|CHAP-I- THE RETURNING (MA'AD)|
Ma'ad is derived from the root word Aud which means to return. Hence. the returning of the spirit (rooh) back to it's body is called Ma'ad. Ma'ad is one of the fundamental principals of Islamic faith and belief in it is incumbent upon all muslims. After death every soul shall arise to see the reward or retribution (as the case may be) of their deeds.
Ma'ad consists of five stages - Death (Maut), Grave (Qap), Intermediate Stage (Barzakh), Resurrection (Qayamat) and Paradise (Jannat) or hell (jahannam). Ma'ad can not be perceived by the five senses of man, but can be comprehended by reasoning alone. What happens after death? The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.S.) through the medium of Revelation (Wahy) has explained to us in detail regarding it. Man's senses has it's own limitations beyond which it is not possible for him to understand. For example a child in the mother's womb can not perceive the vastness of the outside world. In the same manner, a soul captivated by the influences of matter cannot easily understand the hidden world and it's realities. The knowledge of this unseen world is concealed from man and he can only understand it through the medium of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.S.) and his Vicegerents, the Holy Aimmah (A.S.). Hence to have a better comprehension of the hereafter, we have to rely totally upon Them, because They are the Inheritors of the knowledge of Allah and His Hidden Wisdom.
Is a person's body effected after death?
Many are of the opinion that after death man's body becomes an absolute nothing like a dry wood, hence the question of reckoning in the grave does not arise.Such doubts are the out come of sheer ignorance and lack of belief in the unseen (Ghaib). Speech is the effect of the tongue and movements are impressions of a living body. But the spirit (rooh) is motionless and is hence independent of movements. Whilst dreaming a man's tongue or his lips do not move, and a person awake will bear witness to it. After awakening the person will narrate the discussions he had with people, he will also claim to have travelled far off cities, but his body in reality having laid motionless on the bed all throughout the night.
Imam Moosa-al-Kazim (A.S.) states that in the former part of creation, man did not dream. Allah sent upon the people His Apostle to guide them towards virtue and warn against evil. The Prophet advised them that if they followed the Right Path as preached by Him, they would be successful and be rewarded in Paradise. But if they erred and did not avoid sin, they would face tribulation in hell. They asked the Prophet as to how could they rely on something which they had never seen. They said that they observed that after death a man's body become motionless and turns into dust, how could then he be rewarded or chastised for his actions. It is after this incident that they started dreaming in which they witnessed Allah's rewards in Paradise and His wath in hell. They went to the Prophet and narrated this to him. The Prophet replied that as in the dreams they met people, conversed with them, and visited far off places, after death even if their bodies would be reduced to dust, they would still taste chastisement or reward (as the case may be) in Paradise or hell.
Scholars differ regarding the explanation of death. Some call it a continuous phenomenon (Amre Wujoodi, not the end of life), while others opine that it is terminal one (Amre Adami, the end of life). But the generally excepted fact is that it is purely a bodily affair. Regarding death it is said that, “It is a continuous process and the vice versa to life”. The Holy Qur'an says: “Blessed is He in whose hand is the kingdom (of the heavens and the earth), and He has power over all things, Who created death and life that He may try you, (to prove) which of you is best in deeds”. (Surah-al-Mulk: 1-2) The above verse (Ayah) refers to the purpose of the creation of life and death. Non existence is not the essence of creation. If death had been an ending process, the word “Khalq” (Creation) would not have been used. Death in reality is the divorce of the spirit (rooh) from the body, and can be illustrated by many examples. It can be compared to a sailor estranged from his wrecked ship. The spirit is a light which illuminates the dark body and its components derive benefit from it. Whereas death is the estranger of this light from the body, leaving it again in darkness. It is not true that the spirit enters the body, because it is free of enter and exit. It shares a limited relation with the body, after which it leaves the body for immortality. In short, the detachment of the spirit (Rooh) from the body is called death (Maut). It is incumbent upon us to believe that death is a phenomenon solely governed by the will and command of Almighty Allah only, and He maintains the relation of the spirit to the body from the mother's womb till the end.
He is the Creator (Khaliq) of all things, and the Giver of life and death. The Holy Qu'ran says: “Allah takes the spirits (Rooh) at the time of their death” (Surah-az-Zumar : 42). Some ignorant people are of the opinion that the Angel of death (Izraeel) is an evil demon and an enemy who estranges us from our children and orphans them. But the reality is that he acts in accordance to the command of Allah only and has no personal options.
Seperation of the Spirit (Rooh) from the body :
It is narrated in the tradition of Me'raj that a plank is placed in front of Izraeel, on which names of all creatures are written. When Allah wills death of any one of His creatures, the name on the plank disappears, and Izraeel does the needful. It is possible that at one time death of more than one creature may be ordained. Just as many candles can be extinguished in a single puff, more than one spirit can be removed together. Surely Allah is the giver of death as stated in the Qur'an, “Say (O Prophet) the Angel of death who is given charge of you shall cause you to die. (Surah-as-Sajdah: 11) In another verse it is stated, “Those whom the Angels cause to die while they are unjust to themselves”. (Surah-an-Nahl: 28)
Izraeel and his comrade Angels have been assigned the job of removing the spirits of creatures. An army which follows the commands of their king and conquers cities, it is said that the said army has conquered the said cities, but in reality it is the result of the king's military tacts & warfare. Many examples can be given to prove the above, but the fact is that it is beyond comparision.
As Allah has created this world as a house of causes (Darul Asbab), He has also created a cause for death. Disease, murder, accident etc. are some of it's causes. These act as reasons for the approach of death, if not there are instances of persons who recover even after a serious illness, while some die in a blink of an eye. These causes also do not have an independent option, unless attested by the command and will of the Almighty.
Spirits of some men are removed with ease while some experience severe difficulty. It is narrated in traditions (Ahadees) that during death some people feel as if their body is being cut asunder by scissors, or are being grinded in a mill, while some feel as if smelling the fragrance of a rose. It is stated in the Qur'an: “Those whom the Angels cause to die in a good state, saying - Peace be on you, enter the garden (of Paradise) for what you did”. (Surah-an-Nahl: 32). It is not necessary that the spirits of all believers (Mo'mineen) are removed easily. Even a believer who has done good deeds in his life time experiences difficulty during death. This acts as the punishment for sins he committed for which he is atoned for in this very world. While for a non -believer this difficulty is an extra punishment of Allah followed by the ones to come in the Hereafter. “But how will it be when the Angels cause them to die smitting their backs”. (Surah-al-Mohammad : 27) It is also possible that a non-believer may not experince difficulty during death, this acts as reward for the good deeds he has committed which is compensated in this very world, leaving their scrolls of deedof any reward. In reality death is an unfortunate event for a non-believer even though he dies in comfort, while it is a blessing and felicity for a believer even though he experiences difficulty during it.
Love of world:
Hatred towards death and love of the world is the outcome of an ignorant person's mind, who thinks that the happiness of this world is his prosperity and good fortune. The world sated with numerous troubles and anxieties is out to end in misery & does not enjoy eternity, perpetuity and sincerity. A poet has referred to this in the following words - “Do not give your heart to this world, for it's example is of an unfaithful pide who has never loved you, even for a night”. The Holy Qur'an says that the love of this world is one of the characteristics of the disbelievers.” (the disbelievers) are pleased with this world's life and are content with it”. (Surah -Yunus : 71) In another place it is stated “Are you contended with the life of this world instead of the Hereafter” (Surah-al-Bara'at : 38). For the jews it is said, “ (Every one of them loves that he should be granted a life of a thousand years” (Surah-al-Baqarah : 96) There are many traditions detesting the love of world. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.S.) says, “Verily the love of this world is the root-cause of every evile”.
Friendship with death :
It is of utmost importance that man should hold death dear and consider it an oppartunity of meeting with his Almighty, and not hate it and consider it as evil, but should take lessons from it. He should ask forgiveness from Allah for his sins and tame the rebellious self (nafs). When the call of his Lord comes, he should welcome it with open arms accepting it to be a blessing from Allah. He should be contented with the decree (Qadr) of Allah. He should also rejoice that shortly he would be taken to the presence of Ahlulbait (A.S.) and meeet his deceased companions and other believer pothers. He should also not be disheartened by the delay in death but should consider it as an opportunity afforded by Allah to him to repent. This delay would give him a chance to gather provisions useful for his journey to the other world, for the journey is tiresome and full of dangerous valleys & difficult paths.
Relating to the removal of the Spirit and it's hardships (Sakarat) :
“And the stupor of death will come in truth, that is what you were trying of escape”. (Surah-al-Qaf : 19). This stage is full of difficulties & troubles. On one hand a man feels pain, his tongue turns motionless, his bodily components cease to function, while on the other hand weeping & wailing of relatives, grief of their seperation, orphanation of children, and the sorrow of leaving behind hardly earned wealth and enormous property for others to feast upon. The wealth which was sometimes gathered by usurpation or through illicit means. The dying man remembers his sins and regrets, but alas, the time (to repent) has passed and accounts closed. Amirul Mo'meneen (A.S.) says, “He (the dying person) regrets over his wealth which he gathered bearing hardships, and now he is being seperated from it, leaving it to be feasted upon by his inheritors. His hard earned wealth is left for the use of others.” The dying person feels scared, for he is about to enter an unknown & unexplored world, and is all the more frighted when he witnesses those things which are totally new to him. The Holy Qur'an says, “Certainly you were heedless of it, but now we have removed from you your veil, so your sight today is sharp”. (Surah-al-Qaf: 22) He feels the presence of Angels around him and wonders about what is in store for him. It has been narrated in traditions (Ahadees) that at the time of death, the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.S.) and the Holy Aimmah (A.S.) come near the head of the dying person, who is able to see them. It is narrated in third volume of ‘Bihar-al-Anwar’ that once Imam Ali-ar-Reza (A.S.) went to meet one of his companions (sahabi) who was about to die.
He looked towards the Imam (A.S.) and said, “I see the radiant faces of your Grandfather (the Holy Prophet), Your Father 9the Commander of the faithful), Your Mother (Hazrat Fatema), and the other Imams in Your Ancestry. I also see your luminous face alongwith them”. It is a fact that every dying man has a glimpse of the Aimmah (A.S.), according to his love for and knowledge of them. For a believer 9mo'min) their sight is a blessing from Allah, and for a hypocrite (munafiq) and disbeliever it is a sign of Allah's wrath. In the Salutation (Ziarat) of Amirul Mo'meneen Ali (A.S.) we utter these words:
The dying man is confused, because on one hand satan (shaitaan) with his companions tries hards to spoil his faith (Eeman), and on the other hand the thought of the arrival of the Angel of death makes him all the more puzzled. He wonders as to in what state would he (the Angel of death) come and how would his spirit be removed. The Commander of the faithful Ali (A.S.) says, “And when the signs of death approaches, he knows not what will befall him.”
Shaikh Kulaini narrates from Imam Ja'far-as-Sadiq (A.S.) who said that once Hazrat Ali (A.S.) was suffering from the ailment of the eye. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.S.) came to inquire about his health. He saw that Ali (A.S.) was in intense pain and was restless because of it. The Prophet asked him, “Is this anxiety the outcome of the ailment”? Hazrat Ali (A.S.) replied that, “I had never witnessed such a pain before”. The Holy Prophet (to console him) said, “O Ali! when the Angel of death comes to take the spirit of the disbeliever,he pings along with him a club of fire, by which he removes his spirit and the flames of hell scream at the dying man”. The Commander of the faithful sat upright and said, “O Prophet! Please explain to me the tradition (hadees), for I do not fell the pain anymore. Will the spirit of anyone from among your ummat be removed in the same manner”? The Holy Prophet replied, “Yes, three types of persons from among my ummat too will be subjected to this punishment (1) An oppressive (Zalim) ruler, (2) Those who unjustly usurp the rights of orphans, and (3) The bearer of false witness”.
Man due to difficulty or ease during death also sees the effects of his good or bad deeds which he committed. There are also some who turn apostates during death due to some of their bad deeds. “Then evil was the end of those who did evil, because they rejected the communications of Allah and used to mock them”. (Surah-ar-Room : 10) It has also been narrated that during death (sakarat) or afterwards, the following persons should not be near the dying man: a woman in menses (Haiz) or Istahaza (irregular period), and a polluted (Junoob) person, because the Blessed Angels go away and the dying man falls in trouble. Shaikh Sadooq in his book ‘Ilalush Sharaye’ quotes Imam Ja'far-as-Sadiq (A.S.) as saying, that woman in menses (Haiz) or a polluted person (Junoob) should not remain near the dying person, because the Angels feel disgusted because of it and go away.
In the book ‘Darus Salaam’, the great scholar Sayyed Murtaza Najafi quotes: Once an extreme epidemic poke in Iraq and Arabia. I was seated in the courtyard of the Shrine of the Commander of the faithful Ali (A.S.) with a distinguished Scholar (Aalim) Sayyed Mohammad Baqir Qazwini. He was distributing work for serving the effected people among us, when we saw a youth who was standing in the last rank and was struggling to come near the Sayyed, but could not do so because of immense crowd. Suddenly he started wailing aloud, the Sayyed looked at him and told me to inquire the matter from him. I went to him and asked him the reason for weeping. He replied, “I desire that if I die in the epidemic, the Sayyed should recite the Prayer (Namaze Mayyit) over my dead body individually and not combined as he does (due to many deaths in the epidemic). I returned to the Sayyed and narrated the matter to him. He promised to fulfill his desire. Next day we saw an infant child who came crying to us. When we inquired of him he answered that he was the son of the youth who had come us yesterday with a desire. He told us that he had become the victim of epidemic and was about to die, and he was desirous of meeting the Sayyed. Some of us accompanied Sayyed Mohammad Baqir to meet the dying man. On the way we met a pious man who was coming out of his house. When he saw us he saluted us, and asked us, as to where we were going. We answered that we were going to visit a believer who was in his last moments. With permission he accompanied us in order to share the reward (sawab). When we came to the house, Sayyed Mohammad Baqir entered the room first, then one after the other we entered there in. The dying man was pleased and signalled us to sit.
As soon as the pious man who had met us on the way entered, the dying man’s colour changed. His face turned pale and in rage signalled him to go away. He became restless as if some trouble had befallen him. We were all the more surprised when we learnt that the dying man did not even know him, whom we could assume to be his enemy. The man excused himself and went out but returned back after sometime. This time when he entered, the dying person was pleased and welcomed him. After sometime we took permission to leave. On the way we asked the pious man the reason for the sudden change in the attitude of the dying man. He replied that he was in the state of pollution (Junoob), and was leaving his house with the intention of performing ceremonial bath (Ghusle janabat) in the public bath. He met us on the way, and not wanting to miss the opportunity of performing this noble task accompanied us. He said that when he first entered the house and saw the dying man's restlessness, he understood and left. To make himself sure he returned back after having performed the ceremonial bath (Ghusle Janabat). He concluded that the dying man had come to know about his impurity because the blessed Angels had left him and he felt immense pain. (Khazeenatul Jawaher).