Have You Prepared for the Hour? -Jamal Zarabozo
All of us are familiar with the Signs of the Day of Judgement. They are mentioned in numerous hadith of the Prophet (saw). However, there is another “hour” that is, on an individual level, just as important that we must be aware of. This hour is described in the following hadith of the Prophet (saw).
al-Bukhaari and Muslim record from A’isha (ra) that a bedouin came to the Prophet (saw) and asked him, “When is the Hour?” The Prophet (saw) pointed to a young boy and said,
“If this boy lives by the time he is old and decrepit, your hour would have already taken place.”
This is the hour that each and every one of us will experience and must be aware of. This is the hour that is approaching us at every second of our lives. This will be the deciding time for us as our actions will come to an end. This is, in fact, OUR HOUR! It is the inevitable that every soul must taste. Allaah says in the Qur’aan:
“Everyone shall taste death. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception.” (al-‘Imraan, 185)
This is when our deeds will come to an end. After that, we can just look towards our reckoning. Therefore, the question that we must ask ourselves and act upon before it is too late is: What have we prepared for our hour? What have we prepared for that moment when this life comes to an end for us?
Perhaps this should lead us to ask another question: What is it that we can prepare for that Hour? In fact, the only thing that we can prepare for that Hour is true faith (iman) and good deeds. The Prophet (saw) has advised us and taught us that we must take advantage of our life before death comes. That is, we must use this life to prepare for the Hereafter before death comes to us and this life will no longer be of any avail to us. If we do not use this life to prepare for the Hereafter, then, in fact, we have simply wasted this life – no matter how much it seems that we have achieved in this worldly life. Even if we have twelve degrees, three mansions, four cars, it has all been a waste if we did not stop, think and prepare for the Hour.
At the time of that Hour, three things will follow us to the grave. However, two of those three will leave us at the grave. Our wealth, family and deeds will accompany us to the grave. However, our wealth and family will return – they won’t stay us with in the grave, we can’t take them with us into our graves to use them in the Hereafter. We will be left with only one thing, as the Prophet (saw) told us. We will be left in our graves with our deeds only. Our deeds and nothing else will remain with us.
Dear brothers and sisters, we must think about our Hour and prepare for it before it comes. We must prepare for it before the Angel of Death comes to us to take our souls.
We should realise that if we prepare for that Hour, the angels will then come to us in a pleasing form, our souls will flow easily out of our bodies and the angels will be calling us to Allaah’s pleasure and forgiveness.
However, if we do not prepare for that Hour – if we are heedless and we are like those who are about to go on a long trip and don’t prepare anything in advance for that trip – our situation will be completely different. The angels will come to the disbeliever or the evildoer in a completely different fashion. They will come in a form that is very displeasing to the person. They will call the soul to Allaah’s anger and His Punishment. The soul will not want to leave the body and it will have to be dragged out of the body. The angels will have to tear the soul out of the body. Is this what we want to face? This is the result of not thinking about and preparing for our Hour.
This is how the Prophet (saw) described that horrifying event:
“When an infidel (or, in some narrations, an evildoer) is about to leave the world and proceed to the next, angels with black (and harsh) faces will come down to him from heaven with a hair-cloth (of fire) and will sit away from him as far as the eye can see. Then the angel of death comes and sits at his head and says, “Wicked soul, come out to the displeasure of Allaah”. Then it becomes dissipated in the body, and he draws it out as spit is drawn from moistened wool. He then seizes it, and when he does so they do not leave it in his hand for an instant, but put it in that hair-cloth (of fire) and from it there comes forth a stench like the most offensive stench of a corpse found of the face of the earth.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Ibn Khuzaima, al-Hakim and others. According to al-Albaani, it is sahih. See Sahih al-Jami’ as-Sagheer, vol.1, p.436, hadith no. 1676)
In the Qur’aan, Allaah has also described the taking of the souls of the disbelievers in the following passage:
“And if you could see when the angels take away the souls of those who disbelieve (at death), they smite their faces and their backs, (saying): ‘Taste the punishment of the blazing fire. This is because of that which your hands had forwarded. And verily, Allaah is not unjust to His slave.'” (al-Anfal, 50-51)
Why would the soul face such an evil end? Why would the soul not want to come out of its body to go toward his Lord and Creator? What would cause the soul to hesitate and want to cling to this world? I think the answers to those questions, are, for the most part, very clear to everyone. There are many reasons why a soul would not want to leave its body when the angels come to take it at its appointed Hour.
Perhaps the most important reason for such an evil end is holding false beliefs or having doubts about the truth of Islaam. Anyone who believes in something that goes against the Qur’aan or Sunnah, or has any doubt concerning the Qur’aan or Sunnah – on that day, at that hour, his soul will admit and recognise its wrong. When that Hour comes, such a person will realise what it is that he has to look forward to. Indeed, all of that person’s deeds will be of no avail to him at that time if he held such beliefs or doubts that took him out of the realm of Islaam. Allaah says,
“Say: Shall We tell you of the greatest losers in respect of (their) deeds? Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life while they thought that they were acquiring good deeds.” (al-Kahf, 103-104)
Continually performing evil deeds and procrastinating when it comes to repentance may also lead the person to an evil end. At the time of death, the soul will not be able to think of anything, except the sins it committed and the wrong that it did. At that time, it will realise that it is too late to repent. He had his whole lifetime to repent from his evil deeds and change his ways – but he waited and waited. He waited too long. He waited until it was too late. The time of death – which no one knows except Allaah – has come to him and he has not yet repented to Allaah. The truth of Allaah’s words will be very clear to him at that time:
“Allaah only accepts the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and foolishness and repent soon afterwards; it is they to whom Allaah will forgive and Allaah is Ever All-Knower, All-Wise. And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil deeds until death faces one of them and he says, “Now I repent”, nor of those who die while they are disbelievers. For them We have prepared a painful torment.” (an-Nisaa, 17-18)
This is especially important for those people who consider themselves “young”. Some people seem to think that being religious is for old people and that youth should be spent enjoying oneself. They think that they will have plenty of time to repent in the future. The fact is that they are not guaranteed that future. They may die in their youths and then realise that the time for repentance and doing good deeds is NOW no matter how old or young a person is. That person’s soul will be very sorrowful and remiss when the angels take his soul in his youth before the time that he had set for himself for his repentance!
On the other hand, the Prophet (saw) has also described to us those people who perform the deeds of Paradise until they are only a handspan away from Paradise and then they do the deeds of the Hellfire and they end up one of the inhabitants of Hell. Such a person will be able to do nothing but regret his later actions. He will wish that he had never changed his ways. His soul will refuse to leave from his body because it knows and recognises the good deeds that he used to perform and the bad deeds that he is now performing.
Having a weak faith and preferring this life over the Hereafter is another cause for an evil end. In this case, the person, at his death, will have to say goodbye to that thing that he loves the most – this world or some aspect of this world. In fact, his soul will not be willing or ready to leave what he loves. If he can resist meeting Allaah and the Hereafter to stay here with the things he loves, he would do so.
Some scholars have written about some people who, on their deathbeds, when being encouraged to say, “There is no true god except Allaah”, could not respond. All they could think about or talk about was the things that they enjoyed of this world. For example, one person who was addicted to chess simply kept repeating the words, “Check, check”, as the Angel of Death was coming to him. That was the real thing that was in his heart, the love of his life, what he lived his life for and that is what he could not wish to part from.
Sulaiman ibn ‘Abdul-Malik asked Abu Hazm, one of the followers, “O Abu Hazm, why is it that we hate death?” He answered, “You have built up (constructed) this world and you have destroyed the Hereafter. You hate to leave the thing that you have constructed for the thing that you have ruined.” Indeed, how many Muslims put all of their time and energy into getting ahead in this world and very little preparing for the Hereafter. What do you think will be their state when the Angel of Death comes to them? Do you think they will be willing to give up everything they worked for to meet their Lord?
Abu Hazm was also asked how the people will be presented to Allaah on that Hour and he said, “The pious person will be like the one who was gone for a while and is returning to his family. The evildoer will be like the runaway slave returning to his master”. That is exactly how those who are disobedient to Allaah will be on that Day. They disobeyed their true and real master and now they have to meet Him. However, for the pious, it will be a joyous occasion, like that of a person returning to his family.
The Prophet (saw) has clearly stated that if a person hates to meet Allaah, Allaah hates to meet him. That person, who has an evil end to his life, will be sitting in his grave seeing his place in the Hellfire. He will beseech Allaah not to bring about the Day of Judgement. He does not want to meet Allaah. However, his pleas will not be listened to. Indeed, his time for praying, pleading, beseeching and repenting is over and now he can only wait and face the results of his deeds.
Dear believers, by preparing for that Hour, by making our deeds, beliefs and intentions righteous, our Hour can be completely different from what I have just described. Instead, it can be like the Prophet (saw) described it in another part of the hadith that I referred to earlier:
“When a believer is about to leave this world and go forward to the Hereafter, angels with white faces, as if their faces were the sun, come down to him from heaven with one of the shrouds of Paradise and some of the perfume of Paradise and sit from him as far as the eye can see. Then the angel of death comes and sits at his head and says, “Good soul, come out to forgiveness and acceptance from Allaah”. It then comes out like a drop flows from a waterskin and he seizes it. And when he does so, they do not leave it in his hand for an instant, but they take it and place it in that shroud and that perfume, and from it there comes a fragrance like that of the sweetest musk found on the face of the earth.”
In the Qur’aan, Allaah has also described the peaceful plight of the believers at the time of their death – those that are true to the faith, do good deeds and repent after doing evil deeds. Allaah says,
“Verily those who say, “Our Lord is Allaah (alone)”, and then they stick to that, on them the angels will descend (at the time of their death) (saying): “Fear you not, nor grieve! But receive the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised. We have been your friends in the life of this world and are (so) in the Hereafter. Therein you shall have (all) that your inner-selves desire, and therein you shall have (all) for which you ask for. An entertainment from (Allaah), the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Fussilat, 30-32)
This person will be shown his seat in Paradise while he is in his grave. He will ask Allaah to bring forth the Day of Judgement. This is the meaning of the Prophet’s statement, “Whoever loves to meet Allaah, Allaah loves to meet him”.
This will be our situation on that Hour – our own personal Hour that we all have to face at some time. We will either be from those whose souls will be taken easily from their bodies or from those whose souls do not wish to leave their bodies and this world. From now, however, this moment on, we must do our best to work to be among those who will have a wonderful end to their lives. We can do this by correcting our beliefs, removing any doubts, repenting from evil deeds and putting the Hereafter first in our hearts.
I leave you then, with the advice of ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib, the Companion of the Prophet (saw). He said, “Go with this life behind you and go with the next life in front of you. Each life has its children so be from the children of the Hereafter and be not from the children of this world. Today are deeds without reckoning and tomorrow is reckoning without deeds”.
I pray to Allaah to make us all from those people who will meet a good ending to this life. O Allaah, guide us all to the straight path and keep us firm along that path. n