Ma'ad is one of the three pillars of the holy religion of Islam and one of the essentials of this pure religion. Every man (without any exception) can tell the difference between good and evil deeds with his Allah-granted nature and considers "benevolence" (although he may not practice it) to be 'decent and essential act to perform and "evil deeds" (although he may be performing these) to be indecent and an act to essentially avoid.
Undoubtedly, goodness and badness, benevolence and malevolence are from the viewpoint of the results and rewards which these two qualities possess. Likewise, there is no doubt that not even a single day exists in this world when the rewards and retribution of good and bad deeds of benefactors and malefactors do not reach them; for we clearly observe that many benefactors spend their lives in extreme bitterness and misery, whereas many malefactors who are fully involved in committing crimes and misdemeanors, with their wicked behavior and disgraceful character, spend their lives with happiness and prosperity.
For this reason, if in the future and in a world other than this world, no day had been fixed when good and bad deeds would be judged and appropriate recompense would be given, such an attention and care (that benevolence is good and essential and malevolence is bad and to be avoided) would not have been placed in the nature of man.
It should not be imagined that the reward of benevolence, which the man considers good is this that it establishes order in the society and people gain prosperity in their lives and that consequently the benevolent person himself receives a portion of the benefits of his benevolence. In the like manner, it should also not be imagined that a malevolent person, with his indecent conduct and behavior, disrupts the order of the society and thus he himself finally gets entangled with its unpleasant effects.
Although this kind of thinking is to some extent applicable to disorganized and inefficient individuals; it does not apply to those people who have reached the peak of power and whose happiness and success are not at all influenced by the order and disorder of the society, on the contrary when disturbance and corruption prevail in the society and when the living conditions of the people become gloomy, these individuals get happier and more successful, thus there remains no reason for the nature of such people to consider benevolence as good and malevolence as bad.
In like manner, although these people are prosperous in their short lives, it should not be imagined that their names will be disgraceful and will bear the dislike of the public forever because of their wicked acts.
This is because the manifestation of their disgraceful names and the unpleasant judgment of the posterity about them occur at a time when these people have passed away and have no impact on their lives full of happiness, pleasure, and enjoyment.
On this account, there will be no reason for man to consider benevolence as good and to acquire it or to consider malevolence as bad and to refrain from it and tend towards the above-mentioned belief. Had there not been the Ma'ad, it would be a superstitious belief.
Therefore, through this pure and firm belief that the Creator of the world has placed in our nature, we should understand that the Almighty Allah will resurrect everyone after death and will look into their deeds. The Almighty Allah will give a good reward and an everlasting blessing to the benefactors for their deeds and will punish the malefactors for their deeds. And this day is called the Yawm al-Qiyamah (Day of Judgment).
All religions and faiths, which call men to the worship of the Almighty Allah and enjoin human beings to do good deeds and prohibit them from bad deeds, express belief in Ma'ad and in the life Hereafter. They have no doubt that benevolence is worthy only when it is followed by a good reward and since this reward is not seen in this world, inevitably it will be given to man in another life in the world Hereafter.
Besides, signs and vestiges, that are observed in the most ancient tombs discovered by the archaeologists, indicate that the early human beings believed in the other life in the world Hereafter and according to their beliefs they used to perform certain formalities and provide things so that the dead may have comforts in the Hereafter.
The Holy Qur'an, through hundreds of Ayat reminds the people of the Ma'ad and negates any doubt regarding it. In many instances, the Qur'an reminds the people of Allah's absolute might in order to augment the knowledge of people and to eliminate the unlikelihood of the creation of primary things. The Holy Qur'an states:
"Does not man see that We have created him from the sperm? Then lo! he is an open disputant. And he strikes out a likeness for Us and forgets his own creation. Says he: Who will give life to the bones when they are rotten? Say: He will give life to them Who brought them into existence at first, and He is Cognizant of all creation (36:77-79)."
And sometimes the Holy Qur'an draws the attention of people to Ma'ad and entrance into spring after the winter death and reminds men of the power of Allah, as it states:
"And among His signs is this, that you see the earth still, but when We send down on it the water, it stirs and swells: most surely He Who gives it life is the Giver of life to the dead; surely He has power over all things (41:39)."
And sometimes, by using logical reasoning, the Holy Qur'an awakens man's Allah-given nature to admit this reality, as it states:
"And We did not create the heaven and the earth and what is between them in vain; that is the opinion of those who disbelieve; then woe to those who disbelieve on account of the Fire. Shall We treat those who believe and do good like the mischief-makers on the earth? Or shall We make those who guard (against evil) like the wicked (38:27-28)?"
(This is because those who do good and the wicked will not receive their entire reward and recompense in this world. If no other world (Hereafter) existed in which each of these groups received their rewards and punishments in accordance with their behaviors and deeds, then both groups would be equal in front of Allah and this is inconsistent with the Divine Justice.)
From the viewpoint of Islam, man is a creature made of body and soul (body and ruh). The body of man is one of the materialistic compositions and is subject to laws, i.e., it has volume and weight, lives at a specific time and place, and becomes influenced by cold and heat and the like. Gradually, man's body gets old and worn out and finally gets destroyed in the same manner as it had come into existence some day by the will of the Almighty Allah.
But man's self is not materialistic and has none of the above-mentioned characteristics, rather the epithets of knowledge, perception, thought, will power, and other spiritual qualities such as affection, rancor, happiness, anguish, fear, hope, and the like are attributed to it. As the self or soul does not possess the above-mentioned materialistic characteristics, spiritual epithets are also far away from these characteristics; rather the heart, the brain, and all the parts of the body submit to the spirit and spiritual qualities in their own innumerable activities and none of the parts of the body can be specified as a centre of command.
The Almighty Allah states:
"And certainly We created man of an extract of clay, then We made him a sperm in a firm resting-place, then We made the sperm a clot, then We made the clot a lump of flesh, then We made (in) the lump of flesh bones, then We covered the bones with flesh, then We caused it to grow into another creation...(23:12-14)."
The meaning of death from the viewpoint of Islam is not that man becomes naught and vanishes, rather it means that the soul or self of man which is immortal cuts its attachment and relationship from the body and consequently, the body perishes while the soul continues its life without the body.
The Almighty Allah states:
"And they say: 'What! when we have become lost in the earth, shall we then certainly be in a new creation?' Nay! they are disbelievers in the meeting of their Lord. Say: 'The angel of death who is given charge of you shall cause you to die...' (32:10-11)."
The Holy Prophet (S) states: "You shall not be perished, but you shall be transferred from . one house to another".
Islam believes that man remains alive in a special manner after death. He enjoys blessing and happiness if he is a benefactor and he will be punished if he is a malefactor. He will present himself for public reckoning on the Day of Judgment. The interval between the death of a man and the Ma'ad is called "Barzakh".
The Almighty Allah states:
"...And before them is Barzakh until the day they are raised (23:100)."
The Almighty Allah also states:
"And reckon not those who are killed in Allah's way as dead: nay, they are alive (and) are provided sustenance from their Lord (3:169)."