Chapter 65: Remembrance of Death and Restraint of Wishes
allah, the exalted, says:
"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 jannah, he indeed is successful. the life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (a deceiving thing).'' (3:185)
"no person knows what he will earn tomorrow, and no person knows in what land he will die...'' (31:34)
"...when their term comes, neither can they delay nor can they advance it an hour (or a moment).'' (16:61)
"o you who believe! let not your properties or your children divert you from the remembrance of allah. and whosoever does that, then they are the losers. and spend (in charity) of that with which we have provided you, before death comes to one of you, and he says: `my rubb! if only you would give me respite for a little while (i.e., return to the worldly life), then i should give sadaqah (i.e., zakat) of my wealth, and be among the righteous [i.e., perform hajj (pilgrimage to makkah) and other good deeds].' and allah grants respite to none when his appointed time (death) comes. and allah is all-aware of what you do.'' (63:9-11)
"until, when death comes to one of them (those who join partners with allah), he says: `my rubb! send me back. so that i may do good in that which i have left behind!' no! it is but a word that he speaks; and behind them is barzakh (a barrier) until the day when they will be resurrected. then, when the trumpet is blown, there will be no kinship among them that day, nor will they ask of one another. then, those whose scales (of good deeds) are heavy, they are the successful. and those whose scales (of good deeds) are light, they are those who lose their ownselves, in hell will they abide. the fire will burn their faces, and therein they will grin, with displaced lips (disfigured). `were not my verses (this qur'an) recited to you, and then you used to deny them?' they will say: `our rubb! our wretchedness overcame us, and we were (an) erring people. `our rubb! bring us out of this; if ever we return (to evil), then indeed we shall be zalimun (polytheists, oppressors, unjust, wrong-doers, etc? he (allah) will say: `remain you in it with ignominy! and speak you not to me!' verily! there was a party of my slaves, who used to say: `our rubb! we believe, so forgive us, and have mercy on us, for you are the best of all who show mercy!' `but you took them for a laughing stock, so much so that they made you forget my remembrance while you used to laugh at them! verily! i have rewarded them this day for their patience, they are indeed the ones that are successful. he (allah) will say: `what number of years did you stay on earth?' they will say: `we stayed a day or part of a day. ask of those who keep account.' he (allah) will say: `you stayed not but a little, if you had only known! did you think that we had created you in play (without any purpose), and that you would not be brought back to us?''' (23:99-115)
"has not the time come for the hearts of those who believe (in the oneness of allah - islamic monotheism) to be affected by allah's reminder (this qur'an), and that which has been revealed of the truth, lest they become as those who received the scripture [the taurat (torah) and the injeel (gospel)] before (i.e., jews and christians), and the term was prolonged for them and so their hearts were hardened? and many of them were fasiqun (the rebellious, the disobedient to allah).'' (57:16)
574. `abdullah bin `umar (may allah be pleased with them) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) took hold of my shoulders and said, "be in the world like a stranger or a wayfarer.'' ibn `umar (may allah be pleased with them) used to say: when you survive till the evening do not expect to live until the morning; and when you survive till the morning do not expect to live until the evening. while in good health (do good deeds) before you fall sick; and while you are alive (do good deeds) before death strikes.
commentary: this hadith has already been mentioned. refer to the commentary on hadith no. 479.
575. `abdullah bin `umar (may allah be pleased with them) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "it is the duty of a muslim who has something which is to be given as a bequest not to have it for two nights without executing a written will.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
in the narration of muslim it is narrated as `three nights'. ibn `umar (may allah be pleased with them) said: since i heard the messenger of allah say this, i have never spent a night without having my will with me.
commentary: the emphasis of messenger of allah (pbuh) on the necessity of making a last will shows that man has no knowledge of the time of his death. it is necessary for the rich that they should keep with them a testament so as to leave their affairs settled after their death and to ward off any untoward situation with regard to the distribution of their property among their inheritors.
576. anas (may allah be pleased with him) reported: the prophet (pbuh) drew a few lines and said, "one of them represents man and another indicates death; and a man continues like this until the nearest line (i.e., death) overtakes him.''
577. ibn mas`ud (may allah be pleased with him) reported: the prophet (pbuh) drew up a square and in the middle of it he drew a line, the end of which jutted out beyond the square. further across the middle line, he drew a number of smaller lines. then he (pbuh) said, "the figure represents man and the encircling square is the death which is encompassing him. the middle line represents his desires and the smaller lines are vicissitudes of life. if one of those misses him, another distresses him, and if that one misses him, he falls victim to another.''
commentary: this means that human life is perpetually exposed to mishaps. if man escapes one mishap, he comes across the other one. his life is spent in a continuous struggle against tackling the hostile situations. besides, his life remains entangled in unending hopes and wishes which are never fulfilled and finally he slips into the iron-grip of death. to sum up, man is ever closer to the border line of death and not supposed to remain unprepared for it. there is no end to wishful thinking and, therefore, he should not adopt a careless attitude towards the inescapable death in the pursuit of illusory hopes. the best course for him is to remain ever-ready for his exit from the worldly stage.
578. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "hasten to do good deeds before you are overtaken by one of the seven afflictions.'' then (giving a warning) he said, "are you waiting for poverty which will make you unmindful of devotion, or prosperity which will make you corrupt, or a disease which will disable you, or senility which will make you mentally unstable, or sudden death which will take you all of a sudden, or ad-dajjal who is the worst expected, or the hour; and the hour will be most grievous and most bitter.''
commentary: the hadith focuses on seven things which hold back man from the virtuous path. taking in consideration the turning health and the brief span of life to his account, he is, therefore, apt to gather up good deeds for the hereafter because an untoward situation may confront him any moment and render him unable to do good things to his benefit in the otherworldly life.
579. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "remember more often the destroyer of pleasures - death.''
commentary: being heedful and talking about death checks man from being lost in the worldly pleasures and seductions. we are, therefore, supposed to remember death frequently and to avoid remaining indifferent to post-death affairs and occurrences.
580. ubayy bin ka`b (may allah be pleased with him) reported: when one-third of the night would pass, messenger of allah (pbuh) would get up and call out, "o people, remember allah. the rajifah (i.e., the first blowing of the trumpet which will shake the whole universe and thus cause all life to cease) has come, followed by ar-radifah (i.e., the second blowing of the trumpet which will restore life and thus mark the resurrection day). death has approached with all that it comprises. death has approached with all that it comprises.'' i said: "o messenger of allah (pbuh), i frequently invoke allah to elevate your rank. how much of my supplications should i devote to you?'' he said, "you may devote as much as you wish.'' when i suggested a quarter, he said, "do whatever you wish, but it will be better for you if you increase it.'' i suggested half, and he said, "do whatever you wish, but it will be better for you if you increase.'' i suggested two-thirds, and he said, "do whatever you wish but it will be better for you if you increase it.'' i said, "shall i devote all my supplications invoking allah to elevate your rank?'' he said, "then you will be freed from your worries and your sins will be forgiven.''
commentary: the qur'an exactly corroborates what has been stated in this hadith. there will be two soundings of the trumpet. the first will throw the earth and mountains into tremendous convulsions, annihilating all life and disrupting the entire physical structure of the universe. the second - after an indefinite period of time known to allah alone - will mark the resurrection day and bring forth the whole scenario of the last judgement. messenger of allah (pbuh) has invited the attention of mankind to the horrendous ordeal awaiting it in the last hour. besides, this hadith urges the believers to send the maximum greetings to messenger of allah (pbuh). it also highlights the excellence of such an invocation. the qur'an itself makes this demand to the believers:
"allah sends his salat (graces, honours, blessings, mercy) on the prophet (muhammad (pbuh)), and also his angels (ask allah to bless and forgive him). o you who believe! send your salat on (ask allah to bless) him (muhammad (pbuh)), and (you should) greet (salute) him with the islamic way of greeting (salutation, i.e., as-salamu `alaikum).'' (33:56).