Islamic Sufism Spirituality

The Souls Journey After Death

Posted on: June 6, 2008


It is reported that al Bara bin Azib said “We went out with the prophet (pbuh) in order to participate in the funeral rites of a man from the Ansar. We arrived at the grave, but the inner chamber had not been prepared yet, so Allahs messenger (pbuh) sat down facing the direction of the qiblah, and we sat around him so attentively that it was as if birds were sitting upon our heads.

He had a stick in his hand with which he sketched upon the ground. Then he began looking alternatively to the heavens and to the earth, raising his gaze and then lowering it. Finally, he said two or three times, ‘Seek refuge in Allah from the torment of the grave.’ Then he said, ‘O Allah, verily I seek refuge in You from the torment of the grave.’ He repeated it three times, then he elaborated, ‘Verily, when the believing servant is leaving this world and entering the next, angels from the heavens descend to him – their faces white with brightness like the sun and carrying with them burial sheets and scents from Paradise. They sit before him ata distance as far as they eye can see. Then the Angel of Death (upon whom be peace) comes to the person, sits at his head and says “O good soul [in another narration ‘O confident soul’], come out to your Lords forgiveness and pleasure”‘

[The Prophet (pbuh) continued], “Thereupon, the soul flows out of the body like water flowing from the mouth of a waterskin, and all of the angels between the skies and the earth supplicate for Allahs blessing upon him. The doors of the heavens are opened for him, and the keepers of these doors [i.e., the angels] all plead with Allah that this soul might pass in front of them as it is being carried upward. The Angel of Death barely receives the soul in his hands, whereupon the other angels take it from him and wrap it with fragrant winding sheets.

This is what is meant by Allahs saying “Our messengers [i.e., angels] seize his soul, and they do not fall short of their duty”‘ (Surah al An am 6:61) Then the Prophet said, ‘There exudes from the soul a scent like the most beautiful fragrance of musk that one could find on the face of the earth.

The angels descend with the soul, never passing a host of angels without hearing them ask, “Who is this wonderful soul?” They reply, “So and so, the son of so and so,” addressing him with the best names he was known by during his earthly life. Upon reaching the first heaven, the angels request that it be opened for the soul – which is granted. The soul is then accompanied by the angels of each heaven until it reaches the one above it and finally arrives at the seventh heaven. then Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, says [to the angels], “Place the record of My servant in ‘illiyyun’.”‘ The persons record is then placed in ‘illiyyun’, whereupon a command is heard: “Return him to the earth, for verily I have promised mankind that having created them from the earth, I will return them to it. And I will make them come out of it, yet another time.”

Then the soul is returned to the earth, back into its body. Verily, the deceased hears the shuffling feet of his companions who attended his burial as they turn away and leave his grave. Thereupon, two angels, severe in interrogation, come to him, and sitting him up, they begin to ask him questions. They say, “Who is your Lord?” He replied, “Allah is my Lord.” They continue, “What is your religion?” He answers, “Islam is my religion.” They proceed with the questioning, saying, “Who is this man that has been sent to you?” He responds, “He is the messenger of Allah .” Finally, they ask him about his deeds, to which he replies, “I read Allahs book and believed in it.”‘

(In another narration the Prophet (pbuh) indicated that the angels ask, “Who is your Lord, what is your religion and who is your prophet?” [Allahs Messenger explained that] this was the believers last test, and is what is meant when Allah says, “Allah strengthens those who believe with a firm testimony in this worldly life and the Hereafter.” (Surah Ibraheem 14:27) The deceased answers, “Allah is my Lord, Islam is religion, and my prophet is Muhammed.”) [The prophet then indicated, ‘Upon the believers answer to these questions], a voice is heard in the heavens, saying “My servant has told the truth, so clothe him in the clothing of Paradise, spread for him the furnishings of Paradise, and open for him a window with a view of Paradise.”

Thereupon, he is engulfed by a breeze of fresh air and fragrance, while the expanse of his grave is extended before him as far as the eye can see. There appears before him a man with wonderful face and beautiful clothing, emitting a splendid fragrance. He says to the soul, “Rejoice at the news which will gladden you! Rejoice at Allahs pleasure and His Paradise, whose joys and delights never end. This is the day which you was promised.” The deceased says to him, “And who are you, for your face bears glad tidings?!” The figure answers, “I represent your good deeds; by Allah, I’ve always known you to be quick in obedience to Allah and slow to His obedience. so may Allah reward you with good.” Then a door to Paradise is opened, whereupon it is said to him [regarding the Hellfire] “This would have been your final abode had you disobeyed Allah; however, it has been exchanged for this other abode [i.e., Paradise].”

When the soul sees what is in Paradise, he cries “My Lord, hasten the arrival of the Hour [i.e., the Resurrection] so that I may be joined with my family and wealth” Thereupon it is said to him, “Rest in tranquility.”‘

Allahs Messenger (pbuh) continued, ‘When the disbelieving servant [and in another narration “sinful servant”] is about to leave this world and enter the next, angels, powerful and severe, descend to him from the heavens – their faces black and carrying with them coarse strips of cloth from Hell. They sit before him at a distance as far as the eye can see. Then the Angel of Death arrives, and sitting at the head of the disbeliever, he says, “O you foul soul, come out to the anger and wrath of your Lord.” The soul inside the disbelievers body is overcome by terrible fear [and does not want to deliver itself up], whereupon the Angel of Death violently pulls it out multi-pronged skewers being yanked out of wet wool – tearing with them the arteries and nerves. Upon this, the soul is cursed by every angel between the earth and the heavens and by those inside the heavens.

Then the doors of the heavens are closed to him, and every single guard at these doors begs Allah that this soul not be carried up in front of him.’ The Prophet (pbuh) continued, ‘The Angel of Death barely receives the soul in his hands, whereupon the other angels grasp it from him and wrap it up in coarse cloth. There emits from it the foulest odour that could be found on the face of the earth. They ascend with it, never passing a host of angels without being asked, “Who is this ugly soul?” They reply, “So and so, the son of so and so,” using the worst names by which he was known in this world. When they arrive at the lowest heaven, they request that it be opened for this soul, but the request is denied.’ At this point Allahs Messenger (pbuh) recited the verse:’The gates of the heavens will not be opened for them, nor will they enter the Garden of Paradise until a camel goes through the eye of a needle.’ (Surah al-A’raf 7:40)

After that he continued, ‘Then Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, says [to the angels], “Place his record in sijjeen – in the lowest earth. Return My servant to the earth, for verily I have promised mankind that having created them from the earth, I will return them to it. And I will make them come out of it
, yet another time.” Upon this command, the deceased [disbelievers] soul is thrown down from the sky until it lands in its body.’

The prophet (pbuh) then recited the verse: ‘And whoever ascribes partners with Allah, it is as though he had fallen from the sky, such that birds snatch him up or the wind throws him to a remote place.’ (Surah al-Hajj 22:31) Then he commented, ‘Verily [when the soul is returned to its body], the deceased hears the sound of his companions footsteps as they turn away from his grave.’

[The Prophet (pbuh) resumed his explanation, saying], “Then two angels, severe in interrogation, come to him, sitting him up, they begin to question him, “Who is your Lord?” He replies, “Hah! Hah! I don’t know.” They continue by asking him, “What is your religion?” He answers, “Hah! Hah! I don’t know.” So they ask, “Then what do you say about this man who was sent to you?” [The disbeliever does not appear to understand who they are referring to, so it is said], “Muhammad.” Again he states, “Hah! Hah! I don’t know. I only heard people talking about him.” Then it is said, “You did not know! And you did not read!”

Thereupon a voice from the heavens is heard, “He has lied!” So spread out for him a place from the Fire and open for him a window to the Fire.” The searing hot winds of Hell engulf him while his grave closes in upon him, crushing him until his ribcage is broken by the force – causing the ribs of one side to interwine with the ribs of the other. Then there appears to him a person with an ugly face and ugly clothing and exuding a foul odour, who says, “Tidings of evil to you, for this is the day which you were promised!” The deceased says to him, “And you, too; may Allah give you evil tidings! Who are you, for yours is a face which portends evil.”

The person rejoins, “I represent your wicked deeds. By Allah, I have always known you to be slow in obedience to Allah and quick in disobedience to Him. May Allah reward you with evil!” Then one who is deaf, dumb and blind and is carrying an iron rod is sent to the deceased. If he were to strike a mountain with it, the mountain would disintegrate into rubble. He strikes the deceased with a blow which turns him to dust.

Allah returns the deceased to his original form, whereupon he is struck a second time. This causes him to shriek with such violence that it is heard by all of creation except mankind and jinn. Then a door to the Fire is opened, and beddings of the Fire are spread for him, whereupon he cries, “Lord do not establish the Hour!”‘”

This is from the book “Mysteries of the soul expounded” by Abu Bilal Mustafa-al Kanadi, pages 34-42.

May Allah forgive us our sins and protect us from the punishment of the grave and the hellfire. Ameen.

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