Preparing for death – Ramadan reminder

31:34

Indeed, Allah [alone] has knowledge of the Hour and sends down the rain and knows what is in the wombs. And no soul perceives what it will earn tomorrow, and no soul perceives in what land it will die. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted. [Surah Luqman 31:34]

One of the common characteristics of Insaan is that very few people have the ability to benefit from a blessing while they actually have it. Many of us spend our time in regret after the blessing has gone, but while we have the opportunity, very few of us value it. As Ramadan races by, this is ever more apparent.

This is true with many things such as the presence of our mother or father – while our parent is there, we have little or no regard for them. Every day they are there, we think they will always be there – our mother will be there to make dua for us and our father will be there to take care of us. But the day we are informed that they are no more, it feels like the world has just folded in on us. From that point, regardless what we do – cry or lash out or deny it, that person will never return. Because once they have left the dunya, they move forward with their journey.

Similarly, the blessing of these moments of Ramadan and a life to live them while healthy and able is a signficant opportunity we need to value before we lose it.

A teacher would remind us that every moment in your life, ultimately prepares you for the most important moment of your entire life. And the most important moment of your entire life is the moment your soul leaves your body. This moment, the moment passed and the moment coming all affect our final moment. And then, the moment we leave the Dunya, then affects the most important moment of our entire existence. And that moment is the time when Allah(SWT) calls you by your name – come forward, Yaa Abdullah, Yaa Hassan, Yaa Ahmed. This is what it boils down to – whether Allah(SWT) is pleased with you or whether He (SWT) is angry with you.

There is a saying كما  تحيون تموتون و كما تموتونتحشرون ” the way you live your life is the way you will die and the way you will die is the way you will be resurrected.

A physician in the Muslim world, reported that of all the deaths he had witnessed in the hospital approximately 70% of them did not pass away saying the shahada. Despite being in a Muslim country, in a Muslim-run hospital, surrounded by people passing away, hearing the adhan every day, they passed away remembering a song that was playing in their minds, cursing a family member or recounting a debt that was owed to them. Why? Because they did not live a life of concern about this moment.

9:38

O you who have believed, what is [the matter] with you that, when you are told to go forth in the cause of Allah , you adhere heavily to the earth? Are you satisfied with the life of this world rather than the Hereafter? But what is the enjoyment of worldly life compared to the Hereafter except a [very] little. [Surat At-Tawbah 9:38]

All people go to Allah(SWT) after death but its only a wise person who goes to Allah(SWT) before his death. Don’t fear death, fear the state in which you will die.

Abu Zur’a ar-Raazi was a contemporary of Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim came to him to check if it was OK to publish Saheeh Muslim. He asked him to recite the book while he listened from memory and on its completion, he asked him to remove 12 ahadeeth which were dubious which he duly did. Imam Shamsud deen adh-Dhahabi wrote about Abu Zur’a ar-Raazi that many of his students gathered at his deathbed and one of them said let’s recite talqeen (the shahada statement read softly to encourage the person on their deathbed to repeat without pushing them to it). But the students differed saying our Shaykh is the one who taught us the shahada and the meaning of the shahada. So the most senior of them agreed to recite a hadith to him as he had dedicated his whole life to this science. Remember, every chain of narration has an almost unique pattern and a Hadith master would be familiar with each of them. One began with the chain of narrators “‘Haddathanee Dahhak bin  Makhlad ‘an Abdul Hameed bin Ja’far ‘an Saalih ‘an Katheer bin Murra ‘an Muadh ibn Jabal …” and then he started crying remembering that this was the place in which his teacher would start the hadith with the saying of the Prophet(SAW). Another student began “‘Haddathanee Dahhak bin  Makhlad ‘an Abdul Hameed bin Ja’far ‘an Saalih ‘an Katheer bin Murra ‘an Muadh ibn Jabal …” and then he too started crying.  Shaykh Abu Zur’a ar-Raazi raised his hand and  thumped it and said “Ajlisoonee” (Sit me up). He was helped up and then he began “‘Haddathanee Dahhak bin  Makhlad ‘an Abdul Hameed bin Ja’far ‘an Saalih ‘an Katheer bin Murra ‘an Muadh ibn Jabal … Qaala qaala Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam Man kaana aakhiru kalaamihi Laa ilaaha illAllah …” At this point in the hadith he passed away! The hadith of our Beloved Prophet (SAW) states whoever’s last words are laa ilaaha illAllah (there is nothing worthy of worship except Allah) and indeed these were his last words. The students and they completed the hadith – dakhalal Jannah (he entered Jannah).

Ramadan is a time for us to return to Allah(SWT) – to make a promise to be His slave and not the slave of our nafs, of other people (popular culture) or of Shaytaan. This is the time to submit and commit to Allah(SWT), not out of duress but out of desire – desire to achieve His Pleasure.

A dear friend recently lost his youngest brother in his sleep – with no medical history or forewarning, it came as a massive shock for the whole family and the community who would see him regularly at their local post office. Standing at the grave with my friend and many supporters, I watched as this brother spoke last to thank all those who had attended and he said some words which no-one else had mentioned to that point. He said that “this grave is the reality for all of us. My brother had a sharp tongue and if you were ever on the receiving end, I request that you forgive him.” A true and humble request of his shortcoming from a person who knew that he should not face his Lord except that he is released from anything negative left in this dunya.  Shortly afterwards, I spoke to a very close friend and colleague of his who had worked with him in the security industry for more than 10 years. He cried and told me of how he had spent countless nights and Ramadan with the deceased brother where they would both alternate on the watch and reading taraweeh, Quran and remembering Allah(SWT). These words remain with me as this brothers legacy, captured in a succinct eulogy which recognised his shortcomings and his virtues.

Signs of a bad ending and how to prevent it

  1. Not taking the salaah seriously
    59:19
    And be not like those who forgot Allah, so He made them forget themselves. Those are the defiantly disobedient. [Surat Al-Hashr 59:19]Allah(SWT) has no interest in a person who has no interest in Him(SWT). To prevent this, remember Allah(SWT) abundantly as the one who remembers Allah is remembered in the gathering of Allah(SWT). That person who has remembered Allah has already been announced to Jibreel (AS), the angels and the love of that person has already been sent down to the pious for their remembrance of Allah(SWT).
  2. Obedience of your parents
    ‏ رَغِمَ أَنْفُ رَجُلٍ ذُكِرْتُ عِنْدَهُ فَلَمْ يُصَلِّ عَلَىَّ وَرَغِمَ أَنْفُ رَجُلٍ دَخَلَ عَلَيْهِ رَمَضَانُ ثُمَّ انْسَلَخَ قَبْلَ أَنْ يُغْفَرَ لَهُ وَرَغِمَ أَنْفُ رَجُلٍ أَدْرَكَ عِنْدَهُ أَبَوَاهُ الْكِبَرَ فَلَمْ يُدْخِلاَهُ الْجَنَّةَ ‏”‏ 
    Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “May the man before whom I am mentioned – and he does not send Salat upon me – be humiliated. And may a man upon whom Ramadan enters and then passes, before he is forgiven, be humiliated. And may a man whose parents reached old age in his presence, and they were not a cause for his entrance to Paradise, be humiliated.” [Tirmidhi 3545]When you have lost your mother or father, you will realise that no-one else will ever love you in the same way again – no wife, no child, no friend. No matter how much they tell you they have your back, there is no-one who will make dua for you without you asking for it.
  3. Shurbul khamr – Being intoxicated
    “‏ كُلُّ مُسْكِرٍ خَمْرٌ وَكُلُّ خَمْرٍ حَرَامٌ ‏
    It was narrated from Ibn ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Every intoxicant is Khamr (wine) and every Khamr is unlawful.” [Sunan Ibn Majah 3390]The whole family environment becomes toxic. Those who are addicted to this,  Ramadan is the time to ask to change our state. Be strong, seek help, make dua and make a firm intention (azm) to change. Allah(SWT) is the One who turns the hearts and Allah (SWT) can turn your heart away from this.
  4. Idhaa-ul Muslimeen – Causing harm to the Muslims
    The Prophet said:

    لَا يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ مَنْ لَا يَأْمَنُ جَارُهُ بَوَائِقَهُ
    He will not enter Paradise whose neighbor is not secure from his evil. [Sahih Muslim: 46]

    Hasan Al-Basri, may Allah have mercy on him, said:

    إِنْ سَرَّكُمْ أَنْ تَسْلَمُوا وَيَسْلَمَ لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ فَكُفُّوا أَيْدِيَكُمْ عَنْ دِمَاءِ النَّاسِ وَكُفُّوا أَلْسِنَتَكُمْ عَنْ أَعْرَاضِهِمْ وَكُفُّوا بُطُونَكُمْ عَنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ

    If you would be pleased to be safe and for your religion to be safe for you, then restrain your hands from harming the lives of people, restrain your tongues from harming their honor, and restrain your stomachs from consuming their wealth.

    Source: Makārim al-Akhlāq lil-Kharā’iṭī 379

    When I asked my teacher “How does a person  become a wali?” he responded “Serve Allahs creation – any person you find thirsty, give them water. If you see an old person alone, talk with them. When you see someone struggling with something, help them.

We are all good to lamenting our state and regretting that Ramadan has slipped through our fingers, but few are those who make something of it now.

There is a beautiful dua which states

O Allah, make my best years, my final years and my best actions, my last actions and my best day, the day on which I meet You.

Hasan Basri (rh) says: ‘The heart becomes corrupt through six means: committing a sin in the hope of repenting; seeking knowledge and not applying it; practice without sincerity; eating the sustenance of Allah without appreciating Him; not being pleased with Allah’s allocation (destiny) and burying the dead but not learning from them.

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