Islam’s Concept of the Hereafter

Throughout the blog so far, you have come across words like “Hereafter,” “Day of Judgement,” and “other-worldly,” and you may have somewhat familiarized yourself with the concepts behind them. In this post, I will go into detail because these concepts are central to Islam. The period immediately after death, the Day of Judgment, the process of accountability, eternal life in Heaven or Hell, and everything beyond that are all part of the Hereafter.

According to Islam, when a person passes away from this world, he or she enters into the other world. The body stays here in one form or another, and Malak-ul-Maut (the Angel of Death) takes the ruh (Soul) to A’lam-e-Barzakh (the transitory state, period/place).

Whether the body is buried or disposed of through other means, angels known as Munkir-Nakir bring the deceased back to life in A’lam-e-Barzakh and ask three questions related to beliefs. If the person answers all three questions correctly, the stay in this transitory period/place is made comfortable, while incorrect answers bring pain and suffering. One can only remember the right answers if he or she has lived accordingly and has put into practice the beliefs in question.

Whether the body is under ground or anywhere else on earth, regardless of its state, it remains connected to the soul in A’lam-e-Barzakh. If the soul is at peace, the body is peaceful and feels pleasure, if the soul is in pain, the body feels the pain and suffers tremendously.

Death is the process of separating the soul from the body and is merely the mode of transportation for the soul to get to the Transitory state. The Transitory State lasts until Judgment Day. The human body grows on Earth, and after death it stays in the earth, on one state or another. The soul comes from A’lam-e-Arwah (“the world of spirits,” where souls were kept since their creation), and on separation from the body the soul enters A’lam-e-Barzakh, The time of death is fixed, and Malak-ul Maut (Angle of Death) is never late or ahead of schedule and is capable of being in many places at one time. The three questions of the grave are:

  1. Who is your Lord?
  2. What is your religion?
  3. What did you say about this man? (Pointing towards the Prophet Muhammad – Peace be upon them). [Mishkat]

Whoever responds to the first two questions with “Allah (SWT)” and “Islam” and in response to the third question, recognizes the man shown as Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon them) passes the test and is left peacefully. Whosoever fails to answer correctly is left to suffer in pain.

Every soul remains in A’lam-e-Barzakh until Judgment Day. When this Day arrives, Angle Israfil (A.S) will blow into the sur (trumpet) whereupon everyone alive will die and everything else will be  “wrapped up. The holy Qur’an states:

“And (when) the trumpet is blown, they will die-what is in the skies and what is on land-except whom Allah wills. When blown into it again, so at that time, they will all be standing (and) staring.” [39-68]

Then, all will gather in the Mahshar Ground in the presence of the divine throne. All will be given their register of deeds to be weighed. Anyone’s good deeds that weigh more than their bad deeds will be among the successful ones and will enter Paradise. If the bad deeds are heavier, he will be among the losers and will be thrown into Hell.

Having iman (Faith) is the prerequisite for any good act to be considered a ‘good deed’ in Islam and to be rewarded in the Hereafter. Furthermore, iman, as explained in Islam, is in itself, the heaviest among all virtuous deeds, whereas kufr (infidelity) & shirk (polytheism) are the heaviest among all sinful deeds. In the life Hereafter, death will cease to exist. Thus, life in Heaven and Hell will be eternal and infinite. The holy Qur’an mentions the length of Judgment Day to be equal to 50,000 Earth years [70:4]..

The belief in the Day of Judgment and in the concept of the Hereafter, including resurrection, is central to the Islamic belief system.

The concept of the Hereafter and the accountability of deeds, as presented by Islam, make certain that spiritual and moral values are preserved and adhered to by its believers. The fear of painful consequences for criminal behaviour brings crime down and reduces the likelihood of anyone resorting to crime. However, if there is the slight chance that a person could avoid punishment or imprisonment, a criminally minded person tends to commit crime. Since no one can escape from Allah (SWT) and accountability on Judgment Day, good Muslims remain vigiland against violating Allah’s (SWT) commandments.

Man-made laws do not grant a society complete protection against crimes, simply because law enforcement authorities cannot absolutely keep a watchful eye on violators. Man made laws are inherently weak and because of loopholes, they cannot always be enforced, resulting in proper justice not being served. Many inner and hidden crimes committed by people on a daily basis are beyond the scope of man made laws, let alone man’s enforcement and punishment. Sometimes, human rights’ violators are so powerful that they cannot be brought to justice.

However, on Judgment Day, divine justice will be served, and just compensation will be granted to every victim of crime who was deprived of justice. Allah (SWT) is the best of all legislators, and no one can escape from His jurisdiction. His enforcement and His laws are comprehensive, and there are no loopholes in them. Therefore , no one can escape punishment for his or her crimes/sins. Allah is All-Powerful.

On Judgment Day, everyone’s power will be taken away, and no one will be able to prevent Him from delivering proper punishment and due compensation. He is All-Knowledgeable and records every deed; thus, no proof of crime can be inadmissible in His court, Overall, justice will prevail, and whoever did not get or was brought to justice in this life will have it on Judgment day.

On the Day when each one will find, present in front, the goodness earned and the wrongdoings that were done, each one will wish that there were quite a distance between the wrongdoings earned and themselves…[Qur’an 3:30]

Judgment Day is not only to hold people accountable for their deeds in this life, it is also payday for faithful people, Those who were on the right path, suppressed their ill desires for the sake of acquiring the Lord’s pleasure, sacrificed their worldly wishes for the love of the Lord, truly served humanity as per the rules set forth by Allah (SWT), performed all their duties to the Lord and His creatures, and truly observed all of His commandments will be rewarded at this time.

The following are some verses of the holy Qu’an regarding the Day of Judgment and the Hereafter.

“So have you come to think that We created you just for nothing, and that you will not be returned towards Us?” [23:115]

And do not invoke any deity with Allah. There is no deity except Him. All things will be erased except His being. The Command is His, and towards Him will you people be returned. [28:88]

And those who brought faith and their progeny followed behind them with faith, so We joined them to their progeny, and We did not reduce anything from their deeds. Every soul that earned whatever, has full grasp of it. [52:21]

Knowledge of what Allah (SWT), our Creator, has revealed to us regarding accountability causes us to fear, which then makes us do what is right and proper, and this in turn brings success and recognition. Thus, in this case, Islamic knowledge brings fear, fear bring right actions, and ultimately success is achieved. For example, many of us stop our cars at a red light because we fear the law, payment of fines, and points on our license. We fear because of the knowledge of accountability for our actions. Where law enforcement is weak, people do not observe red lights because there is nothing to fear. Certainly, those who stop at red lights and follow other rules because of respect for laws and the wish to protect others, are better citizens, and there is no shortage of them. For others, they truly need fear of accountability to make them law-abiding citizens.

Islam does a wonderful job of placing a great deterrent in the form of Judgement Day, in order to keep people on the right path.

Unfortunately, many Muslims these days are not deterred and have brought much unrest among themselves and others. Muslims will also not escape Allah’s (SWT) justice. Judgment Day will be the day of justice for all and not the day of favours, especially for those who have committed injustice to others. Allah (SWT) states in the holy Qur’an:

“O Faithful Ones! Keep fearing Allah and all are to see what they have sent forth for tomorrow, and fear Allah. Truly Allah is aware of every action you take [59:18]

Has that time not come for them who brought faith that their hearts may yield for Allah for whatever the Truth was revealed to them. And be not like those who were given the Book before, and after much time passed upon them, their hearts became hardened, and many of them are disobedient [57:16]

(They) are in gardens. They will inquire. of the sinners, “What was it that took you to Hell?” They answered, “We were not among the praying ones, did not use to feed the needy, and engaged in profane chat along with immoral jargon, and we used to deny the Day of Judgment, to the point death came upon us.” Now they will not benefit from the intercession of those who are to intercede. [74:40-48]

Some people have difficulty believing that after becoming dust and scattered particles in the earth they will become alive again. They should not forget that Allah (SWT) created us the first time out of nothing; the second time around He will at least have our particles. Creating something for the first time is harder than making it again.

He is our Lord, the All-Powerful. Who possesses unlimited power.He can and will certainly bring us to life again and arrange for the Day of Judgment for justice and retribution. Allah (SWT) reveals:

And he makes examples of Us and forgets his own creation, He asks, “Who will bring the bones to life when they are decomposed?” Answer him, “He will give them life, Who brought them to life in the first place, and He is aware of all life. – Who created for you fire from the green tree, so now you kindle fires for yourself. – Does not the One Who created the heavens and the Earth have the power to create like (a human being again)? Why not: He is the absolute Creator, the All-Knowing. -Whenever He commands something to come into existence, all He says, “Be, ” and it is! – So glory to Him in Whose hand is the absolute right to do what He wills, and towards Him you people will be brought back [Qur’an 36:78:83]

Hundreds of verses of the holy Qur’an warn us to be serious and not overlook this important matter. Allah (SWT) did a great favour and showed kindness in warning us about Judgment Day. He is not cruel nor is He a tyrant. Thousands of signs and prophecies that are coming true prove that Doomsday is approaching. Everything that had a beginning must come to end. If everything were to just end without any purpose, this universal setting would be nothing more than a waste. Such a fine creation with no purpose and no end is absurd. Allah (SWT) does not just create something for no reason.

There is wisdom behind all that is kept “unseen,” which is why there is great reward for believing in the unseen. At the time of death, nothing remains unseen-bringing faith at that moment will be useless and unacceptable. Additionally, admittance of truth on Judgment Day will not bear any fruit.

Heaven is the abode for believers, and Hell is for non-believers. This is the law of the Lord, who is not unjust to anyone. He has nothing to lose or gain from it. He gives us every chance and equips us with every kind of tool and knowledge necessary to choose and make our decisions wisely. Now our fate is in our own hands. Injustice will not come to anyone. After all, each one of us is His creature, and He is our Lord.

This post is in a series of many to come on the topic of Islam from a Sufi Perspective. More articles are to follow. Please follow in the Category : Islam as a Sufi Perspective, or Alternatively subscribe to our blog!

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