Do the Muslim believers love death and long for it?

November 7, 2014

Al-Hayy Al-Qayum Living Sustainer

By Abu Amina Elias for FaithinAllah.org

Question:

It is claimed that Islam is a cult of death because some Muslims go to extremes in their desire for martyrdom and use the slogan, “We love death as you love life!” Is this correct?

Answer:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Islam is a religion of life that teaches righteous living and protects life as a fundamental objective of law. Death is never an objective in itself. Rather, the believers should not long for death or wish for death upon others.

The truth is that the believers love to meet Allah, not to meet death. This is made clear in the following authentic tradition:

Aisha reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

مَنْ أَحَبَّ لِقَاءَ اللَّهِ أَحَبَّ اللَّهُ لِقَاءَهُ وَمَنْ كَرِهَ لِقَاءَ اللَّهِ كَرِهَ اللَّهُ لِقَاءَهُ

Whoever loves to meet Allah, Allah loves to meet him. Whoever hates to meet Allah, Allah hates to meet him.

Aisha said, “O Prophet of Allah, all of us hate death and are averse to it.” The Prophet said:

لَيْسَ كَذَلِكِ وَلَكِنَّ الْمُؤْمِنَ إِذَا بُشِّرَ بِرَحْمَةِ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانِهِ وَجَنَّتِهِ أَحَبَّ لِقَاءَ اللَّهِ فَأَحَبَّ اللَّهُ لِقَاءَهُ وَإِنَّ الْكَافِرَ إِذَا بُشِّرَ بِعَذَابِ اللَّهِ وَسَخَطِهِ كَرِهَ لِقَاءَ اللَّهِ وَكَرِهَ اللَّهُ لِقَاءَهُ

It is not like this, rather when a believer is given the glad tidings of the mercy of Allah, His pleasure, and Paradise, then he loves to meet Allah and Allah loves to meet him. When a disbeliever is given news of the punishment at the Hand of Allah and hardship to be imposed by Him, he hates to meet Allah and Allah hates to meet him.

Source: Sahih Muslim 157, Grade: Sahih

Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, rightly points out that the believers hate death and are averse to it. This is made even clearer in another tradition:

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said that Allah Almighty said:

وَمَا تَرَدَّدْتُ عَنْ شَيْءٍ أَنَا فَاعِلُهُ تَرَدُّدِي عَنْ نَفْسِ الْمُؤْمِنِ يَكْرَهُ الْمَوْتَ وَأَنَا أَكْرَهُ مَسَاءَتَهُ

I do not hesitate to do anything as I hesitate to take the soul of the believer, for he hates death and I hate to disappoint him.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 6137, Grade: Sahih

Allah informs us that the believers hate death and that He hates to bring it about, yet it is a consequence of life and a necessary stage in the path to the Hereafter.

In fact, the believers should not long for death or wish for it, but instead ask Allah for safety and long life.

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

لَا يَتَمَنَّيَنَّ أَحَدُكُمْ الْمَوْتَ مِنْ ضُرٍّ أَصَابَهُ فَإِنْ كَانَ لَا بُدَّ فَاعِلًا فَلْيَقُلْ اللَّهُمَّ أَحْيِنِي مَا كَانَتْ الْحَيَاةُ خَيْرًا لِي وَتَوَفَّنِي إِذَا كَانَتْ الْوَفَاةُ خَيْرًا لِي

None of you should wish for death because of a calamity that has afflicted him, but if he must do something he should say: O Allah, keep me alive so long as life is good for me and cause me to die if death is better for me.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 5437, Grade: Sahih

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

لَا يَتَمَنَّى أَحَدُكُمْ الْمَوْتَ إِمَّا مُحْسِنًا فَلَعَلَّهُ يَزْدَادُ وَإِمَّا مُسِيئًا فَلَعَلَّهُ يَسْتَعْتِبُ

Let none of you wish for death. If he is righteous then he might increase his good deeds, and if he is sinful then he might repent.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 6808, Grade: Sahih

Abu Bakr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

لَمْ تُؤْتَوْا شَيْئًا بَعْدَ كَلِمَةِ الْإِخْلَاصِ مِثْلَ الْعَافِيَةِ فَاسْأَلُوا اللَّهَ الْعَافِيَةَ

You will not be given anything after the sincere word as good as security, so ask Allah for security.

Source: Musnad Ahmad 11, Grade: Sahih

Neither should the believers wish death upon others or take the matter lightly if killing is justified in self-defense.

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

أَعَفُّ النَّاسِ قِتْلَةً أَهْلُ الْإِيمَانِ

The most restrained of the people regarding killing are the people of faith.

Source: Musnad Ahmad 3720, Grade: Sahih

Some Muslims have indeed gone to extremes in their desire for martyrdom to the extent that death itself has become an objective, such that they justify reprehensible innovations like suicide bombings. They have not understood that martyrdom is attained by righteous living, not in the manner of one’s death. A Muslim may attain martyrdom without ever fighting on the battlefield or suffering persecution due to his pure intention.

Sahl ibn Abi Umamah reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

مَنْ سَأَلَ اللَّهَ الشَّهَادَةَ بِصِدْقٍ بَلَّغَهُ اللَّهُ مَنَازِلَ الشُّهَدَاءِ وَإِنْ مَاتَ عَلَى فِرَاشِهِ

Whoever sincerely asks Allah for martyrdom will be given the status of a martyr from Allah even if he were to die in his bed.

Source: Sahih Muslim 1909, Grade: Sahih

Most of the true martyrs do not die on the battlefield, as there are other ways to attain martyrdom without fighting.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

الشُّهَدَاءُ خَمْسَةٌ الْمَطْعُونُ وَالْمَبْطُونُ وَالْغَرِقُ وَصَاحِبُ الْهَدْمِ وَالشَّهِيدُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ

The martyrs are of five kinds: one who dies of plague, one who dies of stomach disease, one who drowns, one who dies under debris, and one who dies in the path of Allah the Exalted.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 2674, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

Those who die from plague, disease, or catastrophe earn martyrdom because they have been living good lives. We cannot say that a person attains martyrdom by deliberately and unnecessarily exposing themselves to such danger. In the same way, martyrdom is not attained by rushing foolishly into an unnecessary battle.

We must understand that Islam safeguards life in this world and teaches righteous morals that lead to eternal life in the Hereafter. Believers do not wish for death upon themselves or others. Martyrdom is only attained by righteous living and it is not necessarily dependent upon the way a Muslim dies.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.