Why are we afraid of death and how to cope with this feeling?
Why are we afraid of death and how to cope with this feeling?
Praise be to Allaah.
Fear of death is a feeling that affects most people. Allaah has created man in such a way that he loves life and fears the unknown, and He has made death part of the world of the unseen which cannot be fully understood except by the one who enters it. When a person thinks of it, he cannot help but feel feelings of loneliness and fear or anxiety about that unknown future.
This is the natural explanation for man's fear of death in general.
But the believer who submits to the will and decree of Allaah, and in whose heart love of Allaah is instilled and who thinks positively of Allaah realises that by his death he is returning to a generous Lord and a merciful God, Who will reward him for good deeds with good things and Who will pardon his bad deeds by His mercy and forgiveness. That is only for the believer who puts his trust in Allaah and whose heart is humble before Him, the Accepter of repentance. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“No doubt! Verily, the Awliya’ [close friends] of Allaah, no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve. 63. Those who believed, and used to fear Allaah much (by abstaining from evil deeds and sins and by doing righteous deeds). 64. For them are glad tidings, in the life of the present world, and in the Hereafter. No change can there be in the Words of Allaah. This is indeed the supreme success”
Al-Haafiz Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
Here Allaah is telling us that His close friends are those who believe and are pious, as their Lord describes them. So everyone who is pious is a friend of Allaah. “No fear shall come upon them” means with regard to what they encounter of the terrors of the resurrection. “Nor shall they grieve” means for what they have left behind them in this world. End quote.
Tafseer al-Qur’aan al-‘Azeem, 4/278
This is how you should be.
We should all strive to be friends of Allaah, so that we may obtain His love and pleasure, and so that His love will be the most beautiful thing in our hearts. Then death will become no more than moving to be under the care of the Most Generous, Most Merciful, may He be glorified, and liberation from the limitations and bonds of this world to the expanse and pleasures of the Hereafter.
It was narrated from Abu Qataadah ibn Rib’i that he used to narrate that a funeral passed by the Messenger of Allaah (blessings and peace of Allaah be upon him) and he said: “One who has found relief and one from whom relief has been found.” They said: O Messenger of Allaah, who are the one who has found relief and the one from whom relief has been found? He said: “The believing person has found relief from the troubles of this world, and the people, the land, the trees and the animals have found relief from the evil person.”
Narrated by al-Bukhaari (6512) and Muslim (950).
It was narrated from ‘Ubaadah ibn al-Saamit that the Prophet of Allaah said: “Whoever loves to meet Allaah, Allaah loves to meet him, and whoever hates to meet Allaah, Allaah hates to meet him.”
‘Aa’ishah or one of his wives said: We hate death. He said: “It is not like that. When the believer is dying, he is given the glad tidings of the pleasure and honour of Allaah, and nothing is dearer to him than that which is ahead of him, and he loves to meet Allaah and Allaah loves to meet him. But when the disbeliever is dying, he is given tidings of the punishment and wrath of Allaah, and nothing is more hated to him than what is ahead of him, and he hates to meet Allaah and Allaah hates to meet him.”
Narrated by al-Bukhaari (6507) and Muslim (2683).
Al-Qurtubi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
This dislike of death is a natural dislike which stems from a feeling of aversion, which is difficult to bear. Undoubtedly it exists in everyone, except the one who Allaah blesses with love for Him and he realized the beauty of being close to Him. That person’s love for Allaah overwhelms him and he will say when it is his time to depart this world, addressing death and its agonies, as Mu’aadh (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: A beloved one has come at a time most needed, and the one who has any regrets today will never prosper, so take my soul as You will, for by You, my hearts loves You.
If this meaning is established in your heart and soul, and you have done righteous deeds in preparation for the day of departure from this transient life, death will not harm you if Allaah wills, and your fear of it will be no more than a reason to make you do good and turn to Allaah, not a reason for doom, anxiety, panic or frustration.
Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked the following question:
Should the believer not be afraid of death? If that happens, does that mean that he does not want to meet Allaah?
Believing men and women must fear Allaah and put their hope in Him, because Allaah says in His Holy Book (interpretation of the meaning):
“so fear them not, but fear Me, if you are (true) believers”
[Aal ‘Imraan 3:175]
“Therefore fear not men but fear Me”
“and fear none but Me”
[al-Baqarah 2: 40]
“Verily, those who have believed, and those who have emigrated (for Allaah’s religion) and have striven hard in the way of Allaah, all these hope for Allaah’s Mercy”
“So whoever hopes for the Meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord”
There are many similar verses.
It is not permissible for the believer, male or female, to despair of the mercy of Allaah or feel secure against the plan of Allaah. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Say: “O ‘Ibaadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allaah, verily, Allaah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful”
“and never give up hope of Allaah’s Mercy. Certainly no one despairs of Allaah’s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve”
“Did they then feel secure against the Plan of Allaah? None feels secure from the Plan of Allaah except the people who are the losers”
All the Muslims, both male and female, must prepare for death and beware of being heedless, because of the verses quoted above and because of what is narrated from the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allaah be upon him) who said: “ Frequently remember the destroyer of pleasures – death.”
and because being heedless about it and not preparing for it are among the causes of a bad end. It is proven that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allaah (blessings and peace of Allaah upon him) said: “Whoever loves to meet Allaah, Allaah loves to meet him, and whoever hates to meet Allaah, Allaah hates to meet him.” I said: O Prophet of Allaah, do you mean hating death, for all of us hate death? He said: “It is not like that, but the believer, when he is given glad tidings of Allaah's mercy, pleasure and Paradise, loves to meet Allaah and Allaah loves to meet him. But the disbeliever, when he is given tidings of Allaah’s punishment and wrath, hates to meet Allaah and Allaah hates to meet him.” Agreed upon.
This hadeeth indicates that there is nothing wrong with disliking or fearing death, and that does not indicate that a person does not want to meet Allaah, because when the believer dislikes death or fears its approach, he wants to do more acts of obedience to Allaah and do more to prepare to meet Him. Similarly when the believing woman fears death and does not want it to come to her, she is only doing that in the hope that she can do more acts of obedience and prepare to meet her Lord. End quote.
Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn Baaz, 6/313-314
And Allaah knows best.