Death in Quran

Death in the Quran

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Death in the Quran is a fascinating topic. The Quran explains in great detail the hours of death and what happens after one dies. As Muslims, we believe that there is a life after death and that we will be brought to account for our deeds. The word death (موت) has been repeated 57 times in the Quran. In this article on Islam4u.pro, we will take a look at the following:

Every Soul Shall Taste Death

The Quran makes it clear that no one shall live forever. This body of ours will one day die. However, it is our spirit that is eternal. Therefore, every human being shall die one day. The Quran has three verses in this regard:

كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ ۗ وَإِنَّمَا تُوَفَّوْنَ أُجُورَكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ۖ فَمَن زُحْزِحَ عَنِ النَّارِ وَأُدْخِلَ الْجَنَّةَ فَقَدْ فَازَ ۗ وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ ﴿185﴾

Every soul shall taste death, and you will indeed be paid your full rewards on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever is delivered from the Fire and admitted to paradise has certainly succeeded. The life of this world is nothing but the wares of delusion. 1

كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ ۗ وَنَبْلُوكُم بِالشَّرِّ وَالْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً ۖ وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ ﴿35﴾

Every soul shall taste death, and We will test you with good and ill by way of test, and to Us you will be brought back. 2

كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ ۖ ثُمَّ إِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ ﴿57﴾

Every soul shall taste death. Then you shall be brought back to Us. 3

Therefore, life in this world is transitory, while life after death is eternal, where one will be either punished for one’s sins for some time and then go to heaven, provided he is a believer. However, if one is a disbeliever or a hypocrite, one will be damned and punished eternally in the afterlife until the Day of Judgment comes, where their deeds will be held into account. If one is righteous and the book of his deeds is given to his right hand, he will enter paradise. However, if one is vicious and his book of deeds is given to his left hand and from behind, one shall enter hell.

Leaving a Will Before Death

The Quran states that when one is about to die, one should leave a will in which one states in it what should be done after one’s death in terms of one’s burial, inheritance, and so on:

كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ إِن تَرَكَ خَيْرًا الْوَصِيَّةُ لِلْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۖ حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُتَّقِينَ ﴿180﴾

Prescribed for you, when death approaches any of you and he leaves behind any property, is that he make a bequest for his parents and relatives, in an honourable manner—an obligation on the Godwary. 4

In this way, what must be done after someone dies will be clear in terms of what they should do with their property. Moreover, leaving behind a will would prevent any quarrels among the deceased one’s children.

If You Claim to Be Loved by God Wish for Death

A group of people from among the Children of Israel used to say that Allah loves us, and we will be prosperous in the Hereafter. Therefore, God revealed a verse to Prophet Muhammad stating:

قُلْ إِن كَانَتْ لَكُمُ الدَّارُ الْآخِرَةُ عِندَ اللَّـهِ خَالِصَةً مِّن دُونِ النَّاسِ فَتَمَنَّوُا الْمَوْتَ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ ﴿94﴾

Say, ‘If the abode of the Hereafter were exclusively for you with Allah, and not for other people, then long for death, should you be truthful.’

وَلَن يَتَمَنَّوْهُ أَبَدًا بِمَا قَدَّمَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ بِالظَّالِمِينَ ﴿95﴾

But they will not long for it ever because of what their hands have sent ahead, and Allah knows best the wrongdoers. 5

Indeed, if someone is so sure of himself that he is a good person and God favors him, surely he would want to meet his Lord and long for death. However, such people are very few.

Repentance at the Time of Death

The Quran has made it clear that God does not accept repentance at the time of death:

وَلَيْسَتِ التَّوْبَةُ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السَّيِّئَاتِ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَهُمُ الْمَوْتُ قَالَ إِنِّي تُبْتُ الْآنَ وَلَا الَّذِينَ يَمُوتُونَ وَهُمْ كُفَّارٌ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ أَعْتَدْنَا لَهُمْ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا ﴿18﴾

But [acceptance of] repentance is not for those who go on committing misdeeds: when death approaches any of them, he says, ‘I repent now.’ Nor is it for those who die while they are faithless. For such We have prepared a painful punishment. 6

This is because when one dies, one cannot perform any action that entails reward or punishment. And, for one to repent at the time of death while leading a life full of misdeeds would be unfair, especially to those who lived righteously throughout their entire life.

Death Will Overtake You No Matter Where You Are

God says in the Quran:

أَيْنَمَا تَكُونُوا يُدْرِككُّمُ الْمَوْتُ وَلَوْ كُنتُمْ فِي بُرُوجٍ مُّشَيَّدَةٍ ۗ وَإِن تُصِبْهُمْ حَسَنَةٌ يَقُولُوا هَـٰذِهِ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّـهِ ۖ وَإِن تُصِبْهُمْ سَيِّئَةٌ يَقُولُوا هَـٰذِهِ مِنْ عِندِكَ ۚ قُلْ كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِندِ اللَّـهِ ۖ فَمَالِ هَـٰؤُلَاءِ الْقَوْمِ لَا يَكَادُونَ يَفْقَهُونَ حَدِيثًا ﴿78﴾

Wherever you may be death will overtake you, even if you were in fortified towers.’ If any good befalls them, they say, ‘This is from Allah;’ and when an ill befalls them, they say, ‘This is from you.’ Say, ‘All is from Allah.’ What is the matter with these people that they would not understand any matter? 7

One should not be afraid of death. Only those who commit sins and have a bad record of deeds should fear death as theirs will be punishment in the Hereafter. However, the righteous and Godwary should always be prepared for death as they will be rewarded for their excellent conduct. In any case, death will overtake every individual, no matter where they are and what age they are.

Migration to Allah and His Apostle

The Quran has a verse that states:

وَمَن يُهَاجِرْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ يَجِدْ فِي الْأَرْضِ مُرَاغَمًا كَثِيرًا وَسَعَةً ۚ وَمَن يَخْرُجْ مِن بَيْتِهِ مُهَاجِرًا إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ثُمَّ يُدْرِكْهُ الْمَوْتُ فَقَدْ وَقَعَ أَجْرُهُ عَلَى اللَّـهِ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّـهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا ﴿100﴾

Whoever migrates in the way of Allah will find many havens and plenitude in the earth. And whoever leaves his home migrating toward Allah and His Apostle, and is then overtaken by death, his reward shall certainly fall on Allah, and Allah is all-forgiving, all-merciful. 8

One of the manifestations of migration toward God and His Apostle is the hajj pilgrimage. If one goes on a hajj pilgrimage and dies while performing the rituals or on the way, God will reward him. Recently, several hajj pilgrims were killed in the Minā (مِنا) tragedy of the year 2015. God willing, God will reward them, and perhaps they are martyrs.

We Are Protected By Angels Until We Die

God says in the Quran:

وَهُوَ الْقَاهِرُ فَوْقَ عِبَادِهِ ۖ وَيُرْسِلُ عَلَيْكُمْ حَفَظَةً حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ تَوَفَّتْهُ رُسُلُنَا وَهُمْ لَا يُفَرِّطُونَ ﴿61﴾

He is the All-dominant over His servants, and He sends guards to [protect] you. When death approaches anyone of you, Our messengers take him away and they do not neglect [their duty]. 9

Additionally, there is a concept in Islam that is known as ajal (اَجَل). Ajal means the fixed term for one to live in this world. When one’s ajal arrives, it will neither be delayed nor hastened:

وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ أَجَلٌ ۖ فَإِذَا جَاءَ أَجَلُهُمْ لَا يَسْتَأْخِرُونَ سَاعَةً ۖ وَلَا يَسْتَقْدِمُونَ ﴿34﴾

There is a [preordained] time for every nation: when their time comes, they shall not defer it by a single hour nor shall they advance it. 10

That is also why it is said that one’s best guard over one’s life is one’s ajal.

God Punishes the Inmates of Hell Without Them Dying

God says in the Quran:

يَتَجَرَّعُهُ وَلَا يَكَادُ يُسِيغُهُ وَيَأْتِيهِ الْمَوْتُ مِن كُلِّ مَكَانٍ وَمَا هُوَ بِمَيِّتٍ ۖ وَمِن وَرَائِهِ عَذَابٌ غَلِيظٌ ﴿17﴾

Gulping it down, but hardly swallowing it: death will assail him from every side, but he will not die, and there is [yet] a harsh punishment ahead of him. 11

God here is talking about the punishment in hell. The inmates of hell will be tortured, but they will never die, even though they are very close to dying. In this way, God depicts the severity of the punishment of hellfire. These verses warn all sinners to stop sinning and repent to God so that they will not be punished after they die and do not enter hell on the Day of Judgment.

God Causes the Dead to Rise on Resurrection Day

God states in the Quran the following:

ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللَّـهَ هُوَ الْحَقُّ وَأَنَّهُ يُحْيِي الْمَوْتَىٰ وَأَنَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ ﴿6﴾

All that is because Allah is the Reality and it is He who revives the dead, and He has power over all things,

وَأَنَّ السَّاعَةَ آتِيَةٌ لَّا رَيْبَ فِيهَا وَأَنَّ اللَّـهَ يَبْعَثُ مَن فِي الْقُبُورِ ﴿7﴾

and because the Hour is bound to come, there is no doubt in it, and Allah will resurrect those who are in the graves. 12

On the Day of Judgment, the trumpet of the angel Isrāfīl (اسرافیل) will be blown twice. The first blow causes everyone in the world to die except those whom God wishes not to die. Then the trumpet will be blown for the second time, and all the dead will come back to life. Moreover, God will resurrect those already dead and in their graves. Then, everyone will be brought to account.

Those Who Die Wish to Come Back to Life

God says in the Quran:

حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءَ أَحَدَهُمُ الْمَوْتُ قَالَ رَبِّ ارْجِعُونِ ﴿99﴾

When death comes to one of them, he says, ‘My Lord! Take me back,

لَعَلِّي أَعْمَلُ صَالِحًا فِيمَا تَرَكْتُ ۚ كَلَّا ۚ إِنَّهَا كَلِمَةٌ هُوَ قَائِلُهَا ۖ وَمِن وَرَائِهِم بَرْزَخٌ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ ﴿100﴾

that I may act righteously in what I have left behind.’ ‘By no means! These are mere words that he says.’ And before them is a barrier until the day they will be resurrected.

فَإِذَا نُفِخَ فِي الصُّورِ فَلَا أَنسَابَ بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ وَلَا يَتَسَاءَلُونَ ﴿101﴾

When the Trumpet is blown, there will be no ties between them on that day, nor will they ask [about] each other.

فَمَن ثَقُلَتْ مَوَازِينُهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ ﴿102﴾

Then those whose deeds weigh heavy in the scales—it is they who are the felicitous.

وَمَنْ خَفَّتْ مَوَازِينُهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ خَسِرُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ فِي جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدُونَ ﴿103﴾

As for those whose deeds weigh light in the scales—they will be the ones who have ruined their souls, and they will remain in hell [forever]. 13

Some people regret their past actions in the world. That is why when they die, they ask God to be returned to the world so that they can do good deeds, which they did not do. However, God had already given them a chance and had made it clear to them that this world is where your actions count, and you would be brought to account after you die. These verses also speak about barzakh (بَرزَخ), which is a realm in between life and the Day of Judgment. In other words, it is the afterlife or purgatory.

The Angel of Death

God says in the Quran:

قُلْ يَتَوَفَّاكُم مَّلَكُ الْمَوْتِ الَّذِي وُكِّلَ بِكُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكُمْ تُرْجَعُونَ ﴿11﴾

Say, ‘You will be taken away by the angel of death, who has been charged with you. Then you will be brought back to your Lord.’ 14

God takes away the souls of those who are about to die by means of the angel of death. ‘Izrā’īl (عِزرائیل) is the name of the angel of death. According to narrations, his appearance depends on the goodness or badness of the individual. If the individual is a good person, he will appear with good looks. On the other hand, if a person is bad, the angel of death will appear to the individual in a hideous and frightening appearance.

Sleep is the Brother of Death

There is a close relationship between sleep and death. When one sleeps and dreams, one is in the realm of spirits. However, the individual lives and is not entirely detached from this world. God says in this regard:

اللَّـهُ يَتَوَفَّى الْأَنفُسَ حِينَ مَوْتِهَا وَالَّتِي لَمْ تَمُتْ فِي مَنَامِهَا ۖ فَيُمْسِكُ الَّتِي قَضَىٰ عَلَيْهَا الْمَوْتَ وَيُرْسِلُ الْأُخْرَىٰ إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ ﴿42﴾

Allah takes the souls at the time of their death, and those who have not died, in their sleep. Then He retains those for whom He has ordained death and releases the others until a specified time. There are indeed signs in that for a people who reflect. 15

Therefore, when we sleep, our soul is taken temporarily by God, and we enter the realm of spirits or barzakh. That is why people have dreams of dead people. Those whom God takes their soul and does not return their body have died, while those whom God takes their soul and brings it back to their bodies have slept and then awakened.

God Created Life and Death to Test Us

God says in the Quran in Surah Mulk:

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي بِيَدِهِ الْمُلْكُ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ ﴿1﴾

Blessed is He in whose hands is all sovereignty, and He has power over all things.

الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفُورُ ﴿2﴾

He, who created death and life that He may test you [to see] which of you is best in conduct. And He is the All-mighty, the All-forgiving. 16

Therefore, death is one of God’s creations and is not bad. Only after death can w see the result of our deeds. If there was no death and everyone continued to live forever, Divine justice would not be administered, not to mention the fact that the world would be overloaded with people, and there would be little room for people to live.

Conclusion

Death is one of the creations of God, as was mentioned. Death does not mean one’s life ends, and nothing will happen after it. Rather, death is like a bridge that leads one from one life to another. Therefore, there is life after death, and people will remain in barzakh or purgatory until the Day of Judgment. If a person is righteous, he will be rewarded, and if he is wicked, he will be punished. When the Day of Judgment arrives, all those alive will die and be resurrected. Those who have died and are in their graves will also be resurrected. In the end, those who are righteous should not fear death.


References

  1. Quran 3:185 (Qara’i).
  2. Quran 21:35 (Qara’i).
  3. Quran 29:57 (Qara’i).
  4. Quran 2:180 (Qara’i).
  5. Quran 2:94-95 (Qara’i).
  6. Quran 4:18 (Qara’i).
  7. Quran 4:78 (Qara’i).
  8. Quran 4:100 (Qara’i).
  9. Quran 6:61 (Qara’i).
  10. Quran 7:34 (Qara’i).
  11. Quran 14:17 (Qara’i).
  12. Quran 22:6-7 (Qara’i).
  13. Quran 23:99-103 (Qara’i).
  14. Quran 32:11 (Qara’i).
  15. Quran 39:42 (Qara’i).
  16. Quran 67:1-2 (Qara’i).
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Abu Mahdi
Abu Mahdi
I'm Abu Mahdi, one of the writers of this blog. I have a BA in English literature and an MA in English language teaching. I am also a teacher and reciter of the Quran in the field of reading the Quran, tajweed, and maqamat. Currently, we are working on a course for learning tajweed of the Quran here on Islam4u.

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