Death and the Grave
"And the agony of death comes with the Truth; that is what you used to flee from!" [(50) Qaaf, 19] Death is the separation of the soul from the body, and we all know that it is inevitable. It is the event which marks our transition from this world into the Hereafter. Whenever `Uthman radiallahu `anhu used to stand over a grave, he used to weep until his beard became soaked. Someone said to him, “Heaven and Hell are mentioned, and you do not weep, and [yet] the grave is mentioned, and you weep, [how is this] ?" He said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) say : The grave is the first stage of the Hereafter. So, if he is saved from it, that which is after it will be easier, whereas if he is not saved from it, then that which is after it will be more severe." (Related by Tirmidhi)
Belief in the Last Day:
The death is an integral part of the Islamic doctrine. Although the existence of the Hereafter is rationally admissible, the exact details of it can only be acquired through communication from the Creator, for these events fall in the realm of the Unseen. Thus, all one may demand as proofs in this matter are verses of the Qur'an and authentic ahadith. Having become convinced of the veracity of the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu `alayhe wa-sallam, the believer has no hesitance in accepting what he has brought.
As we have already mentioned, death is the separation of the soul from the body. The precise nature of the soul is beyond our comprehension. The Prophet sallallahu `alayhe wa-sallam was asked about the soul twice; once in Makkah by the Quraysh (as related by Ahmad), and once in Madinah by the Jews (as related by Bukhari and Muslim). On the authority of `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud radiallahu `anhu : He said : [Once,] while I was walking with the Prophet sallallahu `alayhe wa-sallam in a garden, and he was leaning on a palm-branch, some Jews passed by. Some of them said, “Ask him about the soul.” Others said, “Don’t ask him [in case he tells you something you will dislike to hear].” But [eventually] they asked him about the soul. They said, “O Muhammad, what is the soul?” He continued leaning on the palm- branch [and did not reply immediately]. I asserted that he must be receiving inspiration [and so I stayed put]. Then, [when the inspiration had descended] he said, “They ask you about the soul. Say : the soul is of my Lord’s decree, and you have been given only a little knowledge.” [(17) Al-Israa, 85] (Related by Ahmad and Bukhari)
The human soul differs from that of animals in that it is accountable. However, the souls of those who turn away from the truth, shun guidance and persist in satisfying their base lusts, become lower in status. They are no better than animals, and Allah has cautioned us against such behavior : "Recite to them the account of he to whom We gave Our signs, but he extricated himself from them, and Satan caused him to follow him, so that he became one of the misguided. And, if We had willed, We would have elevated him by means of them, but he clung to the earth and followed his desires. Therefore, his likeness is the likeness of the dog; if you prompt him, he lolls out his tongue, but if you leave him, he [still] lolls out his tongue.” [(7) Al-A`raaf, 175- 176]
Departure from this world
"Until, when death comes to one of them, he says, 'My Lord! Send me back, in order that I might work righteousness in that which I have left [behind]!’ By no means! It is only a word which he says. And behind them is a barrier until the day when they will be raised up. [(23) Al-Mu’minun, 99-100] This verse makes it quite clear that there is no returning to this world after death, nor is there any reprieve. “Allah does not reprieve any soul when its [appointed] term has come.” [(63) Al-Munafiqoon, 11]
Angels descend upon the good believers at the time of death, and give them glad tidings of Heaven. "Those who say, 'Our Lord is Allah,' and then remain upright, angels descend upon them, [saying], ‘Fear not, nor grieve, and receive glad tidings of the Garden which you had been promised. We are you friends and protectors in this world and in the Hereafter.'” [(41) Fussilat, 30] Angels also come to the disbelievers, but rather than comforting them, they beat them. “If only you could see when the angels receive the disbelievers, striking their faces and their backs, and [saying] : Taste the punishment of the Inferno! That is because of what your own hands prepared, and Allah is not at all unjust to [His] servants.” [(8) Al-Anfaal, 50]
The extraction of the soul occurs either gently or roughly, depending on the person's worldly conduct. Then, the soul is clothed and perfumed, either pleasantly or unpleasantly, again depending on the person's belief. The angels carry the soul upwards, towards the seventh heaven. The gates of the heavens open for believing souls, and Allah manifests Himself to them before they are returned to their graves. On the other hand, "Those who deny Our signs and remain arrogant before them, the gates of the sky do not open for them." [(7) Al-A`raaf, 40] The disbeliever’s soul is therefore cast back to the earth in disgrace. “And whoever associates others with Allah, it is as if he has fallen from the sky, and is seized by the birds, or dropped by the wind in a distant place.” [(22) Al-Hajj, 31]
The Life of the Grave
After this upward excursion, the soul is returned to the body in the grave, and this marks the start of what is often called the Life of the Grave. The return of the soul to the body is not to the same extent as it was during the worldly life; rather, it is only to a small extent, the soul's presence being even less than that during sleep. The primary purpose of this is to allow the dead person to respond to the Questioning of the Grave. The Prophet sallallahu `alayhe wa-sallam said, "When a servant is laid in his grave and his friends have turned away from him and he hears the footfalls of their sandals, two angels come to him, sit him upright, and ask him, 'What used you to say about this man Muhammad?' The believer will answer, 'I testify that he is the slave of Allah and His Messenger', and it will be said, 'Look at your place in Hell, Allah has changed it for a place in Heaven', and he will behold both of them. As for the hypocrite or the disbeliever, he will [also] be asked, ‘What used you to say about this man?’ but he will reply, ‘I do not know; I [merely] used to say what people said.’ He will be told, ‘You did not know, nor did you follow [one who knew],’ and [then] he will be struck a blow with iron hammers, whereupon he will cry out with a scream which is heard by [all] those around him, other than humans and jinn.” (Related by Bukhari.) Other narrations add that these angels are named Munkar and Nakeer, and their appearance is very terrifying. They ask three questions in all, the first two being “Who is your Lord?” and “What is your religion?”, and the third being about the Prophet sallallahu `alayhe wa-sallam, as mentioned in the narration above. “Allah fortifies the believers with the strengthening word” [(14) Ibrahim, 27], allowing them to answer the questions correctly, and then they sleep peacefully and pleasantly until the Day of Judgement. Sinful Muslims and disbelievers, however, are liable to be punished during this time.
Grave Punishment is a reality
On the authority of `A'ishah radiallahu `anha : a Jewess entered upon her and said, "May Allah grant you refuge from the Punishment of the Grave." So, `A'ishah asked the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhe wa-sallam about grave-punishment, whereupon he said, "Yes. Grave-punishment is a reality." `A'ishah said, "I never saw the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhe wa-sallam offer any prayer thereafter in which he did not seek refuge with Allah from grave-punishment." (Related by Bukhari and Muslim.)
It is obligatory to believe in grave punishment. The primary Qur'anic evidence for it is in the account of Pharoah and his disbelieving kin. "The Fire; they are exposed to it by morning and afternoon. And, on the Day the Hour is established, (it will be said), 'Enter the Household of Pharoah (into) the severest punishment." [(40) Ghafir, 46] This verse is quite explicit that the punishment they are receiving is prior to the Day of Judgement, i.e. during the life of the grave. There is also abundant evidence in the authentic sunnah, such as the following hadith : The Prophet passed by two graves, and said about their occupants, “They are being punished for something which was not serious [according to them], but, indeed it was serious. One of them used to spread tales [in order to cause mischief and enmity between people], and the other used not to free himself from [traces of] urine.” Then, he took a fresh palm-leaf stalk, split it in two halves, and implanted one in each grave. He was asked, “O Messenger of Allah! Why have you done that?” He said, “[The punishment] might be lightened for them, as long as [the two stalks] do not dry up." (Related by Bukhari and Muslim.)
Exceptions from the Punishment
Prophets and martyrs are exempted from grave punishment. The martyr is also exempted from the questioning, because the clashing of swords above his head was a sufficient trial for him. However, everyone other than the prophets is liable to be subjected to a squeezing from the grave on their sides. If anyone were to have been saved from it, it would have been Sa`d ibn Mu`adh radiallahu `anhu. This squeezing is gentle for a good believer, and thereafter the grave expands and becomes spacious, but it is so severe for the disbeliever that his ribs interlock.
One can protect oneself from grave punishment (other than the squeezing), by:
– Regular repentance; for in this way one will have few if any outstanding sins.
– Martyrdom; being killed in the battlefield while fighting in the path of Allah.
– Dying while guarding the frontline of the Islamic land. (i.e. dying in ribaat).
– Reciting Surah 67 (Al-Mulk) every night.
– Saying laa ilaaha illallaahul-malikul-haqqul-mubeen 100 times every day.
How can we help dead Muslims?
1 – By offering the funeral prayer over their bodies. This is a communal obligation, such that at least someone in the community must perform the prayer over a Muslim who dies, otherwise everyone who was capable of having prayed over him, but did not do so, is sinful. "If a Muslim dies and forty people who do not associate anything with Allah join the funeral prayers, Allah accepts their intercession for him." (Related by Muslim)
2 – By doing good deeds which can benefit them. "When the son of Adam dies, his good deeds come to an end, except from three [things] : perennial charity, or a pious child who prays for him, or knowledge by which people benefit after him." (Related by Muslim, Nasa'i, Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi.) Perennial charity is charity that the person gave (before his death) for some good cause from which people continue to benefit on an ongoing basis, such as money given towards a mosque. Scholars are in in consensus that the dead can benefit from our supplication for them, and from charity given on their behalf, as well as from Hajj and fasting performed on their behalf.
The Approach of Judgement Day
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
"O mankind! Indeed, Allah's promise is true, so do not let the life of the world delude you, nor let the Deluder (Satan) delude you from Allah." [(35) Fatir, 5] “And they inquire from you, ‘Is it (the Day of Judgement) true?’ Say, ‘Yea. By my Lord! Indeed, it is true. And you shall not escape.” [(10) Yunus, 53]
The Last Day is so named because there is no day (of this world) after it. On that day, Allah will cause this world to perish, and will replace it with another wherein people will be given the dues of their worldly actions. This world, with the precise and well-defined roles of its constituents, indicates the existence of a wise, knowing Creator. Yet, sometimes, we see people around us getting other than what they deserve. Very good people might suffer greatly, while evil, dishonest individuals might escape the hand of the law, and live in luxury and wealth which they have amassed by illicit and immoral means. Thus, there must be another life, in which all will receive their just reward or punishment. This place is therefore a place of toil and action. "Blessed be He in Whose Hand is sovereignty, and He has power over all things. He who created death and life, in order that He might test you, [as to] which of you is best in conduct. And He is the Mighty, the Forgiving. ” [Al-Mulk, 1-2] `Ali radiallahu `anhu said, "Today there is action, and no reckoning. Tomorrow, there is reckoning and no action." (Related by Bukhari.) The intelligent individual is therefore he who reflects over the universe around him, and comes to this realization.
"Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, are signs for people of intellect. Those who remember Allah standing, sitting and on their sides, and ponder over the creation of the heavens and the earth. [They say,] ‘Our Lord! You have not created this in vain; free from all defect are You [exalted above creating without purpose], therefore preserve us from the punishment of the Fire.'” [(3) Aal-`Imraan, 190] So Allah has praised those who use their intellect, and correspondingly He has castigated those who refuse to use their minds, and who consequently deny the Hereafter. “Nay, those who believe not in the Hereafter are in punishment and far error. Have they not observed what is before them and what is behind them of the Heavens and the earth? If We willed, We could make the earth swallow them, or cause pieces of the sky to fall on them. Indeed, therein is a sign for every penitent servant.” [(34) Saba’, 9] The Prophet sallallahu `alayhe wa- sallam has said about [3:190], "Woe to him who recited it without pondering over it." (Related by Ibn Mardoyah.) Hasan Basri said, "An hour's contemplation is better than a night's standing in prayer."
Thus, it is imperative that we accept and believe that this world, and all it contains, has been created for a purpose. Nothing of Allah's creation is in vain. "We have not created the Heavens and the earth and [all] that is between them in vain; that is the conjecture of those who disbelieve, so woe from the Fire to those who disbelieve! Or, shall We treat those who believe and do good deeds like those who work corruption in the land? Or, shall We treat the pious like the wicked?” [(38) Saad, 27-28] That person who is certain of the existence of the Hereafter will reflect this belief in his life. He will feel a sense of responsibility for his beliefs, words and actions. He will strive to be sincere and truthful, to worship his Lord, and to desire good for his fellow creatures. “O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah, and let every soul look [to] what it has prepared for the morrow, and fear Allah! Indeed, Allah is well-acquainted with what you do. And be not like those who forgot Allah, so that He cuased them to forget their own selves; those are the transgressors. Not equal are the Companions of the Fire and the Companions of the Garden. The Companions of the Garden are the victorious ones.” [(59) Al-Hashr, 18-19]
The Time of Occurrence of the Last Day
Its exact time is known only to Allah. "They ask you about the Hour, when will its coming be? Say : its knowledge is only with my Lord. None will reveal it at its time save Him. [Its knowledge] is weighty upon the [inhabitants of the] heavens and the earth. It will not come to you except suddenly. They ask you as if you are well-informed about it. Say : Its knowledge is only with Allah, but most of mankind do not know.” [(7) Al- A`raaf, 187] At the end of the Jibreel hadith, the angel Gabriel asked the Prophet sallallahu `alayhe wa-sallam, “When is the Hour?” He replied, “The questioned is not more knowledgeable about it than the questioner,” and then recited a verse of the Qur’an. “Indeed, with Allah is the knowledge of the Hour.” [(31) Luqmaan, 34]
Thus, it is totally forbidden to engage in speculation or calculation in order to try to predict the end of the world. Anyone who believes that a psychic or fortune-teller shares in Allah's knowledge of the Hidden, has left Islam. On the authority of Abu Hurayrah radiallahu `anhu : "Whoever came to a diviner, or a fortune-teller, and affirmed him in that which he said, has disbelieved in that which was revealed to Muhammad sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam." (Related by Nasa'i, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Al-Hakim.) Nor is it permissible to visit psychics and the like for fun, and the person who does risks losing his prayers for forty days. "Whoever came to a fortune-teller, and asked him about something and then affirmed him , the salah of forty days will not be accepted from him." (Related by Muslim.)
Signs before the Day of Judgement
Although the exact time of the Day of Judgement is known only to Allah, there are certain events and signs which will occur on the earth prior to it. These signs are categorized into minor and major signs.
The minor signs are those which start occurring well before the Day of Judgement, and which in themselves are not strikingly extraordinary. The Prophet sallallahu `alayhe wa-sallam mentioned, as reported at the end of the Gabriel hadith, that among its signs are "that the slave-girl will beget her mistress, and that you will see barefoot, naked, poor shepherds [competing with one another in] building tall buildings." (Related by Muslim.)
On the authority of Anas ibn Malik : He said : I heard the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhe wa-sallam say, "Indeed, among the portents of the Hour are that knowledge will decrease, ignorance will abound, adultery will become widespread, wine will be drunk, and men will abound and women will become scarce, to the extent that there will be a single provider for fifty women." (Related by Bukhari and Muslim.)
On the authority of Anas : the Prophet sallallahu `alayhe wa- sallam said, "Among the portents of the Hour is that people will compete with one another in [building and decorating] mosques." (Related by Nasa'i.)
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah : While the Messenger of Allah was talking, a Bedouin came and asked, "When is the Hour?" [The Prophet] replied, “When trust is lost then await the Hour.” [The Bedouin] asked, “How will its loss occur?” He replied, “When affairs are rested with those unworthy of [handling] them, then await the Hour." (Related by Bukhari.)
The major signs are those which will occur closer to the Day of Judgement, and they are bizarre and remarkable. They are usually counted as the ten mentioned in the following hadith. On the authority of Hudhayfah ibn al-Asid Ghifari radiallahu `anhu : he said : The Prophet sallallahu `alayhe wa-sallam found us while we talking about the Hour. He asked, "What are you discussing?" We said, "We are speaking of the Hour." He said, "It will not be established until you have seen before it ten signs : the smoke, the Antichrist, the Beast, the Rising of the Sun from its setting place; the Descent of Jesus, Son of Mary; Ya'juj and Ma'juj; three earthquakes : an earthquake in the East, an earthquake in the West, and an earthquake in the Arabian peninsula; and the last of those is a fire which will emerge from Yemen, driving people to their gathering place." (Related by Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah.)
[Refer back to “Al-Jumu`ah,” Vol. 8, Issue 1, for more details on the Signs of the Hour.]
The End of this World
Eventually, "the worst people will remain [on the earth] . . . who neither recognize good nor spurn iniquity. Then, Satan will materialize before them and say, ‘Will you not hearken [to me] ?’ Thereupon, they will ask [him], ‘What do you command us?’ Then, he will command them to worship idols, and in that condition, their sustenance will be plentiful and their life good. Then, the Trumpet will be blown . . . The first to hear it will be a man who will be plastering the water-trough of his camels, and then he will swoon away, and [the remainder of] mankind will swoon away. Then, Allah will send, or send down (the narrator is not sure) a rain like dew, or like a shadow (the narrator is unsure again), and then the bodies of mankind will grow from it. Then, [the Trumpet] will be blown a second time, and behold! They will be standing, looking." (Related by Muslim.)
The blasts on the Trumpet are mentioned in several places in the Qur'an, and scholars differ as to whether their total number is two or three. "On the day the Trumpet shall be blown, then whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth will be terrified, except those whom Allah wills [to exempt].” [(27) An-Naml, 87] “And the Trumpet is blown, and then whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth will swoon away, except those whom Allah wills [to exempt].” [(39) Az-Zumar, 68] Some scholars are of the opinion that these are two separate blasts on the Trumpet, while others considered that they are one and the same, such that people will first be terrified, and then fall unconscious and die. Those whom Allah will exempt are the martyrs of the battlefield, for they are living before their Lord, receiving sustenance; and some of the chief angels. After that, Allah will command the Angel of Death to take the souls of the remainder, and finally the Angel of Death will die. Then, Allah alone will remain, being the Last as He was the First. He will ask, three times, "To whom belongs sovereignty this day?" and then will reply Himself, "To Allah, the One, the Overcomer."
This intermediate period will endure for forty years.
The Resurrection and Gathering
In the Name of Allah. "Praise be to Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth, and made the darkness and the light. Yet, those who disbelieve hold [others] as equal to their Lord. He it is Who created you from clay, then decreed a term, and there is an appointed term with Him, and yet you doubt. And He is Allah in the heavens and the earth. He knows that which you keep secret and that which you announce, and He knows what you earn.” [6 (Al-An`am), 1-3]
After the intermediate realm of forty years, Allah will again command the angel Israfil to blow the Horn. " . . . then [the Horn] will be blown another time, and behold! they shall be standing, looking.” [(39) Al-Zumar, 68] Allah will cause a special rain, called "The Water of Life", to fall, and will thereby cause the bodies to grow from `ajab al-dhanab (a small bone at the end of the spine), in the samme way as plants grow.
It is essential to believe in the bodily resurrection. Just as both the body and soul participated in either obeying or disobeying Allah in this world, so it is only fitting that they should both receive the appropriate recompense of punishment and/or reward. A bodily resurrection is not rationally inconceivable, and furthermore, the texts of the Qur'an and authentic ahadith are quite explicit in their mention of physical pleasures and punishments in the Hereafter, such that there is no room left for doubt. It was only some deviant individuals and groups, who, under the influence of the corrupt ideas of people of other religions and of the pagan philosophers, started to deny this fact, claiming that the Hereafter is purely spiritual, or that Heaven and Hell are mere states of mind which are consequential upon a person's worldly conduct. Such beliefs display an obstinacy in accepting that which Allah has conveyed to us, and are the fruits of baseless imaginings and Satanic whisperings which afflict those who are not content with clearly-stated, obvious truths. Imam Ghazzali pronounced a verdict of disbelief on the philosphers on three counts : their claim that the universe is eternal, their denial of the bodily resurrection, and their denial that Allah knows the minute details of things.
The Qur'an advances logical arguments to convince those who may be skeptical about the bodily resurrection. "[Allah] it is Who begins the creation, and then repeats it, and it is easier for Him. And His is the highest description in the heavens and the earth, and He is the Mighty, the Wise.” [(30), al-Rum, 27] So, Who created and then destroyed is certainly able to return that creation to existence. Ibn `Abbas said, “All is easy for Him.” In another verse, we are reminded of our lowly beginnings, and that in fact that there was a time when we did not even exist. “Has man not seen that We created him from a [mere] drop, and yet, behold! he is an open adversary! He coins a similitude for Us, and forgets his creation; he says, ‘Who will give live to bones when they are decomposed?’ Say : He will give life to them Who initially brought them into existence, and He is knowledgeable of all kinds of creation. He Who has made for you fire from the green tree, so that you obtain kindling therefrom. Is He Who created the heavens and the earth not capable of creating their like? Indeed, and He is the Supreme Creator, the Knowing.” [(36) Ya-Sin, 78-81] And, on the authority of Abu Hurayrah radiyallahu `anhu : the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam said : Allah, the Exalted, says, “The Son of Adam has given lie to Me, although he may not do so, and he has vilified Me, although he may not do that. As for his giving lie to me, it is his saying, ‘He will not bring me back [to life] in the manner in which He began me.' Yet, the first creation is not any easier for Me than its repeat. And, as for his vilifying Me, it is his saying, 'Allah has taken a son,' although I am the One, the Eternally-Besought, Who neither begets nor was begotten, nor is there any like unto Him." (Narrated by Bukhari, Ahmad.)
The resurrected will be faced with an unfamiliar and terrifying scenario. "And, on the day when We shall cause the mountains to move [away], and you shall see the earth exposed, and We shall gather them, not missing any one of them.” [(18) Al-Kahf, 47] Fakhr al-Din al-Razi said in his exegesis, putting together this and other related information from the Qur’an : “The mountains shall go through five stages on the Day of Resurrection : [first] shattering, then [they will be] like carded wool, then like scattered dust, then they will be blasted and dispersed, then they will disappear."
Israfil will summon the dead to their gathering, and the earth will split to let them out. "Listen, the day when the Summoner shall summon from a nearby place. The day they shall hear the Shout (i.e. the Blast on the Horn) in truth; that will be the Day of Emergence. The day when the earth shall split [to allow them] to hurry out; that is a gathering which is easy for Us.” [(50) Qaf, 41-44] The first over whom the earth shall split is the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam, as is narrated by Muslim. The Land of the Resurrection is called al-Sahirah [See (79) Al-Nazi`at, 14.], and in the following hadith, we find it described. "Mankind shall be gathered on a reddish-white land, like a clean, round, flat loaf of bread, not bearing the imprint of anyone." (Narrated by Bukhari, Muslim.)
Creatures of the Resurrection Plain
Mankind and jinn will be gathered there in their entirety, including even the rebellious devils. "Then, by your Lord! We shall surely gather them, and the devils, and then We shall bring them around Hell on their knees." [(19) Maryam, 68. See also (6) Al-An`am, 128] Also, “the days will be gathered in their forms.” (Narrated by Tabarani.) The earth shall be gathered there. “On that day, [the earth] shall relate its news, because your Lord shall have inspired it.” [(99) Al-Zalzalah, 4- 5] On the authority of Abu Hurayrah radiyallahu `anhu : The Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam recited these verses, then asked, “Do you know what its news is?” The Companions replied, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “Its news is that it testifies over every male and female concerning that which he/she did on its surface; that it says, ‘He did such-and-such on such-and-such day. That is its news.” (Related by Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i.) Animals will also be resurrected. “There is no animal upon the earth, nor any bird which flies with its two wings, except that they are nations like you. We have not neglected anything in the Record. Then, to their Lord shall they be gathered.” [(6), Al-An`am, 38] `Abdur-Razzaq has reported that Abu Hurayrah said that Allah will judge between the animals, and then after they have been given their justice, they will be turned to dust. At this point, the disbeliever will wish that he, too, would have been turned to dust. [See (78)Al-Naba’, 40.]
Terrors of the Resurrection Plain
Mankind will be resurrected barefoot, naked and uncircumcized, but the Prophets will have clothes. The first to be clothed will be Abraham `alayhis-salam. Scholars have deduced that the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam will be resurrected clothed. There will be other terrifying and humuliating occurrences also. On the authority of Miqdad ibn `Amr : he said : I heard the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam saying, "The sun will be brought down on the Day of Resurrection until it is the distance of one meel (one mile, or one inch – the narrator is unsure) from the creatures. Then, people will be in perspiration in proportion to their deeds, such that some of them will be [in perspiration] upto their ankles, some of them upto their knees, some of them upto their groins, and some will be bridled by perspiration," and the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam pointed, with his hand, to his mouth." (Narrated by Muslim and Tirmidhi.)
Heaven and Hell will be brought near. "The day when neither wealth nor sons will avail; only he who brings Allah a heart clean [from disbelief]. And, Heaven shall be brought near for the pious, and Hell shall be exposed for those who strayed.” [(26) Al-Shu`ara’, 88-91] Thus, the pious will rejoice in the knowledge that they shall be taken into Heaven, while the wicked will agonize in the knowledge that they are destined for Hell. “A neck, with two seeing eyes, two hearing ears and a speaking tongue, will emerge from the Fire on the Day of Resurrection, and say, “I have been assigned to three [types of people] : every obstinate tyrant, everyone who called to another god with Allah, and the picture-makers." (Narrated by Tirmidhi and Ahmad.)
On that day, a man will flee from his relatives and loved ones. "On the day when a man will flee from his brother, his mother, his father, his wife and his children. Every man, on that day, shall have enough to make him heedless of others." [(80) `Abasa, 34-37] Ibn Kathir reports in his exegeis that `Ikrimah said, “A man will meet his wife and ask her, ‘What kind of a husband was I to you?’ She will reply, ‘A good husband you were,’ and she will praise him well, as far as she can. Then, he will ask her, “So, today I seek from you [the reward of] a single good deed, that you give it to me so that perhaps I may be saved from that which you see.’ She will reply, ‘How easy is that which you seek! Yet, I cannot bear to give you anything; I am afraid just as you are.’ Then, a man will meet his son, and stick to him, saying, ‘O son! What kind of father was I to you?’ [His son] will praise him well. He will say, 'O son! I need an atom's weight of your good deeds, so that perhaps I might be saved from that which you see.' His son will reply, 'O father! How easy is that which you seek! But, I am afraid just as you are."
Also during this time, certain types of punishment will be inflicted on the guilty. On the authority of Abu Hurayrah radiyallahu `anhu : the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, "There is not any possessor of gold or silver who does not pay their due [in zakat] except that on the Day of Resurrection the hoard shall be made into sheets which will be heated in the Fire of Hell. Then, his forehead, sides and back will be branded thereby until Allah judges between His servants, on a day whose measure is fifty thousand years of your reckoning. Then will he see his way, either to Heaven or to Hell." (Narrated by Ahmad, Bukhari, Muslim.)
All of this suffering is exacerbated by the extreme length of that day. " . . . . a day whose measure is fifty thousand years." [(70) Al-Ma`arij, 4]
Relief for the Righteous
Yet, terrifying as these phenomena are, those who feared Allah and were anxious of this day in their worldly lives, will be saved from fear. In the Hadith Qudsi, Allah, the Mighty, the Majestic, says, "By My Might! I shall not combine for My servant two fears, nor two [feelings of] safety.” (Narrated by Ibn Hibban.) Seven categories of people will be in the shade of the `Arsh, according to the hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim; they are : a just leader, a youth who grew up in the service of Allah, a man whose heart was attached to the mosques, two men who loved one another for the sake of Allah, a man who was invited by a beautiful and charming woman [to commit adultery] but he refused, saying 'I fear Allah,' a man who gave charity with his right hand such that his left hand did not know what he gave, and one who shed tears in seclusion out of fear of Allah. Other ahadith mention some further categories. Also, for the believers, the day will seem shorter, in proportion to their deeds. So, for some, it will seem like the duration of an obligatory prayer. (Narrated by Ahmad.)
People will be gathered with those whom they loved. On the authority of Jabir : "Every soul shall be gathered according to its desires. So, whoever loved disbelief will be with the disbelievers, and his deeds will not benefit him at all." (Narrated by Tabarani.) And, in the hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim, a man asked the Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam, "When is the Hour (of Judgement)?" The Prophet asked him, "What have you prepared for it?" He replied, "Nothing, except that I love Allah and His messenger." The Prophet told him, "You are with those whom you love." In Bukhari's narration, the Companions asked, "And is it the same for us?" He replied, "Yes." Anas, the narrator of the hadith, says, "We were not pleased so much by anything as by his saying. 'You are with those whom you love.'"
Every prophet has a pool, but that of the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam is superior to the others, and is called al-Kawthar. It is filled from Heaven via two channels, and its water is whiter than milk and sweeter than honey. There are as many cups around it as there are stars in the sky. On the authority of Anas ibn Malik : the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhi wa- sallam was once with us in the mosque when he took a nap, and then [awoke and] raised his head, smiling. We said, "What makes you laugh, O Messenger of Allah?" He said, "Indeed, a surah has just been revealed to me." Then, he recited Surah al-Kawthar (108). The Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam will recognize his followers by their bodily parts which will be bright from the effects of wudu'. All of his followers will drink from the pool, except for apostates and innovators, as well tyrants and those who openly committed major sins.
The Questioning and Reckoning
The Great Intercession
In the confusion and terror of the resurrection plain, people will remember the prophets who were sent to them, and will wonder if those men can intercede for them before Allah to relieve them of the horrors which are afflicting them. In the long Hadith of the Intercession, narrated by Bukhari, Muslim and others, we are told that people will go first to Adam `alayhis-salam, the father of mankind, and will remind him of his dignified status, and ask him to intercede before Allah. He will reply, "My Lord is angry today such as He has never been before, nor will He ever be [so angry] ever again. Indeed, He fobade me from the tree, but I disobeyed. My self! My self! My self [am I concerned for]! Go to someone else. Go to Noah.” They will then go to Noah, reminding him of his status as the first messenger to mankind, and put the same request before him. He will also decline, mentioning his worry over the fact that he had been given a single supplication which was guaranteed to be answered, but that he had used it against his people. He will send them to Abraham `alayhis-salam, who will also decline in the same way, mentioning that he had told three lies. In the same manner, people will go to Moses, who will decline due to his having killed a man in error. Jesus `alayhis-salam will also decline their request, although he will not mention any sin. It should be noted that the ‘sins’ mentioned by the Prophets as the reasons why they are afraid to intercede before Allah are sins only in relative terms; i.e. they were permissible deeds which were merely not the best choices for the circumstances in question, but due to the extreme piety of the prophets, they regard these incidents as severe. [Refer back to our article on “The Prophets and Messengers” for further discussion of this issue.]
Finally, they will come to Muhammad sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam, and will say, "O Muhammad! You are the Messenger of Allah, and the Last of the Prophets; Allah forgave you your former and latter sins, so intercede for us before Allah; do you not see what [situation] we are in? Do you not see what has come to us?" Then, the Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam will get up, go and prostrate beneath the `Arsh, and glorify Allah with unique praises. He will be told, "O Muhammad! Ask, that you may be given, and intercede that your intercession may be granted!" The Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam will ask for intercession, and the first intercession he requests will be to relieve all people of the terrors of the Resurrection Plain. This is referred to as the Great Intercession, since it encompasses all of mankind, and as we have seen, it is exclusive to the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam.
This dignified position of intercession is the Praiseworthy Station, which the Qur'an mentions will be granted to the Prophet on that day. "Surely, your Lord will raise you up to a praiseworthy station." [(17) Al-Isra, 79] Ibn Jareer al-Tabari reports in his exegesis, “That [i.e. the Praiseworthy Station] is the place that Muhammad sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam will take on the Day of Resurrection, to intercede for people in order for their Lord to relieve them of the severe [suffering] they will be experiencing on that day."
Mankind will be exposed before their Lord. "And they shall be exposed before their Lord in ranks." [(18) Al-Kahf, 48] The Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam said, “Mankind will be exposed three exposures on the Day of Resurrection. The [first] two exposures shall be disputation and excuses, but at the third [exposure], the scrolls [of deeds] will be distributed, and then some will take them in their right hands, others in their left.” [Narrated by Tirmidhi] So, the first time, people will dispute with one another : the weak with the tyrants who hindered them from faith, the tyrants responding that they are, in the final analysis, not to blame, for each individual believes or disbelieves by his/her own conscious decision. The disbelievers will deny that prophets came to them. At the second exposure, people will acknowledge their wrongs, and will seek excuses. With the third exposure, the books of deeds will be distributed amongst them. Receiving the book in the right hand signifies success, while receiving it in the left hand or behind one’s back signifies failure. “O mankind! You are striving in your deeds towards your Lord and [towards] meeting Him. Then, as for he who is given his book in his right hand shall be reckoned an easy reckoning, and he shall return to his family members in joy. And, as for the one who is given his book in his left hand, he shall call for destruction, and shall taste of a blazing fire.” [(84) Al-Inshiqaq, 6-12]
"Then, by your Lord, We shall surely question them all, about what they used to do." [(15), Al-Hijr, 92-93] “Then, We shall surely question those to whom were sent (messengers), and We shall surely question the Messengers.” Q[Al- A`raf, 6] The people will be questioned about whether messengers came to them, and how they responded to them. The messengers themselves will be questioned about whether they conveyed the message.
Belief in the questioning and reckoning of the Hereafter instils a sense of responsibility and accountability in the Muslim. He must be constantly watching over his heart and his deeds, and must be prepared to forego those fleeting, ephemeral pleasures of this world which are available to him in the path of sin. He must be prepared to undergo some suffering and hardship in this temporary abode, in order to avoid the inescapable consequences of evil in the Hereafter. He must fear standing before his Lord if he desires safety on that ghastly day. Allah, the Mighty, the Majestic has said in the Hadith Qudsi, , "By My Might! I shall not combine for My servant two lives of fear, nor two lives of surety." [Narrated by Ibn Hibban]
People will be questioned, on the Day of Judgement :
1. About faith.
"You will be asked about "Laa ilaaha illallaah" [Narrated by Tirmidhi]
2. About salah.
"The first thing which the servant will be questioned about on the Day of Resurrection will be his salah. If it is in order, then he shall have prospered and succeeded, while if it is impaired, then he shall have failed and be in ruined." [Narrated by Tirmidhi]
3. About those under their care.
"O believers! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire, whose fuel is mankind and stones." [(66), Al-Tahreem, 6] “Every one of you is a guardian, and every one of you will be asked about those in his care.” [Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim]
4. About the bodily organs.
"Do not follow that which you have no knowledge of; (your) hearing, sight and heart – you will be questioned about all of them." [(17), Al-Isra, 36]
5. About delight.
"Then, you shall be questioned on that day about delight." [(102) Al-Takathur, 8]
6. About intentions.
"Whoever desires the life of the world and its adornment, We shall repay their deeds to them in it, and they will not suffer any short payment therein. They are those for whom there is nothing but the Fire in the Hereafter. In vain shall be that which they wrought therein, and null shall be that which they used to do." [(11) Hud, 15] In a long hadith narrated by Muslim, we are told that the men whose cases shall be judged first on the Day of Resurrection shall be a man who was martyred, a man who acquired knowledge and taught it and who recited the Qur'an and a man to whom Allah had been generous and given many varieties of wealth. These men will acknowledge Allah's favors upon them, and will claim that they did these deeds for His sake. They will be exposed as liars, for they did not do these deeds for the sake of Allah. The man who was martyred had been fighting in order to be called brave, the scholar or reciter of the Qur'an had acted thus in order to gain a reupation as such, and the philanthropist had sought recognition as a generous person. Since deeds are according to their intentions, these people received what they had sought through these deeds, and they will not receive reward for them. Hence, they will be dragged into Hell.
7. There are four questions which everyone must face: "The feet of a servant will not move on the Day of Resurrection until he has been questioned about [four things:] his life – how he spent it, his knowledge – how he acted upon it, his wealth – where he earned it and how he spent it, and his body – how he used it.” [Narrated by Tirmidhi]
"To Us shall be their coming, then with Us shall be their reckoning." [(88) Al-Takweer, 25-26] People will be brought to account for their deeds, as well as for their resolved intentions. “When two Muslims encounter one another with their swords, the murderer and the murdered shall be in the Fire.” [Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim] The murdered individual is also in the Fire because he was intent on killing his companion. However, out of Allah’s grace, we are excused for fleeting thoughts which we do not consciously entertain or sustain, nor verbalize. “Allah does not task a soul beyond its scope.” [(2) Al-Baqarah, 286] The Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa- sallam has said, “Allah has forgiven my ummah for those things which their hearts whisper to them.” [Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim]
There will be some who will enter heaven without reckoning. In the hadith narrated by Muslim, the Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa- sallam says that the nations of all the prophets were exposed to him. He saw some prophets with only one or two people, or their family members with them (i.e. no-one else had believed in them). Then, he saw a huge crowd, and thought that was his ummah. Gabriel `alayhis-salam told him that it was actually the ummah of Moses `alayhis-salam, but he indicated to him a larger crowd which stretched from one horizon to the next, and told him that this was his ummah. He said, "and with them are 70,000 who shall enter heaven without reckoning or punishment." They are those who do not use charms, nor seek them from others, nor draw omens, but rely upon their Lord."
Martyrs of the battlefield will also be exempted from the reckoning. "When the servants are standing at the place of reckoning, a [group of] people will come with their swords on their backs dripping blood, and they will assemble at the gate of Heaven. It will be asked, ‘Who are these?’ whereupon it will be said, “They are the martyrs; they were alive, receiving sustenance.'” [Narrated by Tabarani]
The Balance, the Path, Intercession, Heaven and Hell
The Balance (al-Mizan)
As we have already come to know, the World Hereafter is one foreign and unfamiliar to our worldly experience. In it, truth shall prevail and every individual will face what s/he sent forward. Many things which were previously intangible or abstract will become manifested as real, observable entities.
People's very appearances on that day will betray them. "On the day when [some] faces will become white [with radiance], and [other] faces will become black. As for those whose faces will be blackened [it will be said], ‘Did you disbelieve after your faith?! So, taste the punishment for having disbelieved!’ And, as for those whose faces shall be made white [with radiance], [they shall be] in the mercy of Allah; they shall abide therein.” [(3) Aal- `Imran, 106-107] “The guilty ones shall be recognized by their marks, so that they shall be seized by [their] forelocks and feet.” [(55), Al-Rahman 41]
Also among the things which will materialize are deeds : both good and bad: "On the day when every soul shall be confronted with whatever good it has done. And, [as for] whatever it bad it has done, it will wish that there were a great distance between it and [its evil].” [(3), Aal-`Imran, 30] “And they will find what they did placed before them.” [(18) Al-Kahf, 49] “Let not those who are miserly with that which Allah has given them of His bounty think that it is good for them. Nay, it is bad for them. That which they covetously withheld will be clasped around their necks on the Day of Resurrection. And to Allah belongs the heritage of the Heavens and the Earth. And Allah is well-acquainted with what you do.” [(3) Aal-`Imran, 180] On the authority of Abu Umamah : he said : I heard the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhi wa- sallam saying, “Recite the Qur’an, for it is an intercessor for its people on the Day of Resurrection, and recite the Two Radiant Ones (al-Baqarah and Aal-`Imran), for the two of them shall come on the Day of Resurrection as if they are two clouds or two canopies . . . . arguing for their people [i.e. those who recited them] on the Day of Resurrection.” [Narrated by Ahmad and Muslim]
The deeds (and/or the books of deeds) will be weighed, and this task is accomplished by the Balance. "And We shall lay down the equitable balances for the Day of Resurrection, so that no soul shall be wronged in the least. And, even if it be the weight of a mustard-seed, We shall produce it, and We suffice to take account." [(21) Al-Anbiya’, 47] “Then, whoever’s scales are heavy, they are the successful ones. And whoever’s scales are light, they are the ones who have lost themselves by denying Our signs.” [(7) Al-A`raf, 9] The scales of the disbelievers will be light, for their good deeds shall be rendered null and worthless. “Say : Shall we inform you of those who are the worst losers with regard to their deeds; those whose efforts are wasted in this world, while they think that they are doing good? They are those who disbelieved in the signs of their Lord and the meeting with Him, so their deeds are void, and We do not give them any weight on the Day of Resurrection.” [(18) Al-Kahf, 103-105]
The Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam has advised us on how to fill our scales to make them heavy with good deeds. He said, "There are two statements which are light on the tongue, beloved to [Allah] The Most Gracious and heavy on the Balance : (Free from all imperfection is Allah, and praise to Him. Free from all imperfection is Allah, the Mighty.)” [Narrated by Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Ahmad] “There is nothing which weighs more heavily in the Balance on the Day of Resurrection than good character.” [Narrated by Abu Dawud, and Tirmidhi who judged it authentic.]
The Path (al-Sirat)
The Sirat is a bridge like a sword-edge, and it spans Hell. It is referred to in the Qur'an : "And there is not any of you except that he must appear before it (Hell). It is an unavoidable decree with your Lord. Then, We shall save those who were pious, and We shall leave the guilty ones therein (humbled) on their knees." [(19) Maryam,71-72] Everyone will receive light in proportion to their deeds, and will then be left to cross the Sirat. Some will traverse it, and their speeds will vary depending on the ligh they have. Others will fail to cross, and will fall into Hell.
Intercession is for a created being to request Allah to forgive another created being. It is a manifestation of Allah's generosity, for He may forgive any sin other than kufr or shirk. Allah is not compelled to accede to requests for intercession. "On that day, no intercession will be of avail, except from those whom Allah permits [to intercede], and whose word is acceptable to Him.” [(20) Ta-Ha, 109] He will not accept intercession for those who died as disbelievers. “Then, the intercession of the intercessors will not benefit them.” [(74) Al-Muddaththir, 48]
Who will intercede?
1. Prophets will be permitted to intercede for their followers.
2. Angels will intercede. "How many angels are there in the heavens and the earth, whose intercession is of no avail at all, except after Allah permits whom He wills and approves." [(53) Al- Najm, 26]
3. The martyr will be permitted to intercede for seventy people of his household. [Narrated by Ahmad and Tirmidhi]
4. The pious Muslim may be allowed to intercede. The Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam has said, "Whoever reads the Qur'an and implements it, such that he regarded its lawful as lawful and its prohibited as prohibited, Allah will enter him into Heaven, and grant him intercession for ten members of his household, all of whom are deserving of the Fire." [Narrated by Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah]
After all the intercessions, some more sinful Muslims will be emancipated from the Fire by the sheer mercy of Allah. Allah will say, "The angels have interceded, the prophets have interceded and the believers have interceded. None remains but the Most Merciful of the merciful ones." [Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim]
1. Intercession will be granted to the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam for some of his ummah to enter Heaven without any reckoning. Bukhari's narration of the Hadith of the Intercession mentions, near the end, that the Prophet sallallahu`alayhi wa-sallam, when given permission to intercede, will say, three times, "O my Lord! My ummah!" whereupon Allah will grant him this intercession.
2. Intercession will be granted for some sinful Muslims who are deserving of Hell, such that they are saved from that punishment.
3. Intercession will be granted for sinful Muslims who entered Hell to come out of it. the Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam said, "Every prophet has a supplication which is [guaranteed to be] answered; every [other] prophet hastened his supplication, but I have concealed my supplication for intercession for my ummah on the Day of Resurrection, and so it shall reach, Allah willing, everyone who died not associating anything with Allah.” [Narrated by Muslim] He will supplicate, “O Lord! Grant me permission [for the deliverance of] those who said ‘Laa ilaah aillallaah’.” Then, Allah will say, “By My might and My majesty! By My grandeur and My greatness! I shall surely bring forth from [the Fire] whoever said ‘laa ilaaha illallaah’.” [Narrated by Muslim] Bukhari narrates that "people will come out of the Fire by the intercession of Muhammad sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam, and will enter Heaven; they will be called the "Jahannamiyyun".
4. Intercession for raising of ranks within Heaven.
Fate of the disbelievers
– They will ask to be returned to the world for another chance. (See [(32) Al-Sajdah,12])
– They will express wish to return when they see Hell, but they will be lying. (See [(6) Al-An`am, 27-31]).
– They will look for intercessors ( See [(7) Al-A`raf, 53]) but intercession will not benefit them (See [(74) Al-Muddaththir, 48]).
– They will falsely swear by Allah that they were not polytheists. (See [(6) Al-An`am, 23]
– They will cry out in vain to be brought out of Hell. (See [(23) Al-Mu’minun, 106-108]
– They will ask the angels to ask Allah for lightening of the punishment for one day, but will be refused. (See [(40) al-Ghafir, 47-50])
– They will ask Malik to ask Allah to annihilate them, but they will be refused. (See [(43) Al- Zukhruf, 77])
Fate of the believers
Those whose good outweighs their evil will enter Heaven.
Those whose evil and good are equal in weight will also enter Heaven, but they will have to wait for some time, during which they will see some people going to Heaven and others to Hell. According to a number of the salaf, these people are the People of A`raf. (See [(7) Al-A`raf, 46- 49]
Those whose evil outweighs their good are deserving of Hell. They may be punished in Hell and then taken out (through intercession or merely by Allah's mercy) and then go to Heaven, or they may be saved from Hell altogether (either by intercession, or by Allah forgiving them.)
Heaven and Hell
Heaven and Hell have both been created and are currently in existence, as evidenced by verses of the Qur'an. "It (Heaven) has been prepared for the pious." [(3) Aal-`Imran, 133] “Guard yourselves against the fire which has been prepared for the disbelievers.” [(3) Aal-`Imran, 131]
There are different levels in both Heaven and Hell. "And for each, there are ranks based on what they did." [(6), Al-An`am, 132] “Those who believe, and whose offspring follow them in faith, We shall unite their offspring with them, and We shall not cause decrease the reward of their deeds at all.” [(52) Al-Tur, 21] Ibn `Abbas said, “Allah will elevate the offspring of the believer, even if they were beneath him in deeds, in order that his eye might delight in them.” [Narrated by Tabari and Bazzar] “Indeed, the hypocrites shall be in the lowest depths of the Fire, and you will never find for them any helper.” [(4), Al-Nisa, 145] “The lightest of the People of the Fire in punishment on the Day of Resurrection will be a man in the hollows under whose feet shall be placed two coals on account of which his brain will boil. He does not consider that anyone has a more severe punishment than himself, although he is the lightest of them in punishment.” [Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim]
The Qur'an states clearly that neither Heaven nor Hell shall ever perish or pass away. The believers will continue to have bliss and enjoyment in Heaven, and the disbelievers will continue to be punished in Hell, without end. "Those who believe and do good deeds, We shall enter them into gardens beneath which flow rivers, in which they shall abide forever." [(4) Al-Nisa’, 57] “Allah has cursed the disbelievers and has prepared for them a blazing fire, wherein they shall abide forever.” [(33) Al-Ahzab, 64-65] And, in the authentic hadith, the Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam tells us, “Death will be brought [in the form of] a black-marked white ram and made to stand between the Garden (of Heaven) and the Fire (of Hell) . . . . and then it will be slaughtered, and it will be said, ‘Immortality, and no death [anymore]!'” [Narrated by Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, Nasa’i and Darimi]
"O Allah! We ask You for Your Pleasure and Heaven, and We seek refuge with You from Your wrath and the Fire."