|قُلْ يَتَوَفَّاكُم مَّلَكُ الْمَوْتِ الَّذِي وُكِّلَ بِكُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكُمْ تُرْجَعُونَ
Say, ‘The Angel of Death put in charge of you will reclaim you, and then you will be brought back to your Lord.’
|اللَّـهُ يَتَوَفَّى الْأَنفُسَ حِينَ مَوْتِهَا وَالَّتِي لَمْ تَمُتْ فِي مَنَامِهَا ۖ فَيُمْسِكُ الَّتِي قَضَىٰ عَلَيْهَا الْمَوْتَ وَيُرْسِلُ الْأُخْرَىٰ إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
Allāh takes the souls at the time of death and the souls of the living while they sleep. He keeps hold of those whose death He has ordained and sends the others back until their appointed time: there are truly signs in this for those who reflect.
Allāh mentions a general description of the states of the souls as they are taken in numerous verses of the Qurʾān,
|قَالَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ إِنَّ الْخِزْيَ الْيَوْمَ وَالسُّوءَ عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ ﴿٢٧﴾ الَّذِينَ تَتَوَفَّاهُمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ ظَالِمِي أَنفُسِهِمْ ۖ فَأَلْقَوُا السَّلَمَ مَا كُنَّا نَعْمَلُ مِن سُوءٍ ۚ بَلَىٰ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عَلِيمٌ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ
|Those given knowledge will say, ‘Shame and misery on the disbelievers today!’ Those whose lives the angels take while they are wronging themselves will [falsely] show submission: ‘We were doing no evil!’ ‘Yes you were, Allāh knows full well what you have done.’
|وَلَوْ تَرَىٰ إِذِ الظَّالِمُونَ فِي غَمَرَاتِ الْمَوْتِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ بَاسِطُو أَيْدِيهِمْ أَخْرِجُوا أَنفُسَكُمُ ۖ الْيَوْمَ تُجْزَوْنَ عَذَابَ الْهُونِ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّـهِ غَيْرَ الْحَقِّ وَكُنتُمْ عَنْ آيَاتِهِ تَسْتَكْبِرُونَ
|If you could only see the wicked in their death agonies, as the angels stretch out their hands to them saying: Let out your souls, today you will be repaid with a humiliating punishment for saying false things about Allāh and for arrogantly rejecting His signs.
|وَلَوْ تَرَىٰ إِذْ يَتَوَفَّى الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا ۙ الْمَلَائِكَةُ يَضْرِبُونَ وُجُوهَهُمْ وَأَدْبَارَهُمْ وَذُوقُوا عَذَابَ الْحَرِيقِ
|If only you could see when the angels take the souls of the disbelievers, how they strike their faces and their backs: it will be said, ‘Taste the punishment of the Fire…’
With some of the scholars having the view that this āyah specifically talked about the disbelievers who died at Badr. Ibn Kathīr said, ‘This āyah was revealed with regards the people of Badr, but it is general to all disbelievers which is why Allāh did not explicitly mention Badr in the verse.’
|الَّذِينَ تَتَوَفَّاهُمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ طَيِّبِينَ ۙ يَقُولُونَ سَلَامٌ عَلَيْكُمُ ادْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ
|Those whose lives the angels take in a state of goodness. They will say, ‘Peace be upon you. Enter Paradise as a reward for what you have done.’
|إِنَّ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّـهُ ثُمَّ اسْتَقَامُوا تَتَنَزَّلُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ أَلَّا تَخَافُوا وَلَا تَحْزَنُوا وَأَبْشِرُوا بِالْجَنَّةِ الَّتِي كُنتُمْ تُوعَدُونَ ﴿٣٠﴾ نَحْنُ أَوْلِيَاؤُكُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ ۖ وَلَكُمْ فِيهَا مَا تَشْتَهِي أَنفُسُكُمْ وَلَكُمْ فِيهَا مَا تَدَّعُونَ ﴿٣١﴾ نُزُلًا مِّنْ غَفُورٍ رَّحِيمٍ
|For those who say. ‘Our Lord is Allāh,’ and then take the straight path towards Him, the angels come down to them and say, ‘Have no fear or grief, but rejoice in the good news of Paradise which you have been promised. We are your allies in this world and the world to come, where you will have everything you desire and ask for as a welcoming gift from the Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.’
Allāh’s Messenger ﷺ furnished us with more detail concerning what happens to the soul at the time of death:
When the believing servant is at the point of leaving this world and is about to enter the next, angels of mercy descend from the heaven, their faces white and radiant like the sun. With two of them is a shroud from the fabric of Paradise made of the softest, finest white silk, and perfume from the fragrance of Paradise. These two angels keep their distance, and the others sit around him stretching back as far as the eye can see. Then the Angel of Death arrives, having the best of forms and most fragrant of scents, and sits by his head saying, ‘O pure soul, at peace and rest depart to Allāh’s forgiveness and good pleasure.’ The angels will also say words of encouragement, ‘O pure soul which was in a pure body, leave the body in a praiseworthy state pleased and well-pleasing, and have glad tidings of Allāh’s rest and ease. Go to a Lord who is not angry.’ They will repeat this until the soul leaves the body, and on hearing these words, the soul will leave, exiting the body as easily as water drops fall from the spout of a water skin, or sweat leaves the body. The eyes follow the soul as it leaves and the Angel of Death will receive it.
No sooner does he take it, within the blink of an eye, the two angels rush forward and take it from his hand, place it in the shroud and perfume it, and all the angels pass it amongst themselves, taking in the ethereal scent. This is what Allāh says,
|حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ تَوَفَّتْهُ رُسُلُنَا وَهُمْ لَا يُفَرِّطُونَ
|…until, when death overtakes any of you, those sent by Us take his soul, and they never fail in their duty.
When the soul has left the body, all the angels between the heavens and the earth, and all the angels in the heaven send ṣalāh on him. They say, ‘A pure soul has come from the earth, may Allāh send his ṣalāh upon you and upon the body in which you lived.’ The gates of the heavens open for him and the guardians of every gate implore Allāh that his soul ascends in their direction.
From the soul emanates the most exquisite scent of musk that ever existed on earth and two angels ascend with it. As they pass by gatherings of angels, they are asked, ‘What is this good soul?’ They reply, ‘He is so-and-so, the son of so-and-so,’ using the best names with which he had been addressed in this life. They say, ‘Welcome to this pure soul that used to be in a pure body.’ When they reach the lowest heaven, they request admission and the gates open for them and the angels there exclaim, ‘What a beautiful scent you have brought from the earth!’ The most select angels of each heaven will escort him to the next one until he reaches the seventh heaven, finally standing before Allāh by the Throne, and all the while the angels will keep supplicating for him. Allāh then says,
|“Write my servants record in illiyyūn,”
|وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا عِلِّيُّونَ ﴿١٩﴾ كِتَابٌ مَّرْقُومٌ ﴿٢٠﴾ يَشْهَدُهُ الْمُقَرَّبُونَ
|What will explain to you what ʿilliyyūn is? A clearly written record witnessed by those brought near.
His records are inscribed in ʿilliyyūn and Allāh will say to Angels Brought Close,
|“Bear witness that I have forgiven the person who has deeds such as these!”
The angels are then told, ‘Take him back to the earth because I promised them that from it I created them, into it shall I send them, and from it resurrect them once again. He is then returned to the earth and his soul returned to his body and at that point, he will hear the patter of his companion’s shoes as they walk away from his grave.
When a disbelieving servant is at the point of leaving this world and about to enter the next, angels of punishment, severe and stern, with dark faces descend to him from the heavens. With them are coarse garments of the Fire and they sit around him, stretching back as far as the eye can see. The Angel of Death arrives and sits by his head, saying, ‘Vile soul, depart to Allāh’s wrath and anger.’ The angels will say, ‘Vile soul which lived in a vile body, leave the body in a blameworthy state, displeased and with displeasure on you. Go to Allāh’s punishment! Have tidings of scalding water and foul pus, and other such punishments! ’ They will keep repeating this until it leaves the body but on hearing this, terrified, the soul clings to the body, refusing to leave. The Angel of Death will extract it by force, like a skewer is pulled from wet wool causing the veins and nerves to burst. It will come out from the side of his mouth (filthy and noisy) like a donkey does when its soul departs.
No sooner does he take it, within the blink of an eye, the other angels take it from his hand and put it in that course fabric, and from it emanates the most repugnant odour of a decaying corpse that ever existed on the earth.
Every angel between the heavens and the earth, and every angel in the heavens, curses him. They said, ‘A vile soul has come from the earth!’ The gates of the heaven are barred to him, and the guardians of every gate implore Allāh that this soul not ascend in their direction.
The angels then ascend with it. As they pass by gatherings of angels, they are asked, “What is this vile soul?” They respond, ‘He is so-and-so, son of so-and-so,’ using the worst names with which he was called in this life. When they reach the lowest heaven, they request admission but the gates are not opened for him, and the angels say, ‘What a vile odour! There is no welcome for a filthy soul living in a filthy body here! Return disgraced and humiliated, the door will not be opened for you!’
|لَا تُفَتَّحُ لَهُمْ أَبْوَابُ السَّمَاءِ وَلَا يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ حَتَّىٰ يَلِجَ الْجَمَلُ فِي سَمِّ الْخِيَاطِ
|The gates of heaven will not be open to them and they will not enter Paradise until a camel passes through the eye of a needle.
Allāh will then say, “Write his record in Sijjīn in the lowest earth,” and they are told, ‘Take him back to the earth because I promised them that from it I created them, into it I will send them, and from it resurrect them once again.’ His soul is then cast down from the heavens without regard and it falls back into his body,
|وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّـهِ فَكَأَنَّمَا خَرَّ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ فَتَخْطَفُهُ الطَّيْرُ أَوْ تَهْوِي بِهِ الرِّيحُ فِي مَكَانٍ سَحِيقٍ
|Whoever associates partners with Allāh is like someone who has been hurled down from the skies and snatched up by birds or flung to a distant place by the wind.
and at that point, he will hear the patter of his companion’s shoes as they walk away from his grave.
8.Nasāʾī #1833, ibn Ḥibban #3013, Bazzār #8219. ʿIrāqī, al-Mughnī #4392 said it was ṣaḥīḥ. cf. Albānī, al-Ṣaḥīḥah #1309
9.Ibn Mandah, al-Nafs wa’l-Rūḥ as quoted by ibn al-Qayyim, Kitāb al-Rūh, pg. 134 who said it was authentic. cf. Musnad al-Ruwayānī #391 from al-Barāʾa
10.Aḥmad #18534 from al-Barāʾa
11.Nasāʾī #1833, ibn Ḥibban #3013, Bazzār #8219 from Abū Hurayrah. cf. Albānī, al-Ṣaḥīḥah #1309
12.Ibn Mandah, al-Nafs wa’l-Rūḥ as quoted by ibn al-Qayyim, Kitāb al-Rūh, pg. 134
13.Ibn Mandah, al-Nafs wa’l-Rūḥ as quoted by ibn al-Qayyim, Kitāb al-Rūh, pg. 134
14.Some of the Companions stated that the first thing the Angel of Death would do is extend his salām. cf. Ibn Abī Shaybah #34767 from al-Barāʾa, al-Suyūṭī, al-Durr al-Manthūr 5:390 from ibn Masʿūd.
15.Ibn al-Mubārak, al-Zuhd #1219
16.Aḥmad #18534 from al-Barāʾa
17.Aḥmad #8769-25090 from Abū Hurayrah
18.Nasāʾī #1833, ibn Ḥibban #3013, Bazzār #8219
19.Nasāʾī #1833, ibn Ḥibban #3013, Bazzār #8219
20.Aḥmad #8769-25090 from Abū Hurayrah
21.Aḥmad #18534 from al-Barāʾa
22.Ṭabarānī, al-Kabīr from ibn Masʿūd. cf. Albānī, al-Ṣaḥīḥah #2151
23.Muslim #920 from Umm Salamah
24.Aḥmad #18534 from al-Barāʾa
25.Ibn Mandah, al-Nafs wa’l-Rūḥ as quoted by ibn al-Qayyim, Kitāb al-Rūh, pg. 134, Aḥmad #18534 from al-Barāʾa
26.Nasāʾī #1833 from Abū Hurayrah
27.Ibn Ḥibbān #3014
29.Aḥmad #18614, ʿAbdu’l-Razzāq #6737 from al-Barāʾa
30.Muslim #2872 from Abū Hurayrah
31.Aḥmad #18614 from al-Barāʾa
32.Aḥmad #18534 from al-Barāʾa
33.Muslim #2872 from Abū Hurayrah
34.Aḥmad #18534 from al-Barāʾa
35.Aḥmad #18534 from al-Barāʾa
36.Aḥmad #8769 from Abū Hurayrah
37.Aḥmad #18534 from al-Barāʾa
38.Ibn Mandah, al-Nafs wa’l-Rūḥ as quoted by ibn al-Qayyim, Kitāb al-Rūh, pg. 135
39.Aḥmad #25090 from Abū Hurayrah
41.Aḥmad #18534 from al-Barāʾa
42.Ibn Mandah, al-Nafs wa’l-Rūḥ as quoted by ibn al-Qayyim, Kitāb al-Rūh, pg. 136
43.Aḥmad #18534 from al-Barāʾa
44.Ṭa Ḥa 20:55
45.Aḥmad #18534 from al-Barāʾa
46.Muslim #2870 from Anas
47.Nasāʾī #1833, ibn Ḥibban #3013, Bazzār #8219
48.Aḥmad #18614, ʿAbdu’l-Razzāq #6737 from al-Barāʾa
49.Aḥmad #18534 from al-Barāʾa
50.Aḥmad #18534 from al-Barāʾa
51.Aḥmad #8769-25090, ibn Mājah #4262 from Abū Hurayrah
52.Nasāʾī #1833, ibn Ḥibban #3013, Bazzār #8219
53.cf. Ṣād 38:57-58
54.Aḥmad #8769-25090 from Abū Hurayrah
55.Ibn Mājah #4262 from Abū Hurayrah
56.Aḥmad #18534 from al-Barāʾa
57.Ibn al-Mubārak, al-Zuhd #1219, Aḥmad #18535
58.Ṭabarānī, al-Kabīr from ibn Masʿūd.
59.Aḥmad #18534 from al-Barāʾa
60.Aḥmad #18614 from al-Barāʾa
61.Muslim #2872 from Abū Hurayrah
62.Aḥmad #18614 from al-Barāʾa
63.Aḥmad #18534 from al-Barāʾa
64.Nasāʾī #1833, ibn Ḥibban #3013, Bazzār #8219
65.Aḥmad #8769-25090 from Abū Hurayrah
67.Aḥmad #18534 from al-Barāʾa
69.Muslim #2870 from Anas