“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” ― Marcus Aurelius.
When I was small, I refused to set foot in a cemetery. Why? Thanks to a movie called 'Salem's Lot', I was terrified of seeing eerie looking ghost floating around their tomb.
Now, many years on, I wouldn't say that I've become brave but suffice to say that I'm not terrified anymore. Today, as I stood at the cemetery, at my uncle's funeral, holding an umbrella, shielding my mum, under the scorching sun, I couldn't help but wonder when the angel of death would be knocking on my door.
Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection. So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has attained [his desire]. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion.
Surah Al Imran 3:185
How will my soul be taken? Gently or by force? Will the angel of death greet me with Salam or will it scowl at me? Will my soul be wrapped in wonderful smelling cloth or in a pungent wrapper? Will I survive the interrogation in the grave?
Al-Bara reported: We went out with the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, for the funeral of a man from among the helpers. We came to the grave and when he was placed in the ground, the Messenger of Allah sat down and we sat around him, quiet as if there were birds on our heads. In his hand he had a stick with which he was scratching the ground. Then the Prophet raised his head and said, “Seek refuge with Allah from the torment of the grave,” two or three times. Then he said, “When the believing servant is about to depart this world and enter the Hereafter, angels down to him from heaven with white faces like the sun, and they sit around him as far as the eye can see. They bring with them shrouds from Paradise and perfumes from Paradise. Then the angel of death comes and sits by his head, and he says: O good soul, come forth to forgiveness from Allah and His pleasure. Then it comes out easily like a drop of water from the mouth of a pitcher. When he seizes it, they do not leave it in his hand for an instant before they take it and put it in a shroud with that perfume, and there comes from it a fragrance like the finest musk on the face of the earth. Then they ascend and they do not pass by any group of angels but they say: Who is this good soul? They say: It is so-and-so the son of so-and-so, calling him by the best names with which he was known in this world, until they reach the lowest heaven. They ask for it to be opened and it is opened for them, and the soul is welcomed and accompanied to the next heaven by those who are closest to Allah, until they reach the seventh heaven. Then Allah says: Record the book of My servant in the noble book in the seventh heaven, and return him to the earth; from it I created them, to it I will return them and from it I will bring them forth once again. So his soul is returned to his body and there come to him two angels who make him sit up and they say to him: Who is your Lord? He says: Allah. They say: What is your religion? He says: My religion is Islam. They say: Who is this man who was sent among you? He says: He is the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him. They say: What did you do? He says: I read the Book of Allah and I believed in it. Then a voice calls out from heaven: My servant has spoken the truth, so prepare for him a bed from Paradise and clothe him from Paradise, and open for him a gate to Paradise. Then there comes to him some of its fragrance, and his grave is made wide as far as he can see; and then there comes to him a man with a handsome face, handsome clothes and a good fragrance, who says: Receive the glad tidings that will bring you joy this day. He says: Who are you? Your face is a face which brings glad tidings. He says: I am your righteous deeds. He says: O Lord, hasten the Hour so that I may return to my family and my wealth. However, when the disbelieving servant is about to depart this world and enter the Hereafter, angels come down to him from heaven with black faces, bringing sackcloth, and they sit around him as far as the eye can see. Then the angel of death comes and sits by his head, and he says: O evil soul, come forth to the wrath of Allah and His anger. Then his soul disperses inside his body and comes out cutting the veins and nerves, like a skewer passing through wet wool. When he seizes it, they do not leave it in his hand for an instant before they take it and put it in that sackcloth, and there comes from it a stench like the foulest stench of a dead body on the face of the earth. Then they ascend and they do not pass by any group of angels but that they say: Who is this evil soul? They say: It is so-and-so the son of so-and-so, calling him by the worst names by which he was known in this world, until they reach the lowest heaven. They ask for it to be opened and it is not opened for them.” Then the Messenger of Allah recited the verse, “For them the gates of heaven will not be opened, and they will not enter Paradise until the camel goes through the eye of the needle (7:40).” He continued, “Then Allah says: Record the book of My servant in the evil book in the lowest earth, and return him to the earth; from it I created them, to it I will return them and from it I will bring them forth once again. So his soul is cast down.” Then the Messenger of Allah recited the verse, “Whoever assigns partners to Allah, it is as if he had fallen from the sky and the birds had snatched him, or the wind had thrown him to a far off place (22:31).” He continued, “Then his soul is returned to his body, and there come to him two angels who make him sit up and they say to him: Who is your Lord? He says: Oh, oh, I don’t know. They say: What is your religion? He says: Oh, oh, I don’t know. Then a voice calls out from heaven: Prepare for him a bed from Hell and clothe him from Hell, and open for him a gate to Hell. Then there comes to him some of its heat and hot winds, and his grave is constricted and compresses him until his ribs interlock. Then there comes to him a man with an ugly face, ugly clothes, and a foul stench, who says: Receive the bad news, for this is the day that you were promised. He says: Who are you? Your face is a face of evil. He says: I am your evil deeds. He says: O Lord, do not let the Hour come! Do not let the Hour come!”
Bbbrrrrr....Reading the above hadith gave me the shivers. It's true that we do not know how or when we will die but one thing we do know is how to work towards the possibility of experiencing a beautiful death.
We should, not only prepare for our life on earth but also for our death and hereafter. Do not postpone repentance. Make the necessary sacrifices or changes that is needed in order to be a better servant of God. Do not assume that we will have tomorrow. Never take for granted the time that we have.
It is Allah Who takes away the souls at the time of their death, and those that die not during their sleep. He keeps those (souls) for which He has ordained death and sends the rest for a term appointed. Verily, in this are signs for a people who think deeply.
Surah Az Zumar 39:42
That day at the cemetery, thankfully I didn't see any floating ghost or lost soul but I was still haunted. I am now haunted by the mere thought of how the angel of death will claim my soul when my time comes. I pray that it will be gentle with me..ameen...