Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
by Hazrat Maulana Yunus Patel Saheb (Rahmatullahi 'alayh)
IN A HADĪTH, RASULULLAH (Sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam) mentioned the creation of the human being and the end result of some people. The gist of the Hadīth is that sometimes a person spends almost his entire life doing those deeds which are characteristic of the people of Jannah, until there is only an arm span between him and Jannah. However, towards the end of his life, he commits Kufr and enters the fire, to remain therein eternally. May Allah Ta’ala protect us all.
On the other hand, another person may do the deeds characteristic of the people of Jahannum (hell) until he is only an arm span from Jahannum, yet near the end of his life, he brings Imaan in Allah Ta’ala, does righteous deeds and enters Jannah – to remain therein forever and ever.
The question may arise: What is the benefit of good deeds, if at the time of death one can lose one’s Imaan?
Once, when I was in the company of Hazrat Mufti Mahmood Hasan Gangohi رَحْمَةُ اللهِ عَلَيْهِ, Hazrat Mufti Saheb رَحْمَةُ اللهِ عَلَيْهِ explained this Hadīth and said that those people who suddenly lose their Imaan before death, or give up Islam openly, had in actual fact lost their Imaan long before that time. Due to their criticism of the Ahkaam (Laws) of Allah Ta’ala, or their condemnation of Islam and Shari’ah, or rejection of some teaching of Islam – all of which is frighteningly common in these days – they had already committed Kufr. Allah Ta’ala then exposes the person’s Kufr before death.
So the Kufr that was concealed or hidden in the person’s heart – despite his outward, pious actions such as Salaah, Zakaah, Hajj, ‘Umrah, etc. – is exposed at the time of his death. Before dying, he utters something or does something which is clearly Kufr and then dies in that condition and consequently enters the fire. His Kufr was not something sudden, it was perhaps even life-long. May Allah Ta’ala protect us all.
How many people pass their time in mocking, ridiculing and condemning the laws of Allah Ta’ala: the Hijaab and Niqaab, the laws of inheritance, Talaaq, the Command to lower the gaze, etc.? They belittle the noble teachings and practices of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam) like the beard, Miswaak, men wearing their pants above their ankles and so forth. This criticism and mockery are really directed to Allah Ta’ala since these are His Laws. Such an attitude has a destructive impact on one's Imaan – as outlined in the Hadīth.
On the other hand, another person may have been leading a life of Kufr, but at heart he may have admired the Islamic way of life – its purity, perfection and beauty. He may have appreciated and respected the Commandments of Allah Ta’ala and the teachings of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam). Allah Ta’ala then creates the means for his guidance. He accepts Islam, dies on Imaan, gains salvation in the Hereafter and enters Jannah. There are many known incidents of people who accepted Islam in the latter stage of their lives and were also granted very blessed deaths.
The Hadīth does not mean that we should sit complacent, thinking that what has been destined will happen – whether Jannah or Jahannum. A person works and strives for his or her portion of the Hereafter. We should not allow shaytaan to make us use Taqdeer as an excuse to be lazy in the matter of Deen. Thousands of Sahabah-e-Kiraam رَضِىَ الله عَنْهُمْ heard this narration, but we have never found any one of them giving up doing good, and giving up striving for the Aakhirah. On the contrary, we find that they made very concerted efforts and they strived sincerely to earn the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala.
Allah Ta’ala has granted man intelligence and willpower; He has granted man guidance through His Ambiyaa عَليْهِمُ السَّلام and His Kitaabs (revealed books). He has informed man as to what is right and what is wrong, what is Jannah and what is Jahannum, and what leads to each destination. The decision then rests with man. If he accepts, it is to his gain. If he rejects, it is to his loss.
‘Whoever works righteousness benefits his own soul; Whoever works evil, it is against his own soul: Nor is your Lord ever unjust (in the least) to His servants.’
[Surah Fussilaat 41 : 46]
May Allah Ta’ala grant us Hidayah, Istiqaamat on Deen, Ikhlaas in all undertakings and death on Imaan. May Allah Ta’ala grant us the Taufeeq of learning Deen from our ‘Ulama-e-Haq so that we understand Deen correctly, value the beautiful teachings of Islam and work towards the goals of Allah Ta’ala’s Pleasure and Jannah.
 Sahih Al-Bukhari, Hadith: 3208 and Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 2643