In the Name of Almighty Allah
Most Gracious, Most Merciful
“Before them is a Partition (Barzakh) till the Day they are raised up.”
[Surah Al-Mu’minun verse 100].
Barzakh: A Partition, a bar or barrier; the place or state in which people will be after death and before Judgement as mentioned in: [Surah Al-Furqan verse 53 Surah] and Surah Al-Rahman verse 20].
“Behind them is a Barrier of death, and in front of them is the Barzakh, a Partition, a quiescent state until the Judgement comes.”
There can be no doubt whatsoever that after we die the spirit is transferred to the vast expanse of the non-material world. Just as the spirit appears in our body and material form after it has been fashioned to completion, the spirit retains its attachment to the body as long as the body retains the capacity for a harmonious relation with the spirit. Once this capacity vanishes as a result of external factors so that the union of spirit and body is sundered, the spirit separates from the body and pursues its existence under a different order and set of conditions.
What I mean by this order is the doorway to the intermediate realm, [the Qabir] which is the first stage reached by us after our migration from this Dunya. The Qabr is where we pause in the course of our journey to our meeting with Almighty Allah Azza Wajjal. We have now entered a realm with its own specific characteristics and we remain there until the coming of Resurrection. A further change then brings about the transformation of the intermediate realm, and we enter the plain of Resurrection: the next stage of our journey toward Allah Ta’ala
The intermediate realm that separates the temporary and evanescent life of this Dunya from the eternal life of the Akhirah is called Barzakh in Arabic. Life in the Barzakh is characterized by the liberation of the spirit from the fetters of the material body and is no longer harassed by passion and instinct. In just the same way that there is no question of time and space in the world of dreams, in the intermediate realm [Barzakh] too, we can observe and examine everything in a single instant. Almighty Allah tells us in verse 100 of Surah Al-Muminun:
“The intermediate realm extends from now until the time of resurrection.”
In the same connection, the Most Holy Qur’an describes the state of the Mujahids [martyrs] after their death in verse 169 of Surah Al-Imran:
“Do not imagine those who have been killed in Allah’s Path to be dead; rather they are alive and receive sustenance in the presence of their Lord.”
This verse refers, of course, to the willingness to defend the sanctity of Allah’s Din to the virtue of heroically resisting the enemies of Allah to the point of attaining martyrdom. This is the highest point a Mu’min can reach in life: the desire to sacrifice himself or herself for the Pleasure of Allah and thereby to join the caravan of martyrs. Such a protector of the true faith must necessarily begin by purifying him or her and avoiding all kinds of pollution by sin and disobedience to Almighty Allah.
It is only then that he or she may properly return his or her soul – the loftiest trust that he or she has been given to Allah, its true owner, while fighting for the protection of His Din. He or she will then receive the reward of everlasting life in the company of Allah’s chosen elite. The Glorious Qur’an also draws attention to the punishment being suffered in Barzakh by those unbelievers bound for Jahannum in verse 49 of Surah
“Hellfire has already encompassed the unbelievers.”
After death, the spirits of the virtuous will rejoice in liberation from the constricting cage of this Doonya. They will delight in their ability to roam freely through the infinite. The spirits of the virtuous know no limitation of space or time as they continue their upward ascent. Each and every one in accordance with its rank advances joyfully to its specific station and degree, everywhere it enjoys unhindered accesses.
The eyes of the blessed witness pure and uncontaminated sources of eternal beauty in comparison with which the beauties of this Dunya are slight and inconsequential. The spirit is no longer subject to the limits imposed on it by a weary, heavy body; it is not accompanied by the broken and suffering countenance of old age. Nothing except for beauty, luminosity, love, familiarity and affection, pure and sincere friendship with the servants and friends of Allah exists in the Barzakh for the righteous servants of Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata’ala. The companionship of those on whom Almighty Allah Jallah Wa’ala has bestowed His Blessings in full measure is indeed a source of great pride for the virtuous. This promise has been made very clear to us in verse 69 of Surah An-Nisaa:
“Those who obey the commands of Allah and His Messenger shall be resurrected together, and enjoy the company of those upon whom Allah has bestowed His Kindness and favour in full measure – the prophets, the sincere devotees, the martyrs and the righteous. What noble and precious companions they are.”
It is said that when the Messenger of death comes to take the Ruh [spirit] of a Muh’min he or she is at first distraught but then the angel consoles him or her and says: “O servant of Almighty Allah, do not distress yourself.
I swear by the Lord Who sent Muhammad Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam that we will treat you gently with great kindness. Come now and join the chosen elite of Allah and take up the abode that has been prepared for you in paradise everlasting.” Nothing could be more desirable for the Muh’min at that moment than for the soul to take flight and receive all that it has been promised.
The spirits of the impure are meanwhile caught up in the terrible darkness and gloom of Barzakh. Overwhelmed by misery and disaster, they mourn their lives of sin. They torment themselves in their wretchedness. Still more terrible than their fate is that of the cruel, vicious and arrogant tyrants, the unbelievers and the perpetrators of evil. The torment and constant punishment for the agents of evil have been made crystal clear in verse 46 of Surah Al-Mumin where Almighty Allah tells us with words of wisdom:
“They are brought to the fire every morning and evening, and the company of Pharaoh shall be brought forth on the Day of Resurrection with the severest torment”.
They will then recall vividly the repeated warnings of the prophets and men of religion who warned them of the disasters that awaited them. They will begin to blame themselves for not following the commands of the prophets and not heeding their kindly advice, for had they done so, they would not have cast themselves into perdition. In the course of the Battle of Badr, some of the leaders of the Quraish were killed and their bodies were thrown into a pit. After the victory of the Muslim army, our Beloved Nabee Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam leaned over the edge of the pit and addressed them as
“We have attained all that Almighty Allah had promised us: are you now convinced of the truth of Allah’s promises?”
Some of the Companions then said: “O Messenger of Allah, you are talking to the dead, to bodies that have been thrown into a pit; do they hear and understand of what you told them?’ Our Nabee Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam
replied: “They hear more clearly than you do.”
The Barzakh of everyone is representative of his or her condition on the Day of Resurrection. The world of Barzakh is an intermediate world between this world and the world of Resurrection, where there is a window opening towards Jannah or Jahannum, as reported in a Hadith of our Beloved Nabee Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam where he said:
“The Qabr is either a garden from among the gardens of Janna’h or a pit from among the pits of Jahannum.”
When we are asleep we witness a world in which we do not imagine that we are asleep. This particular state is only part of the total scheme of our life, the totality being represented by our waking state. As soon as we wake up, we realize that our state while asleep represented only a part of our life, not the whole. This being the case, why should our present life not be like a period spent in relation to the Akhirah?
It is true that sleep in the intermediate realm cannot resemble exactly sleep in this world, but it is nonetheless different from what will prevail after Resurrection, namely eternal wakefulness. This is indeed one reason why people are attributed with Qiyam – “awakening” or “alertness” on the Day of Resurrection (Qiyamah). The degree of life possessed by those in the intermediate realm is, in some sense, fuller than the life of this world, which may be what is suggested by the tradition:
“People are asleep, and when they die they wake up.”
This refers to the fact that when a person goes to sleep his or her senses and perceptions are weakened and can be said to be half-alive. Upon awakening (Qiyam) the person regains a full measure of life. Likewise, the degree of life that we enjoy in this Dunya is far less than that which awaits us in the intermediate realm; when we are transferred to that realm, our degree of life is enhanced. As true Muslims, we must strive to cultivate the love for Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata’ala, in this world by placing the collar of obedience to that Sacred Essence around our necks and receive the burnish of Divine Light in our hearts.
It is said that at the time of death this inward reality will be revealed to us in its most beautiful form. Contrarily, if our hearts take on a mundane aspect and turn away from Rabbul Ala’meen, the seed of the enmity of Almighty Allah may become gradually sown in them. Then at the time of death, this enmity will reveal its intensity and divulge its terrible and strange qualities. Our Beloved Nabee Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam is reported to have said:
“The spirit of the dead will cry out to his/her family and offspring after
death: ‘O my family and offspring! Do not to be deceived and mislead by the glamour and the glitter of this Dunya as it deceived and mislead me. I accumulated wealth, making no distinction between the licit and the illicit, in the end leaving all my wealth for others to enjoy. All that remains for me now is misery. Take care to avoid what has befallen me.'”
Once we find ourselves on the threshold of death, we are compelled to sever all material attachments. With a belated realism that is forced upon, we will now understand the emptiness of everything in which we had placed our trust while we were alive on earth. We will even wish for the impossible to return back to the world to warn our relatives not to do anything that will plunge them into the same whirlpool of eternal wretchedness and damnation.
This Dunya is a market in which some people profit and others lose. The Most Holy and Glorious Qur’an summons us to engage in a profitable trade while we are living in the market of this world. Almighty Allah out of His Muhabbat for humanity tells us with words of wisdom in verses 10 and 11 of Surah As-Saff:
“O Believers! Shall I guide you to a trade that shall free you from painful torment in the Hereafter? Believe in Allah and His Messenger and struggle in Allah’s path with your wealth and your person: that will be best for you if you but know.”
This is the only chance for us to make provision for the journey, and to make ready the good deeds that we will need on our voyage. After all, do not let us lose sight of the fact that this world is a transient abode and not a permanent dwelling. People in this world are of two kinds: those who have sold themselves to the glitter and glamour of the world and have deviated from the path of truth and those who have liberated themselves by choosing the path of righteousness and salvation.
O Almighty Allah! Illuminate our hearts with the light of Your Greatness and Glory. Bless us with peace and happiness. Purge our hearts of the love for this world. Make our hearts understand the rewards of our good deeds and the results of our evil deeds while the Door of forgiveness is still open to us.
And Almighty Allah knows best.