Allah, all praise
and glory is to Him, informs us in the Noble Qur’an that man departs from
worldly life in one of two ways: either surrounded by the angels of mercy
giving him the glad tidings of entering Paradise and the happiness awaiting
him. Or surrounded by the angels of torture – we seek refuge with Allah from
that – hitting him on his face and his back and warning him of the punishment
of the burning Fire. At that moment he would only wish that he was never born
and he would feel the enormity of the crime he has committed against himself.
But some people
say that Allah, all praise and glory is to Him, has specified the way of
departing from worldly life to the life of Barzakh within the grave as
one of three states.
Al-Wâqi‘ah Allah, all praise and glory is to Him, says what means:
[And if the deceased was of those brought
near to Allah, then [for him is] rest and bounty and a garden of pleasure. And
if he was of the companions of the right, then [the angels will say],
"Peace for you; [you are] from the companions of the right." But if
he was of the deniers [who were] astray, then [for him is] accommodation of
scalding water and burning in Hellfire.] [Al-Wâqi‘ah, 56: 88-94]
The answer is that
these glorious Ayat do not reveal the state in which man shall depart from
worldly life, because both the ones brought near [to Allah] and the
companions of the right will be received by the angels of mercy and be
given the glad tidings of entering Paradise, but each has a different degree
from the other in Paradise.
forerunners1 or the ones brought near shall
enjoy high degrees and high stations that Allah confers upon them. Also, the
companions of the right shall have high degrees but less than them. However, none
should think that the forerunners or the ones brought near are only those who lived during the lifetime of the
Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace); who strove and
fought with him and that those who will come after them will never reach their
degree no matter what they do.
Justice of Allah, all praise and glory is to him, never allows to deprive a
person who loves Him and sincerely worships Him from the highest degrees.
we find the Noble Qur’an telling us that the forerunners or the ones brought near, who are the nearest servants to Allah will be from the first and later time generations (who embraced Islam)
but the majority will be from the former generations. And read the Saying of
Allah, all praise and glory is to Him, which means:
[A [large] company of the former peoples
and a few of the later peoples] [Al-Wâqi‘ah, 56: 13-14]
of Allah, all praise and glory is to Him, only accepts that the door should be
left wide open before any sincere worshipper of Him; eager to draw near to Him,
to reward his servant with the highest degrees in the Hereafter as long as he
showed sincerity and feared Him in all his life affairs.
that the majority shall be from the first generations and only a few from the
later generations draws the attention to the infinite absolute Knowledge Allah
possesses of the state of His creatures. How worldly life with its gloss shall
attract people more and more as time moves forward, thus the number of sincere
worshippers of Allah, who are eager to please Him, and who strive in His Cause,
Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) has foretold us
many signs that are realized the more Resurrection draws near. All the realized
signs show us that turning away from the Law of Allah will aggravate, sin will
increase and sincerity within hearts will decrease. People will try to
interpret religion in a way that satisfies their desires and their worldly
interests. Masjids will be decorated whereas hearts filled with hypocrisy and
dissimulation will be ruins…and we shall discuss this in detail.
return to the hour of dying, this hour in which man is between life and death.
When this hour approaches man knows for certain that he is dying. There is no
lying at this hour nor a sense of any possibility of escape.
man sees and from what is disclosed to him from the unseen matters at that hour
he will know for certain that his end has approached. Seeing the angels around
him, whether of mercy or torture, and hearing them.
state his humanity ends, for he no longer has a will power to do any worldly
moment also repentance is no longer accepted, because as long as man sees the
angels of death and knows for sure that he will die then there is no longer
belief in the Unseen but there is a visible certainty of truth. There is no
longer belief since the eye now sees. For belief is in what is unseen to us but
what the eye sees and witnesses is not belief.
say to a person sitting with you: “I believe that you are sitting with me?”
Because you see him sitting in front of you, this is not considered belief but
a witnessed reality.
for example, only believed when he saw death, as relates the Noble Qur’an
through the Ayah saying what means:
[Until, when drowning
overtook him, he said, "I believe that there is no deity except that in
whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of the Muslims."] [Yunus,
Was Pharaoh’s faith and his testimony that Almighty Allah is the Only One God,
alone a repentance that Allah accepted? Which wiped all Pharaoh’s sins and made him one of the inhabitants of Paradise? Especially,
that directly after this repentance he drowned, which means that he did not
live to commit any more sins. The answer is that the Noble Qur’an informed us
of what shall happen to Pharaoh
through the Saying of Allah, The Most Exalted, which means:
[He will precede his people
on the Day of Resurrection and lead them into the Fire; and wretched is the
place to which they are led] [Hûd, 11: 98]
that on the Day of Resurrection Pharaoh will be the leader of his people who
worshipped him and took him as a god to lead them into the Fire. Thus, when
the hour of death approaches repentance neither benefits nor is accepted
because man is transferred from the stage of faith in the Unseen to that of
certain vision. He now sees for certain the things that Allah, all praise and
glory is to Him, has informed him about as things pertaining to the Unseen, but
he did not believe in Him.
At the hour of death man’s whole life is displayed
before him and he knows his fate. Therefore, you see faces shining and others
frowning and agitated.
Those who are given the glad tidings of entering
Paradise their faces will shine and be happy because they know that they are
going to delights far better than what they have lived in. They look forward to
what is to come with tranquility, joy and relief.
As to those who see before them torment and Hellfire and
know that they are going to mighty evil, their faces darken and are agitated.
They search for a way out but they find none. Their souls are seized while in
such a state. Convulsion, nervousness and terror clearly appear on their faces.
Nevertheless, we must understand that if there is one of
two ways of leaving worldly life: either surrounded by the angels of mercy or
torment, this does not mean that there is one degree of taking the souls of all
the believers, and one degree of seizing the souls of all disbelievers and
hypocrites. For there is varying degrees of delight and varying degrees of
torment even at the hour of dying.
Some people wonder whether the dying person is sensible
of what is around him? The answer is: “Yes, he is. ” Because there is a
difference between the conscious self and bodily sensation, each is a thing
completely different from the other.
The death of the body and the end of bodily sensation
does not mean that the psychic consciousness ended. Man will lose at that time
the means of choice that he once had and will no longer be free to choose and
consequently whatever happens to him will be compulsory. He neither can avoid
it, repel it or escape from it.
But at the same time the conscious self is present. It
sees but it can do nothing. It watches the tape of its life rolling before it
but it cannot speak.
Science has approximated this picture to our minds, for
neither the image nor the sound vanishes. Man with his limited knowledge
succeeded in recording the sound and image on a tape which he can keep as he
likes, displays it before him and recalls what is in it whenever he wishes.
Thus, we can watch people moving in front of us though they died a long time
We can watch movies, audibly and visually recording
events, which passed many years ago, but still we can see and hear them as if
We can hear, for example, the Azan2 or the Noble Qur’an recited by the late Sheikh
Muhammad Rifa‘t or other famous reciters. All this was made possible by
human power, so do we consider it beyond the Power of Allah, all praise and
glory is to Him, that each one of us has a recorded tape of his worldly life
that will be displayed before him in the Hereafter? If we, humans, can now
record sound and picture, and hear the speech of the dead recorded to them
during their life!
After proving that sound does not vanish, scientists are
now trying to bring the sounds of those who lived centuries ago before us. The
obstacle that stands in their way is that these sounds are mixed in the air in
a way that renders separating them from one another impossible.
If science has succeeded in obtaining a type of films
that can produce the picture of the people who were sitting at some place after
leaving it by hours…if this is the power of humans how about the Power of
Allah, The Almighty?
That man sees a tape of his life history while dying is
not something hard to believe after the scientific revolution that approximated
the picture. At the start of death man’s free will ends. He no longer has power
of choice. If he wants to move his leg, it will not obey him. If he wants to
speak, the tongue will not comply to his wish. If he wants to open his eyes,
they will not respond to him. This is because all these things – all the organs
of the body – submit to man in worldly life only by the Will of Allah.
The hand is capable to obey its master if he wants to
help someone cross the road and is also capable to hit a person, or harm him or
The tongue is capable to utter the word of belief and is
also capable, Allah forbid, to utter the word of disbelief. This is because it
is subjected to man’s will in worldly life, during the trial period that Allah,
all praise and glory is to Him, has set to His servants to recompense them
after it either with Paradise or with torment in Hellfire.
Worldly life with whatsoever in it is no more than a
period that ends with you coming out of it either bearing your good deeds or
your evil deeds, nothing more.
Thus, those who were given from the riches of this world
and those who did not have money to buy food become equal; both of them take
with them nothing from worldly life except good deeds. At the hour of dying
both are equal, both have neither might nor power. Both are at the mercy of
their own deeds. Even the strongest and richest people on the earth depart from
it taking nothing with them except their deeds.
At that moment Allah and His angels are closer to the
dying person than all those surrounding him from sons and relatives. Concerning
this, Allah, all praise and glory is to Him, says what means:
why, when the soul at death reaches the throat. And you are at that time looking
on – And Our angels are nearer to him than you, but you do not see –] [Al-Wâqi‘ah, 56: 83-85]
We notice in these glorious Ayat the Saying of Allah,
The Most Exalted: [When
the soul at death reaches the throat] [56: 83] which means
that the soul has not yet left the body completely but it has reached the
throat, and this is the last stage in its departure from the body at the hour
Hence, the account in the aforementioned Ayah is not
after taking the soul but during the time of taking it at the hour of dying. At
that time, Allah, all praise and glory is to Him, and His angels are closer to
the dying servant than all the people surrounding him. Closeness and remoteness
here is not judged based on distance but based on consciousness.
The dying person perceives and sees from the Kingdom of
Allah what the people surrounding him do not. As if he is now living in that
realm and no longer lives with them. As if everything that was hidden from him
has become an actual reality. And since it has become an actual, visible
reality the time of faith ends.
Concerning this, Allah, all praise and glory is to Him,
says what means:
[The Day that some of the Signs of your Lord do come, no
good will it do to a person to believe then, if he believed not before, nor
earned good through his Faith] [Al-An‘âm, 6: 158]
Man moves from worldly life to the life of Barzakh where
he stays until the Day of Resurrection.
As we have already
clarified the life of Barzakh has its own laws and the first of these
laws is that it timeless. Man has no sense of time in it and he is not
subjected to its laws. If those who died since the time of the Prophet Adam
(may Allah bless him and grant him peace) were resurrected, they would think
that they have spent a day or part of a day.
Concerning this, Allah, all praise and glory is to Him,
says what means:
[And on the Day that the Hour will be
established, the Mujrimûn3 will
swear that they stayed not but an hour, thus were they ever deluded4. And those who have been bestowed with
knowledge and faith will say: "Indeed you have stayed according to the
Decree of Allah, until the Day of Resurrection, so this is the Day of
Resurrection, but you knew not."] [Ar-Rûm, 30: 55-56]
Thus, we learn that when man is transferred from life to
death he becomes insensible of the time he has spent within the grave. At the
time of resurrection he thinks that he only has spent an hour or a few hours.
When the dead person descends to the grave he definitely knows his fate. He is
shown his place in Paradise and his place in Hellfire. The inhabitants of
Paradise are shown their places both in Paradise and in Hellfire. Similarly, the inhabitants of Hell are
shown their places both in Hellfire and in Paradise.
Some people may consider such a statement strange, but
there is a great wisdom behind it for Allah, all praise and glory is to Him,
has created for all His creatures places in Paradise and places in Hellfire.
So, if all creatures disobey from the time of the Prophet Adam (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) till the Day
of Resurrection they will all enter Hellfire and find their places in it.
And if all the
creatures believe and fear Allah from the time of the Prophet
Adam (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace) till the Day of Resurrection, they will all enter Paradise and find
their places in it. For Allah, all praise and glory is to Him, has prepared for
each of His servants a place in Paradise and another in Hellfire.
But why does Allah, all praise and glory is to Him, show
the inhabitants of Paradise their places in Hellfire, though they are the
people of bliss? The answer is that it is an increase in blessing. Because when
the people of Paradise only see their places in Paradise they will know the
great delights awaiting them, but still they will not know the torment they are
saved from. Therefore, seeing their places in Hell shows them the great horror
and everlasting torment they are saved from. They feel the great blessing of
being rescued from the Fire. Their happiness increases and their gratitude for
blessings is doubled while seeing what could have befallen them and Allah, by
His Mercy, has saved them from. Thus, they realize the supreme success they
This is concerning the people of Paradise, but as for
the people of Hellfire, the sight of the Fire make them feel the mighty torment
awaiting them. But this is not enough. Allah, all praise and glory is to Him,
wants to increase their sense of torment and fill their hearts with sorrows
over the sorrows that already have filled their hearts when they saw Hellfire.
Therefore, Allah shows them their places in Paradise to
make them know the greatness of the delights they are deprived from. Thus,
regret within hearts intensifies while seeing the torment awaiting them and the
delights they are deprived from.
But what will happen on the Day of Resurrection to the
places of the people of Hellfire which they will not dwell in? Allah, all
praise and glory is to Him, will make the people of Paradise inherit them. He
shall give them their own places and over them the places of those whose
destination is Hell, Allah forbid.
This way the people of Paradise not only receive their
share but also inherit other shares which have been allotted to the servants of
Allah who disbelieved, disobeyed, and thus have become from the people of the
Concerning this, Allah, all praise and glory is to Him,
says what means:
[And they will be
called, "This is Paradise, which you have been made to inherit for what
you used to do."] [Al-A‘râf, 7: 43]
And He says:
[And they will say,
"Praise to Allah, who has fulfilled for us His promise and made us inherit
the earth [so] we may settle in Paradise wherever we will. And excellent is the
reward of [righteous] workers."]
[Az-Zumar, 39: 74]
We should notice the use of the word “inherit,” for man
only inherits what has been once allotted to another person. If the people of
Paradise receive their places then inherit what have been allotted to those who
disobeyed and their destination is Hellfire, this is certainly an increase in
given delights and blessings.
While in their graves, Allah, all praise and glory is to
Him, shows the believers their places in Paradise and on the Day of
Resurrection He gives them more and make them inherit the whole Paradise.
People frequently ask us about the torment of the grave:
“Is man tortured twice? First in his grave and the other after Judgment? Or
does torment only follows Judgment?”
Before answering this question I must say that just to
see one’s place in Hellfire and be certain that this is one’s destination is
the worst torment, because expecting a calamity and awaiting it is more
tormenting that its fulfillment.
For example, if you learned that your son would die in a
car accident after a year or two, how would you feel? You would certainly live
in hell while awaiting day after another the falling of the accident.
Therefore, from the Mercy of Allah towards us is that He hid the future events,
so that our lives would not turn into continuous torment while expecting and
awaiting the evil that would befall us.
Hiding the future certainly gives us the chance to enjoy
life, which could not have been possible if we learned the future and all the
events that would take place in it.
Enough of torment for the people of the Fire to see –
while in their graves – the Hell they will remain in forever. Whenever they
turn to the right or to the left they see the Fire they will be tortured in,
and they definitely know that the Decree of Allah, all praise and glory is to
Him, will surely be executed.
As for direct torture in the grave, torture will come
after Judgment. That is after calling people to account on the Day of
When the Noble Qur’an presents the story of Pharaoh and
his entrance into the Fire along with those who followed him, Allah, all praise
and glory is to Him, says what means:
[The Fire; they are exposed to it, morning and afternoon, and
on the Day when the Hour will be established (it will be said to the angels):
"Make Fir'aun's (Pharaoh) people enter the severest torment!"]
[Ghâfir, 40: 46]
If there was an actual torment in the grave, the people
of Pharaoh would have been the first to be tortured and burned in their graves.
But exposure to the Fire, morning and evening, would certainly be a torment to
them even if they were not yet cast into it. The mere sight of the Fire would
make them scream and seek refuge from the horror to come.
To sum up, we have discussed how the humanity of man
terminates at the time of his death. End of humanity means that he is moved out
of choice to compulsion. He becomes compelled in everything after being free to
choose in the life of this world. Man while dying sees his place either in
Paradise or Hellfire. Such a sight is either glad tidings that relieves the
soul and makes it happy or a warning that disturbs the face and the signs of
fear and terror appears on it. In the life of Barzakh there is no time. And
people in the graves shall see their places either in Paradise or Hellfire,
Allah forbid. Therefore, the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant
him peace) said: “The grave is either a garden from
the gardens of Paradise, or a pit from the pits of Hellfire.”
1 The forerunners in Islamic
Faith of Monotheism and in performing righteous deeds.
3 Criminals, disbelievers,
polytheists, sinners, etc.
4 Away from the truth (i.e.
they used to tell lies and take false oaths, and turn away from the truth) in
the life of this world).