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['Aalim Network QR] Death

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|     In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the All-Merciful       |\
|Greeting of Allah be upon Muhammad and the pure members of his House |\

Salamun 'Alaykum

Allah (s.w.t) says in the Holy Quran, 

	"Kullu nafsin dhaaiqatul maut" 
	"Every soul will taste of death" (3:184)

The following question on death was kindly answered by Br. Hamid Mavani. 


Akil Karim
Acting Moderator for ABDG-A

---------- Forwarded message ----------

We are told of Heaven and Hell in the Holy Q'uran.  We are told about the
punishment of those who go against the WILL of ALLAH(swt) ie.  how they will
have their hearts come up to their throats. May they repent.

My question is about DEATH.

With as detailed an account allowable to one Mujtahed in this medium please
describe the DEATH ceremony and when the soul will realize its death.

What is told to actually happen to the person when they die?
What happens in the grave and who will question us?
What is the realm of BARZAKH?
What is the plight of the SHAHEED because it is told to us in the HOLY BOOK
not to think of them as dead?
The stories of GHOSTs that have traveled down the ancient road of INSAN are
these just manifestations of the JINN or just pure imagingation and folly?
Finally, what is the thing that we should say to keep away the evil of the
INSAN around us, this fourth dimensional evil eye, that we carry AYAT Kursi
and Wanyakat?
Maybe the history of those two Ayats would serve some benefit to us all.

Inshallah this has not been a bothersome question for you.  However, the
truth is the struggle to deal with the concept of what happens after death
is a pain that moves with us all through out our lives.  We endure to have
the final peaceful sleep yet we WONDER OF THE DREAMS THAT APPROACH US in
that realm or should I say the REALITIES.


                               Bismihi Ta'ala

The issue of death and what happens to the soul after this stage has
captivated human imagination as it deals with the unknown and
mysterious.  Many accounts on near death experiences have been written
to get a sense of what will happen after death.  On our side, many
philosphers, metaphysicists and theosophists have attempted to define
the nature of the soul but have not reached a consensus.  This is in
keeping with the Qur'anic assertion: "And they ask you about the
soul (rooh).  Say: The soul is one of the commands of my Lord, and you
are not given of the knowledge but a little." (Qur'an, 17:85)

Thus, our obligation is to believe in the generalities of death and
what ensues after it without getting bogged down in the fine and
intricate details.  Some of the hadith reports that give graphic
accounts of what will transpire after death are suspect.  The Qur'an
gives the best account and summary on this issue.  See for example
Surat-ul-Qiyamah and Mu'mineen.  Also, Najul Balagha, Khutbas 109-111.

With the above words of caution, let us proceed to understand the
phases starting with the approach of death.  "And the stupor of death
will come in truth; that is what you were trying to escape." (Qur'an
50:19)  This is the stage of sakaraat-ul-Mawt and is extremely
difficult for the soul.  It is said in Al-Kafi and in Bihar that the
pious will see the Prophet (S) and the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) whereas the
unbelievers will be stricken on their faces: "Certainly you were
heedless of it, but now We have removed from you your veil, so your
sight today is sharp." (Qur'an, 50:22)  "And had you seen the angels
will cause to die those who disbelieve, smiting their faces and their
backs, and (saying): Taste the punishment of burning." (Quran, 8:50)
In Furu al-Kafi and Bihar, it is reported on the authority of Imam
Sadiq (a.s.) that the souls of three categories of people will suffer
the most during sakaraat-ul-mawt.  They are, unjust ruler, illicit
consumer of the property of the orphan and one who gives false
testimony. Actions that alleviate the pain endured in this phase are
clothing and feeding the poor, fasting on the last day of Rajab,
prayers on the 7th night of Rajab, certain du'as that are mentioned
in Mafatih, Sura az-Zilzaal.  These are general guidelines and one
should not mechanically perform them and feel complacent that he/she
is insulated from the suffering of sakaraat-ul-mawt.  What is
important is to ensure that we conduct ourselves in the area of
human inter-relationship as ethical, moral, responsible, sensitive
and conscientious human beings.  The purpose of du'a is exactly this.

The next stage is in the grave.  This account is given in Man la
yahduruh al-faqih, Bihar and Mustadrak al-Wasa'il.  It is certainly
a terrifying and a grave phase.  Even the Prophet (S) said thrice after
burying a member of the ansaar that "I seek refuge in God from the
punishment (azaab) of the grave." It is for this reason that we recite
namaz-e wahshat to dispel some of the fear of the deceased and comfort
him/her.  There are two ways of reciting this prayer - one is to
recite Surat-ul-hamd and ayatu-ul-kursi in the first rakat; surat-ul
hamd and 10 times surah inna anzalna in the second rakat.  After
completing the prayers ask God to send the thawaab of this to the
deceased, on the first night after burial.  The second method is to
recite surat-ul-hamd and sura qul huwallah. .. two times in the first
rakat; surat-ul-hamd and sura al-haakum-ut-takathur 10 times in the
second rakat.  Thereafter, ask God to send the thawab to the deceased.
During one's lifetime one may recite sura Yasin before going to bed
and fast 12 days in the month of Sha'ban to lessen the gravity of
this period.

The next is squeezing in the grave which is mentioned in the books of
hadith.  Everyone will experience this phase so as to expiate one of the
sins commited in this life. (Bihar, 6:221) It is reported from the 8th
Imam, Ali ar-Rida (a.s.) that one who dies between noon on Thursay and
Friday noon will be spared from the squeezing in the grave.  Again, this
is a general guideline and should not be taken literally, otherwise the
Shah of Iran who raped the Iranian nation and brutally killed innocent
people should go to paradise as he died in the month of Ramadan!!  

The next phase is questioning in the grave by Munkar and Nakir on the basic
fundamentals of Islam.  This is why we recite the talqin twice to help
the deceased in answering the question.  We are asked to remain awake on
the 23rd of Ramadan and pray 100 rakats to ease this phase for us.  The
next stage is barzakh (purgatory): "Until when death overtakes one of
them, he says: Send me back, my Lord, send me back; Haply I may do good
in that which I have left. By no means! it is a (mere) word that he
speaks; and before them is a barrier (barzakh) until the day they are
raised."(Quran 23:99-100) It is this phase that the Prophet (S) and our
Imams (a.s.) were most concerned about us because they will not be able
to mediate on our behalf.  One can alleviate the suffering of the
deceased by reciting du'as and giving in charity, especially on Friday. 
One can also recite a 2 rakat prayer with al-hamd and sura inna anzalna
in the first rakat and al-hamd and sura al-kawthar in the second rakat. 
Recite at night for one's children and in the daytime for one's

The next phase is resurrection from the grave and the day of
judgment.  This can be obtained from the Qur'an.  There will be an
evaluation or report-card day (mizaan) for all of us.  If we are given
our register book on the left hand, then we are doomed.  In contrast, if
we receive it in the right hand, then we are the successful ones.  I pray
to Allah (s.w.t.) that He makes us amongst the latter group. 

I conclude by paraphrasing a profound statement by our Imam of the
oppressed, Imam Ali (a.s.) who said that O God, I do not worship You out
of fear of the hell-fire because this would be the worship of a slave. 
Nor do I worship You out of desire for the pleasures of paradise because
this would be the worship of a merchant (tujjar).  Rather I worship You
because You are worthy of worship. Thus, we should not become too
preoccupied with the punishment in hell-fire, instead we should focus our
energies in elevating ourselves spiritually and following the
legal-moral-ethical guidelines of Islam with certitude and conviction and
voluntary submit to God because He is worthy of our servitude. To protect
oneself one can recite the four quls, however, remember that no one can
harm us so long as God insulates us.  If we engage in haram and shady
activities, then we leave ourselves open and vulnerable for an attack. 
There are also hirz (ta'wiz) that our Prophet (S) and Imams (a.s.) have
given for protection. This often has become a money-making industry for
unscrupolous people who exploit the common folks.  Do not fall into this
trap. Finally, the martyrs are bestowed a high rank and will be amongst
those who will intercede (shafaa'at) on behalf of people.  See khutba
no.27 of Nahjul Balagha.  The Qur'an says: "And do not speak of those who
are slain in Allah's way as dead; nay, (they are) alive, but you do not
perceive. (Qur'an, 2: 154).  See also 3:169. 

wa bi-l-laahi-t-tawfiq,

Hamid Mavani

Sources:  Qur'an
          Nahjul Balagha
          Day of Judgment by Sayyid Akhar Rizvi
          Books of hadith
          Manazil-ul-Aakhirah by Shaykh Abbas Qummi

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