This world is a temporary station on our ultimate journey towards Allah: the hereafter is our true end goal.
In the Qur’ān, Allah (subḥānahū wa taʿālā) describes to us in vivid details the moment of death, the terrors of the Day of Judgement, the horrors of Jahannam and the eternal bliss of Jannah. In a world where mention of death or the hereafter is labelled as ‘morbid’ and deemed unnecessary, every other page in the Qur’ān reminds us of our ultimate end. Reciting these verses and reflecting on the descriptions of the hereafter mentioned by our beloved Prophet ﷺ should increase our īmān in the hereafter, and remind us to not get distracted by the mirage of the world.
The Throes of Death
At your appointed time, the Angel of Death will come to you. He will extract your soul from your body: at this point, there will be no going back, no chance to repent, no opportunity to make amends with your Creator. As your body is being prepared for its burial, your soul will ascend upwards on its own unique journey, depending on how you lived your life.
As you hear the footsteps of your loved ones walking away from your grave, you will be approached by two terrifying angels, Munkar and Nakīr, who will begin their interrogation. If you answer correctly, the grave will become a peaceful garden of Paradise. But if you don’t know the answer, the grave will become a pit from the Hellfire; dark, narrow and suffocating.
The only thing that will come to rescue you at this time will be your good deeds.
Your ṣalāh will be positioned by your head, fasting on your right, zakāh on your left, and your other good deeds (including charity, tying kinship, kindness to people) by your feet. Punishment will approach you from each of these directions, but each of your deeds will block the punishment, and intercede on your behalf by saying, “You have no means of access here.”
The Trumpet is Blown
It will be a Friday. The deafening sound of Isrāfīl (ʿalayhis-salām) blowing the Trumpet will fill the air, and the entire earth will shake violently and be reduced to rubble. The mountains will be crushed into dust and will become like fluffed up wool. The oceans will burst forth and overflow. The sky will be shaken violently and it will tear open. The sun will be folded up, the stars will fall down; and they will all lose their light. The world will come to an end. Everyone and everything will be destroyed. It will be a terrifying day.
The trumpet will be blown again. The earth will crack open and everyone will be brought back to life: they will be resurrected from their graves and will be gathered on a vast, empty land.
The Day of Judgement
You will be naked and barefooted. The sun will be right above you, blazing. Its heat will be unbearable, causing everyone to sweat profusely, with some fully drowning in their sweat. However, the special believers will be shaded under the shade of Allah’s Throne.
The Day will feel never-ending and gruelling: the worldly life will feel like a fleeting moment in comparison to this Day. It will be equivalent to 50,000 years.
The angels will be lined up in straight rows. You will be gathered with everyone in one plain: animals, humans, believers, disbelievers, from the beginning of the creation to its end.
Imagine the sheer number of people all gathered together in one space!
Your regrets will consume you: everything will be revealed and everyone will be humbled. The sinners will stare in horror, the hearts of the tyrants will leap into their throats, and the oppressors will be terrified. “Allah will hold the whole earth, and roll up the heavens in His Right Hand. Then He will say, ‘I am the King! Where are the kings of the earth?’” (Bukhārī). On that Day, all authority will solely belong to Allah — The One, The All-Dominant.
You will run away from your brother, spouse, parents, children and they will run away from you too. The sinner will wish that he could ransom himself with his own children, spouse and family to be spared from punishment. People will disown each other. As for the righteous believers, the angels will meet them and calm their souls.
Even the noble Messengers will be gripped with fear, and the mighty angels will tremble. The people will search desperately for someone to intercede for them. They will go to each Prophet asking them to plead to Allah to at least start the Judgement. Each Prophet will refuse, except for our beloved Prophet ﷺ who will prostrate and beg Allah to relieve the people’s suffering. His plea will be accepted. This honour is known as the maqām maḥmūd, the praiseworthy station, a status unique to the best of mankind ﷺ. With the entire creation beholding this spectacle, the true status of Allah’s most beloved servant will be revealed to all.
The Reckoning, The Book of Deeds & The Scales of Justice
On this Day, the creation will stand in front of the Lord of the worlds and will be held accountable for all the good and evil they perpetrated in the world. Some will enter Paradise without any reckoning, some will have an easy reckoning, whilst others will have to endure a stringent reckoning.
The perfect justice of Allah will be implemented on this Day. Rights will be restored to their respective owners. You will not bear the burden of another. Nothing will be hidden from Allah. The angels, the earth and even your own body parts will testify against you. Every Messenger will be asked to testify over his nation.
You will be asked about the blessings Allah gave you in the world: how did you spend your life and your wealth? How did you use your knowledge and your body? The first thing you will be held accountable for will be your ṣalāh.
You will be given your book of deeds which contains everything you did or said in the world. Nothing will be omitted. If it is given to you in your left hand, you will wish for death and destruction, and will be eternally doomed. And if it is given to you in your right hand, you will be overcome with joy and your face will beam with radiance.
The Scales of Justice will be set up. Whoever’s scales weigh heavy with good deeds will enter Paradise. And whoever’s scales are light will be dragged on their faces into the Hell-fire: humiliated, deaf, dumb and blind.
Amidst the chaos of the Day, the believers will find solace in the Prophet ﷺ who will intercede on behalf of his Ummah. The angels, Prophets and righteous believers (e.g. martyrs) will also be granted permission to intercede.
Similarly, your good deeds will advocate on your behalf. He ﷺ said, “Fasting and the Qur’ān will intercede for the servant on the Day of Judgement. Fasting will say: My Lord, I prevented him from eating and his desires during the day, so accept my intercession on his behalf. The Qur’ān will say: I prevented him from sleeping at night, so accept my intercession on his behalf. Then, both of their intercession will be accepted” (Aḥmad).
The Day will be intense, scorching hot and very long. Thirst will intensify and people will crave for a drink of water. Allah, from His mercy, will allow the righteous believers to drink from the ḥawḍ (Pool). Each Prophet will have his own ḥawḍ from which his Ummah will drink. The Prophet ﷺ will be waiting for his Ummah at his special ḥawḍ: its water will be whiter than milk, sweeter than honey and its scent will be more fragrant than musk. Its drinking vessels and jugs will be of gold and silver and will be as numerous as the stars in the sky. It will be huge. If you drink from it, you will never feel thirsty again.
The Final Hurdle
The ṣirāṭ is a bridge that extends over Hell-fire. It is thinner than a hair and sharper than a sword. Everyone will have to pass it. You will be given light (nūr) according to your good deeds: the more intense your light, the quicker you will cross over the ṣirāṭ. Some believers will pass over it within the twinkling of an eye, some like the speed of lightning. Others will struggle and have to crawl; each one according to their deeds.
Many, however, will not make it through. The huge spikes and hooks of the ṣirāt will snatch people, and they will tumble headlong into the Hell-fire. The Prophet ﷺ will be standing on the ṣirāṭ saying, ‘O Allah grant safety! O Allah grant safety!’ Imagine the sheer terror of being on this thin bridge: you can see Hell-fire with its blazing flames right under you; you can hear it roaring and raging, and you can see people ahead of you falling right in.
Once you have crossed the ṣirāt, you will have to pass another final bridge known as the qanṭarah. Here, you will settle your issues with other believers, as Paradise can only be entered with a clean heart. Once you are cleansed, you will be ready to step into your eternal home of Paradise.
May Allah al-Ḥakam (The Judge) admit us into Paradise without any reckoning, grant us the intercession of our beloved Prophet ﷺ, and protect us from the humiliation and agonies of the Day of Judgement.