The freedom called ‘Death’

Javed Ahmad

 

Every living thing on earth must face death at an appointed time. Death is inevitable and unavoidable. It is basically a transition from a physical plane to a non-physical plane for a time being and then we will be re-created into a physical form again, with some slight difference.

 

“Every soul shall have a taste of death: And only on the Day of Judgment shall you be paid your full recompense. Only he who is saved far from the Fire and admitted to the Garden will have attained the object (of Life): For the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception.” (3:185).

 

“"Wherever ye are, death will find you out, even if ye are in towers built up strong and high!"…” (4:78).

 

“Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good by way of trial. to Us must ye return.” (21:35).

 

“He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days - and His Throne was over the waters - that He might try you, which of you is best in conduct. But if thou wert to say to them, "Ye shall indeed be raised up after death", the Unbelievers would be sure to say, "This is nothing but obvious sorcery!"” (11:7).

 

“And verily, it is We Who give life, and Who give death: it is We Who remain inheritors (after all else passes away).” (15:23).

 

Death is not to be seen as fearful matter. It is in fact a natural phenomenon that we witness almost daily. Our sleep is a form of death as the Qur’an explains -

 

“It is He who doth take your souls by night, and hath knowledge of all that ye have done by day: by day doth He raise you up again; that a term appointed be fulfilled; In the end unto Him will be your return; then will He show you the truth of all that ye did.” (6:60).

 

During sleep our soul leaves our body and then returns when we wake up. But when the actual or the final death comes our souls are taken by the angels and not to be returned –

 

“It is God that takes the souls (of men) at death; and those that die not (He takes) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed verily in this are Signs for those who reflect.” (39:42).

 

“He is the irresistible, (watching) from above over His worshippers, and He sets guardians over you. At length, when death approaches one of you, Our angels take his soul, and they never fail in their duty.” (6:61).

 

Death will be smooth as sleep for the believers, but it will be difficult for the disbelievers –

 

“If thou couldst see, when the angels take the souls of the Unbelievers (at death), (How) they smite their faces and their backs, (saying): "Taste the penalty of the blazing Fire- "Because of (the deeds) which your (own) hands sent forth; for God is never unjust to His servants…” (8:50-51).

 

We slowly move toward death as we grow old. We become like a child again when are old and frail. It is all a part of Allah’s plan –

 

“It is God who creates you and takes your souls at death; and of you there are some who are sent back to a feeble age, so that they know nothing after having known (much): for God is All-Knowing, All-Powerful.” (16:70).

 

When death befalls on us we get frightened because we are not confident enough if we are to see mercy or anger of Allah after death. It is basically a fear of unknown that works in us when we think of death. There is no coming back to life once we are dead –

 

“…(In Falsehood will they be) Until, when death comes to one of them, he says: "O my Lord! send me back (to life),- "In order that I may work righteousness in the things I neglected." - "By no means! It is but a word he says."- Before them is a Partition till the Day they are raised up. Then when the Trumpet is blown, there will be no more relationships between them that Day, nor will one ask after another! Then those whose balance (of good deeds) is heavy,- they will attain salvation: But those whose balance is light, will be those who have lost their souls, in Hell will they abide.” (23:99-103).

 

Angel Azrael (AS) is in charge of taking human souls at the time of appointed death –

 

“Say: "The Angel of Death, put in charge of you, will (duly) take your souls: then shall ye be brought back to your Lord."” (32:11).

 

All decisions on life and death are with Allah alone. It is He who appoints a time frame for us. He has the capacity to create us at will –

 

“It is He Who gives Life and Death; and when He decides upon an affair, He says to it, "Be", and it is.” (40:68).

 

The experience of death that we will gain will be the first and the last. We will be raised up again on the Day of Judgment (or Resurrection) for accountability –

 

“Say: "It is God Who gives you life, then gives you death; then He will gather you together for the Day of Judgment about which there is no doubt": But most men do not understand.” (45:26).

 

Therefore, we have been encouraged to spend in charity before death claims us –

 

“…and spend something (in charity) out of the substance which We have bestowed on you, before Death should come to any of you and he should say, "O my Lord! why didst Thou not give me respite for a little while? I should then have given (largely) in charity, and I should have been one of the doers of good".” (63:10).

 

We should wait for our death to claim us –

 

“O ye who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves in vanities: But let there be amongst you Traffic and trade by mutual good-will: Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily God hath been to you Most Merciful!” (4:29).

 

Here Allah is commanding us not to kill ourselves; meaning, not to commit suicide. This verse clearly prohibits suicide. Therefore, those of who thinks ‘suicide attacks’ are allowed in Islam are in wrong notion because it is contrary to Islamic teaching.

 

Killing of a fellow believer is prohibited in Islam. Qur’an deals strictly on this matter as the following verses reveals –

 

“Never should a believer kill a believer; but (If it so happens) by mistake, (Compensation is due): If one (so) kills a believer, it is ordained that he should free a believing slave, and pay compensation to the deceased's family, unless they remit it freely. If the deceased belonged to a people at war with you, and he was a believer, the freeing of a believing slave (Is enough). If he belonged to a people with whom ye have treaty of Mutual alliance, compensation should be paid to his family, and a believing slave be freed. For those who find this beyond their means, (is prescribed) a fast for two months running: by way of repentance to God: for God hath all knowledge and all wisdom. If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (For ever): And the wrath and the curse of God are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him.” (4:92-93).

 

We need to reflect strongly on these verses to contemplate and realize what sort of evil we do on a daily basis when we kill people in ‘cross fires’, murder during mugging, raping, burglary, stealing, or even out of jealousy in political conflicts. What we are basically doing is killing fellow believers in some sort of rivalry thus committing serious sin against our own souls.

 

Like the days of ignorance (Jahilia) we are witnessing of killing of children in our society. Allah prohibits this act in the Qur’an –

 

“Say: "Come, I will rehearse what God hath (really) prohibited you from": Join not anything as equal with Him; be good to your parents; kill not your children on a plea of want;- We provide sustenance for you and for them;- come not nigh to shameful deeds. Whether open or secret; take not life, which God hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom.” (6:151).

 

It is Allah who takes care of all living creatures. It is He who provides sustenance; therefore, it is wrong to kill a child.

 

“Kill not your children for fear of want: We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you. Verily the killing of them is a great sin.” (17:31).

 

“Lost are those who slay their children, from folly, without knowledge, and forbid food which God hath provided for them, inventing (lies) against God. They have indeed gone astray and heeded no guidance.” (6:140).

 

The penalty of murder according to the teaching in the Qur’an is as follows –

 

“O ye who believe! the law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the woman for the woman. But if any remission is made by the brother of the slain, then grant any reasonable demand, and compensate him with handsome gratitude, this is a concession and a Mercy from your Lord. After this whoever exceeds the limits shall be in grave penalty.” (2:178).

 

Unfortunately, our penalty system is not based on Islamic principles as a result we do not see any control on these crimes. Ironically, our constitution do mandate to implement laws according to the Islamic principles, but it is not done that way by our political party based governments; nor our people demands for it.

 

Murder is often done on selfish grounds –

 

“The (selfish) soul of the other led him to the murder of his brother: he murdered him, and became (himself) one of the lost ones. Then Allah sent a raven, who scratched the ground, to show him how to hide the shame of his brother. "Woe is me!" said he; "Was I not even able to be as this raven, and to hide the shame of my brother?" then he became full of regrets- On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.” (5:30-32).

 

The point to note in the above verses is – “…unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people…. This is one of the most recalled verses of the Qur’an that is quoted when a reference to well being of mankind is made.

 

Through out the Qur’an the believers (i.e., the Muslims) are asked to stand up for truth and justice and fight if necessary for the cause of Allah to enjoin good and forbid evil. But what we witness today is brothers fighting against brothers for petty quarrels and selfish reasons thus becoming eligible for hell fire. On the other hand, the disbelievers are randomly killing and murdering innocent believers around the world on false pretexts and the Muslim world is not reacting to it. Plots after plots are framed under false flags and setups, yet the Muslims are silent.

 

The people who are getting killed for no reason will find themselves liberated in the heaven, whereas the people who are committing the crime will find themselves in the hell fire. Therefore, the murderers and killers are actually doing favor to the murdered and killed ones but setting them free from this painful world through the ultimate passage called – the death.

 

“The life of this world is alluring to those who reject faith, and they scoff at those who believe. But the righteous will be above them on the Day of Resurrection; for God bestows His abundance without measure on whom He will.” (2:212).

 

Those who think they would get away with murder and killing should know that they will be charged for their committed crimes one day. Therefore, justice will be done and there will be no escape from it. Their disbelief in after life would not do them any good –

 

“O mankind! if ye have a doubt about the Resurrection, (consider) that We created you out of dust, then out of sperm, then out of a leech-like clot, then out of a morsel of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed, in order that We may manifest (our power) to you; and We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term, then do We bring you out as babes, then (foster you) that ye may reach your age of full strength; and some of you are called to die, and some are sent back to the feeblest old age, so that they know nothing after having known (much), and (further), thou seest the earth barren and lifeless, but when We pour down rain on it, it is stirred (to life), it swells, and it puts forth every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs). This is so, because God is the Reality: it is He Who gives life to the dead, and it is He Who has power over all things. And verily the Hour will come: there can be no doubt about it, or about (the fact) that God will raise up all who are in the graves.” (22:5-7).

 

“But those endued with knowledge and faith will say: "Indeed ye did tarry, within God's Decree, to the Day of Resurrection, and this is the Day of Resurrection: but ye - ye were not aware!"” (30:56).

 

A complete chapter # 75 called the “Rising of the dead” or “Resurrection” in the Qur’an has been dedicated on this topic to show its importance. Here it is –

 

“I do call to witness the Resurrection Day; And I do call to witness the self-reproaching spirit: (Eschew Evil). Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones? Nay, We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers. But man wishes to do wrong (even) in the time in front of him. He questions: "When is the Day of resurrection?" At length, when the sight is dazed, And the moon is buried in darkness. And the sun and moon are joined together,- That Day will Man say: "Where is the refuge?" By no means! No place of safety! Before thy Lord (alone), that Day will be the place of rest. That Day will Man be told (all) that he put forward, and all that he put back. Nay, man will be evidence against himself, Even though he were to put up his excuses. Move not thy tongue concerning the (Qur'an) to make haste therewith. It is for Us to collect it and to promulgate it: But when We have promulgated it, follow thou its recital (as promulgated): Nay more, it is for Us to explain it (and make it clear): Nay, (ye men!) but ye love the fleeting life, And leave alone the Hereafter. Some faces, that Day, will beam (in brightness and beauty);- Looking towards their Lord; And some faces, that Day, will be sad and dismal, In the thought that some back-breaking calamity was about to be inflicted on them; Yea, when (the soul) reaches to the collar-bone (in its exit), And there will be a cry, "Who is a magician (to restore him)?" And he will conclude that it was (the Time) of Parting; And one leg will be joined with another: That Day the Drive will be (all) to thy Lord! So he gave nothing in charity, nor did he pray!- But on the contrary, he rejected Truth and turned away! Then did he stalk to his family in full conceit! Woe to thee, (O men!), yea, woe! Again, Woe to thee, (O men!), yea, woe! Does man think that he will be left uncontrolled, (without purpose)? Was he not a drop of sperm emitted (in lowly form)? Then did he become a leech-like clot; then did (God) make and fashion (him) in due proportion. And of him He made two sexes, male and female. Has not He, (the same), the power to give life to the dead?” (75:1-40).

 

Death is the ultimate liberation from this world. Either it is a natural death or a victimized death, the soul is released from the body when death takes place. The soul would eventually be free after the Day of Judgment and the physical bodies will be re-created for the souls to live an immortal life either in heaven or hell depending on what is decided on the Day of Resurrection. Personally, when I get fed-up and tired of this life, I often thank my Lord thinking that this life would end one day and I will be free!

 

References:

 

Faith, Logic and the Truth: http://www.bangladesh-web.com/view.php?hidRecord=310287

 

My Near Death Experience (NDE): http://javedahmad.tripod.com/canada/nde.htm