What does every soul must taste death mean in islam?
Our Lord, who declares, “I only created Jinn and men to worship Me.” (Adh-Dhariyat, 51:56), demands worship and servitude from us. As a result of this, He wills for us to undergo various stages on the path of spiritual advancement and acquire experiential knowledge to come to know our Lord directly with our hearts.
What a pitiful delusion, therefore, is our conducting ourselves in this realm, like heedless wanderers not knowing their purpose and responsibility in this fleeting world and oblivious to the fact that they will die at an appointed time. Freeing ourselves of such a delusion is only possible through considering each one of our numbered breaths in this life as steps on the journey to eternity.
The event of death that will surely come upon every living traveller is a mystery that all possessors of understanding are forced to solve. Indeed, Allah Almighty declares in a verse in the chapter entitled ‘The Prophets (Al-Anbiya, 21:35)
“Every self will taste of death. We test you with both good and evil as a trail. And you will be returned to Us.”
In the second verse of the chapter, ‘The Kingdom’ He declares:
“He who created death and life to test which of you is best in action. He is the Almighty, the Ever-Forgiving.” (Al-Mulk, 67:2).
Let us not forget that there is in the world is not a place in which to hide from death and that there will be no return from the grave nor will there be any shelter in which to take refuge from the ferocity of the Last Day. The Qur’an calls out to those who seek an escape from the reality of death:
“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.’” (Al-Jumu’a, 62:8)
“Wherever you are, death will catch up with you, even if you are in impregnable fortresses.” (An-Nisa, 4:78)
Since there is no escaping death, what needs to be done is to try to beautify it.
How, then, is death to be beautified? For whom is death the rejoicing of a return home after separation and a reunion with their beloved?
Just as a sound means, or a sound path is necessary for a sound result, a worldly life adorned with belief and right action and is required for a happy life in the abode to come. A death opening onto eternal bliss is a reward only for a life led under the guidance of the light of belief and the Qur’an.
So, a Muslim must never forget his religion in any phase life and try hard to spend his twenty-four hours just as the Master of the Prophets, Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) did. They thus need to weigh up their own state earnestly and frequently.
As ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) has said:
“Call yourselves to account before you are called to account, and prepare yourselves for the Day of Judgement: the Day you shall be brought before Allah. Truly, the account in the Next Life of the one who calls himself to account in this life will be easier.” (Tirmidhi, Qiyama, 25/2459)
For instance, a Muslim should weigh up their entire day each night and should ask themselves:
- How did I open my book of life this morning? Did I give thanks to my Lord who bestowed upon me a new day?
- Was I able to hasten to meet Him at the hour of early dawn to which He invites me to forgiveness? How much was I able to benefit from the overflowing of divine mercy and forgiveness at that time? Or did I waste away those special opportunities with sleep?
- Did I carry with me the light of this blessed time to the rest of my day? How much of my day passed in remembrance of Allah? To what extent did I experience the closeness of Allah in my remembrance of Him?
- Did I contemplate death, the destroyer of pleasures?
- How much did I shed myself of life’s superfluous concerns and turn to my Lord? How much depth of contemplation did the inscriptions of divine power and majesty bring about in my heart?
- How many times did I respond to the divine call from the minaret and to offer my prayer in congregation? Did I observe my prayers in a fitting manner earning divine approval, in humble submission, in harmony of heart and body?
- Was I careful that my earnings, what I ate, drank and wore today were lawful and not doubtful or forbidden? Did a sense of avoidance of what is forbidden accompany me in all of my actions and conduct?
- Did I take care in regard to observing the rights of others? Am I able to say, “I did not violate the rights of others, I did not hurt anyone”?
- Was I able to look at all creation with the Creator’s mercy, compassion and love?
- Did I observe the rights of the creature at my doorstep? Did I have mercy on creation, knowing that a person who starved a cat will be punished and one who gave water to a thirsty dog will be forgiven?
- Did I inquire after my mother, father and relatives? If they have passed away, did I read the Qur’an for their souls?
- Was I able to behold my family wholeheartedly, with the awareness of it being one of the gardens of the Garden and protect my loved ones from the adverse effects of the outside world – of fashion, advertising, television and the internet? In this respect, to what extent was I able to translate into action, the divine injunction, “You who believe! Safeguard yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and Stones, ” (At-Tahrim, 66:6)
- Did I see my husband off to work in the morning lovingly, with a smile and ask Allah that he bring home lawful sustenance? Did I greet him again with a smile and tender words on his return, help him unwind and strive to be a family from which all others take example?
- How tender and compassionate was I towards my wife and my children? How much effort did I exert for their moral and spiritual wellbeing, knowing that the greatest legacy I can leave behind for them is useful knowledge that leads to the Garden?
- What did I teach my children, whom Allah has entrusted to me, in the manner of decency and righteousness? Did I try to awaken in them a love of Allah and His Messenger and all the Divinely-sent Prophets and friends of Allah?
- What did I do today, to inculcate an Islamic character in my children, who will be my representatives tomorrow?
- Which seeds of virtue did I sow in the hearts of my offspring that they be a source of pride and happiness for me on the Day of Reckoning?
- Did I instil in them a consciousness of Islamic belief, practise and all that is sacred, being a trust? Did I remind them of their ancestors who bequeathed this beautiful nation to us, the honourable martyrs who gladly sacrificed their lives in the way of Allah and of their unswerving belief and devotion? Did I help them see that the Qur’an is Allah’s greatest blessing and the Call to Prayer echoing in our skies is our greatest honour and dignity?
- I spend years of labour, time and expense for the worldly education of my children; what did I do towards their training for the eternal abode? Did I think it enough for their eternal future to send them to the mosque for a month or two in the summer holidays?
- Did I approach those in need of guidance today with softness of speech, an admirable manner and a heart exuding mercy? Did I enjoin the good and try to prevent evil and ask Allah for their guidance? Did I set an example of what it means to be a good Muslim through my character and conduct?
- While generations are being lost today like logs swept away by floods, what precautions did I take for the protection of your family, first and foremost, followed by all those for whom I bear responsibility, against the corruption and evil of our day?
- Did I take a child or young person along with me to the mosque? Did I try to gather together a few young people to give to them materially and spiritually and attract them to Islam? What did I gift a person I love for the sake of Allah?
- With whom and to what extent did I share the bounties that Allah has bestowed upon me? Did I spend some part of my wealth in the way of Allah?
- Did I experience the spiritual satisfaction of contributing to the happiness of another believer?
- Did I show compassion to an orphan? Did I visit the sick? Did I attend a funeral procession today?
- Did I attend to my neighbour’s needs and those in my surrounds? Did a poor neighbour who went to bed hungry cause grief to my heart?
- Did I share what I have with Syrian refugees taking refuge in my country? Did I work towards being one of the helpers for those emigrants?
- Was I troubled by the plight of the World Muslim community? Did I feel a pain in my heart because of the suffering of the oppressed?
- Did I work towards the feeding of the hungry, the healing of the sick and helping relieve the burden of a person in debt? Did I ask Allah to this end with my heart, tongue and most importantly, with my actions?
- Did I greet everyone I encountered today, whether you knew them or not? Did I show people a smiling face?
- Did I respond with goodness to a person who treated me harshly and harmed me? Was I able to forgive them?
- Did I win any friends? How many friendships did I renew?
- Did I try to keep company with a righteous friend of Allah? Did I befriend a righteous and faithful person who would always speak the truth, even if it went against to my interests and ego? Was I concerned for the protection of my heart because of the company of wrongdoers and transgressors?
- Did I remove something harmful from the road?
- Did I perform any service or activity that increased me in knowledge or wisdom?
- Did I receive from any religious gatherings, spiritual remedies for my heart and spirit that will increase me in exuberance?
- How many pages of the Qur’an, the greatest miracle to continue until the Last Day, did I read? Did I reflect upon the messages in it and act accordingly? Was I among those who taught the Qur’an and who hastened to its service, in order to take my place among the best of people?
- Did I have the willpower to resist bad habits that are tempting me and trying find their way into my life?
- Was I able to protect my tongue against idle and empty speech, lies and gossip, slander and quarrelling and against injuring the heart of another?
- How did I close my book of life today? What was written on today’s pages of deeds? Will I be able to account for today’s page on the Day of Reckoning?
- In short, did it at all cross my mind that I am forever putting my life on record, that every state and deed is being recorded with divine cameras? Did I examine my last twenty-four hours and call myself to account?
Those believers motivated by such self-interrogation understand death to be a means of reunion with the Beloved, rather than something to be feared. In this way, death, which is a passage between the two worlds, begins to take on a beautiful form.
This goes to show that the sole means of being freed of the cold chills of death is to deepen in contemplation of the expression, “Die before you die,” and to strive to lead a righteous life.
 See Muslim, Fada’il al-Sahaba, 12.