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Heaven's Door
  • Book Title:
 Heavens Door
  • Book Author:
Ibn Al-Jawzi, ibn Rajab, Imam Al-Ghazali
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50
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Heaven’s door – Book Sample

Contents – Heaven’s door

INTRODUCTION – Heaven’s door

This book comprises the second part of the English translation of Tazkiyat an-Nufus wa Tarbiyyatuha kama Yuqarriruhu ‘Mama as-Salaf compiled by Ahmed Farid, the first part of which has already been published under the title The Purification of the Soul. Both books are concerned with assisting the traveller in life to pass smoothly through this world and safely into the next — and should be read together.

Whereas The Purification of the Soul is concerned primarily with the science of awakening and purifying the heart — on which good inward intentions depend, Heaven’s Door is concerned firstly, with outward action — which is the manifestation and outward expression of inward intention, and secondly, with the consequences of inward intention and outward action — which we meet both in this life and after we have died.

Actions are known and evaluated by the intentions behind them and intentions are dependant on knowledge. The actions of a wise man are very different to those of an ignorant fool, even if outwardly they may appear to be similar. Good actions are dependant on a clean heart, and it is only once the heart has been purified that a person can concern themselves with guiding the actions of others. If the teacher’s heart is not sound, how can the teacher’s actions mirror the teacher’s words — and how can he or she teach others?

As we have seen in The Purification of the Soul, this soundness of the heart depends largely on being detached from the world, since desire for the world is what distracts the self and gives shaytan the opportunity to cause mischief.

Desire for this world and what it contains can possess the self and blind the heart, making this world appear to be all there is, and the next world just a dream or a fairy tale and Allah non- existent. If this is your view of existence, then you are asleep and shaytan has you where he wants.

Detachment from this world depends largely on knowledge of the next world — and on awareness that wherever you are, Allah is present. If this is your view of existence, then you are awake and shaytan has no power over you — and it is this world which seems like a dream.

Ahmad ibn Amir, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “You have four enemies :

  • Shaytan : and his weapons are a full belly, and his prison is hunger.
  • Desire : and its weapon is speech, and it is imprisoned by silence.
  • This world : whose weapon is to meet people, and it is imprisoned by retreat.
  • The self : whose weapon is sleep, and it is imprisoned by sleeplessness.” ((The Basic Research by Shaykh Ahmad ibn ‘Ajiba, p.219))

It has been related by sayyedina ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, that once when he visited the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, who was lying on a mat in his small room, he was moved to tears when he saw how little the Prophet possessed.

When the Prophet asked him why he was weeping, sayyedina ‘Umar replied, ‘O Messenger of Allah, how can I not cry? This mat has left marks on your sides and I can only see what I have seen of your stores. Caesar and Chosroes are leading their lives of plenty, while you are the Messenger of Allah, His Chosen One — and look what you have!’

‘Ibn al-Khattab,’ he answered, ‘isn’t it enough for you that for us there is the next world, and for them there is this world?’ ((The Wives of the Prophet by Ahmad Thomson, p. 35))

When the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was dying, he was given the choice of either living longer or returning to His Lord. He chose the Highest Company. He said, “Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, said, ‘If My slave longs to meet Me, I long to meet him, and if he is averse to meeting Me, I am averse to meeting him.'”(( Al-Muwatta’ Imam Malik, 16.16.51))

Heaven’s Door is for those who are aware that time is passing, that this world is leaving them, that the next world is approaching them, and that Allah is Real. It is for those who would hate to be in the Fire and who long to be in the Garden. It is for those who find themselves knocking on heaven’s door.

The Messenger of Allah, our master Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to say, when he rose for prayer in the middle of the night, “Oh Allah, praise belongs to You. You are the light of the heavens and the earth and praise belongs to You. You are the Sustainer of the heavens and the earth and praise belongs to You. You are the Lord of the heavens and the earth and whoever is in them. You are the Truth and Your words are true. Your promise is true, and the meeting with You is true. The Garden is true and the Fire is true and the Hour is true. Oh Allah, I submit to You and I accept You and I trust in You and I turn to You and I argue by You and I summon to You for judgement. Forgive me what I have sent before me and what I have left behind, what I have kept secret and what I have proclaimed.

You are my god — there is no god but You.” ((Al-Muwatta’ Imam Malik, 15.8.34))

Death is a doorway through which every one of us must pass. Both before and beyond this doorway there are many doorways through which we must pass if we are to find ourselves finally entering through one of the eight gates which are heaven’s door.

It is related that Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “The Gardens have eight gates of gold inlaid with jewels:

  • “Written on the first gate is La ilaha il’Allah, Muhammad arRasulu’llah — There is no god only Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. It is the gate of the Prophets, Messengers, Martyrs and the Generous.
  • “The second gate is the gate of those who prayed, who were excellent in wudu and the basic elements of the prayer.
  • “The third gate is that of those who gave Zakat cheerfully.
  • “The fourth gate is that of those who commanded good and forbade the reprehensible.
  • “The fifth gate is the gate of those who rooted out their appetites and prevented passions.
  • “The sixth gate is the gate of those who did Hajj and ‘Umra. “The seventh gate is the gate of those who fought Jihad.
  • “The eighth gate is the gate of those who turned their eyes from haram things and did good actions of respect to parents, relatives and others.

“There are eight Gardens:

  • “The first is the Abode of Majesty, and it is of white pearl. “The second is the Abode of Peace, and it is of red ruby. “The third is the Abode of Shelter, and it is of green chrysolite.
  • “The fourth is the Garden of Immortality, and it is of red and yellow coral. “The fifth is the Garden of Bliss, and it is of white silver.
  • “The sixth is the Garden of Firdaws, and it is of red gold. “The seventh is the Garden of ‘Adn, and it is of white pearl.

“The eighth is the Abode of Rest, and it is of red gold, and it is the dome of the Gardens, and it is raised over the Gardens. It has two gates, and the two leaves are of gold and silver. Between each of the two leaves is what is between the heaven and earth. It is built of gold and silver bricks. Its mud is musk and its earth is amber and its straw is saffron. Its castles are of pearl and its rooms are of ruby. Its doors are of jewels, and in it are rivers. There is the River of Mercy which flows in all the Gardens, and its pebbles are pearls, with a white brighter than snow, and it is sweeter than honey. In it is the River of Kawthar (Abundance), and it is the river of our Prophet Muhammad, blessings and peace be upon him. Its trees are pearls and rubies. In it is the River of Kafur (Camphor), and the River of Tasnim (Water Coming From Above), and the river of Salsabil (Easy to Swallow), and the River of ar-Rahiq al-Maktum (Sealed Nectar). Beyond that are rivers whose number is not known.” ((Daqa’iqu’l-akhbar fi Dhikri’l-Jannati wa’n-Narby Imam ‘Abd ar-Rahim ibn Ahmad al-Qadi, pp. 125-6))

Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from Humayd ibn ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn ‘Awf from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Whoever hands over two of any type of property in the way of Allah is called to the Garden, with the words, ‘O slave of Allah! This is good!’ Whoever is among the people of prayer is called from the Gate of Prayer. Whoever is among the people of jihad is called from the Gate of Jihad. Whoever is among the people of sadaqa is called from the Gate of Sadaqa. Whoever is among the people of fasting is called from the Gate of the Well-Watered (Bab ar-Rayyan).”

Abu Bakr as-Siddiq said, “O Messenger of Allah! Is it absolutely necessary that one be called from one of these gates? Can someone be called from all of these gates?” He replied, “Yes, and I hope you are among them.” ((Al-Muwatta’ Imam Malik, 21.19.49))

May you be one of those who may pass through whichever gate you choose!

Ahmad Thomson London 1424/2003

AUTHOR’S PREFACE – Heaven’s door

All praise is for Allah. We praise Him and seek His assistance. We ask for His forgiveness and take refuge in Him from the evil within ourselves and from the evil of our deeds. He whom Allah guides will never be diverted, and whomever He sends astray will never find his way. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, alone — He has no partner — and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger, may Your blessings and peace be on him and on his Family and on his Companions.

One of the most important tasks for which the Prophet of this nation, Muhammad, was sent was the purification of the soul. Allah says, speaking of this mission,

(It is He who raised up among the unlettered people a Messenger from them, to recite His Signs to them and purify them and teach them the Book and the Wisdom, even though before that they were clearly misguided.) ((62: 2))

So whoever truly hopes for Allah and the Last Day should have a special interest in the purification of his own soul, for Allah has linked the success of His servant with the purity of his soul — after making eleven consecutive oaths. There is not to be found in the Qur’an another oath such as this. Allah says:

(By the sun and its morning brightness, and the moon when it follows it, and the day when it displays it, and the night when it conceals it and the sky and what erected it and the earth and what extended it, and the self and what proportioned it and inspired it with depravity or taqwa, he who purifies it has succeeded, he who covers it up has failed. ) ((91: 1-10))

The word tazkiameans to purify or to cleanse; the word zakat comes from the same root, since zakat purifies wealth by the recognition of Allah’s right over a portion of it.

It has now become difficult for us to benefit directly from the books of raqa’iq (books on subjects which affect the emotions) written by the first generations of Muslim scholars. Most of these are large books comprising many volumes and are difficult for most Muslims to have access to; in addition to this they frequently contain weak and fabricated reports.

Thus we have set out to compile a collection of the most reliable reports, which have come to us from some of the scholars whose expertise lay in the field of da’wa: Imam Shamsudin Ibn al-Qayyim, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, and Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali.

It is our sincere desire that this book will be a useful resource and ultimately prove to be of benefit on the Day when neither money nor children will be of benefit — for none will benefit, except for those who come with a pure heart.

All Praise is for Allah and all Power is His. He is our Lord and to Him is the end of all journeys.

( Among the muminun there are men who have been true to the contract they made with Allah. Some of them have fulfilled their pact by death and some are still waiting to do so, not having changed in any way at all. ) ((33.23))

ENJOINING GOOD AND FORBIDDING EVIL

Enjoining good and forbidding evil, amr bi’l-ma’ruf wa’n-nahiy an al-munkar, is the pivot and most important principle in Islam and it is the main reason why Allah sent His Prophets and Messengers to His creatures. If this principle is not implemented and put into practice, then prophethood is ineffective, the deen fades away, misguidance, corruption and ignorance prevail, civilizations decline, and nations are destroyed.

Whenever this principle has been extinguished, people follow their desires and whims, ignore their Lord, and live like animals — and then you can hardly find anyone who adheres to the principle of enjoining good and forbidding evil, even though the reward of putting it into practice is great in the sight of Allah.

The Obligation to Enjoin Good and Forbid Evil

Allah says:

(Let there be a community among you who call to the good, and enjoin the right, and forbid the wrong. They are the ones who have success. ) ((3: 104))

Allah also says:

( They are not all the same. There is a community among the People of the Book who are upright. They recite Allah’s Signs throughout the night, and they prostrate. They have iman in Allah and the Last Day, and enjoin the rightand forbid the wrong, and compete in doing good. They are among the salihun. ) ((3: 113-114))

In the above verse, Allah does not accept their righteousness just by their believing in Allah and the Last Day, until He has added to it the principle of enjoining good and forbidding evil.

In another verse, Allah says:

( The men and women of the muminun are friends of one another. They command what is right and forbid what is wrong. ) ((9: 72))

Here Allah refers to the believers as those who enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil — therefore, anyone who forsakes this pillar is excluded from the ranks of the believers.

In another verse, Allah has cursed some of the tribe of Israel for abandoning the principle of enjoining good and forbidding evil. He says:

(Those among the tribe of Israel who were kafir were cursed on the tongue of Dawudand that of ‘Isa, son of Maryam. That is because they rebelled and overstepped the limits. They would not restrain one another from any of the wrong things that they did. How evil were the things they used to do!) ((5: 78-79))

Whereas, Allah has praised those who have implemented the principle of enjoining good and forbidding evil. He says:

(You are the best nation ever to be produced before mankind. You enjoin the right, forbid the wrong and have iman in Allah. ) ((3: 110))

Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah say, ‘He who amongst you sees something objectionable should change it with the help of his hand; and if he does not have the strength to do it, then he should reject it with his tongue; and if he does not have the strength to do it, then he should reject it in his heart — and that is the least of faith.” ((Muslim, 2/22-25; At-Tirmidhi, 9/18-19; Abu Dawud, 1128; An-Nasa’i’, 8/111; Ibn Majah, 4013))

This hadith shows that rejecting evil should be done according to your strength and ability, but should be done at least with your heart, because if your heart does not deny evil, this means that your iman is gone. Therefore, you must change evil with your hand and tongue if you are able to do so, but in any event you must reject it with your heart — and this is an obligation and the least of faith — otherwise Allah’s punishment will come.

Hudhaifah related that the Prophet A said, “By Him in Whose hand my soul is, you must enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, or Allah will certainly soon send punishment from Him to you. Then you will make supplication and not receive any answer.” ((At-Tirmidhi, 9/17; classified as hasan. Albani also classifies it as hasan.))

An-Nu’man Ibn Bashir related that the Prophet said, “The metaphor of a person who complies with Allah’s orders and prohibitions in comparison to those who violate them is like the meta- phor of some people who drew lots for their seats in a boat. Some of them were given seats on the upper deck, and the others on the lower deck. When those on the lower deck needed water, they would have had to go up to fetch the water, so they said, ‘Let us make a hole in our part of the ship and save those who are above us from our troubling them.’ If the people on the upper deck let the others do what they suggested, all the people in the boat would be destroyed, but if they prevented them, both groups would be safe”.(( Al-Bukhari, 5 / 132; At-Tirmidhi, 9/19))

Abdullah Ibn Mas’oud related that the Prophet said, “There was never a Prophet sent before me by Allah to his nation who did not have among his people disciples and companions who followed his ways and obeyed his command. Then after them came their successors who said what they did not do, and did what they were not commanded to do. Whoever strove against them with his hand was a believer; whoever strove against them with his tongue was a believer; and whoever strove against them with his heart was a believer; and beyond thatthere was no faith, not even as much as a mustard seed.”(( Muslim, 2/27.))

Abu Bakr related that the Prophet said, “If acts of disobedience occur among any people and they do not change them even though they are able to do so, Allah will soon punish them all.”11

Guidelines on Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil

Knowledge – Heaven’s door

In order to enjoin good and forbid evil, you must know the principles governing them and how to distinguish between them. Actions will not be any good if they are not done with full knowledge and wisdom. `Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz said, “Whoever worships Allah without knowledge, will do more damage than what he puts right.”

Mu’adh Ibn Jabal said: “Knowledge should precede action, because if action and intention are done without knowledge, then ignorance, misguidance and desires will prevail.”

So if a believer knows that by forbidding a particular evil, his action will lead to a greater evil, then he should not forbid that evil in the first place; or if his action will lead to the elimination of what is of greater benefit to the Muslims, then again, he should not forbid that evil.

The Prophet t did not kill Abdullah Ibn Ubai Ibn Salul, the leader of the hypocrites, and his friends, because they enjoyed significant support from among their tribes. So the Prophet avoided killing Abdullah Ibn Ubai Ibn Salul, because people might think that he was killing his companions, and also because Abdullah Ibn Ubai Ibn Salul’s tribe might have risen up against the Prophet , and sought to avenge their leader’s death.

Accordingly, you must consider the issues of maslaha and mafsada((maslaha (plural: masa’lih): considerations of public interest, human welfare, utility, and human good. Ash- Sha’tibi said: “What concerns the subsistence of human life, the wholeness of his way of life, and the acquiring of what man’s emotional and intellectual faculties require of him in their absolute sense.” mafsada (plural: mafa’sid): Evil, namely anything which violates addaruriyat al-khamsa, the five essential values of deen, life, intellect, lineage and property; the opposite of maslaha))before embarking on enjoining good and forbidding evil.

Gentleness

You should be kind and gentle in enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong. The Prophet A said, “Be gentle, for if gentleness is present in anything, it adorns it – and if it is absent from anything, it damages it.”(( Muslim, 16/146; Abu Dawud, 2461; Ahmed, 6/58)) The Prophet also said, “Allah it likes gentleness in all matters and rewards it more than He rewards harshness.” ((Al-Bukhari, 12/280; Muslim, 16/146)) Jarir related, “I heard the Messenger of Allah say, “Whoever is deprived of gentleness is deprived of good.” ((Muslim, 16/145.))

Sufyan ath-Thawri said, “Only he who has the following qualities can enjoin good and forbid evil: he should be gentle and just and he should know the principles of enjoining good and forbidding evil.”

Patience – Heaven’s door

Whoever intends to enjoin good and forbid evil must have patience in the face of adversitiesand hard times. He should know, beforehand, that he will be subjected to tribulation, just as Luqman told his son:

( My son, establish salat, and command what is right and forbid what is wrong and be steadfast in the face of all that happens to you. That is certainly the most resolute course to follow. ) ((31: 16))

Allah also ordered His Messenger to be patient:

(You who are enveloped in your cloak! Arise and warn! Magnify your Lord. Purify your clothes. Shun all filth. Do not give out of a desire for gain. Be steadfast for your Lord.) ((74: 1-7))

And:

(Be steadfast in the face of what they say and cut yourself off from them – but courteously.) ((73: 9))

So you must have three qualities: knowledge, gentleness and patience; knowledge before enjoining good and forbidding evil, gentleness in carrying this out, and patience after it.

Reasons for Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil

There are many incentives which encourage you to enjoin good and forbid evil: to receive a reward from Allah to avoid His punishment, to defend Allah’s commands and His Shari’a, to give sincere advice to the believers and to save them from Allah’s anger and punishment both in this world and in the next, to glorify Allah it by implementing His orders, by obeying Him, by thanking and praising Him and by expending your life and wealth in His way.

FIGHTING IN THE WAY OF ALLAH – Heaven’s door

The Merits of Fighting in the Way of Allah

From the Qur’an

Allah says:

(Fighting is prescribed for you even if it is hateful to you. It may be that you hate something when it is good for you and it may be that you love something when it is bad for you. Allah knows and you do not know.) ((2: 214))

He also says:

( Go out to fight, whatever your circumstances or desires, and do jihad with your wealth and yourselves in the Way of Allah. That is better for you if you only knew.) ((9: 41))

He says:

( Allah has bought from the muminun their selves and their wealth in return for the Garden. They fight in the Way of Allah and they kill and are killed. ) ((9: 112))

Allah it says:

(Those muminun who stay behind — other than those forced to by necessity —are not the same as those who do jihad in the Way of Allah, sacrificing their wealth and themselves. Allah has given those who do jihad with their wealth and themselves a higher rank than those who stay behind. Allah has promised the Best to both, but Allah has preferred those who do jihad over those who stay behind by an immense reward: high ranks conferred by Him as well as forgiveness and mercy. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) ((4:94-95))

From the Ahadith

Abu Hurairah related that a man came to the Messenger of Allah and said, “Tell me what action is equal to doing jihad.” He replied, “I do not know of such an action.” Then he added, ‘Could you, as long as a Muslim fighter is on the battlefield, enter your mosque and perform prayers without stopping and fast without breaking your fast?” The man said, “Who could do that?” Abu Hurairah added, “The mujahid is rewarded even for the steps of his horse as it wanders about tethered on a long rope.”(( Al-Bukhari, 6/4; Muslim, 13/24-25))

Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri related that a Bedouin came to the Prophet and said, “O Messenger of Allah! Who is the best of mankind?” The Prophet said, “A man who fights in the Way of Allah with his life and his property, and also a man who lives beside a mountain path among the mountain paths in order to worship his Lord and safeguard people from his evil.”(( Al-Bukhari, 6/ 6; Muslim, 13 /33-34))

Anas Ibn Malik related that the Prophet said: “A morning’s journey or an afternoon’s journey in the Way of Allah is better than the whole world and what is in it.”(( Al-Bukhari, 6/13; Muslim, 13/ 27))

Salman al-Farsi related that he heard the Prophet say, “Keeping watch for a day and a night (during jihad) is better than fasting for a whole month and standing in prayer every night. If a person dies (while doing this), it will be as if his action continues and he will go on receiving his reward for it perpetually and he will be saved from the punishment of the grave.”(( Muslim, 13/61; at-Tirmidhi, 7/162; an-Nasa’i’, 6/39))

Abu Hurairah related that the Prophet said: “Whoever dies without having fought in the Way of Allah and without having expressed any desire for jihad has died the death of a hypocrite.”(( Muslim, 13/56; Abu Dawud, 2485; an-Nasa’i’, 6/8))

Abu Hurairah related that he heard the Prophet say, “The example of a mujahid in the Way of Allah – and Allah knows best who really strives in His Way – is like a person who fasts and prays continuously. Allah guarantees that He will admit the mujahid in His Way into Paradise if he is killed, or else He will return him safely to his home with rewards and booty.”(( Al-Bukhari, 6/ 6; Muslim, 13 /20; an-Nasa’i, 6/ 20; Imam Malik’s Al-Muwatta’, 1/443-444))

Ibn Umar related that the Prophet said, “Whenever you enter into a loan transaction and hold on to the tails of your oxen and are content with being a farmer and give up jihad in the Way of Allah, then Allah will let disgrace prevail over you and He will not withdraw it until you return to your deen.”((Abu Dawud, 3445))

The Merits of Martyrdom in the Way of Allah

Anas related that the Prophet said, “Nobody who dies and finds good from Allah (in the akhira) wants to return to this world – even if he were to be given the whole world and what is in it – except for a martyr who, on seeing the excellence of being a martyr, wants to come back to this world and be killed again (in the Way of Allah).”(( Al-Bukhari, 6/ 32; Muslim, 13/ 24; at-Tirmidhi, 7/161))

Abu Hurairah related that the Prophet said, “By Him in Whose hand my soul is, I would like to fight jihad in the Way of Allah and be killed, and then fight jihad in the Way of Allah and be killed, and then fight jihad in the Way of Allah and be killed.”(( Al-Bukhari, 6/16; Muslim, 13/20.))

‘Abdullah Ibn Amr Ibn al-‘As related that the Prophet said, “All the wrong actions of a shahid are forgiven except debt.”(( Muslim, 13 /30))

For the wrong actions of a martyr to be forgiven, his jihad should be sincerely in the Way of Allah, seeking the reward of Allah.

Abu Qatadah related that the Messenger of Allah stood up among his companions and gave a talk in which he told them that jihad in the Way of Allah and trust in Allah are the most excellent of actions. A man stood up and said, “Messenger of Allah, do you think that if I am killed in the Way of Allah all my wrong actions will be wiped out for me?” The Messenger of Allah replied, “Yes, if you are killed in the Way of Allah and you were always steadfast and sincere and you always fought facing the enemy and never turned your back on him.” Then he added, ‘What did you just say?” The man asked, “Do you think that if I am killed in the Way of Allah all my wrong actions will be wiped out for me?” The Messenger of Allah said, “Yes, if you were steadfast and sincere and always fought facing the enemy and never turned your back on him – except for debt. Jibril has just told me this.”(( Muslim, 18/4646))

Al-Miqdam Ibn Ma’d Yakrib related that the Prophet said, “The martyr receives six good things from Allah: he is forgiven at the first shedding of his blood; he is shown his abode in Paradise; he is preserved from the punishment in the grave; he is kept safe from the Greatest Terror; he has placed on his head a crown of honour, a ruby of which is better than the world and what it contains; he is married to seventy-two wives of the maidens with large dark eyes; and he is made intercessor for seventy of his relatives.”(( At-Tirmidhi, 7/161; Ibn Majah, 2799; Imam Ahmed, 4 /131))

A man asked the Prophet “O Messenger of Allah! Why is it that all the believers are tried in their graves except the martyr?” The Prophet replied: “The head of the martyr is protected by the gleam of swords.”(( An-Nisa’i, 4/99))

The Jihad of the Companions – Heaven’s door

Anas related, “My uncle Anas Ibn An-Nadr missed the battle of Badr. He said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! I missed the first battle you fought against the kafirun but if Allah gives me a chance to fight the kafirun, there is no doubt that Allah will see how (bravely) I will fight.’  On the day of Uhud when the Muslims turned their backs and fled, he said, ‘0 Allah! I apologise to You for what they have done, and I denounce what these (i.e. the kafirun) have done.’ Then he advanced and Sa’d Ibn Muadh met him. He said, ‘O Sa’d Ibn Muadh! By the Lord of An-Nadr, Paradise! I can smell its scent coming out from Uhud.’ Later on Sa’d said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! I could not have done what he (Anas Ibn An-Nadr) did. We found his dead body with more than eighty sword and arrow wounds. His body was mutilated so badly that no one except his sister could recognise him, by his fingers.’ Anas added, ‘We used to think that the following verse was revealed concerning him and other men like him:

( Among the muminun there are men who have been true to the contract they made with Allah. Some of them have fulfilled their pact by death and some are still waiting to do so, not having changed in any way at all. ) (33.23)'”(( Al-Bukhari, 7/354-355; Muslim, 13/47-48; At-Tirmidhi, 12/80-81))

Abu Hurairah, related, “The Messenger of Allah and his Companions made their way towards Badr and arrived there well before the kafirun (of Makkah). When the kafirun arrived there, the Messenger of Allah said, ‘None of you should step forward to do anything unless I am ahead of him.’ As the kafirun advanced, the Messenger of Allah said, ‘Prepare to enter

Paradise, which is as wide as the heavens and the earth.’ Umair Ibn al-Humam al-Ansari said, ‘Messenger of Allah, is Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth?’ He A answered, ‘Yes.’ Umair exclaimed, ‘My goodness!’ The Messenger of Allah asked him, ‘What made you say that?’

He replied, ‘O Messenger of Allah, nothing but the desire to be one of its residents.’ He said: ‘You will be one of its residents.’ Umair took some dates from his bag and began to eat them. Then he said, ‘If I were to live until I had eaten all of these dates of mine, my life would be too long.’ He threw away all the dates he had with him and fought the enemy until he was killed.”(( Muslim, 13/45-46))

Abu Imran said, “We set out on an expedition from Madina intending to attack Constantinople. Abd’ur-Rahman Ibn Khalid Ibn al-Walid was the leader of our army. The Romans had their backs to the walls of the city. One of our men launched an attack against the enemy. Some of the men shouted, ‘Stop! Stop! There is no god but Allah. He is putting himself in danger!’

“Abu Ayyub said, ‘The following verse was revealed about us, the group of the Ansar, when Allah helped His Prophet and gave Islam the upper hand, and we thought, “Come on then! Let us stay with our property and improve it.” Then Allah, the Exalted, revealed:

(Spend in the Way of Allah. Do not cast yourselves into destruction.) ((2: 194))

So, the meaning of casting ourselves into destruction was if we had stayed with our property and had busied ourselves with improving it and had abandoned fighting’”

Abu Imran continued: “Abu Ayyub continued to strive in the Way of Allah until he (died and) was buried in Constantinople.”(( Abu Dawud, 2506.))

REMEMBERING DEATH – Heaven’s door

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Praise belongs to Allah Who bows the necks of tyrants and oppressors by inflicting death on them. Their hearts repeatedly refuse to remember death, but when death comes to them they are thrown into their holes, taken from their palaces to their tombs, from light into darkness, from the pleasures of the world and the beauty of women to the pain of worms and vermin, from their enjoyment of food and drink to dirt and dust, from the love and companionship of their family to solitude and loneliness, from the comfort of their beds to the discomfort of the grave. They cannot escape from their miserable destiny — can you see a single one of them or even hear the slightest sound?

Glory be to Allah! He has power over all His creatures who shall all die — except Him. Allah humiliates evildoers and redeems righteous people through death and makes the grave a place of constriction for wrongdoers and sinners until the Day of Judgement, when they shall all meet Him and He will judge between them. He A is the Benefactor and the Avenger and all Praise is due to Him — and may His peace and blessings be on His Messenger, Muhammad It who came with clear miracles and proofs.

So is it not enough for whoever has death for a destiny, dust for a bed, worms for companions, Munkar and Nakir for visitors, the grave for a shelter, the Day of Judgement for an appointed time and either Paradise or Hell as a final dwelling place, to give much thought and consideration to all of this and prepare for it?

Constant Remembrance of Death

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The heart of whoever is drowned in the pleasures of this world and its attractions is distracted from remembering death — and if someone mentions death to him, he hates it and runs away from it. As regards such people, Allah says:

( Say: ‘Death from which you are fleeing will certainly catch up with you. Then you will be returned to the Knower of the Unseen and the Visible and He will inform you about what you did.’ ) ((62: 8))

In regard to remembering death, people are divided into three categories:

Firstly, there is the one who is preoccupied with worldly desires and pleasures and who does not reflect on death. If he does happen to think of it, then he only feels sorry about the life which he will have to leave behind. For such a person, remembering death veils him from Allah.

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Secondly, there is the one who turns in repentance and who is mindful of death all the time. His heart experiences fear of Allah and so his turning in repentance has good results. Perhaps such a person is troubled by death out of fear that it will take him by surprise before he has repented sincerely. His dislike of death is justified, because he is one of those who wish to delay the meeting with their Lord until they are fully prepared for that meeting. In spite of this, one of the main characteristics of the person who turns in repentance is that he is always ready to meet death. If not, he would be among those who are preoccupied with the pleasures of this world.

Thirdly, there is the one who is an ‘arif — who is in constant remembrance of Allah. He longs to meet his Lord. Such a person waits for death impatiently. He wants to be free of the life of this world and to be near his Lord.

Abu Hurairah related that the Prophet said, “Constantly remember death — which brings all pleasures to an end.”(( At-Tirmidhi, 9/187; An-Nasa’i, 4/4; Ibn Majah, 4258; Al-Hakim: 4/321.))

‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar related that the Prophet said, “Hearts grow rusty just as iron does when it is exposed to water.” On being asked what keeps them clean he replied, “Much remembrance of death and recitation of the Qur’an.”(( Transmitted by at-Tirmidhi and al-Bayhaqi in Sh’ab al-Iman))

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‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar related, “I was with the Prophet t and a man of the Ansar asked him, ‘Who are the cleverest and generous of people?’ The Prophet replied, ‘The cleverest and generous of people are those who constantly remember death and who are prepared for it — they earn the honour of this world and nobility in the akhira.”(( Ibn Majah, 4259.))

Allah it has made death one of the worst disasters. He describes it as a misfortune in the Qur’an:

(… if you are travelling when the misfortune of death occurs,) ((5: 106))

Death is described as a misfortune because the one who dies is suddenly moved from one abode to another and from one state to another. However, worse than death itself is being negligent of it — not being constantly mindful of it and not preparing for it.

There is a consensus among the majority of our scholars that death in itself is sufficient to act as a reminder and a warning. In Mukhtasar at-Tadhkira, the author states, “You should all know that the heart is softened, Allah willing, by many things: visiting the graves, going to gatherings of knowledgeable and righteous people, listening to the stories of previous nations and learning lessons from them, and remembering death — which brings all pleasures to an end, divides families and friends and separates children from their parents.

“One of the benefits of remembering death is that it prevents you from doing wrong actions and prohibited deeds and it helps you to relinquish the pleasures of this world and to attach no importance to its disasters.

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“Another example of what softens the heart is to be with people when they are dying and to witness the agony of their death and their worries and their struggle. Whoever is not moved by such a disturbing situation will not be helped by any advice.”

Al-Hasan al-Basri said, “Death exposes the life of this world for what it is by leaving no moment of joy to sensible people. Whenever a servant turns to the remembrance of Allah, the life of this world and everything in it becomes insignificant in his eyes.”

Ibn Muti’ was looking at his house one day and was captivated by its beauty. Then he cried out and said, “By Allah! If it were not for death, I would have been happy here, and if it were not for the confinement of the grave to which we are heading, we would have been content with the life of this world.”

The Misfortune of Death – Heaven’s door

Death is a misfortune — as Allah says,

 (… if you are travelling when the misfortune of death occurs,) ((5: 106))

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This misfortune in itself contains three further tribulations: the agony of death, seeing the angel or angels of death, and the fear of a bad end and the punishment of the evil-doers in the Fire of Hell.

The Agony of Death – Heaven’s door

The (prospect of the) agony of death should cause sufficient worry, trouble and concern to interrupt the pleasures of the servant and his enjoyment of them. He should reflect deeply about it and be prepared for that time — because death can take his life at any moment. Death takes away a servant’s soul gradually and so each part of the body feels the agony of death — until it reaches the throat. Then the dying person is cut off from the life of this world, the gate of repentance is shut and he is overwhelmed by grief and remorse.

Heaven’s Door

Mujahid interpreted the following verse:

(There is no tawba for people who persist in doing evil until death comes to them and who then say, ‘Now I make tawba.’) ((4: 18))

as follows: “When the dying person sees the angels of death and is confronted with death, he repents — but that sort of repentance is no good.”

Ibn ‘Umar related that the Prophet said, “Allah accepts the repentance of His servant up until his death-rattle begins.” ((At-Tirmidhi, 13/58, who classified it as hasan gharib; Ahmed, 6160; Ibn Majah, 4253; Al-Hakim, 4/257))

The Death of the Prophet Muhammad

‘A’isha, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “There was a leather or wooden container full of water close to the Messenger of Allah (when he was dying). He would dip his hand into the water and wipe his face with it, saying, ‘None has the right to be worshipped except Allah! Death makes you so dazed.’ Then he raised his hand and began repeating, ‘The Highest Company,’ until he expired and his hand dropped down.”((Al-Bukhari, 8/144))

Seeing the Angel or Angels of Death

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The Qur’an states that it is Allah Who is in charge of taking away life. He says:

(Allah takes back people’s selves when their death arrives.) ((39: 39))

Sometimes, it states that it is the Angel of Death who takes away the soul. Allah says:

(Say: ‘The Angel of Death, who has been given charge of you, will take you back then you will be sent back to your Lord.’) ((32: 11))

Sometimes, it states that it is several angels who are put in charge. Allah says:

(He is the Absolute Master over His slaves. He sends angels to watch over you. Then when death comes to one of you, Our messengers take him, and they do not fail in their task.) ((6: 62))

In reality, it is Allah Who takes the souls at the time of death.

Al-Kulabi said: “The Angel of Death takes away the soul and gives it to the angels of mercy if the soul is that of a believer, and to the angels of punishment if the soul is that of an unbeliever.”

Heaven’s Door

Imam Ahmed related on the authority of Al-Bara’ Ibn Azib “We went out with the Messenger of Allah accompanying the bier of a man of the Ansar. When we reached his grave, it had not yet been dug. So the Messenger of Allah sat down and we also sat down around him as if birds were perched on our heads. He had in his hand a stick with which he was scratching the ground. Then he raised his head and said: ‘Seek refuge with Allah from the punishment of the grave. He repeated this twice or thrice.”‘

The version of Jabir adds here: “Just as the deceased hears the sound of their footsteps as they are leaving, he is asked: ‘O so and so, who is your Lord, what is your deen, and who is your Prophet?”

Hannad’s version states: “Two angels will come to him and make him sit up and ask him, ‘Who is your Lord?’ He will reply, ‘My Lord is Allah.’ They will ask him, ‘What is your deen?’ He will reply, ‘My deen is Islam.’ They will ask him, ‘What do you think about the man who was sent on a mission among you?’ He will reply, ‘He is the Messenger of Allah.’ They will ask, ‘Who made you aware of this?’ He will reply, ‘I read the Book of Allah and believed it and considered it true.'”

This is confirmed by the words of Allah:

(Allah makes those who have iman firm with the Firm Word in the life of the dunya and the akhira.) ((14: 29))

Heaven’s Door

The agreed version continues: “Then a crier will call from Heaven, ‘My servant has spoken the truth, so spread a bed for him from Paradise, clothe him from Paradise, and open a door for him into Paradise.’ So some of its air and perfume will come to him, and space will be made for him as far as the eye can see.”

He also describes the death of the kafir and says: “His spirit will be restored to his body and two angels will come to him and make him sit up and ask him, ‘Who is your Lord?’ He will reply, ‘Alas, alas! I do not know.’ They will ask him, ‘What is your deen?’ He will reply, ‘Alas, alas! I do not know.’ They will ask, ‘Who was the man who was sent on a mission among you?’ He will reply, ‘Alas, alas! I do not know.’ Then a crier will call from Heaven, ‘He has lied, so spread a bed for him from Hell, clothe him from Hell, and open a door for him into Hell.’ Then some of its heat and pestilential wind will come to him, and his grave will be compressed so that his ribs are crushed together.”

Heaven’s Door

Jabir’s version adds: “Then someone who is blind and dumb will be put in charge of him. He will have such a sledge-hammer 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.”(( Abu Dawud, 3196; Al-Hakim, 1 / 37-38; Ahmed, 4 /287-288))

The Fear of a Bad End and the Punishment of the Evil-Doers in the Fire of Hell

Fear of a bad end even breaks the hearts of the righteous because it is one of the agonies of death. They fear this moment the most because they are waiting to hear whether the Angel of Death will give them the glad tidings of Paradise or the bad news of Hellfire.

Heaven’s Door

It is related that when he was in his death throes, Hudhaifah Ibn al-Yamani, told ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’oud, “Go and see what time it is.” Ibn Mas’oud went out and came back, saying, “The sun has just risen.” Hudhaifah Ibn al-Yamani replied, “I seek refuge with Allah from a morning in the Fire.”

When he was in his death throes, Abu Hurairah wept and said, “I swear by Allah that I am not crying because I am leaving the life of this world, or because I am leaving you, but because I am waiting for one of two summons from my Lord — which will be either to the Garden or to the Fire.”

It is related in the Sahihain, on the authority of ‘Ubada Ibn as-Samit, that the Prophet said, “Whoever loves to meet Allah, Allah loves to meet him — and whoever hates to meet Allah, Allah hates to meet him.”

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‘A’isha, or some of the wives of the Prophet said, “But we dislike death.” He replied, “It is not like that. What this means is that when the time of a believer’s death approaches, he is given the good news of Allah’s being pleased with him and His blessings on him, and so at this time nothing is dearer to him than what is coming to him. So he loves to meet Allah, and Allah loves to meet him. But when the time of a disbeliever’s death approaches, he receives the bad news of Allah’s being angry with him and His punishment, and so at that time nothing is  more hateful to him than what is coming to him. So he hates to meet Allah, and Allah hates to meet him.”((Al-Bukhari, 11 / 357; Muslim, 17/9; At-Tirmidhi, 4 / 287; An-Nasa’i’, 4/10))

Allah says:

(The angels descend on those who say, ‘Our Lord is Allah,’ and then go straight: ‘Do not fear and do not grieve but rejoice in the Garden you have been promised. We are your protectors in the life of the dunya and the akhira. You will have there all that your selves could wish for. You will have there everything you demand. Hospitality from One Who is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’) ((41: 29-31))

Recommendations for when You are Dying

Heaven’s Door

When the time comes for you to die you should relax. Your tongue should only be repeating the shahada. You should hope for good from Allah. You should be calm and at peace with yourself, because you will see the angels of mercy who will take away your soul and give you glad tidings of Paradise. As Allah says:

(Those the angels take in a virtuous state. They say, ‘Peace be upon you! Enter the Garden for what you did.’) ((16: 32))

As for the evil-doers and unbelievers, Allah says:

(If only you could see when the angels take back those who were kafir at their death, beating their faces and their backs: ‘Taste the punishment of the Burning! That is for what you did. Allah does not wrong His slaves.’) ((8: 51-52))

Heaven’s Door

Allah also says:

(If you could only see the wrongdoers in the throes of death when the angels are stretching out their hands, saying, Disgorge your own selves!’) ((6: 94))

Commentators on the Qur’an say, “Allah’s words, stretching out their hands, means ‘stretching out their hands to inflict punishment’, because the soul of a disbeliever still permeates the body when the news of the Fire and the anger of the Lord is given. Then the angels smite the face and back of the disbeliever, saying, ‘Disgorge your own self.’”

Heaven’s Door

We seek refuge with Allah from His punishment and anger.

As for the believer, his or her tongue should be repeating the shahada, because the Prophet said, “Whoever says La ilaha Allah — there is no god only Allah — at the moment of death will enter the Garden.”(( Abu Dawud, 3100; Al-Hakim, 1/351; Ahmed, 5/233))

‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab said, “Remind the dying of the words La ilaha ‘illa’ Allah — there is no god only Allah — because they see what you cannot see.”

It is also recommended to visit righteous people when they are in the throes of death and to make du’a for them, as these may benefit them.

It is also recommended for a dying person to hope for good from Allah, because of the hadith of Jabir Ibn Abdillah who said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah say, three days before his death, ‘None of you should approach death without only hoping for good from Allah.’”(( Muslim, 17/209; Abu Dawud, 2097.))

Heaven’s Door

Anas said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah say, ‘Allah A has said, “Son of Adam, as long as you ask of Me and hope in Me I will pardon you in spite of what you have done — and I do not care. Son of Adam, even if your wrong actions were piled as high as the clouds in the sky, and then you asked My forgiveness, I would forgive you — and I do not care. Son of Adam, even if you were to approach Me with enough sins to fill the earth, and then you met Me, not associating anything with Me, then I would grant you just as much forgiveness.'” ((At-Tirmidhi, 13 /59-60, who classified it as hasan gharib; Ahmed, 5 /154; Ad-Darami, 2/322))

PUNISHMENT AND BLESSINGS IN THE GRAVE

The Salaf and the ‘ulama’ believe that after death a person is either punished or blessed in the grave. On the Day of Rising, souls are returned to their bodies and they rise from their graves to stand before their Lord to be judged. The proofs of this from the Qur’an and ahadith are numerous.

From the Qur’an – Heaven’s door

Allah says:

(‘O self at rest and at peace, return to your Lord, well-pleasing and well-pleased! Enter among My slaves! Enter My Garden.’) ((89: 30-32))

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