In very simple words, death is the end of life. So in this simple definition another term needs to be explained and that is – life. For man, life is the existence of an individual. If we take the term existence as an easily understood one, as because not every word can be explained in a limited possibility, we can now define death and that is “death is the end of existence”.
In medical science, death is the permanent and irreversible cessation of all vital functions, namely brain function, respiratory function and circulatory or cardiac function. So the medical definition further elaborates the two aspects of the usual definition, ‘end’ and ‘existence’. Thus, for death, ‘end’ represents something permanent & irreversible, and ‘existence’ is mainly represented by function.
By integrating the above two aspects, death can be very rationally and scientifically defined as the absolute disappearance of function. In the science of psychology or psychiatry, theology is also included, with ethical and philosophical points, in order to cover the issues. So the theological or religious aspect of death is also supposed to be important for psychiatric research purposes. As a Muslim doctor, I will try to mention the Islamic view of death.
Islam defines death as an obligatory transitional event between ‘life before death’ and ‘life after death’. So if we integrate the scientific aspect with the description, the definition of death for a Muslim would be the absolute disappearance of the functions of the time period between the two lives – one before death and another after death. Consequently, it abandons the permanent and irreversible criteria of the ‘end’ in the concept of death by means of the concept of life after death.
In our daily life, death is associated with the greatest burdens due to knowledge – death ends. It is also supported by science so far. But when the question of religion comes, specifically Islam, this knowledge changes for a religious person. So it can be easily assumed that death becomes a less stressful event for a Muslim when he truly believes in Islam. The time has come, I think, for science to take into account the definitions derived from the religions to increase the comfort of our everyday life.