RIP: Rest in peace or ripped into pieces?

By Naheem Zaffar

Have you ever wondered what happens after death? What happens to your soul? What happens in the grave? What you are about to read is not from any sci-fi movie or horror novel. This is nothing but the truth based on Islamic teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah. So sit back, fasten your seat belt as we're going on one heck of a ride!

There’s a saying that there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. Enterprising people have managed to find a way around the taxes, but death is a bigger problem.

What is death?

Death is the act of leaving the world of the living. On the way to being dead. Think zombies, but not walking, or eating other people. Just the dead bit will do. (But ain't they the undead?)

It occurs when the soul permanently leaves the body. This is known as death. Upon leaving the body, the soul does not vanish. It enters a state we call ‘Barzakh’- a dark devious place… or not.

In any situation the soul does not die or disintegrate but remains unchanged. Whatever its position and whatever its state is, it maintains a connection to the body, being able to feel whatever happens to the physical remains of the body. So if the body has pain the soul also feels pain, and if the body is relaxed then the soul is also relaxed.

When someone visits the grave, the soul can see the person and recognise them. It can listen to what they are saying, but probably not haunt them. The dead also speaks. Its voice is heard by animals, but not by humans and Jinn.

What happens at death?

Like I said, the soul leaves the body. Next.

No. Really, what happens?

For arguments sake let's just say a person is hit by a bus. The soul will depart the body. If the person was pious, this should be a relatively painless process, where the soul does not mind returning to the Creator -Allah (swt).

On the other hand, if the person is not pious... well things get a little interesting. The soul may not want to leave. It will be ripped out of the body. Separated forcefully. After all everyone's time is allotted. You cannot live longer than what has been proscribed for you.

After that the body will probably get taken to hospital… tests performed… donor card checked…

Yeah I get that. No need to be so gory.

Then we get to Judgement Day right? Is it gonna be anything like Terminator II ?

Between the time of death and Judgement day, the soul will remain in Barzakh
– the interspace. The body will also enter a grave.

What happens in the grave?

Two Angels will visit you (called "Munkar" and "Nakeer" if you are interested...).
The ghosts of the past, the present and the fut... oops wrong story.

You will be asked three questions:

  1. "Who is your lord?"
  2. "What is your faith?"
  3. "What did you used to say about this person (The Prophet (saw))?"

If you pass this simple (just like nuclear physics is simple...) test, a voice will be heard saying “My servant has said the truth, lay the tablecloth of Paradise for him, give him clothes from Paradise to wear and open the doors of Paradise for him.”

The cool air and the sweet fragrance of Paradise will continue to come and wherever the eyesight can reach the grave will be made wide and large. Angels will say, “Sleep like a groom sleeps”. All this will be for the good pious Muslims.

On the other hand, the sinful will not know the answers. For them there will be punishment according to their sins. The grave will tighten up and press the dead. It presses the good Muslim like a mother holds a child and the infidel and sinful Muslim to the extent that it crushes them, so as though the bones on the left side end up on the right side.

Punishment!! What punishment?? What do ya mean punishment?!

The punishment for the sinful Muslim is mentioned by the Prophet (pbuh). It's not for the faint hearted:

...His spirit will be restored to his body, two angels will come to him, make him sit up and ask him: Who is your Lord? He will reply: I do not know. They will ask him: What is your religion? He will reply: I do not know. They will ask: Who is this man who was sent on a mission among you? He will reply: I do not know. Then a crier will call from the Heaven: He has lied, so spread a bed for him from Hell, clothe him from Hell and open for him a door into Hell. Then some of its heat and wind will come to him, and his grave will become restricted, so his ribs will be pressed together. One who is blind and dumb will then be placed in charge of him, having a sledgehammer such that if a mountain were struck with it, it would become dust. He will give him a blow with it which will be heard by everything between the east and the west except by men and jinn, and he will become dust. Then his spirit will be restored to him...' [Ahmad, Abu Dawud (3/4735)]

And then Judgement Day right?

Eventually we get there. Judgement day will be a big test for us all. It will be a big gruelling day where people will suffer in accordance to their sins. For the sinful it will be a looong long day. For the pious it may pass in the blink of an eye. Eventually people will ask the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and Blessings be upon him) to intercede on their behalf, and the reckoning will begin.

All deeds will be stacked. Questions will be asked. The Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam (Peace and Blessings be upon him) said:

“The son of Adam will not pass away from Allah (swt) until he is asked about five things: how he lived his life, and how he utilized his youth, with what means did he earn his wealth, how did he spend his wealth, and what did he do with his knowledge.” (Tirmizi)

Notice 2 questions on finance, so those enterprising individuals mentioned at the start may be in for a thrill. Some people will go to hell. Others by the grace of Allah will be permitted to heaven. Others will take the scenic route to heaven. One very important thing to remember is that while Allah (swt) may outright forgive any indiscretions against Him, if the person has wronged another creation, he will need to get the creation's forgiveness before Allah (swt) will forgive.

So are YOU ready to go?

You know what's gonna happen when you die, so are you ready? You prepared? You ready to face your Lord? You ready to answer the questions in the grave? You sure you done enough to be saved from the punishment in the grave? You sure your actions will save you from the re of hell? If we're honest, I don't think we are. so start now to work for the life hereafter.

Death is gonna come knocking soon... and that's a promise.