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Death of a family member is a difficult time for any family and Islamic Education Center of Chicago strives to provide dignified and solemn funeral and burial services for all Shia Muslims of the Greater Chicagoland area. Services are tailored to the Shia Islamic fiqh guidelines.
Excerpts from the book What You Should Do Just Before Death by Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi
Death is a reality in which all human beings believe. However, it is also a reality which most of us like to keep out of our minds.
In Islam, death is not an end to our existence; it is a passage, which takes us from this world to the hereafter – the actual purpose for our creation and the result of our work in this life. Whether we fear death or not depends on how much we have prepared for the reckoning of the Day of Judgement.
Preparing for death is a lifetime’s job. It begins on the day you reach the age of bulugh and are held accountable for your deeds in the eyes of Almighty Allah. Imam ‘Ali bin Abu Talib (a.s.) has beautifully described the preparation for death as follows: “Fulfilling the obligations, refraining from forbidden [things, and acquiring noble character.”
In this article, I have attempted to present some of the things which all believers are either required or strongly urged to do just before death by the shari’ah.
Before death, try your best to fulfil the obligations, which are upon you in regard to the creatures as well as the Creator
Return to the owners whatever has been given to you as a trust or write it down in your will so that the executor of your will shall return the trust to its rightful owner.
In Islam, you are allowed to dispose up to one-third of your estate for whomsoever or whatever cause you like. As for the two thirds, it must be distributed among your heirs according to the shares allocated for them in the shari’ah.
Make a will in writing or verbally about those religious obligations which you could not fulfil by yourself and which cannot be done on your behalf by others except after your death: the qadha prayers, fasting and pilgrimage (hajj), etc. You should specify the amount from the one-third of your estate to be used to hire people to do such deeds. If you cannot afford this, then you may request your heirs to do unfulfilled rituals on your behalf voluntarily or pay someone else to do so.
It is also recommended, if your financial circumstances allow you, to include your deserving relations in the one-third of your estate.
It is recommended to forgive your brethren in iman for whatever wrong they may have done to you. On the other hand, you should ask your brethren in iman to forgive you for the intentional and unintentional wrong you may have done to them.
When death approaches you, it is wajib on you to lie down on your back in such a way that the soles of your feet face the qiblah (direction of Mecca). Or you may turn your bed in such a way that your soles will face the qiblah. If you cannot do so yourself, then it is wajib on those who are with you to help you.
It is recommended to say by yourself or repeat after someone else the declaration of faith and statement of faraj.
The declaration of faith: It is a declaration in which you reconfirm your belief in Allah, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), the twelve Imams (a.s.), the Qu’ran, and the Day of Judgement.
It is recommended to move the dying person to his/her usual place of prayer in the home. This is recommended only if it does not cause pain or inconvenience to the dying person.
It is recommended to recite two surahs, Yasin (no. 36) and as-Saffat (no. 37), near the dying person. According to the traditions, this will relive the pangs of death.