Keeping death and the afterlife (the Day of Judgment and the world between death and the Day of Judgment(1) ) in mind is one of the best exhortations and most constructive pieces of advice. The saying of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) also echoes this:
“Death suffices as a preacher.” (2)
However, a question that may arise is if there exists a way to tangibly appreciate parts of what is happening after death? We may also wonder if there is an alerting factor that can serve as a reminder of death in our hearts, and can provide us with an experience of what is happening after death.
When we refer to the Holy Quran we find this verse;
”Allah takes the souls at the time of their death, and those that do not die during their sleep; then He withholds those on whom He has passed the decree of death and sends the others back till an appointed term; most surely there are signs in this for people whom reflect.”
In this verse, Allah (SWT) undertakes a comparison between death and sleep. Therefore one of the ways through which, one can better understand death (and keep reminding oneself as to not forget) is to contemplate on the similarities between death and sleep. Narrations from infallibles (PBUT) vividly illustrate the analogy.
As an example, once Imam Jawad (PBUH) was asked to explain “what death is?” He responded; “death is the sleep that embraces you every night, with the only difference being that death takes longer and the person does not awake from it until the day of judgment … ”(3)
A close examination of the narration and the verse of the Holy Quran could lead us to conclude that both note the soul detaches from body in the case of sleep and death with the only difference being that there is no return for the soul to the body in case of death.
Imam Jawad (PBUH) goes on, and employs the analogy between states of humans in sleep and death to highlight hardship or tranquility that may succeed one’s death:
“Isn’t it like this that the human experiences a variety of joy that is beyond description, and also encounters types of fear that are indescribable too? How is the state of joy and fear during sleep? Death also embodies similar states; therefore prepare for it.”(4), (5)
Evidently, it is not our worldly body that experiences fear, joy or any other feelings in our dreams. So we can expect that although we would not enter the transitional world between death and the Day of Resurrection with the same body, we will experience similar feelings.
It stand to reason to keep in mind the advice of Imam Jawad (PBUH) upon our waking up every morning, remind ourselves of what has happened to us in our sleep, and assume that Allah (SWT) has granted us a new life and an opportunity to rectify. This requires us to attempt to prepare for the afterlife and for our comfort and relief from hardship and fear at that juncture. Perhaps we will not be given another chance.
Roshd Website offers condolences to all Muslims, especially to you dear friend, upon the last day of the month of Dhi al-Qa’da, the anniversary of the martyrdom of the ninth Imam, Imam Muhammad-bin-Ali Al-Jawad (PBUH).
1. According to the teaching of Islam, after death humans enter a world called “Barzakh”. And some time after the death of all creatures, the Day of Judgment will unfold, to which all creatures enter.
2. Tuhaf al-Uqul, p. 35 – Waram Collection, vol. 1, p. 288
3. The Holy Quran, (39:42)
4. The whole narration is accessible in page 289 of Ma’ani al-Akhbar.
5. Shaikh Saduq refers to Imam Jawad (PBUH) as Muhammad ibn Ali (PBUT). It might be thought that this narration is quoted from Imam Baqir (PBUH). Considering the fact that this narration and the previous ones are related to the second narration which is quoted from Imam Jawad (PBUH), it can be deduced that this narration is most probably narrated from Imam Jawad (PBUH). This is the reason the authors of the books “Mousooa’h Imam Jawad (PBUH)” and “Mizaan al-Hikmah” narrate this narration from Ma’ani al-Akhbar and state that this narration is quoted from Imam Jawad (PBUH).