Imagine this. You are on your way home from a friend's house. The streets are deserted and it's dark. All of a sudden, a car from out of nowhere, smashes into your side of the car, piercing your ribs into your heart, killing you instantly. Your whole family, your parents, your siblings, your friends, are all grief-stricken by this totally unexpected tragedy. Death has taken you from them. Your money couldn't buy it off, your popularity, your loved ones--none of it helped you when you needed it most. Your home now, is the soil; a home of solitude, a home of poverty, a home of wilderness, the dwelling place of worms and reptiles, a dungeon for the sinners, a pit of Hell for the disbelievers and rejecters of Faith.
When the angel of death takes your soul, you see that he has brought with him, 500 other angels, each carrying a piece of copper, huge embers of the fire of Hell, and scourges of burning fire. The leader of the angels carries a forked mace made of fire, the fire which is seventy times hotter than that on earth. And they torture the body with these instruments until the soul is completely extracted from the body. Your soul says to the body, "Let the Almighty pay you the same way! You were prompt in disobeying the commands of Allah and scorned to obey Him. You have ruined yourself and have ruined me too!" And the body utters the same to the soul. Those places where you committed sins, curse you. The associates of Shaytaan rejoice and bring the news to their leader, Iblis, that they had caused someone to suffer eternal torment.
Now that you are dead, your wealth and money walk away. You have been buried six feet under, and your family walks away. All you have with you are your deeds, good and bad, as narrated by the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam). The two angels, Munkar and Naakir, who have twelve eyes that glitter like lightening, voices as loud as thunder, teeth as canine as the horns of a cow, hair that drags to their feet, shoulders as broad as a distance of a journey of several days, will command you to sit up, holding the heaviest of hammers in their hands. These hammers are so heavy and full of might that if all human beings were to try to pick it up, they would be unsuccessful. They ask you: "Who is your Lord? What is your religion? Who is your Prophet?" You remain speechless. One, because you're utterly frightened by the appearance of the angels. Two, in the world, you had forgotten Allah, disobeyed His Messenger (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam), and lived your life opposite of what Islam taught. So, you have an inappropriate answer: "I know nothing about anything! I only repeated what I heard!" Upon hearing this, the angels strike you with the mace so violently that the sparks of the mace spread around the whole grave.
Then the gates of Paradise open and all its riches and adornment and elegance is visible to you. The angels say, "This was your original dwelling place." Then the gates of the Hellfire are opened and you are told by the angels, "This is your abode because during your life, you were entertained in doubts and disobedience to Allah." The grave tells you, "Of all those who visited me, I hated you most!" And it squeezes you so hard that your ribs on either side pierce into one another so much so that only one inch of space is left in your grave. The torment of the grave appears. It stretches its evil neck and strives to reach each corner of the dead body. It goes to the right side of the body; there are no prayers to protect it. It goes to the left side; there are no sincere fasts to thwart off its attempt to cause you pain. Then it goes to your head and there is no sign of recitation of the Holy Qur'an and dhikr (remembrance of Allah) to repel the attack. It goes to your feet, but you never made the effort to stand in congregational prayer and in times of distress and misfortunes, you never had patience, so it wasn't there to aid you. You are hopeless and alone. There is none that can help you now. No one to take away the numerous and various torments you are experiencing. The animals can hear your horrible cries in the grave and they, in turn, howl back in terror.
This is the deceit of this wonderful world and if we allow ourselves to fall into the trap of Satan, this is exactly where we are headed. Would you say it's a beautiful place to be?
Lastly, imagine this. You get up in the morning at Fajr, go into the bathroom, come out with fresh ablution (wudu), and stand in the worship of your Lord, to thank and glorify your Creator, Who loves you more than your own parents. You hear the adhan caller shout out in a beautiful tone: "Assalatu khayru minannowm," meaning, "prayer is better than sleep." And indeed it is!
You supplicate (make du'a), asking Him, the All-Mighty, for the forgiveness of your sins and for His infinite bounty and mercy with tears gushing out of your eyes. And, in fully depending on Allah, His mercy, and by crying to Him, you find peace and comfort in your heart. After your morning prayer, you pick up the words of Allah, the Guidance, the Holy Qur'an, kiss it, sit facing the Holy Ka'bah and begin reciting the most beautiful words of Allah, opening the line of communication between Him and you. You eat breakfast in the name of Allah, you leave your house and drive off to work or school in the name of Allah, your Trustee, and you spend every action in the striving of Allah's pleasure (refraining from what He has forbidden and doing what He has permitted). Every moment you obtain, you ponder about He, Whose hands hold your life. You glorify and praise Him with love, fear, and hope. He is your sole Cherisher, Guardian, Master, and Provider.
Time for the second salah of the day. You make your ablution and stand in prayer, in the worship of your Lord, with the raging fires of Hell on your left, the Gardens of Paradise on your right, Allah in front of you, the angel of death hanging over your head, and the Siraat (bridge we will cross on the Day of Judgement) under you, at the parking lot of your work or school. Why there? Because your love, fear, and devotion to Allah is so strong that nothing and no one can prevent you from worshipping He, Who is worthy of all worship. In short, you spend your whole life, whether it is 20 years or 200, in the obedience, worship, and in the striving of Allah's pleasure, the Owner of the heavens and the earth.
Death suddenly approaches you, while you are doing the dhikr of Allah on your way home from your friend's house. The angel of death, in the company of 500 other angels, approaches you. Each angel carries a coffin of Paradise and a bouquet of sweet-smelling flowers, containing twenty different colors, each color diffusing a diverse smell. In addition, they each carry a white, silky handkerchief, which emits the fragrance of musk. The angel of death sits by the side of your head and the others surround you, touching your limbs and keeping the musk-scented handkerchiefs below your chin and the gate of Paradise is opened before your eyes. The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) swore by the Divine Power and Omnipotent that the dead body feels immense pleasure, which can never return. They keep you amused with the pleasures of Paradise and elegant garments. The angels then tell you to look at your feet, where you see a gate of Hell opened and you see your condition there. The angels say to you, "You are safe from that." After that 70 gates open towards Paradise and the angel says, "O suspicious soul! Go where there are thornless lote trees, clustered plantains, spreading shades, and gushing water springs." Your soul says to the body, "May Allah reward you for your good deeds. You were prompt in worshipping Him and obeying Him. You scorned to disobey Him. May this day be good to you! You have escaped the pangs of death and have kept me safe from it." And the body wishes the soul the same. Places where you worshipped Allah weep at your loss. And Shaytaan weeps even more bitterly and curses his legion for sparing you.
Hundreds of Muslims pray for you at your Janazah prayer and the grave tells you, "Of all those who visited me, I loved you most!" And it extends its boundaries to as far as you can see and the window of Paradise opens for you to smell its sweet fragrance! Your grave offers you silken couches and the best treatment. The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said that if the people only knew the punishments that Allah has in store, they would never feel safe from the Hellfire and if the people only knew of Allah's mercy, they would never despair in attaining Paradise.
What did you enjoy imagining more? The life of this deceitful world or the life of the eternal world? Which one would you choose?
"Beautified for mankind is the love of the joys that come from women and offspring and stored up heaps of gold and silver and horses branded with their marks and the cattle and land. That is the comfort of the world. Allah! With Him, is a more excellent abode. For those who keep from evil, with their Lord, are Gardens underneath which rivers flow and pure companions and contentment from Allah. Allah is Seer of His bondsmen." (Suratul Ali Imran 3:14-15)
The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said, "The world was made for you, but you were made for the Hereafter.
What is more promising and beneficial?
A. Living life as if we will never leave it, meaning, living each day in the pleasure and pursuits of this world, the dunya?
B. Living life as if we are strangers and travelers in it, who will leave it some day and return to our original destination, meaning, living each day as if it were our last, in preparation for the eternal world?
Glory be to Allah, Who has created all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth, Who causes the night to pass into the day and the day into the night, Who brings the living from the dead and the dead from the living. All praise be to Allah, Lord of all the worlds.
"Truly my Lord casts the (mantle of) Truth over (His servants), He that has full knowledge of all that is hidden. If I am astray, I only stray to the loss of my own soul, but if I receive guidance, it is because of the inspirations of my Lord to me; it is He, Who hears all things and is ever near (34:48, 50). Our Lord! Cause not our hearts to go astray after You have guided us and bestow upon us mercy from Your presence. You, only You, are the Bestower (3:9)." And protect us from the punishment of the grave and from the calamities of the Last Day and from the Fire prepared for the disbelievers and hypocrites. "You alone we worship and You alone we ask for help. Show us the Straight Path, the Path of those of whom you have favored, not those who earn your anger, nor those who go astray." (1:6, 7) Ameen. Alhumdulillahi Rabbil Alameen--All praise be to Allah, Lord of all the worlds.