This article is from the On Demand Course: Preparing for the End of Life. In Islam death is not an end state but a station on the way. Preparing for death is central to the life of a Muslim. This is the fourth article in a series.
There are certain times when we are blessed for seeking forgiveness from Allah or repenting. Before sunrise, before sunset and just before the coming in of Fajr.
It is often forgotten that every night, there is a chance one may die in one’s sleep. Allah says:
ٱللَّهُ یَتَوَفَّى ٱلۡأَنفُسَ حِینَ مَوۡتِهَا وَٱلَّتِی لَمۡ تَمُتۡ فِی مَنَامِهَاۖ فَیُمۡسِكُ ٱلَّتِی قَضَىٰ عَلَیۡهَا ٱلۡمَوۡتَ وَیُرۡسِلُ ٱلۡأُخۡرَىٰۤ إِلَىٰۤ أَجَل مُّسَمًّىۚ إِنَّ فِی ذَ ٰلِكَ لَـَٔایَـٰت لِّقَوۡم یَتَفَكَّرُونَ
“Allah is who takes back souls when they die, as well as those souls in their sleep that have not died; Then keeps those He has appointed to die, and loses the others to an already-named term: Verily in that are a multitude of mighty signs for a people who reflect.” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 39:42]
Therefore if one is going to go to sleep at night, one should think to oneself about the possibility of their death. So see to it that you repent from all your sins and ask Allah for forgiveness.
If Allah were to grant you long life, then when one goes to sleep at night, one makes the intention that if one were to wake up in the morning, one will live an obedient life and implement all of the commands of Allah.
Follow up a Bad Deed With a Good One
In addition to the above, what can help us prepare for death? If one were to commit an act of disobedience, immediately follow it up with doing a good deed. Don’t delay.
However, if one was to wait for some days, one may forget.
If one were to sin in a particular place, do not leave that place without committing an act of obedience to Allah.
If one were to commit a sin wearing an item of clothing then follow it up by doing a good deed wearing that same item of clothing so the sin can be erased.
It is important to organize the timetable of one’s day. From the time we wake up in the morning until we go to sleep at night. The day should be filled with beneficial deeds.
As part of one’s daily timetable, one must have the recitation of the Holy Quran, five daily prayers, engage in some form of remembrance of Allah, seek sacred knowledge or visit the sick, attend a funeral, help someone in need, or give charity daily.
Charity can take on many forms. These forms include money, giving a date, a morsel of food to eat, or a glass of water, or even a simple smile to people, saying nice things to somebody, giving them good advice or speaking a good word. Even removing obstacles from the pathway.
If every day you were to pay or to enact one of these forms of charity, then your day will become full of good deeds.
Don’t forget worldly benefits that can also help with one’s Afterlife.
Put aside some time in your day to exercise and strengthen your body as this helps you to fulfill acts of obedience. One could engage in swimming, running, jogging or even light play with one’s family. One could also gather with one’s family and friends, reflecting upon the creation of Allah.
Leave no empty moments in your day for a chance of sin
Taking Stock and Accounting
Another way to prepare for death is by realizing that Allah sees you, Allah hears you, and Allah is always with you. You’re never alone. Allah knows that which is in your heart.
One should also account for one’s self. To take stock of one’s daily actions, investigate one’s faults and aim to fix them.
Taking stock of your actions has two components.
- Looking at one’s good deeds expressing gratitude to Allah, as well as asking Allah to allow one to continue performing such good deeds.
- Seek forgiveness from Allah for acts of disobedience and resolve to not perform those deeds. One should ask Allah to help one stay away from those bad deeds.
This self-accounting can be done at any time of the day. Most scholars hold that the best time to take stock of your actions is at the end of the day, before sleep as it’s a completion of that day.
In preparing for death, one should make lots of dua. Ask Allah for a beautiful death and the best of endings. On one side perform the mentioned actions and on the other side, you make dua to Allah regularly asking for a firm ending.
One should have positive thoughts about Allah. Have positive thoughts that Allah will grant you a good ending, that Allah will forgive you, have mercy upon you, and overlook all of your sins.
Testification of Faith
Lastly, one should say: La ilaha illa Allah often. The more you say it with the tongue, the more it takes residence in the heart. Whatever is contained in the heart of man will spill out at the time of death.
If one is constantly saying La ilaha illa Allah with the presence of heart then the only thing that you can say at the time of death is La ilaha illa Allah.