving slave (according to one report: ‘immoral slave’), is about to depart this world and move to the Hereafter, angels comw down to him from the heavens, (harsh and severe) with black faces, bringing sackcloth* (from Hell). They sit in front of him as far as the eye can see. Then the Angel of Death (‘alayhis salaam) comes and sits at his head, and says, ‘O evil soul, come out to the angel of Allah and His wrath.’ Then it cowers within his body and is dragged out like a (many-hooked) iron skewer passing through wet wool (with which vein and nerves are cut).” (Shaykh Albaani compiled all the narractions and combined them into one version with all of the additional phrases which were narrated in all the various saheeh isnads.)  

So long as a person is devoted to Allah alone and remains steadfast, then Allah will always take care of him, especially at times of difficulty. And death is one of the most difficult situations a person shall face. May Allah take care of us all at death. Ameen.

*This refers to cloth woven of hair which is worn for purposes of mortification of the flesh.

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