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West London Islamic Centre & Jamia Masjid

Islamic Guide

Life After Death

The question whether there is a life after death does not fall under the jurisdiction of science as science is concerned only with classification and analysis of sense data.

 

 

Moreover, man has been busy with scientific inquiries and research, in the modern sense of the term, only for the last few centuries, while he has been familiar with the concept of life after death since times immemorial.

All Apostles called their people to worship God and to believe in life after death. They laid so much emphasis on the belief in life after death that even a slight doubt in it meant denying God and made all other beliefs meaningless.

The very fact that all the prophets of God have dealt with this metaphysical question of life after death so confidently and so uniformly - the gap between their ages being thousands of years - goes to prove that the source of their knowledge of life after death as proclaimed by them all, was the same, i.e., Divine revelation. We also know the prophets of God were greatly opposed by their people, mainly on the issue of life after death as their people thought it is impossible. But in spite of opposition the Prophets won so many sincere followers.

The question arises: what made those followers forsake the established beliefs, traditions and customs of their forefathers notwithstanding the risk of being totally alienated from their own community? The simple answer is: they made use of their faculties of mind and heart and realised the truth. Did they realise the truth through perceptual consciousness? Not so, as perceptual experience of life after death is impossible. Actually, God has given man besides perceptual consciousness, rational, aesthetic and moral consciousness too. It is this consciousness that guides man regarding realities that cannot be verified through sensory data.

A Matter of Moral Consciousness

That is why all the prophets of God while calling people to believe in God and life after death, appeal to the aesthetic, moral and rational consciousness of man. For example, when the idolaters of Makkah denied even the possibility of life after death, the Qur'an exposed the·weakness of their stand by advancing very logical and rational arguments in support of it:

"And he makes comparisons for Us, and forgets his own (origin and) creation: He says, "Who can give life to (dry) bones and decomposed ones (at that)?"Say, "He will give them life Who created them for the first time! For He is well-versed in every kind of creation!- "The same Who produces for you fire out of the green tree, when behold, you kindle with it (your own fires)! "Is not He Who created the heavens and the earth able to create the like of it?" Yea, indeed! For He is the Creator Supreme of skill and knowledge (infinite)!" [Al-Qur'an 36:78-81]

At another occasion the Qur'an very clearly says that the unbelievers have no sound basis for their denial of life after death. It is based on pure conjecture:

"And they say: "What is there but our life in this world? We shall die and we live, and nothing but time can destroy us." But of that they have no knowledge: they merely conjecture: And when Our clear signs are rehearsed to them, their argument is nothing but this: they say, "Bring (back) our forefathers, if what you say is true!"" [Al-Qur'an 45:24-25]

Surely God will raise all the dead. But God has His own plan of things. A day will come when the whole universe will be destroyed and then again the dead will be resurrected to stand before God. That day will be the beginning of the life that will never end, and that day every person will be rewarded by God according to his or her good or evil deeds.

The Qur'an states that this worldly life is a preparation for the eternal life after death. But those who deny it become slaves of their passions and desires, make fun of virtuous and God conscious persons. Such persons realise their folly only at the time of their death and wish to be given a further chance in the world but in vain. Their miserable state at the time of death, and the horror of the Day of Judgement, and the eternal bliss guaranteed to the sincere, are clearly described in the following verses of the Holy Qur'an:

"(In falsehood will they be) until, when death comes to one of them, he says: "O my Lord! Send me back (to life) - "In order that I may work righteousness in the things I neglected" - "By no means! It is but a word he says"- before them is a partition till the day they are raised up. Then when the trumpet is blown, there will be no more relationships between them that day, nor will one ask after another! Then those whose balance (of good deeds) is heavy - they will attain salvation: But those whose balance is light, will be those who have lost their souls; in hell will they remain. The fire will burn their faces, and they will in it grin, with their lips displaced." [Al-Qur'an 23:99-104]

Belief in the Hereafter Benefits this World

The belief in life after death not only guarantees success in the Hereafter but also makes this world full of peace and happiness by making individuals most responsible and dutiful in their activities. Think of the people of Arabia; gambling, wine, tribal feuds, plundering and murdering were their main traits when they had no belief in life after death. But as soon as they accepted the belief in God and life after death they became the most disciplined nation of the world. They gave up their vices, helped each other in hours of need, and settled all their disputes on the basis of justice and equality.

Similarly the denial of life after death has its consequences not only in the Hereafter but also in this world. When a nation as a whole denies it, all kinds of evils and corruption become rampant and ultimately society and its citizens suffer. The Qur'an mentions the terrible end of 'Ad, Thamud and the Pharaoh in some detail:

"The Thamud and the 'Ad people (branded) as false the stunning calamity! But the Thamud - they were destroyed by a terrible storm of thunder and lightning! And the 'Ad - they were destroyed by a furious wind, exceedingly violent; He made it rage against them seven nights and eight days in succession: so that you could see the (whole) people lying prostrate in its (path), as if they had been roots of hollow palmtrees tumbled down! Then see you any of them left surviving? And Pharaoh and those before him, and the cities overthrown, committed habitual sin, And disobeyed (each) the messenger of their Lord; so He punished them with an abundant penalty." [Al-Qur'an 69:4-10]

Thus there are very convincing reasons to believe in life after death. Firstly, all the prophets of God have called their people to believe in it. Secondly, whenever a human society is built on the basis of this belief, it has been the most ideal and peaceful society, free of social and moral evils. Thirdly, history bears witness that whenever this belief is rejected collectively by a group of people in spite of the repeated warning of the prophet, the group as a whole has been punished by God even in this world. Fourthly, moral, aesthetic and rational faculties of man endorse the inevitability of life after death. Fifthly, God's unique attributes of Justice and Mercy have no meaning if there is no life after death.


The Prophet (pbuh) said, 'Fear Allah wherever you are, and follow up a bad deed with a good one and it will wipe it out, and behave well towards people.' [Related in Tirmidhi]
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