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 the prophets of Allah called their people to worship Him 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 that these prophets of God were greatly opposed by their people, mainly on the issue of life after death as their people thought it 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 realize the truth. Did they realize 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 guide man regarding realities that can’t be verified through sensory data. That is why all the prophets of 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 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 frilly knows all creation. "The same Who produces for you fire out of the green tree, when behold! Ye kindle there with (your own fires)! "Is not He Who created the heavens and the earth able to create the like thereof?" Yea, indeed! For He is the Creator Supreme, of skill and knowledge (infinite)! (36:78-81)

At another occasion the Quran very clearly says that the disbelievers have no sound basis for their denial of life after death. It is based on pure conjectures: "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 ye say is true!" (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 accounted by God according to his her good or evil deed.

The explanation that the Quran gives about the necessity of life after death is what moral consciousness of man demands .Actually, if there is no life after death, the very belief in God becomes irrelevant or even if one believes In God: having once created man not concerned with his fate. Surely, God is just. He will punish the tyrants whose crimes are beyond count: having killed hundreds of innocent persons, created great corruption in the society, enslaved numerous persons to serve their whims, etc. Man having a very short span of life in this world, and this physical world too being not eternal, punishments or rewards equal to the evil or noble deeds of persons are not possible here.

The Quran very emphatically states that the day of judgment must come and God will decide about the fate of each soul according to his or her record of deeds:"Tire Unbelievers say, "Never to us will come the Hour": say, "Nay! But must surely, by My Lord, it will come upon you" (34:3)

The day of Resurrection will be the Day when God's attributes of Justice and Mercy will be in full manifestation. God will shower His mercy on those who suffered for His sake in the worldly life, believing that an eternal bliss was awaiting them. But those who abused the bounties of God, caring nothing for the life to come, will be in the most miserable state. Drawing a comparison between them, the Quran says: "Are (these two) alike? One to whom We have made a goodly promise, and who is going to reach its fulfilment), and one to whom We have given the good things of this lift, but who, on the Day of Judgment, is to be among those brought up for punishment)?" (28:61)

The Quran also 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 realize 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 Judgment, and the eternal bliss guaranteed to the sincere believers are very beautifully mentioned in the following verses of the Holy Quran:

"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 1 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 be successful. But those whose balance is light, will be those who have lair their souls; in Hell will they abide. The Fire will burn their faces, and they will therein grin, with their lips displaced." (23:99-104)

The belief in the life after death not only guarantees success in the hereafter but also mikes 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 the One 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 in that society and ultimately it is destroyed. The Quran mentions the terrible end of Aad, Thamud and the Pharaoh in some detail:

"(The tribes of) Thamud and Ad, disbelieved in the judgment to come. As for Thamud, they were destroyed by the lighting, and as for Aad, they were destroyed by a fierce roaring wind, which He imposed on them for seven long nights and eight long days so that you might see the people laid prostrate in it as if they were the stumps of fallen down palm trees. Now do you see remnant of them? Pharaoh likewise and those before him and the subverted cities. They committed errors and they rebelled against the Messenger of their Lord, and He seized them with a surpassing grip. Lo, when the waters rose, We bore you in the running ship that We might make it a reminder for you and for heeding ears to hold. So When the trumpet is blown with a single blast and the earth and the mountains are lifted up and crushed with a single blow, then on that day, the Terror shall come to pass, and the heaven shall be split for upon that day it shall be very frail Then as for him who is given his book in his right hand, he shall say: "Here take and read my book! Certainly I thought that I should encounter my reckoning." So he shall be in a pleasing lift in a lofty garden, its clusters night to gather."Eat and drink with wholesome appetite for that you did long ago, in the days gone by". But as for him who is given his book in his left hand, he shall say: Would that 1 had not been given my book and not known my reckoning! Would it had been the end! My wealth has not availed me, my authority is gone from me" (The Quran 69:4-39).

Thus there are very convincing reasons to believe in life after death:

Firstly, all the prophets of Allah 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 Allah even in this world.

Fourthly, moral, aesthetic arid rational faculties of man endorse the possibility of life after death.

Fifthly, Allah's attributes of Justice and Mercy have no meaning if there is no life after death.

From the book: Islam in Concept

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