One's death will only take place at its predestined location: By believing in this fact, the believer has relieved himself from the fear of death. There are people who attempt to prepare for their deaths by purchasing a burial place and even building upon it and adorning it, but end up dying in a completely different place. There is no doubt that one must prepare for the time of death, but this not the method; one must know that he will meet death only at that exact spot in which it is predestined for him to die in, and that no one knows this place except Allah.
A believer does not fear death; he firmly believes that death is a guest who will certainly arrive, and that he will certainly meet this guest. A believer also knows that his fear of death would not prevent or delay it, as Allah says (what means): “…Say: 'Even if you had been inside your houses, those decreed to be killed would have come out to their death beds0'” [Quran 3:154] Meaning, to the spot that Allah has predestined them to be killed in.
The thought of death is eased when one remembers that the very best of creation faced the same fate: the Prophets, may Allah exalt their mention and the righteous. Therefore, following in the footsteps of such esteemed and lofty personalities is certainly a praiseworthy matter.
Death should be feared in a positive manner and not a negative one whereby a person gives up exerting effort and stops performing good deeds. This fear should be a reason for one to perform an ever greater amount of good deeds, as a preparation for meeting with death.
Why do the heedless and those who are consumed by their love of worldly pleasures hate death? They do so because death will deprive them of their interim pleasures, from their wealth and of the hopes that they planned to achieve; this is why they hate death. A believer on the other hand also loves that his lifespan is prolonged, but not so that he may build a mansion or buy a new car, no! It is so that he may perform more good deeds and repent from his sins.
Death is not the end; one will be resurrected and move on to a new type of life; death is another stage during his journey to the final abode.
Hope in the life of a believer: One of the sources of security and tranquillity for a believer is having hope; hope that illuminates the darkness and shows him the path; hope with which the tree of life grows and thrives; hope which generates a driving force that would push the person forward and encourage him to strive and sacrifice for the sake of his religious obligations, and which would energise his body and soul.
Therefore, faith generates hope, which is a vital factor in life. What makes a farmer strive so hard, other than the hope of harvesting crops and fruits from his plants? What pushes a businessman to travel and risk his wealth if it is not the hope of making profits? What forces a student to study hard, staying up late at night other than the hope of attaining high grades? What makes bitter medicine be desired by a sick person except his hope to be cured?
Most importantly, what encourages a believer to act in contradiction to his inclinations and desires and drives him to bear the burdens of this life? It is the hope to attain Paradise. This hope is what makes these difficult matters appear simple and painless to endure; it is this hope that energises the believer and reduces the effect of all the hardships in life.
If a student were to lose hope of passing his examinations and stop studying and rebel against his school; there would then be no hope in him passing, even with sincere advice and private tutoring. The only thing that would solve his problem is him regaining hope; the same rationality applies to everything else in life.
Despairing and losing hope is a slow poison that kills the soul; it is a destructive thunderstorm and a quality of the disbelievers, just as having hope is a quality of the believers. Being distant from the religion of Allah causes a person to lose hope; Allah says (what means): “…Indeed, no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people.” [Quran 12: 87] Such despair clearly manifests itself at the time of affliction; Allah says (what means): “And if We give man a taste of Mercy from Us and then We withdraw it from him, indeed, he is despairing and ungrateful.” [Quran 11: 9]
However, Allah excludes one type of person from this general categorisation, saying two verses later (what means): “Except for those who are patient and do righteous deeds” [Quran 11:11] When such people lose their business, fail an examination, or are afflicted in any way, they do not despair because their hope is in Allah, the Most Merciful.
What is the secret behind the believer having hope while others despairs? The reason is that the believer believes that there is a Lord who responds to the supplications of the afflicted and the grieved; a Lord who removes the harm, bestows from His blessings, forgives sins, and accepts repentance; a Lord who is more merciful to His slaves than a mother is to her children and kinder to His slaves than they are to themselves; a Lord who pardons and forgives so that the one who sinned would not despair from repentance; a Lord who multiplies the reward of a good deed from tenfold to up to seven hundred multiples, or even more, while counting a sin as only a single sin, or even forgiving it; and a Lord who receives His repenting slaves with acceptance, as in the following narrations: Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet said: “Allah says: 'When a slave of Mine draws near to Me by a span, I draw near to him by a cubit; and if he draws near to Me by a cubit, I draw near to him by an arm-span'” [Al-Bukhari]
Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah said: “Allah the Exalted says: `I am as my slave expects me to be, and I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me inwardly, I will mention him inwardly, and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I will mention him in a better assembly (i.e., in the assembly of angels).`” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
This is what makes a believer have hope and shun despair; the secret is his steadfastness upon the religion of his Lord, and his placing his trust and his reliance in Him. Furthermore, a believer places his hope in Allah and is optimistic, while others are pessimistic and have no hope in the support of Allah.
When a believer becomes sick, he is hopeful that Allah will cure him; as Allah says (what means): “[It is He] who created me, and He [it is who] guides me. And it is He who feeds me and gives me drink. And when I am ill, it is He who cures me.” [Quran 26:78-80]
If a believer were to sin, he would never despair from the forgiveness of Allah as His pardon is far too great to lose hope in; as Allah says (what means): “Say: 'O my servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning]! Do not despair of the Mercy of Allah. Indeed Allah forgives all sins [for those who repent]. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.'” [Quran 39:53]
This is always the case with the believer, regardless of what type of affliction he is tested with; regardless of whether his income dwindles, or a beloved person dies, or his house burns down, or he loses his wealth, or whatever the case may be. A believer is always hopeful that Allah will make a way out for him from his distress and troubles because he hopes for the reward of persevering and enduring patiently; Allah says (what means): “[Those] who, when disaster strikes them, say: 'Indeed, we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.'” [Quran 2: 156]
The effect of hardships upon a believer is totally different to its effect upon others. An example illustrating this is the story of Al-Khansaa’, may Allah be pleased with her, who was afflicted during her pre-Islamic life by the death of Sakhr, her half-brother. As a result of his death she wept profusely and wrote poetry in his honour. Moreover, she was affected by his death for a long time to come. However, after she became Muslim, this same woman sat with her four sons before the battle of Qaadisiyyah and said to them: “You have embraced Islam willingly and migrated freely without anyone forcing you to do so. I swear by Allah, beside Whom none is worthy of being worshipped! You four all came from the same womb and from one father, and you know about the great reward that Allah has prepared for the Muslims who fight the disbelievers. Know that the eternal life is far better than the interim one, and that Allah says (what means): “O you who have believed! Persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allah that you may be successful.” [Quran 3: 200] Therefore, if you make it safely till the morning, go and fight the enemy with patience and seek the support of your Lord over your enemy. When you see that the battle is at its toughest and most intense, throw yourselves into the middle of it and you will win the eternal joy of the Hereafter.” The next morning, the four young men went in like lions, fighting bravely and aggressively; their mother's words echoed in their ears, reminding them whenever they weakened, and they were eventually killed, all of them, one after another. When news of their death reached their mother she neither wept nor lamented; rather, she patiently persevered and uttered words that were a reflection of her deep faith: “All perfect praise is due to Allah who has honoured me with their martyrdom; I hope to be joined with them in Paradise."
Who was dearer, a half-brother or her own sons? Is it not far more difficult to bear the loss of one beloved person than four? The answers to these questions are very clear, so why the tremendous difference in this woman's reaction? The only factor that was different was faith: she had changed from being a disbeliever to being a believer.
Indeed faith that makes a person place his trust in Allah and gives him hope in the reward of Allah, and make him his life in security and tranquillity.