How can we overcome the fear of death?
Submitted by on Tue, 25/08/2009 - 13:17
Dear Brother / Sister,
Every human will definitely experience the life of grave, whether s/he is buried underground after death, whether stays deep down the sea having been drowned, or is eaten by a predator, or thrown as ash into air after being cremated... As the torment of the grave and questioning is also addressed to the spirit, even if the corpse of the deceased is not in the grave, s/he will experience the questioning and- if s/he deserves-the torment of the grave. Even if corpses are buried underground, they rot after some time. Therefore, the life of the grave, questioning, reward or punishment (of the grave-life) should not be attributed only to the corpse buried underground.
Death is the phenomenon of the spirit's leaving the body. It is body that dies, not spirit. Human is essentially spirit. Body is its home or garment. One's existence is not harmed through change of garment or through its getting ripped off or exterminated. Our Lord, who makes us wear this body in this world's life, and who thus accommodates us in this universe, separates our spirit from that garment when He makes us emigrate from this world.
Death is not extermination. It is the door of a better world. A seed underground apparently dies, rots and becomes eradicated, but in reality it enters a better life, from the life of a seed to a life of a tree.
Similarly, a person who dies apparently goes under the earth, rots, but in reality s/he finds a more beautiful life in the intermediate realm (the realm of the grave).
Body and spirit are like a light-bulb and electricity. When the bulb is broken, electricity does not die out, but continues to exist. Even if we don't see it, we are sure that electricity is still existent. Likewise, when human dies, spirit leaves the body. But it continues to exist. Allah ensures the spirit's life in the intermediate realm by making it wear a more appropriate and beautiful garment.
When human is put into the grave after death, two angels named Munkar and Naker come to him/her and ask: “Who is your Lord? Who is your Prophet? What is your religion?” Those who have belief and good deeds answer those questions correctly. The gates of Paradise are opened to such dead people, who answer the questions correctly, and they are shown Paradise. Unbelievers and hypocrites cannot answer those questions correctly. And the gates of Hell are opened to them and the torment therein is shown to them. While believers will live without anxiety and with peace and blessings in the grave, unbelievers and hypocrites will suffer torment. (see az-Zabidi, Tajridi Sarih, trans. Kamil Miras, Ankara 1985, IV 496 et al)
There are certain verses of Qur'an and hadiths which denote the presence of torment and of blessing in the grave. In a verse, it is stated: “The Fire: they are exposed to it morning and evening; and when the Last Hour comes in (and the Judgment is established, it is ordered): "Admit the clan of the Pharaoh into the severest punishment. " (The Qur'an, Al-Mumin, 40:46) According to that verse, there is torment before the Doomsday, too; in other words, in the grave. The Prophet explained that the verse: "God keeps firm those who believe by the true, firm word in the life of this world and in the Hereafter.” (The Qur'an, Abraham, 14:27) was revealed about the blessing of grave. (Bukhari, Tafsir, Surah: 14).
There are many hadiths mentioned in books of hadith. Some of them are as follows:
While the Prophet, peace and blessings upon him, was passing by a cemetery, he saw that two dead people in two graves were suffering torment for some petty things. One of the dead people in those two graves was making Namima (informing s.o. of s.o.’s drawbacks that are related to the hearer) and the other was not avoiding urine (not paying attention to avoiding urine drops while urinating). Thereupon Allah's Messenger, peace and blessings upon him, took a green branch, split it into two, and planted them each on the two graves. The Companions asked why he did so. The Prophet replied: “As long as those two branches do not dry, the torment those two suffer is hoped to be alleviated.” (Bukhari Janaiz, 82; Muslim, Iman, 34; Abu Davud, Taharat, 26)
The Prophet says in another hadith of his: “The grave is either a garden of the gardens of Paradise, or a pit of the pits of Hell.” (Tirmidhi, Qiyamat, 26)
In another hadith, the Prophet says: “When the deceased is put to grave, two dark blue angels, one named Munkar, the other Naker, come, and they say to the dead: “What do you say about Muhammad (PBUH)?” And s/he answers: “He is the slave and Messenger of Allah. I witness that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.” Thereupon the angels say: “We already knew you would say so.” Then they widen his/her grave seventy yards. And then this person's grave is enlightened. Then the angels say to the deceased: “Lie and sleep!” S/he says: “Go to my family and inform them of my situation.” The angels say: “Continue sleeping till the Day of Resurrection, just like the person who is in his/her wedding night and who is waken only by the person who s/he likes most.” If the dead is a hypocrite, the angels say to him/her: “What do you say about Muhammad (PBUH)?” And the hypocrite answers: “I had heard people say some things about Muhammad, and I talked like them. I know nothing else.” The angels say to him/her: “We already knew you would say so.” And then the earth is addressed: “Pressure this person as much as you can!” And the earth starts to pressure. To such an extent that that person feels as if his/her bones entangled each other. That torment continues till the Day of Resurrection.” (Tirmidhi Janaiz 70)
In the Qur'an, about the grave life of the martyrs, it is stated: "Do not think at all of those killed in God's cause as dead. Rather, they are alive; with their Lord they have their sustenance." (The Qur’an, Al-‘Imran, 3:169), "And say not of those who are killed in God's cause: "They are dead. " Rather they are alive, but you are not aware.” (The Qur’an, Al-Baqarah, 2:154)
It is more appropriate to believe that the torment will be suffered by both the spirit and the body. However, it will not be the body which is put to earth that will be tormented, but the new luminous body, which is suitable for the realm of grave and which the spirit wears after leaving its worldly body, will be tormented. Some people from Ahl-i Sunnat (mainstream Islamic sect) said that just as the essence of rose penetrates the rose, so too the spirit is an ore which penetrates the body (Aliyyu'l-Kâri, Explanation of Fıkh-ı Akbar, trans. Y. Vehbi Yavuz, Istanbul 1979, p. 259). In the verse it is stated: They ask you about the spirit. Say: "The spirit is of my Lord's Command, and of knowledge, you have been granted only a little. (The Qur’an, Al-‘Isra, 17:85).
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