Agony of death (sakr al-mawt) means unconscious state of a person who is about to die. Materials which cause drowsiness in one’s mind are generally called “muskir” or “musakkir”. That word is also used to mean agony, love, sorrow, heedlessness or faint caused by a pain, and that state is called “sakr”, which is what we also mean here. That is to say; what is meant with “sakarat” which is the plural form of “sakr” is the agony and fainting when one is about to die.
Accordingly, “sakarat al-mawt” which is a Quranic term means “unconsciousness when one is about to die, which signals one’s death.”
As we all know, death is the soul’s leaving the body, and death causes agony. As a matter of fact, it is stated in a Quranic verse that sakarat al-mawt will find those who escape from death, sooner or later. (al-Qaf, 50/19).
As narrated from Hazrat Aisha, there was always a cup of water by the Prophet’s side during his last sickness. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used to dip his blessed hand into water and rub it onto his face and say: “There is no god but Allah. There is agony of death, for sure.” Then he raised his hands and said “ to Rafiqu’l-A’la” (the highest abode) until his soul was taken away and his hands fell down. (Bukhari, Riqaq, 42). In another hadith narrated from Hazrat Aisha, after dipping his hand into water and wetting his face, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), raised his hands and prayed: “My Allah, help me in agony and unconsciousness of death.” (Ibn Majah, Janaiz, 64; Tirmidhi, Janaiz, 8).
Hazrat Aisha narrates: “Having seen the agony the Prophet suffered while dying, I will not envy anyone’s easy death.” (Tirmidhi, Dead, 8). In another narration, Hazrat Aisha said: “The Messenger of Allah died on my chest. Having seen it with the Messenger of Allah, I will not consider the severity of death bad for anyone.” (Nasai, Dead, 6).
They are the realities of ghayb (unseen), which living people cannot know, that angels appear to anyone at the time of death and tell them their place in the hereafter, the agony of death and what happens in that state. A true believer has to believe in all information about the realities of ghayb given to them by Allah and His Messenger. Every Muslim must believe in all situations informed to them in certainty. Otherwise, they will risk their faith.
It is stated in the religious sources that people who are on the straight way while they are alive, that is, who believe and comply with prohibitions attentively will experience an easy death and Angel of Death will treat them gently. And those who live a life contrary to it will experience a violent death and the Angel of Death will treat those people, who have spent their lives in infidelity, rebel and evil deeds, harshly. However, it is not an unchangeable rule. Sometimes while beloved slaves of Allah die in agony, those who spent their lives rebelling against Allah die easily.