The Salaf us-Saaliheen and their Final Deeds
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
«إِنَّ العَبْدَ لَيَعْمَلُ، فِيمَا يَرَى النَّاسُ، عَمَلَ أَهْلِ الجَنَّةِ وَإِنَّهُ لَمِنْ أَهْلِ النَّارِ، وَيَعْمَلُ فِيمَا يَرَى النَّاسُ، عَمَلَ أَهْلِ النَّارِ وَهُوَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الجَنَّةِ، وَإِنَّمَا الأَعْمَالُ بِخَوَاتِيمِهَا»
“A man may do the deeds that seem to the people as the deeds of the people of Paradise, while in fact, he is from the dwellers of the Hell Fire. Similarly, a person may do deeds that seem to the people as the deeds of the people of the Hell Fire, while in fact he is from the dwellers of Paradise. Verily, the rewards of deeds performed, depend upon the last actions.” [Recorded by al-Bukharee in Kitab ar-Raqaa’iq (Book on Softening of the Hearts) no. 6493]
Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in his book “Jaami’ al-‘Uloom wal-Hikam”:
The words “that seem to the people” indicate that what is hidden may be different from what is apparent to the people, and that a bad end is because of a hidden problem in a person that people are not aware of, whether it is a bad deed and the like, so that hidden quality may lead to a bad end at death.
Similarly, a man may do a deed of the people of Hell, but inwardly he has some hidden trait of the people of Paradise, and that prevails at the end of his life, and leads to a good end for him.
‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Abi Rawaad said: “I visited a man at the time of his death. He was being prompted to say Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah, but the last words he said were, “I am a disbeliever in what you say”, and he died like that!
Then I went to ask about him and found that he was addicted to alcohol!
[Because of this] ‘Abd al-‘Azeez used to say: “Beware of sins for it is sins that led him to this bad end.”
In general, how people end up is the consequences of what went before, and all of that has been previously written in a Book, hence the salaf greatly feared a bad end, and some of them would feel anxious when remembering previous sins.
It was said that the hearts of the righteous are concerned about how their life will end, and they always wonder: how will our end be?
The hearts of those who are close to Allaah are concerned about previous sins, and say: How will our sins affect our ends?
Some of the Companions cried at the time of the Prophet’s death so he asked the reason. One said, “I heard the Messenger of Allaah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) saying, “Verily Allaah the Exalted causes His creation to die in two ways. And he said, ‘Those who are in Paradise, and those who are in Hell Fire.’” And I don’t know from [which category of death] I am.” [Recorded by Ahmad in his Musnad, 4/176,177]
Sufyan ath-Thawree’s anxiety would increase from his previous actions and the possible ends of those actions, and he would cry and say, “I fear that I will be recorded in the mother of the book from among the miserable,” and he would cry and say, “I fear that I will be deprived of my faith at the time of my death.” [Recorded by Abu Na’eem in Hilyatul-‘Awliya, 7/51]
Malik ibn Dinar (Rahimahullaah) would spend all night tugging at his beard saying, “O My Lord, you know the inhabitants of Paradise from the inhabitants of the [Hell] Fire. From which of these two dwellings is Malik?” [Recorded by Abu Na’eem in Hilyatul-‘Awliya, 2/383]
Sahl al-Tastari said: “The one who has started his journey towards Allaah fears that he may fall into sin and the one who is close to Allaah fears that he may end fall into kufr (disbelief).”
Hence the Sahaabah (companions) and the righteous salaf who came after them feared that they might become hypocrites, and their fear and anxiety were intense. So the believer fears lesser hypocrisy for himself, and worries that it might prevail at the end of his life, and take him into a state of major hypocrisy, as it was mentioned above that hidden problems may lead to a bad end.
[Source: “Jaami’ al-‘Uloom wal-Hikam” of Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (rahimahullaah), Volume 1, pages 172-174, checked by Shaykh Shuaib al-‘Arnaoot]