‘The Journey of the Soul’
Close the eye of the Deceased
Umm Salamah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ visited Abu Salamah (May Allah be pleased with him) when his eyes were open soon after he died. He closed them (the eyes) for him and said, “When the soul is taken away, the sight follows it.” Some members of his family began to weep. He ﷺ said: “Do not supplicate for yourselves anything but good, for the angels say `amin’ to what you say.” Then he ﷺ said, “O Allah! Forgive Abu Salamah, raise his rank among those who are rightly-guided and grant him a successor from his descendants who remain behind. Grant him pardon and us, too. O Rubb of the worlds. Make his grave spacious for him and give him light in it.” [Muslim].
Cover the Deceased with a Cloth
This is because of the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her), according to which the Messenger of Allaah ﷺ was shrouded in a striped cloak. (al-Bukhaari and Muslim).
Hasten to prepare him and take him out (Funeral)
We see it as a common practice to hold the funeral procession until a son or a daughter come from abroad to catch the last glimpse but this is against the Sunnah. We are expected to hasten to get the Procession done.
This is because of the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) which he attributed to the Prophet ﷺ: ‘Hasten to bury the deceased, for if he was righteous, then you are taking him to something good, and if he was otherwise, then it is an evil of which you are relieving yourselves.” (al-Bukhaari and Muslim)
FROM ONE WORLD TO ANOTHER
(Taken from the Book Journey of the Soul by Ibn Qayyim)
“Why, but when the soul reaches the throat of the dying and at that moment you are watching – and We are nearer to him than you, but you do not see Us. ” (Al-Waqi’a(56):83-85)
When someone dies, the Angel of Death comes to take his soul, no matter where he is. The dying person sees him, hears him, and speaks to him, but not with his eyes, his ears, or his tongue. How then? I do not know exactly. All I do know is that when he begins to move to another world, he sees, hears, and speaks, by some means which, we, the living, do not perceive. Many instances of this have been recorded:
Fadala b. Dinar said, ‘I was with Muhammad b. Wasr when he was very near to death. He began to say, “Welcome to my Lord’s angels! There is no strength nor power except by Allah!” I smelled the sweetest fragrance that I had ever smelled. Then his eyes glazed over and he died.’
Why do I (ibn Qayyim) need to look so far into the past, to the days of the first Muslims? I myself was present at the moment of someone’s death in our own time. I was with my grandmother when she was dying.
It was at the time of the Dawn Prayer. She was in pain and gasping for breath, moaning from the intensity of the pain but in spite of that, she kept repeating with great joy, ‘Allah! Death is sweet and saying the shahada over and over for several minutes. Then it was all over. This is where our job, those of us who are still alive, begins.
After the soul is taken, if it is a pure soul and has relatives in the Next World who are people of the Garden, they come to meet the soul with yearning and great joy. They ask it about the condition of those who are still alive in this world. The angels then bear the soul from one heaven to the next until it comes into the presence of Allah, glory be to Him and may He be exalted!
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet ﷺ said: “When the believer is dying, the angels of mercy come to him with white silk and say: ‘Come out content and with the pleasure of Allah upon you to the mercy of Allah, fragrance and a Lord Who is not angry; So it comes out like the best fragrance of musk. They pass him from one to another until they bring him to the gate of heaven, where they say: ‘; How good is this fragrance that has come to you from the Earth! Then the souls of the believers come to him and they rejoice more over him than any one of you rejoices when his absent loved one comes to him. They ask him: ‘What happened to so-and-so, what happened to so-and-so?’ They say: ‘Let him be, for he was in the hardship of the world. When he says, ‘Did he not come here?’ They say: ‘He was taken to the pit (of Hell).’ Come out discontent, subject of Divine wrath, to the punishment of Allah, the Mighty and Sublime; So it comes out like the foulest stench of a corpse. They bring him to the gates of the Earth, where they say: ‘How foul is this stench!’ Then they bring him to the souls of the disbelievers.” (Sunan an-Nasa’i 1833)
Then it returns and sees the washing of the body, its shrouding, and the funeral procession. It says either. Take me forward! Take me forward or ‘Where are you taking me?’ The people there cannot hear this.
Narrated Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri: Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “When the funeral is ready (for its burial) and the people lift it on their shoulders, then if the deceased is a righteous person he says, ‘Take me ahead,’ and if he is not a righteous one then he says, ‘Woe to it (me)! Where are you taking it (me)?’ And his voice is audible to everything except human beings; and if they heard it they would fall down unconscious. ” (Sahih Bukhari)
When the corpse has been placed in the grave, the soul inserts itself between the body and the shroud so that the questioning can take place. Then the soul hears the receding footfall of the last of the people who followed the funeral and the earth is levelled over him.
The Prophet ﷺ said, When a man is placed in his grave and his friends leave him, he hears the beat of their sandals. Then two angles come and speak to him. (Abu Dawood)
Make Dua for the Deceased after Burial
Abu `Amr (also called Abu `Abdullah and also Abu Laila) from `Uthman bin `Affan (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: After the burial of a dead man, the Prophet ﷺ would stand by the grave and say, “Ask Allah to forgive your brother and supplicate for him for steadfastness because he is being questioned (about his deeds) now.” [Abu Dawud].
Waiting for three days, then offering du‘aa’ for the deceased for a period of ten days, or twenty or thirty or forty days, on the grounds that his body goes through a number of stages of trials during this period, is an act that is contrary to the Sunnah and is a claim that is devoid of any evidence; it is a fabricated innovation.
That is because the Sunnah is what is mentioned above, which is to offer du‘aa’ for the deceased at the grave immediately after his burial. Moreover offering du‘aa’ for the Muslim dead in general and some in particular is something that is recommended in general terms, without specifying any particular period or time.
Disintegration of the Body in the Grave
People have some false or fabricated claims that in 3 days this happens to the body, then in 10 days that happens and hence we should keep gatherings on those particular days to remember and pray for the deceased. This is an innovation.
With regard to the stages through which the body passes after burial, this is something that only Allah knows. Bodies vary in the stages of disintegration, and not all bodies disintegrate in the same manner or at the same time. We have no need to know about that or examine the matter. Whether the body disintegrates rapidly or slowly, and whether the stomach explodes after ten days, or more or less than that, focusing on this and similar matters is a distraction from that which is much more important to focus on, which is the state of the soul which is either in a state of bliss or torment.
You may find a body that has been buried for many years but has not disintegrated because of environmental factors, but the individual is in a state of humiliating punishment. Like Firaun.
Or you may find that a body has disintegrated completely, but the individual is one of the martyrs who are in a state of bliss.
The basic principle is that punishment or bliss in the grave happen to the soul, and the soul may be connected to the body which thus feels something of that punishment or bliss.And we should pray for the deceased.
Squeezing of the Grave
When we are placed in the grave there is a squeezing, Ahmad (6/55, 98) narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said: “The grave has squeezing. If anyone were to be saved from it or spared it, Sa’d ibn Mu’aadh would have been spared it.” We ask Allaah to make the squeezing of the grave easy for us, for He is the Most Generous.
The Journey of the Soul
(from the Kitabar-Ruh – by Ibn Al Qayyim)
‘When the believer is about to depart from this world and go forward into the Next World, angels with faces as bright as the sun descend from the heavens and sit around him in throngs stretching 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 pleasure from Allah!” Then his soul emerges like a drop of water flows from a water-skin and the angel takes hold of it. When he has grasped it, the other angels do not leave it in his hand even for the twinkling of an eye. They take it and place it in a perfumed shroud and a fragrance issues from it like the sweetest scent of musk found on the face on the earth.
‘Then they bear it upwards and whenever they take it past a company of angels, they ask, “Who is this good soul?” and the angels with the soul reply, “So-and-so the son of so-and-so,” using the best names by which people used to call him in this world. They bring him to the lowest heaven and ask for the gate to be opened for him. It is opened for him and angels who are near Allah from each of the heavens accompany him to the subsequent heaven until he reaches to the heaven where Allah the Great is. Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, says, ‘Register the book of My slave in ‘Illiyun and take him back to earth. I created them from it and I return them to it and I will bring them forth from it again.”
‘His soul is then returned to his body and two angels come to him. They make him sit up and say to him,
“Then a Voice from on high declares, “My slave has spoken the truth, so spread out carpets from the Garden for him and open a gate of the Garden for him!” Then some of its fragrance and perfume comes to him, his grave is expanded for him as far as the eye can see, and a man with beautiful garments and a fragrant scent comes to him and says, “Rejoice in what delights you for this is the day which you were promised.” He asks, “Who are you? Yours is a face which presages good.” He replies, “I am your good actions.” Then he says, “0 Lord, let the Last Hour come soon so that I may rejoin my family and my property! “
‘When an unbeliever is about to depart from this world and go forward into the Next World, angels with black faces descend from the heavens carrying rough hair- cloth and sit around him in throngs stretching as far as the eye can see. Then the Angel of Death comes and sits at his head and says,
“Foul soul, come out to the wrath and anger of Allah! “Then his soul divides up in his body and it is dragged out like a skewer is pulled out of wet wool. Then the angel takes hold of it. When he has grasped it, the other angels do not leave it in his hand even for the twinkling of an eye. They take it and wrap it in the rough hair-cloth and a stench comes out of it like the worst stench of a corpse on the face of the earth.
‘Then they take it up and whenever they take it past a company of angels, they ask, “Who is this foul soul?” and the angels with the soul reply, “So-and-so the son of so-and-so,” using the worst names by which people used to call him in this world. They bring him to the lowest heaven and ask for the gate to be opened for him. It does not get opened.’
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ then recited, “The gates of heaven will not be opened to them nor will they enter the Garden until the camel passes through the eye of the needle. ” (Al Araf : 40)
‘Then Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, will say, “Register his book in Sijjin in the lowest earth.” Then his soul is flung down.’
The Prophet then recited, ‘Whoever associates anything with Allah, it is as though he has fallen from heaven and the birds snatch him away or the wind sweeps him headlong into a place far away.
‘Then his soul is returned to his body and two angels come and say to him, “Who is your Lord?” He replies, “Alas, alas, I do not know!” Then a voice calls from on high, “My slave has lied, so spread out carpets from the Fire for him and open a gate of the Fire for him! “Then a hot blast from it comes to him, his grave is made so narrow for him that his ribs are pressed together, and a man with a hideous face and clothing and a foul odour comes to him and says, “Grieve on account of what has brought you disgrace for this is the day which you were promised.” He asks, “Who are you? Yours is a face which presages evil.” He replies, “I am your bad actions.” Then he says, “0 Lord, do not let the Last Hour come! “
To conclude, we quote the hadeeth of the Prophet ﷺ where he said: “The grave is either a garden from the Gardens of Paradise, or a pit from the pits of Hell.” [At-Tirmithi]
We will study the punishments in the graves and their reasons in upcoming chapters and will also cover the blessings in the Grave in the Course. But the next three will be on the “Three Questions in the Grave” which as we have seen in the ahadeeth stated above, is central to our live in the Barzakh and whether our graves are Gardens of Paradise or a Pit from the pits of Hell. May Allah make us amongst those who are considered as the Good Soul, who are able to answer the questions in the Grave and are saved from its trials.