How to Get Prepared for the Death?

PREPARE-FOR-DEATHDeath is a reality in which all human beings believe. However, it is also a reality which most of us like to keep out of our minds.

In Islam, death is not an end to our existence; it is a passage, which takes us from this world to the hereafter – the actual purpose for our creation and the result of our work in this life.

Whether we fear death or not depends on how much we have prepared for the reckoning of the Day of Judgment.

Preparing for death is a lifetime’s job. It begins on the day you reach the age of bulugh and are held accountable for your deeds in the eyes of Almighty Allah.

Imam ‘Ali bin Abu Talib (a.s.) has beautifully described the preparation for death as follows: “Fulfilling the obligations, refraining from forbidden [things], and acquiring noble character.”

Some of the things which all believers are either required or strongly urged to do just before death by the Shari’ah are as following:

  1. Try your best to fulfill the obligations, which are upon you in regard to the creatures as well as the Creator
  1. Return to the owners whatever has been given to you as a trust or write it down in your will so that the executor of your will shall return the trust to its rightful owner.
  1. Dispose up to one-third of your estate for whomsoever or whatever cause you like. As for the two thirds, it must be distributed among your heirs according to the shares allocated for them in the Shari’ah.
  1. Make a will in writing or verbally about those religious obligations which you could not fulfill by yourself and which cannot be done on your behalf by others except after your death: the qadha prayers, fasting and pilgrimage (hajj), etc.
  1. Specify the amount from the one-third of your estate to be used to hire people to do above mentioned deeds. If you cannot afford this, then you may request your heirs to do unfulfilled rituals on your behalf voluntarily or pay someone else to do so.
  2. Include your deserving relations in the one-third of your estate if your financial circumstances allow you.
  3. Forgive your brethren in faith for whatever wrong they may have done to you.
  4. Ask your brethren in faith to forgive you for the intentional and unintentional wrong you may have done to them.

Is there any death in Paradise and Hell?

Paradise and Hell?

In the greater resurrection which is a world next to the intermediate world, all human beings from the first to the last are gathered and enter a new phase of living; they receive the rewards for their deeds and actions in the worldly life.[1]
The Quran, traditions and rational arguments agree that there is no death after the Day of Judgment occurs and human beings go to Paradise and Hell. We shall now mention a few of those verses:
The Holy Quran uses as many as seventy names to make a reference to the Day of Judgment. Each name refers to a particular attribute or feature. For example, the “Day of Resurrection” used in the Quran refers to the fact that all human beings and existents are resurrected on this Day. Since this day is eternal and there is no death in it, it is called the Day of Eternal Life (yawm al-kholud)[2]. This name has been mentioned in the holy chapter Qaf.[3]
In addition, the Quran names the people of Paradise and Hell more than seventy times describing them as immortal. We mention two verses of the Quran as examples:
“Nay, those who seek gain in evil, and are girt round by their sins,- they are companions of the Fire: Therein shall they abide (For ever).”[4]
“But those who have faith and work righteousness, they are companions of the Garden: Therein shall they abide (For ever).”[5]
It has also been stated in the traditions that there is no death in the hereafter. For example, Allamah Baqir Majlisi mentions different traditions in the eighth volume of his Behar al-Anwar (chapter 26). In one of the traditions narrated by him in this book, it has been said that death is beheaded in front of the people of Paradise and Hell like a sheep. The Prophet has been reported as having said: “When God takes the people of Paradise to Paradise and the people of Hell to Hell, death is brought to them and decapitated like a sheep in front of them. There and then a harbinger calls out:
“یا اهل الجنة خلود فلا موت یا اهل النار خلود فلا موت”[6]
That is, there is no death on the Day of Judgment; life in the hereafter is characterized by immortality and perpetuity.[7]
Rationally, man’s soul is abstract and every abstract thing is immortal. Therefore, there is no death in the hereafter and human beings do not die after they go to Paradise or Hell.
Some of the arguments presented by Muslim philosophers and theologians on the immateriality of the soul are as under:
1. The soul perceives the general concepts or generalities. Generality is abstract, so is its perceiver.
2. The soul has power over matters which the bodily things have no power over. For example, the soul can imagine infinite things but the body cannot.
3. When we see that all those things which are perceived by our senses are perceived by one thing, it stands to reason that the soul is abstract. That is because the senses do not know anything about one another’s perceptions. For example, the eye sees the whiteness of an object like cubic sugar but it does not know that it is sweet. Or we put something which we have not seen in out mouth; we feel its taste on our tongues but we do not see its color. It is therefore clear that there is an abstract general thing in us which perceives all these varied things.
4. The physical powers get worn out and start malfunctioning over time but the soul is not as such. That is because too much intellection further strengthens it. The soul is therefore not from the category of the body; it is abstract.[8]
5. Another reason for the abstractness of the soul is oneness or unity of the personality. The body is susceptible to changes but there is one thing that never accepts any changes and that is what we call “soul”. The soul does not change with the change of matter; that is because it is abstract.[9]
There are some people who do not believe in the immateriality of the soul saying that it is physical and the same as the brain. However, their arguments substantiate only that the brain cells are somehow linked with the perception not that the brain perceives the general and universal concepts.
Therefore, the immortality of the soul is closely linked with the independence and abstractness of the soul because if it is abstract, it can still exist after death.
The arguments concerning the immortality of abstract things are presented in philosophy. For further information in this regard, you should refer to philosophy books.


[1]- The Intermediate World is personal in the sense that every human enters the intermediate world after death. As for the greater resurrection, it is relates to the entire human beings who are resurrected collectively at once. See: Worldview, by Shahid Mutahhari, under the title Resurrection, pg. 31.
[2] – Makarem Shirazi, The Message of the Quran, “Resurrection”, vol.5, pg. 58.
[3] – “Enter ye therein in Peace and Security; this is a Day of Eternal Life!” [Qaf (letter Qaf), 34]
[4] – Al-Baqarah, 81
[5] – Al-Baqarah, 82
[6] – See: Behar al-Anwar, vol.8, pp.344 & 345. The full Arabic tradition is as under:
وَ رَوَى مُسْلِمٌ فِی الصَّحِیحِ بِالْإِسْنَادِ عَنْ أَبِی سَعِیدٍ الْخُدْرِیِّ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ص إِذَا دَخَلَ أَهْلُ الْجَنَّةِ الْجَنَّةَ وَ أَهْلُ النَّارِ النَّارَ قِیلَ یَا أَهْلَ الْجَنَّةِ فَیُشْرِفُونَ وَ یَنْظُرُونَ وَ قِیلَ یَا أَهْلَ النَّارِ فَیُشْرِفُونَ وَ یَنْظُرُونَ فَیُجَاءُ بِالْمَوْتِ کَأَنَّهُ کَبْشٌ أَمْلَحُ فَیُقَالُ لَهُمْ تَعْرِفُونَ الْمَوْتَ فَیَقُولُونَ هُوَ هَذَا وَ کُلٌّ قَدْ عَرَفَهُ قَالَ فَیُقَدَّمُ وَ یُذْبَحُ ثُمَّ یُقَالُ یَا أَهْلَ الْجَنَّةِ خُلُودٌ فَلَا مَوْتَ وَ یَا أَهْلَ النَّارِ خُلُودٌ فَلَا مَوْتَ قَالَ وَ ذَلِکَ قَوْلُهُ وَ أَنْذِرْهُمْ یَوْمَ الْحَسْرَةِ الْآیَة.
[7] – It should be noted that one who goes to Hell does not always remain there. In fact, eternal life in Hell is for a specific group of people.
[8] – Allamah She’rani, translation of Sharh al-Itiqad, pg. 242 – 262.
[9] – Makarem Shirazi, The Message of the Quran: Resurrection, vol.5, pg. 287.

One Crucial Question: Is Death considered as One’s End or Beginning?

 Fear Death

Why Do Most People Fear Death?

Most people fear death. Why?

Death has always been imagined to be a great, frightening monster and just thinking about it takes away the sweetness of life.

Not only do they fear the word ‘death’ but they also hate the word ‘cemetery’ and they try to forget about its basic nature by lighting and brightening the graves and tombs.

The effects of this fear is clearly visible in the various literatures of the world where it is expressed as ‘the monster of death’, ‘the jungle of death’, ‘the death knoll’, etc.

When they want to mention the name of a dead person, so that the person addressed not panic, they use sentences like ‘far from here’, ‘may I be struck dumb’, ‘there be seven mountains between’, and ‘may his dust give you life’ in an attempt to create a wall between the person who is listening and death.

But we have to analyze how this fear developed the human being.

Why is there a group, as opposed to the understanding of the majority of the people, who not only do not fear death but thinking about it makes them smile and welcome an honorable death?

We read in history that whereas one group were looking for the elixir of life, another group lovingly moved towards the fronts of jihad, laughed at the image of death and they were in anticipation of the day when they would join their Beloved and today, also, in the battlefronts of truth against falsehood, we see this very truth whereby they move with their life in their hands, towards martyrdom.

The Basic Reason for this Fear With research and study we reach this point that the basis for this fear is simply one of two things:

1. The Interpretation of Death as Annihilation

Human beings always flee from non-existence and from disease because it means the lack of good health; are afraid of darkness because it means a lack of light. They fear poverty because it means the destruction of wealth.

They even sometimes fear an empty home and an empty wilderness. Why? Because nobody is there!

They even fear a dead person. They are not prepared to spend the night in a room with a dead person whereas when that person was alive, they did not fear him.

Now let us see why human beings fear non-existence and non-being. The reason is clear. Existence is woven into existence. Being is familiar with being. Being is never familiar with non-being. Thus, our alienation with non-being is completely natural.

If we believe and know that death is the end of everything and assume that with death, everything ends, have a right to fear it and even be terribly frightened by the mention of the word. Why? Because death will take everything from us.

But if we believe death to be the beginning of a new and eternal life, we will not have that fear; rather, we congratulate those who, with dignity and nobility, move wards it.

2. Black Files

We all know of a group who do not interpret as being annihilation and non-being and they would deny life after death but in spite of this, they have great fear of death.

Why? Because the file of their deeds is so black they are afraid of the punishments after death; they have a right to fear death. They are like prisoners who fear the day they will be freed from prison because they know that when they are freed from prison, they will be executed.

He sticks to the prison bars, not that he is afraid freedom, he is afraid of the freedom whose result is punishment of execution. In this way, a person who does evil deeds, fears the freeing of his spirit from the ness of his body and knows this to be the beginning of his punishment and chastisement for his evil deeds and his oppression.

But those who neither see death to be annihilation nor do they have files of black deeds, why should they fear death?

They are also people who love being alive but to gain more benefits for their new life in a world after death for they welcome the death which comes upon the their goal which is well-pleasing to the Nourisher.

Two Different Points of View

We have said that people are of two kinds, one group of which forms the majority who fear and hate death.

But another group welcomes death if it is upon the way of their great goal like martyrdom upon the Way of God, or at least when they sense that their life is near the end, they never allow fear to enter their hearts. The reason is that they have two different points of view.

The first group: they either have absolutely no belief in life after death or if they believe in it, they have not really, as yet, accepted this belief, thus they believe the moment of death to be the moment to bid farewell to all things. Of course, to bid farewell to everything is most difficult; leaving the light and taking steps in the darkness of the absolute is most painful.

Also, being freed from a prison and going towards a trial for a criminal whose crimes are obvious is frightening and fearful.

But the second group believes death to be a new birth, moving beyond the limited and dark environment of this world, taking steps into an extensive world and one which is full of light.

Being freed from the narrow prison or cage of the body and flying in infinite space, leaving behind an environment in which the center of small mindedness, tensions, injustices evil opinions and wars and stepping into an environment which is cleansed of these corruptions. It is natural that they have no fear of such a death.

Just like Imam ‘Ali, peace be upon him, he said, “I swear that ‘Ali, the son of Abu Talib , looks forward to death with greater desire than a baby looks forward to its mother’s breast.”

It is not without reason that in the history of Islam, we encounter people like Imam Husayn and his faithful companions who, as the moment for their martyrdom comes, are overjoyed and they hurry towards their meeting with their Beloved.

And it is also for this reason that in the honorable life of Hadrat ‘Ali, peace be upon him, we read that when the sword struck his head, he cried out, “I swear by the God of the Ka’bah that I have been relieved.”

It is clear that the meaning of these words is not that a human being not appreciate the blessings of this world and overlook them, and not make use of them to attain great goals, but rather, what is meant is that in life, correct benefits be gained, but at the end, never allow room for fear, knowing that it is upon the way of great and sublime goals.

Think and Answer

1. Why do people fear death and what is the reason for it?
2. Why does one group smile at death and move unhesitatingly towards it with the love of martyrdom?
3. What can the moment of death be compared with? What feelings do those who are pure and good-doers have and what feelings do those have who are not?
4. Have you ever seen people who were not afraid of death? What memories of them do you have?
5. What was Hadrat ‘Ali’s logic about death?

Why Do Most People Fear Death?
1. The Interpretation of Death as Annihilation
2. Black Files
Two Different Points of View
Think and Answer