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Wishing for Death

Wishing for Death Abu Hurairah (ra) related that RasulAllah (saw) said, "Let none among you wish for death or supplicate for it to occur before it actually arrives; when one dies, his deeds come to an end. And age does not add to a believer except in goodness." (Ahmad) That it is allowed to ask for death when the trials come to pass is proven by a long hadith related by Mu"aadh (ra): "0 Allah, I ask You (to guide me to) the doing of good deeds; (I ask You to) forgive me and have mercy on me. And if You wish a trial for a people, then take me to You with death, without me being put to trial. 0 Allah, I ask You (to grant me) Your love, the love of those who love You, and the love of every deed that brings me closer to Your love." (Ahmad) These narrations indicate that there will come a very severe and difficult time upon the people, when the Muslims will not have Jamaa"ah established upon the truth  this is either for the entire earth or some parts of it. (Ibn Kathir, Kitab"ul-Fitan wal-Malahim)

RasulAllah (saw) forbade wishing for death, because it deprives the believer of the goodness of obedience and the joy of worship, and of the opportunity to repent and make up for what one has missed.

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (ra) that RasulAllah (saw) said: No one of you should wish for death or pray for it before it comes, for when one of you dies, his good deeds come to an end and for the believer a long life will not increase him in anything but good. (Muslim, 2682) No one of you should wish for death. Either he is a doer of good and will do more, or he is a doer of evil but perhaps he may stop. (al-Bukhari)

Al-Nawawi said: This hadeeth clearly indicates that it is makrooh to wish for death because of some harm that has befallen one, such as loss or distress caused by an enemy, or other such hardships of this world. But if a person fears harm or fitnah with regard to his religious commitment, it is not makrooh to wish for death, according to this hadeeth, and several of the salaf did that.

A long life in which a believer does righteous deeds is better for him than death

RasulAllah (saw) said: The best of people is the one who lives long and does good.(Ahmad and al-Tirmidhi, 110; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.) And RasulAllah (saw) said: Glad tidings to the one who lives long and does good.Narrated by al-Tabaraani and Abu Naeem, classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami, 3928.)

Ahmad narrated that Abu Hurayrah (ra) said: Two men became Muslim with RasulAllah (saw). One of them was martyred, and the other remained for another year. Talhah ibn Ubayd-Allaah said: I was shown Paradise (in a dream), and in it I saw that the one who was delayed was admitted before the martyr. I was surprised by that, so the next morning I told RasulAllah (saw) about that. RasulAllah (saw) said: Did he not fast Ramadaan after he was gone, and pray six thousand rakahs, or such and such a number of rak"ahs, the prayers of one year? (Ahmad, 8195; Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 2591; al-Ajlooni said in Kashf al-Khafa: its isnaad is hasan.)

A man said: O RasulAllah (saw), which of the people is best? RasulAllah (saw) said: The one who lives long and does good. He said: Which of the people is worst? RasulAllah (saw) said: The one who lives long and does evil. (Ahmad and al-Tirmidhi, 2330; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.)

Al-Teebi (ra) said: Time is like the capital of a businessman, and it should be invested in such a way as to make a profit. The greater the capital, the greater the profit. Whoever benefits from his life by doing good deeds will succeed and prosper, but whoever wastes his capital and does not prosper will evidently lose out.

Hence it was said to one of the salaf: Death is a good thing

He said: O son of my brother, do not do that, for an hour of life in which you ask Allaah for forgiveness is better for you than an eternity of death.

It was said to an old man among them: Would you not like to die? He said: No, for youth and its evil have gone, and old age and its goodness have come. When I get up, I say Bismillaah (in the name of Allaah), and when I sit I say Al-hamdu Lillaah (praise be to Allaah), and I would like this to continue.

Many of the salaf would weep when they were dying, in sorrow for the cessation of their righteous deeds.

Wishing for death is seeking something which is unknown

The throes of death are very hard, and the terror of seeing one"s end draw nigh is immense. Man is faced with nothing else like it. Moreover, no one knows what awaits him after death. We ask Allaah to keep us safe and sound. Wishing for death is seeking something which is unknown. Perhaps if he wishes for death because of some hardship that he has fallen into, he may end up like one who jumps out of the frying pan and into the fire, and after death he may find himself in an even worse situation. In that case, wishing for death is a kin to seeking to hasten calamity before it happens. No wise man should do that, as RasulAllah (saw) said: Do not wish to meet the enemy, and ask Allaah to keep you safe and sound. (Bukhari & Muslim).

It was narrated that Jaabir ibn Abd-Allaah (ra) said: RasulAllah (saw) said: Do not wish for death, for the terror that follows death is immense. It is a sign of blessing to live long and be guided by Allaah to repent. (Ahmad; classed as daeef by al-Albaani in Silsilat al-Ahaadeeth al-Daeefah, 885)

Ibn Umar heard a man wishing for death and he said: Do not wish for death, for you are going to die. Ask Allaah to keep you safe and sound, for the dying person is exposed to great terror.

And when Umar (ra) was in the final moments of his life, Al-Mughirah bin Shu"bah (ra) said to him "congratulations to you for paradise, o leader of the belivers". Though one should not say such statements to someone while he is healthy, it is recommended to do so when someone is dying, so as to help him have good thoughts about Allah,

"O ibn umm al-mughirah," Umar said, " And what makes you know (that I will enter paradise)? by the one who has my soul in his hand, if I possessed all that is in the east and in the west, I would have ransomed it all to be saved from the terror of the beginning (of judment day)"

When he was on his deathbed, Abu Bakr summoned for Umar to come to him. When the latter arrived, Abu Bakr said "indeed , I want to give you some final advice-if you will accept it from me: Indeed , Allah azza wa-jalla has rights during the night, which he does not accept during the day; and rights during the day, which he does not accept during the night. And verily, He Azza wa-Jalla does not accept voluntary acts of worship until obligatory ones are fist performed . Do you not see that those whose scales are heavy in the hereafter are heavy only because they followed the truth in the world, for doing so was heavy upon them(i.e, it required striving and effort, like an upward climb.) And it is befitting for a scale to be heavy when only truth is placed on it. Do you not see that those whose scales(i.e , scales of good deeds) are light in the hereafter are light only because they followed falsehood in the world; and doing so was light for them( i.e, easy, without strain, like descending a downward slope). And it is only befitting for a scale to be light when only falsehood is placed on it. Do you not see that Allah azza wa-jalla revealed verses that inspire hope after verses that inspire terror, and verses that inspire terror after verses that inspire hope. This is so that a slave remains both hopeful (of reward) and fearful(of punishment), without taking his own life, and without hoping for anything other than the truth from Allah Azza wa-jalla. If you remember and preserve (i., apply) this advice of mine, then let no matter of the unseen world be more beloved too you than death-which, at any rate, is inevitable. And if you do not heed this advice of mine, then let no matter from the unseen world be more hateful to you than death."

Ibn Rajab (ra) said: Many righteous men have wished for death when they were healthy, then when it came they hated it because it is so difficult, such as Abul-Darda and Sufyaan al-Thawri, so what do you think about people other than them?

Wishing for death, if the reason for it is difficulties in worldly matters, is forbidden because wishing for death in that case is indicative of impatience or panic as a result of the calamity that has befallen.

It was narrated from Anas ibn Maalik (ra) that RasulAllah (saw) said: No one of you should wish for death because of some harm that has befallen him, but if he must do that then let him say: O Allaah, keep me alive so long as life is good for me, and cause me to die when death is good for me. (Bukhari & Muslim)

What is meant by some harm that has befallen him is worldly harms such as sickness, loss of wealth and children, and the like. But if he fears harm to his religious commitment, such as fitnah, then there is nothing wrong with wishing for death in that case, as we shall see below.

Perhaps the one who wishes for death in order to find relief from the harm that has befallen him will only increase in exhaustion and pain, he does not know.

It was narrated that Aaishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: It was said: O RasulAllah, So and so has died, and has found relief. RasulAllah (saw) got angry and said: Only the one who is forgiven finds relief. (Ahmad, 24192; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 1710)

cases in which it is prescribed to wish for death

1  One who fears for his religious commitment because of fitnah

Undoubtedly death which takes a person away from fitnah (tribulation, temptation that takes one away from religious commitment), even if his righteous deeds are few, is better for him than being subjected to tribulations with regard to his religious commitment. We ask Allaah to keep us safe and sound.

RasulAllah (saw) said: "None of you should wish for death because of a calamity that has befallen him. But if he has to wish for death, he should say: "O Allah! Keep me alive as long as life is better for me, and let me die if death is better for me." (al-Bukhari 5671; Muslim 2680)

Ibn Hajar said, commenting on this hadith: "The Prophet"s saying "because of a calamity that has befallen him" is intepreted by a group of the Salaf to mean a calamity in his worldly affairs. So, if he is stricken with a calamity in the affairs of the Hereafter by way of him fearing a fitnah in regards to his religion, this does not fall under the Prophet"s prohibition...and this indicates the permissibility of longing for death if one fears fitnah in regards to his religion, and Allah Knows best." ("Fath al-Bari"; 10/128) an-Nawawi said what is similar to the above ("Sharh Sahih Muslim" 9/8)

It was narrated from Mahmoud ibn Labeed (ra) that RasulAllah (saw) said: There are two things that the son of Adam dislikes: death, although death is better for a believer than fitnah; and he dislikes having little wealth, but less wealth means less reckoning. (Ahmad, "Musnad" 5/427; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 813)

RasulAllah (saw) said in his duaa: If You should decree fitnah for Your slaves, then take my soul (in death) before I am put to trial. (al-Tirmidhi, 3233; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami)

Mu"adh bin Jabal said: "One day, the Messenger of Allah did not show up for the morning prayer, to the point that we noticed the Sun was about to rise. We then saw him coming out quickly, and he called for the prayer, and quickly prayed. When he made taslim, he said to us: "Remain in your places." He then turned to us and said: "I will speak to you about what prevented me from showing up earlier. I got up at night, performed ablution, and prayed as much as I could. I then felt sleepiness to the extent that I was overtaken by it, so, I slept. Suddenly, I awoke to find myself in front of my Lord - the Mighty and Exalted - in the best image possible. He Said: "O Muhammad! Do you know what those of the highest ranks are busy quarrelling over?" I said: "I do not know, my Lord." [The Prophet repeated this three times, then said] I then saw Him laying His Palm between my shoulders until I could feel the coolness of His Fingers in my chest, and then everything was revealed to me, and I knew it. Then, He Said: "O Muhammad! Do you know what those of the highest ranks are busy quarrelling over?" I said: "Regarding those deeds that wipe out sins." He Asked: "What are they?" I replied: "Walking to the congregational prayer, remaining in the mosque after the prayer, and making your ablution lengthy and perfect in times of hardship." He then Asked: "And what are those deeds that increase one"s ranks?" I replied: "Providing food to the people, speaking gently, and praying at night while the people are asleep." He then Said: "Ask!" I said: "O Allah, I ask You to grant me the ability to perform good deeds and abandon the bad ones, the love of the poor, and that You Forgive me and have Mercy on me, and that if You want to test a group of people, I ask You to allow me to die without having experienced any fitnah, and I ask for Your Love and the love of those who love You, and the love of a deed that brings me closer to Your Love." The Prophet then said: "It is true. So, study it and learn it." (Ahmad 5/243; at-Tirmidhi 3235, and it is authentic)

Ibn Rajab (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: This is permissible according to the majority of scholars.

The Messenger of Allah said: "The Hour will not be established until a man passes by the grave of another man and says: "If only I were in his place."" (al-Bukhari, 7115)

Ibn Hajar said, commenting on this hadith: "Ibn Battal said: "The inhabitants of the graves being envied and death being longed for at the time of the emergence of fitnah will be out of fear of the weakening of religious practice with the increase in falsehood and its people, and the emergence of disobedience and sin." [Ibn Hajar continued] and this longing is not something general for all people. Rather, it is specific to the people of righteousness. As for the rest, then they might long for death because of a calamity that has befallen them in their health, family, and worldly affairs, without any of these things having affected his religious practice......and many of the Salaf did this, such as "Umar bin al-Khattab, "Isa al-Ghifari, "Umar bin "Abd al-"Aziz, and other than them. al-Qurtubi said: "It is as if this hadith is indicating that overwhelming trials and hardships will descend until the importance of and concern with religion becomes minimal, and there will remain for nobody except the concern with the worldly affairs and connected matters. As a result, the value of worship in the times of fitnah has been magnified greatly, as Muslim reported, from the hadith of Mu"aqqal bin Yasar: "Worship in the times of trials and tribulations is like a migration to me.""...and al-Hakim reported that Abu Salamah said: "I visited Abu Hurayrah and said: "O Allah! Return Abu Hurayrah"s health to him." So, Abu Hurayrah said: "O Allah! Do not return it to me. O Abu Salamah, if you are able to die, then do so. By the One in Whose Hand my soul is, there will come a time upon the scholars in which death is more beloved to them than red gold, and one of them will pass by the grave of his brother and say: "If only I were in his place. And "Abdullah bin as-Samit reported that Abu Dharr said: "There will come a time when a funeral procession will pass through the marketplace in front of a group of people, and a man will see it and shake his head, saying: "If only I were in this person"s place."" So, "Abdullah said: "O Abu Dharr! This must be because of something overwhelming!" Abu Dharr replied: "Yes, it certainly is."" ("Fath al-Bari"; 13/81)

salafs wishing for death for fear of fitnah

The salaf would prefer anything - even death - over being put at risk in regards to their religious commitment and practice

Maalik narrated that Saeed ibn al-Musayyab said: When Umar ibn al-Khattab came from Mina, he made his camel kneel at al-Abtah, and then he gathered a pile of small stones and cast his cloak over them and dropped to the ground. Then he raised his hands to the sky and said, "O Allaah! I have become old and my strength has weakened. My flock is scattered. Take me to You with nothing missed out and without having neglected anything." Saeed said: Dhul-Hijjah did not end before Umar (ra) was murdered. Abu Hurayrah (ra) said: Whoever sees death offered for sale, let him buy it for me! (Ibn al-Jawzi , Al-Thabaat inda al-Mamaat, 45)

The magicians of Fir"awn said, after Fir"awn threatened to kill them: "And you take vengeance on us only because we believed in the signs of our Lord when they reached us! Our Lord! Pour out on us patience, and cause us to die as Muslims." (al-A"raf; 126)

2- wishing for death in his death is martyrdom for the sake of Allah (swt)

RasulAllah (saw) said: Whoever asks Allaah sincerely for martyrdom, Allaah will cause him to attain the status of the martyr, even if he dies in his bed. (Muslim)

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (ra) that RasulAllah (saw) said: Were it not that it would be too hard for my ummah, I would not have stayed behind from any campaign. Would that I could be killed for the sake of Allaah, then brought back to life then killed, then brought back to life then killed. (Bukhari & Muslim)

salafs wishing for death for the sake of Allah

Prophet Yusuf said: "...cause me to die as a Muslim, and join me with the righteous." (Yusuf; 101) Qatadah said, commenting on this verse: "When his possessions were many, and his eye had been cooled, and he was engulfed in the worldly pleasures and delights, he longed to be joined with the righteous people before him." (at-Tabari, "Jami" al-Bayan"; 13/48)

Abu Bakr (ra) said, concerning the liar Musaylimah, when he claimed to be a prophet: By Allaah, I will fight him with people who love death as they love life.

Khaalid ibn al-Waleed (ra) wrote to the people of Persia saying: By the One besides Whom there is no other god, I shall send against you people who love death as you love life.

When the time of Khalid ibn Al-Waleed, r.a., came to depart from the world, he said: "I reached every possible place for Shahadah, but it was written in my fate that I should die on my bed. In my opinion there is no deed more dearer than my waiting with my horse and shield in the darkness of night, the sky to be glittering due to the rain, waiting for the onset of dawn, so that I can attack the enemy." (Ibn al-Mubarak in al-Jihad)

This status is something desirable  may Allaah not deprive us of it  and seeking it is something that is praiseworthy, because the one who is given it will not be deprived of the reward for righteous deeds for which a person may want to live and which may be better for a person than death. Moreover Allaah will spare the one who attains this status from the torment of the grave.

It was narrated that Salmaan (ra) said: I heard RasulAllah (saw) say: Standing on guard at the border for one day and one night is better than fasting and praying qiyaam for a month, and if he dies, will be given the reward for the good deeds that he used to do, and he will be given provision, and he will be kept safe from al-fattaan (i.e., Munkar and Nakeer, the two angels who question the deceased in the grave). (Muslim)

It is makrooh for a Muslim to wish for death if the reason for that is some worldly harm that has befallen him. Rather he must be patient and seek the help of Allah (swt). We ask Allah (swt) to grant us relief from the distress that we are suffering and to take our lives while being Muslims.

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