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Ihtidar

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From Death to Resurection
کلمة الاسترجاع.jpg

Iḥtiḍār (Arabic: الإحتضار) is a terminology in fiqh (jurisprudence) which means the presence of death. A person who is about to die and whose soul is about to leave his body is called "muḥtaḍar"(مُحتَضَر). When a person is in such a state, people around him have certain jurisprudential obligations.

Definition

"Ihtidar" literally means "presence". In the religious terminology, it means the presence of death and the arrival of the time at which one's soul leaves the body.[1]

In the Qur'an

In the Qur'an 4 in the Qur'an, "ihtidar" is characterized as the presence of death and it is emphasized that tawba of sinners is not accepted when they are in this state.[2][3] The Qur'an 5 refers to the pains and hardships suffered by unjust people in this state while the angels talk to them.[4][5] And according to the Qur'an 56, remind people who deny the truth of the Qur'an that there will be a time at which their life comes to their throat and they are asked to return a "muhtadar" to life, if they can.[6][7]

In Hadith

According to some hadiths, the Prophet (s) and Imam 'Ali (a) go to the "muhtadar"; if he or she is a believer, then they give them the good news of going to the Heaven and if they are unbelievers, then they notify them of the divine anger. The believer is given the option to go back to this world, but upon seeing their place in the Heaven, they choose to go to the Afterlife. After seeing their place in the Heaven, some believers ask to go back to this world just to inform their family and friends about their position in the Afterlife, but they are not given the permission to do so.[8]

Practices

There are certain jurisprudential rulings for ihtidar which are referred to as "manners or practices of ihtidar".

It is a collective obligation for all Muslims to lay the body of a Muslim who is about to die on his back such that his or her soles are in the direction of the qibla.[9]

It is mustahab or recommended to suggest shahadatayn[10] to a person who is about to die, that is, shahadatayn should be recited in order for the muhtadar to repeat it. If the person suffers too much pain while dying, it is recommended that they be moved to the place where they usually said their prayers. It is also recommended to recite the Qur'an near the "muhtadar", particularly the Qur'an, the Qur'an 37 and the Qur'an 33. It is also recommended to recite Al-'Adila Supplication when a person is about to die. And it is recommended to suggest the following supplications to the "muhtadar": "O God! Forgive my many sins! And accept my little bit of obedience" (اللهم اغفر لی الکثیر من معاصیک، واقبل منی الیسیر من طاعتک), "O Who Accepts the little and Forgives the many, Accept my little and Forgive my many; truly Thou Are the Pardoning, the Forgiving" (یا من یقبل الیسیر ویعفو عن الکثیر، اقبل منی الیسیر واعف عنی الکثیر، إنک أنت العفو الغفور).[11]

It is unfavorable for a junub or a Menstruating woman to be near the muhtadar, as it is unfavorable to leave the muhtadar alone with women, to put an iron stuff on muhtadar's stomach, to cry, and to talk too much near the muhtadar.[12]

Notes

  1. Dihkhudā, Lughatnāma, under the word «احتضار».
  2. Qurʾān, 4:18.
  3. وَلَيسَتِ التَّوبَةُ لِلَّذينَ يَعمَلونَ السَّيِّئَاتِ حَتّىٰ إِذا حَضَرَ أَحَدَهُمُ المَوتُ قالَ إِنّي تُبتُ الآنَ وَلَا الَّذينَ يَموتونَ وَهُم كُفّارٌ أُولٰئِكَ أَعتَدنا لَهُم عَذابًا أَليمًا: But [acceptance of] repentance is not for those who go on committing misdeeds: when death approaches any of them, he says, 'I repent now.' Nor is it for those who die while they are faithless. For such We have prepared a painful punishment.
  4. Qurʾān, 6:93.
  5. وَمَن أَظلَمُ مِمَّنِ افتَرىٰ عَلَى اللَّهِ كَذِبًا أَو قالَ أوحِيَ إِلَيَّ وَلَم يوحَ إِلَيهِ شَيءٌ وَمَن قالَ سَأُنزِلُ مِثلَ ما أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ وَلَو تَرىٰ إِذِ الظّالِمونَ في غَمَراتِ المَوتِ وَالمَلائِكَةُ باسِطو أَيديهِم أَخرِجوا أَنفُسَكُمُ اليَومَ تُجزَونَ عَذابَ الهونِ بِما كُنتُم تَقولونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ غَيرَ الحَقِّ وَكُنتُم عَن آياتِهِ تَستَكبِرونَ: Who is a greater wrongdoer than him who fabricates a lie against Allah, or says, 'It has been revealed to me,' while nothing was revealed to him, and he who says, 'I will bring the like of what Allah has sent down?' Were you to see when the wrongdoers are in the throes of death, and the angels extend their hands [saying]: 'Give up your souls! Today you shall be requited with a humiliating punishment because of what you used to attribute to Allah untruly, and for your being disdainful towards His signs.' (Qur'an 6:93)
  6. Qurʾān, 56:83.
  7. فَلَولا إِذا بَلَغَتِ الحُلقومَ (۸۳) وَأَنتُم حينَئِذٍ تَنظُرونَ (۸۴) وَنَحنُ أَقرَبُ إِلَيهِ مِنكُم وَلٰكِن لا تُبصِرونَ (۸۵) فَلَولا إِن كُنتُم غَيرَ مَدينينَ (۸۶) تَرجِعونَها إِن كُنتُم صادِقينَ (۸۷): So when it (soul) reaches the throat [of the dying person] (83) and at that moment you are looking on (84) —and We are nearer to him than you are, though you do not perceive— (85) then why do you not, if you are not subject1 (86) [to the Divine dispensation], restore it, should you be truthful? (87)
  8. Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol. 3, p. 129-132.
  9. Yazdī, al-ʿUrwa al-wuthqā, vol. 1, p. 282.
  10. It is bearing witness that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad (s) is His messenger. (Ashhad-u an lā ʾilāh-a ʾillā Allāh wa anna Muḥammad-an rasūl-u Allāh) (أشهد أن لا اله الّا الله و أنّ محمّدا رسول الله).
  11. Najafī, Jawāhir al-kalām, vol. 4, p. 17-18.
  12. Yazdī, al-ʿUrwa al-wuthqā, vol. 1, p. 284-285.

References

  • Dihkhudā, ʿAlī Akbar. Lughatnāma. Tehran: Dānishgāh-i Tehran, 1341 Sh.
  • Kulaynī, Muḥammad b. Yaʿqūb al-. Al-Kāfī. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmīyya, 1407 AH.
  • Najafī, Muḥammad Ḥasan al-. Jawāhir al-kalām. Beirut: Dār Iḥyāʾ al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, 1404 AH.
  • Yazdī, Sayyid Muḥammad Kāẓim al-. Al-ʿUrwa al-wuthqā. Beirut: Dār al-Muwarrikh al-ʿArabī, [n.d].