The following selection is from a book called Silent Moments: The Descriptions of Before & After Death Aspects, it details how the Salaf felt about and dealt with death and dying. It’s a good book and is really eye opening when compared to the materialist western world. We live in a society that focuses on the now, we live for our current pleasures, yet most young people are striving to chart a course to a future that is unknown to them.
The Salaf were keenly aware of the consequences for their actions, they strove to do better everyday, and were aware of how precious time really was. Their relationships with God were truly powerful things, it governed their being and shook them to their core. Both Christians and Muslims could learn something from their modesty and their piety towards other people, the Salaf were among the most respectful of others.
It’s like Abdullah Azzam said “Pay attention to your heart, beware of raising yourself above others, and beware of belittling others. How many of these people have given for the sake of this Religion- but have kept it secret between them and the Lord of the Worlds- from he whose statement is belittled and his appearance mocked, and he might even have given more for this Religion than an Earthful of people like you ever would?”
This is a link to the book: http://kalamullah.com/Books/silent-moments.pdf
A man was asked when he was dying, “What is your condition,” and he replied, “The condition of he who is starting on a long journey without sufficient provision, entering a lonely grave without any company and going back to the Just King without a valid excuse.”
Also, when death approached Muhammad bin Al-Munkadir and he wept, he was asked why he wept. He replied, “By Allah! I do not weep because of sins I know that I have commited, but because I fear an act I commited thinking it is unsubstancial, while it was substantial with Allah.”
Futher, after ‘Umar was stabbed, Abdullah bin ‘Abbas, visted him and proclaimed, “Reveive the glad tidings, O Chief of the Faithful! You embraced Islam with the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) at a time when people disbelieved, fought along with him when people betrayed him, he died while pleased with you, and no two men disagreed that you should become the caliph.” ‘Umar asked Ibn ‘Abbas to repet his words and ‘Umar then replied, “Verily, he whom you deceive is the deceived one! If I owned the earth’s fill of silver and gold, I would use it as ransom from the horror to come.”
‘Imran Al-Khayyat said, “We visited Ibrahim An-Nakha’i when he was ill and found him weeping. We asked, “Why are you weeping, Abu ‘Imran?” He said, “I am awaiting the Angel of Death, but I do not know if he will bring forth news of Paradise or the Fire.”
He has said the truth, for what comes after this life, except Pradise or the Fire? Have we thought about where we are headed to and which path we will be taking? Rather, prolonged hopes and unawareness have taken over us. We ask Allah to awaken our hearts from sleep and to fill them with Faith and sound comprehension.
Al-Mughirah bin Habib said, “We visited Malik bin Dinar during his illness before he died and saw him raising his head to heaven and saying, ‘O Allah, You know that I did not like staying in this life to satisfy my sexual organ or to fill my stomach.”
May Allah grant His Mercy to our Salaf, and indeed, there is a far difference between us and them. They loved to remain alive so that they could increase the acts of obedience and worship. Why do we wish to live longer?
Sulaiman At-Taimi said, “I visted one of my friends when he was dying and saw him in a bad shape, and that made me anxious. I asked him, ‘Why are you afraid like this, when you, all thanks are due to Allah, were on a righteous path?’ He said, ‘Why should I not feel afraid? Who deserves to be afraid more than I? By Allah! Even if forgiveness came to me from Allah, the Exalted, I would still feel ashamed from Him for what I have committed.”
May Allah help us when it is time to meet Him and make us among those who prepare for death and are ready for its agonies and stupor, just as our Salaf used to be.
When Muhammad bin Sirin felt the approaching of death, he wept and said in answer to why he wept, “I weep because of my inadequacy in past days and the fewness of my good actions that would bring me closer to the high Paradise and save me from the blazing Fire.”
Verily, death brings unease to people when it is mentioned, so much so that they wish people would cease talking about it. In comparison, ‘Umar bin Abdul-Aziz used to say, “If remembrance of death departed from my heart for an hour, my heart would be corrupted.”
Therefore, just like ‘Umar death should not be absent from our minds for even an hour. However, we do not have the patience to hear about death, even for an hour. Some people would even depart from the gathering where death is being mentioned, because unawareness has taken over their hearts, as well as, eagerness for this life and its short delights.
Let us think about what Caliph Harun Ar-Rashid said when he was choosing his own shroud and looking at it:
“My wealth has not availed me. My power (and arguments to defend myself) have gone from me!” (69:28,29)
When death approached Salma Al-Farisi he wept. He was asked why he wept and he replied, “I do not wept in grief for this life, but because the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) has recommended that one of us should only collect what is sufficient as provision for a traveler.” After Salman died, what he left behind was counted and its value was of ten Dirhams only.
Where are we from these righteous people?
‘Umar bin Abdul-Aziz reminded us of our destination and of the time when we will depart from this life, saying, “Do you not see that every day, you are preparing a traveler to Allah, the Exalted and Ever-High, by day or by night? You then place them in a hole in the ground, where they will use dirt for pillows, leaving behind loved ones, wealth and power.”
Moreover, when death approached Ibn Al-Mubarak, he said to Nasr, his servant, “Place my head on the ground,” but Nasr wept. He asked him, “What makes you weep?” Nasr said, “I remembered the delight you enjoyed and here you die as a poor and a stranger.” Ibn Al-Mubarak said, “Do not say that. I begged Allah that I live the life of hapy ones and die the death of the poor.” He then ordered Nasr, “Recite Shahadah to me (La Ilaha Illallah) and do not repeat it unless I say something else.”
How can we feel safe, when Al-Faruq, ‘Umar said, “If I have the earth’s fill of gold and silver, I would ransom myself with it. How can I feel safe knowing the horror that is still to come and before knowing the true news (about my final destination)?” Also, after ‘Umar was stabbed, he asked his son to place his cheek on the ground and he did; ‘Umar wept until some mud stuck to his eyes. ‘Umar was weeping and saying, “Woe to me, and woe to my mother, if my Lord did not bestow His mercy on me.”
Futher, Umm Darda said that when a righteous man died, Abu Darda used to say, “Congratulations. I wish I was in your place.” When Umm Darda asked him about it, he said, “Do you not know that one starts the day while a believer and ends it while hypocrite, thus, being rid of his Faith while he is unaware? This is why I congratulate that dead man [for dying while righteous] more than I wish for him to stay alive to pray and fast.”
When Al-Kinani was dying, he was asked, “What type of actions were you doing?” He asked, “If I was not dying, I would not have told you. I stood at the door of my heart for forty years, and whenever any other than Allah passed by its door, I kept him away.”
How many times did we stop at the doors of our hearts so that we find out who went through them?
When Bilal was close to death, his wife said to him, “How said I am! he said, “Rather, how delighted I am! Tomorrow, I will meet the loved ones: Muhammad and his Companions.”
Also, this is the Faruq of this Ummah, ‘Umar, let us see how fearful of Allah he was. Abdullah bin Zubair said, “Ever since I became aware of my surroundings, no sadness struck us more than that which struck us when ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab was stabbed. He had led us in Zuhr, ‘Asr, Maghrib and ‘Isha prayers, as at east and delighted as anny of the people were. When it was time for Fajr prayer, a man led us in prayer and said Takbir in a different voice (not ‘Umar’s). It was Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Awf. When we finished the prayer, they said that the Leader of the Faithful (‘Umar) was stabbed. The people finished the prayer while ‘Umar was still bleeding and did not pray Fajr prayer yet. He was told “O Leader of the Faithful! The prayer, the Prayer.” He said, “Yes, by Allah! One has no share in Islam if he ignores the prayer.” He wanted to stand up, but his wound bled. He asked, “O People! Did this stab occur by your knowledge?” ‘Ali bin Abu Talib said, “No, by Allah! We do not know who was the attacker among the creation of Allah. We would sacrifice ourselves for you and our blood for your blood.” ‘Umar looked at Abdullah bin Abbas and said, “Go out to the people, ask them and tell me the truth.” Ibn ‘Abbas went out and came back declaring, “O Leader of the Faithful! Receive the glad tidings of paradise! By Allah, I never saw an eye that moves belonging to a male or a felame but weeping for you, all wishing the could sacrifice their fathers and mothers for you. The [Majoosi (fire-worshipper)] slave of Al-Mughirah bin Shu’bah has stabbed you and twelve other men, who are now bleeding, and Allah will decide about them whatever He decides.
Congratulations of Paradise, O Leader of the Faithful. ‘Umar said, “Deceive someone else with this talk, O Ibn ‘Abbas! Ibn Abbas said, “Why should I not say this when, by Allah, your embracing Islam brought us might, your migration was a triumph, your leadership was filled with justice and you were killed injustly.” ‘Umar said, “Would you testify to the same before Allah on the Day of Resurrection?” ‘Ali bin Abu Talib said, “Yes, O Leader of the Faithful! We will testify for you before Allah on the Day of Resurrection.” ‘Umar then looked at his son Abdullah and ordered him, “Place my cheek on the ground, my son!” Abdullah said later, “I did not oblig him thinking that he was unaware of what he was saying.” So again ‘Umar ordered Abdullah, “My son! Place my cheek on the ground!” Abdullah bin Umar did not do it, and ‘Umar ordered him for a third time, “Place my cheek on the ground, may you have no mother!” Abdullah knew then that ‘Umar was aware of what he was saying and placed his cheek on the ground, until he saw the hairs on his beared between the sand on the ground. ‘Umar wept until the mud stuck to his eyes and said ‘Woe to Umar and to the mother of ‘Umar, if Allah does not pardon him.'”
In addition, Abdul-Aziz bin Abu Rawwad said, “I entered on Al-Mughirah bin Hakeem during the illness that preceded his death and said to him, ‘Advise me.’ He said, ‘Work for this end.'”
As for us, did we work for this end? Did we work for the Day of Horror?