Let’s say you’re in bed and you realize you’re not feeling too well… you snooze in and out of sleep, go in and out of dreams, get flashes of past memories or wonder around in future hopes… Then you want to move your arm and you realize you can’t! How can it be? You literally can’t move your arm! “Am I paralyzed?” you begin to think in horror… You want to scream out for help, but you can’t!?
Then suddenly your daughter throws herself on you and starts weeping in anguish, “Mum! Mum! Please don’t leave us…. Please don’t die!”
You try to yell out “I’m not dead!!!” but not a sound comes out! You can’t even move your lips!
At this point others begin to crowd around you, they’re all crying and mourning in grief…
Suddenly you feel a sense of freedom to move so you get up and start walking around the room, you walk up to your friends and family and tell them “Look I’m here, I’m not dead, stop crying!” but nobody can hear or see you…
You daughter is a mess… her weeping gives you pain, you want to comfort her, you want to tell her you’re ok but there’s no way of making contact! You can’t touch, you can’t talk, you can’t move an object…
They sit around you and start praying, and sharing their past memories of you…
Then after all the hustle is over, they wash you and wrap you in a shroud and place you in a coffin!
Meanwhile you’re aware of all of this, you’re watching and observing it all…
They take you to the cemetery and you see the grave that has been dug for you…
Slowly they place you inside… and they start burying you while you’re alive! You’re fully awake and conscious just as you are right now, while they are burying you! They start throwing soil on you, you know you’re going to be prisoned under, buried alive, but you can’t do anything to stop it!
An indescribable horrific pain and suffering begins…
Remember the hadith:
“People are asleep, with death, they will awaken!”
Hadhrat Osman (ra) would sit by a grave and cry until his beard would be soaking wet. When they asked him, “You don’t cry when you hear about heaven and hell but you cry here before a grave?”
He replied, I heard from the Rasul of Allah (saw):
“The grave is the first station of the life after death. If one can pass this station the rest will be easier. But if he can’t, the rest will be even more difficult. The grave is far more horrid than any horrific scene I have ever seen!”(Tirmidhi)
The person’s bodily functions stop functioning, his brain stops operating, and his lifeless body is buried. Then….
Ibn Omar (ra) narrates:
“When the deceased person’s worldly ties are cut off he is shown his future place, depending on whether he is a person of hell or heaven. Then he is told, “This is your place until Allah raises you again on Doomsday for Mahshar (the place of gathering).”
So, what does this mean? Let’s examine this place of sitting and waiting in the grave a little further…
Abu Hurairah (ra) narrates:
The Rasul of Allah (saw) said:
“When one of you is buried, two angels, black and blue, come to him. One of them is called Munkar, and the other Nakir. They ask: ‘What did you used to say about this man?’ So, he says what he was saying (before death) ‘He is Allah's servant and Rasul. I witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His servant and His Rasul.’ So, they say: ‘We knew that you would say this.’ Then his grave is expanded by seventy cubits, and it is illuminated for him. Then it is said to him: ‘Sleep.’ He asks: ‘Can I return to my family to inform them?’ They say: ‘Sleep as a newlywed, whom none awakens but the dearest of his family.’ And he sleeps until Allah resurrects him from his resting place.
If he is a hypocrite he says: ‘I heard people calling him a Rasul, so I said the same; I do not know for sure’ And they say: ‘We knew you would say that.’ So, the earth is told: ‘Constrict him.’ And it constricts around him, squeezing his ribs together. He continues being punished like that until Allah resurrects him from his resting place.” (Tirmidhi)
This is the inevitable end of those who assume that they are their body! Just like you dream of things that you busy yourself most with during the day and you can’t escape it in your dream… just like you can’t change or stop a nightmare… in the same way the natural outcome and consequence of living a life based on identifying with one’s body will be suffering in the grave. Everyone will see the direct outcomes of his actions in the world when he’s in the realm of the grave.
If one hasn’t consciously prepared himself for the life of the grave where his ties to his body will be ceased, then this will be his inescapable end.
How about if the deceased isn’t buried but cremated instead?
The result of this is worse. In the grave you will suffer maybe fifty years, maybe a hundred or two hundred years, at some point your body will eventually totally decompose, but with cremation you’re watching your body burn while you’re fully alive and conscious! Can you imagine the pain this will cause!? Imagine you saw this in your dream? What a nightmare! And it’s a constant state of suffering, over and over again, perhaps until Doomsday.
What about if the deceased is thrown into water?
Imagine seeing yourself drowning in your dream!