The Trials of Living and Dying Which the Muslim Seeks Refuge From in His Prayer

 

الحمد لله رب العالمين، وصلى الله وسلم على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وأصحابه أجمعين، أما بعد

 

It is authentically established that the Prophet (sallaallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) would say whilst in tashahud:

 

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ عَذَابِ جَهَنَّمَ وَمِنْ عَذَابِ الْقَبْرِ وَمِنْ فِتْنَةِ الْمَحْيَا وَالْمَمَاتِ وَمِنْ شَرِّ فِتْنَةِ الْمَسِيحِ الدَّجَّالِ

((O Allaah; I seek refuge with You from the punishment of Hell-Fire, and from the punishment of the grave, and from the trials of living and dying, and from the evil trials of the False Messiah [Dajjaal].))[1]

 

The understanding of what is meant by the trials of living and dying are as follows:

 

The Trials of Living:

 

Shaikh Muhammad bin Saalih Al-‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) said:

The trials of living: What is meant by ‘trials’ is the tests of a person in his religion, in his life as well as after his death, since the trials of life are immense and severe, and few are those that escape them – except those whom Allaah wills.

It revolves around two matters:

  1. Doubts
  2. Desires

As for doubts, then it is that it becomes subject to a person in his knowledge, and so the truth becomes ambiguous upon him with falsehood. Therefore he sees falsehood as truth and truth as falsehood, so if he sees truth as being falsehood he steers clear of it, and if he sees falsehood as truth – he practices it.

As for desires, then it is that it becomes subject to a person in his intent, so by way of his desires he wants what is forbidden for him, and this is an immense trial.

So how plentiful are those who see usury as profit and so encroach upon it!

How plentiful are those who see that cheating the people is shrewdness and superiority in buying and selling – so they cheat!

How plentiful are those who see that looking at women is enjoyment and to delight in – and is freedom, and so he gives free rein to himself for glancing at women!”[2]

 

Shaikh Ahmad An-Najmee (rahimahullaah) said:

“The trials of living: it is the tribulation with which the servant is tested by way of – in order that his firmness upon the truth can be seen, or his diverging from it out of being affected by it, meaning by way of the trial which he is subject to.

The trials of living are: that which a person is subject to during his life from vicissitudes which cause him to fall into sin on occasions and disbelief on occasions and shirk at other times. So trials can be: through enrichment or through poverty and need or through sickness, or through political fluctuations or through the pressures of society, or it can be through love of one’s family and offspring or due to a desire for material possession and craving after it. Or due to fear of an enemy or other than that from that which subjects itself upon the servant in his life.”[3]

 

Shaikh Saalih bin Fawzaan Al-Fawzaan (hafidhahullaah) said:

“The trial is: test and tribulation, so a person is under tribulation and test, he is under tribulation and test in the life of this world, he is under tribulation and test at death, he is under tribulation and test in the grave, thus he is always under tribulation and test, he should therefore ask Allaah for refuge from it.

There are the trials of doubts and desires, for as long as a person is living, then he is subject to trials, he may deviate from his religion due to trials, he may commit moral depravity and act immorally due to trials. How many do you see that have deviated and digressed and have been led astray due to trials, and Allaah’s refuge is sought, we ask Allaah for steadfastness and well-being.”[4]

 

The Trials of Dying:

 

Shaikh Muhammad bin Saalih Al-‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) said:

“As for the trials of dying; then the scholars have differed concerning it accordance to two opinions:

The first opinion: is that the trials of dying is the questioning of the two Angels of the deceased in his grave with regard to his Lord and his religion and his Prophet. As for he whose Eemaan is pure, then the answer to this will be made easy for him.

So when he is asked:

Who is your Lord? He will say: “My Lord is Allaah.”

Who is your Prophet? He will say: “My Prophet is Muhammad.”

What is your religion? He will say: “My religion is Islaam.” – With every ease.

However; as for other than him, and Allaah’s refuge is sought, then when he is asked, he will say: “haah…haah… I do not know, I heard the people say something so I said it.”

Observe his saying: “haah…haah” it is as if he knew something and then forgot it.

This is an immense trial, I ask Allaah to save me and you from it, since in reality it revolves around what is in the heart, if the heart is believing in reality, then it sees the affairs of the unseen as though with the vision of the eyes, this one will answer with every ease, and if the affair is the opposite then the situation will be the opposite.

The second opinion: is that the intent of the trials of dying is: that which occurs at the point of death at the end of life.

The staunchest that Satan is devoted to upon misleading the progeny of Aadam is at that moment, and the one rendered safeguarded is the one whom Allaah has protected. He comes to him in this critical situation which cannot be comprehended except by he who has encountered it. He, The Most High said:

 

كَلاَّ إِذَا بَلَغَتْ التَّرَاقِيَ ، وَقِيلَ مَنْ رَاقٍ ، وَظَنَّ أَنَّهُ الْفِرَاقُ ، وَالْتَفَّتِ السَّاقُ بِالسَّاقِ ، إِلَى رَبِّكَ يَوْمَئِذٍ الْمَسَاقُ

((No! When it [the soul] reaches the collar bone. And it is said; “Who will cure [him]?” And he [the dying one] is certain that it is the [time of] parting. And the leg is joined with the [other] leg. To your Lord, on that Day, will be the spur.)) (Al-Qiyaamah: 26-30)

 

It is an immensely critical situation, the person within it is weak in soul, weak in will, weak in strength, constricted in one’s chest, then Satan comes to him in order to mislead him – because this is a moment for profiteering by Satan.

It is said: that Imaam Ahmad (rahimahullaah), when he was in the pangs of death, he was heard saying: “not yet…. Not yet”, so when he awoke it was mentioned to him regarding that so he said: “Indeed Satan was biting his fingertips saying: ‘you have escaped me O Ahmad.’” He would bite his fingertips out of regret and sorrow at how he was unable to mislead Imaam Ahmad, so Ahmad said: “not yet……not yet” meaning: until now the soul has not departed, so for as long as the soul remains in the body, then everything is conceivable and possible.

 

رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا

((Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us.)) (Aal-‘Imraan: 8)”[5]

 

Shaikh Ahmad An-Najmee (rahimahullaah) said:

“The trials of dying: it is possible that its meaning is that which occurs at death by way of the affair of demise (death), since it has been mentioned that Satan propositions the person in order to avert him from Eemaan until the very last moment of his life. Such as the account that has been mentioned concerning Imaam Ahmad at his death.

Or either its meaning is that which occurs after death at the descent into the grave by way of the servant’s being subject to the trial of being questioned by the two Angels: Nakeer and Munkar.”[6]

 

Shaikh Saalih bin Fawzaan Al-Fawzaan (hafidhahullaah) said:

“The trials of dying: incorporates the trial which occurs at the point of death, since a person is tested at the point of his death, so Satan comes to him and propositions the religions to him at the point of dying,[7] so he obeys Satan and so dies upon other than Islaam, and so He, The Most High said:

 

يُثَبِّتُ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِالْقَوْلِ الثَّابِتِ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ وَيُضِلُّ اللَّهُ الظَّالِمِينَ

((Allaah keeps firm those who believe, with the word that stands firm in worldly life and in the Hereafter. And Allaah sends astray the wrongdoers.)) (Ibraheem: 27)

 

Likewise the trial which is in the grave when the two Angels come to him, so they examine him and they both ask him: ‘Who is your Lord? And what is your religion? And who is your Prophet?’ So he may be unsuccessful in the answer, and thus he is from those that are punished – and Allaah’s refuge is sought, yet he may be given the ability to answer, and thus he is from those blessed with prosperity.

This is the trial of dying, and it is what occurs and what is proposed to a person at death at the end of his life, and that which is presented to him in the grave from the questions of the two Angels.”[8]

 

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[1] Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (no.137) and Muslim (no.588), the wording above is that of Muslim.

[2] Sharh al-Mumti’ ‘alaa Zaad al-Mustaqni’ vol 3 p.185

[3] Ta’sees al-Ahkaam vol 2 p.232-233

[4] Tasheel al-Ilmaam be Fiqh al-Ahaadeeth min Bulooghil Maraam vol 2 p.282

[5] Sharh al-Mumti’ ‘alaa Zaad al-Mustaqni’ vol 3 p.185-188 (abridged)

[6] Ta’sees al-Ahkaam vol 2 p.233

[7] Shaikh ul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) said: “As for the presenting of the religions to the servant at the time of death, then it is not an affair which is universal for every individual, nor is it likewise to be excluded from every individual. Rather; from the people are those unto whom the religions shall be presented to him before his death, and from them are those that will not have them presented to him, and that has indeed occurred with the people. All of this is from the trials of living and dying which we have been commanded to seek refuge from in our prayer. However; it is at the time of death that Satan is most ardent upon misleading the progeny of Aadam – because it is a time of neediness.” (Abridged from Majmu’ Fataawa vol 4 p.255)

[8] Tasheel al-Ilmaam be Fiqh al-Ahaadeeth min Bulooghil Maraam vol 2 p.282

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