All of us are familiar with the signs of the Day of Judgment. They are mentioned in numerous hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him). However, there is another “hour” that is just as important, on an individual level. This hour is described in the following hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him): A bedouin came to the Prophet and asked him, “When is the Hour?” The Prophet pointed to a young boy and said, “If this boy lives, by the time he is old and decrepit, your hour would have already taken place.”
This is the hour that each and every one of us will experience and must be prepared for. This is the hour that is approaching us at every second of our lives. This is OUR HOUR!! It is inevitable that every soul will experience their own hour. Allah says in the Qur’an: “Everyone shall taste death. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted toParadise, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception.” (Ali-Imran: 185)
At the time of death, our deeds will come to an end. We will have no more opportunities for good deeds. After death, we can only look towards our own judgment. Therefore, the question that we must ask ourselves and act upon before it is too late: What have we prepared for our Hour? How have we prepared for that moment when this life comes to an end for us?
In fact, the only two things that we can prepare for that Hour is true faith (Iman) and good deeds. The Prophet advised us to take advantage of our life before death comes. If we do not use this life to prepare for the Hereafter, then, in fact, we have simply wasted this life — no matter how much it seems that we have achieved in this worldly life. Our college degrees will not mean anything at the time of Death. Our material possessions and financial investments will not gain us entry toParadise. Our loving families will not be with us in the Grave. All these things will be a waste if we did not stop and prepare for the Hour.
It is easy to caught up in our daily lives and problems, and forget that we are all slowly dying every day — and today could be our last. We must put things in perspective and re-prioritize our lives. What’s more important: our status in this life, or our status in the Hereafter?
At the time of the Hour, three things will follow us to the grave. However, two of those three things will leave us at the grave. Our wealth, family and deeds will accompany us to the grave, but our wealth and family will return. We can’t take them with us to the grave. We will be left with only one thing, our deeds only — both good and bad.
We should realize that if we prepare well for that Hour, the angels will come to us in a pleasing form, our souls will flow easily out of our bodies and the angels will be calling us to Allah’s pleasure and forgiveness.
However, if we did not prepare well for that Hour, our situation will be completely different. The angels will come to the disbeliever or the evildoer in a form that is very displeasing to the person. They will call the soul to Allah’s anger and His punishment. The soul will NOT want to leave the body and it will have to be dragged out of the body. This is a terrible way to die. It is worse than any physical punishment we could receive on this earth.
This is a translation of how the Prophet described that horrifying event: “When an infidel is about to leave the world and proceed to the next, angels with black, harsh faces come down to him from heaven with a hair-cloth of fire and will sit away from him as far as the eye can see. Then the angel of death comes and sits at his head and says, ‘Wicked soul, come out to the displeasure of Allah.’ Then it becomes dissipated in the body, and he draws it out as spit is drawn from moistened wool. He then seizes it, and they do not leave it in his hand for an instant, but put it in that hair-cloth of fire and from it there comes forth a stench like the most offensive smell of a corpse found on the face of the earth.”
The most important reason for such an evil end is having false beliefs or having doubts about the truth of Islam. Anyone who believes in something that goes against the Qur’an or sunnah, his soul will admit its wrong at that Hour. Allah says, “Say: Shall We tell you of the greatest losers in respect of their deeds? Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life while they thought that they were acquiring good deeds.” (Al-Kahf: 103-104)
Another reason for a person to have a terrible end is continually performing bad deeds and procrastinating his repentance. At the time of death, the soul will not be able to think of anything except the sins he committed. At that time, he will realize that it is too late to repent. He waited too long. The time of death — which no one knows except Allah — has come to him and he has not yet repented to Allah.
Having a weak faith and preferring this life over the Hereafter is another cause for an evil end. In this case, the person will have to say goodbye to the thing that he loves the most — this world or some aspect of this world. His soul will not want to leave what it loves.
Some scholars have written about some people on their deathbeds who were being encouraged to say, “La illaha illalah”, but could not respond. All they could think about or talk about was the things that they enjoyed in this world. For example, one person who was addicted to chess simply kept repeating the words, “Check, check”, as the Angel of Death was coming to him.
Sulaiman ibn Abdul Malik asked Abu Hazm, one of the followers, “O Abu Hazm, why is it that we hate death?” He answered, “You have built up this world, and you have destroyed the Hereafter. You hate to leave the thing that you have constructed for the thing that you have ruined.” Indeed, how many people put all of their time and energy into getting ahead in this world and very little preparing for the Hereafter.
Abu Hazm was also asked how the people will be presented to Allah on that Hour and he said, “The pious person will be like the one who was gone for a while and is returning to his family. The evildoer will be like the runaway slave returning to his master.”
Dear brothers and sisters, by preparing well for that Hour, ours can be as the Prophet described: “When a believer is about to leave this world and go forward to the Hereafter, angels with white faces, as if their faces were the sun, come down to him from heaven with one of the shrouds of Paradise and some of the perfume of Paradise and sit from him as far as the eye can see. Then the angel of death comes and sits at his head and says, ‘Good soul, come out to forgiveness and acceptance from Allah.’ It then comes out like a drop flows from a waterskin and he seizes it. And when he does so, they do not leave it in his hand for an instant, but they take it and place it in that shroud with the perfume, and from it there comes a fragrance like that of the sweetest musk found on the face of the earth.”
Ask yourself these questions: Do you want to be one of those whose souls will be taken easily from their bodies, or one of those whose souls have to be dragged from their bodies? Do you want to be one of those who faces Allah as a person returning to his family, or one who is like a disobedient slave returning to his angry master?
Let’s follow the advice of Ali ibn Abu Talib, the Companion of the Prophet. He said, “Go with this life behind you and go with the next life in front of you. Each life has its children so be from the children of the Hereafter and be not from the children of this world.”
I pray to Allah to make us all from those people who will meet a good ending to this life. O Allah, guide us all to the straight path and keep us firm along that path.