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When someone dies in Islam

What to do when someone you love dies

The death of a loved one can be a life-altering experience. Every person who experiences the loss of a loved has their own unique pain or set of circumstances to contend with. It can be a time of great difficulty, and in the same breath, great solace, as we often gain Khalwa (seclusion) with Allah SWT.

In the Islamic tradition, Muslims are encouraged to ponder on our death and the death of those we love each day. As prepared as some of us may be however, it can still be a very challenging time as we grapple with the reality of no longer being with those who are dear to us.

Islam is rich on the subject of death. There are many deeply compassionate teachings on how we are supposed to understand and treat death – at the root of every teaching is the understanding that we are returning to our maker.

Muslims believe that when a human being dies, their soul returns to their creator, awaiting the Day Of Judgement. In Islam, we can take solace in knowing that we will be united with those we love, and that death is just the beginning of the journey to our permanent home in the afterlife.

Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) experienced countless moments of grief throughout his lifetime, losing those dearest to him at nearly every phase of his life. Allah’s (SWT) prophets all have their moments of grief documented in the Qur’an and Hadith, showing us that in this very real human experience, we are not alone.

It is important to remember that grief is a natural reaction to the loss of a loved one and can feel different at different times to everyone – grieving is not a linear process. There is often no end date, only different ways of coping. Allah (SWT) has blessed us with many ways to understand death and our grief that may bring us peace during our times of difficulty.

Hadith on the death of loved ones

When a Muslim dies, they are no longer able to commit good acts in the hope of reward in the hereafter. However, a hadith that brings comfort to many Muslims when a loved one passes to the next world is the following:

“When a man dies, his good deeds come to an end, except three: Ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge, and a righteous child who will pray for him.”

Hadith | Sahih Muslim

This hadith teaches us that we can still commit good acts on their behalf for Allah’s (SWT) sake. It’s also a way of showing our Sabr (patience) and our love for those who have returned to Allah (SWT).

Dua for the deceased

When we learn of a fellow Muslim’s passing, we are encouraged to say the following:

Transliteration: ‘Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un’

Translation: ‘Surely to Allah we belong and to Him we will all return’.

There are many different du’as that you can make for the deceased, and those made from the heart take special precedence. Asking Allah (SWT) for forgiveness for the deceased, for protection from the grave and humiliation of the Day Of Judgement, and for Jannah (heaven) are common things to ask for when someone has passed away.

Here is a sound and common example:


Allaahummaghfir li (name of the person) warfa’ darajatahu fil-mahdiyyeena, wakhlufhu fee ‘aqibihi fil-ghaabireena , waghfir-lanaa wa lahu yaa Rabbal-‘aalameena, wafsah lahu fee qabrihi wa nawwir lahu feehi


O Allah, forgive (name of the person) and elevate his station among those who are guided. Send him along the path of those who came before, and forgive us and him, O Lord of the worlds. Enlarge for him his grave and shed light upon him in it.

Sadaqah for the deceased

Sadaqah (charity) is an important component of someone’s legacy once they have passed. The deceased person may have donated Waqf or Sadaqah Jariyah during their lifetime, which is an ongoing charity that benefits them in the afterlife and benefits people who remain.

Donating Sadaqah on behalf of someone you love who has passed away is a way of honouring their legacy in this life. When done sincerely for the sake of seeking the pleasure of Allah (SWT), it will earn them rewards while they can no longer do so themselves. Muslims were encouraged by the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to donate Sadaqah on behalf of those who have passed:

“When a man dies, his good deeds come to an end, except three: Ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge, and a righteous child who will pray for him.” 

Hadith | Sahih Muslim

Taking care of yourself

Losing a loved one can be an experience like no other. Heartbreak, a feeling of emptiness, or of despair are all common reactions to the loss of a loved one, and while we are discouraged from supressing our grief, we are warned away from feelings of despair, for they can be self-destructive during a period of grief. As Muslims, our bodies have a right over us, and it is our duty to take care of our hearts, our souls, minds, and bodies the best we can throughout all matters.

Khalwa (seclusion) with Allah (SWT) is used to describe a mental or physical state where you are with Allah (SWT) in worship and contemplation. Doing so can bring great solace to someone who is grieving. However, leaning on your support network to help you through difficult or everyday tasks such as cooking or cleaning, and to help remind you of Allah’s (SWT) teachings and words of comfort to the believer can make all the difference during your period of grief. Do not feel shy to lean on your fellow sisters and brothers, we are all encouraged to help relieve each other of our sorrows.

Central to the wellbeing of those who have lost loved ones, is the understanding that there is no ‘right’ way to grieve, nor is there a deadline on how long you may grieve.

Prophet Yaqub (Jacob) (AS), father of Yusuf (AS), cried so much when he learned of Yusuf’s apparent death that he went blind. In his sadness, he turned to Allah (SWT), and this didn’t come to an end until he and Yusuf (peace be upon them both) finally reunited years later. Allah (SWT) never forbade his grief, but rather used it as an example of our deep capacity to love Allah (SWT) and our fellow humanity.

Honour the emotions that come with grief, make time for adequate rest. Ensure you are fuelling your body with nourishing food and surrounding yourself with that which brings you comfort and reminds you of Allah (SWT).

If someone you know is suffering from the loss of a loved one, don’t be shy to check in on them often and tend to their needs so long as they are comfortable with it. Helping to relieve sorrow from a believer is an enormously generous act which earns great reward from Allah (SWT).

Preparing for death in Islam

In Islam, Muslims are encouraged to ponder on death each day, so as to create a relationship with this very certain part of life. In and of itself, this is a preparation for death.

Here are some other important things to consider when thinking about preparing for death:


Moistening your tongue with the declaration of faith (Shahadah) is advised right up until the moment the soul leaves the body.


Tawbah (repentance) is an integral part of worship during our lifetimes. Once we have passed, we can no longer repent for our major and minor sins, so making it a regular part of our daily Ibadah (worship) ensures we are doing the best we can to account for ourselves before our death.


Sadaqah (charity), specifically Sadaqah Jaariyah and Waqf, which are ongoing forms of charity, benefits one after they have passed, earning reward beyond the life here in this world.

3 deeds that continue after death

The following hadith outlines three deeds that continue after death:

“When a man dies, his good deeds come to an end, except three: Ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge, and a righteous child who will pray for him.” 

Hadith | Bukhari

A Muslim can prepare for death by fostering one, two or all three of these greatly beneficial deeds during one’s lifetime.

Learn everything there is to know about leaving an ongoing charity here.

Making an Islamic will

All Muslims have a duty to prepare for death. Creating a will is to ensure that one’s affairs are taken care of in this life, and in the next life. One of the unique wisdoms of doing so is to make it easier for those who are left behind, which has a compounding effect on the rest of society. We are care-takers of the earth and of each other.

In a famous hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“It is not permissible for any Muslim, who has something to bequeath, to stay for two nights without having his last will and testament written and kept ready with him.”

Hadith | Bukhari

You can learn everything you need to know about creating your Islamic will here.

What happens after death in Islam

The Islamic tradition holds a lot of information on what happens to a human being after they pass away. Islam teaches that there is an afterlife, and that the life we live in this Dunya (world) is only temporary. Believers spend their entire lives worshipping Allah (SWT), the One God, and believe in the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) as well as all of Allah’s messengers – our entire purpose is to worship Allah (SWT). Death, therefore, is the end of the test, and the beginning of the trial (the Day of Judgement) which will admit people to either Jannah (heaven) or Jahannam (hell).

The Day of Judgement (Qiyamah), a day that will last 50,000 years, is the day of accountability. On this day, all of humanity will be judged by their deeds and intentions by Allah (SWT) alone. It is not known to any living thing when the Day of Judgement will occur – not even the Prophets (peace be upon them all) knew.

There are 14 stages of the afterlife as outlined in the Qur’an and Sunnah, beginning from the moment one is buried. Here is an overview of the 14 stages of the afterlife:

  1. Barzakh: The Barzakh is the unseen realm, the barrier between life and death. The moment a person is buried, their soul is questioned by the two angels charged by Allah (SWT). Their soul remains in the Barzakh and awaits the day of judgement.
  2. The Trumpet: The Trumpet is blown by the angel Israfel at the command of Allah (SWT), it is blown twice.
  3. Apocalypse: The first blow of the trumpet begins the apocalypse and destroys all life, including Israfel himself.
  4. Resurrection: After a period known only to Allah (SWT), Allah (SWT) will then bring Israfel back to life first, and command him to blow the trumpet for a second time to resurrect all of humanity for the Day Of Judgement.
  5. The gathering: All of humanity will be resurrected from their graves, before being gathered on one level plain awaiting judgement from Allah (SWT) – the judgement begins.
  6. The book of deeds are given: Each person will be provided with their book of deeds.
  7. The accounting: Allah (SWT) will hold his slaves accountable for their good deeds and wrongdoings. He is the Most Just.
  8. The reckoning: The deeds of a person will be weighed on the scales, determining the course of their afterlife.
  9. The fountain of Kawthar: The water from this fountain is from one of the rivers of paradise. Here the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) will be permitted to provide some of its water to the believers to quench their thirst.
  10. Sirat: The Sirat (bridge) crosses hellfire into paradise, and all of humanity are destined to walk it.
  11. Intercession: Here, many will ask the Prophets to beg Allah (SWT) for forgiveness on their behalf, in the hope that their intercession will be granted.
  12. Purgatory: Purgatory separates heaven and hell. Here, humanity will be diverted to their resting place.
  13. Hell: It is believed that even those who believed in Allah (SWT) and his messenger may be destined for hell for a short while to account for some of their sins.
  14. Paradise: Eventually, the resting place for all will be paradise, except for those who did not repent for their Shirk. There, all will enjoy peace and serenity, for eternity.


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We ensure our content is reviewed and verified by qualified scholars to provide you with the most accurate information. This webpage was last reviewed by Sheikh Salim Al-Azhari.

Page last reviewed: 31 August 2022

Next review due: Within 12 months

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