The Return and the Squeeze (20)

graveblackBack down, right into the earth.

The murky, dark, dirty and inexpensive soil beneath us shall one day be a part of us, engulfing us and freely entering within the openings of our noses and mouths as it becomes one with us. We won’t have any choice but to submit to it, as choice and free-will is something of this world and therefore will no longer be readily available to us in the grave. Towards the grave is our destination; indeed we were created from it, will be buried into it, and then will be resurrected from it. This is the promise of Allah and as believers we know that Allah’s promises are unlike the promises made by man. For, man may incessantly and repetitively without shame break his promises one after the other, but Allah (The High and Elevated) never ever ever fails in His promises. His promises will surely come to pass, whether or not we, with our limited intellects and restricted knowledge, have truly come to comprehend and grasp this reality. Allah (Almighty) made this clear to us:

{(Such is) the promise of Allah, never does Allah fail in His promise.} [Al Qur’an 39:20]

{The promise of Allah is true, and He is Exalted in Power, Wise.} [Al Qur’an 31:9]

One such promise, which Allah (the Mighty and Glorious) made to man is that after man’s death, when his soul is taken up into the heavens towards Allah (Almighty), and after Allah (Almighty) records his deed in either the Illiyeen or Sijjeen - depending on whether he accumulated good or bad deeds in this life, and the sort of life he lead - Allah (the Glorious) will return man’s soul into this world. But this time there will now be a difference as there will be a change in his destination. This time won’t be like the time before, when a person could easily traverse and venture into the valleys, path-ways and various tracks embedded in the face of this earth. Rather, he will placed inside the world, in a restricted and confined grave which Allah (the All-Powerful) had decreed for him and which awaits his occupation.

Indeed, Allah (Almighty) will come to fulfill the promise he made in Surah Taha, verse 55:

{From it (the earth) we created you, and into it we shall return you, and from it we shall bring You out once again.}

The Prophet (peace be upon him) further elucidates and elaborated that Allah (the Mighty and Powerful) will say - after the evil and disbelieving soul is brought up to Him, and his name is recorded in as-Sijjeen -:

‘Take him back to the earth, for this was my promise. I created them from it, I will return them to it, and I will resurrect them from it again.’{footnote}This lengthy hadith narrated by al-Baraa ibn Aaazib is reported by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, at-Tayalisi, and al-Hakim who said it is according to the standards of Bukhari and Muslim.{/footnote}

In another narration we find:

“Take him back to the earth, because I promised them that from it I create them, into it I return them, and from it I resurrect them once again.”{footnote}Ahmad, Abu Dawud and others.{/footnote}

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said:

“…The soul will be taken up to its Lord then it will be said: ‘Take it to its destiny.’”{footnote}Saheeh Muslim{/footnote}

Then, the evil soul will be thrown down into the earth, to meet what awaits him, just as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“He will be taken back to the earth, and his soul will be returned to his body and he will hear the footsteps of his companions as they leave him.”{footnote}This lengthy hadith narrated by al-Baraa ibn Aaazib is reported by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, at-Tayalisi, and al-Hakim who said it is according to the standards of Bukhari and Muslim.{/footnote}

OpenGraveThe cold, dark excavation in the ground will now become his real home as s/he enters the stage of the hereafter and become one of its children. His or her friends walk away, oblivious and helpless; how can they help him when s/he can’t help himself? Now that which was hidden to him will become apparent and disbelief will become certitude and conviction in Allah’s promise. He will now come to know what true solitude is like, for only his deeds will be his friends. No wonder Haani’, the servant of ‘Uthmaan (may Allah be pleased with him) described,

“’Uthmaan (may Allah be pleased with him) used to cry until his beard became wet when he would stand next to a grave. He was told:

‘You mention the Heaven and the Hellfire and you don’t cry, but when you mention the grave you burst into tears!’ He said, ‘I heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) saying,

‘The grave is the first stage of the Hereafter, whoever passes it will be at ease afterwards, and if he does not pass it he will be in (the) worst condition.”

I also heard him (the Prophet, peace be upon him) saying,

“Never have I seen a sight more horrifying than the grave.”{footnote}Saheeh Muslim{/footnote}

We also find this fact collaborated by the following Prophetic Narrations in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

“These graves are filled with darkness for their occupants. Allah enlightens them by me praying for them.”{footnote}Saheeh Muslim{/footnote}

The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) also said,

"Seek Allaah's protection from the Punishment of the Grave, since punishment of the Grave is a fact/true."{footnote}Saheeh: At-Tabraanee in 'al-Kabeer' from Umm Khaalid bint Khaalid ibn Sa'eed ibn al-'Aas.{/footnote}

The great Tab’iee (Successor{footnote}A Successor is somebody who has met a Companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him) but not the Prophet (peace be upon him).{/footnote}), the student of the illustrious companion Anas Ibn Maalik (may Allah be pleased with him), Thaabit al-Bunani said, 'Once I was walking among the graves and I heard a voice behind me saying,

"Thaabit! Do not be deceived by their stillness. How many people in them are suffering!"

I turned around, but did not see anyone.'{footnote}The Soul journey after death" an abridgement of Ibn al-Qayyim's kitabar-ruh.{/footnote}

In another incident a girl died in the al-Jarif plague. Her father met her in a dream after her death and asked her to tell him about the Next World. She replied,

“My father, this is a huge subject you have raised. We know but cannot act. You can act but do not know. By Allah, one or two acts of glorification and one or two Rak'ats of the prayer in the book of my actions are preferable to me than the world and all it contains.”{footnote}The Soul journey after death" an abridgement of Ibn al-Qayyim's kitabar-ruh.{/footnote}

It is a fact, that the grave is such an abode that once one has entered its home, there will be no leaving it until the Day of Resurrection… a day in which all of one’s deeds will be scaled and the true nature of life will come forward. Then all that man did in this life will be for him or against him.

If only s/he truly knew.

The squeeze and then the Questioning begins

mudovergraveSome of us may have felt the sensation of being hugged so tight that it hurt, especially when as children, a certain auntie just wouldn’t let go till she gave her unwelcomed salaams by way of squeezing you so tight until you felt like you just wanted to escape from her clutches.

Well, the grave will give a similar hug to the person who enters within it but it wont be anything like the squeeze given by someone known to you, nor will it have any warmth to it. When the person is laid down in the grave and covered, the grave will press-in on the person and this is something none of us can escape. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,

“If anyone could have escaped from the pressing-in of the grave it would have been Sa’d Ibn Mu’aadh, but even he was pressed by his grave before he was released.”{footnote}Ahmad, al-Musnad and at-Tirmidhi.{/footnote}

Imagine that!

Imagine being in a restricted excavation in the ground, which has no light, no ventilation and no escape.

Imagine the biting darkness which will surround you and the insects crawling around you.

Imagine the coldness of the earth which will now begin to squeeze you… and then you ask Allah (Almighty) the ability to change your ways before it’s too late. For after the squeeze, the questioning will begin; An interrogation unlike any other.

Some of us may fear being questioned because we have a lot to hide or we may feel like we haven’t prepared enough for it and have lagged behind in performing duties and deeds which we really should have performed. Whereas others, especially the likes of ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), are enthusiastic and rely on Allah (Almighty) hand-in-hand with having prepared for that day.

‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said that, ‘The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) mentioned the tormentor of the grave and ‘Umar asked, “Will our mental faculties be restored to us, O Messenger of Allah?” The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Yes, just as they are now.” ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said,

“I will put a stone in his mouth.”{footnote}Saheeh at-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb, Vol 4, with a Hasan Isnaad.{/footnote}

What ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) intends here is that because he honors His Lord, Allah (Almighty) will help him give the right answers, which will silence his questioner in the grave. But the question arises: How many of us are like ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him)? How many of us have sacrificed our lives and devoted our energies to spreading the message of Islaam and in defending the way of the Noble Messenger (peace be upon him). So how wise is it for us then to be confident in this regard?

We have more to fear, yet we must hope.

For, without hope we are doomed.

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