Should Muslim Feel Anxious about Death?

26 October, 2020
Q My grandmother who is a Christian has passed away due to cancer & a brain tumor. During the end of her life she was worried about money. The problem is I used to take amounts of money from her without her knowledge that led to a big amount in total.

I CAN'T FORGIVE MYSELF FOR WHAT I HAVE DONE. I feel that I am a big part of her causing to pass away and I feel that Allah is punishing me for that. I have read that in Islam if I steal then Allah won't forgive me until I ask for forgiveness from the person I have stolen from.

Lately, I've always felt that my life would be short ever since I was younger. But back then when I would think about it, it would always be a feeling that it would be in the future. I don't see myself entering university having kids, or having a career. I could never see myself in the future in general.

I am 19 now, and I feel that my death will be very very soon. Like in a couple of days. It's giving me crazy anxiety with shortness of breath and rapid heart beats.Although it is not a complete negative feeling, it still makes me extremely sad because I don't want to leave my family, especially my mom.

I've always had anxiety. Maybe, it's just anxiety. But, I've felt like this my whole life. And it's gotten worse these last couple of months. I always hear about how some people who have that feeling end up dying right after.

I also have been predicting in my mind in the past couple of months that for example something would happen and it happens!! Especially my mother asking for a specific thing! :(

Please help me.

Answer


In this counseling session:

  • Dear brother, please forgive yourself. Repent to Allah and believe He has forgiven you for the mistakes you did to your deceased grandma. Compensate it with good deeds.
  • Thinking of our death should be among the “daily program” of a Muslim. However, if you feel it makes you anxious to the extent it makes you incapable to enjoy life, seek out professional help. 
  • Enjoy life. Take care of yourself. Do things that make you happy. Surround yourself with people who are positive and cheer you up.
  •  Most importantly, complain to Allah. Talk to Him and ask Him to remove these anxieties from you and make you feel happy and in peace.

Salam Aleikom brother,

Thank you for sending us your question. I am sorry to read about the death of your grandmother. It must be hard to feel the regret for not being able to ask for her forgiveness. 

Dear brother, I believe you have already done the only thing you can do at this moment to ease your pain: sincerely repent to Allah. 

There is a hadeeth that says: “Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His slave than anyone of you is pleased with finding his camel which he had lost in the desert.” (Al-Bukhari)

If you have not then do it, and move on. Allah is most forgiving. If He can forgive you, then you need to forgive yourself, and start focusing on what good deeds you can make in order to compensate for the mistakes you made.

The prophet said:

“By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if you were not to commit sin, Allah would sweep you out of existence and He would replace (you by) those people who would commit sin and seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would have pardoned them. (Muslim)

We all make mistakes, brother.

I am not an Islamic scholar to answer your question about asking for forgiveness from someone who has been deceased, so I would quote Islamqa that states: 

“In any case, you have taken a very important step, which is repenting to Allaah. If you sincerely repent to Him and do as much as you can to honour your grandmother (for more details, see Question #763), and she sees in her record (on the Day of Judgement) that you sought forgiveness for her, perhaps she will forgive you on that Day if she had not already forgiven you in this world. Make lots of duaa for her. May Allaah forgive us all.”

Thinking of death

Dear brother, it seems you are not alone: one in 10 teens thinks often about their own death. (galloup)

While thanatophobia or death anxiety does exist, I believe your thoughts could simply be part of your self-development. When you meet mortality – i. e. when one of your beloved ones dies or you hear shocking news –, when you realize how much our existence on earth depends on Allah, how suddenly it can end,  these feelings of anxiety arouse.

They also arise when you no longer live the carefree life of children; you move out of the parents’ house, you finish high school and enter the university.

Solution for death anxiety

I myself used to fear from death. It sounds weird, but I used to imagine I do not exist. The life on Earth is going on, and I am lying in soil being aware of nothing around me. When I was around 23, I reached the point I felt the need to seek help from a psychologist who explained to me what I am writing to you now.

Should Muslim Feel Anxious about Death? - About Islam

That at this stage of your life, when your task is to discover and define the world around you, your abilities, your life goals, who you are and who you want to be, life can feel scary and makes us anxious. 

Death is inevitable. Actually, people of the past had a much healthier approach to death. Today, many people suffer from death anxiety because we make it such a big taboo, especially in the West. We try not to think, talk, or even think about it for a moment.

Death a reality

The approach of Muslims should differ from that of the non Muslims as we believe death is not the end of our life, just a stage between this life and our eternal next life. As Muslims, we do need to think about our death actually as a tool that encourages us to do more and more good.

This is the deadline, and if you think in worldly terms: without deadline, we would sit on the couch doing nothing. We need deadlines at work, at school so that we are motivated to do useful things. Therefore, it is all natural that our life also has a time we need to finish the test, and give the paper to the teacher, Allah.  

However, people who have experienced trauma and/or suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder have also such thoughts, according to MyPTSD forum.  

One thing you can do is sitting down with a piece of paper and writing out everything that comes to your mind when you think of this death anxiety. What causes it exactly? Can you pinpoint what triggers it? That you need to leave your beloved ones? And that you will not be able to do what you have planned for this life? That you are unsure whether you are a good enough Muslim for Jannah? What is it you fear of exactly?

Write it down

Writing down helps you organize your feelings and thoughts, and understanding the underlying reasons and processes can lead you to dissolve this anxiety.

Educating yourself about death anxiety and what to do about it can be another solution. 

If you feel it is too overwhelming and you cannot rid of it alone, I sincerely advise you to seek help from a counselor. Face to face therapy helped me a lot, and I am sure it will help you too, biznillah.


Check out this counseling video:


Enjoy life and take care of yourself

Brother, you are dwelling in negative feelings and emotions. Please, take care of yourself and happiness by doing things you enjoy. Have a hobby, meet your friends you love, go to nature, enjoy reading the Quran and connecting with Allah.

You may want to start a gratitude journal. Each day you write down what you feel good about that happened during the day. Inshallah, this shifts your focus to notice the good around you, even if it is as small as having a good meal or receiving a smile from another person. 

Self-fulfilling prophecy

You mentioned one more thing that bothers you. You wrote: “I also have been predicting in my mind in the couple of months that for example something would happen and it happens!!” 

Brother, this is not a superstition but a psychological fact: what we think about the most would most likely happen. This phenomenon is called self fulfilling prophecy.

Positive Psychology states:

“A self-fulfilling prophecy is a belief or expectation that an individual holds about a future event that manifests because the individual holds it (Good Therapy, 2015).

For example, if you wake up and immediately think—perhaps for no particular reason at all—that today is going to be a terrible day, your attitude might make your prediction come true. You may unconsciously work to affirm your belief by ignoring the positive, amplifying the negative, and behaving in ways that are unlikely to contribute to an enjoyable day.”

Please read the full article, it is really detailed and very interesting. Now that you know how it works, you can inshallah avoid it. 

In conclusion,

Dear brother, please forgive yourself. Repent to Allah and believe He has forgiven you for the mistakes you did to your deceased grandma. Compensate it with good deeds.

Thinking of our death should be among the “daily program” of a Muslim. However, if you feel it makes you anxious to the extent it makes you incapable to enjoy life, seek out professional help. 

Enjoy life. Take care of yourself. Do things that make you happy. Surround yourself with people who are positive and cheer you up. 

Most importantly, complain to Allah. Talk to Him and ask Him to remove these anxieties from you and make you feel happy and in peace.

May Allah help you.

Salam,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Timea Aya Csányi
Timea Aya Csányi pursues her BSc. degree in Psychology and Islamic Studies at the Islamic Online University. She is a certified NLP® Practitioner, one of our writers and counselors at the "Ask the Counselor" section. She works as a fitness trainer who is specialized in the spine and functional training. She is advocates for gaining self-love and confidence through exercising. If you are a Muslimah who seeks spine-friendly online training with a PT, you can reach out to Timea at [email protected]