Death, Dying, and the Afterlife

Amir Hussain

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online December 2009 | | DOI:
Death, Dying, and the Afterlife

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The Islamic understanding of death represents a dramatic shift from pre-Islamic Arabia. In the pre-Islamic world, there was a notion of fate, with time (dahr, also known as zaman or al-ayyam, “the days”) being the determining agent of a person's life and death. This is reflected in the Qurʾan, in which the pre-Islamic Arabs say: “There is nothing but our life in this world. We live and we die and nothing destroys us but Time” (45:24). To this, Muhammad is commanded to say: “It is God who gives you life, causes you to die, then gathers you together for the Day of Resurrection, of which there is no doubt” (45:26). The modern understanding of death and dying has also changed. In the premodern world, the majority of people died at home, and so family members by necessity had to be familiar with the rituals surrounding death. In the modern world, the majority of people die in hospitals or institutions, creating a distance from traditional rituals.

Article.  2490 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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