Hane’, the servant of Uthman, Radi Allahu Anhu, recalls, “Whenever Uthman (RAA) would stand over a grave he used to cry, his beard would moisten from the tears. Some would ask him, ‘When Heaven and Hell are mentioned you do not cry, but when the grave is mentioned you collapse crying, how come?’ He (RAA) would say: I hear the Prophet (SAAS) say, ‘the grave is the first stage of the Hereafter, whoever passes it will be at ease after it, and if he does not pass it he will be in the most horrific of conditions.’ I also heard him say, ‘Never have I seen a sight more horrifying than the graveyard.’
In the hadith of Jibraeel, when he came to the Prophet (SAAS) and asked him about Islam, Eeman, and Ihsan, the Prophet (SAAS) said about Eeman, “Eeman is to believe in Allah, His Angels, His books, His Messengers, the Final Day, and divine decree, the good and the bad thereof.” Today we shall talk about the Final Day. It has been asked, “when shall the Final Day be?” Dear Brothers and Sisters, the Final Day begins when you die. And that shall be our topic for today: What happens after death.
In the battle of Uhud, the Shuhada’, after seeing their reward and honor with Allah Ta’ala, longed to tell their brothers that had not yet met martrydom of the blessing that they had recieved. The Prophet (SAAS) said, “When your brothers were martyred at Uhud, Allah placed their souls inside green birds which drink from the rivers of Paradise, eat of it’s fruits and seek shelter in lamps of gold which are suspended in the shade of the Arsh (the throne) When they saw how beautiful their food, drink, and abode was, they pleaded, “Who will tell our brothers about us, that we are alive in Paradise and being amply provided for, so that they will not turn away from Jihad or abandon the battlefields. Allah ta’ala said: “I shall tell them!” The verse was then sent down:
[Think not of those who are killed in the Way of Allah as dead, Nay, they are alive with their Lord, provided for/ They rejoice in what Allah has bestowed upon them of His Bounty, rejoicing for the sake of those who have not yet joined them (i.e. not yet martyred) that on them no fear shall come, nor shall they grieve.] – Aali Imran 3/169-170
Let us sit and listen to a lesson given by the Prophet (SAAS) himself, the journey of the soul. You will be taking this journey soon. Narrated Al-Baraa’ ibn ‘Aazib (RAA): We followed the Prophet (SAAS) out to attend the funeral of one of the Ansar men. When we reached the grave – before the man was buried – the Prophet (SAAS) sat down (facing the Qiblah) and we sat down encircling him. We sat still as if birds were on our heads, silent. The Prophet (SAAS) had a stick in his hand with which he would scratch up the sand. [He gazed at the sky and then down to the ground, repeating this three times] Then he said, “Seek the protection of Allah from the punishment of the Grave.” He then continued, “When the believing soul is reaching the end of his time on earth, starting out in the hereafter, angels with white faces shining like the sun descend upon him from heaven, bringing with them one of the shourds of Paradise and Hanoot. They sit down around him as far as the eye can see. Then the Angel of Death comes and sits by his head and pronounces, ‘O blessed soul, come out to the forgiveness and pleasure of Allah.’ The soul will then come out like a drop of water coming out of the mouth of a waterskin. And the Angel of Death will take it. [Until his soul comes out, every angel between the heavens and earth will pray for him, as will every angel in heaven. The gates of heaven will be opened for im, and the people in every level of heaven will pray to Allah to permit his soul to ascend through their domain.
When the (Angel of Death) has taken the soul, the (other angels) do not leave it in his hand for a moment; immediatly they take it and wrap in the shroud and scent it with Hanoot. This is the meaning of Allah’s words:
[…When death approaches any of you, Our Angels take his soul, and they never fail in their duty.]
– An’am 6/61
At that moment a scent shall emerge from the soul, a scent not unlike the finest musk found on earth. They shall take the soul up (to the heavens) and whenever they pass a group of angels, the (angels) will remark, ‘Who is this blessed soul?’ They will say, ‘It is so-and-so, the son of so-and-so’ using the best names that they were addressed with in this world.
(They shall go on) until they reach the first heaven. They shall ask for it to be opened and it shall open for them. In each heaven, those who are closest to Allah will accompany him to the next heaven until they reach the seventh heaven, where Allah – Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala – will say, ‘Register the book of My slave in ‘illiyyun.’
[And what will explain to you what ‘Illiyyun is? (It is) a register (fully) inscribed, to which bear witness those nearest to Allah] Mutaffifoon 83/19-21.
So his book will be registered in Illiyun. Then Allah (SWT) will say, ‘Take him back to the earth for this was my promise: I created them from it, I shall return them to it, and I will resurrect them from it again.
He will be taken back to the earth, and his soul will be returned to his body. [And he will hear the footsteps of his companions as they leave him.] Two stern Angels will come to him, [rebuke him] and sit him up. They will ask him, ‘Who is your Lord?’ He will answer, ‘My Lord is Allah.’ They will ask him, ‘What is your religion?’ He will say, ‘My religion is Islam.’ They will ask him, ‘Who is this man who was sent among you?’ He will say, ‘He is the Messenger of Allah (SAAS).’
Yu Thabbitul Allahu al ladheena Aamanu bil Qawl ath-thabiti fil Hayatid Dunya wa fil Aakhirah
A voice will call from Heaven, ‘My slave has spoken the Truth, so furnish his grave from Paradise and clothe him from Paradise, and open for him a gate to Paradise.’ Some of its breeze and scent will reach him, and his grave will be widened for him as far as the eye can see. There will appear before him a handsome, well dressed, and finely scented man, saying, ‘I bring you good news which shall make you happy. I bring you good news of the good pleasure of Allah and Gardens of eternal blessing. This is the day you were promised.’ He will say, ‘And you, may Allah give you better news, who are you?’ He will say, ‘I am your good deeds, and by Allah I only ever saw you hastening to obey Allah, and ever reluctant to disobey Him, so may Allah reward you with good.’
Then a gate of Paradise and a gate of Hell will open for him. And it will be said, ‘this is your place if you had disobeyed Allah, but Allah has fiven you this instead of that.’ When he sees what is in Paradise he will say, ‘My Lord! Hasten the coming of the Hour…’ It will be said, ‘Dwell in patience.’
As for the Disbelieving (corrupt) man, when he leaves this world and enters the Hereafter, stern and harsh angels come down to him from heaven, their faces are black and they bring with them sack-cloth from Hell. They sit around him as far as the eye can see. Then the Angel of Death comes and sits at his head and says, ‘ Come out O evil soul to the anger and wrath of Allah!’
The soul will be dragged out of his body with as much difficulty as a many-pronged skewer being dragged through wet wool (the veins and nerves will be destroyed by it.)
He will be cursed by every angel between the heaven and the earth, and by every angel in the heaven. The gates of heaven will be locked and the people of every heaven will pray to Allah to not allow his soul to ascend through their domain. He will take it and immediately put it into the sack-cloth, stinking like the foulest stench of dead flesh ever experienced on earth. They will take the soul up and whenever they take it past a group of angels, they will say, ‘Who is this evil soul?’ They shall say, ‘It is so-and-so, son of so-and-so,’ using the worst names he was addressed with on earth.
(They will go on) until they reach the first heaven; they will ask for it to be opened for them, and it will not be opened. (Then the Messenger of Allah – SAAS – recited):
[..No opening will there be of the gates of heaven, nor will they enter the Garden, until the camel can pass through the eye of the needle..] A’raf 7:40
Allah ta’ala will say register his book in Sijjin, in the lowest earth. Then Allah will say, take him back to the earth for this was my promise; I created it from it, i will return them to it, and i shall resurrect them from it again. So his soul will be thrown down from heaven until it reaches his body. Then he recited:
[..If anyone asigns partners to Allah, he is as if he had fallen from heaven and been snatched up by birds, or the wind had swooped (like a bird on its prays) and thrown him into a far distant place.]Al-Hajj 22:31
So his soul will be returned to his body ( and he will hear the footsteps of his companions when they leave him ). Two stern angels will come to him, rebuke him and sit him up. They will ask him, ‘Who is your Lord?’ He will say, Haa Haa, I do not know. They will ask him. ‘What is your religion?’ He will say, ‘Haa Haa, I do not know. They will ask ‘What do you say about this man who was sent among you? He will not even know his name. But he will be told. Muhammad. And he will say, ‘Haa Haa, I do not know. I heard the people saying such and such.’ He will be told May you never know.’
Then a voice will call from heaven and will say, ‘He has lied. Furnish his grave from Hell and open for him a gate from hell.’ So some of his heat and venom will reach him and his grave will be constricted until his ribs are crushed together.
There will appear before him a man with an ugly face, badly dressed, and foul smelling. He will say, ‘I bring you bad news, this is the day you were promised. He will say, ‘and you, may Allah give you even worse news! Who are you? Your face brings bad news!’ He will say, ‘I am your evil deeds, by Allah I only ever saw you reluctant to obey Allah and ever eager to disobey Him. May allah repay you with evil.’
Then there will be sent to him one who is blind , deaf , and dunb. Who will carry in his hand an iron rod which if he were to beat a camel with it, it would turn to dust. He will beat him with it until he turns to dust. Then Allah will restore him then he will be beaten again. He will emit a scream which the whole of creation will hear except men and jinn. Then a gate will be open for him to hell. And his grave will be furnished from hell. He will say, ‘My Lord, may the hour never come.’
This is the journey we shall all take. How many have stopped to think about and prepare for this journey. If you were given warning that the Angel of Death would visit you after Maghrib, what would you do till then? Wouldn’t you pray continously and cry at Asr Salah. Wouldn’t you give Sadaqah and throw this world from your heart. Wouldn’t you come back to Allah with a sincere repentance. One day, not too far from now, you will be going back to your Lord and He will ask you all of that which you did.
Bukayr ibn Aamir said, “If it was said to Abd Ar-Rahman ibn Abi Nu’aym that the Angel of Death was about to visit him (and take his soul) he would not find room for any extra actions. (i.e. He lived his day as if the Angel of Death were coming at night, and lived his night as if the Angel of Death were coming in the morning!)
Very often after someone dies, relatives and friends want to give that person rewards while he is in the grave. This is something recognized by the Shariah in certain cases:
Firstly: Making Dua’ for the deceased. This is understood from the institution of Janazah Salah when everyone gathers to pray sincerely for the dead body.
Secondly: The Deceased feels comfort from the presence of the community after the burial for a period of the time taken to sacrifice a camel and distribute it’s meat.
Amr ibn Al-AAs (RA) said, “When you bury me, stay around my grave for the time it would take to sacrifice a camel and distribute it’s meat, so that i may be comforted by your presence, until i see how I shall answer the Messengers of my Lord” [Muslim]
Thirdly: A Dua’ of strength and forgiveness (not in congregation) for the deceased immediatly after he is buried.
Uthman ibn Affan (RA) said, “Whenever the Prophet (SAAS) had finished burying someone, he would stand by the grave and say, ‘Ask forgiveness and strength for your brother, for at this moment he is being questioned.'”
The Prophet (SAAS) said, “When a person dies his deeds are cut off except for three: continuous charity, knowledge that benefits others, or a pious son/daughter who will pray for them.”
After death, people try to give rewards to the dead in a manner that is in many times against the principles of the Quran and Sunnah. Some follow traditions passed down through their fathers, others do it as a source of income.
The main phenomenon that happens is the Quran Khani, where people gather, each participant given a part of the Quran to read, afterwhich a feast is served. And some claim that the food is food of charity meant to be on behalf of the deceased. In modern times, some even distribute invitation cards and all types of food are prepared and enjoyed on what is meant to be a sorrowful occasion.
In many countries of the Muslim Ummah this is a normal practice, and certain days are fixed for this Quran Khani: the 3rd day, then the 7th day, the 10th and 40th, and then annually. And unfortunately, this practice is often given more importance than some Fard duties, hence the scholars have considered it to be an innovation (bid’ah) and sinful. This is the opinion of the Ulema’. Ibn Al-Humam Al-Hanafi said in Fath Al-Qadeer, a renowned book on the fiqh of Abu Hanifah, “Gathering to feast at the house of the deceased is a sign of joy and happiness. And to do so is bid’ah.”
These practices are taken from the Hindu religion, as a famous Historian, Al-Bairooni (303 AH) mentions in his book, Kitaab Al-Hind, “Hindus have fixed days and dates for the deceased person’s family on which they should invite people and provide food, etc.. (the 11th day after death, 15th, annually and specifically the sixth day of the month). The family members are expected to provide food and water for nine days. Otherwise, according to the Hindu belief, the soul of the deceased will wander in hunger and thrist around the home.”
In support of this, another Indian scholar, Ubaid Ullah also mentions, “Every year a certain date is fixed when they try to convey rewards to the deceased. This tradition is named ‘Saraadh’. When preparation of food for the Saraadh is done, no one may touch it until the Hindu Priest (Pandit) comes and blesses it by reading something.” From Tuhfatul Hind, p.91.
Muslims are only following these practices giving it a different name. In place of a Pandit, an Imam is called to bless the food, etc. And if someone does not want to come to the Quran Khani for fear it is against what the Prophet (SAAS) came with, for fear that it is against Islam, for fear that it will be rejected by Allah, the people and the community condemn him and say he is disrespecting the dead and is against giving rewards to the deceased.
And finally, when someone dies we see people telling others to recite Al-Fatiha. This is an act which requires proof from the Quran or Sunnah or Sahabah because that person is specifiying a time and fixed verses to recite, something which can only be specified by Allah and His Messenger.
What do we do then when someone dies?
1.We should make food for the deceased family, they should not make food for the visitors as they are in a state of sorrow and the last thing they want to do is cook for dozens of people. The Prophet (SAAS) said, “Make food for the family of Ja’far..”
2.Condolences should be given to the family of the deceased, but there is no fixed place for this. It could be in the Masjid, on the street, or at their house. However, if it is at their house, we should not spend too long lounging in their living room. It should be a short visit.
3.We should have sympathy and make a dua of forgiveness for the person. This is what the Prophet (SAAS) used to do and his companions likewise.
If you want Thawab, now dear brothers and sisters is the time to collect it. Ali ibn Abi Talib stood with a companion of his near a grave one day and asked him, “If he could come back to this Dunya, what do you think he would do?” He replied, “He would do nothing but good deeds.” The Ali (RAA) said, “If it is not going to be him, then let it be you!”