The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told us to remember it 70 times a day. It is something inevitable. Everyone will taste it. But nobody likes to think about it: Death and the Hereafter.
Shaikh Omar Husain, the newest instructor of Qalam Institute, Texas, a graduate of Al-Azhar University, delivered a powerful and interesting lecture on the subject titled, ‘Afterlife journey of the soul.’
Shaikh Husain said he was very passionate about the subject of afterlife and it showed in his lecture and style of presentation. Most people, he said, were so engrossed in this world that they forgot it is temporary; we needed to be reminded. “Our times are more materialistic and people have no idea of their final destination and what will happen there.” At the local Noor Masjid, Shaikh Husain took a spell bound audience on a mesmerizing journey through death, grave, resurrection, bridge of sirat, scales, heaven and hell. His presentation started dramatically with a hospital bed, followed by equally powerful images of a Herse, open grave, funeral prayer, blue skies, flying book of deeds etc.
Shaikh Husain started with a personal anecdote. When he was a student of information technology, a colleague, kind, strong and tall, helped them all through programming which many found tough. One day they saw him sitting, stretched to one side in apparent pain. Within months he was diagnosed with cancer and died. “What happened to him will ultimately happen to all of us. Every soul will taste death.” The test for us in this life is to prepare for death. The more we know, the better prepared we will be.” Shaikh Husain took the first episode of the journey to Hereafter, the moment of death. He gave the example with the death of a good, practicing believer. Two angels will come and sit at a distance where the eyes can see. Their faces will be bright. They will say, ‘O righteous soul, come out to the pleasure of Allah.
They will have a beautiful cloth from Jannah, which will have its fragrance. A third angel, that of death, will take out the soul from the body, nice and easy. He will hand it to the two angels who will immediately wrap it in the cloth and ascend to the heavens. The believer will be welcomed at the gates of heaven by angels who will say welcome o pious soul. When the soul will go up to Allah, He will say, write his name in Illiyen as the righteous one. But because it is not time yet, he will be returned to the body.’ In the grave the believer will be questioned by two angels. “Who is your Lord, what is your religion and who is your prophet?” But in that trying moment, only the righteous will be able to answer. The grave will then squeeze the believer, but more gently than a wicked, non-practicing soul.
The grave will later expand and there will be light and fragrance and breeze from a window opening directly from heaven. This will be the soul’s resting place till the time of resurrection. A non-believing, non-practicing soul will be greeted by two angels and the angel of death also but they will have dark, scary faces. The soul will be ripped out of the body in wretched pain and misery. The soul will be taken up in a coarse, smelly cloth representing hell. The gate to Heaven will remain closed and the angels will curse that soul. When it is brought to Allah Almighty, He will say to record it in Sijjin (Hell).
In the grave, the wicked soul will be asked the same questions. He won’t know the answers and the angels will hit him so hard with a hammer between his forehead that if the living heard his scream, they would faint. The grave will squeeze hard and the window from hell will open up. Unfortunately many believing souls will also go through punishment in the grave because of the sins they committed in the world. They will go through a cleansing punishment which will be as harsh as their deeds.
A mother’s love is famous for her children. The Shaikh reminded us. “She will stay weeks at a hospital staying up all night, with her children. But she will not stay one night with them in the graveyard. Nothing will accompany you there, except your deeds, good or bad”. When the Day of Judgment will arrive, there will be complete chaos with mountains disintegrating into dust. The sun will come very close and burn. People will almost drown in their sweat. Nobody will help anyone. It will be, ‘Nafsi, nafsi’ (I, me and myself).
The bridge of Sirat will be over a flaming hell. It will be almost as thin as a dental floss. And it will be pitch dark. Every soul will have to cross it. Those with good deeds and imaan will make it across. But the scales will be the ultimate, the scariest. All our deeds will be measured on the scales. People will come with tons and tons of good deeds, but will lose it because of things like backbiting, arrogance, not having good family ties, not being good to their parents and so on. At that time the family feuds, the materialism, the indulging in usury, the sleeping through Fajr will all bear heavily. People will wish they had another chance.
We do have another chance still. As Shaikh Husain highlighted at the end. The lecture was not to scare us, but to prepare us. To remind us that we are all going to go somewhere, heaven or hell. What we do here, will be the decider. Who does not want heaven? It is not so hard to reach, if we know how and strive for it. The Qur’an and the Sunnah will lead us there.
“There is still time, while you are still breathing. No matter how many sins you have committed, you can always hit the delete button. Repent, ask for forgiveness, and make peace with your relatives, neighbors. Be mindful of death. Life is fleeting and before we know it, we will pass. Allah says: “Say: ‘O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: For Allah forgives all sins: For He is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.” (Qur’an, 39:53)