Ajal mu'allaq (Arabic: الأجل المعلَّق), or suspended time or term, is an indeterminate and changeable time of one's death. It is contrasted to ajal musamma, which refers to the determinate and inevitable time of one's death, of which only God is aware. In the view of Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i, ajal mu'allaq is the time of one's death in accordance with his or her bodily circumstances, which can be hastened or postponed depending on external factors.
According to Islamic sources, one's death is postponed by things such as charity, ties with one's relatives, good behaviors towards one's neighbors, quitting sins, and visiting Imam al-Husayn (a). And there are things that shorten one's life, such as committing sins like fornication, offending one's father or mother, false oath, and cutting ties with one's family.
- Main article: Ajal
In Arabic, "ajal" refers to something's time span or temporal period. When applied to humans, it means the time of death. In the Qur'an, humans are said to have two types of ajal: ajal musamma (or determined time or term) and ajal without any qualifications, to which exegetes have referred as "ajal ghayr musamma" (undetermined time or term), "qada' ghayr mahtum" (non-decided fate), and "ajal mu'allaq" (suspended time or term).
Definition of Ajal Mu'allaq
- Main article: Ajal Musamma
According to 'Allama Tabataba'i, ajal musamma is the determined and inevitable or unchangeable time of one's death, of which only God is aware. It is contrasted to ajal mu'allaq, which refers to the natural time of one's death, which is changeable. In his view, ajal mu'allaq is the time of one's death depending on his or her bodily conditions. Thus, a person whose bodily conditions allow him to live one hundred years, his "suspended term" (that is, the time of his death) is one hundred years. However, the same person might indeed die sooner or later because of other factors, and this is his "determined term" (ajal musamma).
Origin of the Problem of Ajal Mu'allaq
Ajal mu'allaq (suspended time or term) and ajal musamma (determined term) were debated under Quranic verses, particularly the verse 2 of Sura al-An'am, in which two "ajal"s or terms for the human being are referred to: "It is He who created you from clay and then decreed a term (ajal) and a specified time (ajal musamma) [known] to Him."
Some exegetes appeal to this verse to show that there are two ajals or terms for the human being: inevitable and suspended; the Qur'an refers to the former as "musamma," whereas the latter is mentioned without any modifiers, and was later called "mu'allaq" (suspended) by scholars.
There are other interpretations of the two types of ajal as well. For example, some people believe that "ajal musamma" in the verse refers to one's life span from death to the beginning of resurrection, and the other type of ajal is one's life span in this world. It is also said that "ajal musamma" is the end of the life of people who are still alive, in contrast to another type of ajal which is the end of the life of people who are dead.
Factors Affecting Ajal Mu'allaq
According to Quranic verses and hadiths, some actions postpone or hasten one's ajal mu'allaq. Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i cites verses 3 and 4 of Sura Nuh to show that worshiping God, piety, and obeying the Prophet (s) postpone one's death.
Al-Shaykh al-Tusi quoted Imam al-Sadiq (a) as saying: "people who die because of sins are greater in number than people who die of natural causes, and people whose life is lengthened by their good conducts are greater in number than people whose life is lengthened by natural causes."
According to hadiths, one's ajal mu'allaq is postponed by charity, ties with one's relatives, good behaviors towards one's neighbor, quitting sins, visiting Imam al-Husayn (a), frequently thanking God, and reciting Sura al-Tawhid after every prayer. Moreover, some actions hasten ajal mu'allaq, such as fornication, offending one's father and mother, false oath, and cutting ties with one's family.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from اجل معلق in Farsi WikiShia.