“The Belief in the Day of Judgment and Its Effects in the Life of a Man”
Al-Azhar Magazine – June 1969
The belief in a life after death and in the Day of Judgment is one of the basic principles of Islam. The belief in future life and in the accountability of his (or her) actions in this world is the most vital force that incites man to perfection and elevation in his present life, in order to attain the highest grade in the hereafter. The Holy Quran states that the state of existence of everyone in his future life, with its reward or punishment abiding in Paradise or Hell, depends upon the course of his life on earth.
The great importance of faith in a life after death and in the Day of Judgment is clear from the following facts. This faith in the Future life is used in the Holy Quran next only to the faith in God. Very often all the doctrines of faith are summed up, as amounting to believe in God and the Future Life.
As the Holy Quran says:
مَنۡ ءَامَنَ بِٱللَّه وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأَخِر وَعَمِل صَـٰلِحً۬ا فَلَهُمۡ أَجۡرُهُم عِندَ رَبِّهِمۡ) ٦٢ -سُوۡرَةُالبَقَرَة(
It means: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord”. (2:62)
The word generally used in the Holy Quran to indicate the life after death is ‘Al-Akhira’ and ‘Al Dar-al-Akhira’ (the other or the next or the last life). Sometimes ‘Al-Yaum-al-Akhir’ (the last day) is used.
Death in the light of the teaching of the Holy Quran and the traditions of the Prophet is not the end of man’s life; but it only opens the door to a higher form of another life. The Holy Quran says:
ٱنظُرۡ كَيۡف فَضَّلۡنَا بَعۡضَہُم عَلَىٰ بَعۡضٍ وَلَلۡأَخِرَةُ أَكۡبَرُ دَرَجَـٰتٍ۬ وَأَكۡبَرُ تَفۡضِيلاً۬) ٢١ -الإسرَاء(
It means: “See how We have made some of them to excel others, and certainly the Hereafter ismuch superior in respect of degrees and much superior in respect of excellence.” (17:21).
أَفَرَءَيۡتُم مَّا تُمۡنُونَ,ءَأَنتُم تَخۡلُقُونَهُ ۥ أَمۡ نَحۡنُ ٱلۡخَـٰلِقُونَ نَحۡنُ قَدَّرۡنَا بَيۡنَكُمُ ٱلۡمَوۡتَ وَمَا نَحۡنُ بِمَسۡبُوقِينَ عَلَىٰ أَن نُّبَدِّل أَمۡثَـٰلَكُمۡ وَنُنشِئَكُمۡ فِىمَا لَاتَعۡلَمُونَ ,وَلَقَدۡ عَلِمۡتُمُ ٱلنَّشۡأَةَ ٱلۡأُولَى فَلَوۡلَاتَذَكَّرُونَ( ٦٢ – ٥٨ الواقِعَة(
It means: “Have you seen that which you emit (the small life-germ)? Do you create it? Or Are We the Creator? We have ordained death among you, and We are not to be outrun. That Wemat change your attributes and make you what you know not. And verily you know the first creation. Why, them do you not reflect?” (56: 58-62)
In the Opening Chapter of the Quran (Al-Fathiha) God is spoken of as the owner of the Day of Judgment. This chapter is not only considered this essence of the life Quran, but it is actually the chapter which plays the greatest part in creating a true Muslim mentality; for the Muslim must turn to it, as it is an essential part of his daily prayers. Thus the idea that every deed must be requited is brought before the mind of the Muslim continually. This constant repetition of the idea of accountability of actions in this life undoubtedly impresses on the mind of man the reality of a future life, when every deed shall find its full reward.
Now a belief in life after death implies that every deed, however secretly it may be done, must bear fruit, and therefore his belief is both the greatest impetus towards good evil or irresponsible, deeds. A deep consciousness of the consequences of a deed, is thus engendered by a belief in a life after death. Not only that, such a belief purifies the motives with which a deed is done. But more than these, it makes a man work with the most selfless of motives for he seeks no worldly reward for what he does; his work is for higher and nobler ends relating to the life after death.
The Pivot on which the whole doctrine of Future Life in Islam turns, is that every human being will have to render an account of his actions on earth and that the happiness or misery of individuals will depend upon the manner in which they have performed the commands of their Creator. We must bear in mind that the idea of a future existence – of an existence after the separation of the living principle of our nature from mortal part – has furnished to the mortal teachers of the world the most powerful instrument for influencing the conduct of individuals and nations.
A careful study of the Holy Quran makes it clear that there is a strong connection between the two lives. The Holy Quran not only speaks of a life after death which opens out before man a new world of advancement; it also shows that the basis of that life is laid in this life on earth. But the material limitations of this life do not allow most people to realize that other life, which will become manifest in the Resurrection; because human perception will then be clearer, the viel of material limitations having been removed.
ihe Holy Quran plainly speaks of the connection between the two lives and the nature of the Resurrection Day:
وَجَآءَتۡ سَكۡرَةُ ٱلۡمَوۡتِ بِٱلۡحَقِّ ذَٲلِكَ مَا كُنتَ مِنۡهُ تَحِيدُ وَنُفِخَ فِى ٱلصُّورِۚ ذَٲلِك يَوۡمُ ٱلۡوَعِيدِ, وَجَآءَتۡ كُلُّ نَفۡسٍ مَّعَهَا سَآٮِٕقٌ۬ وَشَہِيدٌ لَّقَدۡ كُنتَ فِى غَفۡلَةٍ مِّن هَـٰذَا فَكَشَفۡنَا عَنكَ غِطَآءَكَ فَبَصَرُكَ ٱلۡيَوۡم حَدِيدٌ۬ ) ١٩ – ٢٢قٓ(
It means: “And the agony of death cometh in Truth (and it is said unto him): This is that which thou wast wont to shun. And the trumpet is blown; this is the Threatened Day, and every soul cometh, along with it a driver and a witness. Certainly thou wast in heedlessness of this. But now We have removed from thee thy viel, so thy sight today is sharp.” (50:19-22)
To turn to the nature of the Future Life, it must be remembered that the conditions of life in the hereafter are of an intricate nature and different from those of this life. If should be noted that the very ideas of time and space as relating to the next world are different from those here, and therefore we cannot conceive of the real nature of the world in terms of this world. The Holy Quran refers to the nature of things in the life of the other world:
فَلَا تَعۡلَمُ نَفۡسٌ۬ مَّآ أُخۡفِىَ لَهُم مِّن قُرَّةِ أَعۡيُنٍ۬ جَزَآءَۢ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَعۡمَلُون ( ١٧ -سُوۡرَةُالسَّجدَة(
It means: “No soul knoweth what is kept hid for them of joy, as a reward for what they used to do.”
(32:17). A saying of the Prophet referred to it: “Things which no eye has seen, not has ear heard nor have they entered into the heart of man” (Al-Bukhari).
The Day of Judgment or Resurrection is not a doctrine in which a man is required to believe, for his salvation in another life; rather is it workable principle of human life. This principle makes human life more serious and more useful, while at the same time awakening in him the consciousness of a life that is higher. Thus a belief in the Resurrection is needed in the first place to make this lower life worth living. Because without such a belief life loses not only all its point, leaving man without any real aim, but, in addition all in centive to do good and avoid evil.
As the idea of Resurrection and a life after death is so strange to the average mind, the Holy Quran has again and again answered the Question, how will it be? The answer given in all cases is quite consistent with present – day scientific knowledge. The one universal idea running through the verses bearing on this subject is that the great creator of all existence who made this vast universe out of nothing could also bring about a new creation.
Among the Quranic verses dealt with the question of Resurrection, are:
أَفَعَيِينَا بِٱلۡخَلۡقِ ٱلۡأَوَّل بَلۡ هُمۡ فِى لَبۡسٍ۬ مِّن خَلۡقٍ۬ جَدِيدٍ۬( ١٥ – قٓ(
It means: “Were We then fatigued with the first creation? Yet they are in doubt about a new creation”. (50:15)
وَقَالُوٓاْ أَءِذَا كُنَّا عِظَـٰمً۬ا وَرُفَـٰتًا أَءِنَّا لَمَبۡعُوثُونَ خَلۡقً۬ا جَدِيدً۬, ۞ قُلۡ كُونُواْ حِجَارَةً أَوۡحَدِيدًا , أَوۡخَلۡقً۬ا مِّمَّا يَڪۡبُرُ فِى صُدُورِكُمۡۚفَسَيَقُولُونَ مَن يُعِيدُنَاۖقُلِ ٱلَّذِى فَطَرَكُم أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ۬ۚ فَسَيُنۡغِضُونَ إِلَيۡكَ رُءُوسَہُمۡ وَيَقُولُونَ مَتَىٰ هُوَ قُلۡ عَسَىٰٓ أَن يَكُونَ قَرِيبً۬ا)٤٩ – ٥١ الإسرَاء(
It means: “And they say, What! When we shall have become bones and decayed particles, shall we then be raised up o a new creation? Say: Be you stones or iron, Or some other creature of those which are greater in your thoughts (which are too hard to receive life) ! Then they will say who will return us? Say: He Who created you at the first.” (17: 49-51)
ذَٲلِكَ جَزَآؤُهُم بِأَنَّهُمۡ كَفَرُواْ بِـَٔايَـٰتِنَا وَقَالُوٓ اْأَءِذَاكُنَّا عِظَـٰمً۬ا وَرُفَـٰتًا أَءِنَّالَ مَبۡعُوثُونَ خَلۡقً۬ا جَدِيدًا, أَوَلَمۡ يَرَوۡاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضَ قَادِرٌ عَلَىٰٓ أَن يَخۡلُقَ مِثۡلَهُمۡ وَجَعَلَ لَهُمۡ أَجَلاً۬ لَّارَيۡبَ فِيهِ فَأَبَى ٱلظَّـٰلِمُونَ إِلَّا كُفُورً۬ا ) ٩٨ -٩٩ الإسرَاء(
It mean: “What when we shall have become bones and fragments shall we then be indeed raised up as a new creation? Have they not seen that Allah Who created the heavens and the earth is Able to create the lake of them an end where there is no doubt?…” (17: 98-99)
The two important questions connected with the Resurrection and the next life are:
- -What is the state between death and Resurrection?
- -Will it be a Resurrection of the body or spiritual Resurrection?
As relating to the first question let us quote the learned Muslim Author MoulanaMuhammed Ali: “….The state between death and Resurrection is called ‘barzakh’ which literally means a thing that intervenes between two things or an obstacle or a hinderance. The word ‘barzakh’ has been used in this latter sense in two places in the Holy Quran (25:53 and 55:20), where a barrier between two seas is spoken of as barzakh. As signifying the state between death and Resurrection, it occurs in the following verses: “Until when death overtakes one of them, he say: Send me back, my Lord, send me back, happily I may be good in what I have left. By no means! It is a mere word that he speaks, and before them is ‘Barzakh’ until the day when they are raised” (23:99-100). This intervening state is also known by the name of ‘qabr’ which means grave, but has also been used in the wider sense of the state which follows death. Thus the three states, death, grave and the Resurrection, are spoken of, where the grave undoubtedly stands for ‘barzakh’: “Then He causes him to die, then assigns to him a grave (aqabara-hu); then when he pleases, He will raise him to life again” (80:21,22). And the raising to life on the Day of Resurrection is spoken of as the raising of those who are in their graves, as in 100:9 and 22:7, where all people are meant, whether actually buried or not. The state of qabr is therefore the same state as that of ‘barzakh’, the state in which every man is place after death and before Resurrection.”
“….it should be noted that while in the Holy Quran, the guilty are spoken of as receiving chastisement in the state of ‘barzakh’, in the hadith, this punishment is spoken of as ‘adhab al qabr’ or the punishment meted out in the grave. In “Bukhari” the chapter on ‘adhab al-qabr’ begins with quotations from the Holy Quran, one of which is the verse relating to the punishment of pharaoh’s people in ‘barzakh’, quoted at the conclusion of the previous paragraph. This shows that Bukhari regards these two punishments as one, and thus he establishes the identity of ‘qabr and barzakh’.” (The Religion of Islam: pp.267)
About the second question, it is worthwhile to quote the same Author: (1) “…. So far as our present experience goes, it is through the body that the spirit receives all it impressions of pleasure and pain, that it gets knowledge and perception of things that its impulses and sentiments are developed. In fact according to the present state of our knowledge, we cannot conceive of the soul without a body. But whether the soul in Resurrection will receive back the same body of clay which it left in this world is quite another question. There is nothing in the Holy Quran to show that the body which the soul left at death will be restored to it. On the other hand, there are clear statements show that it will be a new creation altogether”.
“….The resurrection – body has therefore nothing in common with the present body of clay except the name or the form which preserves the individuality. There is another consideration which shows that the body which the soul receives after death is not the material body of this world. As has already been shown, the departed one has a foretaste of the blessings of the Paradise or the chastisement of fire as the case may be, immediately after death, that is to say, while in the state of ‘barzakh’. Now the state of ‘barzakh’ lasts until resurrection while it is a matter o daily observance that the body either becomes dust in the grave or is burned. It then absolutely certain that the soul’s fore –taste of blessings or of chastisement in ‘barzakh’ is not through the body of clay which it left behind it at death. And that it must receive a body is also certain, because it is through some body that the spirit can have experience of pleasure or of pain.”