The riveting phenomenon of death has been and continues to be a contentious and touchy subject. The inexorable fact of death being the inception of body and consequently its cessation has become a gateway for much scholarly discourse. The vast production of literary works surrounding the notion of death and what happens thereafter, by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, has brought to light many theories and facts for introspection.
All praise is to Allah, whose descended Book has left no room for man to question or revolve the man made philosophies surrounding death, through its easy-to-read depictions and vignettes of the Hereafter and what is expected of man in this world. We may find it painstaking to scour each page of the Holy Quran for verses explaining death, which is where Manazil al Akhirah comes into play. This text, authored by the late Shaykh Abbas Qummi (may God be pleased with him), details the various staged of man’s expected journey preceding and following his demise. Corroborated by ample hadiths, Quranic verses and supplications,Manazil al Akhirah lucidly compacts the Divine dictates that order us to perform good while we are alive and grasp onto the rope of Ahlul Bayt (as), so that we may evade punishment and reap everlasting rewards and beatitude in the next life.
When I started reading this book, I had one intention in mind: to prepare myself for death. I had previously watched videos and heard of many stories of unexpected demises of youngsters and elders alike, which confirmed to me that death knows no age, nor any distinction for that matter. So, to weed out any fears and misgivings I may have, I decided to start reading and the inception of my research began in Manazil al Akhirah . Gradually, I started to devalue this world and its allurements as I realised how short our time is here and how we must uninterruptedly strive to enjoin good and forbid evil.
Excerpts from Manazil al Akhirah
“It is of utmost importance that man should hold death dear and consider it an opportunity of meeting with his Almighty, and not hate it and consider it as evil, but should take lessons from it. He should ask forgiveness from Allah for his sins and tame the rebellious self (nafs).”
“And we being sinful have forgotten our end, and do not take account of our deeds, but are averse to the terror of the hereafter.”
“A child who secures first rank in his school is so excited and happy, that he calls out to his friends “Come and see my result, that I have passed in the first rank.” In the same manner, on the day of Qayamat, a believer (Mo’min) will be given his scrolls in his right hand, and he will call out in excitement: “Lo! Come and read my book. Allah has accepted my prayers (Salat), fasts (siyam), and other deeds. Come and have a look at them. Surely I knew that I shall meet my account. In the world I was always worried about what would be the outcome of my deeds on the day of Qayamat. Today my accounting is over’.”
Lessons to keep in mind
I derived the following lessons from Manazil al Akhirah , that will forever remain nestled in my subconscious mind:
- Don’t think that you are free from the fetters of Satan, even during death: for the insinuations of Satan can pollute your mind and convince you that he knows a way out of death, thereby making you an apostate during your last stages of life.
- Always seek to maintain amiable relations with your kith and kin, for this will render you succour in the next world. Remember the relatives who departed before you and collate lessons from their demise.
- Keep in mind the evanescence of life – it’s bound to end, so make the most of it.
- The ark of Ahlul Bayt (as) is the sole source of salvation. Stay aboard.
- Be mindful of your prayer and never downplay its significance. Tardiness will lead to perdition and unending regret.
- Repent whenever you can. Death oversteps time and place, so make sure you are always in the lead.
- It’s okay if you can’t decipher life after death. So long as we haven’t experienced it, we will not be able to perfectly visualise it. Therefore, we must rely on the Quranjc verses and precepts and traditions of Ahlul Bayt (as) and garner as much as we can from their words, so we do not feel estranged.
In short, Manazil al Akhirah is a wake-up call for the sleeping profligate. It teaches us that the world is bound to disillusion us, and that death is the sole proof of this. We also learn from this book that one should never cease gathering provisions for the Hereafter and salvaging whatever good they can from this world. All in all, Manazil al Akhirah is the go-to text if you wish to know more about death – the prelude of the Hereafter. To delve deeper into the book click here.