"Death is a harsh and fearful reality faced by everyone who lives. No one has the power to avoid it, nor does anyone around a dying person have the ability to prevent it. It is something that happens every moment and is something encountered by the young and the old, the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak. They are all the same in that they have no plan, nor any means of escaping it, no means of intercession, no way to prevent it, nor to delay it."1
Allah - the Most High - says:
"Say: Indeed, the death from which you flee will surely meet you, then you will be sent back to Allah, the All-Knower of the unseen and the seen. And He will then tell you what you used to do." [Al-Qur'an 62:8]
"Every soul shall taste death. And We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good, and to Us will you be returned."<footer>[Al-Qur'an 21:34-35]</footer>
Indeed it is death "which causes fear in the souls, and with it one's actions are sealed, and what comes after is even more fearful and fear-inducing. For is there a place one can flee to in order to escape from the constrictions suffered in the grave? What will our reply be when we are questioned in the grave? Indeed, not a single one of us knows where we will end up. Will it be Paradise whose width is like the heavens and the earth, or shall it be the Fire whose fuel is of men and stones?"2
Ibrahim ibn Adham (d. 160H) - rahimahullah - said, when he was asked about the verse: "Call upon Me and I will respond to you." [Al-Qur'an 40:60] They said: We call upon Allah, but He does nor respond to us. So he said:
"You know Allah; yet you do not obey Him. You recite the Qur'an; yet you do not act according to it. You know Shaytan; yet you continue agreeing with him. You claim to love Allah's Messenger 'alayhis-salam; yet you abandon his Sunnah (guidance and way). You claim to love Paradise, yet you do not work for it. You claim to fear the Fire; yet you do not stop sinning. You say, Indeed death is true; yet you have not prepared for it. You busy yourselves with the faults of others; yet you do not look at your own faults. You eat the sustenance that Allah provides for you; yet you are not grateful to Him. And you bury your dead; yet you have not heeded its lesson."<footer>[Al-Hafidh Ibn Rajab related it in Al-Khushu' fi's-Salah (p. 62)]</footer>
So this - O noble reader - is the reality which must be firmly established in one's heart; the reality that life in this world is limited and has an appointed end, and that this end will surely come ...
"The righteous will die; And the wicked will die. The warriors who fight jihad will die; And those who sit at home will die. Those who busy themselves with correct beliefs will die; And those who treat people as their slaves will die. The brave who reject injustice will die; And the cowards who seek to cling to this vile life will die. The people of lofty-goals and ambitions will die; And the wretched who live for cheap enjoyment will die."3
"Every soul shall taste death."<footer>[Al-Qur'an 3:185]</footer>
"So keep in mind the point of death, and of one's passing on to the next life, and the number of sins that one has committed and the small amount of good that one has done. Think of the good that you would earnestly like to do at that time - then bring that forward and do it today. And think of all those things which you would desire to clear yourself of- then clear yourself from them now."4
The Qur'an says several times that Allah is most Merciful and Forgiving but also says many times that He gives severe punishment. Is He Forgiving or Revengeful?
Answer1. Allah is most Merciful
The Qur'an says several times that Allah is the most Merciful. In fact all the 114 Surahs i.e. chapters of the Glorious Qur'an except for Surah Taubah chapter 9, begin with the beautiful formula, Bismillah-hir-Rahman-nir-Rahim, which means, "In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful".
2. Allah is Forgiving
I started reading "Hagakure," which was written by the samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo from 1709 to 1716. I don't agree with everything in the book - some of the things Yamamoto-sama says sound crazy to my modern sensibilities, but there's some powerful quotes in here about bushido. Here's some I liked, with some thoughts of my own -
We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having attained our aim and continuing to live is cowardice. This is a thin dangerous line. To die without gaming one's aim is a dog's death and fanaticism. But there is no shame in this. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai. If by setting one's heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he pains freedom in the Way. His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling.
The first book of philosophy on bushido I read was the Budoshoshinshu. It had a significant impact on my thinking. One of the largest tenets of bushido is keeping awareness of your death in mind when you live. I try to do this, because it gives you a sense of urgency and importance.
A lot of times the principle is misunderstood - the principle is actually make preparations as if you'll live forever, but live this day that you'd be proud if it was your last. Bushido is not about being reckless. It's about keeping awareness of the end with you, and in doing so, living much more.
It's almost paradoxical - the man who is aware of his death, who relinquishes his claim on life, he lives much more fully. The man who is ignorant of his death does not live as much. Death is not something to be afraid of - it's something to be aware of. Being aware of it makes you more alive, and more effective, and more purposeful.