Do not die except in submission to Almighty [in Islam]

We receive a large number of eMails from all over the world and this one came in from a non-Muslim named S.W. He asks the question:

"Dear Sir:
I am trying to make a list of things to do before I die and would like some suggestions? Could you please comment as to what Islam says about death?"
Thank You, S. W."


Answer from Sheik Yusuf Estes,
US Federal Prison Chaplain (retired)

Allah the Almighty is All Wise and Is the Knower of All Things.


For those who are not familiar with the teachings of Islam, we should perhaps cover a few basics before attempting to answer this most honest and in depth question.


There is a small chapter at the end of the Holy Quran called "Al Asr" and it carries a very heavy meaning which can solve a lot of the problems with the dealings of life and death of the human being. Let us consider the plus or minus translation into the English language.

"By the passage of time*1, all of the humankind are in a state of great loss*2, except for those who come to the correct belief*3 and do the deeds of righteousness; and encourage and exhort one another to Truth*4 and encourage and exhort one another to steadfast patience."

From the above quoted portion of the Quran and verses related to it, the scholars of Islam have concluded the following:

Death is like a journey to a land from which there is no return. So before you die, be sure to pack three things to take along with you on the journey:

* 1) Proper I.D.:  [Book of Record of a Person's Life]

This covers two very important categories:

* Faith (belief)
* Actions (deeds)

They must both be correct to insure an easy transition into the Next Life and a proper place in the Paradise in the Hereafter.

Let us begin with the Covenant of faith with the ONE TRUE GOD & Acts of worship to Him Alone without partners. This means anyone who comes to the understanding: "There is only One True God who is the only Creator, Sustainer and God of all that exists."
This can be understood as “Oneness” or “Tawhid of Islam.”
It might be better understood by breaking it down into the following three categories:

1) “Oneness” of Lordship [Tawhid Al Ulu hiyah]

2)  “Oneness” of Worship [Tawhid Al Rubbu biyah]

3) “Oneness” of Characteristics [Tawhid Al Asma was Siffat)

Correct Beliefs

Three (3) Things Asked at Death:


Only Acceptable Answer
1. Who is your Lord?


2. What is your religion?


3. Who is your prophet?


Immediately you will find those who will argue that this is not fair. After all, Muhammad, peace be upon him, was sent by Allah with the message of Islam only 1,400 years ago. So, what about all those who lived before him? And what of those who came afterwards and never heard of Allah, Islam and Muhammad, peace be upon him?

And the answer is quite simple. Islam is the only true religion brought by all of the prophets of Almighty God [Allah]. They all preached a message of total surrender to the One and Only True God of the Universe. If the person lived the life of "Surrender, Submission and Obedience to the Almighty, in Sincerity and Peace"; then they in fact, lived as a true Muslim without ever knowing the Arabic terms.

This means that all of the followers of all of the prophets of Almighty God from Adam to Moses to Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them all, will find that they will be supplied the correct answers to these questions when asked.

After the angel of death removes the soul from the body, the angels will carry the soul of the one who has died up to the heavens and when they come to Allah the Most High, He will reject any who are not in possession of the correct answers [mentioned above]. After the questioning the person will be then reunited with his or her own dead body and spend the remainder of time waiting for the Day of Judgment.

* 2) Nourishment:  [Proper Deeds]

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, taught his followers:
"He is not a believer who goes to sleep at night with a full stomach while his neighbor's remains empty."

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said:

"Charity is a necessity for every Muslim."
He was asked: "What if a person has nothing?"
The Prophet replied: "He should work with his own hands for his benefit and then give something out of such earnings in charity."
The Companions of the Prophet asked: "What if he is not able to work?"
The Prophet said: "He should help the poor and needy."
The Companions further asked: "What if he cannot do even that?"
The Prophet said: "He should urge others to do good."
The Companions said: "What if he lacks that also?"
The Prophet said: "He should check himself from doing evil. That is also an act of charity."

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: "Your body has 360 joins and each of them requires an act of charity every day." And, "Even meeting your brother with a cheerful face is an act of charity."


Acts of charity and kindness only for the sake of the Almighty. These good deeds will accompany the person throughout his or her life in the grave until the Day of Judgment. On the Day of Judgment they will all see their deeds clearly.

There are two angels who record all the actions and deeds of the individual from birth until death. The angel on the right records all of the good deeds while the angel on the left records all of the bad ones.

*  As soon as the person intends to do a good thing, a good deed is recorded for him/her.

*  After doing the good deed, ten full good deeds are recorded for the person (or 70 or 700 or as much as Allah Wills).

*  If a person encourages others to do a good deed, then a matching reward is recorded for the one calling to the good deed.


Another angel on the left, records all of the bad and evil deeds of the person as follows:

*  If the person intends to do a bad deed, but stops himself from it because he/she knows it is wrong, then a full good deed is recorded for them.

*  If the person intends an evil or bad deed but does not have the chance to commit it, then nothing is recorded either way.

*  If the person commits a bad deed, the angel on the left begins to record a bad deed in his/her “Book of Records”, but the angel on the right stops him and asks him to wait to see if the person might repent. After a while the angel on the left again begins to record the bad deed but again the angel on the right stops him with the same pleading. This continues for a while and if the person refuses to seek the forgiveness of The Almighty, then one full bad deed is recorded to his/her account.


At anytime that a person should commit a bad deed, he/she should immediately seek forgiveness from the Almighty and follow up the bad deed with a good one.

Additionally, when a person performs the obligatory prayers on time in accordance with the teachings of Islam, all the sins from the most recent prayer are forgiven.

When a person attends the Friday prayers according to the teachings of Islam, he/she is forgiven for all of the sins for the previous week since the last Friday service.

When a person makes the obligatory pilgrimage to Mecca during the month of Thurl Hijah on the Islamic calendar, all the sins since birth are forgiven and the record is wiped clean for a fresh start. All previous good deeds remain in place.

In the case of the one who comes to Islam from some other faith group, all of his/her sins are forgiven and wiped clean and all of the previous ones are held in place. The person is as pure and innocent as a new-born baby but with the exception that all of the deeds previously committed whether bad or good are all purified to become mountains of good deeds for the new comer to Islam.


* 3) Garments:  [Morals and Behavior]

He is not a believer who goes to sleep at night with a full stomach while his neighbor's remains empty

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said that Allah said:

"I declare war against the one who is hostile to My worshipping servant. My worshipper does not come closer to Me with anything more beloved to me than by doing what I have ordered him to do. My servant keeps coming closer to Me by performing extra acts of worship until I love him. Then I become his hearing; his sight; his grip; his step and if he asks anything of me, I will grant it, and if he seeks My Protection, I will protect him. And I do not dislike anything more than taking his soul, for he dislikes to die and I dislike to disappoint him."
- (Narrated by Abu Huraira in Bukhari)


Forgiveness, Honesty, Respect & Fairness in dealings with others is the best covering. Teachings of Islam regarding the best of morals and behavior are vast and numerous in number. We will list only a few:


Let the one who believes in Allah and the Last Day either say good things or remain silent.

The tongue is one of many endowments Allah bestowed upon His
slaves. The person who uses the tongue to comply with the orders of Allah, the teachings of the Qur'an, and the teachings of the Prophet may earn blessings in this world and the in Hereafter. However, the one who uses his tongue in disobedience does not display thankfulness to Allah and leads to his own destruction.
Certainly, being thankful to Allah means not using the endowments bestowed by Allah in what is forbidden.
Click Here to Learn about Namimah (Tale-Bearing)

"Whoever is a liar - is not from among us."

It is narrated on the authority of 'Abdur-Rahman b. Abu Bakra that his father said: We were in the company of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) that he observed: Should I not inform you about the most grievous of the grave sins? (The Holy Prophet) repeated it three times, and then said: Associating anyone with Allah, disobedience to parents, false testimony or false utterance. The Holy Prophet was reclining, then he sat up, and he repeated it so many times that we wished that he should become silent.(Bukhari)

Your body has rights on you, so give your body its rights.

Together with a group of friends, his mother had gone inside this ancient House of God to inspect it. On that particular day it was open because of a festive occasion. She was pregnant and labor pains suddenly gripped her. She was unable to leave the Kabah. A leather mat was brought to her and she gave birth on it. History has recorded that he is the only person who was born inside the Kabah itself, Hakim ibn Hazm.

"Whoever says; "There is none to worship but Allah" (sincerely), he will enter Paradise."

On the authority of Anas, who said:
I heard the messenger of Allah say:
Allah the Almighty has said: "O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as its."
[related by Al-Tirmithi, who said that it was a good and sound Hadith].

"Allah will not even look at the one (on the Day of Judgment) who does not honor his parents."

"Your Sustainer has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your lifetime, do not say to them a word of contempt nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say: My Sustainer! Bestow on them Your mercy, even as they cherished me in childhood." (17:23-24)

"The best of you is the one who learns the Quran and teaches it."

The Prophet said, "The example of him (a believer) who recites the Qur'an is like that of a citron which tastes good and smells good. And he (a believer) who does not recite the Qur'an is like a date which is good in taste but has no smell. And the example of a dissolute wicked person who recites the Qur'an is like the Raihana (sweet basil) which smells good but tastes bitter. And the example of a dissolute wicked person who does not recite the Qur'an is like the colocynth which tastes bitter and has no smell." [Sahih Bukhari]

"The life of this world is a prison to a believer, and a paradise for the disbelievers."

Qiyam al-Layl
It is described as an act of worship that connects the heart to Allah, may He be exalted, and enables it to overcome the temptations of life and to strive against one’s own self, at the time when sleepers are tossing and turning in their beds. It is one of the measures of sincere determination. It was a habit of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and therefore a habit of his companions. It is the act of praying at night.

Oh yes! -
Don't leave behind a mess - leave behind a Will!

One important note: Even if a person has no bad deeds at all and he or she has mountains of good deeds it will still not be enough to gain entrance into the Paradise of the Almighty.

Why? Because of the saying of the prophet, peace be upon him:
“None shall enter the Jennah (Paradise) except with the Mercy of Allah.” When asked by his companions: “Even you? O, prophet of Allah?” And He replied: “Even me." [mentioned above]

Don't Die Without IT

And finally and most important of all regarding the death of anyone, Allah says in the Holy Quran: 

"And do not die, except in complete submission to Almighty Allah (Islam)."
[Holy Quran 3:102]


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