Assalamu alaykum!

When the posters came up for this program, I was very glad because as much as I had tried,
I was unable to attend when it was held last year. It was food for thought for me that a year
had flown quickly by. As I tried to reflect on what I had achieved in that one year, I also felt
thankful for the grace of Allah that made me witness another year on earth. We can only pray
to Allah to grant us many more years on earth; in good health and sound mind; on this
beautiful path of righteousness, Ameen.

In the past, any mention of death or dying and all that it entails filled me with trepidation.
Alhamdulillaah, with increase in age and the pursuit of knowledge, I have come to accept that
death is inevitable for everyone. It would do us all a world of good to be prepared because
we do not know when it would be our turn to embark on that journey.

The lecture was presented by Sister Mariam Ardati. In her introduction, Sister Mariam who
has been a volunteer in the Death care Centre for 14years and is now a certified Death Doula
said she realized that there is a gap in the Muslim community when someone dies.

Despite the fact that many verses of the Quran and ahadeeth enjoin us to think often about
death, we are caught up in this Dun’ya sometimes thinking we will live forever. Every one of
us will die one day and we should think about this. In her words, “that one thing that is
guaranteed-death- is the one we do not budget for.”

Sister Mariam asked us the following questions:

  • How many of us have a Will?
  • How many of us have kids?
  • How many of us have arranged care for those kids in the event of our deaths?
  • How many of us have made plans or saved for our burials?

The silence that met her questions pertaining to death spoke volumes! As the implication
of her questions sank into my heart, Sister Mariam informed us that she hoped we walk away
from the lecture knowing the following:

  • What happens when someone dies?
  • The full rights for the deceased Muslim.
  • Washing and shrouding the dead.
  • Since any death that occurs under suspicious circumstances means that an autopsy
    will be carried out, what is our role?

She took us through the etiquettes of grieving:

Allah (SWT) reminds us that this world is temporary because our souls came into existence
before we were born and will continue to exist after we die. Death is not the end. As Muslims,
we maintain hope that we will be united with our loved ones after death. This should give us
a sense of purpose and comfort us.

Allah says in the Quran that this world is an illusion.

“Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the
Day of Resurrection. So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise
has attained [his desire]. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of
delusion.”

-Soorah Al-Imran (3):185

“Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and
boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children – like the
example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and
you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris. And in the Hereafter is
severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly
life except the enjoyment of delusion.”

-Soorah Hadid (57):20

One of the ways we lose time is through our mobile devices. Statistics show that in one hour,
we check our mobile phones about 70times!

To drive home the point on how we spend our time, Sister Mariam gave us an analogy.
According to hadeeth, the Ummah live to 60 to 70 years. As Muslim women, putting figures
to our time, assuming we spend our time in totality as follows:

  • 10years sleeping
  • 10years eating
  • 10years running around
  • 10years in full or partial ignorance to the Deen of Allah (Jahiliyyah)
  • 10years raising our children and taking care of the home
  • 20years being sick and frail

Thus, we have about 10years where we fulfil our obligations to Allah. We all know that this
last 10years is hardly feasible!

Our souls were created in the world of souls. After death, we will spend 50,000years in the
Barzakh before the Day of Judgement and the akhirah. Subhaanallaah, that is one amazing
piece of news to me! According to Sister Mariam, one of the biggest regrets of the dying is
that they need more time. We only understand the value of time when we are losing it. Thus,
they have regrets on how they spent their time but can do nothing about it.

Having learnt a lot of lessons from her time spent with the dying, Sister Mariam advised us
to rectify our affairs when we can still do something about it. She encouraged us among other
things to give sadaqah, volunteer for good deeds and visit the sick and dying. This will remind
us of our final destination.

She shared the following reminders with us:

“O you who believe! Let not your properties or your children divert you from the
remembrance of Allah. And whosoever does that, then they are the losers.”

-Soorah Al- Munafiqun (63):9

“O you who believe! What is the matter with you, that when you are asked to march
forth in the Cause of Allah (i.e. Jihad) you cling heavily to the earth? Are you pleased
with the life of this world rather than the Hereafter? But little is the enjoyment of the
life of this world as compared with the Hereafter.”

-Soorah At-Tawbah (9):38

“Allah increases the provision for whom He wills, and straitens (it for whom He wills),
and they rejoice in the life of the world, whereas the life of this world as compared with
the Hereafter is but a brief passing enjoyment.”

-Soorah Ar-Ra’d (13):26

She reminded us that this life is a test for the believers. Even though we live in our temporary
bodies, we yearn for eternal beauty. This exists only in the akhirah.

For emphasis, she mentioned the below hadeeth:

Narrated ‘Uqba bin ‘Amir: One day the Prophet went out and offered the funeral
prayers of the martyrs of Uhud and then went up the pulpit and said, “I will pave the
way for you as your predecessor and will be a witness on you. By Allah! I see my Fount
(Kauthar) just now and I have been given the keys of all the treasures of the earth (or
the keys of the earth). By Allah! I am not afraid that you will worship others along with
Allah after my death, but I am afraid that you will fight with one another for the worldly
things.”

– Bukhari – Volume 2, book 23, number 428

While speaking on the importance of preparing a Will, she told us that part of putting
together one’s Will is to make plans for:

  • The cost of Janazah.
  • Debts we owe so that we do not have to pay them back in the akhirah.

Even though we are not guaranteed to witness the Eid despite how much anticipation and
preparation we put into it, we are guaranteed of death! As Muslims, we are blessed to know
what happens to our souls and bodies after we die. This should serve as a naseehah for us.
Instead, we get self-possessed and think of what next we want to acquire. We are obsessed
with our looks and transgress.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER DEATH?

Within minutes of the soul leaving the body, decomposition starts. Bloating occurs within a
week and the insides explode after 2 weeks. Should we still be excessively concerned about
how we look?

In the past, most people died at home. This served as a better reminder for people. These
days, we have death anxiety because we rarely witness death anymore.

The active dying process is:

  1. The person may be on sedatives especially if the person has a terminal ailment and
    so they are often drowsy or in a stupor, struggling to breathe.
  2. They stop accepting food or water.
  3. They become immobile- cannot move.
  4. Heavy breathing
  5. The hearing is the last thing that goes.

ETIQUETTES OF BEING IN THE PRESENCE OF ONE WHO IS DYING.

  1. As a result of Point 5 above, we should be mindful of what we say to or about them.
  2. Keep the place quiet.
  3. Understand when they don’t want visitors.
  4. If you are their carer, you are responsible for making them comfortable and as happy
    as possible.
  5. Do not leave them alone. This is to keep shaytan away and importantly because they
    could wake up at the last minute to make last requests.
  6. Recognise what makes them comfortable. Ask family and carers what they want.
  7. Encourage them to recite the shahadah but do not force them. Say and make du’a for
    them and encourage them to say aameen. They may sometimes say it without moving
    their lips. We are not held accountable if we do not recite the shahadah to them. If the
    person says it however, we should try not to talk to them again so it can be the last
    thing that comes out from their mouth.
  8. The dying commonly request to have water. The dying sweat- this is a good sign. They
    feel like they are lying on a bed of nails. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also requested
    water on his death bed. He (PBUH) put his hand in a cup of water and wiped it over
    his face and said “O Allah, help me over the hardship of death.”
  9. Leave judgements aside. No matter how long the sakarat takes, don’t assume it
    reflects punishment.

WHEN A PERSON DIES:

  1. Lie them flat and straighten the limbs. Stiffening of the limbs happens faster in winter
    than in summer.
  2. A lady should be accorded the same honour as when she is alive. She should be
    covered as she covered herself when she was alive. Place a sheet over the body from
    head to toe. Never take photos of the dead. We should respect the awrah of the dead.
  3. We should ensure that as much as possible, someone of the same gender comes in to
    take off all the deceased’s jewelry.
  4. Inform the family immediately if you are not a member of the family or the next of kin
    so that burial can be arranged.
  5. In the case of unexpected death:In cases of suicide, accidents, drowning, death in sleep
    and so on, the standard procedure in New South Wales is that the Police is involved
    and an autopsy is carried out. We were advised to encourage ourselves and others to
    have well documented and updated medical history statements. This would help to
    provide a clearer insight into the deceased’s health situation and assist to avoid an
    autopsy. The body in this case is taken to the Coroner and the family has the
    opportunity to inform the police that they are Muslim and do not want an autopsy.
    It is understandable that this can be very challenging with grief, but it must be done
    as respectfully and peacefully as possible. Alhamdulillaah, Sister Mariam has however
    developed a template and works with ANIC to assist families with this request which
    can only be made by the next-of-kin. While we do not object to finding the cause of
    death, we request that the least invasive method be used to do so. According to the
    Sharia, every organ taken out should be buried with the dead. If the request is not
    granted, we are not accountable for this.

 6. Ritual washing:

  • Cover one side of the body and cut through the clothing then cover the other side and
    cut through the clothing then place the towel on the top and pull the clothing out while
    the body is covered. It is important to note that the sharia overrides any death wishes
    made by the deceased that are not in line with Islam. There is a link between the body
    and the soul. The soul returns to the body in the grave.
  • Leave the dun’ya at the door. Focus solely on the dead. We cover the nakedness of the
    dead and perform ghusl from major ritual impurity for the deceased. We make
    intention and say ‘Bismillaah’. All through, we make du’a for the dead.
  • First, we clean the private part. Part the legs and pour water profusely through the
    towel at the private part using a cloth and cleaning with your left hand. If there is
    some emission coming through, massage the area gently. Wash an odd number of
    times starting with 3 times and in increments of 2times if there is the need or until
    there is no more emission. The gloves used for this are discarded and replaced with a
    clean pair.
  • Wash the hair completely.
  • Perform wudoo ensuring that no area is skipped. If there is nail polish, we remove
    this. We do not however put water in the mouth or nose. Wipe the face and wash the
    arms 3 times. Wipe the head all the way to the back and also wash the back of the
    ears.
  • Fill a bucket with soapy lukewarm water and wash from the head all the way down
    the front starting from the right side and then the left. Turn the body on the side and
    wash the back starting from the right side and then the left.
  • Repeat the washing with lukewarm clean water starting again from the right to the
    left, the front and then the back.
  • Then crush camphor into a bucket of lukewarm water and repeat the washing.
  • What is most important is to ensure that wudoo is performed and the body is washed
    from top to bottom. There could sometimes be a variation in the order of the steps.
  • Shrouding: In New South Wales, the law requires the shroud to be a minimum of 5
    layers. For the female, the shroud consists of the hijab, chemise all the way to the shin,
    izaar (wraps around the private part) and 3 outer layers.
    Long hair should be separated into 3 parts and plaited. First, the chemise is worn and
    the towel is slid out. Then put the hijab on. Put the izaar on by placing one part
    between the legs and the other around the waist. Then wrap the outer layers- tie at
    the top of the head, at the middle of the body and at the feet. We do not knot the ropes
    to allow for loosening at the grave. The arms are placed and tied at the side.
    When the body is placed in the grave, slabs of concrete or wood are placed over the
    body before soil is added. There is however a gap between the body and the slabs.

DEEDS THAT BENEFIT THE DEAD

  • Sadaqah Jariyyah like sponsoring an orphan or building a deep or shallow well.
  • Building a place of knowledge or beneficial knowledge.
  • Raising children who are righteous who pray for you.

PARAMETERS FOR GRIEVING

We can cry and grieve for the dead. We can grieve for more than 3days but we should not let
our tongues say wrong things. People grieve differently. There are emotive grievers who
show an outpouring of grief and instrumental grievers who want to get rid of all traces of the
lost one. We should tread carefully around the grieving ones. We should allow people to cry
or grieve without being judgmental or putting pressure on them. We should be careful of
what we say to a grieving person. Sometimes, saying nothing is better. If you do not know
what to say, then say nothing.

To round up this powerful and thought-provoking lecture, Sister Mariam provided
information on the Funeral services available to Muslims and the numbers to call if someone
passes away. They are as follows:

  • LMA (Lebanese Muslim Association), Lakemba- 0411522739
  • AMJCS (Australian Muslim Janazah Service), Mount Druitt- 0452629244
  • Turkish Funerals, Regents Park- 0422423546

My humble submission about this lecture is that it is a timely and important reminder for us
all of our mortality. Death is indeed certain for us all and should serve as a constant naseehah
for us. The seasons come and go, times and trends change, showing us that this life is indeed
ephemeral. SubhanaLLah, here today, gone tomorrow! How prepared are we for that final
certain journey?

I left Sister Mariam’s lecture more thoughtful than I arrived. It was an opportunity for me to
face some hard facts which; though staring me right in the face; I had tried to avoid for a long
time. I made up my mind to tidy up my affairs as much as possible in preparation for that
final inevitable journey.

May Allah forgive all Muslims who have passed away, may HE (SWT) make it easy for us to
number and make the best use of our days. May HE grant us good deaths and make us all
inhabitants of Jannah.

For the grieving, may Allah comfort them, ease their pains and grant them succour.

AMEEN.