Your Grave Awaits: How Modern Delusions Will Destroy Your Afterlife

As Muslims, we know from the well-known hadith, narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, that there are three things which follow the deceased person to their grave. Two of these things return, and only one remains with them. Their family and their wealth return, but their deeds remain.

We shall be taking a look at what the great scholar from eight centuries ago, Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allah have mercy on him), mentions as he urges us to invest our efforts towards accumulating the one commodity that we will retain within in our graves. We shall also reflect on how this advice is opposed by forces our modern circumstances.

‘Aqidah

Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allah have mercy on him) says:

“The first thing a person should pay attention to is knowing Allah, Most High, through His signs. It is obvious that anyone who sees how the sky has been raised and the earth laid out; and observes how perfectly different things⁠—especially his own body⁠—have been made, knows that every construction must have a maker and everything built must have a master.”

The most important knowledge that every human being must acquire is knowledge of our Creator. It is essential that we know our ‘aqidah (beliefs) as Muslims. This is because our beliefs are what we have faith and conviction in, and they are what guides our principles and our actions (deeds). Nowadays, many compassionate imams and deformists significantly downplay the importance of learning and solidifying our ‘aqidah from authentic sources. Yet, as Muslims we are required to learn and affirm the tenets of our faith, without twisting or distorting any aspect of Islam and the shari’ah. We need to turn to the righteous and upright scholars of Islam, those who stand firm upon the truth and do not bend under the pressures of the age. We must endeavor to seek out such scholars and learn from them.

Our beliefs are something that our hearts are tied to. We believe in them with absolute certainty and confidence. We must have and maintain firm and cemented conviction upon our ‘aqidah.

Basic aspects of our ‘aqidah have been mentioned in the Qur’an:

آمَنَ الرَّسُولُ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِ مِن رَّبِّهِ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ ۚ كُلٌّ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَمَلَائِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّن رُّسُلِهِ ۚ وَقَالُوا سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا ۖ غُفْرَانَكَ رَبَّنَا وَإِلَيْكَ الْمَصِيرُ

The Messenger believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, as do the believers. All believe in Allah, His angels, His [revealed] books, and His messengers. [They say:] “We do not differentiate [in faith] between any of His messengers.” Moreover, they say: “We hear and we obey. Your forgiveness, our Lord! For to you [alone] is the ultimate return.” (Qur’an, 2:285)

The above verse also highlights that there are two sources from which we take our beliefs: Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace).

Submitting to Allah’s Shari’ah

Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allah have mercy on him) says:

“Then he should contemplate the proofs of the truthfulness of the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace), the greatest of which is the Qur’an, which Allah declared to be inimitable by man even if they would only attempt to compose one Surah (chapter) like it. Once he is certain of the Creator’s existence and the truthfulness of the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace), he must submit to the Sacred Law, because not submitting to the Sacred Law is indicative of corrupt belief.”

Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allah have mercy on him) explains here that we should ponder upon the Qur’an, the uncreated word of Allah. He also mentions that we must submit absolutely to the rulings of Islam, and failing to do so indicates that a person’s ‘aqidah is deficient and corrupted.

In our day and age however, we don’t only have individuals who fail to submit to and comply with the dictates of the shari’ah, we also face a scourge of Muslim leaders and so-called “scholars” who are committed towards rejecting parts of the shari’ah outright. They either declare aspects of the shari’ah to no longer be applicable (we seek Allah’s refuge from such despicable claims), or they try to distort the shari’ah in order to facilitate whatever it is that suits their agenda and desires.

There are countless examples: rejection of the hudud punishments or claiming they should be changed, rejection of the punishment for apostasy (see also here and here), rejection of the importance of khilafah, claiming that jihad is only defensive, trying to legitimize interest, trying to legitimize homosexuality, trying to legitimize unlawful abortion, claiming women are not responsible for doing the housework, trying to legitimize free-mixing of the sexes, and the list just goes on and on.

RELATED: Latest Arab Youth Survey: Less Democracy and More Shariah Please!

Obligatory Knowledge & Religious Duties

Next, Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allah have mercy on him) says:

“After this he must know the obligatory things related to Wudu (ablution), Salah (prayer), Zakah (obligatory alms)—if he has wealth, Hajj (pilgrimage) and other obligatory actions. Once he has learned the obligatory parts of these, he must implement them.”

This is in reference to ‘Ilm al-Hal (the knowledge of the present). It is an individual obligation upon every Muslim to acquire knowledge of whatever occurs to them in the present, in whatever condition they find themselves in. For instance, Salah is an obligation on every pubescent Muslim who is sane. Thus, it is also an obligation upon such a person to acquire the knowledge required in order to discharge this obligation.

In brief, it is an obligation to acquire everything that is required in order to fulfill an obligation that is due upon a person.

When we examine what some modern-day supposed “scholars” are doing, we find a number of problems. Some constantly post on social media in an attempt to exonerate Muslims of their sinful negligence using un-Islamic one-liners such as “you don’t know what’s in their heart” and “you shouldn’t judge people.” If people who are obligated to pray aren’t praying, then they are sinful. It’s as simple as that. We don’t need to know what’s in their heart, and nobody is going around handing out fines that say you are destined for jahannam. A sin is a sin, and a sinful person is a sinful person. Period. Rather, what these “scholars” should be doing is encouraging people to pray while explaining to them the virtues and immense reward for praying as well as the punishment and consequences for not praying.

Then you have “scholars” and Muslim organizations asking for Zakah donations, using this Zakah money—which is supposed to be given to poor Muslims who are in need—for marketing and advertising (often using women covered in makeup in their ads). Some of these organizations use Zakah money for modern-day Qawm Lut social justice campaigning and pushing the modernist liberal agenda. Unfortunately misappropriation of Zakah money is far too common these days. These dodgy “scholars” and organizations are of course to blame but so is everyone who keeps falling for their insane traps. If you are liable to pay Zakah, it is your responsibility to learn the required rulings related to paying Zakah and to also ensure that your Zakah is going to the people it is meant for, not just whatever is being hyped up through social media posts at the time.

These are just a few examples from many.

RELATED: A Brief Introduction to Islam

Optional Acts of Worship & Seeking Knowledge

Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allah have mercy on him) says:

A man of high ambition and strong determination should proceed and advance to the level of virtuous voluntary actions. He ought to busy himself with memorizing the Qur’an and studying its explanation along with the hadith of the Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). He should also learn about the life of the Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), the life of his companions and also the scholars who came after them. Let one adapt to higher ranks then advance to the highest rank.”

We should strive to do as many good deeds as we can. Though the obligatory acts of worship are significantly more rewarding than optional acts of worship, we should do our very best to please Allah through also doing as many voluntary acts of worship that we are able to. Ultimately, doing so will also increase our rank in the hereafter. Once we leave this fleeting life and enter Jannah (O Allah! Grant us Jannah! Amin.), the only regret we will have is why we didn’t dedicate more time and effort towards doing more good deeds.

Seeking knowledge is also a good deed. We often forget that learning more about our religion, Islam, is something rewarding. We should make sure our intentions are pure and that we learn for the sake of Allah, not to argue or show off. Part of this is accepting when we are wrong. Too often we see social media “scholars” who say things that completely contradict Islam, things that most regular (non secular, non-liberal) Muslims know are wrong. Yet, when they are called out for their misguided opinions, they start bragging about their “qualifications” and “ijazas” (who remembers the “as a classically trained scholar, I condemn Daniel Haqiqatjou” guy?). Qualifications and ijazas are for the express purpose of faithfully passing on authentic Islamic knowledge. They are not a license to distort the religion and use it as your own personal play thing under the guise of “ijtihad” and “nuance.” Such people are often easily amazed by their own deficient “knowledge” and plastic “ijtihad.”

It is also vital that we start our journey of learning immediately. For those of you who are young, you have the opportunity to dedicate your life to the knowledge of this religion. Unfortunately many from our older generation made earning wealth their number one priority in life, which resulted in them having very little knowledge of Islam. However, even if you have reached a ripe old age, it’s never too late to start learning. Those with children should prioritise their children’s Islamic studies, especially in this era of mass confusion and misguidance. Islam is the only thing that will protect them against all the degeneracy and godlessness that is rife in this day and age.

Learning the explanation of the Qur’an and the prophetic biography (sirah) are among the most inspiring and impactful things for any Muslim. They will change your life. It is truly a shame that, while so many people are accepting Islam after studying the Qur’an and the life of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), we still have Muslims who haven’t done either.

RELATED: What Are You Exposing Your Muslim Children To?

Having Good Communication & Learning Arabic

Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allah have mercy on him) says:

“He must also know enough Arabic grammar and commonly used language to speak properly.”

Our beloved Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was the most eloquent in his speech. He spoke little, but when he did speak it had a great impact on people.

It is important that we are able to communicate properly and effectively. Not being able to do so could result in inadvertently hurting someone we care about, or we could say something other than what we intend in our hearts. Those who have studied fiqh (Islamic law) would know that there are many scenarios where a certain phrase or statement being uttered can have significant consequences. Being eloquent in your speech and being able to articulate yourself well is also something considered respectworthy within society. Those who cannot speak well are often looked down upon. As Muslims, we should endeavor to excel in all that we do. Effective communication is also a powerful tool for da’wah to non-Muslims.

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:

Some forms of eloquent speech are as effective as magic. (Sahih al-Bukhari)

Though Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allah have mercy on him) mentions the Arabic language here specifically, this is not restricted to the Arabic language alone. Of course, there is also great virtue and benefit in learning the Arabic language. However, we must ensure we have our priorities in order. As such—and we can see from the above discussions—we must prioritise gaining the essential, necessary knowledge first (the knowledge that is obligatory upon us to learn). Not having sufficient knowledge to safeguard our faith and fulfill our obligations will render us sinful. However, it is extremely unfortunate that we have so many Muslims today who, due to lack of knowledge, blur the lines when it comes to Islam. They fall for every new ideology that gains traction and give it precedence over the teachings of Islam. Some even go as far as trying to bend Islam, claiming that Islam allows for X haram thing. Others go as far as claiming that Islam even teaches and promotes X haram thing! Such people have only their own ignorance to blame, as with a little knowledge they’d be able to see through these false ideologies and have complete confidence is the teachings of Islam, not falling prey to every social engineering strategy or religious deform.

Once a person has gained the knowledge that is required of them to learn, they should seriously consider committing some of their time towards learning the Islamic sciences, including the Arabic language. Time is a commodity in this life, and we should expend as much of it as possible towards becoming better Muslims.

Allah mentions in the Qur’an:

Now, when harm touches a human being, he calls upon his Lord for [relief], penitent to Him [alone]. Then when He affords him a blessing [of comfort] from Him, he forgets that for which he was crying out to Him before, and he sets up rivals to Allah to lead [others] astray from His way. Say [to such a one]: Enjoy your unbelief for a little [while, until death]! For, indeed, you are [to be] of the Companions of the Fire [of Hell! Is such a one better], or one who is devoutly obedient [to Allah] in the watches of the night, bowing [his face] down to the ground and standing [in Prayer], fearing [Allah’s Judgment in] the Hereafter and imploring the mercy of his Lord? Say [to humankind, O Prophet]: Are those who know [Allah] and those who do not know [Him] equal?” (Qur’an, 39:8-9)

Allah also mentions:

And [so too] among humankind, and all [birds and wild] beasts, and all cattle, there are varying colors, as well. Yet none [is awakened to the wonders of creation and] truly fears Allah among His servants but those filled with knowledge [of the word and the way of Allah]. Indeed, Allah is overpowering, all-forgiving. (Qur’an, 35:28)

Fiqh & Thinking About the Hereafter

Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allah have mercy on him) says:

“Jurisprudence (fiqh) is the basis of all sciences, but reminding of the afterlife is the sweetest and most beneficial on a more general scale. Praise be to Allah, for by his grace I have been able to compose some books in these fields that spare you the need of looking into the books of past scholars or any other books for that matter. This being the case, there is no need for you to search for books or to focus your efforts into authoring them. The ambition or aspiration of a person only falters or fails if it is weak and feeble, when it is lofty, you will never be satisfied with anything else.”

He describes fiqh as the basis of all the sciences. This is because it governs every aspect of our lives, whether it’s personal law, societal law, transactional law, marital law, familial law, the laws of purification and worship, etc.

The shari’ah (legal system) of Islam is the most superior of all shari’ahs granted to any Prophet (peace be upon all of them). It is superior to every man-made legal system and system of governance. It has been revealed by Allah to His chosen, final Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). This is the shar’iah that has been chosen by Allah for law and governance until the day of judgement. It will not change.

Learning fiqh will safeguard you against those who make false claims about Islamic law and those who try to deceive Muslims into thinking that the laws of Islam change based on time and location, abusing the concept of ‘urf (societal norms) and extending it to areas where it does not apply. It is absolutely vital that we seek out a reliable and principled scholar and learn fiqh from them. There are many misguided and misguiding “scholars” out there these days, misattributing all sorts of things to the Imams of Fiqh and the four madhhabs. Some examples have already been mentioned above. Having a strong foundation in fiqh will enable you to spot a faux-traditionalist or “compassionate” imam from a mile away.

RELATED: The Compassionate Imam’s Time Is Coming to an End

Imam Ibn al-Jawzi also mentions often pondering upon death and the afterlife. This is one of the best ways to ground yourself and maintain perspective in this world. This life is only temporary. Always remember that. Every single one of us will die. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow. We will enter our graves. We will be resurrected and our accounts will be taken.

Thinking often about jannah (heaven) and jahannam (hell) helps us to maintain the perfect balance between fear and hope—fear of Allah’s punishment and hope for His reward.

Strive to Remain Steadfast & Keep Turning to Allah for Help

Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allah have mercy on him) says:

” Evidence tells you that high aspiration and determination is in man’s innate nature. It is only during certain times that these are weak, and they only need to be encouraged to be strong again. When you find yourself incapable, ask The Benefactor, and when you feel indolent turn to the Giver of opportunity. You will only achieve good by obeying Him, and no good will bypass you except due to your disobedience. Have you not seen that disobedient never succeed or achieve their goals! Have you not heard the poet say:

By Allah, never have I come to visit you,

Except that the earth compacted before me.

I have never resolved to leave your door,

Except that I tripped over my garment’s tail.

He concludes this section with a crucial reminder: we are only human. At times we are strong and at times we are weak, both physically and spiritually. Sometimes we are driven and motivated to do our very best, and sometimes we need inspiration and encouragement to keep going. This life is brief it isn’t meant to be a breeze. Our purpose in life is to worship Allah:

And [know that] I have not created [either] jinn or human beings [for any other end] but to [know and] worship Me [alone]. (Qur’an, 51:56)

Life is hard. It was never meant to be easy and free of difficulty:

Blessed be the One in whose [mighty] Hand is all the dominion. For He is powerful over all things; the One who created death and life to test you, [and to reveal] which of you is best in deeds. For He [alone] is the Overpowering [One], the All-Forgiving; the One who created seven heavens [in layers], one above another. (Qur’an, 67:1-3)

True peace and tranquility only exists for us in jannah (heaven). We must stay strong and persevere through all the hardships that we face. Always keep in mind that Allah will never test us with something that we are unable to overcome:

Allah does not task a soul beyond its capacity. For it [in the Hereafter] is all [the good] that it has earned. And against it whatever [evil] it has reaped. [Thus pray, O you who believe:] Our Lord! Hold us not accountable if ever we forget or we have erred. Our Lord! Neither lay upon us a burden like that which You have laid upon those before us. Our Lord! Nor lay upon us that which we do not have the strength to bear. Rather, pardon us. And forgive us. And have mercy upon us. You [alone] are our Patron. So give us victory over the disbelieving people. (Qur’an, 2:286)

Allah instructs us to turn to Him in prayer and ask Him for help. This is our answer in times of difficulty. Unfortunately, after years of media indoctrination and social engineering, many people think God will speak to them directly or show them some sort of sign when they need help. Allah speaking to someone is something exclusive for certain prophets and messengers of Allah, and none of us fit that bill. Fortunately however, we have been blessed with the Noble Qur’an, a guide for all mankind, for all time; and a perfect example in the blessed final Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). More often than not, all we really need to do is to strengthen our faith through submitting completely to Allah. We must increase in worship and beg Allah like the truly helpless beings that we are before Him. All of our solutions are in Allah’s control. This doesn’t however mean that we’ll have everything we want in this life. Remember, Allah knows what is best for us. Supplicating to Allah has multiple benefits:

Abū Saʿīd al-Khudrī (Allāh be well pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) said: “No Muslim makes duʿāʾ for something that is neither a sin nor severing ties of kinship without Allāh giving him one of three things:

– He fulfils his duʿāʾ immediately;

– He stores it for him for the hereafter (i.e. its reward); or

– He averts from him a similar evil.”

The Ṣaḥābah said: “If this is so we will do duʿāʾ even more”. Rasūlullāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) replied: “Allāh will respond even more”. (al-Targhīb wa ‘l-Tarhīb)

Ultimately, Allah is the source of all help.

May Allah grant us all steadfastness upon iman (faith) and grant us the ability to persevere through all the hardships that we may face. Amin.

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Pol

Very good article, jazakAllah kheir, may Allah guide us all.