Our Prophet ﷺ taught us that this world is only a brief passing. The real life is the eternity that we experience after we die. But what have we prepared for it?
Before embarking on a journey, it’d be silly not to learn about where we’re going! Similarly, it’s a part of our religion to learn about what will happen to us after we die. Let’s prepare!
The Angels of Death
Upon death, the soul is extracted from the body by the angel of death. This angel is known as Azrael (as).
Whether the extraction is easy or difficult depends on the moral condition of the person. The full account of this process is given in the hadith of Al-Bara’ bin ‘Azib.
If the person was a good person, the angel of death will first say “Good soul, come out to forgiveness and acceptance from Allah”. The soul then leaves the body as smoothly as water which flows from a pitcher. It is then wrapped in a perfumed cloth and taken to the seventh heaven where Allah ﷻ will say “record the book of my servant in Illiyun and take him back to earth…”. The soul will then be restored to its body.
If the person was a bad person, Azrael (as) will come accompanied with two angels with black faces. Azrael (as) will then say “Wicked soul come out to displeasure from Allah ﷻ”. The soul is then drawn out “as a spit is drawn from moistened wool”. The soul gives off a putrid smell and is wrapped in a cloth. The angels then take it to the lowest heaven, where it is denied entry. Allah ﷻ then says “Record his book in Sijjin, in the lowest earth”. The soul is then restored to its body.
Interrogation of the Grave
By the time the soul is returned to its body, it will be in the grave. Two angels, Munkar and Nakir, will then come to visit it.
During this time, you will be asked three questions. But don’t worry we’ve got your back, here are the answers!
Question 1: Who is your lord?
Question 2: Who is your prophet?
Answer: Muhammd ﷺ
Question 3: What is your religion?
Actually it’s a bit more difficult than that.
During this time the answers we give will be out of our control. They will be based on the life we lived.
The Trial of the Grave
For the believer, the grave will be a place of expanse. The believer will be clothed with a cloth from paradise and a window to Jannah will open showing him some of its delights and fragrances.
It is then that a beautiful man with a sweet smell will come to him and say “Rejoice in what pleases you, for this is your day..” This man is the good deeds of the believer.
For the disbeliever, a window to Jahannam will open and its heat will fill the grave. The grave will begin compressing so tightly that the ribs will be crushed.
Then a man with an ugly face and a putrid odour will come to him saying “Be grieved with what displeases you, for this is the day you have been promised”. This man is the evil deeds of the disbeliever.
Both the believer and the disbeliever will continue in the state of their graves until Qiyamah.
Before the day of judgement, the angel Israfil will blow into the trumpet twice. The Quran describes this event
“The Trumpet will be blown and all those in the heavens and all those on the earth will fall dead, except those Allah wills ˹to spare˺. Then it will be blown again and they will rise up at once, looking on ˹in anticipation˺.”Quran 39:68
After this, we will all be resurrected and brought to a plain. It is then that the day of Qiyamah (standing) occurs.
We will then be brought before Allah ﷻ and our entire lives will be shown before us. Every person will be taken into account. Every person will be a witness for or against their own selves.
‘˹It will be said to the denier,˺ “You were totally heedless of this. Now We have lifted this veil of yours, so Today your sight is sharp!”’Quran 50:22
The Crossing of the Bridge
This is the final stage before we spend eternity in Jannah or Jahannam. Everyone must cross the Sirat al-Jahim.
The Sirat is a bridge over Jahannam which is thinner than a strand of hair and sharper than the blade of a sword.
In a hadith about its crossing, the Prophet ﷺ said:
‘The believer will cross over it like the blink of an eye, or like lightning, or like wind, or like powerful horses, or like camels. Thus, one will be unharmed, another will be lacerated, and another will plunge into the fires of Hell, until the last one will be dragged across it.”’Bukhari