Jan 31, 2012

Islam and the Angel of Death

·     We are born to die.
·     We all fear death.
·     We are on a journey without an itinerary.
·     The only certainty in life is that we will all be put in the ground.

Muslims believe that death is not the end of our journey and that it is merely movement from one world to another – a journey through a wormhole to a separate dimension – much as being born, much as the last moments of breath. The Holy Prophet Muhamad said that we should live in this world as though we are a stranger passing through. We are on a journey and should know the whole journey's itinerary. Do we?

There is an Afrikaans expression in South Africa – pad kos – meaning food for the road, food for thought, food for  the afterlife which no one has seen and come back to describe. Do we have enough pad kos? Do we have taqwa – God consciousness? Do we deserve a visa which allows us entrance at every waterhole along the way? That depends entirely on our character. If you developed into an untruthful and dishonest human being, you won’t pass inspection and make border patrol. You simply wander about in barzakh – a kind of holding pattern – until your soul finds a home again.

Everyone seems to have his or her own beliefs about death. Some of us believe blindly, some of us question the concept of an afterlife, and some do not believe in anything but go through the motions of devotion just in case there IS a God and some sort of reckoning at the end.

The first life of the soul begins when it is breathed into an embryo, and the journey begins in the mother's womb. The second part of our journey starts after we are born. In this life, the soul and the body are together except during sleep. This part of our journey ends as death approaches. When death approaches, the Angel of Death takes the soul out of the body and puts it in a place called Barzakh – a holding place until the Day of Resurrection. For those who led an evil life, the removal of the soul is hard and more than one angel has to work together to get it out. For those who lived a good life, the soul makes a quiet exit. If the soul is pure and has family in the Next World, they meet the soul with great yearning and joy.

If you like this post also read The Playground of the Prophets

Sources: "The Soul's Journey after Death" by Layla Mabrouk
"Death and Dying" by Dr. Ahmad Sakr
"The World of the Angels" by Sh. Abdul Hamid Kishk
"A Treasury of Ahadith" by Dr. Mazhar U. Kazi
Quran Al-Kareem trans. Abdullah Yusuf Ali