Harun Yahya - Death, Resurrection, Hell - DEATH
Death, Resurrection, Hell

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.'
(Surat al-Jumu'ah: 8)


Superstitions And Facts

Throughout history, man has successfully coped with many seemingly intractable problems. But death has remained inescapable. Everyone who appears on this earth no matter when, is destined to die. Man only lives until a certain day and then dies. Some die very young, while still babies. Others go through all phases of life and face death in their latter years. Nothing a man possesses, neither property, fortune, status, fame, grandeur, confidence nor good looks can repel death. Without exception, all men are helpless against death and will remain so.

The majority of people avoid thinking about death. It never occurs to them that this absolute end will befall them one day. They harbour the superstitious belief that if they avoid the thought of it, that will make them immune from death. In daily conversations, those who intend to talk about death are interrupted out of hand. Someone who does begin to speak about death, intentionally or not, recalls a sign of God and, even if only to a very slight degree, removes the thick cloud of heedlessness covering people's eyes. Nevertheless, a majority of people who make insouciance a way of life, feel uneasy when such "disturbing" facts are presented to them. Yet, the more they try to escape from the thought of death, the more the moment of death will obsess them. Their devil-may-care attitude will determine the intensity of the terror and bewilderment they will experience at the moment of death, on the Day of Judgement and during the eternal torment.

Time works against man. Have you ever heard of a man who has resisted ageing and death? Or, do you know anybody who will not die? This is quite unlikely! Unlikely because man has no influence whatsoever on his body or on his own life. That he himself did not decide his birth makes this fact obvious. Another piece of evidence is man's desperateness in the face of death. The owner of life is the One who grants it to man. And whenever He wills, He takes it back. God, the Owner of life, informs man about this in the verse He revealed to His Prophet:

We did not give any human being before you immortality. And if you die, will they then be immortal? (Surat al-Anbiya': 34)

At this moment, there are millions of people living around the world. From this we conclude that countless people appeared and passed away since the creation of the first man on earth. They all died without exception. Death is a certain end: for people in the past as well for those currently alive. No one can avoid this inevitable end. As the Qur'an puts it:

Every self will taste death. You will be paid your wages in full on the Day of Resurrection. Anyone who is distanced from the Fire and admitted to the Garden has triumphed. The life of the world is just the enjoyment of delusion. (Surah Al 'Imran: 185)


Assuming Death to be Coincidence or Bad Fortune

Death does not occur by chance. As is the case with all other incidents, it happens by God's decree. Just as the birth date of a man is predestined, so also is the date of his death right down to the very last second. Man rushes towards that last moment, rapidly leaving behind every hour, every minute granted to him. The death of everyone, its location and time, as well as the way one dies are all predetermined.

Despite this, however, the majority of people assume death to be the last point of a logical sequence of events, whereas its actual reasons are known only to God. Everyday death stories appear in newspapers. After reading these stories, you probably hear ignorant comments like: "He could have been saved, if necessary precautions had been taken" or "He would not have died, if so and so had happened." Not a minute longer or less can a person live, other than the time determined for him. However, people, who are remote from the consciousness granted by faith, view death as a component of a sequence of coincidences. In the Qur'an, God warns believers against this distorted rationale which is peculiar to disbelievers:

You who have faith! Do not be like those who disbelieve and say of their brothers, when they went on journeys or military expeditions, 'If they had only been with us, they would not have died or been killed.' God will cause them to regret their words. It is God Who ordains life and death. God sees what you do. (Surah Al 'Imran: 156)

Assuming death to be a coincidence is sheer ignorance and imprudence. As the verse above suggests, this gives great spiritual anguish and irresistible trouble to man. For disbelievers or those failing to have faith in the Qur'anic sense, losing a relative or a loved one is a cause of anguish and remorse. Attributing death to bad luck or negligence, they think there could be some leeway to avoid death. This is the rationale which indeed adds to their grief and regret. This grief and regret, however, is nothing but the torment of disbelief.

Nevertheless, contrary to the received wisdom, the cause of death is neither an accident, nor a disease nor anything else. It is surely God Who creates all these causes. Once the time granted to us terminates, our life ends for these apparent reasons. Meanwhile, none of the material resources devoted to saving one from death will bring another breath of life. God underscores this divine law in the following verse:

No self can die except with God's permission, at a pre-determined time... (Surah Al 'Imran: 145)

A believer is aware of the temporary nature of the life of this world. He knows that our Lord, Who gave him all the blessings he has enjoyed in this world, will take his soul whenever He wills and call him to account for his deeds. However, since he has spent his entire life to earn God's good pleasure, he does not worry about his death. Our Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) also referred to this good character in one of his prayers:

Jabir ibn Abdullah narrated, "When God's Apostle (peace be upon him) commenced the prayer he recited: God is the Greatest; then said: Verily my prayer, my sacrifices, my life and my death are for God, the Lord of the worlds." (Al-Tirmidhi, 262)


The Distorted Understanding of Destiny

People entertain many misconceptions about destiny, especially when death is the issue. Nonsensical ideas, e.g. that one may "defeat one's destiny" or "change one's destiny" are prevalent. Deeming their expectations and assumptions to be destiny, some unintelligent and ignorant people believe it is destiny that changes when events do not proceed as they anticipate or predict. They assume an unwise attitude and act as if they have read destiny beforehand and events have not proceeded in line with what they have read. Such a distorted and inconsistent rationale is surely the product of a narrow mind bereft of an adequate understanding of destiny.

Destiny is God's perfect creation of all events past and future in timelessness. God is the One who creates the concepts of time and space from nothing, Who keeps time and space under His control and Who is not bound by them. The sequence of events which was experienced in the past or which will be experienced in the future is, moment by moment, planned and created in the sight of God.

God creates time, thus He is not bound by it. Accordingly, that He follows the events He Himself created together with the ones He created is implausible. In this context, there is no need to say that God does not wait to see how events come to an end. In His sight, both the beginning and end of an event are plain. Similarly, there is no doubt about where this event is situated on the plane of eternity. Everything has already taken place and finished. This is similar to the images on a film-strip; just as the images on a film cannot exercise any influence on the film and change it, human beings who play their individual roles in life cannot influence the flow of events recorded on the destiny-strip. Human beings have no influence whatsoever on destiny. Just the contrary, it is destiny which is the determining factor in people's lives. Man, an absolute component of destiny, is not separate and independent from it. Let alone changing destiny, man is unable to go beyond the boundaries of destiny. For a better understanding, we can draw a parallel between a man and an actor in a film. The actor cannot slip out of the film, acquire a physical existence and start making changes in the film by deleting unfavourable scenes or adding some new ones. This would surely be an irrational suggestion.

Consequently, notions of defeating destiny or diverting the flow of events are sheer fallacy. One who says: "I defeated my destiny." is only deceiving himself-and the fact that he does so is a matter of his destiny.

A person may remain in coma for days. It may seem unlikely that he will revive. Yet, if he does recover, this does not mean that "he defeated his fate" or "doctors changed his fate." This is simply an indication that his time is not yet over. His recovery is nothing but a component of his own ineluctable fate. His fate is like that of all other human beings determined in the Sight of God.

And no living thing lives long or has its life cut short without that being in a Book. That is easy for God. (Surat al-Fatir: 11)

Our Prophet (pbuh) said the following to a believer who was praying to God to enable her to derive benefit from her loved ones:

You have asked from God about durations of life already set, and the length of days already allotted and the sustenances the share of which has been fixed. God would not do anything earlier before its due time, or He would not delay anything beyond its due time. (Book 33, Number 6438, Sahih Muslim)

Such incidents are the means by which God displays to man the endless intelligence, wisdom, variety and blessing inherent in His creation and the way He puts man to the test. Such variety adds to the appreciation, amazement and, ultimately, to people's faith. In disbelievers, however, they produce sensations somewhere between uncertainty, astonishment and perversion which, owing to their ignorant mentality, makes them assume a more rebellious attitude towards God. Meanwhile, awareness of such a heedless outlook on the part of disbelievers, makes believers feel more grateful to God for allowing them to have faith and wisdom, which makes them superior to disbelievers.

According to another piece of received wisdom, the death of a person dying in his 80s is "destiny" whereas the death of a baby, a young or a middle-aged man is a "dire event." To be able to accept death as a natural phenomenon, they try to make death fit their established criteria. Thus after a long and severe illness, death seems acceptable while, death by a sudden sickness or accident is an untimely disaster! That is why they often meet death in a rebellious spirit. Such a stance is a clear sign of being bereft of an ultimate faith in destiny, and consequently in God. Those nurturing such a frame of mind will be doomed to live in constant grief and trouble in this life. This is actually the beginning of the eternal torment which results from being faithless.


The Belief in Reincarnation

One of the common irrational beliefs people hold about death is that "reincarnation" is a possibility. Reincarnation means that on the physical death of the body, the soul transmigrates to or is born again in another body with a separate identity in a different time and location. Recently, it has become a perverted movement attracting many adherents among disbelievers and followers of superstitious beliefs.

In technical terms, the reasons why such superstitious beliefs receive support-on the basis of no concrete evidence whatsoever-are the concerns disbelieving people subconsciously harbour. Having no faith in the Hereafter, people are afraid of being reduced to insignificance after death. Those of poor faith, on the other hand, feel uneasy about the thought of being sent to hell since they are aware, or at least, consider it a probability, that God's justice entails their punishment. For both, however, the idea of the rebirth of the soul in other bodies at various times sounds extremely alluring. Thus, particular circles who exploit this distorted belief succeed in making people believe in this fallacy with the help of a little window-dressing. That their followers do not demand any further evidence encourages the efforts of these opportunists.

Unfortunately, such a perverted belief also finds adherents in Muslim circles. These are mostly the type of Muslims who are anxious to project an intellectual and liberal self-image. There is another serious dimension to this issue that deserves mention; such people strive to confirm their views with the help of Qur'anic verses. To this end, they distort the explicit meanings of the verses and fabricate their own Qur'anic interpretations. Our intention here is to emphasise that this perverted belief is totally at variance with the Qur'an and Islam and wholly contradictory to the verses of the Qur'an which are absolutely precise.

These circles claim that there are a few verses in the Qur'an which corroborate their perverted views. One of these verses is the following:

They will say, 'Our Lord, twice You caused us to die and twice You gave us life. We admit our wrong actions. Is there no way out?' (Surat al-Mu'min: 11)

On the basis of this verse, people who believe in reincarnation claim the following: man is given a new life after he has lived in this life for some time and then dies. This is the second time he comes into being and also the period during which his soul completes its development. After the second death following this second life, they claim, man is resurrected in the Hereafter.

Now divorcing ourselves from any prejudices, let's analyse this verse: from the verse, it is evident that man experiences two states of living and dying. In this context, a third state of being dead or alive is out of question. This being the case, one question comes to mind: "What was man's initial state? Being dead or alive?" We find the answer to this question in the following verse:

How can you reject God? Did He not give you life when you were dead and will He not cause you to die and then give you life again? Will you not return to Him at last? (Surat al-Baqarah: 28)

The verse is self-explanatory; initially, man is dead. In other words, owing to the very nature of his creation, he is originally made up of inanimate matter such as water, earth, etc., as the verses inform. Then, God made this heap of inanimate matter alive, "created and shaped" it. This is the first death and thus the first rising from the dead. Some time after this first rising from death, life ends and man dies. He returns to earth again, just as in the first phase, and is reduced to insignificance. This is the second transition to the state of death. The second and last event of rising from the dead is the one taking place in the Hereafter. Since this is the case, there is not a second resurrection in the life of this world. Otherwise, this would necessitate a third resurrection. However, there is no reference to a third resurrection in any of the verses. Both in Surat al-Mu'min: 11, and Surat al-Baqarah: 128, there is no reference suggesting the possibility of a second resurrection in the life of this world. On the contrary, these verses explicitly reveal the existence of one resurrection in this world and another one in the Hereafter.

Yet followers of reincarnation invest all their hopes in these two verses.

As is evident, even these verses put forth as evidence by the followers of reincarnation alone refute this distorted rationale. In addition, several other verses in the Qur'an make it clear that there is only one life where man is put to the test and that it is in the life of this world. That there is no return to this life after death is stated in the following verse:

When death comes to a wrongdoer, he says, 'My Lord, send me back again, so that perhaps I may act rightly regarding the things I failed to do!' 'No indeed! It is just words he utters. Before them shall stand a barrier until the Day they are raised up.' (Surat al-Mu'minun: 99-100)

The dialogues in the verse make it clear that after death, there is no return to this life. Meanwhile, in this verse, God draws our attention to the fact that disbelievers entertain desperate hopes about a second raising from the dead, a second return to this life. However, the verse clarifies that these are just words suggested by disbelievers which have no validity.

That the people of Paradise will not experience another death other than the "first" death is described in the following verse:

They will not taste any death there - except for the first one. He will safeguard them from the punishment of the Blazing Fire. A favour from your Lord. That is the Great Victory. (Surat ad-Dukhan: 56-57)

The great bliss of the people of Paradise is described in another verse. This bliss is due to the fact that they will not experience another death except for the first one:

Are we not going to die, except for our first death? Are we not going to be punished? Truly this is the Great Victory! (Surat as-Saffat: 58-59)

The above verses leave no room for further questions. The conclusion is, there is only one death which man experiences. At this stage, the following question may arise: "Despite the reference to two deaths in the previous verses, why is only one death mentioned in Surat as-Saffat: 58?" The answer to this question is given in the 56th verse of Surat ad-Dukhan, which says: "They will not taste any death there - except for the first one." Indeed, there is one and only one death that man meets consciously. He encounters it, and with all his senses, perceives it. This is the death one meets at the moment his life ends. He surely cannot perceive the very first state of death since at that time he is deprived of senses and consciousness.

In the face of such definite and clear explanations as the Qur'an brings, maintaining that there are more deaths and states of rising from the dead and holding that there is transmigration of the soul would be an overt denial of the Qur'an verses.

On the other hand, if God had created a system in this life based on reincarnation, then He would definitely have informed man about it in the Qur'an, which is the only guide to the true path for humanity. If this had been the case, God would surely have provided a detailed account of all phases of reincarnation. However, in the Qur'an, which provides every sort of information related to the life and the next life of believers, there is not a single hint about reincarnation, let alone a direct reference to it.


The Veil Of Heedlessness

Man is intrinsically selfish; he is extremely sensitive about issues linked to his own interests. Ironically, he displays indifference towards death, which ought to be a matter of paramount concern. In the Qur'an, this state of mind peculiar to "those who do not hold firmly to Faith" is defined by God in one word: "heedlessness".

The meaning of heedlessness is a deficiency in full comprehension of facts owing to a blurring of awareness or even total unawareness and the resultant failure to arrive at sound judgements and give pertinent responses. An example of this is given in the following verse:

Mankind's Reckoning has drawn very close to them, yet they heedlessly turn away. (Surat al-Anbiya': 1)

People feel certain that one who is afflicted by a fatal or incurable disease will die. Yet, no less than this patient, these people who harbour such feelings of certainty, too, will die. That this will happen some time in the future or very soon does not change this fact. Often, heedlessness obscures this truth. For instance, it is highly probable that someone afflicted with HIV will die in the near future. Yet, the fact remains that it is also highly probable -if the truth be told, it is certain-that a vigorous person next to him will one day die. Maybe death will come upon him long before it comes upon that "HIV-stricken patient." This will most likely be at some quite unexpected moment

Family members grieve over patients on their deathbeds. Yet, hardly ever do they grieve over themselves, who will definitely die one day. However, given the certainty of the event, the response should not vary depending on whether it occurs shortly or at some far-off time.

If, in the face of death, grief is the correct response to give, then everyone should immediately start grieving for himself or for another. Or, he should overcome his grief and strive to have a deeper understanding of death.

To this end, being acquainted with the reasons for heedlessness will be useful.


Causes for Heedlessness

- A Lack of Sagacity: The majority of the individuals making up society are not accustomed to thinking over serious issues. Making heedlessness a way of living, they do not concern themselves with death. Any mundane problems they fail to solve keep their minds constantly occupied. Trivial issues, already "congesting" their narrow minds, do not allow them to give serious thought to grave issues. Thus, they spend their lives drifting in the daily flow of events. Meanwhile, at the death of somebody, or when the conversation turns to the subject of death, they derive comfort from blurted phrases and simply avoid the subject. They are people with narrow minds harbouring trifling narrow thoughts.

- The Complexity and Vividness of Life: Life flows very fast and it is alluringly vivid. In the absence of exceptional mental effort, man is likely to take no notice of death, which is bound to overcome him sooner or later. Not having faith in God, he is too distant from concepts like destiny, putting trust in God and submission to Him. From the moment he becomes conscious of material needs, he strives to ensure a good living. Such a person does not even endeavour to avoid death because he is already engrossed in worldly concerns. He constantly chases after new plans, interests and objectives and, one day, unpredictably and therefore with no preparation, faces the reality of death. Then he has regrets and wants to return to life, but to no avail.

- The Deception of Population Increase: One of the reasons for heedlessness is the recurrence of births. The population of the world keeps increasing; it never shrinks. Once dragged into the spiral of life, however, man may, because of misconceptions, believe in alluring yet utterly illusory notions like "births replace deaths", thereby maintaining an equilibrium of population. Such a rationale makes conditions ripe for the formation of a heedless outlook upon death. However, if from now on, no more births ever occurred around the world, we would still witness deaths one after another and, as a result, a shrinking world population. Then the horror of death would start to be felt. Man would see the disappearance of the people surrounding him one by one and would realise that the inevitable end would likewise afflict him. This is similar to what those sentenced to the death penalty feel on death row. Each day, they witness one or two people taken out for execution. The number of people in the cells steadily decreases. Years pass by, but still every day, those still alive go to sleep in a state of anxiety over whether the next day it would be their turn. Never do they fail to remember death, not for one second.

Ironically, the actual situation is no different from the aforementioned example. New-borns have no effect whatsoever on the ones destined to die. This is only a psychological misconception. The inhabitants of the world who lived 150 years ago are not around today. The following generations did not save them from death. Likewise, 100 years from now, those currently living, with a few exceptions, will not be alive. That is because the world is not a permanent place for man.


Methods Of Self-Deception

About from the reasons which make us disregard death and plunge into heedlessness, there are also certain defence mechanisms which people employ to deceive themselves. These mechanisms a few of which are mentioned below, reduce man to the level of the ostrich which buries its head in the sand to avoid a disagreeable situation.

- Postponing thinking about death to the latter years of life: People generally take it for granted that they will live until their mid-sixties or seventies. This explains why generally young and middle-aged people employ this defence mechanism. With such calculations in mind, they postpone thinking about such "gloomy" issues to the latter years of their lives. In their youth-or their prime-they do not want to "blur" their minds with "depressing" issues. The latter years of life are inescapably the time when one cannot get the best out of life and this period is thought by many people to be the most appropriate phase in which to think sedulously about death and become prepared for the next life. This also brings spiritual relief, since it provides a sense of doing something for the Hereafter.

Nevertheless, it is evident that making such long-term and inconclusive plans makes no sense for one whose next breath is not even guaranteed. Every day he sees many people of his age or even younger ones dying. Obituaries constitute a considerable part of daily newspapers. Every hour, television channels report news of deaths. Often man witnesses the death of people surrounding him. Yet, little does he think that people around him will also witness his own death or read about it in the newspaper. On the other hand, even if he lives for a very long time, nothing will change in his life, since his mentality will remain the same. Until he is actually facing death, he just postpones thinking about death.

- Making the assumption that one will "serve one's sentence" in hell only for a certain period: This view, which is prevalent in society, is nothing but a superstition. After all, it is not a belief having its roots in the Qur'an. In no part of the Qur'an do we find any reference to "serving one's sentence" in hell for some time and then being forgiven. Quite the contrary, in all relevant verses, there is specific mention of the separation of believers and disbelievers on the Day of Judgement. Again we know from the Qur'an that believers will remain in Paradise for all eternity, while disbelievers will be cast into hell, where they will suffer everlasting torment:

They say, 'The Fire will only touch us for a number of days.' Say, 'Have you made a contract with God-then God will not break His contract -or are you rather saying about God what you do not know? 'No indeed! Those who accumulate bad actions and are surrounded by their mistakes, are the Companions of the Fire, remaining in it timelessly, for ever. Whereas those who believe and do right actions, such people are the Companions of the Garden, remaining in it timelessly, for ever. (Surat al-Baqarah: 80-82)

Another verse stresses the same point:

That is because they say, The Fire will only touch us for a number of days.' Their inventions have deluded them in their religion. (Surah Al 'Imran: 24)

Hell is a place of unimaginable torment. Consequently, even if remaining in hell only for a certain time were possible, a man of conscience would never consent to go through that suffering. Hell is the place where the attributes of God, al-Jabbar (The Compeller) and al-Qahhar (The Subduer) are manifested to the utmost degree. The torment in hell is incomparable to any pain in the world. A person who cannot endure even a burn on his finger saying he can readily undergo such torture is merely demonstrating weak-mindedness. Furthermore, a person who does not feel terrified by the Wrath of God fails to give God due esteem. Such a person, entirely deprived of faith, is a poor man who does not even deserve a mention.

- Thinking "I already deserve Paradise": There is also a group who assume themselves to be the people of Paradise. Engaging in some minor deeds they assume to be good deeds and avoiding some wicked deeds, they think they are ripe for entry into heaven. Steeped in superstition and mouthing heresies which they associate with religion, these people actually adhere to a faith completely divorced from that of the Qur'an. They present themselves as true believers. However, the Qur'an classifies them among those who ascribe partners to God:

Give them this parable. Once there were two men. To one of them We gave two vineyards surrounded by date-palms, with some cultivated land in between. Both gardens yielded their crops and did not suffer any loss, and We made a river flow right through the middle of them. He was a man of wealth and property and he said to his companion, while conversing with him, 'I have more wealth than you and more people under me.' He entered his garden and wronged himself by saying, 'I do not think that this will ever end. I do not think the Hour of Doom will ever come. But if I should be sent back to my Lord, I will definitely get something better in return.' His companion, with whom he was conversing, said to him, 'Do you then disbelieve in Him who created you from dust, then from a drop of sperm, and then formed you as a man? He is, however, God, my Lord, and I will not associate anyone with my Lord. (Surat al-Kahf: 32-38)

With the words, "But if I should be sent back to my Lord", the garden owner expresses his lack of sound faith in God and the Hereafter and consequently reveals that he is an idolater who harbours doubts. Meanwhile, he claims that he is a superior believer. Moreover, he feels no doubts that God will reward him with Paradise. This insolent and inferior character of the idolater is very common among people.

These people, deep inside, know that they are entirely fraudulent, yet once they are questioned about it, they try to prove their innocence. They claim that observing the commandments of religion is not so important. Furthermore, they try to clear themselves, claiming that the seemingly religious people they see around them are immoral and dishonest. They try to prove that they are "good people" by stating that they do not mean any harm to anyone. They state that they do not hesitate to give money to beggars, that they have been serving honestly in public service for years and these are the things that make a sincere Muslim. They either do not know or simply pretend not to know that what makes a man a Muslim is not getting along well with people, but being a servant of God and obeying His commandments.

In an endeavour to base their distorted religion on some kind of rationale, they subscribe to certain fallacies. This is actually typical of their insincerity. To legitimise their own life, they seek refuge in slogans like: "The best form of worship is to work" or "what matters is sincerity of heart." In the words of the Qur'an, this is just "inventing lies against God" and it merits the punishment of eternal Hell. In the Qur'an, God describes the situation of such people as follows:

They think they deceive God and those who have faith. They deceive no one but themselves, but they are not aware of it. (Surat al-Baqarah: 8)

- Double-Standard Rationales: Sometimes when people think about death, they assume they will disappear for all eternity. Such a startling idea makes them develop another defence mechanism; they only give half credence to the fact that "there is an eternal life promised by God." Such a conclusion raises some hope in them. When they consider the responsibilities of a believer towards his Creator, they prefer to completely ignore the fact of an eternal life. They comfort themselves thinking: "After all, we shall be reduced to insignificance, decomposing completely in the soil. There is no life after death." Such an assumption represses all fears and concerns, such as giving an account of one's deeds on the Day of Judgement or suffering in hellfire. In both sets of circumstances, they lead their lives in heedlessness until the end of their days.


The Consequence of Heedlessness

In the previous sections, as we have said, as long as one lives, death inevitably calls itself to one's attention. These reminders sometimes prove to be beneficial, prompting man to re-examine his priorities in life and to re-evaluate his outlook in general. But there are other times when the above-mentioned defence mechanisms take over, and with each passing day, the veil of heedlessness before one's eyes becomes thicker.

If disbelievers await death in a tranquil mood and have an irrational feeling of comfort, even when they are intensely aware of its approach in the latter years of their lives, it is because they are completely swathed in this veil. That is because death for them connotes restful and sound sleep, tranquility and calmness, and an eternal relief.

Contrary to what they think, however, God, the One who creates every being from nothing and the One who makes them die and who will give life to all creatures on Judgement Day, promises them eternal regret and grief. They will, too, witness this fact at the moment of death, a time when they assume they will go to an eternal sleep. They realise that death is not total disappearance, but the initial moment of a new world full of anguish. The terrifying appearance of the angels of death is the first sign of this great torment:

How will it be when the angels take them in death, beating their faces and their backs? (Surah Muhammad: 27)

At this moment, the pre-death arrogance and insolence of the disbelievers turn into terror, regret, desperation and eternal pain. In the Qur'an, this is referred to as follows:

They say, 'When we have been absorbed into the earth, are we then to be created afresh?' In fact, they deny they will ever meet their Lord. Say: 'The Angel of Death, who has been given charge of you, will carry off your souls, and then you will be sent back to your Lord.' If only you could see the evil-doers hanging their heads in shame before their Lord: 'Our Lord, we have seen and we have heard, so send us back again and we will act rightly. Truly we are now firm believers.' (Surat as-Sajdah: 10-12)


There is No Escape From Death

Death, especially at an early age, seldom comes to mind. Considering this as the end, man even escapes from the thought of it. However, just as physical avoidance provides no cure for death, neither does avoidance of thinking about it. Besides, it is impossible to ignore death. Every day, newspapers run headlines about the deaths of so many people. You frequently come across hearses or pass by cemeteries. Relatives and associates die. Their funerals or visits to offer condolences inevitably bring death to mind. As one witnesses the death of others, and especially the death of beloved ones, he inevitably thinks about his own end. This thought hurts him deep inside, making him restless.

No matter how strongly the individual resists, wherever he seeks refuge or how he tries to escape, he may actually encounter his own death at any moment. He has no other choice. Ahead of him, there is no other exit. The countdown never stops, not for a moment. Wherever he returns, death meets him there. The circle encloses constantly and finally catches up with him:

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.' (Surat al-Jumu'ah: 8)

Wherever you are, death will catch up with you, even if you are in impregnable fortresses. (Surat an-Nisa': 78)

That is why we need to stop deceiving ourselves or disregarding facts and strive to earn the good pleasure of God during this period predetermined by Him. Only God knows when this time will be over.

Our Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) also said that one of the best ways to prevent one's conscience from hardening, and attain a good character is by frequently remembering death:

Abdullah ibn Umar narrated, "Gods's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, 'These hearts become rusty just as iron does when water affects it.' On being asked what could clear them he replied, 'A great amount of remembrance of death and recitation of the Qur'an.'" (Al-Tirmidhi, 673)