.عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ ﷺ: (( أَكْثِرُوا ذِكْرَ هَاذِمِ اللَّذَّاتِ )) يَعْنِي الْمَوْتَ. رَوَاهُ التِّرْمِذِيُّ وَالنَّسَائِيُّ، وَصَحَّحَهُ ابْنُ حِبَّانَ
On the authority of Abū Hurayrah who said, “The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said, “Remember often the severer of pleasures”.
Reported by al-Tirmidhī and al-Nasāʾī, and authenticated by Ibn Ḥibbān.
In one particular version of this ḥadīth, as recorded in various compilations, Anas b. Mālik, may Allāh be pleased with him, stated that the Prophet ﷺ passed by some people from the Anṣār who were laughing, so he said, “Remember often the destroyer of pleasures.”
 This ḥadīth is recorded by al-Bazzār (2:466) in Mukhtaṣar al-Zawāʾid, al-Ṭabarānī in al-Awsaṭ (1/395), Abū Nuʿaym in al-Ḥilyah (9/252), al-Mundhirī graded it ḥasan in al-Targhīb wa al-Tarhīb (4/236), Ibn Ḥajar, in his al-Talkhīṣ, noted Ibn al-Sakan’s authentication of it. Abū Ḥātim however censured it in al-ʿIlal (2:131): “This is a false ḥadīth” (hādhā ḥadīth bāṭil). This is because it is from the reports of Muʾammil(?) b. Ismāʿīl who has been criticised. Imām al-Bukhārī said regarding him, “munkar al-ḥadīth”. [Minḥat, Fawzān, 4:231].
Sh. al-Albānī grades the ḥadīth ḥasan his Ṣaḥīḥ al-Targhīb wa al-Tarhīb (no. 3334).
This is a command to do something often, frequently and a lot. The default position regarding commands is that they indicate an obligation unless there is something to indicate otherwise.
Should this remembrance of death be done just to yourself or when you are with others? Sh. ʿUthaymīn states it includes both scenarios, thus one should remind himself of death when alone and when he is with others [Fatḥ, 2:497].
The word hādhim with a dhāl means severer, cutter. The reason why death is called the “severer of pleasures” is because it cuts the delights and pleasures of this world and causes a man to abstain from indulging in it [Minḥat, 4:231].
In some narrations the word appears as “hādim” with a dāl, which indicates destruction such as in the destruction of buildings. The use of the word “destruction” portrays an image of pleasures and desires as being a building which is destroyed and in ruins and death is that destroyer and remover of pleasures. [Minḥat, 4:231].
“the pleasures/delights” refers to the pleasures and delights of this worldly life. With respect to the believer, death only ends the pleasures of this worldly life and signals the beginning of delights of the hereafter which surpasses the delights of this world.
The ḥadīth has been graded authentic Ibn Ḥibbān in his Ṣaḥīḥ and al-Albānī in his edition of Mishkāt al-Maṣābīḥ (1:504, no. 1607).
The ḥadīth is recorded by:
- al-Tirmidhī (no. 2307)
- al-Nasāʾī (no. 1824)
- Ibn Mājah (no. 4258)
- Ibn Ḥibbān (6:261)
- al-Ḥākim (4:357)
- al-Ḍiyāʾ al-Maqdisī (5:76)
Remember Death Often
This ḥadīth contains an explicit command from the Prophet ﷺ to remember death a lot. It also teaches us, in a more general sense, that one should admonish himself frequently and this includes remembering death. To not remember death frequently is an indication of one’s negligence [Fatḥ, ʿUthaymīn, 2:498].
Life is either comfort and ease or hardship and adversity. Man is in constant need to remember death because throughout his life he fluctuates between these two states; if he remembers death when in comfort, he attains safety from negligence, and if he remembers death whilst in adversity, he escapes sadness [Tawḍīḥ, 3:134].
Death is the Destroyer of Pleasures
Every delight and pleasure you currently enjoy in this worldly life will come to a sudden and abrupt end. The disbeliever will then go onto a life with absolutely no pleasures but one full of punishment and misery. The believer, on the other hand, will go on to a life better than this life replete with unrivalled pleasures and delights – may Allāh make us amongst these successful people.
Wisdom Behind the Command
The Prophet ﷺ commanded us to remember death a lot because it causes our hearts to soften and it causes us to abstain from indulging in the worldly life. He did not command us with this in order to make us cry and grieve over the family and possessions which we will inevitably lose through death but so we take a lesson from it. When a person remembers something a lot, it usually causes him to prepare for it. [Fatḥ, ʿUthaymīn]
The Correct Way to Prepare for Death
Some people prepare for death in odd ways unsanctioned by the Sharīʿah. Some, from what I have heard, have already bought their burial site despite not being confined to their deathbeds. Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728) expressed the view that it is not recommended for a Muslim to designate his burial place before his death because neither the Prophet ﷺ, nor his Companions did that. No one knows when they will die nor where. [Tawḍīḥ, 3:134]
The proper way to prepare for death is by doing righteous deeds regularly, frequently thinking of death, preparing for it and repenting before it strikes you. Additionally, when reminding oneself and others of death, one should not stop at just the simple reminder of death. He should also couple that with an encouragement to do good deeds and to take advantage of one’s time in pleasing Allāh. [Fatḥ, ʿUthaymīn].
Ibn Masʿūd (d. 32), may Allāh be pleased with him, was asked which person was the smartest and he described them as having two qualities. He said, “Those who remember death the most and are the best of them in preparing for what comes after; those are the clever ones.” [Tawḍīḥ, 3:135].
May Allāh make us amongst those who frequently remember death and take advantage of the blessings Allāh has bestowed upon us by doing good deeds and reminding others with the same.
Tuḥfat al-Aḥwadhī, 6:179, no. 2307.
Fatḥ Dhī-l-Jalāl wa-l-Ikrām bi Sharḥ Bulūgh al-Marām, ʿUthaymīn, 2:497, no. 507.
Tawḍīḥ al-Aḥkām min Bulūgh al-Marām by al-Bassām, 3:133, no. 434.
Subul al-Salām al-Mūṣilah ilá Bulūgh al-Marām by al-Ṣanʿānī, 3:301, no. 434
Minḥat al-ʿAllām fi Sharḥ Bulūgh al-Marām by ʿAbd Allāh al-Fawzān, 4:230, no. 534