Everyone is scared of dying and rightly so. The uncertainty of what
lies beyond is frightening. It may be that of all religions, Islam, provides
the most graphic details of what comes after death and lies beyond. Islam
views death to be a natural threshold to the next stage of existence.
Islamic doctrine holds that human existence continues
after the death of the human body in the form of spiritual and physical
resurrection. There is a direct relation between conduct on earth and the life
beyond. The afterlife will be one of rewards and punishments which is commensurate
with earthily conduct. A Day will come when God will resurrect and gather the
first and the last of His creation and judge everyone justly. People will
enter their final abode, Hell or Paradise. Faith in life after death urges us
to do right and to stay away from sin. In this life we sometimes see the pious
suffer and the impious enjoy. All shall be judged one day and justice will be
Faith in life after death is one of the six fundamental
beliefs required of a Muslim to complete his faith. Rejecting it renders all
other beliefs meaningless. Think of a child who does not put his hand in fire.
He does not do so because he is sure it will burn. When it comes to doing
school work, the same child may feel lazy because he does not quite understand
what a sound education will do for his future. Now, think of a man who does
not believe in the Day of Judgment. Would he consider belief in God and a life
driven by his belief in God to be of any consequence? To him, neither
obedience to God is of use, nor is disobedience of any harm. How, then, can he
live a God-conscious life? What incentive would he have to suffer the trials of
life with patience and avoid overindulgence in worldly pleasures? And if a man
does not follow the way of God, then what use is his belief in God, if he has
any? The acceptance or rejection of life after death is perhaps the greatest
factor in determining the course of an individual’s life.
The dead have a continued and conscious existence of a
kind in the grave. Muslims believe that, upon dieing, a person enters an intermediate
phase of life between death and resurrection. Many events take place in this
new “world”, such as the “trial” of the grave, where everyone will be
questioned by angels about their religion, prophet, and Lord. The grave is a
garden of paradise or a pit of hell; angels of mercy visit the souls of
believers and angels of punishment come for the unbelievers.
Resurrection will be preceded by the end of the world. God
will command a magnificent angel to blow the Horn. At its first blowing, all
the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth will fall unconscious, except
those spared by God. The earth will be flattened, the mountains turned into
dust, the sky will crack, planets will be dispersed, and the graves overturned.
People will be resurrected into their original physical bodies
from their graves, thereby entering the third and final phase of life. The Horn
will blow again upon which people will rise up from their graves, resurrected!
God will gather all humans, believers and the impious,
jinns, demons, even wild animals. It will be a universal gathering. The
angels will drive all human beings naked, uncircumcised, and bare-footed to the
Great Plain of Gathering. People will stand in wait for judgment and humanity
will sweat in agony. The righteous will be sheltered under the shade of God’s
When the condition becomes unbearable, people will
request the prophets and the messengers to intercede with God on their behalf
to save them from distress.
The balances will be set and the deeds of men will be weighed.
Disclosure of the Records of the deeds performed in this life will follow. The
one who will receive his record in his right hand will have an easy reckoning.
He will happily return to his family. However, the person who will receive his
record in his left hand would wish he were dead as he will be thrown into the
Fire. He will be full of regrets and will wish that he were not handed his
Record or he had not known it.
Then God will judge His creation. They will be reminded
and informed of their good deeds and sins. The faithful will acknowledge their
failings and be forgiven. The disbelievers will have no good deeds to declare
because an unbeliever is rewarded for them in this life. Some scholars are of
the opinion that the punishment of an unbeliever may be reduced in lieu of his
good deeds, except the punishment of the great sin of disbelief.
The Siraat is a bridge that will be established
over Hell extending to Paradise. Anyone who is steadfast on God’s religion in
this life will find it easy to pass it.
Paradise and Hell will be the final dwelling places for
the faithful and the damned after the Last Judgment. They are real and eternal.
The bliss of the people of Paradise shall never end and the punishment of
unbelievers condemned to Hell shall never cease. Unlike a pass-fail system in
some other belief-systems, the Islamic view is more sophisticated and conveys a
higher level of divine justice. This can be seen in two ways. First, some
believers may suffer in Hell for unrepented, cardinal sins. Second, both Paradise and Hell have levels.
Paradise is the eternal garden of physical pleasures and
spiritual delights. Suffering will be absent and bodily desires will be
satisfied. All wishes will be met. Palaces, servants, riches, streams of wine,
milk and honey, pleasant fragrances, soothing voices, pure partners for
intimacy; a person will never get bored or have enough!
The greatest bliss, though, will be the vision of their
Lord of which the unbelievers will be deprived.
Hell is an infernal place of punishment for unbelievers
and purification for sinful believers. Torture and punishment for the body and
the soul, burning by fire, boiling water to drink, scalding food to eat,
chains, and choking columns of fire. Unbelievers will be eternally damned to
it, whereas sinful believers will eventually be taken out of Hell and enter
Paradise is for those who worshipped God alone, believed
and followed their prophet, and lived moral lives according to the teachings of
Hell will be the final dwelling place of those who denied
God, worshipped other beings besides God, rejected the call of the prophets,
and lead sinful, unrepentant lives.