Does a person who dies by saying la ilaha illallah in his last breath die as a Muslim?

The Details of the Question

Does a person who disobeys Allah throughout his life and lives in unbelief die as a Muslim if he dies by saying la ilaha illallah in his last breath and repents? What are the evidences about it?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- Yes, a person who says la ilaha illallah muhammadun rasulullah in his last breath and dies enters grave with belief according to Shari’ah in terms of outward appearance.

What you mean by “living in unbelief” may be real unbelief or in sins; a person who utters kalima ash-shahada in his last breath and dies is regarded as a Muslim in either case; his janazah prayer is performed and he is buried in the Muslim cemetery.

The phrase “and if he repents” is a bit ambiguous. For, repentance in the last breath is not accepted. However, even if he does not repent, he is regarded as a believer after he utters kalima ash-shahada. 

To enter grave with belief saves a person from living in Hell forever. However, it does not mean he will not be punished. For, if Allah wishes, He will punish such a person in accordance with his sins and puts him in Paradise after that. Or, He puts him directly in Paradise by forgiving him and without punishing him if He wishes.  

“Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth...” (an-Nisa 4/48)

This fact is underlined in the verse above.

According to a narration, the Prophet (pbuh) said,

“If a person believes sincerely that there is no god but Allah and dies with that belief, he will enter Paradise.”

(Bukhari, h. no: 5827; Muslim, h. no:43/ see also h. no:12; Ibn Hajar, Fathul-Bari, 3/109, 7/149)

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