How Do I Deal With the Fear of Dying as an Unbeliever?

Answered by Shaykh Salim Ahmad Mauladdawila

Question: Assalamu alaykum

I am worried of having a bad end, of dying as an unbeliever.

How can I deal with this fear?

Answer: Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

Concern for one’s end is itself a good sign, but the Muslim should always balance themself between being fearful of God’s wrath and punishment and hoping for his mercy and bounties. As some of the pious say, the believer is like a bird which flies with two wings: the wing of hope and the wing of fear. With only one wing, the bird cannot fly.

God himself indicates this need for balance in the Quran, where he says to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), “Tell My slaves that I am All-forgiving and All-merciful, and that My punishment is a painful one” [15:49-50]. He also says, “Know that God is stern in His retribution and He is All-forgiving and All-merciful” [5:98], and later describes Himself as “Forgiver of sin, accepting of repentance, severe in punishment, owner of abundance” [40:3].

When we find ourselves perhaps getting a little lax in in our obligatory duties, we remind ourselves of God’s warnings in the Quran. We remember the torture in the grave and the vivid descriptions of Hell. If we find ourselves despairing, we remind ourselves of our Lord’s mercy. We remember the hadith of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) narrated by Imam al-Bukhari, where God says “Verily My mercy overcomes My anger”. We remember the hadith, “All children of Adam are wrongdoers, and the best of the wrongdoers are those who repent”, and we contemplate God’s words, “O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of God. Indeed, God forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful” [39:53].

We should also constantly ask God that he grant us a good end, as we find many of the pious do and have done. We should make this prayer regularly and keep in mind the hadith qudsi where God says, “I am as my slave thinks I am, and I am with him if he remembers Me. If he remembers Me within Himself, I remember him within Myself. If he remembers Me in a group, I remember him in a better group. If he comes one span nearer to Me, I go one cubit nearer to him. If he comes one cubit nearer to Me, I go a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him. If he comes to Me walking, I go to him running”.

[Shaykh] Salim Ahmad Mauladdawila