Islamic Perspectives

Six Means to Prepare for Final Journey

A. S. Halawani, PhD

When you pass away, do not worry about your dead body as fellow Muslims will take good care of it… They will take off your clothes, wash your body up, and wrap it in a clean white shroud. They will take you to your new house, the grave. Many are those who will escort you to your final resting place; many will even cancel their businesses to see you off. Your belongings will be discarded: your keys, books, handbag, shoes, and clothes. By the consent of your family, these will be given out in charity in a way to benefit you in the life to come.

You can rest easy knowing that the world will not collapse or even mourn you; life will go on, and your job will be taken over by others. Your property will be legally distributed among your heirs whereas you will be brought to account for every penny you earned and spent.               According to the degree of affinity with others, the period they will spend to mourn you will vary. Eventually, you will be completely forgotten and assigned a special place on the shelf of memories.

Believe it or not… the above is nothing but the truth! Hence, your story among humans comes to an end and another one will soon start with the final truth, namely, the Hereafter.

At that moment, you will be  all alone, with no glory, property, power, health, children, or wife. And the grave which represents the first stage of the Hereafter - that is the real life - attends the scene.

Now, the question that begs answering here is: what did you prepare for this? What did you prepare for the grave and your final hour?

This is a very important question that requires everyone of us to reflect on and think about.

However, prior to reflecting on what you should do in this present life to gain eternal success and everlasting prosperity in the Hereafter, let us open our hearts wide to Abu Hazim and listen to what he had to say as an answer to the Umayyad Caliph Sulaiman Abdul Malik who had asked him: “Why do we like this world but dislike the Hereafter?”

Abu Hazim’s answer flowed freely: Because you filled this world with joy and rejoice and ruined the world to come. Surely, one dislikes moving from pleasures to ruins. Allah the Almighty says in the Qur’an, “But ye prefer the life of the world. Although the Hereafter is better and more lasting” (Al-A’la, 87:16-17). Accordingly, if you prepare for yourself a pleasant place in the afterlife, you will be rejoiced to move thereto and vice versa.

Unfortunately, many fellow Muslims do care about this present life at the expense of the Hereafter. They even sell their souls out in return for nothing or for a job, some property, fame or influence. More amazingly, one may find some who sell their afterlife out in return for the perishable present life of theirs or, much worse, of others. When Abu Hazim was asked: Who is the fool? He answered: The one who sells his afterlife out for the present life of another!

One wonders, how many fools are there in this life? However, if you desire to be prosperous in the life to come, you should seize the opportunity as long as you breathe so as to accumulate good deeds and a righteous credit with Allah the Almighty which may benefit you on the Day when wealth and sons will not avail any one. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar said, “Allah’s Apostle took hold of my shoulder and said, ‘Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveller.’

The sub-narrator added: Ibn ‘Umar used to say, “If you survive till the evening, do not expect to be alive in the morning, and if you survive till the morning, do not expect to be alive in the evening, and take from your health for your sickness, and (take) from your life for your death.” (Al-Bukhari).

Therefore, you should be keen on the time you are allotted by Allah the Almighty in this present life. Time is nothing but your own life which decreases each and every moment until it eventually ends up at a definite term. No one is ever reported to have prolonged or shortened his own lifetime save through investing it in either good or evil deeds.
So, if you desire to obtain prosperity in both this life and the Hereafter, you should be keen on observing what follows:

1. Obligatory religious duties: The merits and virtues of duly performing obligatory and supererogatory acts of worship are beyond counting. Let us look into the following hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah in this respect: Allah’s Apostle said, “Allah said, ‘I will declare war against him who shows hostility to a Wali (devoted friend) of Mine. And the most beloved things with which My slave comes nearer to Me is what I have enjoined upon him; and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing nawafil (praying or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) till I love him, so I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks; and if he asks Me, I will give him, and if he asks My protection (refuge), I will protect him; (i. e., give him My Refuge) and I do not hesitate to do anything as I hesitate to take the soul of the believer, for he hates death, and I hate to disappoint him” (Al-Bukhari).

To sum up, if you want to be loved and protected by Allah, just do as He, Glory be His, says in the above hadith. In the same vein, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was once asked about the best deed and he answered as is shown in the following hadith that is narrated by ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud: “I asked Allah’s Apostle, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! What is the best deed?’ He replied, ‘To offer the prayers at its stated fixed times’” (Al-Bukhari).

Performing the prayer properly and duly is one of the things emphatically or unequivocally known to be part of the faith of Islam. Whosoever performs it as ordained by Allah will have light and guidance on the Day of Resurrection by Allah’s Grace; there is no doubt about that.

It should be noted that obligatory acts of worship here mean, besides prayer, all other obligatory religious acts of worship such as paying the Zakah, performing Hajj, observing fast during the month of Ramadan and all other religious duties without any negligence.
2. Supererogatory acts of worship: Optional Worship is Lovers’ Way to God. Supererogatory acts of worship or nawafil mean that you should perform additional voluntary acts of worship besides those prescribed for you. It is well-known in Islam that each and every act of worship has its related obligatory as well as supererogatory acts. Similarly, as Prayer has its supererogatory acts, Zakah, Fasting and Pilgrimage have their own related supererogatory acts as well. Remarkably, Islam leaves the door open for voluntary or supererogatory acts leaving the door open for noble competition,”…Then for this, let the competitors for Allah’s Pleasure compete” (Al-Mutaffifun, 83:26).

3. Hidden charity: Hidden charity is nearer to sincerity than the one given in public. Allah says, “If ye disclose your charity, it is well, but if ye hide it and give it to the poor, it will be better for you…” (Al-Baqarah 2:271). Also, the Prophet (pbuh) told us that among the seven persons whom Allah will give shade on the Day when there will be no shade but His, “… a man who gives a charitable gift so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i. e. nobody knows how much he has given in charity) …,” as narrated by Abu Hurairah in Al-Bukhari.

Concerning the merits and virtues of spending on the poor, narrated Abu Hurairah: Allah’s Apostle said, “If somebody gives in charity something equal to a date from his honestly earned income - for nothing ascends to Allah except good - then Allah will take it in His Right (Hand) and bring it up for its owner as anyone of you brings up a baby horse, till it becomes like a mountain” (Al-Bukhari). The above ayah indicates that concealing charity is better than disclosing it, because it protects one from showing off and boasting. However, if there is an apparent wisdom behind disclosing charity, such as encouraging people to imitate this righteous act, then disclosing it becomes better than concealing it.

4. A hidden good deed: The Prophet (pbuh) commended us in an authentic narration to have what can be called ‘a hidden good deed’ as he said, “Whoever among you can afford to have good deeds stored in secret, let him do it” (Sahih al-Jami’).

Consequently, you should have at least a good deed stored in secret; that’s to have a concealed good deed or more between you and your Lord alone with no one else knowing anything about it. If you do so, you will surely find what will please you with your Lord on the Day of Judgment by Allah’s Grace and Favour.

Open your heart to the following words of Muhammad ibn Wasi’ (d. AH 123) who said, “I have seen men, and amongst them would be a man whose head would be next to his wife’s head on the same pillow, and his tears would soak all that’s underneath his cheek, yet his wife wouldn’t even know it. I have seen men lining up in a row (for prayer), and amongst them a man would stand, his tears flowing down his cheeks, yet the person next to him wouldn’t even know it.” Indeed, these are the men to be emulated by those who want to gain Allah’s Favours and Blessings in this present life and the Hereafter!

5. Night Prayer: Night Prayer is the habit of the righteous, the trade of the faithful and the business of the successful. In the middle of the night, the faithful retire with their Lord and direct their selves to their Originator as speaking to Him about their affairs and asking Him of His Favour and Grace. Allah describes true believers as those “Who forsake their beds…” (As-Sajdah 32:16), which means, according to Mujahid and Al-Hasan, that they perform Night Prayer. Ibn Kathir said, “It means Night Prayer, leaving sleep and shunning rest on comfortable beds.”

Abdul Haqq Al-Ishbili said: “Those whose sides repel from their beds… as a result of their fear of the warning and in hope for what they were promised”. The Prophet said, “’Abdullah is a good man. I wish he prayed Tahajjud.” After that ‘Abdullah [Salim’s father] used to sleep only a little at night (Al-Bukhari). He also (pbuh) said: “Whoever prays at night with ten verses is not considered of the inattentive ones, whoever prays at night with one hundred verses is considered among the submissive [to God] and whoever prays at night with one thousand verses is considered of the quintals (al-muqantirin) collectors (of reward)” (Abu Dawud). Narrated ‘A’ishah: The Prophet used to offer prayer at night (for such a long time) that his feet used to crack. I said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Why do you do it since Allah has forgiven you your faults of the past and those to follow?’ He said, ‘Shouldn’t I love to be a thankful slave (of Allah)?’” (Al-Bukhari).

All this indicates that thanking Allah should not be by the tongue alone, It should be by the heart, tongue and organs. The Prophet (pbuh) worshipped Allah in a perfect manner along with working for the dissemination of the word of Islam, educating Muslims, striving in the Cause of Allah, as well as taking care about his own household (pbuh). Therefore, a faithful Muslim should be keen on this prayer and should perform it regularly with patience in the cause of Allah, Glorified and Exalted.

6. Good manners: Having good manners is considered to be one of the most important objectives of the faith of Islam and one of the best good deeds in the Sight of Allah the Almighty. In addition, it is the cornerstone in the administrative and commercial systems and any other successful system in our modern world, be it with Muslims or non-Muslims. Good manners are required in every age and place. Allah says, “And thou (standest) on an exalted standard of character” (Al-Qalam 68:4).

In the same vein, Lady ‘A’ishah was asked about the character or morals of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). She said, “His morals were the morals of the Qur’an” (Muslim).

No doubt, good manners occupy one of the greatest positions in Islam as the Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said, “I was sent (by Allah) to perfect the sublime morals” (Ahmed’s Musnad). It is as if the Prophet (pbuh) summed up his entire divine mission in this matter. Narrated Abu Shuraih: “The Prophet said, ‘By Allah, he does not believe! By Allah, he does not believe! By Allah, he does not believe!’ It was said, ‘Who is that, O Allah’s Apostle?’ He said, ‘That person whose neighbour does not feel safe from his evil’” (Al-Bukhari).

It is Allah’s religion and doctrine which strings security with faith and every good moral. May Allah the Almighty establish us among those who hear advice and follow the best thereof! Amen. (onislam.net)

The writer is assistant professor of Linguistics and Translation at Misr University for Science Technology (MUST) and and Managing Editor of the Living Shari’ah Department, www. islamOnline.net

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 April 2015 on page no. 20

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