“By Allah, supposing the janaza that you cried over could speak momentarily, and then recount (the experience of the sakaratul maut) to you, you will surely forget the janaza, and begin crying over your own selves.” (Imam Ghazali quoting the atsar of Al-Hasan).
The Arrival of Death according to Al Qur’an :
1. Death is inescapable and ready to swoop on mankind even if we have taken all efforts to avoid the risks of death.
“Say: "Even if you had remained in your homes, those for whom death was decreed would certainly have gone forth to the place of their death"; but (all this was) that Allah might test what is in your breasts and purge what is in your hearts. For Allah knoweth well the secrets of your hearts.” (Qur’an 3:154)
2. Death will chase anyone even if he is hiding behind an impregnable fortress or taking shelter behind the sophisticated technology of medical science, as well as behind the hundreds of the best doctors in this world.
"Wherever you may be, death will overtake you out, even if you should be within towers built up strong and high! If some good befalls them, they say, "This is from Allah"; but if evil, they say, "This is from thee" (O Prophet). Say: "All things are from Allah." But what hath come to these people, that they fail to understand a single fact?" (Qur’an 4:78)
3. Death will run after everyone even if he is running away from it.
"Say: "The Death from which ye flee will truly overtake you: then will ye be sent back to the Knower of things secret and open, and He will inform you about what you used to do!"" (Qur’an 62:8)
4. Death comes in a sudden way.
“Verily the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah (alone). It is He Who sends down rain, and He Who knows what is in the wombs. Nor does any one know what it is that he will earn on the morrow: Nor does any one know in what land he is to die. Verily with Allah is full knowledge and He is acquainted (with all things).” (Qur’an 31:34)
5. The time of death is already appointed, it can't be delayed or hurried.
“But to no soul will Allah grant respite when the time appointed (for it) has come; and Allah is well acquainted with (all) that ye do.” (Qur’an 63:11)
The feeling of pain during the Sakaratul Maut is extremely unbearable.
Rasulullah SAW said: “The pain of the Sakaratul maut is the same as the thrusts of three hundreds swords.” (Tirmidzi)
Rasulullah SAW said: “The lightest death is like a tree branch full of thorns which sticks onto a piece of silk clothing. Could the branch be taken without taking a away a piece of the torn silk clothing?” (Bukhari)
Atsar (opinion) of the sahabah of Rasulullah SAW .
Ka’b al-Ahbar opined: “Sakaratul maut is like thrusting a thorny wood into the stomach and then, pulling it out powerfully until all parts of the body attached to it are brought out with it and the remaining is left out.”
Imam Ghazali said: "The pain felt during the sakaratul maut slices into the soul and spreads throughout the body parts until the person experiencing the sakaratul maut feels himself being torn apart and twitched from every vein, nerve, and joint, from every hair root and scalp down to the toes."
Imam Ghazali also cited a riwayah (tradition) that mentioned a group of Bani Israil who passed by a graveyard were praying to Allah SWT so that He would bring to life a dead person from the grave in order for them to know the portrayal of the Sakaratul Maut. By the will of Allah and by some means, they were suddenly faced with a man who emerged from one of the graves. “O people!”, the man said. “What do you want from me? I encountered death fifty years ago, however the pain left by the sakaratul maut still have not disappeared from me now.”
The process of sakaratul maut could take differing durations for different people and when witnessing the last moments of someone’s death, it could not be calculated by the measurement of times such as the calculation of seconds we have here on this earth. It was said that Mustafa Kamal Attaturk, the father of modern (secular) Turkey, who had changed Turkey from being a country having the Shari'ah of Islam into a secular country, went through the process of sakaratul maut for the equivalent of 6 months (though it only appeared a few seconds in this world), as what had been reported by one of his descendants through dreams.
The suffering during the sakaratul maut is experienced by every human being with varying degrees of pain, whether it be the believers or disbelievers. According to a riwayah it was said that the pain of sakaratul maut is a process of reducing the rate of torment in the akhirah later by having some amounts of our sins effaced.
Notwithstanding the above, for the people who have the best death, the ones whose sins are forgiven right away with the first drop of their blood, who are saved from the trials of the grave and the only ones who wish to return to this earth after being conferred with the supreme rewards and ultimate blessings in paradise, namely the Shuhada's, they do not feel the agony of death except like that of a pinch.
Rasulullah SAW said: "The martyr feels not the pain of killing except like a pinch." (Ahmad/Tirmidzi)
Thus, how Allah’s plan is. Wallahu a’lam bis sowab.
Sakaratul Maut For The Wicked
Imam Ghazali cited a riwayah in which he told the story of Ibrahim AS who wished to see the appearance of Malaikatul Maut when pulling out the soul of a tyrant. Allah SWT then showed him the feature of Malaikatul Maut as a huge man with dark skin, hair raised and stood on end, smelt rotten, had two eyes, one in front and one at the back, wearing an all black attire, extremely frightening, fire came out from his mouth. Upon seeing him Ibrahim AS fainted. When he came to, he said that seeing the face of Malaikatul Maut was enough for an evildoer to receive their just punishment for the evils they have done, whereas Allah’s punishment in the akhirah is far more dreadful than that.
This story symbolized that it is scary enough just by looking at the face of Malakatul Maut, let alone letting the Malaikat (Angel) touch our bodies, powerfully tugging the soul from our bodies, then begins stomping our bodies so that the souls (which still love this world and are reluctant to leave it) could be released from our bodies, as if extracting fibrous roots which had been deeply cemented inside the soil made of hardened lead.
Such is the feature of Malaikatul Maut who would approach us sooner or later and separate the souls from our bodies. Such is the face that if we were to look at it, even in dreams, we would not be able to laugh and feel happiness for the rest our lives in this world.
How terrifying if we all could see the moments the oppressors are in the overwhelming pangs of sakratulmaut, “while the angels stretch forth their hands, (saying),"Yield up your souls: this day shall ye receive your reward,- a penalty of shame, for that ye used to tell lies against Allah, and scornfully to reject of His signs!"” (Qur’an 6:93)
"(Namely) those whose lives the angels take in a state of wrong-doing to their own souls." Then would they offer submission (with the pretence), "We did no evil (knowingly)." (The angels will reply), "Nay, but verily Allah knoweth all that ye did"; So enter the gates of Hell, to dwell therein. Thus evil indeed is the abode of the arrogant." (Qur’an, 16:28-29)
At the end of the process of sakaratul maut, the dying person would be shown the faces of the two angels who record the deeds of mankind. To a wicked person, the angels would say, “May Allah not give you good rewards, you are the one that compelled us to be present in the midst of your wicked deeds, and compelled us to be present to witness your bad deeds, compelled us to listen to your bad words. May Allah not give you good rewards!” It is at that time that the dying person looked at the two angels lifelessly.
When the process of sakaratul maut is almost done, where the energy of the dying person has finished and the soul begins to crawl out from the physical body, then it is time for Malaikatul Maut to proclaim their dwellings in the akhirah afterwards. Rasulullah SAW said, “Not a person amongst you would leave this world except he has been allotted his place of return and shown to him his place whether it is paradise or hell”.
And this is the words of the angel to an oppressor when showing him his dwelling in hell in the hereafter, “O enemy of Allah, it is your dwelling soon, prepare yourself to feel the torment of hell.” Naudzu bila min dzalik!
Sakaratul Maut For Those With Taqwa
On the other hand, Imam Ghazali said that the believers would see the appearance of Malaikatul Maut as a handsome man, with beautiful attire and gives off very sweet perfume.
And it is said to the people who have taqwa: “To the righteous (when) it is said, "What is it that your Lord has revealed?" they say, "All that is good." To those who do good, there is good in this world, and the Home of the Hereafter is even better and excellent indeed is the Home of the righteous,- Gardens of Eternity which they will enter: beneath them flow (pleasant) rivers: they will have therein all that they wish: thus doth Allah reward the righteous,- (Namely) those whose lives the angels take in a state of purity, saying (to them), "Peace be on you; enter ye the Garden, because of (the good) which ye did (in the world)."" (Qur’an 16 : 30-31-32)
And in the last moment of the sakaratul maut, the angel will show him paradise that would soon becomes his place of abode in the akhirah, and say to him, “Rejoice, O friend of Allah, it will be your dwelling soon, rejoice in your waiting moments.”
Wallahu a’lam bish-sowab.
May we all who are still alive be always given hidayah from Him, be on the true path, always istiqomah in iman, and be amongst the ummah whom He eases during our lives in this world, during the sakaratul maut, in the world of barzakh, in the Field of Mahshar, on the bridge Sirath-al mustaqim, and so on.
Film - Short Movie - Sakaratul Maut - Your final reminder!
This video is in Arabic and no subtitles embedded. But you do not need to know Arabic to get some life lessons inside it. May we die as a true Muslim. Insha Allah.