With regard to the heart and the trials it is subjected to, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Hearts are exposed to trials one after the other. Any heart that succumbs to them is stained with a black spot, and any heart that resists them becomes pure white, until all hearts of one of these two types. The white heart is intensely white and will not be harmed by any trial so long as heaven and earth remain, and the black heart is intensely black and does not recognize good or forbid evil, except what suits its own whims and desires.” (Reported by Imaam Ahmad, 5/386, and by Muslim, 1/128 – this version narrated by Muslim).
Steadfastness in jihaad
“O you who believe! When you meet (an enemy) force, take a firm stand against them…” [al-Anfaal 8:45 – interpretation of the meaning]. One of the major sins (kabaa’ir) in our religion is running away from the battlefield. When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was carrying earth on his back when they were digging the trench (al-khandaq), he repeated with the believers, “Make us steadfast when we meet our enemies.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari in Kitaab al-Ghazawaat, Bab Ghazwat al-Khandaq. See al-Fath, 7/399)
Steadfast adherence to the manhaj (methodology of the Qur’aan and Sunnah)
“Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allaah [i.e., they have gone out for jihaad (holy fighting), and showed not their backs to the disbelievers], of them some have fulfilled their obligations (i.e., have been martyred), and some of them are still waiting, but they have never changed [i.e., they never proved treacherous to their covenant which they concluded with Allaah] in the least.” [al-Ahzaab 33:23 – interpretation of the meaning]. Their principles are dearer to them than their own souls, and their determination knows no compromise.
Steadfastness at the time of death
The kuffaar and immoral people are denied steadfastness at the most difficult and most stressful times, and they cannot utter the Shahaadah at the time of death – which is one of the signs of a bad end. A man was told when he was dying to say Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah, and he started to move his head from right to left, refusing to say it. Another started to say, “This is an excellent piece, this is a bargain,” when he was dying. A third began to mention the names of various chess pieces, and a fourth started to hum the tunes of songs, or to mention the name of someone he loved. This is because those things distracted them from remembering Allaah in this world.
You may see some of these people with blackened faces, or a foul odour, or turning away from the qiblah – laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa billaah (there is no strength or power except with Allaah).
But the people of righteousness, who follow the Sunnah, are helped by Allaah to stand firm at the time of death, and so they utter the Shahaadatayn. You may see some of them with a cheerful face and a pleasant scent, looking as if they are hearing good news when their souls are taken from their bodies.
This is an example of one of those whom Allaah helped to be steadfast at the time of death. His name was Abu Zar’ah al-Raazi, one of the imaams of the scholars of hadeeth:
“Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn ‘Ali Warraaq Abu Zar’ah said: we were with Abu Zar’ah in Shahraan, one of the villages of al-Riyy, when he started dying, and Abu Haatim, Ibn Waarah, al-Mundhir ibn Shaadhaan and others were with him. They remembered the hadeeth, ‘Tell those who are dying to say Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah,’ but they felt too shy to tell Abu Zar’ah to say it. They said, ‘Let us mention the hadeeth.’ Ibn Waarah said: ‘Abu ‘Aasim told us, ‘Abd al-Hameed ibn Ja’far told us, from Saalih,’ and he started to say ‘Ibn Abi…’ but he could not go any further. Then Abu Haatim said, ‘Bundaar told us Abu ‘Aasim told us, from ‘Abd al-Hameed ibn Ja’far, from Saalih…’ but he could not go any further, and the rest remained silent. Then Abu Zar’ah said, whilst he was dying, he opened his eyes and said: ‘Bundaar told us, Abu ‘Aasim told us, ‘Abd al-Hameed told us, from Saalih ibn Abi Ghareeb from Katheer ibn Murrah from Mu’aadh ibn Jabal who said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Whoever says as his last words La ilaaha ill-Allaah, will enter Paradise.”’ Then his soul departed, may Allaah have mercy on him.” (Siyar A’laam al-Nubala’, 13/76-85).
These are the ones of whom Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Verily, those who say: ‘Our Lord is Allaah (Alone),’ and then they stood straight (followed Islam truly), on them the angels will descend (at the time of their death) (saying): ‘Fear not, nor grieve! But receive the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised!’” [Fussilat 41:30]
O Allaah, make us among them. O Allaah, we ask you to make us adhere to Islam with determination and wisdom. And the end of our prayer is: praise be to Allaah, Lord of the Worlds.