Translated by Shazia Ahmad:
“The phrase sharh as-sadr is a common Arabic expression used to refer to a spiritual expansion of the heart or chest that gives rise to inner enlightenment, tranquility, and relief from anxiety and worry. It is a phrase that is used in a number of places in the Quran. When going to face the Pharoah and convey to him the message of Islam, the noble prophet Musa (upon him be peace) prayed to Allah, “My Lord, expand for me my chest, ease my task for me, and remove the impediment from my speech so that they may understand what I say.” (Taha, v. 25-28) In reminding the Prophet (peace be upon him) of the great blessings He had bestowed upon him, Allah says, “Have we not expanded for you your chest?” (Al-Inshirah, v.1) Imam As-Sabouni says in explanation of this verse:
“His (pbuh) chest was expanded with true guidance, faith, and the light of the Quran. Ibn Kathir states that [the phrase sharh as-sadr means] ‘We have filled your chest with light and made it expansive and unconfined.’ And just as Allah has made the Prophet’s (pbuh) chest expansive, He has made His Shar’ (Law) generous, tolerant, easy, and without difficulty or narrowness.” (Safwat at-Tafaseer, pp. 553-554).
Imam Al-Ghazali entitled his letter Sharh as-Sadr because properly preparing for death is a means of attaining that spiritual expansion, illumination, and comfort. May Allah make us among those who experience that state, and who ready and beautify themselves properly for the journey to His Divine Presence, Ameen.” -Shazia Ahmad
You have asked – may Allah grant you success – about readiness for death, and the conditions and means [of attaining that spiritual state]. When is a servant (of God) ready for death? What should one strive to achieve so that he or she is fully prepared for this path?
Know that death is an expression used for the journey from this world to the Divine Presence, for to Allah is the ultimate return. Anyone traveling to a royal court is in need of three things for his journey: a severing of the ties that keep him from advancing; a preparation of provisions for the road; and an acceptable gift for the king, to present to him and by which to attain his pleasure. Similarly, the traveler journeying to the Divine Presence is in need of three things: preparation of his provisions, a cutting of ties, and the offering of a gift.
The traveler’s provision refers to a deep consciousness of God [taqwa]. Allah says, “…And take a provision with you for the journey, but the best of provisions is taqwa.” (Al-Baqara, v. 197)
The cutting of ties means a severing of the heart from the pleasures of this world. This is what was meant by the Prophet’s (pbuh) words, “an indifference towards the abode of delusions”.
The gift to be presented to the King is love, the origin of which is in true gnosis [ma’rifah] and faith [iman].
One who has no beloved in this world is completely ready for death. One who loves someone in this world, but finds that the love for Allah is stronger and more intense in his heart is also ready, though his level is not like that of the former.
A sign that a servant has true love for Allah is that he or she does not have any feeling of dislike towards death, no matter when it may come. An aversion to death is a sign that this world and one’s status in it is more beloved to a person [than meeting Allah in the hereafter].
The Prophet (pbuh) said: “The child of Adam will never be safe from three things: envy, fearing evil omens, and having bad opinions of others. I will inform you of a means of escaping from them. If you feel envious towards someone, do not seek to attain what he or she has. If you observe an omen said to be evil, continue without any change in your behavior. And if you think ill of someone, do not try to confirm your thoughts [by discussing them with others.]”
Full letter can be found here: https://cairocaprices.wordpress.com/my-translations/a-letter-on-preparing-for-death-by-imam-ghazali/