At the last moments before death, Allah (S.W.T.) sends the angels of death to get the soul from the human body. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-An′am, (verse 61), what can be translated as, “He is the irresistible, supreme over His slaves, and He sends guardians over you, until when death approaches one of you, Our messengers (angel of death and his assistants) take his soul, and they never neglect their duty.”
These angels of death come to the believer in a pleasant appearance and come to the disbelievers and the hypocrites in an unpleasant way. In the authentic hadith, reported by Imams Abu Dawud, Al-Hakem, and Ahmad that Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said, “If a believer is about to die; leaving this world for the Hereafter, angels from the sky descend on him, having bright faces like the sun.....”, then the prophet (S.A..W.) said in the same hadith, “...and when the non-believer (and in another narration, the corrupted) is about to die; leaving this world for the Hereafter, rough angels from the sky descend unto him, having dark faces...”
These angels carry good news to the believers from Allah (S.W.T.), therefore, these believers look forward to meeting their Lord. Also, these angels carry bad news of severe punishment to the non-believers or the corrupt, and therefore, they dread meeting their Lord. Imam Bukhari related that the messenger (S.A.W.) said, “Whoever loves to meet Allah, Allah loves to meet him, and whoever hates to meet Allah, Allah hates to meet him.” A′eshah then asked, “We hate death.” The prophet (S.A.W.) replied, “That′s not what I meant; when the believer is about to die, he is given glad tidings with the pleasure of Allah and His blessings, so there is nothing in front of the believer better than that, so he loves to meet Allah and Allah loves to meet him. And also when the non-believer is about to die, he is told about the punishment of Allah that will fall on him, so there is nothing more disliked to him than that, so he hates to meet Allah and Allah hates to meet him.”
Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Fussilat, (verse 30 - 32), what can be translated as, “Verily, those who say: Our Lord is Allah (alone), and they stood straight, on them the angels will descend (at the time of their death)(saying): Do not fear, nor grieve! But receive the glad tidings of Paradise, which you have promised!
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We have been your alliances 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 (Allah), the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
For disbelievers, their time of death is dreadful. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Anfal, (verse 50 & 51), what can be translated as, “And if you could see when the angels take away the souls of those whom 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, Allah is not unjust to His slaves.”
During a man′s dying moments, he wishes that death were delayed so that if he were a non-believer, he would become a believer. Or if he were a disobedient believer, he would repent from his sins. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-M′umenun, (verse 99 & 100), what can be translated as, “Until, death comes to one of them, he says My Lord! Send me back so that I may do good in that which I have left behind. No! It is but a word that he speaks, and behind them is a Barrier until The day when they will be resurrected.” So, belief is not accepted from anyone at the time of death. Also, repentance is useless if death reached the man′s throat.
Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat An-Nisa′, (verse 17 & 18), what can be translated as, “Allah accepts only the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and foolishness and repent soon afterwards; it is they whom Allah will forgive and Allah is Ever All-Knower, All-Wise. And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil deeds until death faces them and he says: Now I repent; nor of those who die while they are disbelievers. For them we have prepared a painful torment.”
In the authentic hadith reported by Imam At-Tirmithi, and Ibn-Majah, that the prophet (S.A.W.) said, “Allah (S.W.T.) accepts repentance from a person as long as death does not reach his throat.”
When dying, man experiences the hardships of death, among which are fainting because of severe pain. This is good for the believer because it wipes out his sins, purifies him, and elevates him to higher degrees in Paradise.
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The prophet (S.A.W.) suffered from the hardships of death when he was very sick in his last moments of life; he used to put his hands in a bowl of water and wipe his face and say: “La-Elaha Ella-llah. Surely, death has its hardships.” (reported by Imam Al-Bukhari).
Imams Al-Bukhari and Muslim reported what A′eshah talked about the prophet′s sickness when he was dying, “I have not seen worse pain on anyone than the one I saw on the messenger of Allah (S.W.T.).”
Imams Al-Bukhari, Muslim and Ahmad reported that Abdullah Bin Mas′oud said, “I went to see the messenger (S.A.W.), when he was in pain, and I touched him with my hand and said, “Oh, messenger of Allah, you are in severe pain.” The prophet (S.A.W.) replied, “Yes, I am hurting as much as two men of you.” Then I said, “You have twice the reward?” He said, “Yes.” then he said, “A Muslim who is troubled by a calamity; a sickness or less than that, but Allah (S.W.T.) will shed his sins like the tree sheds its leaves.”
We have talked about the last moments before death and how harsh and painful they are, so we must ask ourselves a question. Am I prepared to face the stage before death? If your answer is yes, then you should praise Allah and thank Him for that. We should also preserve and continue to perform good deeds. On the other hand, if your answer is no, then you should quickly correct the problems, because it is still not too late and there is still a chance for improvement. We should be aware of any delaying, because it is one of the most dangerous weapons Satan uses to stop the believers from doing good.
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