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The Stupor of Death

By: Dr. Ahmad H. Sakr

Death is a mystery and an illusion to all human beings and irrespective of color, nationality, ethnic, social, economic, or religious background. The Process of death that every person will go through is also a taboo, which is not really discussed on a normal basis, nor is it easy to write about, or even to go through. Since everyone is to taste death, its taste would be bitter, sour, or sweet, depending on the individuals relationship with Allah (The Creator).

The following is a summary of the verses revealed in the Qur'an about the process of death and the pain that a person has to go through.

In Surah or chapter Qaf, Allah (swt) informs us that the state of death is a state of unconsciousness. The Qur'an states the following: And the stupor of death comes in truth. "This was the thing which you were trying to escape!" [50:19]

Yusuf Ali in his explanatory note to the above (#4955) says the following:

What is Stupor unconsciousness to this probationary life will be the Opening of the eyes to the next world: for Death is the Gateway between the two. Once through that Gateway man will realize how the things which he neglected or looked upon as remote are the intimate Realities, and the things which seemed to loom large in his eyes in this world were shadows that have fled. The things he wanted to avoid are the things that have really come to pass. Both Good and Evil will realize the Truth now in its intensity.

In Surah Al-An'am (The Cattle), Allah (swt) informs us about the agonies of death. The Qur'an states the following:

If you could but see how the wicked (do fare) in the agonies of death! -the angels stretch forth their hands; (Saying), "Yield up your souls: this day shall you receive your reward -a chastisement of disgrace for that you used to tell lies against Allah and scornfully to reject of His Signs!" [6:93]

In Surah Al-Waqi'ah (The Inevitable Event), Allah (swt) teaches us that when the soul reaches the throat, no one can bring life back. The Qur'an is explicit about this idea:

Then why do you not (intervene) when (the soul of the dying man) reaches the throat, -And you all the while (sit) looking on, -But We are nearer to him than you, and yet you see not -Then why do you not, -if you are exempt from (future) account -Call back the soul, if you are true (in your claim of independence)? [56:83-87]

In Surah Al-Qiyanlah (The Resurrection) Allah (swt) stresses the idea about the pain of death. The Qur'an states the following:

Yes, when (the soul) reaches to the collar-bone (in its exit) And there will be a cry, "Who is an enchanter (to restore him)?" And he will think that it was (the time) of Parting; And one leg will be joined with another: That day the drive will be (all) to your Lord!" [75:26-30]


Death Experiences Of The Scholars

Abu Bakr

1. When the first Khalifa, Abu Bakr (R), was dying, his daughter, Aisha (R), recited a poem. He told her to recite a Verse from the Qur'an in Surah Qaf:

"And the stupor of death come in truth. "This was the thing which you were trying to escape!" [50:19]

He told her to pick up his two pieces of clothing (thawb), wash them, and then use them as his funereal attire. He said:

"It is more important for the living to have new clothing than the dead."

When his relatives found out that he was very sick, they asked if they could bring a doctor to look at him.

He said that the Doctor (Allah (swt)) had already seen him, and had told him:

"You are to do what you want..."

Imam Al-Hussein

It was narrated by Muhammad the son of Imam Al-Hassan that:

When Imam Hussein recognized that people had already surrounded him, he recognized that surely he was going to be killed. He said to his companions:

"You have seen what is going on . . Life has changed.. People are full of ingratitude...Favors don't exist. . My life is like someone on an unhealthy farm . . Don't you see that Truth (Haqq) is not being practiced. . Falsehood is not corrected . . Therefore, a Mumin (Strong Believer) loves to meet Allah (swt). I see death as a happiness, and life with criminals as a crime." 

Imam Abu Hanifah

Imam Abu Hanifa refused to be a judge, but the government insisted and he refused. He was beaten with a whip several times. He was badly hurt and used to cry. One used to see the marks on his belly from the beating. When he continued to refuse, they imprisoned him and denied him food and water. He refused to accept the job of a judge. Then he was given poison, which he felt after eating the food.

Finally he made a Dua (Prayer): "O Allah, protect me from this mischief."

When death approached him, he prayed, and died while he was making Sajda (Prostration in prayer). When they were washing his body before the burial, they found that he had become extremely thin... It was due to praying and fasting.

Imam Shafi'ee

Imam Shafi'ee had hemorrhoids for a long period of time. He had an acute case with blood flowing heavily till he became very weak. He died at an age of fifty-four years.

At the time of his death, one of his students by the name of Al-Mazni asked him about his health. He replied:

I am leaving this world ... I am departing from my friends... I am to taste death... To Allah I am going ...I don't know whether my soul will go to Paradise and then I should congratulate it, or to hell so that I will console it.

Then he cried. A friend of his by the name of Yunus Ibn Abd Al-A'Iaa came to him. Imam Shafi'ee requested him to read from Surah Al-Imran, Verse 120 and after, beginning with, "Don't leave me, I am distressed..."

Imam Bukhari

Imam Bukhari was born in 194 Hijra (Migration) and he died in 256 Hijra during the Abbasid dynasty in Baghdad. His name was Muhammad Ismail.. . He was ordered by the Amir of Bukhara to leave the city and live in exile. He went to the town of Khartank, close to the city of Samarqand, where some of his relatives were living. Some families wanted him to be the Khateeb (Minister) while others refused. While waiting for peaceful negotiations to conclude, he got uneasy. He prayed Tahajjud and made a Du'a':

"O Allah! The whole earth is like a jail. Please take me to you."

In the same month he got sick. The night of Eid ul Fitr he got really sick and started to sweat profusely -this state continued until he died. When he was buried, a very good smell, like Musk perfume, came from his grave.  

"These parables are reminders to the believers in God to prepare our souls for the ultimate moment of our journey back to God, and to help us cope with the realities of death for our loved ones. "Death is the ultimate alarm clock; It wakes you up." 

Source: Death & Dying by Ahmad H. Sakr, Ph.D. Dr. Sakr is an Islamic Scholar and Clergymen who conducts services for Muslim Americans in the Anaheim, California area. He has authored many books on the Islamic concepts of life and living. 

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