Does the Shaytaan call the dying person to become a Jew or Christian? And what is meant by the “trials of death”?

Does the Shaytaan call the dying person to become a Jew or Christian? And what is meant by the “trials of death”?
Is it true that one of the trials of the grave involves the devils appearing in the form of one’s parents and saying “We followed Judaism or Christianity and Allaah admitted us to Paradise”? Does that happen before Munkar and Nakeer come down?.

 

Praise be to Allaah.

There is no evidence for
this from the Qur’aan or Sunnah, rather this is what some scholars say, but
that does not happen in the grave, rather it happens when a person is dying,
before the soul is taken. Some scholars stated that this comes under the
heading of “the trials of life”. 

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn
Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: 

The presenting of other
religions to a person at the time of death does not happen to everyone, but
we cannot say that it does not happen to anyone. Rather some people may not
have other religions presented to them, and some do have them presented to
them. All of that is part of the trials of life from which the Messenger
commanded us to seek refuge when praying. At the time of death, the Shaytaan
is most keen to tempt the sons of Adam. End quote from al-Ikhtiyaaraat,
p. 85. 

The Shaytaan remains
eager to tempt a person so long as his soul is still in his body, so he
comes to him, whispers to him and makes falsehood appear attractive to him. 

It was narrated from Abu
Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Iblees said: ‘By Your
glory, I will not stop tempting Your slaves so long as their souls are in
their bodies.’ [Allaah] said: ‘By My Glory and Majesty, I will continue to
forgive them so long as they ask Me for forgiveness.’”

Narrated by Ahmad, 10974;
classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Targheeb, 1617. 

The Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to seek refuge with Allaah from
the “trials of life and death,” and he encouraged worshippers to seek refuge
from them before saying the salaam at the end of the prayer. 

It was narrated that Abu
Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When one of you has
finished the final tashahhud, let him seek refuge with Allaah from four
things: from the torment of Hell, from the torment of the grave, from the
trials of life and death, and from the evil of the Dajjaal.” Narrated by
al-Bukhaari, 1311; Muslim, 588. 

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih
al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: 

The words “from the trials
of life and death” come after the words, “from the torment of Hell.” What is
meant by trials (fitnah) here is the testing of a man with regard to his
religious commitment, during his life and after his death. The trials of
life are great and intense, and very few pass the test except those whom
Allaah wills. They revolve around two things: 

1-    
Doubts

2-    
Desires 

As for doubts, man is faced
with doubts with regard to his knowledge, so he becomes confused with regard
to what is true and what is false, and he sees falsehood as truth and truth
as falsehood. If he sees truth as falsehood he will avoid it, and if he sees
falsehood as truth he will follow it.  

As for desires, he is faced
with them with regard to his will. Because of his desires, he wants
something that is forbidden to him. This is a serious temptation (fitnah);
how many are those who see riba as opportunity and indulge in it; how many
are those who see deceiving people as cleverness in buying and selling, and
indulge in deceit; how many are those who see looking at women as pleasure,
enjoyment and freedom, and they give free rein to their gaze; how many are
those who drink alcohol and it as pleasure and relaxation; how many are
those who watch entertainment and listen to music, regarding it as an art to
be studied, for which certificates and awards are to be given. 

As for the trials of death,
the scholars differed concerning them and there are two views: 

The first view is that the
“trials of death” refers to the questioning by the two angels of the
deceased in his grave, about his Lord, his religion and his Prophet, because
the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “It has
been revealed to me that you will be put to trial in your graves like or
almost like the tribulation of the Dajjaal.” As for the one whose faith is
sincere, it will be easy for him to answer. 

When he is asked: Who is
your Lord? He will say: My Lord is Allaah. 

Who is your Prophet? He
will say: My Prophet is Muhammad. 

What is your religion? He
will say: My religion is Islam – it will be very easy for him. 

As for anyone else – Allaah
forbid – when he is asked he will say, Oh, oh, I do not know; I heard the
people saying something so I said it too. 

Think about it, how he will
say, “Oh, oh,” as if he used to know something but forgot it. What greater
loss can there be than something that you learned then forgot, because the
one who is ignorant does not gain anything, but the one who forgot gained
something and then lost it. The result will be that he will say: I do not
know who is my Lord, what my religion is or who my Prophet is. This is a
great fitnah; I ask Allaah to save me and you from it. In fact it depends on
what is in the heart. If the heart truly believes, and sees matters of the
unseen as if with the eye, then he will answer with ease, but if it is the
opposite, then his answer will be the opposite. 

The second view is that
what is meant by “the trials of death” is what happens at the time of death,
in the last moments of life. This was mentioned as such – even though it is
one of the trials of life – because of its seriousness and importance, just
as the fitnah of the Dajjaal is also mentioned even though it is one of the
trials of life, but it is also one of the trials of death because it happens
close to death, and it is singled out for mention because it is the worst
that can happen. That is because when a person is dying and bidding
farewell, his destiny will be either happiness or doom. The Messenger
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “One of you may do the
deeds of the people of Paradise until, when there is nothing between him and
it but a cubit, the decree overtakes him and he does a deed of the people of
Hell.” So the fitnah is great indeed. 

The Shaytaan is at his most
eager to tempt the son of Adam at this moment, and the one who is truly
protected is the one whom Allaah protects. He comes to him at this crucial
moment which no one can imagine but the one to whom it happens. Allaah says
(interpretation of the meaning): 

“Nay, when (the soul)
reaches to the collarbone (i.e. up to the throat in its exit),

27. And it will be said:
Who can cure him (and save him from death)?

28. And he (the dying
person) will conclude that it was (the time) of parting (death);

29. And one leg will be
joined with another leg (shrouded).

30. The drive will be on
that Day to your Lord (Allaah)!”

[al-Qiyaamah 75:26-30] 

It is a critical situation,
when a person is weak, lacking in strength and willpower, feeling anxious,
and the shaytaan comes to him to tempt him, to such a point that it is as
the scholars said: he may present the Jewish, Christian and Islamic
religions to a person, appearing the form of his parents who present the
Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions to him and encourage him to follow
Judaism or Christianity. The Shaytaan may take on the form of anyone except
the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and this is
the greatest of trials.  

 

But this – praise be to
Allaah – does not happen to everyone, as was stated by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn
Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him). Even if the Shaytaan is not able to
gain control over a person to such a degree, there is still fear for him. 

It was said that when Imam
Ahmad was dying, he could be heard saying, “Not yet, not yet.” When he came
to, he was asked about that and he said: The Shaytaan was biting his
fingertips and saying, “You got away from me, O Ahmad.” He was biting his
fingers out of regret that he had not deceived Imam Ahmad, and Ahmad said to
him, “Not yet, not yet” – i.e., the soul has not yet departed. So long as
the soul is in the body, anything is possible. “Our Lord! Let not our
hearts deviate (from the truth) after You have guided us” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:8].
In this situation fitnah is great indeed. Hence the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “… from the trials of life and
death.” 

Conclusion: There are two
interpretations of what is meant by the trials of death: 

1-    
It is the trials and
temptations that happen at the time of death.

2-    
That they come after death,
when the two angels question a man about his Lord, his religion and his
Prophet. 

There is no reason why
we should not say that it includes both. It may refer both to the trials
that come before death and at the time of death, because these are the
greatest tribulations that a man ever faces. Mention is also made of what is
feared of a bad end if Allaah does not save a person from this tribulation. 

Based on this, the one who
prays for refuge from the trials of death should bear both situations in
mind. 

Al-Sharh al-Mumti’,
3/185-188 

And Allaah knows best..

Islam Q&A
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