Monday, 27 June 2011




I like to listen to the Islamic lectures given by the local Arab scholars. Alhamdulillah, I have been privileged and blessed to have learnt the Arabic language well enough that I can now understand, at least quite extensively, the message that these learned scholars are trying to get across to their audiences. And we are also quite blessed in that we in Saudi Arabia are living witnesses to a rise in the attention given to both learning as well as the responsible spreading of such important Islamic knowledge and awareness.

The khutbah (Friday sermon) in one of the local masajid yesterday focused upon the topic of death, the end of this earthly life, and how or what to do (or what to know) in order to prepare for it. The following recourse is merely one small sub-topic within the longer topic covered in the sermon.

To begin with, it is important to recall the realization that the life of this world is merely momentary in relation to the everlasting nature of eternity. This earth and the life and experiences we endure of this world are merely a passing stage and truly a testing ground. We are directed by Allah as He states in the Quran: 'Don't forget your portion of this world (ad-dunya)' s. 28, v. 77. Yet, while we strive daily to take and enjoy what we can from this life, we should be quite careful to do so within the realms of what Islam deems as legal and permissible. And all the while building towards a good future for the ever-lasting eternity. The life which is the ultimate life of which there is no more death nor end.

Just as a young adult will much of the time be concerned to work hard while he/she is young and able-saving here and there-cautious to save towards building an account for the time later in life when old age or infirmity sets in, so should we as Muslims work hard in this life-taking of it within the legal realms of Islamic teachings enough to sustain us for this life, all the while doing deeds which will build our account with Allah in order to help us at that grave time when we ourselves will be taken to account.

We are told by Allah that He created the jinns and mankind for worshipping Him. (s. 51, v. 56) And this earthly life is the testing ground to sift out the true believers from those who reject and the hypocrites. The angels were also created for worshipping Him-but they were not endowed with a free will such as the humans and jinns. Hence, their 'angelic' behavior and nature-they worship and praise Allah and serve Him in every respect exactly as what they were created for, without ever having to make a choice between right and wrong. Whereas the humans and the jinn have been given a free will to choose to worship Him or not. Hence, the revelation of the message of Islam to give us proper direction as to how to find our way to worship Allah and please Him, and to find the path towards gaining entrance to Heaven, and salvation from Hell.

There are four stages of testing attack upon each individual human. The first of these being the death of this earthly body-marking the end of this worldly life, and the first stage of further progression towards eternity. As we are told by Allah in His book, each soul must taste death. (s. 3, v. 185) But prepare yourselves, for it is something of which it's time and place and manner which is known only to Allah. It comes upon each and everyone of us quite suddenly, unexpectedly, and unannounced.

The second of these stages of trial and attack upon the person is the reception and division of the inheritance by the rightful heirs. Sadly, a strong and overbearing inborn inclination of mankind is that of selfish greed. And it is also sadly true and quite common that one of the major times of life that this selfish greed surfaces is after the death of a loved one. Many a story has been reported of previously loving and caring family members (loving and caring while their common-denominator-loved one was still alive) turning into vipers only shortly after the death-some even as early as the time of the burial-of their loved one. Vipers arguing over the inheritance, as do vultures over a fresh open carcass. Do not expect or hope that they would be so generous or so loving as to put what you have left from this life towards charity or for the cause of Allah. So, if you wish to build up your account in the Heavenly Bank, make proper preparations and steps towards that while you have the ability and chance to do so. Remember that with the end of this earthly life, so also ends all ability and chance for repentance and accumulating good deeds and building up that account in the Bank of the Heavens. Any account of money or assets you build up for this world are for your pleasures and benefit only of this temporary life-this short passage before going on for eternity. Therefore, if you wish or hope to get any pleasure or benefit out of money or assets you are blessed with in this life, ensure that by turning it over to Allah and His Cause while you are still in this life and able to do so. Some simple ideas on how to build such a Heavenly Bank Account, or to accrue such Heavenly assets: build a masjid, dontate money towards building or furnishing a masjid, establish a charitable trust fund, or donate to an already established charity, donate what you may have in money or assets towards anything in this life of which you ar assured is work in the Cause of Allah (i.e. helping orphans, widows, the disabled, providing or funding halaqahs for Quran, etc.) Anything you pay during this life along this line will be of extremem benefit to you in the next life. And remember to do so of course within the realms of the Islamic teachings (i.e. the allowance or permissibility of donating one third of your property to charity-the rest is the rightful inheritance for your heirs).

The third stage of fitnah or attach upon the person is the decaying of the physical body in the grave. The traditional and common Arabic phrase for this stage, translated as 'the worms' is quite a vivid and all-encompassing description, albeit short, of this quite terrifying stage. And, as is true of the other three stages-something that none of us can escapte nor avoid. Do not assume that this stage will be painless or without feeling. Since none of us (of past nor present nor future) can pass through any of these four stages and then return to this life to give first-hand report of it, our knowledge of these stages is quite limited and narrow to only that which Allah has chosen to reveal to us. Hence, many unimaginable and quite unexpected things may very well be possible. As for the process of the decaying of the physical body, it is well established that some sort of worm and/or bug eats away at the flesh till nothing is left but dust and bones. Some have reported that the worm or bug that eats away at this flesh is in fact a parasite that is living within each of us, and exits only after the death about a day or so to being it's task of cleaning the bones of all flesh. And yet others report or assume that the worms and/or bogs come out of the earth itself upon the smell of the burial of a freshly dead body. And only Allah knows best exactly how this process takes place. What we know for sure is that somehow, the flesh of the body decays to leave only dust and bones remaining. And it is a great blessing indeed, that mankind was given the inspiration from the first of mankind to die, that of one of Adam's sons, to bury their dead so that as a mercy to the remaining humans to witness, they are not first hand witness to this process of the decaying of the bones. The only thing that they may see from time to time, for any reason whatsoever, is the remaining of the cleaned bones free of all decayed flesh.

The fourth, last, and perhaps most important and frightening stage, is that of the standing for account before the Ultimate Judge-Allah. Although each of the previous three stages are equally important in their own right, for the passage towards the eternal and final existence can be attained only by passing through them, still this final stage of taking account holds a position of greater importance and authority because of it's basic defining and determining nature. It is clearly what it's name indicates-a passage or stage of taking each individual to account for his/her deeds and sayings during the testing period of the earthly life. Here lies the resulting importance of learning and adhering to the Divine Guidance. We will each have to stand alone in front of Allah, with no help or defense in our favor other than those deeds or actions we did in this life for seeking reward and the pleasure of Allah. And once Allah has taken us to account for everything-that which is small as well as big, that which was hidden as well as public,-we will be taken to account for the trespasses we made against our fellow humans. And the gravest of these trespasses against our fellow humans is that of gossip. Each one we may have gossiped about will have a right over us just as we ourselves will have a right over them for their gossips on us. And that right will be that they will be able to take away from any of our remaining good deeds (if there is anything remaining after Allah takes us to account). And once the good deeds have all dwindled away, and anyone still has a right over us, they will be given the option to transfer to us from their bad deeds, in accordance to their right over us. Imagine that you have a right over someone because of their gossip of you in this life. And couple with that that you cannot take from them their good deeds, for their stock of good deeds is now completely depleted. Now you have the option to transfer to them from your stock pile of bad deeds, in compensation for taking from their good deeds. Surely, you will not be so gracious as to transfer any weak bad deeds to those whom you realize have gossiped and back-talked about you. No, you would more than likely hand over the heaver bad deeds to those souls.

And then, after we have passed through all four stages, will be the descension of the final deciding factor upon which our fate of eternal abode lies upon is dependent. Truly, it is the Mercy of Allah which will admit us into His Heavens and Eternal Peace and Happiness.

But will we be deserving of His Mercy? Did we accumulate enough good deeds to attain His Mercy? Did we humble ourselves in asking for His Mercy? Did we do those deeds purely for His Sake in seeking His Mercy and His Pleasure? Or did we have some other ulterior earthly motive behind our actions? Did we take heed of the message of guidance sent to us, seeking His Pleasure, or did we arrogantly ignore that message, encruing His Wrath upon us? I seek refuge with Allah from the terrible fate of His Wrath, and I humbly ask Him to bestow upon us His Divine Guidance and to shed His never-ending Mercy over us all. May Allah forgive us our sins and trespasses and open the gates of the Heavens for us to enter Paradise in Peace and Safety. Ameen.


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