By Shadiah Hamza Sheikh, Ph. D.
(Dr. Shadiah Hamza Sheikh is the Dean of the English Department, King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. She is one of the Wisdom Enrichment Foundation’s International Board of Advisers. An active da’iyah, the Author has been giving Islamic lectures to women expatriates from various countries in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This brief account of the Prophet’s life is a summary of one of her public lectures, which she delivered in 1996 at the Riyadh Military Hospital Jaliat (Call and Guidance) Center for Women in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.)
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Those who believe in the oneness of Allah and His Messenger Muhammad (s.a.w.), including all obligations ordered by Islam, and do the righteous good deeds, their reward with their Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) is “Eden Paradise” -- i.e., gardens of eternity, underneath which, rivers flow, they will abide therein forever.
On the other hand those who disbelieve in the religion of Islam, the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.), from among the people of scripture (Jews and Christians) and Al-Mushrikun will abide in the fire of Hell. (Al Bayyinah 6-8)
The Good Signs of Death:
1. Dying saying “La Ilah Illa Allah” will automatically enter one Paradise.2. Dying on a Friday “Whoever dies on a Friday, Allah prevents him from the grave trial” (Ahmed and Turmithi)
3. Dying in Jihad, which also includes dying guarding soldiers fighting for Allah’s cause
4. Dying giving Da’wah (guiding) to the rulers.
5. Dying defending one’s money, women or oneself.
6. Dying in child birth.
7. Dying with a plague.
8. Reading Surah Tabarak would ease the grave trial.
Reward and punishment of a person is shown to him the minute of his death. Ibn Al Bar’a narrated a long Hadith about that, saying that the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told Assahaba: “When a pious (mu’min) is about to die, the angel of death would sit near his head, show him his place in heaven and says to his soul (O you the one in complete rest and satisfaction come back to your Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer), to God’s forgiveness and Paradise.” (Al Fajr 27-28)
Angels descend with a shroud and perfume from heaven, and the angel of death, then, takes the soul puts it in the shroud and perfume and pass it to the angels to ascend with it to heaven. When they pass it to the first heaven, other angels ask: “Whose good soul is it?” They reply: “It is so and so, would you let it ascend to the next heaven?” They would not only agree, but also join them in ascending it to the higher heaven, and so on until they reach the seventh heaven, where Allah tells his angels to register the pious in illiyyun (nearest to Allah) and take his soul back to his body in his grave. The grave trial then starts.
Two stern and severe angels would ask the deceased: “Who was he worshipping, they would shout (frightening him) who is your God? What is your religion and who is your Prophet? He would answer, “Allah is my God, Islam is my religion and Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) is my Prophet.” At that time a voice from heaven would call, “Open a door in heaven for him”, and a good looking man would tell him the good news of Allah granting him paradise. Then he shows him his place in heaven. That good looking man is the person’s deeds.
As far as the Kafir (non-believer) is concerned, the same happens except the angel of death would take his soul violently and the angels in every heaven would ask: “Whose stinky soul is it?” Then the gates of heaven are never opened to him:
“Those who believe our Ayat, and treat them with arrogance, for them the gates of heaven will not be opened and they will not enter Paradise until the camel goes through the eye of the needle .” (Al A’araf 40)
Angels then take his soul back to his body and the two severe angels would squeeze him asking the same questions, and every time the deceased would not know the answer, and the grave would tighten and squeeze him until his ribs overlap. An ugly man (his bad deeds) shows him his place in hell and hits him hard on the head so hard that he becomes dust and Allah returns him as he was, then he hits him again and so on until the day of judgment.
The Inhabitants of Hell:
Hell has seven gates, every one is assigned for a specific class of sinners: “And surely Hell is the promised place for them all, it has seven gates, for each of those gates is a special class of sinners assigned.” (Al Hijr 42-43)
Its depth is so extensive that it would take a stone thrown in it 70 years for it to reach the bottom. And its fuel is evil and hard hearted people, Jinn, stones and idols that were worshipped instead of Allah.
After judgement, people will be sent to Hell or Paradise, according to their deeds. Then Allah would save those who guarded against evil.
Some of the Inhabitants of Hell:
1. Hypocrites -- “Indeed the hypocrites will be in the lowest depth of the fire “(An- Nisa:145)
2. Polytheists -- “Those who reject the truth among the people of the Book and the polytheists will be in the fire of Hell, dwelling therein forever. They are the worst creatures.” (Bayyinah: 5-6)
3. Sinners and criminals -- “Indeed the criminals will be in the punishment of Hell, dwelling therein forever. It will not be lightened for them and they will be overwhelmed there in despair. (Zukhruf:74-76)
4. Pharaoh, the wives of Lut and Nuh, Abu Lahab and his wife and Abu Talib.
5. Those who are unjust -- “It will be said to those who were unjust: taste the eternal punishment. Are you recompensed except for what you used to earn “(Tawbah:63)
6. Transgressors -- “For him who had transgressed and preferred the life of his world, indeed Hell will be his shelter.” (Nazi’at 39)
7. Tyrants -- “But they asked victory and disappointment is the lot of every obstinate tyrant. In front of him is Hell and is given pus to drink.” (Ibrahim:15-16)
8. People of the Book who reject Islam.
9. Murderers of Believers -- “And whoever kills a believer intentionally his recompense is Hell to abide therein forever.” (Buruj 10)
10. Those who commit suicide.
11. Women who were ungrateful: Imran bin Husayn narrated that Prophet (s.a.w.) said “I looked into Paradise and saw that the majority of its inhabitants were the poor, and I looked into Hell and saw that the majority of its inhabitants were women who are ungrateful to their husbands.” (Al Bukhari)
Description of Paradise:
Paradise or Heaven has eight gates. This was narrated in an authentic Hadith compiled by Imam Muslim that the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said “The opening of every gate is like forty years walking. One of the gates is called “Al Rayyan” for fasting people.” Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said, that Allah says in a Hadith Qudsee:
“I have prepared for my good slaves that which no human eye has seen, nor that of which no human ear has heard, and nor that of which no human heart has thought of.” The Prophet (s.a.w.) then recited “No person knows what is hidden from them of joy as a reward for what they used to do.” (Al Sajdah 17)
Castles are made up of bricks: one brick of gold and another of silver cemented with Musk (perfume), pearl and ruby are its floor, and saffron is its grass. Its inhabitants live (dwell) forever young and never bored. They will have Essah’s age, Ayyub’s patience, the handsome and beautiful face of Yousef, and they will also have Muhammad’s tongue (few words will have so many meanings).
The description of paradise which the pious have been promised is that in it are rivers of water, the taste and smell of which are not changed rivers of milk of which the taste never changes, rivers of wine delicious to those who drink, and rivers of clarified honey (clear honey). (Surah Muhammad:14)
As for Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) and his followers’ river, it is called (Al Kawther). At-Tirmithi narrated that the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said: “While I was walking in heaven I came across a river, its banks are gold, its mud is Musk, its water is sweeter than honey and it is whiter than ice.”
More description of Paradise are to be found in Surah Al Rahman 47-75 and Al Waqe’a 11-40.
Means by which to avoid Hell and guarantee Paradise:
Everyone must pass over Hell’s fire, however, those who have taqwa (the fear of Allah, the restrain of guarding of one’s self from evil, righteousness, piety and good conduct) will be saved.
There are actions which would protect one from Hell-fire. The best among these deeds are salaah and jihad or martyrdom for the sake of Allah the Almighty.
It was narrated in a Hadeeth Qudsee, “The best thing my slave does that gets him closer to me is obligatory salaat, and then if he does the nawafil (supererogatory or extra prayers), I like him more. And if I like him, I protect his hearing and his sight from going to haram things and anything he asks for, I give him, and if he asks refuge from anything, I will protect him. I never hesitate in anything which I do except when I take the Muslim’s soul away. He hates death and I hate harming him.” (Bukhari)
Rewards of Al Shaheed (Martyr) according to the Hadith (Tirmidhî and Ahmad):
· The soul of the martyrs dwell in Paradise whenever they like.
· All the Shaheed’s sins and faults are forgiven with the first drop of blood that comes out of his body.
· He sees his place in Paradise and Allah makes him intercede for 70 of his family.
· He will not feel the grave trial: Martyrs are the only people who are spared the grave trial.
· He will not feel the agony of death.
· He will not be horrified by the Great Gathering on the day of Resurrection.
· He does not feel the pain of the killing except like that of a pinch.
· Allah will marry him to Hur-al-een.
Finally, let us pray together to Allah to “Let us live Muslims and die Muslims without disgracing or subjecting us to temptations.”
We ask You our Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) to give us a merit in this world and a merit in the here after, and to protect us from the agony of fire and make the agony of death and grave trial easy for us.
O Allah! We ask You to raise the standing of Islam and Muslims and degrade the standing of Al-Kufr and Al-Kafirin. May the blessing and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.), his family, his companions and followers.