Life after Death
The question of whether or not there is life after death does not fall under the field of science, because science is only concerned with the classification and analysis of recorded data. Moreover, man has been busy with scientific enquiries and research, in the modern sense of the term, only for the last few centuries, while he has been familiar with the idea of life after death since times immemorial.
All the prophets of God 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 so confidently and uniformly – the gap between their ages in some cases, 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, that is, 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 is impossible. But in spite of that opposition, the prophets won 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 that they made use of their faculties of mind and heart and realized the truth.
It is this consciousness that guides man regarding realities that he cannot see. 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 comparison 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 the fire out of the green trees when behold! Ye kindle therewith (your won 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”) (Al-Qur’an, chapter 36, verse 78-81)
At another occasion, the Qur’an very clearly says that the disbelievers have no sound basis for their denial of life after death. It is based on pure conjectures: “They say: There is nothing but our present life; we die, and we live, and nothing but Time destroys us. Of that they have no knowledge; they merely conjecture. And when Our revelations are recited to them, their only argument is that they say: Bring us our father, if you speak truly” (Al-Qur’an, chapter 45: verses 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 good and evil deeds.
The explanation that the Qur’an gives about the necessity of life after death is what the 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, it would be an unjust and indifferent God, having once created man only to be unconcerned 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 corruptions in the society, enslaved numerous persons to serve their whims, and so forth. Man, having a very short span of life in this world, and as this physical world is not eternal, punishments or rewards equal to the evil or noble deeds of persons are not possible here. The Qur’an 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:” Those who disbelieve say: The Hour will never come unto us. Say: Nay, but most surely, by my Lord, it will come unto you. (He is) the Knower of the Unseen. Not an atom’s weight, or less than that or greater, escapes Him in the heavens or in the earth, but it is in a clear Record. That He may reward those who believe and do good works. For them are pardon and a rich provision. But those who strive against our revelations, challenging (Us), theirs will be a painful doom of wrath” (Al-Qur’an, chapter 34: verses 3-5).
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 Qur’an says: “Are (those two) alike?- One to whom We made a goodly promise, and who is going to reach its (fulfilment), and one to whom We have given the good things of this life, but who, on the Day of judgment, is to be among those brought up (for punishment)?”(Al-Qur’an, Chapter 28: verse 61).
The Qur’an 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, and 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 honor of the Day of Judgment, and the eternal bliss guaranteed to the sincere believers are very clearly mentioned in the following verse on the holy Qur’an
“Until, when death comes unto one of them, he says: My Lord, send me back, that I may do right in that which I have left behind!. But nay! It is but a word that he speaks; and behind them is a barrier until the day when they are raised. And when the Trumpet is blown there will be no kinship among them that day, nor will they ask of 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 lost their souls; in Hell will they abide. The fire will burn their faces, and they will therein grin, with their lips displaces” (Al-Qur’an, chapter 23: verses 99-104).
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 before the arrival of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Gambling, over drinking, tribal feuds, plundering and murdering were just a few of their main traits when they had no belief in the life hereafter. But as soon as they accepted the belief in 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 corruptions become rampant in that society and ultimately it is destroyed. Thus, there are very convincing reasons to believe in life after death:
- All the prophets of God have called their people to believe in it.
- 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.
- 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.
- Moral, aesthetic and rational facilities of man endorse the possibility of life after death.
- God’s attributes of Justice and Mercy have no meaning if there is no life after death.