The declaration of “There is no god worthy of worship except Allaah” at the time of death has a great effect in expiating sins, as it is a testimony of he who believes in it, and knows its meaning. When reciting this declaration with certainty all his lusts come to an end. His rebellious self softens and yields after refusal and disobedience, proceeds after being turned away, humiliates after being given honour, and its desires and interests are released.
This soul will go to its Lord seeking His forgiveness, completely certain that Allaah is One, as he is cleansed from all doubts of polytheism, and he is only concerned with the Almighty One that he will now meet. Whatever he has done secretly or privately has become one and he has faithfully said “لا إله إلا الله” – There is none worthy of worship except Allaah.
His heart is no longer inclined to think or turn to others. The whole world has been driven out of his heart. He is about to stand in front of Allaah. He is only thinking about the Hereafter and has put the world behind him. This faithful declaration came as the last deed of his life in order to purify him from sins and take him to his Lord as he meets Him with this faithful and truthful declaration.
If this kind of faithful and truthful declaration was said by him during his life, he would have hated this worldly life and its people, escaped to Allaah, and deserted everything else other than Him. But he declared it with a heart full of the pleasures of this life, love for this life and seeking other than Allaah. If it was as pure as at the time of his death, it would have provoked another, more sublime life.
We do not own ourselves! Allaah owns us. He owns our souls, our hearts are between two fingers of His that turn them according to Hi wish. Our life, death, happiness and sadness are in His hands; our moves, silence, words, and deeds are according to His will. If Allaah gave us the power over ourselves He would be giving it to a failure, a sinner, a wasteful creature, and if He gave power to other than Him, He would be giving authority to one who does not have any authority; neither good, bad, useful, death, life, nor resurrection. If Allaah abandons us, our enemy will take authority over us and make us prisoners. We can never dispense with Allaah, and although we need Him, we disobeyed Him and used to forget to remember Him.
[Extract of “Al-Fawaa’id” by the great Scholar and Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim رحمه الله ]