Death and the spirit

Q133 :What sort of pain is associated with death: how does it start and how long does it last? Will the angels of death be visible to us and do they show us the place to which we will be taken? Is it necessary to recite the "kalimah" to a dying person? Why do we apply honey to his lips? Does the spirit hear or see people after a person has died? Does it feel pain if the body is moved or touched? Does the pain vary from one person to another?

A133 : As you are aware, man is made of the combination of spirit and body. As long as they are united, he is alive. Once the spirit departs from the body, that human being dies. What causes this separation is Allah's will, since He has given each one of us a specific life duration, at the end of which we die. It is to be expected that the departure of the spirit from the body may be associated with pain which is different from the pain one experiences during an illness. No one, however, can describe this pain, since those who die do not return to this life. We have a Hadith from which we infer that the experience of this separation varies according to whether or not the dying person is a believer. Abu Hurairah quotes the Prophet as saying: "When a believer is about to die, the angels come to him with a white sheet of silk and say: Come out, good soul, well pleased and well pleasing to a world of mercy and roses and to meet a Lord who is not displeased. It comes out with an odor which is more pleasant than musk. The angels hand him over one to the other until they get him to the door of heaven where its angels say: What a pleasant smell has come to you from earth. They bring him over to meet the spirits of believers who are more joyful to meet him than any one of you when he meets a dear relative who has come back after a long absence. When a disbeliever is about to die, the angels who administer torture come to him with rugs and say: Come out, you spirit, displeased to receive divine punishment. It comes out smelling like a most rotten corpse and they take it to the earth gate where the angels say: What a rotten soul. Then they throw him with the spirits of disbelievers. Related by Al Nassaie, and by Muslim in an abridged form. Let me point out, however, that suffering extreme anguish at the time of death is not indicative of any judgment on the person concerned. It must never be assumed that a person who dies a very calm and peaceful death is in a position of favor, or that a person who suffers much anguish is in a position of disfavor. The Prophet himself endured much pain at the time of his death. This has made Lady Aisha say: "I do not envy anyone a peaceful death after having seen what God's Messenger has endured" (Related by Al Bukhari). We certainly try to get a dying person to say the "kalimah", or repeat the declaration that he or she believes in the Oneness of Allah and in the message of Muhammad (peace be upon him). As for putting honey on the lips of a dying person, this is something that I know nothing of. As for the rest of your questions, I think the best answer is to quote you this authentic Hadith: "Anas quotes the Prophet as saying: When a deceased person is placed in his grave and his relatives and friends leave, he hears the sound of their shoes. Two angels come to him and sit him up and question him. They ask him: What was your view of this man, Muhammad? If the person was a believer, he would say: I bear witness that he is Allah's servant and Messenger. They say to him: Look at your position which you would have had in hell, Allah has replaced it for you with a position in heaven. He sees both positions. When a disbeliever or a hypocrite is asked what used to be his view of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), he would answer: I do not know. I used to say what other people said. The two angels say to him: May you never know and never tell. He is then struck with an iron hammer in between his ears. He makes a cry which is heard by all creatures with the exception of human beings and jinn." (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim) As for the question whether a deceased person feels pain, the answer is that the body loses its senses after the spirit departs.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )