By Zahra Anjum
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
Imagine that your college administration publicizes the annual exam paper a week before its commencement. Wouldn’t that be fantastic? Now everyone will focus on those few specific topics and even the slackest students will manage to pass with flying colours. However, you come to know that many of the students still failed. How absurd! How unfortunate is the student who knew the examination questions and still failed to pass!
Similar is the case of our exam in life. We’ve been informed that this life is created to test as to which one of us is better in deeds. Prophet Muhammad (sa) also informed us about the questions that will be asked at the end of our lives. The one who answers them correctly will live in everlasting joy and the one who doesn’t shall be doomed forever.
Who amongst us does not want a perfect, everlasting life? The smart and intelligent must start preparing right away, as the time of the exam is unknown yet it is bound to come. The answers aren’t difficult either; they just need to be ‘copied’ from the Quran and Sunnah into our lives.
Below are the nine questions that each one of us will have to answer:
A Viva Voce in the Grave
The first destination after we depart this world is the grave. Whenever Uthman bin Affan (ra) stopped at a grave, he started crying until his beard got soaked with tears. It was said to him: “The Paradise and the Fire were mentioned and you did not cry; yet you cry because of this?” He replied: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Indeed the grave is the first stage among the stages of the Hereafter. If one is saved from it, then what comes after it is easier than it. And if one is not saved from it, then what comes after it is worse than it.’” (Tirmidhi; reliable but odd)
According to a hadith, when the relatives of the deceased turn to go back (after burial), the decreased in the grave can hear their footsteps. Then two angels Munkar and Nakeer come and ask the following questions:
- Who is your Rabb (Lord)?
- Who is your Messenger (sa)?
- What is your religion (Deen or way of life)?
Prophet Muhammad (sa) said about the believer: “Two angels will come to him, make him sit up, and ask him: Who is your Lord? He will reply: My Lord is Allah. They will ask him: What is your religion? He will reply: My religion is Islam. They will ask him: What is your opinion about the man who was sent on a mission among you? He will reply: He is the Messenger of Allah (sa). They will ask: Who made you aware of this? He will reply: I read Allah’s Book, believed in it, and considered it to be true.” He also mentioned the death of the infidel, saying: “His spirit will be restored to his body. Two angels will come to him, make him sit up, and ask him: Who is your Lord? He will reply: Alas, alas! I do not know. They will ask him: What is your religion? He will reply: Alas, alas! I do not know. They will ask: Who was the man who was sent on a mission among you? He will reply: Alas, alas! I do not know. Then a crier will call from Heaven: He has lied, so spread a bed for him from Hell, clothe him from Hell, and open for him a door into Hell. Then some of its heat and pestilential wind will come to him, and his grave will be compressed, so that his ribs will be crushed together.” (Abu Dawud; sound)
How to Prepare?
The answer lies in the hadith: reading the Quran and applying it in our lives. These answers cannot be rote-learned; rather they will come from the heart based on the practices of a person. For an individual whose life revolves around the love and obedience of Allah and His Messenger (sa) and who lives it according to Islam shall have no difficulty in pronouncing the correct answers. Allah will make it easy for him or her. On the contrary, someone who doesn’t know what the Quran says and who doesn’t give importance to the teachings of the Prophet (sa) won’t be able to answer, just based on his ‘knowledge’.
The First Question on the Day of Judgement
Prophet Muhammad (sa) told us: “The first thing for which a person will be brought to account will be his Salah. If it is complete (all well and good); otherwise Allah will say: ‘Look and see if My slave did any voluntary prayer.’ If he is found to have done voluntary prayers, his obligatory prayers will be completed therewith.” (Nasai; sound)
It is recorded in another narration: “The first matter that the slave will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgement is prayer. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad.” (Tabarani; authenticated by Albani)
How to Prepare?
Grab a pen and paper and start planning on how you can make your Salah better in the upcoming days and weeks. First list your weaknesses, for instance, Fajr, praying late, praying too fast, and so on. Then, one by one, focus on beautifying your Salah by eliminating these factors. Also add some voluntary prayers in your schedule so that any faults in the obligatory Salah can be made up with them. You may also read some books on how to make your Salah better.
Five Questions of the Judgement Day
Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “The son of Adam will not be dismissed from before his Lord on the Day of Resurrection until he has been questioned about five things: his life and how he spent it; his youth and how he used it; his wealth and how he earned it and how he spent it; how he acted upon the knowledge he had acquired.” (Tirmidhi; classed as reliable by Albani)
How to Prepare?
Prepare for these questions in three steps:
- In the light of the Quran and Sunnah, acquire knowledge about how Allah (swt) wants you to spend your youth and life, how does He want you to earn and spend your wealth and what knowledge does He want you to gain and act upon?
- Based on this knowledge, examine your life thoroughly, and enlist and plan all the areas that need improvement or correction.
- Turn your aspiration into actions, and start over a new life that revolves around the pleasure of Allah.
May Allah grant us an easy reckoning. Ameen
Zahra Anjum is a freelance writer, editor and translator based in Islamabad, Pakistan.
© IIPH 2015