The sincere seeker spends their entire life preparing for death, as they realize that it is merely a bridge, that by crossing it will lead them closer to the Generous One, Al-Muhyi, the Giver of Life and Al-Mumit, the Taker of Life.
Standing transfixed, peering through the massive fence of Jannatul Baqi, touches so deep in the heart. Thousands upon thousands of the most Illustrious Sahabah RadhiAllahu anhum, and thousands more respected scholars and pious people gracing this revered ground. At certain times of the day the light appears unwordly, dramatically highlighting the simple rough stones marking the graves which seemed bleached by the centuries of searing heat. Pigeons tirelessly flutter; the sound of their flight to and from the Green Dome creating a muffled tone in an eerie acoustic concerto. The swish of the sweepers’ brooms brushing the excess seed thrown for the birds, into mounds adds to the reverie. The ambience is surreal, pushing one to unusual depths of contemplation. The Sakeenah so tangible, a deafening hush pervades the space.
Then He causes him to die, then assigns to him a grave.
Wherever you are, death will find you out, even if you are in towers built up strong and high!
Every soul shall taste death in the end; to Us shall you be brought back. (29:57)
Say: "The death from which you flee will truly overtake you: then you will be sent back to the Knower of things secret and open: and He will tell you (the truth of) the things that you did!" (62:8)
When the Angel of Death takes away the soul of a person, the Angel asks Allah Ta’ala, ‘Shall I place it with the souls of the mu’mineen believers or with those of the non-believers?’ Insha’Allah we occupy ourselves with this concern, contemplating what command will be given to Malakul Maut when the time for our soul to be extracted is suddenly upon us. Our other concern is whether we are prepared for the trial in the Qabr.
The Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam used to seek refuge in Allah Ta’ala from five things; cowardliness, niggardliness, the evils of old age, evil thoughts, and punishment in the grave. And another narration states that Allah’s Apostle SallAllahu alaihi wasallam used to invoke Allah Ta’ala: "Allahumma ini a’udhu bika min ‘adhabi-l-Qabr, wa min ‘adhabi-nnar, wa min fitnati-l-mahya wa-lmamat, wa min fitnati-l-masih ad-dajjal." (O Allah! I seek refuge with you from the punishment in the grave and from the punishment in the Hell fire and from the afflictions of life and death, and the afflictions of Al-Masih Ad-Dajjal.)
The Best of Mankind SallAllahu alaihi wasallam, the most loved by Allah Ta’ala from His entire creation used to seek refuge from the grave! May we be aware, awake, diligent, obedient, knowing, repentant, remorseful, prepared!
One day when the Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam went out from the prayer he saw the people looking as if they were grinning he said, "If you were to keep much in the remembrance of death, which is the cutter-off of pleasures, it would distract you from what I see. Keep much in the remembrance of death which is the cutter-off of pleasure, for a day does not come to the grave without it saying, ‘I am the house of exile, I am the house of solitude, I am the house of dust, I am the house of worms.’ When a believer dies the grave says to him, ‘Welcome and greeting; you are indeed the dearest to me of those who walk upon me. I have been given charge of you today and you have come to me and you will see how I shall treat you.’ It will then expand for him as far as the eye can see and a door to Paradise will be opened for him. But when the disbeliever is buried the grave says to him, `No welcome and no greeting to you; you are the most hateful to me of those who walk upon me. I have been given charge of you today and you have come to me and you will see how I shall treat you.’ Abu Sa’id told that Allah’s Messenger SallAllahu alaihi wasallam indicated it by interlacing his fingers, demonstrating how the ribs would be squeezed so forcefully they would interlace in a like manner. The earth will be told to press him and continue to press till his ribs are clasped together and he will not be relieved of the torment till Allah Ta’ala resurrects him from his resting-place.
Then he said, "Seventy dragons will be put in charge of him of such a nature that if one of them were to breathe on the earth it would produce no crops as long as the world lasted, and they will bite and scratch him till he is brought to the reckoning." He also reported Allah’s Messenger SallAllahu alaihi wasallam as saying. "The grave is one of the gardens of Paradise, or one of the pits of Hell."
Narrated Ibn ‘Umar from his father RadhiAllahu anhuma: The Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam said, "The deceased is tortured in his grave for the wailing done over him."
Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet passed by a woman who was weeping beside a grave. He told her to fear Allah and be patient. She said to him, "Go away, for you have not been afflicted with a calamity like mine." And she did not recognize him. Then she was informed that he was the Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam. So she went to the house of the Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam and there she did not find any guard, so she approached him and said, "I did not recognize you." He said, "Verily, patience is at the first stroke of a calamity."
The deceased hears the sound of the footsteps as the people retreat from the burial. He is now left only with his deeds. His wealth and family depart, and at that moment he is asked: O so and so! Who is your Lord, what is your religion, and who is your Prophet? He will reply: My Lord is Allah. My religion is Islam. My Prophet is Muhammad the Messenger of Allah. Who made you aware of this? He will reply: I read Allah’s Book, believed in it, and considered it true; which is verified by Allah’s words:
Allah will keep firm those who believe with a Word that stands firm in this world and in the Hereafter. (14.27)
After the Angels question the believer in the grave and he answers correctly a voice cries out from Heaven that the slave of Allah Ta’ala has spoken the truth, and he will be supplied with delights from Jannah, and clothing from Jannah and a door will open for him as a window into the Jannah, with it’s fragrance and scent filling his grave, and it is expanded as far as the eye can see. Some narrations say it measures seventy cubits by seventy cubits, and the space is illuminated for them. A man with a handsome face, fine clothing and pleasantly perfumed comes to the inhabitant giving them the glad tidings from Allah Ta’ala, of everlasting joy in Gardens Divine. They are told that this is the day you were promised. The deceased asks who they are and are told that this is your righteous good deeds. A door to Jahannam is briefly opened and they are told that this would have been your place had you disobeyed Allah Ta’ala. When they see what is in Jannah, they will say, "O Lord, hasten on the hour." They are told be calm and at ease, and to sleep like a newly wed bride.
When a bride sleeps none other than her beloved awakens her. Similarly, the believer sleeping in their grave will be awakened by none other than his True Beloved, Allah Ta’ala on the Day of Judgement. When the newly wed bride awakens she sees the face of her husband. And when the sincere seeker awakens, Insha’Allah they will behold Allah Ta’ala smiling upon them.
The disbeliever will be subject to the same interrogation, the spirit will be restored to his body, Munkar and Nakeer will arrive, tell him to sit up and pummel him with the same demands. Alas, they do not know. Alas, they do not know. Alas, they do not know. Then a crier will call from Heaven: He has lied, so spread a bed for him from Hell, clothe him from Hell, and open for him a door into Hell. Then some of its heat and pestilential wind will come to him, and his grave will be compressed, so that his ribs will be crushed together. One version adds: One who is blind and dumb will then be placed in charge of him, having a sledge-hammer such that if a mountain were struck with it, it would become dust. He will give him a blow with it which will be heard by everything between the east and the west except by men and jinn, and he will become dust. Then his spirit will be restored to him and the action repeated until the Day of Resurrection. Ya Allah Ya Lateef! Save us all from Your punishment.
It is stated that every one will experience the initial squeezing in the grave, even children. Sa’d RadhiAllahu anhu, for whom the Throne of Allah shook due to reverence, and the doors of Heaven were opened for him with seventy thousand angels participating in his funeral prayer, even his grave was compressed and later on it was expanded for him.
Whenever the Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam became free from burying the dead, he used to stay to those present: Seek forgiveness for your brother, and beg steadfastness for him, for he will be questioned now. And he would implore, "O Allah, so and so, son of so and so is in Your protection so guard him from the trial in the grave and in Your nearer presence, so guard him from the trial in the grave and the punishment in Hell. You are faithful and worthy of praise. O Allah, forgive him and show him mercy. You are the Forgiving and the Merciful One."
In ‘La’aali Masnoo’ah it is reported from the riwaayat of Bazzaar, which is not considered concocted, "When a man dies and his relatives are busy in the funeral rites, there stands an extremely handsome man by his head. When the dead body is shrouded, the man slips in between the shroud and the chest of the dead person. When after the burial, the people return home, the two interrogating Angels, Munkar and Nakeer, having black faces and blue eyes come into the grave and try to separate this handsome man so they can question the deceased in privacy about his faith. But the handsome man says that the deceased is his companion and friend and that he will not leave him alone, that he will not leave him until he gets him admitted into Jannah. He explains to the deceased that he is the Qur’an that he used to read sometimes in a loud voice and sometimes in a soft voice, and that after the interrogation you will have no grief, as he will arrange from al-Mala’ul A’laa, the Angels in Jannah, to bring a silk bed filled with musk. May Allah Ta’ala make us diligent with our recitation and bless us with such a favour. Ameen.
Ibn Abbaas RadhiAllahu anhu said once Jibreel alaihis Salam, came to Rasulullah SallAllahu alaihi wasallam who was looking very worried and sad. Jibreel alaihis Salam asked him why he was so despondent, even though Allah Ta’ala knows whatever is hidden in the hearts. Rasulullah SallAllahu alaihi wasallam replied to Jibreel alaihis Salam and said that he was worried about his Ummah and how they will be on the Day of Judgement. Jibreel alaihis Salam, further asked, is it about the Muslims or the non-Muslims, to which the Prophet answered, the Muslims. Jibreel alaihis Salam then took Rasulullah SallAllahu alaihi wasallam to a graveyard where the people of Banu Salama were buried and he struck one grave with his wing and said, "Stand up by the orders of Allah." An extremely handsome man stood up from that grave, reciting,
Jibreel alaihis Salam told him to return to his place which he did. Then he struck another grave with his wing, and out of this grave came an extremely ugly person with a black face and worried eyes, he was saying, "Alas there is nothing but sorrow, shame and horror!" Jibreel alaihis Salam told him to go back to his place, and then explained to Rasulullah SallAllahu alaihi wasallam, "The people will rise up on the Day of Resurrection in the same state that they were at the time of their death."
According to one Hadith, a person who is steadfast in reciting Laa ilaha illa Allah daily they will be raised up with their face shining like a full moon, and Abu Darda RadhiAllahu anhu said that those tongues that remain busy with the Dhikr of Allah Ta’ala will enter Jannah rejoicing! May we be from this group. Ameen.
Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: Once the Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam, while passing through one of the graveyards of Madinah or Makkah heard the voices of two persons who were being tortured in their graves. The Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam said, "These two persons are being tortured not for a major sin (to avoid)." The Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam then added, "Yes! They are being tortured for a major sin. Indeed, one of them never saved himself from being soiled with his urine while the other used to go about with calumnies to make enmity between friends. The Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam then asked for a green leaf of a date-palm tree, broke it into two pieces and put one on each grave. On being asked why he had done this he replied, "I hope that their torture might be lessened, till these get dried."
Allah’s Messenger SallAllahu alaihi wasallam said, "He who dies of a stomach illness dies as a martyr, or he will be guarded from the trial in the grave, and will have his provision brought him morning and evening from Paradise." And everyone who dies his book of deeds is shut, except one who is protecting the boarders while in Allah Ta’ala’s path, for his deeds will be made to go on increasing till the Day of Resurrection, and he will be safe from the trial in the grave. Also included in this group of ongoing deeds is continuous charity, knowledge which benefits others, and the Du’a of a pious son.
Two noble traditions from our Esteemed Habibullah SallAllahu alaihi wasallam convey the advice he desired us to take heed of; Work for your world in proportion to your stay in the world and work for your Hereafter in proportion to your stay in the Hereafter, and O Allah, let me live as a poor man, let me die as a poor man and raise me to life in the Hereafter among the poor.
Narrated Abu Hurairah RadhiAllahu anhu: The angel of death was sent to Musa alaihis Salam and when he went to him, Musa alaihis Salam slapped him severely, spoiling one of his eyes. The angel went back to his Lord, and said, "You sent me to a slave who does not want to die." Allah restored his eye and said, "Go back and tell Musa alaihis Salam to place his hand over the back of an ox, for he will be allowed to live for a number of years equal to the number of hairs coming under his hand." So the angel came to him and told him the same. Then Musa alaihis Salam asked, "O my Lord! What will be then?" He said, "Death will be then." He said, "Let it be now." He asked Allah Ta’ala that He bring him near the Sacred Land at a distance of a stone’s throw. Allah’s Apostle SallAllahu alaihi wasallam said, "Were I there I would show you the grave of Musa alaihis Salam by the way near the red sand hill."
After passing away Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani Rahmatullahi alaihi, was asked what happened after he passed away and he was in the grave. He said that when the Angels asked him who was his Lord, he replied, "I am surprised that you have descended so far from the Sidrah al Muntahah and have not forgotten Allah, should it be that I have descended a mere few feet that I should forget everything?" There after Allah Ta’ala opened His gates of Mercy and his grave was transformed into a garden!
All good is from Allah Ta’ala whereas mistakes are from this humble speck. May Allah Ta’ala Bless all readers, bringing you all closer to Him and His Rasul SallAllahu alaihi wasallam. Ameen.