‘O you who believe, fear Allāh as He should be feared and die not except as Muslims’
In this address, the order to fear Allāh and die as a Muslim is directed, not simply to non-Muslims and Muslims, but rather to the Believers, thus showing the great importance Islām places, not only on a good life, but also a good death. As such even the believers are warned against complacency that could result in a bad ending.
Most people tend to avoid talking about death, despite it being one of the few certainties in one’s life. However there is not a single soul except that he or she would wish for a good death. So what is a good death? The Institute of Medicine defines it as follows,
“A decent or good death is one that is: free from avoidable distress and suffering for patients, families, and caregivers; in general accord with patients’ families’ wishes; and reasonably consistent with clinical, cultural, and ethical standards.”
Most people would like a pain-free death, having lived life to the full, fulfilling their dreams and to die doing what they loved most. As Muslims our wishes are generally the same, however the purpose of our life ultimately determines for us what is and is not a good death. Allāh says in the Qur’ān,
‘And I have not created Jinn and Mankind except for My worship.’
Therefore a soul created for the worship of Allāh must also die in such a state for it to have achieved a good death. As such, we marvel at the endings of those engaged in acts of worship at the point of death, such as those mentioned by Imām Adh-Dhahabi in his Siyar Aʿlam An-Nubala,
‘Abū Bakr b. Al-Ismaeli died on a Thursday night during the Maghrib prayer while he was reciting from Surāh Al-Fātiḥa “You alone we worship and from You alone we seek help.”’
‘Abū Hakeem ʿAbdullāh b. Ibrāhīm Al-Khabri was writing out the Qur’ān, and then he laid down his pen, said “Indeed this is a delightful death!” and died.’
‘Musʿab said “ʿĀmir (b. ʿAbdullāh b. Az-Zubair ) heard the call to prayer and said, “Take me by my hand.” So it was said to him, “You are ill.” To which he replied, “How can I hear the call to Allāh and not respond?” So they took him by his hand and he entered with the Imām for the Maghrib prayer. He bowed with him and then died.’
‘Abū Bakr b. Ziyad said, “I entered upon Ibrāhīm b. Hani (An-Naysaburi) on his deathbed and he said, “I am thirsty.” So his son brought some water and he asked his son, “Has the sun set?” It was said “No” so he turned it away and recited, “For the like of this let the strivers strive” and he died.’
These are just some of the beautiful examples of a good ending from our predecessors, besides what we know from the good endings from companions. Such as the one whom upon hearing that Paradise was as wide as the heavens and the earth flung himself into the midst of battle to attain it.
Such sacrifices and exertions displayed by our role models and replicated throughout the ages by those seeking the pleasure of Allāh stand as a stark reminder to us all as to our true purpose in life. As much as we strive to do good by people, gain their pleasure and acceptance, and bring about benefits and avoid harms and hardships, we should never lose sight of the fact that our ultimate aim is to seek the pleasure of Allāh.
As the above examples showed, these great men could have taken the concessions available to them, yet they chose to exert themselves to seek the greater reward with Allāh. We ask Allāh to give us steadfastness and a good ending, making us from the honourable ones,
‘It was said: “Enter Paradise” He said “Would that my people knew. That my Lord has forgiven me, and made me of the honoured ones!’
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 Al-Qur’ān, 3:102
 Institute of Medicine (IOM) 1997
 Al-Qur’ān, 51:56
 Al-Qur’ān, 36:26-27
Like it or not, those ‘extremists’ you referred to, died believing in something and with an expectation to receive something. Did they receive it? Only Allah The Almighty knows best. My question to you is: how do you know whether they received what they died for, or not?
Regarding your statement ‘Otherwise Allah is not merciful’. One of the Names of Allah is Ar-Rahmaan (The Most Merciful). He is also known as Al-Adl (The Most Just). The Day of Judgement is a reality, that will descend upon everyone: Muslims, Jews, Christians, Atheists, Agnostics alike. Allah The Almighty is the One who will judge and settle the accounts between all of His creation. Each will receive exactly what they deserve, based upon His Eternal and Absolute Knowledge of all of their actions and their intentions. It is Allah The Almighty who will decide what becomes of both parties, the killer and those killed.
Therefore, we should be more concerned with our own standing on the Day of Judgement, rather than that of anyone else.
The thing I can’t get is that exteme Muslims think if they blow apart innocent women and children, including other Muslims, they can expect to be greeted by 72 pure virgins –
I reckon Allah has got 72 ugly old grumbling hags for them and they’ll be chained to this person making his life a misery for eternity.
Otherwise Allah is not merciful.
An encouragement, an excellent read. Lets raise our hands and ask Allah S.W.T for for good ending as we all desire this;
” Verily those who say, ‘ Our Lord is Allah (alone) and then stood straight, on them the angel will descend (at the time of death saying,) ‘Fear not, nor grieve! But receive the glad tidings of paradise which you have been promised” (Fussilat 41:30)
An encouraging article, an excellent read. Let’s raise our hands and ask Allah s.w.t for a good ending. As we desire this;
“Verily, those who say, ‘Our Lord is Allaah(alone) and then stood straight, on them the angel will descend (at the time of their death saying,) ‘Fear not, nor grieve! But receive the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised.’” (Fussilat 41: 30)
asalaamu alaykum waRahmatullah waBarakaatuh
Brother Gulraz, this is an amazing heart-softener article. Please could you also mention the books and sources where the stories were mentioned, as that would be of great benefit.. may Allah bless you and have mercy on you, and us – ameen.