A philosophical discourse about the nature of eternity, and regarding man's true self (the soul) necessarily subsisting eternally.
The discussion regarding the resurrection of man after death is, in reality, an answer to a general and universal question. In addition, it is also the answer to an individual and social need, in the meaning that, with the proving and establishment of the life after death, one of the most important individual and social needs of man - and that is - the love for permanence (or love for eternity) shall be fulfilled. Most important of all, man, in the light of his belief in Resurrection and in an eternal life, becomes directed, motivated and purposeful in his worldly life and saves the priceless moments of his life from becoming aimless and without goal and direction.
From another aspect, with the clarification and understanding of the issue of Resurrection, an important historical, philosophical, scientific and social issue, and the summary of a doctrinal and religious belief, shall find itself the object of discussion and deliberation. That faith and belief which has been the object of deep attention of all the Divine religions and amongst them - Islam, and towards which they have attached a great deal of importance.
So much so that, the Holy Qur’an has always mentioned the belief in Resurrection and life after death, after mentioning the belief in God. The importance which the Holy Qur’an associates with this issue is such that some of the commentators of the Holy Qur’an have said that a third of the Holy Qur’an - directly or indirectly - deals with the issue of Resurrection.
However, it must be understood that the scope of the discussion of Resurrection is very vast and encompasses different and varied discussions within itself. However, considering the fact that this present work is only a brief discourse regarding Resurrection, it is only natural that many of the secondary aspects and some of the fundamental aspects which are related to the main discussion may not have been fully dealt with or if dealt with, may not be in an expanded and detailed manner as it ought to have been.
In spite of this, particularities in the topics under discussion have been taken into consideration so as to render the reader independent of the need to refer to any other detailed work. Especially the young readers, who, by means of a short study, wish to obtain all that is necessary to know pertaining to Resurrection and gain the necessary knowledge and belief regarding it.
This book comprises of three parts, which are as follows:
Part 1: Eternity of Man.
Part 2: Death or Another Birth.
Part 3: The Multilateral Influences of the belief in Resurrection.
In Part 1, the concept of Resurrection and the various theories and opinions regarding it have been mentioned and critically dealt with. After that, in a separate chapter, the possibility of Resurrection and the proofs for it, have been presented. Then, we have dwelt upon the need and the necessity of the Resurrection of man after death. Because of its importance, we have deliberated this part, especially the discussion of the Immateriality of the Soul, in a more detailed manner. In the last chapter, we have discussed the corporeal resurrection and have thus brought to conclusion Part 1 of the book.
In Part 2 also, the essence and the reality of death has been the focus of attention and discussion following which, the view of the Holy Qur’an and the Islamic traditions regarding it has been the subject of debate and deliberation. In this chapter, the philosophy of death has also been focused upon. In the subsequent chapter of this Part, causes and factors of the fear of death have been propounded and deliberated. In the last chapter of this Part, we have dwelt upon the type of relation between this world and the Hereafter, and investigated it according to the Islamic and Qur’anic outlook.
In Part 3, the concluding part of the book, a summary of some of the important effects of the belief in Resurrection has been propounded and has been the focus of investigation and deliberation.
The point to be mentioned is that the topics in this book have been discussed in a fluent and flowing manner and without any intricacies and unnecessary jargon and the deep and profound philosophical, scientific and Gnostic points have been included within other subject matters in a simple language. In other words, in spite of the fact that the entire discussion comprises of philosophical, scientific and Gnostic aspects and is useful for men of learning, at the same time, it is completely comprehensible for the adolescents and the youths also.
Before we proceed with the proofs of the possibility of the eternity of man, it is necessary that we clarify what is our view with respect to life after death and the eternity of man. Just as one's impression regarding a matter, differs from person to person, views and opinions about life after death also differ. Here, four views worthy of attention exist.
1. We find for ourselves, in the traces or the people that remain after our deaths, a living presence, and in this way attain eternity. We call this view, Eternity in Reminiscence. Industrialists, craftsmen, writers and artists leave behind traces and memories of themselves (such as their beliefs, hopes, tragedies and ideologies). They hope that whatever they have created, attain a stable value and position so that their names attain a life, which is much longer than their own. Others, due to the traces, which they leave on the pages of history, become eternal.
2. Man prolongs and continues his existence within his offspring and progeny and in this way becomes eternal. Man has got a yearning for eternity and non-acceptance of extinction, and the reproduction of offspring is a means of escape from the feeling of failure resulting from the realization of the inevitable extinction of man. We seek the extension of our lives in the lives of our children. Very many people yearn to have a male child so that their family names continue to remain. They name their children after themselves or their ancestors and pressurize their children to accept their beliefs, ideals, objectives, and to choose their profession.
3. After death, we experience union with the Ultimate Truth, which ultimately is Unity. That is, we in our worldly lives have forgotten our fundamental oneness and unity with The One Entity (God) and have erred in our thinking that we are distinct and separate to The One Entity. One day we shall realize that our separation from The One Entity was nothing but a misconception and with the freedom (from this misconception), we shall, once again, unite with Him.
4. It is possible to call the fourth view as “Individual life, after death”. According to this view, individuals after the physical death, either continues their own lives or after a period of time, start their own lives once again.
For each of these four views, especially the third and the fourth, it is possible to have different interpretations, such that, some of the interpretations can portray the Islamic concept of Resurrection to a certain extent.
However, it should be noted that the first and the second view shall not be the focus of attention, because:
Firstly: Our view and that of all the other Divine religions regarding Resurrection cannot be the first two views but a wider, subtler, more transcendental and more ethical than them.
Secondly: With respect to the first two views, we do not have any conflict with the materialists and the deniers of resurrection, in the meaning that even they accept these two views.
Thirdly: The first view does not include all the people, but is restricted to craftsmen, actors, writers and... Whereas the resurrection under consideration of Islam and the Divine religions includes all the people.
On the other hand, the second view lacks the moral and spiritual aspects, which is anticipated as a result of the belief in Resurrection. In other words, belief in Resurrection is regarded to be the source of spirituality and virtues, whereas, according to the second view, this most fundamental result is conveniently forgotten.
The third view, in spite of the fact that it is, fundamentally, not incompatible with the beliefs of Islam and the Divine religions regarding resurrection, and can be accepted in general, but all the same it is not possible that the Islamic view on Resurrection be summarized as the third view, especially, considering the problems that this view is encountering. For example, according to this view, man, after death gets united with the One Entity and in that state, is unaware of his individuality or even his distinction, similar to a drop which unites with the ocean. In this assumption, the drop unites with the One Whole; however, its identity does not remain protected.
Therefore, it must be said that our discussion is restricted to the 4th view among the meanings of Resurrection - of course, by taking into consideration the explanations and particularities that shall be propounded in the course of the discussion.
Those who do not support the theory of eternity of man and deny this reality - state that the occurrence of such an event is impossible. Of course, two explanations exist, for their claims of the impossibility of this reality,
1) The basis of the first objection is doubt and uncertainty in the Power of Allah. Such people state that Allah does not have the Power to make man alive again after death, or to grant him a new life, once dead.
2) Bodies that have decayed and turned to earth are in such a state that they are not capable of being collected and as a result, it is not possible to bring them forth in the form of a man. The Islamic philosophers and other scholars, for the occurrence of each and everything, consider two points to be necessary:
1. Power and the will of the agent.
2. Receptivity of the recipient.
As a result, if on an occasion, the power or the will of the agent exists, but the recipient lacks the receptivity for a particular work, the work can be reckoned to be impossible.
Here too, some are of the belief that the Power of Allah is infinite, however, collection of the decayed bodies is an act, which does not possess possibility.
The Holy Qur’an, in response to the first objection proceeds to state and explain the Infinite Power of Allah, and compares the re-creation of man after death to the great creation of the heavens and the earth and reminds that He who has created this entire universe also possesses the Power to give life to the dead.
أَوَلَيْسَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ بِقَادِرٍ عَلَى أَنْ يَخْلُقَ مِثْلَهُمْ بَلَى وَهُوَ الْخَلاَّقُ الْعَلِيمُ
“Is not He who created the heavens and the earth able to create (again) the like of them. Yea! and He is the Creator, the All-Knowing.”1
It is self-evident that the creation of the heavens and the earth is Greater than the creation of man. So when Allah is Powerful to create the entire Existence, would he not be Powerful to create man, who is just a part of the entire Existence, once again?
The Holy Qur’an in reply to the second objection also alludes to the first creation of man and says:
فَسَيَقُولُونَ مَنْ يُعِيدُنَا قُلْ الَّذِي فَطَرَكُمْ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ
“So they say Who will bring us to life? Say: He who created you the first time.”2
In another verse it states:
وَضَرَبَ لَنَا مَثَلًا وَنَسِيَ خَلْقَهُ قَالَ مَنْ يُحْيِ الْعِظَامَ وَهِيَ رَمِيمٌ قُلْ يُحْيِيهَا الَّذِي أَنشَأَهَا أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ خَلْقٍ عَلِيمٌ
“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.”3
The above verse alludes to a philosophical proof 4, which states that if two or more things are similar to each other, then with respect to being possible (in existence) and not being possible (in existence), they are equal. That is, if one is possible (to exist) the other will also be possible (to exist) and vice-versa, if one is impossible (to exist), the other shall also be impossible (to exist).
Thus Allah, Who created man in the first instance would also be Powerful to create him once again, since the second creation is not only possible but, assuming that the words 'difficult' and 'simple' convey their meanings in the Holy Presence of Allah also, the re-creation appears to be simpler. Since, in the first creation, neither was experience at work, nor did a model-plan exist, whereas in the re-creation, both experience and a model-plan exist5 .
In any event, from the human point of view, the re-creation must be simpler than the creation of man at the first instance, although, with respect to Allah, both are easy and similar.
The Holy Qur’an, for the purpose of proving the Power of Allah for bringing man to life after death, refers to the coming to life of the earth and the growth of plants, and considers the Resurrection of men similar to the coming to life of the earth which takes place every year in spring. How is it that every year man himself witnesses the leaves of trees falling off every autumn and then decay and turn to earth, but in the next spring, new leaves clothe the plants and the earth becomes fresh and green, and in spite of all this, when his coming to life after death is propounded, he considers it to be impossible and out of the ordinary and insists on denying it.
The Holy Qur’an says :
وَاللَّهُ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ الرِّيَاحَ فَتُثِيرُ سَحَابًا فَسُقْنَاهُ إِلَى بَلَدٍ مَيِّتٍ فَأَحْيَيْنَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا كَذَلِكَ النُّشُورُ
“And Allah is He Who sends the winds so they raise a cloud, then We drive it on to a dead country and therewith We give life to the earth after its death. Even so is the Resurrection.” 6
Therefore the same Allah, Who every year, brings to life and makes green the dead earth, would be Powerful to create man again, after death. Because, every year, Allah, by the renewed growth of plants, in reality makes the dead earth a part of the bodies of plants and trees and converts it into living plant cells. In addition to this, if we focus our attention upon the start of the creation of life on the earth, we shall conclude that in the beginning, no living thing existed on the earth and after the start of life, these plants were the ones that appeared on the earth. In other words, for the first time, the plant life manifested itself on the earth. An appearance and manifestation, the wonderful and astonishing secrets of which remain a mystery to the scholars even today. However, this point is certain that, in any event, this plant life has appeared from this very dead earth.
Another example, which the Holy Qur’an presents, for the purpose of proving and bringing into the focus of man, the boundless Divine Powers and uses it to prove the Power of Allah in bringing man to life again after death, is the creation of the embryo. It states if you have doubt and uncertainty in the possibility of Resurrection - reflect upon how we created you from a sperm-drop. Then we brought out this sperm-drop as an 'alaqah' (blood clot). After that we made it grow in the womb and finally in the form of a complete human, we gave him birth by means of his mother.
أَلَمْ يَكُ نُطْفَةً مِنْ مَنِيٍّ يُمْنَى ثُمَّ كَانَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقَ فَسَوَّى فَجَعَلَ مِنْهُ الزَّوْجَيْنِ الذَّكَرَ وَالْأُنثَى أَلَيْسَ ذَلِكَ بِقَادِرٍ عَلَى أَنْ يُحْيِيَ الْمَوْتَ
“Was he not a (mere) drop of sperm emitted? Then he was a clot of blood, then He Shaped (him) and fashioned (him). Then He made of him of two kinds, the male and female. Is not he able to bring the dead to life?” 7
The above verse and so do the other verses which deal with resurrection, consider it to be a natural phenomenon and similar to the creation of sperm-drop and the birth of a child or giving of life to the plants and making them grow and as a result regards Resurrection to be like the other Divine Acts, whereas, the deniers of Resurrection view it as a strange, new and an impossible phenomenon, the pattern of which cannot be found in Nature.
As a result, it is possible to state that fundamentally, it is necessary to balance our view on Resurrection and view it through the looking glass of the Qur’anic verses. In such a case, not only shall we not consider Resurrection to be impossible, but on the other hand comprehend it to be necessary and compulsory, upon which we shall dwell in the chapters to follow.
We usually imagine that energies after use get exhausted and destroyed. For e.g., we imagine the solar energy after being radiated towards the earth and the other planets gets destroyed. Whereas today, science has proved that energy does not get destroyed but simply gets transformed into another form and manifests itself in a different form of energy. In other words, the energy continues to exist in new conditions and in a new environment.
The Holy Qur’an, in proving the possibility of Resurrection makes use of this fact also and states:
وَضَرَبَ لَنَا مَثَلًا وَنَسِيَ خَلْقَهُ قَالَ مَنْ يُحْيِ الْعِظَامَ وَهِيَ رَمِيمٌ قُلْ يُحْيِيهَا الَّذِي أَنشَأَهَا أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ خَلْقٍ عَلِيمٌ الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمْ مِنْ الشَّجَرِ الْأَخْضَرِ نَارًا فَإِذَا أَنْتُمْ مِنْهُ تُوقِدُون َ
“And he strikes out a likeness of 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. He Who has made for you the fire (to burn) from the green tree, so that with it you kindle (fire).”8
The interpretation, which according to some of the commentators, is appropriate for the above verses and which has been brought to light as a result of recent scientific advancements and discoveries, is that plants and trees, during the entire span of their lives, regularly absorb the light and heat from the sun and in addition also absorb water and necessary substances from the ground by means of their roots and by the combination of these, generate cellulose, which formats the mass of the trees and the wood of the trees is thus formed.
Thus, plants, for the purpose of absorption of vital substances from the ground, must utilize the heat and light of the sun as an active energy. It is due to the utilization of this light and heat that trees grow and develop and accumulate a great deal of energy of the sun within themselves and transform it into wood. Now, observe the burning of wood, as to how the transformed energy of the sun within it, after burning once again turns into heat and light. According to the verses of the Holy Qur’an, Resurrection of man is just this. And so, in these verses, reference is made at the onset to the first creation of man and then the Resurrection and the re-creation of energies is pointed out.
Another interesting point that exists in the verse is that, usually we consider dried wood to be more capable and more suitable for burning, whereas in the verse, reference has been made to a green tree. Perhaps, the reason for it is that the greenness of the trees and their leaves is a pre-requisite for the taking in of the heat and light of the sun. In simpler words, a living tree is one, which can transform the energy from the sun into wood and store it within itself whereas a dried tree does not have such a capability. And because of this the verse says: “That Allah who has made for you the fire (to burn) from the green tree, has the Power to create man once again after death.”9
In short, one of the things to which the Holy Qur’an has made reference to, in order to establish the possibility and the necessity of Resurrection of men is the resurrection of energy or transformation of energy under different conditions.
As we have observed, the polytheists and the deniers of Resurrection had no philosophical proofs, experimental witnesses or convincing evidences to support their claim. Their arguments always centered on, either, the coming to life of decayed and destroyed bones being strange and peculiar, or something to that effect. And because of this, the Holy Qur’an does not enter into answering their scientific doubts and misgivings, because fundamentally, scientific doubts and misgivings do not exist.
In fact, in Surah-e-Qiyamah after mentioning the talks of the deniers, it refers to their motives. Their motives for denying Resurrection were promiscuity, libertinism and in one sentence, escape from the burden of commitment and responsibility. Now, the acceptance of Resurrection obligates the acceptance of commitment and responsibility, which some people do not approve of and instead are of the belief that as much as possible, one should be engrossed in seeking success and pleasure. This is the thing, which in the first stage denies the belief in Allah and the Resurrection.
Regarding this, the Holy Qur’an says:
أَيَحْسَبُ الْإِنسَانُ أَلَّنْ نَجْمَعَ عِظَامَهُ بَلَى قَادِرِينَ عَلَى أَنْ نُسَوِّيَ بَنَانَهُ . بَلْ يُرِيدُ الْإِنسَانُ لِيَفْجُرَ أَمَامَهُ
“Does man think that we shall not gather his bones? Yea! We are able to make complete his very fingertips. Nay, man desires to deny what is before him.” 10
Of course, the idolaters and the deniers of Resurrection also had and have another argument, which is nothing except idle and nonsensical talk. That is, there does not exist any rational, philosophical, logical or scientific reasoning in their argument. They would say that belief in Resurrection is only a myth of the ancestors. Now since all the Divine religions persisted in the belief in God and Resurrection and since times immemorial, these two beliefs have been present among the religious people and were considered to be among the fundamentals of religion, the idolaters and the deniers, instead of presenting evidence to prove these beliefs as incorrect, they would just claim that these beliefs are nothing except historical legends and myths.
The Holy Qur’an mentions their talks as follows:
وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَئِذَا كُنَّا تُرَابًا وَآبَاؤُنَا أَئِنَّا لَمُخْرَجُونَ لَقَدْ وُعِدْنَا هَذَا نَحْنُ وَآبَاؤُنَا مِنْ قَبْلُ إِنْ هَذَا إِلاَّ أَسَاطِيرُ الْأَوَّلِينَ
“And those who disbelieve say: When we have become dust like our fathers, shall we verily be brought forth (again). Indeed we had been promised this, we and our fathers before; these are naught but fables of the ancients.”11
Any sensible person shall see that, such idle talk does not merit any answer or response, because the historical background of a theory does not signify its baselessness, and a realist and a just person should accept or reject a matter on the basis of proof and evidence and not on the basis of the matter being antiquated or new.
And so, the Holy Qur’an does not get itself involved in answering these arguments, but on the other hand, reasons out and presents evidence to prove Resurrection as not only possible, but also necessary and these reasoning are so strong and clarifying that should any person reflect appropriately upon them, not only would he notice that the occurrence of Resurrection is very ably proved but all the other doubts and misgivings would also appear to have been cleared.
In the previous chapter, the arguments of the deniers of Resurrection were, to a certain extent, propounded. After that, the verses that pointed out to the Power of Allah in creating man and the universe and as a result, proving the Power of Allah for granting life once again to man, were briefly studied. In short, the reasoning of the previous chapter revolved around the possibility of Resurrection.
However the proofs for the need and necessity of Resurrection were not mentioned. Because of this, we shall place this matter under discussion in the third chapter. Here it is necessary we mention that the Holy Qur’an has never based any of its religious beliefs on forced devotion or statements without proofs and evidences, but instead, the subject matter and their interpretation are always based on sound and rational reasoning. The proofs and the reasoning, which appear in the Holy Qur’an for proving the certainty of the occurrence of Resurrection, shall be mentioned here.
Each and every object in this universe, from the minute atoms to the gigantic galaxies, are perpetually in a state of motion. Generally, this motion must be for an aim or objective, because, motion without an aim does not exist. In other words, the underlying reason for every motion is to reach perfection and step from potentiality into actuality, and objects, till such a time that they do not attain their aim and objective, cannot attain tranquility.
According to this, if an appointed aim itself possesses another aim and objective, it can be understood that, it was not propounded as an ultimate aim from the very onset but was just a route and a course, which we had assumed to be the aim and objective. Because, the inevitable fall-out of a real and an ultimate aim is that the mover, upon reaching the ultimate aim attains tranquility and becomes stationary.
As a result, if we assume infinite aims for the motion of objects, it is equivalent to considering them aimless and without any objective, since in any event, it is necessary that the chain of aims and objectives reach a terminus, just as it is absolutely necessary that the chain of 'efficient causes' reach a cause who is the First Agent and the Inherent Origin of the entire existence, otherwise it would be as if the universe is without an Origin and an Agent.1
The Holy Qur’an considers Resurrection to be the terminus of the motion of objects and believes that reaching Allah is their ultimate aim and states:
وَأَنَّ إِلَى رَبِّكَ الْمُنْتَهَى
An interesting point here is that one of the attributes and names of Resurrection and the Hereafter is دَارُ الْقَرَارِ Dar-ul-Qarar meaning the 'final halting-place', 'place of rest', 'house of peace and tranquility'.
The Holy Qur’an states:
يَاقَوْمِ إِنَّمَا هَذِهِ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا مَتَاعٌ وَإِنَّ الْآخِرَةَ هِيَ دَارُ الْقَرَارِ
So, just as the origin of creation and the start of the motion of objects is from Allah, the termination of the motion of objects is also the return towards Allah.4
In order to prove, the Resurrection of man being necessary by means of the 'Wisdom Proof' certain presumptions are required, which have to be previously established by other proofs and evidences. Some of these presumptions are as follows: -
1) Allah, the Wise Creator, has created the Entire Existence.
2) This Creator, according to the exigency of being Wise, does not indulge in vain and purposeless activities.
In addition to the above mentioned two points, which should be previously proved and established in their appropriate places, another matter must also be placed under discussion here, in the form of a premise. That matter is that there is a marked difference between the 'Aim of the Agent' and the 'Aim of the Act' and that the two are not the same. According to this, Allah in accordance with the necessity of His Inherent Needlessness, is not in need of a thing such that by performing an action He can obtain that thing, however, at the same time, the Acts of Allah also cannot be without aim and purpose or in other words vain and purposeless.
So Allah does not have the 'Aim of the Agent'. That is, by creating His creations, He does not wish to attain a Perfection, which He did not previously possess. But at the same time He does have the 'Aim of the Act', in the meaning that creating the creations so that the creations themselves reach perfection, is the aim and purpose which Allah has ascertained for them. And because of this, the Holy Qur’an regarding the 'Aim of the Act' of Allah in creating His creations states:
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلاَّ لِيَعْبُدُونِي
This verse, in reality, presents the 'Aim of the Act’ of Allah, in the meaning that if the creations of Allah did not recognize and worship Allah, they themselves have suffered losses and have not attained their Spiritual Perfection - which has been the aim and purpose of their creation. Not in the meaning that Allah had an aim and has not achieved it, because this meaning is incompatible with the Inherent Needlessness of Allah. In addition to this, the Holy Qur’an itself pronounces Allah as not being in need of worship and says:
وَمَنْ كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ عَنْ الْعَالَمِينَ
So, if the recognition and the worship is not achieved, the creations have not reached their aim and purpose, that the Creator is deprived of his aim and purpose. This is because the Inherent Needlessness and the Inherent Essentiality will not have an aim and purpose different from the Infinite Essence and also will not have the ability to accept any violation, because it itself is the actual aim and purpose.
After this premise and the clarification of the distinction between the 'Aim of the Agent' and the 'Aim of the Act', we shall state that the creation of the universe is not without aim and purpose because our assumption was that the Creator of the universe is Wise and does not indulge in vain acts.
The next point is that, the short life of this world cannot be the aim and purpose of this creation, because, in the worldly life, there always exist a chain of troublesome and worrying events like shortages, deprivations, destruction and inconveniences.
In other words, this present worldly life is intermingled with troubles and disturbances and as a result cannot be considered to be the aim of creation, because aim and purpose should be such that, as a result of it, the act of creation becomes perfect and the benefits of it return back to the creatures and servants.
Hence, with no other option, there must exist another world which would be the aim and purpose of man's journey towards attainment of perfection, such that man, upon reaching it, should consider the aim and wisdom of the act of creation, to be practical and completed.
For providing more explanation, it is possible to say that the present world and all that in which we are leading our lives is very large and wondrous and the Power which causes the growth of a plant and provides it the strength to slit open the surface of the earth or at times split open hard rock or even the asphalt of the roads and emerge out, and also the Power, which has brought forth the gigantic galaxies into motion with an absolutely accurate calculation, the same Power is the Boundless Intelligence, who has created man as His most superior creation.
Accordingly, if it is deemed that this most superior creation, is for a certain period a weak child and then for a certain period a worn out and tired individual, who, for most of the time, is entangled in procuring the necessities of his life - which can be summarized into eating and sleeping, and then after death, is annihilated and ceases to exist, how tyrannical and far from wisdom it would be, whereas, we, at the very onset, had considered Allah to be Wise.
In short, if we assume, that the aim of Allah in creating man was that the results and benefits of it would reach Him, this would not be correct because He is the Absolute Needless and possesses Inherent Needlessness. Hence, there must exist an aim whereby its benefits reach man. Under this assumption we see that the limited and material life of this world lacks the ability to be proclaimed as the aim and purpose for the creation of man and it is necessary that another world exist so that Man can achieve the aim for which he was created.7
The Holy Qur’an, in mentioning this proof, quotes the words of wise and intelligent people (after reflection upon the creation of the heavens and the earth) and states:
رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَذَا بَاطِلًا سُبْحَانَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
“O' our Lord! Thou hast not created (all) this in vain! Glory be to Thee! Save us then from the torments of the (Hell) fire.”8
Thomas Aquinas explains this very proof saying: “We have been created for attaining the Ultimate end (i.e. Happiness). However this Happiness cannot be achieved in the life of this world, because the individual wealth is not lasting, body and will, weak, and our knowledge, incomplete. However, God has not created us in vain, and so we must be able to reach the end and the aim for which we have been created, and this necessitates that our lives have a continuity even after death.”
But why should anyone think that we are not able to be prosperous in the life of this world? According to Aristotle, Happiness is not the transient sensation of pleasure, but Happiness is that a person, in the span of his entire life, can convert his abilities into actualities: If we keep ourselves occupied with the activities of the intellect (thinking), we shall attain Happiness, and the transient troubles shall not cause us to lose our Happiness.
However, Thomas sees Happiness in a different light. According to him, the human Happiness is related to the aim and the purpose (that is Union with God) for which we have been created. The cognition of God, which we obtain by means of belief and faith, is an Act of the Will and not of Intellect and hence, it is possible that, the present cognition of God, which is obtained by means of natural intellect, may be faulty or may not be an intuitive faith. Hence, the cognition about God, (in which is secured our Ultimate Happiness) is not attainable in this Worldly life (except in a fleeting and transient manner). So in order that we completely experience such a Happiness-creating insight, it is necessary that we continue our lives even after death.9
One of the distinctions of man over the other creations is thought and reflection, and this necessitates the possession of different ideas and these different ideas become cause for the clashing of views and opinions, encounters between doctrines, starting of wars, even between different sects of the same religion.
Another point is that while studying the different ideas and views, it is not possible to classify all of them as being correct and true, because eventually, some of these ideas run in contrast and contradiction in meaning to the others and hence are not compatible with each other and so it is not possible to regard both of them as correct and true.
On the other hand, it is also not possible to classify both of them as incorrect and untrue, since if two ideas are contrary to one another, considering both of them as untrue would be tantamount to 'Elimination of Contrast', which according to the Science of Logic is incorrect.10 Considering both the contradictory ideas to be untrue would be, in fact, denying every Reality - a concept, which is particular to the Sophists.
In short, it is not possible to accept all the different ideas and consider them to be the truth and it is also not possible to consider all the ideas as untrue. A poet, in this context says:
Do know this reality, neither are true all of these
Nor in totality are deviated these flocks.
Hence, some of these ideas or doctrines are correct and true and the others are incorrect and untrue, so it is necessary that the real face of Truth become apparent and that in some way or the other manifests itself and pronounces its sovereignty. On the other hand, we do know that the present world can never be the place where Truth will manifest itself such that no falsehood can find a way into it, because such a situation is in contradiction to the obligations and trials of man in this world.
In other words, this world is a place for manifestation of the abilities, performance of obligations and trials of man and it cannot be the place of manifestation of the results of the trials of man. Hence, it is necessary that another world exist where the Truth and the results of the striations and the efforts of man are manifested.11
Nevertheless, it is possible to summarize this Proof and state:
1. In this world, differences and different ideas exist and basically the life in this world is a scene of clashing and contradiction between these varied thoughts and ideas.
2. All of these thoughts and ideas cannot be true and correct and similarly all of them cannot be false and incorrect.
3. There must be a place where Truth eventually manifests itself and presents its absolute sovereignty.
4. This world cannot be the place for the manifestation and for the absolute sovereignty of the Truth.
5. Hence, another world must exist, wherein such a manifestation takes place. In other words, another place should exist for such an occurrence.
The Holy Qur’an also considers the Resurrection of man in another world to be necessary for the purpose of total manifestation of Truth and states one of the names of the Day of Judgement as 'The Day of Truth’ and states:
ذَلِكَ الْيَوْمُ الْحَقُّ
“That is the True day.” 12
The Day of Judgment has been presented as a day in which the hidden things and the secrets shall become manifest and evident and states:
يَوْمَ تُبْلَى السَّرَائِرُ
“On the day when hidden things shall be made manifest.”13
Since the day of Resurrection is a day of total manifestation of Truth and Justice, all that which shall occur on that day, shall be nothing but Truth and Justice. Hence, all that which shall be presented on that day in the form of the Scales, Weighing of Actions, the Path, the Trial of the servants or other such things, shall be by the Truth and Justice. Even the Weighing of Actions is the Truth and Justice and this is the reason the Holy Qur’an says:
وَالْوَزْنُ يَوْمَئِذٍ الْحَقُّ
“And the measuring (of the deeds) that day shall be just (I.e. the Weighing on that day is the Truth)”14
In other words, the deeds of the people shall be weighed and measured in such a manner that it would become apparent as to how much of it had been the truth. As a result, one, in whose deeds, no truth exists, for the weighing of such deeds, basically no scales exist, because such deeds are in reality, a non-entity and no scales exist for weighing of non-entities. For this purpose, the Holy Qur’an says:
فَلاَ نُقِيمُ لَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَزْنًا
“And so We will not set up a balance for them on the day of Resurrection.” 15
For the mentioning of this Proof also, we are in need of a couple of premises, which have to be discussed, proved and accepted previously. One of the premises is that, we consider Allah to be Just and the Justice of Allah is a reality which has been proved and the reasoning and proofs have also been presented in its appropriate place and context. Secondly, the present world is not the place where justice can be meted out to all the people and the rewards of the Righteous be given to them in totality and the punishment of the Evil doers and the tyrants be meted out to them in totality. By accepting these two premises, we can conclude that hence there must be a day and place wherein the rewards and the punishments can be afforded to all the individuals in their totality.
The Holy Qur’an while considering Resurrection to be a necessity for the purpose of rewarding the Righteous and punishing the Evil doers says:
أَفَنَجْعَلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ كَالْمُجْرِمِينَ مَا لَكُمْ كَيْفَ تَحْكُمُونَ
“What! Shall we then treat those who submit as We treat the guilty. What has happened to you? How do you judge?” 16
No sane and justice-loving person shall accept that the end of a righteous person and an offender, a just person and a tyrant be the same and that too in the presence of Allah, all the acts of Whom, are based on Justice.
The comprehension of this proof also requires two premises.
1. One of the most important attributes of the Lord of the World is the attribute of mercy and compassion, in the meaning that, Allah fulfills the needs of His needy creations and provides all the things, which are necessary for their existence and perfection.
2. Man or his soul has the ability to live an eternal life and also to attain great achievements, which is not possible to be achieved in this world.
Considering these two premises, we can conclude that there must exist another world in which these potential abilities of man reach their actuality and perfection and the need of man to have an eternal life be fulfilled and Allah the Clement and Merciful will never refuse him such grace and happiness because He is the Source of blessings and mercy. Hence if Allah does not respond positively to the need of man to attain eternity or to bring into actuality his immense abilities, this entails that Allah is either a miser or is powerless, whereas in reality, Allah is neither a miser, nor powerless. He is the Absolute Powerful and the Absolute Generous and when there exists a real need, He fulfills it and also, every place and thing which has the ability to receive His mercy, He descends His mercy on it.
Regarding this, Allah himself says:
كَتَبَ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ لَيَجْمَعَنَّكُمْ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ لاَ رَيْبَ فِيهِ
“He has ordained mercy on Himself; most certainly He will gather you on the Resurrection day - there is no doubt about it.”17
In this verse, He very clearly mentions that the gathering of people on the day of Resurrection is obligated by His mercy.
However, it is possible that a question be asked that if the Day of Resurrection is obligated by the Divine Mercy, then how is it that some people would find themselves in suffering and would be facing torture and punishment?
In answer to this question, briefly, it can be said that the meaning of mercy does not mean that it is performed with respect to the people - individually and separately for each one, but more importantly it is with regards to all the people and the total existence, and it is very evident that the existence of the Resurrection with regards to all the human beings and the entire system of existence is mercy, although a few people may experience difficulty and suffering. As an example, is it possible to classify rain and sunshine as not being mercy and blessings, just because a few people experience trouble and difficulty due to them?
Secondly, the same troubled individuals, after some time shall attain salvation and bask in the Divine Mercy. Of course, it is possible that a small group of people shall always remain in punishment and difficulty, the study of which requires an entirely separate discussion.
For the establishment of this proof also, attention is to be paid to certain premises and assumptions, which are as follows:
1. The presence of an instinct in man or in other animals is proof that, there exists externally, something, which can fulfil this instinct. In the meaning that, if the presence of an instinct within man is proved, it can be concluded with certainty, that there also exists, in the external world, means to satiate this instinct. Thirst is proof of the existence of water, and hunger and inclination for food is proof of the existence of food. Similarly, attraction towards the opposite sex is proof of its existence, because if such was not the case, placing such instincts and tendencies within man would be vain and futile and hence would be incompatible with the assumption of the Wisdom of Allah.
2. The second premise is that man, by nature, loves eternity of himself and endeavors, by every means possible, to make his life eternal. Man has been so created that all types of decline and annihilation always pain him. On the contrary, he never experiences pain and vexation with life and its being eternal.
However, it is possible that some individuals, due to misfortunes, beyond their ability to withstand, may intend to destroy themselves and commit suicide, but in reality, these people have become frustrated with the misfortunes of life, not with life itself. And proof of this is that, if circumstances undergo a change for the better, and their misfortunes, at the very least, reduce in magnitude, they once again experience a love for life.
Hence, the original love for an eternal life is the ultimate love, and at the same time, a hidden secret, of every man. However matters of instinct and nature are intuitive and to be experienced and not deductive, in the meaning that every person should reflect within oneself and seek it. In spite of all this, some factors do play a role in better and easier perception of innate matters.
It is due to this that, should a person doubt his love for eternity and permanence, he should reflect upon his own activities and also that of the mankind in waging war against diseases and calamities and also observe the widespread work that is being done to prolong the lives of human beings. What does all this signify?
Is it anything except the fact that man loves his eternity and permanence? In addition to these, some people also consider the love of man towards his children as signs, which point towards this instinct, because children are regarded to be the continuation of the lives of men.
Nevertheless, considering these two premises, we can conclude that another world must exist, wherein man would attain an eternal life and thus satiate his instinct of ' love for eternity'. Basically, according to some of the scholars, the thirst of man for an eternal life and his instinct of 'love for eternity’ is so encompassing that, under no circumstances is it possible to accept that, this desire shall not be fulfilled or that this instinct shall not be satiated.18
This proof is based upon the claims of people who have almost died or have completely died, but have once again returned to life (depending upon our definition of death and how we comprehend it.) Nevertheless, these people claim that they have experienced ' Near-death ' or a ' Life-after-life'.
Such people by merely encountering death either find themselves on the verge of dying or find themselves dead. After that, they feel as if they have cast their bodies and then view their bodies and the surroundings and those around them, who are trying to resuscitate their body, from a different angle (usually from the top).
In these circumstances, they find themselves possessing a new body which they have described in different ways: cloudy, without any form, or a spiritual body resembling the material body of an individual. Unlike their original body, this body of theirs, cannot interact with the material surroundings.
After this, they experience a traversing in a dark place and upon crossing that place, they enter into a new domain in which, they encounter various people, who do not possess a material body, but can be generally identified, and establish telepathic contact with them. Similarly, they come across a luminous entity who exhibits sympathy and affection and helps them to remember their past (like a videocassette, shows their past to them, in an instant) and make an evaluation.
These people sincerely desire to remain there and derive great pleasure from the conciliatory and happiness inducing experience. However, at the same time, they desire (or are requested) to return back to their material bodies.
These people in addition to observing the luminous entity also report seeing their relatives. An interesting thing here is that sometimes they observe people whom they have never seen before (however, later they recognize them in a photograph - for example) or they observe people who are unknown to them and are presently dead.
The description that these individuals give for their bodies (after death and before their renewed life) is that this body is not perceivable and can penetrate into and traverse material objects. It also lacks weight (i.e. weightless.) In spite of all this, it possesses the power to perceive and listen (however much listening is more related to the form of transfer of thought rather than possessing the experience of listening). This fact signifies that individuals who are in the other world are incarnated in a manner such that they can be recognized and their positions established.19
An interesting point regarding the above proof is that, a lot of these experiences and personal observations are the same facts which have been mentioned in the traditions of the Holy Prophet (S) and the Infallible Imams (‘a) regarding the Intermediate World or the Purgatory, that is, the world which starts after death and continues up to the great and universal Resurrection. Another thing to be noticed here is that these experiences are not confined to the followers of any one particular religion but have been reported by the Christians, Muslims and also by the followers of other religions and sects. In addition, these reports and narrations, basically, do not differ a great deal among themselves.
Another evidence and proof for Resurrection and life after death is, that many people establish communication with the deceased and with their souls, either directly or indirectly (through a medium). If we accept this communication with the deceased and their souls, we can be assured that people after their death do remain alive.
Many of the people are of the opinion that the utilization of 'means' and 'mediums' for the purpose of summoning of souls, reduces the importance and strength of this Proof. This is because firstly, there exists a possibility of imposture. Secondly, things, which the ‘mediums’ relate from the deceased individual, can be explained in a simple manner. For example, it could be said that the different aspects of the personality of the 'medium', could consciously or unconsciously, be playing a role in the matter or that the ‘medium’ could be establishing a telepathic contact with the people who are present and wishing to seek information regarding the deceased. So, in reality that which is obtained, is the very expectation, which these people had in their minds which by some means was transferred to the 'medium'.20
Nevertheless, it is possible that these probabilities and objections may be put forward but it must be understood that, Firstly, these communications do not always occur by means of another person (or ‘medium’), but there exist numerous people, who, professing different religions, faiths and sects, are capable of such communication with the souls and with little investigation, one can be satisfied that all of them cannot be lying. Also, very many of these people are not inclined to flaunt this strength of theirs and so the question of imposing also does not arise.
Secondly, there have been incidences, which can, be illustrated in the manner as propounded in the two arguments, but with great difficulty. On occasions, deceased individuals have manifested themselves to the living and provided them with factual information, which was previously not known to them and after investigation, it was realized that what they had come to know, by means of communication with the soul of the deceased, was the absolutely true.
In addition to this, sometimes, the efforts for establishing communication, did not take place by a living person, but instead, communication was established by means of a deceased and his soul, and the information which was consequently obtained, was found to be in total conformity with the reality.
Perhaps, the most important proof and one of the best reasonings for the establishment of the necessity of Resurrection is the “Proof of the existence of the soul and its immateriality and permanence”. And it is because of this, that many of the Islamic and religious philosophers, in the topic of Resurrection, involve themselves on the topic of immateriality of the soul and set about to prove and establish it, whereas, it is also possible to prove the Resurrection without indulging in any discussion regarding the soul.
Nevertheless, without any semblance of doubt, a living man has a definite distinction over non-living entities, in the meaning that, a living man possesses some particularities which do not exist in non-living entities and man himself, when he departs from this world, tends to lose them. That thing within man, which is the reason for his life, is called Soul.
Hence no one denies this reality that soul exists. In fact, even the most zealot materialists do not deny the existence of the soul in this meaning. In other words, even they do not deny the distinction and difference between a living man and a non-living one. But the bone of contention is, whether the soul of man is an entity, devoid of matter and independent of the body and consequently, after the death of man, continues to exist or that the soul too, with the death of man, along with his body becomes annihilated and destroyed.
If the soul of man is independent of the body, it will continue to exist even after the death of man, and this death would, in reality, mean transference of his soul from one world to another. As a result, the Resurrection could be proved in a very simple manner. However, if the independence and the immateriality of the soul is not proved, this Proof would not be very useful. It is because of this that the materialists deny the independence of the soul from the body and claim that the soul is the elite outcome of the synthesis of the body and, with the disarray of the organic functioning of the body and its subsequent annihilation, the soul also ceases to exist, exactly like the movement of a watch, which is dependant on the watch.
In short, the permanence of the soul after death is secured in its independence and its primariness. And because of this, above all, it is necessary to prove, whether the human soul is an independent essence or something similar to the physical and chemical particularities of the body and the cerebral cells such that, with the death of the brain or the organic activities of the body, it too ceases to exist.
Scholars and religious philosophers claim that within man is concealed a 'reality' and an essence which is non-matter, in the meaning that in addition to the materials which form the human body, there exists a reality which places the body of man directly under its influence. Hence the soul is a metaphysical reality, but at the same time has a direct communication with matter and the body of man and administers it.
Hence, it is necessary that initially, the proofs of the claimants of the independence and immateriality of the soul are studied and then the criticisms over it and the objections of the materialists be dwelt upon.
For the mentioning of this proof, it is appropriate that at the onset, answer is given to the question “What is the essence of man?”
Answering this question is not an easy task, because we cannot consider ourselves as a material entity only. The material body and its parts are constantly in a state of change, however, we are of the belief that we possess the same identity which we had possessed years ago. Our bodies are something that “we” own. These bodies are not the “we” itself. Our movements, states and physical characteristics are illustrative of us, but are not “us”.
In addition, we also cannot consider ourselves as just a “Mind” (that is, a collection of individual information, meditative categories, memories by which we perceive and experience the world) because firstly, it is possible that the individual information, categories and memories undergo a change or cease to exist without an individual losing his identity. Very many incidences, which have occurred five or ten years ago or even those, that have recently occurred, fail to be brought to memory by us. Or we consider our present actions to be different from those, which we had performed years ago. Secondly, claims, which are based upon memory, are prone to error. It is possible that we may be claimants to remembering events which have never taken place at all!!
Hence, we can consider ourselves to be a self or a soul - unchanging, fundamental and indivisible. We do not just claim that we possess a self or a soul, but go a step further in claiming that we are soul, because we distinguish the personal identity of others by means of their behavioral pattern and distinct physical attributes, however we distinguish our soul either by means of a kind of internal self-awareness and intuition or by means of experiences which we achieve. The soul, which is the subject of our experiences, is also the meditating agent for meditation, recollection sensation and perception.21
It is possible to mention this proof in a simpler manner. Every individual, within himself, has knowledge of his existence and has no doubts whatsoever regarding it. Alternatively, this knowledge is intuitive and presential. That is, this knowledge is always present before everyone and the perception of its presence does not require any learning. Thus “My” knowledge about “Myself” cannot be an “ acquired knowledge.”
Another point is that, the “I” of everyone, from the beginning of life to its end, is the same. For example, the “I” of the age of 77 is the same “I” of the previous years. It is because of this that, when we recount the past memories, we use the word “I” and say: “From childhood, I was fond of studies.” In addition to myself, the people also recognize “I” to signify the one person, from the start of his life up to death.
Now we should investigate whether this “I” or the “Personal Identity” can be this very body of man? A little reflection upon the matter will yield an answer in the negative. This is because the body is a collection of cells, which, in the entire span of life, undergo changes several times. And, as has been stated, if all the cells of the body undergo a change every seven years at an approximation, a seventy year old person would have changed all the parts of his body, for a minimum of ten times. So, in such a case, how can “I” of the seventy years be the same “I” of the seven years?
Hence, it is possible to conclude that, in addition to the body and the material parts, there exists a “Fixed Reality”, in the entire life of an individual, which, unlike the material parts and the body cells, does not undergo any change and it is this Fixed Reality which is the agent of the individuality of our identities, and we know it to be the soul - non-material and independent of the body.
For comprehending this proof, it is necessary to recount two premises.
i) One of the laws of the 'material world' and the nature is that never can a larger matter be superposed upon a smaller matter, and nor can it be accommodated within it. This rule of non-superposition of large over small is applicable to all the material things without any exception. For example, it is just not possible to place a mountain having a height of a thousand meters within a well, which is just a few meters in depth, except that we enlarge the well or compress the mountain. Or for that matter, it is not possible to floor an area of half meter by a stone of area one-meter.
ii) The perception of man is such that he can perceive vast deserts, expansive seas and oceans and lofty mountains. In addition, the faculty of sight and the eyes of man also possess the ability to observe the infinite space and the small and large stars
Hence, if our perceptive faculty are the very cerebral cells which are present in our body, how is it that we are able to superpose the lofty mountains or the expansive oceans over these small cells, and how is it that, we are able to observe the mountains and the oceans, without reducing their great magnitude even by the slightest amount?
Of course, it is possible that, one could argue saying, just as computer diskettes store a very large quantity of information and the photographic films encompass a large quantity of scenes within them, the brain and the faculty of vision of ours also work in exactly the same manner.
In reply, it must be said that between the perception by the brain or visualization by the faculty of sight, and a computer diskette or a photographic film, lies a huge difference. This is because, the diskette miniaturizes the information. The camera too, gathers the photographed scenes and miniaturizes them, whereas, we perceive the mountains, seas, galaxies and the infinite space in the same magnitude as we see them.22
Hence, when our perception cannot be 'material' and cannot possess the attributes of matter, how then can man be considered totally material?
However, we do not deny that, for the perception of a subject or for observing an external thing, we are in need of a sequence of 'material preliminaries'. However, the result of these 'material preliminaries' cannot be material and possess its attributes.
And because of this, the religious philosophers, for the attainment of sight or the other perceptions, consider the occurrence of a series of physical and chemical preliminaries to be necessary, but at the same time are of the opinion that after the occurrence of these preliminaries, perception and sight take place by means of an entity, which is devoid of matter, independent of the body and not possessing the attributes of matter.
In short, perception of the extensive world and the observation of the huge mountains and the vast and deep oceans take place by means of the soul, which is not influenced by the laws of matter and among them the law of non-superposition of large over small.
The third proof starts with the assumption or claim that man possesses paranormal powers. It has been claimed that, a part of the minds can, with other minds, with whom communication in a natural manner (by means of a series of physical causes) is not possible, establish communication (called telepathy), or can attain knowledge of some physical events without perceiving such events by sensuous perception (clairvoyance), or can bring about an object into motion, without the use of any material means (psychokinesis). For example, experiments have been set up which have shown that some individuals are able to establish mental contact with others, from a great distance, even with people who are enclosed in trunks with leaden or iron walls. These paranormal events do not conform with the theory of the mind being material, because these events hint that the mind possesses this power, whereby it can attain the information about other regions and other minds, or whereby it can influence the material world without the need to make use, like the brain, of material means.23
Nevertheless, some of the scholars, by way of sensing and experience and by research into psychology, psychoanalysis, telepathy, clear-sightedness and dreams, have set about to prove the existence of the soul and also its immateriality and its independence from the body.24 For example, one of the general and universal means for proving the existence of the soul is the visualizing of dreams in the state of sleep. An individual who dreams while sleeping, after awakening, accurately remembers that, in his dream, he had traveled to places of great distance and had performed a great deal of work. That is, on the one hand, his body was rested and eyes closed, while on the other, had traveled a great distance, performed a lot of work and witnessed beautiful and ugly scenes. Hence, if we do not accept the existence of the soul and its immateriality, then who or what was it that had traveled places and had witnessed the scenes?
We have, in a very concise manner, alluded to some of the proofs for the independence and the immateriality of the soul. However those who do not accept the independence and the immateriality of the soul, have presented certain arguments and conjectures, upon which they rest their claim that the soul is a material entity. Some of these arguments are as follows:
1. Injury to the brain directly influences the knowledge, intelligence, memory and the ability to conceptualize. For example, if the communication between the two hemispheres of the brain of an individual is severed, upon encountering an object to his left, he would not be able to discern and recognize the object (because this object can only be sensed in the right hemisphere of his brain) however much he may be able to point to the object with his left hand. The right hemisphere which controls the left side recognizes the object, but the left hemisphere, which is the actual center for speech and establishing contact, does not make a recognition because no information flows across the injured 'Corpus Callosum'.25
2. It appears that some of the mental powers like memory are specific to certain specific centers of the brain. In addition to this, some of the intelligence is associated with one of the two hemispheres of the brain (however much difficult it may be to pinpoint the specific centers for them). For example, the analytical, conceptual and lingual intelligence are centered in the left hemisphere of the brain, but the right hemisphere controls the artistic and the intuitive process of the mind.
3. Authentic indications exist which show that some of the mental abilities and also the measure of success of individuals in utilizing these abilities is, to a great extent, hereditary. In addition to this, some of the diseases, which affect the mind of an individual, such as the Down's Syndrome26 or the diseases which affect the ability of an individual, such as the Alzheimer's disease27 are fundamentally, genetic. These facts indicate that, the material process of hereditariness has a distinct influence upon the ability and the working of the mind.28
4. During the process of thinking or other mental work, the material changes within the brain increase and the brain takes in more food and gives out more phosphoric substances.
5. Scientific studies have shown that the brain of thinkers is usually, more than the average in weight. (The average weight of the brain of men being around 1400 grams and that of women being slightly lesser.)
All these indications and observations go to show that there exists an intimate connection between the working of the cerebral cells - which are material - and those things which we consider to be spiritual phenomena. In other words, if every man possesses an independent and an immaterial soul and this soul performs the acts of perception, which are also immaterial, then what is the need of the cerebral cells, which slip into working disorder upon facing an injury, or require more food under conditions of mental activities, or which are influenced by the material factors and conditions of the father and mother (i.e. hereditariness).
Hence, it is not only possible to prove the immateriality of the soul, but on the contrary, these observations of ours are more convincing in proving its materiality.
The answers to all of these arguments and objections can be provided by clarifying just one point. The point under consideration is this that there exists a clear difference between an 'agent of action' and a 'tool of action'.
All the above indications, at the utmost, prove that there exists a relation between the cerebral cells and our perception, but does not clarify the manner and the type of this relation. Hence, we claim that, the manner of this relation is similar to the relation between an agent and the tool of his work, in the meaning that the cerebral cells, food, hereditariness,.... All of them influence the quality of our perception in the same way as every tool influences the performance of work. Thus, in reality, all of these are means of perception and tools of the soul in the performance of its work and in the event of these means and tools getting destroyed, the soul does not get destroyed and nor does it relinquish its work. The only thing, which occurs, is that, the connection of the soul with these means gets severed. As a result, the work that was previously being performed through these means, shall henceforth, not be performed through them.
Exactly like an airplane, whose communication, with the control tower of the airport, is severed. Here, the plane still exists and continues to perform its work, but is no longer able to keep the control tower informed about its state and location. Or like a ship and its captain, who, in the middle of the sea loses communication contact. Under these conditions, the ship as well as its captain do exist and as yet have not suffered any injuries, however their communication has been severed and the means of communication have gone dead.29
In short, man is an entity, made up of body and soul30, and his reality and essence is formed by the soul, which is an entity, independent of the body, but at the same time, has a connection with the body and administers it. By proving this theory, resurrection or life of man after death can be easily proved, because according to the theory of the' existence of the soul and its independence and immateriality', man, due to death, does not get destroyed, but it is only his body which gets decayed and turns into earth, whereas his soul continues its life (although under different conditions.)
The Holy Qur’an and basically, all the Divine religions believe in the resurrection of man after death, and consider man to possess an eternal life, which he shall lead, after death, either enjoying the Divine bounties, or at times in pain and suffering.
In addition to this general aspect, it is possible to understand from the subtle allusions and references of the verses of the Holy Qur’an that, according to it also, man possesses an immaterial soul, independent of matter and body. In this context, we shall briefly refer to certain verses of the Holy Qur’an, from which the above mentioned fact can be deduced.
وَلاَ تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ قُتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَمْوَاتًا بَلْ أَحْيَاءٌ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ
“Reckon not those who are slain in the way of Allah to be dead; Nay! Alive they are with their Lord being sustained.” 31
Hence, if it is to be that the martyrs be alive after death, it is necessary that they possess a soul - immaterial and independent - which, after death, continues to exist, because, their bodies have fallen on the battlefield and at times have decomposed and disintegrated. In other words, we observe that the bodies of the martyrs get decomposed and turn into earth. On the other hand, the Holy Qur’an considers them to be alive and obtaining sustenance in the presence of Allah. Thus, we conclude that, they, before their deaths, possessed a 'Reality' which was separate to their bodies, and after their martyrdom, this 'Reality” continues to lead its life, and receive sustenance in the presence of Allah.
Another point is that it is not possible to accept that it is only the martyrs who live after death, and the others do not possess an immaterial soul and after death do not continue to lead their lives. This is because, amongst people, there existed and exist a large number of Divine Prophets and Divine Saints, for whom, assumption of a status and position, lower than that of an ordinary martyr is not possible. Hence, it is possible to question the criterion and the basis by which only the martyrs possess a soul, which, after their death, continues to lead its own life, while the others do not, more so, when the Holy Qur’an itself, in various verses, claims resurrection of man to be universal and general. Thus this verse does not wish to just mention that the martyrs continue to live even after their death, because this life is not confined to them only, but the verse wishes to present the exalted position of the martyrs in the presence of their Lord, wherein they shall be drowned in the bounties and pleasures. Now if this soul was not immaterial, it would not be able to attain a presence in front of the Lord, Who possesses Total and Perfect Immateriality in all respects and aspects.
…وَحَاقَ بِآلِ فِرْعَوْنَ سُوءُ الْعَذَابِ. النَّارُ يُعْرَضُونَ عَلَيْهَا غُدُوًّا وَعَشِيًّا وَيَوْمَ تَقُومُ السَّاعَةُ أَدْخِلُوا آلَ فِرْعَوْنَ أَشَدَّ الْعَذَابِ
“A dreadful doom encompassed Pharaoh’s people. The fire, they are exposed to it (every) morning and evening; and on the day when the Hour shall come to pass: (the sentence shall be) Cause the Pharaoh's people to enter the most awful doom.” 32
This verse is in reference to the punishment of the people of Firoun after their drowning in the sea. It says: These tyrants after drowning in the sea, shall be presented, every morning and evening, to the fires of hell and shall face the punishment, and when the universal resurrection shall occur, they shall face a severe chastisement.
Hence, if they did not possess an existing soul, what would be facing the chastisement morning and evening. Their lifeless bodies have drowned beneath the waves of the sea and are thus oblivious and unfeeling towards any chastisement or pain. Hence, it is necessary that their souls exist and these souls possess the perception and intelligence to experience the Divine chastisement.
Summary of this verse is almost in opposition to the previous verse, in the meaning that the previous verse was mentioning the Divine bounties in relation to the martyrs, in the Purgatory and these verses are mentioning the Divine chastisement with respect to the people of Firoun and the tyrants in the Purgatory.
قُلْ يَتَوَفَّاكُمْ مَلَكُ الْمَوْتِ الَّذِي وُكِّلَ بِكُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَى رَبِّكُمْ تُرْجَعُونَ
“Say: The angel of death who is given charge of you shall cause you to die, then to your Lord you shall be brought back.”33
This verse firstly is with respect to the souls of all the men, that at the time of death, their souls shall be seized by means of commissioned angels. Secondly, it is also an answer, for those who deny resurrection. For they used to say that once we are dead and our bodies turn to earth and are lost, how then can we be brought back to life?
The verse answers that, the 'Reality' of man (which is his soul), shall never get lost or be destroyed, such that it cannot be brought back to life. The actuality of death is (وفات) and not (فوت) which is taken from (توفّى) which means seizing a thing completely.34 Thus, in reality, the verse says: You will not be annihilated, but at the time of death, your essence and reality, which is your soul shall be seized completely by delegated angels, after which you shall continue to lead your lives.
With the help of the previous discussions, the topic of the existence of the soul and its immateriality can be considered to have been proved and established. With this premise and assumption, the 'spiritual resurrection' can be proved, however the 'corporeal resurrection' must be proved by other rational and narrative Proofs, especially by the verses of the Holy Qur’an, which shall be dwelt upon in the next chapter.
By proving the immateriality of the soul, the Purgatory, which is in itself, a Lesser Resurrection, and placed between the present life and the Larger and Universal Resurrection, also becomes clear, and as such does not require any further proofs.
Considering the numerous proofs and evidences, some of the scholars and experts, have accepted the theory of life after death, but have confined it to the spiritual resurrection. They claim that after death, it is only the soul of man which shall continue its life, but his material body and its elements with which he led his worldly life would` not be resurrected. Thus they tend to be the 'deniers of corporeal resurrection'. Whereas, usually, in Islam, whenever resurrection is discussed, both, the corporeal and the spiritual resurrection is purported and both of them have been accepted. Hence, we too, shall have a short discussion on this topic.
Allamah Majlisi (a.r.) in these context states: “The corporeal resurrection is among the things which are unanimously accepted by all the sects and is considered as one of the necessities of the religion. Deniers of it have been regarded as those who deny the necessity of religion and cannot be considered as Muslims, because the Qur’anic verses, in this context, are explicit and are not capable of being allegorically interpreted. In addition to this, there are innumerable traditions, indicating the corporeal resurrection, which cannot be denied.”1
Of course, it should be known that, proving the actual resurrection is possible by means of rational and scientific proofs, and as we had dwelt upon in the foregoing discussions, it is not only possible but also necessary, however to prove the details of resurrection, and amongst them the corporeal resurrection, by means of rational or scientific proofs is a task extremely difficult or even impossible. And because of this, the great philosopher Avicenna writes: “The peculiarities and the details of the topic of resurrection, like the corporeality of it, do not fit into the scope of rational or intellectual discussion, but for such kinds of subjects, it is necessary to seek help from the Revelation and the narrations of the religious leaders”.2 Hence, we, so as to not exceed the limits of this book, shall only refer to the verses of the holy Qur’an for the purpose of proving the corporeal resurrection. All the verses, which refer to the corporeal resurrection, can be categorized into six groups to which we shall refer below.
1. The first group consists of verses in which at the onset, the talks of the deniers of resurrection are mentioned after which the answer is provided. Their doubts were that “how could we, after death and disintegration of the bodies, become alive again”? An interesting point here is that one of the deniers had pulled up a semi-decayed bone and while showing it to the Holy Prophet (S) proceeded to ask such a question. The Holy Qur’an in answer says:
وَضَرَبَ لَنَا مَثَلًا وَنَسِيَ خَلْقَهُ قَالَ مَنْ يُحْيِ الْعِظَامَ وَهِيَ رَمِيمٌ . قُلْ يُحْيِيهَا الَّذِي أَنشَأَهَا أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ خَلْقٍ عَلِيمٌ
“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.”3
Considering the fact that the question was in reference to decayed bones and bodies and not in reference to the human soul, it can be very clearly comprehended that the answer is also in reference to the same context. Hence, after death, Allah shall make these very bodies alive on the day of the Universal Resurrection. An interesting point in the above verse is that the reason for such an occurrence being possible is also mentioned and that being the Divine Power which had created man and the body at the first instance.
2. The second group consists of verses that refer to the fact that on the day of resurrection, people shall rise from their graves and come out from beneath the earth. Here we shall refer to only two verses from among them.
)وَأَنَّ السَّاعَةَ آتِيَةٌ لاَ رَيْبَ فِيهَا وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ يَبْعَثُ مَنْ فِي الْقُبُورِ
“And that the Hour (of Resurrection) is coming there is no doubt therein and that Allah will raise up those in the graves.”4
This verse and those similar to this mention the corporeal resurrection, because that which rests within the graves are bodies of men. Thus on the day of resurrection, this very material and elemental body shall be given life and continue to lead it.
مِنْهَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ وَفِيهَا نُعِيدُكُمْ وَمِنْهَا نُخْرِجُكُمْ تَارَةً أُخْرَى
“From it We created you and into it We shall send you back and from it will We raise you a second time.”5
That which lies beneath the earth and once again (according to the above verse) shall come out on the day of resurrection and continue its life is the very same elemental, worldly body. Hence this verse also emphasizes on the corporeal resurrection.
3. The third group consists of verses, which liken the coming to life of man after death to the coming to life of the earth after its death, like this verse:
رِزْقًا لِلْعِبَادِ وَأَحْيَيْنَا بِهِ بَلْدَةً مَيْتًا كَذَلِكَ الْخُرُوجُ
“And We give life thereby to a dead land; thus will be Resurrection.”6
The expression that has been used in the verse alludes that the Holy Qur’an does not just have the resurrection of the souls under consideration and lays emphasis on it but also lays special stress on corporeal resurrection. This is because, if this very same elemental body, on the Day of Judgment, is not resurrected, there is no appropriateness in resembling it to the coming to life of the earth after its death. In other words, spiritual resurrection is nothing except the existence of the soul after the disintegration of the body, and this existence has no similarity with the coming to life of the earth after its death.
4. The fourth group consists of verses that refer to the act of speaking by the various parts of the body of man like the hands, legs, eyes, ears and skin on the Day of Judgment.
In addition to it, verses which inform about the happiness, joy and cheerfulness of some of the faces and alternatively, about other faces being sorrowful and miserable indicate towards the corporeal resurrection of men after death. Similarly, it is possible to consider, as part of this group, those verses which refer to the giving or taking of the ' book of deeds' of people in the right or the left hand, because if the corporeal resurrection does not occur, how can the hands, legs, eyes, ears... bear witness against man on the day of Judgment:
الْيَوْمَ نَخْتِمُ عَلَى أَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَتُكَلِّمُنَا أَيْدِيهِمْ وَتَشْهَدُ أَرْجُلُهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ
“On that day We will set a seal upon their mouths, and their hands shall speak to Us, and their feet shall bear witness of what they earned.”7
Or how could some of the faces exhibit cheer and radiance whereas faces of others exhibit misery and darkness:
يَوْمَ تَشْهَدُ عَلَيْهِمْ أَلْسِنَتُهُمْ وَأَيْدِيهِمْ وَأَرْجُلُهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
“On the day when their tongues and their hands and their feet shall bear witness against them as to what they did.”8
In all events, perhaps this collection of verses is the best proof for establishing the corporeal resurrection because basically, in the spiritual resurrection, the existence of arms, legs, eyes, ears and other parts of the body just does not arise and as a result talks about them also cease to exist.
5. This group consists of verses, which describes the material bounties of Paradise, like eating the heavenly fruits, possessing beautiful, heavenly, virgin nymphs and also beautiful and decorated beds for the comfort of the people of Paradise.
This group of the verses have appeared in numerous chapters of the Holy Qur’an, in a detailed manner and we mention only one example from amongst them:
عَلَى سُرُرٍ مَوْضُونَةٍ. مُتَّكِئِينَ عَلَيْهَا مُتَقَابِلِينَ. يَطُوفُ عَلَيْهِمْ وِلْدَانٌ مُخَلَّدُونَ. بِأَكْوَابٍ وَأَبَارِيقَ وَكَأْسٍ مِنْ مَعِينٍ. لاَ يُصَدَّعُونَ عَنْهَا وَلاَ يُنزِفُونَ. وَفَاكِهَةٍ مِمَّا يَتَخَيَّرُونَ. وَلَحْمِ طَيْرٍ مِمَّا يَشْتَهُونَ . وَحُورٌ عِينٌ
“On thrones decorated, Reclining on them face to face. Around shall go about them youths never altering in age. With goblets and ewers and a cup of pure drink. They shall not be affected by any headache thereby, nor shall they get exhausted. And fruits that they prefer. And flesh of fowls such as they desire. And fair ones with large lovely eyes.”9
In addition to these, those verses, which mention the physical chastisement of the people of the hell, can also be included in this group because if the corporeal resurrection did not exist and this same body would not be made alive again, then how does it have the pleasures, sorrows and the physical pains and how then could these verses be explained?
6. The sixth group consists of verses which mention examples of the occurrence of corporeal resurrection in this very world, like the verses which relate the bringing to life of a dead person by the Prophet ‘Isa (Jesus) (‘a), or those which explain the coming to life of the People of the Cave. In addition to these, the incidents of Prophet Uzair (Ezra) (‘a) or Prophet Irmiyah who have been referred to in the Holy Qur’an without being mentioned by name, and who, after their death, are once again brought back to life:
أَوْ كَالَّذِي مَرَّ عَلَى قَرْيَةٍ وَهِيَ خَاوِيَةٌ عَلَى عُرُوشِهَا قَالَ أَنَّى يُحْيِي هَذِهِ اللَّهُ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا فَأَمَاتَهُ اللَّهُ مِائَةَ عَامٍ ثُمَّ بَعَثَهُ قَالَ كَمْ لَبِثْتَ قَالَ لَبِثْتُ يَوْمًا أَوْ بَعْضَ يَوْمٍ قَالَ بَلْ لَبِثْتَ مِائَةَ عَامٍ فَانظُرْ إِلَى طَعَامِكَ وَشَرَابِكَ لَمْ يَتَسَنَّهْ وَانظُرْ إِلَى حِمَارِكَ وَلِنَجْعَلَكَ آيَةً لِلنَّاسِ وَانظُرْ إِلَى الْعِظَامِ كَيْفَ نُنشِزُهَا ثُمَّ نَكْسُوهَا لَحْمًا فَلَمَّا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ قَالَ أَعْلَمُ أَنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
“Or the like of him (Uzair) who passed by a town and it had fallen down upon its roofs; he said: When will Allah give it life after its death? So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years, then raised him to life. He said: How long have you tarried? He said: I have tarried a day or a part of a day. Said He: Nay! you have tarried a hundred years; then look at your food and drink - years have not passed over it; and look at your donkey; and that We may make you a sign to men, and look at the bones, how We set them together, then clothed them with flesh; so when it became clear to him, he said; I know that Allah has power over all things.” 10
7. These are the actual and historical examples of the occurrence of corporeal resurrection in this very world, which have been emphasized in the verses of this group.
From all the verses of these six groups and also some other verses, it can be stated that according to the Holy Qur’an, the corporeal resurrection (in addition to the spiritual resurrection) is a matter, which is conclusive and certain, and with the abundance of these verses, there lies no room for any skepticism or presumptive explanation. Of course, some doubts of rational and philosophical nature have been propounded, the presentation of which requires a more appropriate occasion.11
i) The impossibility of return of that which has been destroyed. Technically this doubt has been termed as (امتناع اعاده معدوم)
ii) The doubt of the eater and the eaten which is well known by the technical expression (آكل و مأكول)
These doubts and those similar to these along with their numerous answers have been presented in their appropriate topics and there lies no need to present it in this short treatise.
What is the reality of death? What is the philosophy of life and death? For answering these questions, first of all, we must clarify our perception regarding death, in other words, at the beginning we must see how exactly death is and how we must visualize it.
Usually, most of the people are alarmed and fearful upon hearing the word 'death', and to them, death appears dreadful and terrifying, whereas, according to the Islamic ideology, this terminology or this subject has a different appearance and can be perceived in a different way. Basically it can be said that those who fear death, consider it to be a negative entity. According to this insight, death is an end of life and a moment of everlasting separation of man with his life. They believe that with death, the compounded substances of the body suffer a breakdown and return to nature and man too, is nothing except this very broken-down body. Hence, with death, everything ends with no hope remaining!!
Indeed, with this view and insight, death is darker and more dreadful than every other thing and perhaps, no calamity, pain, sorrow and tragedy can be greater and more painful than the tragedy of death, because death would mean the burial of all the desires, hopes, longings and in short, the termination of all things for man--- that man who loved life and eternity very dearly.
Anyway, Islam does not possess such a dark and fear-instilling view of death because according to the Islamic view, death is a positive entity. The moment of death is a moment of rebirth of man and a moment of his hastening out from a confined region of this world into a world, which is wide, expansive and rapturous. A world, wherein, man is not troubled by anxieties, sorrows and the material and natural limitations. Of course, those who have habituated themselves to worries and limitations must free themselves of such habits. In other words, becoming free from the clutches of mother nature entails some transient hardships but after that, in place of a confined and dark place, man is taken into a world which is extensive, infinite and full of luminosity and happiness.
According to this view, death is not annihilation but is inherent fallout of one stage of progress and development of man. Similar to an infant in the womb of the mother, which, after reaching a particular stage of its development, just should not and cannot stay in the confined and dark womb of the mother and obtain nourishment from her blood, but must come out and continue its development in a more extensive world. Similarly, after a certain period, he should attain freedom from the confined and limited world of nature and hasten to another world, which is appropriate for his eternity-desiring soul.
In short, it is according to this view that life of man becomes pleasant and sweet and his death too, not only does not become a means of sorrow but also is regarded as an escape from the misfortunes, sorrows and limitations. And if his death is like the death of the champions and by his own choice and on the path of Truth and as a result, can be called martyrdom, then surely it will be more pleasant and more sweet, and in the moment of death and departure from the world he shall experience such pleasure that only the very righteous and the martyrs on the path of virtue and piety have the knowledge of, and these are the very people who can taste this pleasure. This is because, those pleasures cannot be described and if ever described, does not possess the same pleasure (which is gained by experiencing it).
The reality of death, according to the Holy Qur’an1, as was previously referred, is 'Tawaffa’ and not 'Faut’. 'Tawaffa’ means the angels commissioned to seize the soul of man, seize it and release it from the captivity of the body and then transfer it to another world, towards his Lord.
Why is it that man is created, and then after a certain period of time, in which he lives in this world, departs from it? If death is total annihilation and man after death becomes totally non-existent, this question is propounded with greater seriousness, meaning that, according to this assumption, the probability of the creation of man being futile and the life being vain and empty increases. But, in the event that we do not consider death to be a 'negative entity' and define it to be a transfer or a renewed birth, still the question arises and seeks its answer as to why exactly do we come into the world and why exactly do we get transferred from it?
This very question can be expressed in one of the two possible ways:
i) What aim did Allah or the Agent possess in creating His creations, or in other words, what benefit does He wish to avail of by the life and death of man and other creations?
If the question is put up in this form, it is necessary to state that the question and its answer is not related to our discussion and it must be deliberated in a discussion related and appropriate to it. All we can say is that Allah is an Independent Entity, and He avails of no benefit as a result of His creating His creations. Hence, the exact answer for “ Then why did He create?” is related to profound, Gnostic topics.
ii) What purpose did Allah or the Agent have for his action? In other words, Allah created His creations and among them man, that they travel along which path and to where they reach or what goal they follow? If the above question is expressed in this manner, we must say that according to the Qur’anic verse, Allah created the heavens and the creations so that they recognize Allah and worship Him:
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلاَّ لِيَعْبُدُونِي
“And I have not created the jinn and the men except
that they worship me.” 2
In the meaning that, all the creations must, in their journey for perfection, reach a stage that they can, by means of man, become a mirror for the Divine Attributes, because it is in this stage that the worship and cognition of Allah can reach a stage which is befitting it.
In short, Allah created His creations and amongst them, man so that finally they reach the level of cognition of Allah and can understand His Beautiful Attributes and manifest them within themselves, because the real worship and cognizance of Allah can take the creation and man to a position and status, the specialties and the grandness of which must be referred to in gnostical topics.
So according to this view, the philosophy of life and death, which are part of the creation of Allah, become clear. The life and death and basically, the changes in the material world and the transfer from one stage of life to another of it or the transfer from one world into another world, all of these play a part in the journey of man and the creations towards perfection. Such changes or the ups and downs must be present, in the light of which, people can be tested, and the pure are separated from the unpure. This is what, the Holy Qur’an says:
الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفُورُ
“Who created death and life that He may try you - which of you is best in deeds; and He is Mighty and Forgiving.” 3
According to this verse, firstly, both life and death are part of the creation of Allah. Thus, death is a thing which Allah has created and hence cannot be a 'negative entity', because a negative entity is not capable of being created.
Secondly, tests and trials are considered to be the philosophy of the creation of life and death so that it can be known who is the most righteous.
Of course, it should be known that this “ test “ is not in its literal meaning that takes place on an appointed time and is taken from one particular group or according to a pre-determined subject-matter, but it possesses a very wide meaning. In other words, the tests and trials here, encompass all the moments of the life and death of man, his ups and downs during the span of his entire life, even during his transfer into the next world and after that too. Basically, these changes and transfers prepare the ground for the development and progress of man. Similar to sportsmen, for whom, not only their competition is a trial and a test, but the pre-competition training is also considered as a form of test and these phasic trials and tests, help to prepare them for the original competition. Life and death and the transfer of man from one world to another world and also the bounties and at times the problems of life, according to the verses of the Holy Qur’an, are trials and tests for man which prepare him, stage by stage, for attaining his ultimate objective.
In the Holy Qur’an, interesting and varied interpretations have been made, regarding death, the study of all the aspects of which, shall become very elaborate, hence we suffice by mentioning a few of the beautiful and expressive interpretations, which have appeared in some of the verses.
The Holy Qur’an, in the last verse of the Surah Kahf, has expressed death as a meeting with Allah and says:
فَمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُوا لِقَاءَ رَبِّهِ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا وَلاَ يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَدًا
“So whoever desires to meet his Lord, he should do good deeds and not associate anyone in the worship of his Lord.”4
Another interpretation which the Holy Qur’an has and which makes clear the reality of death, is “return to Allah”. However, the Islamic philosophers, regarding the manner of the creation of the entities (and amongst them, man) by Allah and after then, their return towards Allah, have subtle, profound and interesting theories. The Holy Qur’an says:
إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ
“Verily, we are Allah's and verily to Him shall we return.”5
One of the beautiful interpretations of the Holy Qur’an in the matter of death is (توفّى). This word means seizing a thing in its entirety. Hence, according to the verse under consideration, the reality of death is that the angels commissioned to take the soul, seize the entire personality of man at the time of death, and remove it from the captivity of the body. They, then carry it to the Divine Presence:
قُلْ يَتَوَفَّاكُمْ مَلَكُ الْمَوْتِ الَّذِي وُكِّلَ بِكُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَى رَبِّكُمْ تُرْجَعُونَ
“Say: the Angel of Death who is given charge of you shall cause you to die, then to your Lord you shall be brought back.”6
The traditions also contain beautiful, subtle, instructive and interesting interpretations regarding death, some which are mentioned.
In some of the traditions, death has been referred to as a bridge, over which people, at the time of transfer from this world to the other world, shall cross and reach their goal, which is the other world. For example, Imam Husayn (’a) on the day of ‘Ashura, speaking to his loyal companions said:
صبراً بنى الكرام فما الموت الاقنطرة تعبُربكم عن البؤس و الضرَاء الى الجنان الواسعه
“Remain firm, O sons of noble people, because death is just a bridge which will cross you and transfer you from discomforts and troubles, into the extensive gardens of paradise. So which of you does not desire his freedom from prison and entering into a castle. Of course, death for your enemies is like their being transferred from a palace and a castle into prison and torture.”7
In some of the traditions, death has been compared to clothes, which of course differs, with respect to a believer and an unbeliever. Death, for a believer is like dirty clothes, which he removes and frees himself from its dirtiness and unpleasant odor, whereas, death with respect to an unbeliever is also like clothes, but beautiful, costly and pleasant-smelling, which he must remove from his body at the time of transfer to the other world.8
In some other traditions, death has been compared to sleep, in which the soul goes out of the body. The only fundamental difference between sleep and death is that the coming out of the soul from the body, at the time of sleep, is only for a short period of time. In addition, the connection between the body and the soul is not completely severed. On the other hand, researches pertaining to the soul has proved shown that the soul maintains a connection with the body in a very special manner. While, at the time of death and after that, the severance of this connection is more complete than that during sleep, although, after death too, a weak connection does exist for a certain period.
Another point is that the coming out of the soul at the time of death continues up to the Universal Resurrection. This tradition says:
قيل لعليّ بن الحسين (عليه السلام) ما الموت؟ قال للمؤمن كنزع ثياب و سخة قمله و فكّ قيود و اغلال ثقيله و الاستبدال بافخر الثيات و اطيبها روائح و اوطىء المراكب و آنس المنازل و للكافر كخلع ثياب فاخره…
“Imam Muhammad Baqir (a’) was questioned as to what is death? The Imam (‘a) replied “ Death is the very same sleep that comes to you every night. However this is a sleep, which is very long, and man shall not wake up from it until the Day of Judgement. Thus one who sees different types of pleasure and happiness in his sleep over which he, (in his wakefulness) has no power and similarly he sees the different types of fear-instilling things, while he has no power over them. Thus, how is the state of happiness and fear in the sleep? (The affairs shall be similarly so in the state of death too). This is death. So be ready and prepared for it.” 9
The fear of death, for most of the people, is not a matter which requires any evidence because it is totally obvious and we also see that a lot of people manifest extra-ordinary sensitivity with respect to the term 'death' and its reality. Thus the actual matter is self-evident. That which requires proof and an answer is the reason for this fear and alarm as to why we fear death?
In answer to this question, it is possible to mention some reasons, which have also appeared in our traditions, and which are as follows:
In the previous discussions, we had mentioned that a lot of people considered death to be an eternal destruction of themselves. Consequently, it is but natural that they fear death and visualize it dark and gloomy, because the love for permanence and eternity is one of the natural instincts of people and each one in his own way, tries to protect himself from calamities and diseases and ensure his own permanence, and death, in his view, is greater and more pain-inflicting than any disease or calamity, because it is the start of his everlasting extinction.
Nevertheless, if the alarm and fear of death is as a result of non-recognition of the reality of death, then for the removal of this fear, it is vital that its reality, which is found in the Islamic insight, be understood and with regard to it, a strong conviction be developed. If a person bases his views regarding death on correct foundations, many of his fears regarding death will cease to exist because, once he comprehends that with death, he shall enter into a world, more extensive and eternal and also that he shall be liberated from the material, natural and corporeal shackles, how then would he consider it to be abominable and hateful.
One of the causes due to which man tends to fear death is that man, after death, steps onto an entirely new path and embarks upon an entirely new journey. Man, usually tends to travel on frightful paths, over which he has traveled a number of times and has not encountered any trouble, better than paths which are comparatively safer, but which are totally new. Since, the path being new and unfamiliar, it becomes reason for hesitation and anxiety, especially since no one, who has traveled this path, has brought any news about it, for the others.
Anyway, if the fear of death is due to the place and path being unfamiliar, then it is necessary that the reality of death be completely comprehended and one's conviction strengthened. In addition to this, it is necessary to obtain the necessary information by means of the Revelation and the traditions of the Infallible Imams (a.s.) and the righteous people, regarding the stages, places of danger and the other particularities of death and after it, then believe in them and prepare oneself to encounter them. Just like a person, who during the course of a journey, finds himself lonely and unaware of his whereabouts, manages to lessen his perplexity with the help of necessary information, maps and equipment’s, we too must obtain the map of the way and the necessary information from authentic and reliable sources.
دخل علىّ بن محمّد (عليهما السلام) على مريض من اصحابه و هو يبكى و يجزع من الموت. فقال له: يا عبد الله تخاف من الموت لانّك لا تعرفه, أرأيتك اذا اتّسخت و تقذّرت و تأذّيت من كثرة القذر و الوسخ عليك و اصابك قروح و جرب و علمت انّ الغسل في حمّام يزيل ذلك كلّه أما تريدان تدخله فتغتسل ذلك عنك او ما تكره ان تدخله فيبقي ذلك عليك؟ قال: بلى يابن رسول الله. قال: فذلك الموت هو ذلك الحمّام…
In a tradition from Imam ‘Ali ibn Muhammad (‘a), it is narrated that he (‘a) approached one of his companions who was sick and in a state of crying and grieving and complaining due to fear of death. The Imam (‘a) then addressed him saying: “O servant of Allah, you fear death because you do not comprehend it”. Then the Imam (‘a) presented an example and said “If you had become dirty, and due to the excess of dirt and dirtiness you were in suffering and inconvenience, and you knew that the cure for all this lay in your taking a shower, would you wish to go to a bath and clean yourself or would you wish to remain in the same state of dirtiness and as a result continue to undergo the suffering.” The sick man said, “ Yes, I would wish to take the shower “. Then the Imam (‘a) replied “death (for you) is the very same shower...”1
The point to be considered in the above tradition is that, the sick person was one of the companions of the Imam (‘a) and was aware of the Islamic insight regarding death, but in spite of this, was intensely fearful of death. And so, the Imam (‘a) by presenting an example explained to him the states and circumstances after death and thus calmed him.
Some of the people have comprehended the reality of death and are also aware of the Islamic insight regarding death. On the other hand, they have also obtained some information regarding the stations and the journey after death, however, in spite of all this, they still fear death. This fear is not due to the two reasons previously mentioned but because they have not made available for themselves the tools and things necessary for this journey of theirs, while, on the contrary they have been paying more-than-necessary importance to their present lives; like a person who knows that he would have to spend the rest of his life in another country, but has not collected any money for his journey.
Instead, all that he has gathered is in the form of house, shop, land or other things which, presently, are neither capable of being changed, nor transferred. In other words, he has strived and worked and collected a capital, but the capital is such that it cannot be transferred and there is also nobody who will buy it. In short, it is not useful in any way for the objective, which he had in mind. It was because of this that Imam Husayn (‘a) said:
انّكم اخربتم آخرتكم و عمرتك دنياكم فأنتم تكرهون النقلة من العمران الى الخراب
“You have ruined and destroyed your hereafter and instead have made habitable the present life. So you do not like the transfer from a inhabited and comfortable place to a ruined and destroyed one.” 2
This kind of fear of death, which results from the lack of preparedness and the absence of the provisions of the journey usually occurs with the believers, which in reality is not fear of death but instead, fear of not possessing the sufficient provisions necessary for this journey.
Another point is that such a fear is usually mixed with eagerness. Because, on the one hand, a believer is eager for the Divine meeting and also for the companionship of the Righteous people. On the other hand, due to lack of sufficient piety and the necessary provisions, finds himself in a state of anxiety and fear, whereas the unbelievers do not possess such a fear and eagerness. They fear the actual death, because they consider it to be a complete annihilation. Of course, it could be said that the fear of the unbelievers could have a universal meaning, and the causes of it could be those mentioned and also those not mentioned.
Nevertheless, death or transfer into another world is a universal law, acceptance of which or fear of which shall create no change in the law itself, and finally sooner or later, everyone shall taste the nectar or the poison of death. That, which is more important than death, is the preparation for it, and Insha-Allah, Allah shall bestow such a success upon us.
In this part, up to now, the essence and the reality of death as viewed by Islam and also the fear of death, of a lot of people, were the object of discussion and to a certain extent have become clear. For the purpose of completion of the discussion, it is necessary to place under study and discussion the type of connection between the world and the hereafter.
Regarding the connection between the world and the hereafter, various theories existed and still exist, dwelling upon all of which does not appear to be very necessary. Hence the main aim of this discussion is to study of the various verses and elucidating the view of the Holy Qur’an with respect to the connection between the world and the hereafter.
However, before proceeding with the Qur’anic verses, we will refer to the fact that in the ancient times and between different nations, there persisted this belief that whosoever enjoyed the material benefits in this life, in other words, whosoever was lucky in this world, would also be lucky in the other world, especially he, whose material things of use were placed along with him, or in his grave, so that after becoming alive, could utilize them.
Thus, decorative articles, money, food and other things which could be needed in life were buried with the dead in their graves, a large number of which have been uncovered during various excavations. On the other hand, these very people were of the belief that if a person did not possess material wealth and was poor and unlucky in this world, he would be in the same condition in the hereafter.
The Holy Qur’an does not accept this superficial and irrational connection but instead is a proponent of the connection between man's voluntary actions in this world and his eternal life. That is, if the voluntary actions of man take place as a result of “belief and faith” and fall under the category of “righteous deeds”, it shall be a reason for his happiness in the hereafter, while on the contrary, if the voluntary deeds and actions do not occur as a result of faith and belief and are also not categorized as “righteous deeds”, the hereafter has trouble in store for him. However, the increase and the decrease in intensity as well as magnitude, as also the time period of the pain and suffering of this person in the hereafter depends upon these two fundamental factors of his worldly life.
Thus, according to the Islamic and the Qur’anic insight, possession or non-possession of the material benefits and the worldly comfort in this world is not the criterion for the felicity or the wretchedness of the hereafter. But those which happen to be the actual basis and criterion are two things:
1) The correct belief and conviction.
2) Righteous and pious deeds.
The Holy Qur’an, very clearly states:
بَلَى مَنْ كَسَبَ سَيِّئَةً وَأَحَاطَتْ بِهِ خَطِيئَتُهُ فَأُوْلَئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أُوْلَئِكَ أَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ
“Yea! Whoever earns evil and his sins beset him on every side, these are the inmates of the fire; in it they shall abide. And (as for) those who believe and do good deeds, these are the dwellers of the garden: in it they shall abide.”1
Up to here it was understood that according to the Holy Qur’an, the basis and the criterion for happiness and wretchedness in the hereafter is faith and righteous deeds of an individual in this world. However, this question still stands as to what is the type of this connection? In other words, is this connection imaginary and hypostatized or actual and real?
In the study of the Qur’anic verses, we encounter occasions whereby we can consider the connection between faith and righteous deed on the one hand and happiness of the hereafter on the other hand, to be imaginary and hypostatized. In addition, there exist other verses and occasions, wherein the connection is considered to be more than just imaginary and hypostatized, but one of actuality and reality. Before we embark upon mentioning examples of these two groups of verses, it is necessary to clarify the difference between these two connections.
This connection usually exists where, one group in its capacity of Legislator, governor and one with powers of discretion, for attaining its objectives and according to the good interests which it discerns in the matter, fixes certain rewards for some actions and certain punishment for some other actions, whereas previously, between these actions and their rewards and punishments, no real connection existed.
Another point, which is seen in this type of hypostatized connection, is that the Legislator or the same previous group can declare the connection to be null and void or even declare it to be just the opposite of what it previously was. That is, the same actions, which previously deserved rewards, would now be decreed to carry punishment.
Or would say that henceforth, this particular action neither carries any reward or any punishment. For example, the population in some of the countries is less and the government or the Legislative body of that country decides that a larger population for that country is necessary. As a result, prizes and rewards are ascertained for the fathers and mothers, who have many children.
With the ascertainment of the rewards the people are encouraged and thus the population of the country increases. With the irregular increase in the population, various cultural, financial and political difficulties surface. Thus, it is possible that the very same previous people would now decide that henceforth, not only possessing a large number of children would not be encouraged but would also entail punishments, or that they would just declare the previous rewards as null and void.
Anyway, from some of the verses, it can be understood that, Allah, being better and more aware, of the good and the bad for his servants, than anyone else, and for the purpose of their reaching their desired perfection, has ascertained certain rewards and punishments in the other world corresponding to their voluntary deeds in this world. In reality, the connection between the rewards and punishments with the deeds of man is purely imagined and hypostatized. For example, consider the verse mentioned below:
لَيْسَ بِأَمَانِيِّكُمْ وَلاَ أَمَانِيِّ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ مَنْ يَعْمَلْ سُوءًا يُجْزَ بِهِ وَلاَ يَجِدْ لَهُ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ وَلِيًّا وَلاَ نَصِيرًا وَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِنْ الصَّالِحَاتِ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَى وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَأُوْلَئِكَ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ وَلاَ يُظْلَمُونَ نَقِيرًا
“Whoever does evil shall be recompensed for it, nor will he find for himself, besides Allah, any guardian or a helper. And whoever does good deeds, whether male or female and be a believer, then these shall enter Heaven and they shall not be wronged (even) to the husk of a date-stone.” 2
From the apparent meaning of the above-mentioned verse, it can be understood that the reward and punishment is in relation to their actions, and this connection has been ascertained by Allah. As a result, from this verse and other similar verses, it can be concluded that Allah has established an imaginary and hypostatized connection between the actions and their rewards and punishments.
In this type of connection, the same relation exists, as the one we observe between cause and effect.
That is, a connection, genetic and profound, which is higher than the imaginary and hypostatized one. This is because, in the hypostatized appointments, the legislator or the one possessing authority can alter it or delete it altogether. Whereas, these type of connections are not capable of accepting changes or deletions, like fire, which genetically, will burn other things, or water, which quenches thirst and like every cause which brings into existence its effect.
Indeed, sometimes, the fire does not burn but turns into a flower garden, or the water does not quench thirst. In such cases, it should be understood that the real and genetic connection has not been lifted, but another connection or another rule, which lies in the knowledge of Allah and about which, we have no knowledge, comes into play and overrules the previous connection and brings its influence to a naught. The reality and detailed explanation of this aspect should be followed in the topic of miracle and other related topics.
Nevertheless, it can be deduced from some of the verses that the connection between the actions and its rewards and punishments is not hypostatized or nominal but higher and more profound. That is, an actual and real connection does exist. The meaning of 'an actual and real connection' is that on the Day of Resurrection, the actual actions shall manifest themselves in the form of rewards or punishments, this being described as 'Embodiment of Deeds'.
Similar to a grain of wheat, which grows beneath the earth and later turns into an ear of wheat, or a seed of fruit, which becomes a fruit tree. This ear of wheat and the tree of the fruit are the same grain of wheat and the seed of the fruit, which have undergone a change of form and have manifested them in this form.
In the Embodiment of Deeds, and the actions possessing an actual and real connection with its rewards and punishments, the unjust usurpation of the property of an orphan, shall grow and shall be observed in the hereafter in the form of fire.
In a more lucid explanation, one who eats unjustly, the property of an orphan, right now is sending fire into his stomach, although he comprehends not, but the day when the curtains of negligence and ignorance shall move aside and the Universal Resurrection occurs, he shall witness the real outcome of his deeds, which shall be the fire.
Two verses from those under consideration, for the purpose of more elucidation of this aspect is being mentioned.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ الْيَتَامَى ظُلْمًا إِنَّمَا يَأْكُلُونَ فِي بُطُونِهِمْ نَارًا وَسَيَصْلَوْنَ سَعِيرًا
“Verily, those who eat away the properties of the orphans unjustly, they swallow (only) fire into their bellies; and they shall enter into the blazing hell-fire.”3
From this verse, it can be easily deduced that the fire of hell is not just a hypostatized punishment for eating the property of an orphan, but the very property itself is a meanness, which shall manifest itself in this form.
يَوْمَ تَأْتِي كُلُّ نَفْسٍ تُجَادِلُ عَنْ نَفْسِهَا وَتُوَفَّى كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَا عَمِلَتْ وَهُمْ لاَ يُظْلَمُونَ
“(Remember) the day when every soul shall come, pleading for itself, and every soul shall be recompensed fully for what it has done and they will not be dealt with unjustly.” 4
If the connection between actions and its rewards was hypostatized and nominal, then it is possible that the reward for it may not be granted in full or that they may be oppressed, but when the previous actions manifest themselves in the form of rewards and punishments, the probability of oppression and lessening of the rewards does not exist. It is because of this that the verse says: “All that which they have done, they shall take the returns for it in full and also shall not be wronged or oppressed in the very least.”
Indeed, it is possible that, we, in the present conditions, may be ignorant about the meaning and the type of the real connection of many of our actions, with that, which has been fixed for us in the form of rewards or punishments, and which shall be given to us on the Day of Judgement. However, our ignorance cannot cause us to judge the connection between the actions and the rewards of the hereafter as being only imaginary and hypostatized.
Anyway, it appears that, the best expression which could describe the type of this connection, is the famous sentence which says:
الدنيا مزرعة الأخرة
Indeed, we are sowing the crops of our eternal lives. It is necessary that we strive to sow that which we shall need in the spring of our lives and not just pay attention to those things, which we are cultivating presently.
We should not content ourselves with the sowing of one or a few trees. Only he, who is constantly involved in cultivating the best and the most harvest for the future shall attain salvation on the day of Resurrection. Of course, if man, with this conviction and hope, strives constantly, then Allah too shall provide an increase in it, an increase that could not be possibly imagined. (ألّلهمّ ارزقنا)
If, at a time, it was imagined that mind and intelligence taking the place of God and armed with knowledge, it is possible to lead the society to happiness and tranquility today, such an imagination and misconception, would find no place for itself in the human society. This is because experience has shown that the advancement of knowledge also cannot overcome the human problems.
Indeed it cannot be denied that the efforts of the scholars have yielded great results in the field of inventions and discoveries, which have changed the lives of humans but in exchange have brought forward new, complex and bigger problems as presents. Problems such as weapons of mass destruction, devastating wars on the face of the earth, new and killing diseases, and spread of psychological sicknesses and suicides are some of these problems.
On the other hand, the passing of times and experience have shown that setting up of laws or external pressure for the purpose of training and controlling man is not very efficient. This is because those people who possess power and the others, each one trample the laws beneath their feet or find a way to escape from it. Whereas, if the factor which controls man is belief and internal to man, the results shall be definitely better.
Accordingly, Islam has placed the training and controlling factor of man within himself, and with the faith in Allah and a sincere conviction regarding Resurrection, it has paved and evened out the way for him to become a true human and so also for his development and perfection, such that should a person or a society, really act upon these Islamic teachings, or at the least, achieve a firm conviction regarding the Universal Resurrection and the life after death, then he has laid out the foundation for his and his society's happiness. Here, we shall mention concisely only a few examples of the influence of this liberating and constructive belief.
It has been proven by experience that material luxuries, successes and pleasure seeking on his own, cannot take man to his objective and to ease and happiness. That which can make life sour for man in spite of having all the material luxuries is anxiety and mental and psychological disturbances. These anxieties and disturbances, more than anything, cause suffering to man and is the reason for an increase in suicide and drug tragedies, which threaten the present civilization.
Unfortunately, this present century of ours, in spite of the advancement of knowledge, sophistication of technology, the diminishing of the hours of work and also the simplification of the various works which previously were performed with great difficulty, and similarly the quantitative and qualitative increase in the various types of amusements, as also their being in the reach and use of the general public, have not only not reduced the anxiety and the disturbance of the mind, but according to the sociologists and the psychologists, the spiritual diseases are on the ascent.
One of the main reasons for this new chaos and the spreading of the spiritual diseases is the feeling of emptiness in the life and it being without a purpose. The twentieth century man has, by turning away from religion and placing aside the necessary and life-constructing beliefs of it, entangled himself in an empty and purposeless life and has painted for himself a terrifying face of death and as a result has become caught in life-taking sufferings which he could never have even imagined.
Professor Young one of the famous psycho-analyst and one of the well-known assistants of Freud says: “Two thirds of the people, from all over the world, who have consulted me are people who are educated and successful in life, the major trouble of them being the emptiness and aimlessness in life and this major trouble is causing them suffering, anxiety and disturbance of mind. The reason for this problem of man in the twentieth century is haughtiness resulting from sophistication in technology, shortsightedness and prejudice which resulted in their losing their religion, and even now, until they do not revert to the correct religious beliefs, they shall not attain tranquility, because irreligiousness means emptiness and absence of purpose in life.”1
Not only does lack of belief in life after death, fill the life of man with anxiety, distress and purposelessness, but also tends to strike out at the instinct of the love for permanence of man. In other words, man who is always seeking perfection and eternity will never be satisfied with this limited material world and in no way shall achieve his tranquility in this cage. Whereas, the belief in resurrection and an eternal life fulfils this desire and in its light shall obtain the spiritual tranquility, and shall attain freedom from the sufferings and diseases resulting from this anxiety and disturbance of the mind.
Great efforts have taken place in various human societies, so that by some means, justice and social security be established and the violations and crimes diminish or cease altogether. However, one fundamental problem which exists in these efforts is that they desire to compel the individuals to a desired state by setting laws and building prisons and in short, by using an external control, but this method did not have any effectiveness, and was tested time and again.
This is because if the control is only by means of laws and other controlling tools, which work on an individual externally, then the leaders and chiefs who exercise control over the people shall consider themselves exceptions to the law or may find means to escape from it and thus abscond.
In addition, in the courts also, important factors like recommendation, bribes presentation of forged documents and thousands of other deceptions, play a pivotal role. In short, that which is not exercised is the Truth and that which is not heard is the complaints of the oppressed.
It is because of this lack of effectiveness of the laws and other methods of control, that the national security and the defense budgets are always on the increase and the prisons are increasing day by day, whereas if, alongside these measures and laws, an internal control also existed, the results would be much better.
That is, if an individual (or a society) believes that after death, he would have to be present in a court in which he shall witness the reality of his deeds and their results without the slightest reduction and should he have any objection, the parts of his body which performed the deeds would stand witness against him and in addition to this, in such a court, no bribes, friendship, recommendation and reconsideration exist.
In such a circumstance, how much would crime, violations and revolts diminish in the society? It is possible to claim that basically, with the presence of such a faith and belief, the occurrence of such acts of crime and violations, is strange and unanticipated and would, in all totality, become effaced and cease to exist.
Of course, since varied instincts and numerous and at times contradictory, tendencies exist within man, violations and crime cannot be totally uprooted from the human society, however at the very least, the part played by these beliefs and the internal control with regards to the happenings which usually take place in material, godless and irreligious societies, is beyond question and denial.
Another point being, it should not be concluded that thus, no offence and crime exist in the Islamic and religious societies or that the state of these societies are, according to statistics, cent per cent better than the other societies (which indeed is), because two fundamental factors serve as a hindrance for the total up-rootment of offences and crime in the human and religious societies, and they are as follows:
i) The varied and at times contrasting instincts of men, shall continue to incline man towards uncleanness.
ii) Weak beliefs of the people with respect to Allah and Resurrection after death.
Hence, however much the beliefs of the people with respect to Allah and life after death become stronger and deep-rooted, calmness and security shall increase in the society and as a result, the quantity of offences, crimes, treason, criminals and prisoners shall decrease.
One who does not have faith in Resurrection and life after death and seeks the rewards of his deeds in this very world, does not have sufficient stimulus for fulfilling the needs and wants of other individuals. Hence if he sees a miserable person, he shall not come forward to help him out of his misery, except if it has some benefit in store for him.
For example, by providing this service, he can use that person to his benefit. On the contrary, one who has faith in life after death and knows that the rewards for his deeds shall be received by him completely in the other world, with regards to helping the poor and the helpless and fulfilling the needs of the needy and for all good deeds in general, is strongly motivated.
His stimulus is not the worldly benefits, but seeks his rewards from Allah and knows that Allah shall grant the best of the rewards in this world and the hereafter (the day when he is most in need of the rewards).
Regarding this, Hazrat ‘Ali (‘a) says:
من أيقن بالخلف جاد بالعطيّه
“One who, with respect to the (rewards of) the day of Resurrection, has firm belief and conviction, shall behave in a goodly manner while serving others.”2
This sentence of Hazrat ‘Ali (‘a) very clearly relates the stimulus for serving others and the performance of good deeds in the light of the belief in resurrection. On the other hand, some of the Qur’anic verses mention the lack of stimulus in the unbelievers and the deniers of the day of Resurrection, for serving others, in this fashion:
أَرَأَيْتَ الَّذِي يُكَذِّبُ بِالدِّينِ فَذَلِكَ الَّذِي يَدُعُّ الْيَتِيمَ وَلاَ يَحُضُّ عَلَى طَعَامِ الْمِسْكِينِ
“Have you considered him who calls the Final Judgement a lie? That is the one who repels the orphan. And does not urge the (others) to feed the poor.” 3
The belief in the day of resurrection and the day of rewards and punishments become reason that man on the one hand, reforms his connection with Allah, while on the other hand, adjusts and makes right his connection with the creations of Allah. As a result, giving charity and helping others is not difficult for him, because he is convinced that the rewards for his deeds and much more than what he anticipated, shall be given by Allah in this world and the hereafter.
In short, the belief in life after death also breathes a meaning into the life of this world, and instills a sense of responsibility into the hearts of the people. It compels them, to the understanding of the responsibilities, righteousness and truthfulness in serving others and performance of good deeds and helps them from refraining from the uncleanness in the same measure as the strength of their conviction in the rewards and punishment of the day of resurrection.
One, who does not believe in his eternal life, cannot choose for himself objectives beyond his material and animal needs. As a result, all of his objectives shall be summarized in the fulfillment of his carnal instincts and attainment of the base and worldly lusts.
Such individual or individuals cannot have a search for things other than profits, pleasures or attainment of wealth and power. Once such a thing happens, man is ready to indulge in every crime and submerge in every kind of lust and dirtiness, so as to achieve his base and materialistic objectives. As a result, laws, morals, piety and service of people and... do not mean anything to him.
On the contrary, one who believes in resurrection, considers the life of the world to be a preamble to his eternal life and, all his efforts and struggles are directed towards the selection of high, lofty and eternal objectives which can help him in the future and which can make him happy and successful.
Hence, he shall not drown himself in lust and base and transient worldly objectives. He shall not get entangled in uncleanness and shall not indulge in crimes and offences and shall not be willing to commit suicide or inflict injuries to his body and soul. He shall tolerate the difficulties and the sufferings of life for the purpose of reaching his lofty objectives. In short, he shall choose a clean life and a goodly path for himself.
The Holy Qur’an mentions one of the reasons for the pollution of the polluted ones of the hell, in their own words, to be the lack of belief in resurrection and states:
قَالُوا لَمْ نَكُ مِنَ الْمُصَلِّينَ وَلَمْ نَكُ نُطْعِمُ الْمِسْكِينَ وَكُنَّا نَخُوضُ مَعَ الْخَائِضِينَ وَكُنَّا نُكَذِّبُ بِيَوْمِ الدِّينِ
“They shall say: We were not of those who offered the regular prayers. And we used not to feed the poor. And we used to enter into vain discourse with those who entered into vain discourses. And we used to belie the Day of Judgement.” 4
Thus, four basic reasons for facing the punishment and suffering on the day of resurrection has been mentioned, one of which is the lack of faith and the denial of the resurrection.
An individual or a society which does not believe in life after death, shall, in every economic matter, strive to increase its income by means of deceit, trickery, fraud and treachery, or by performing less shall try to achieve a greater benefit. In addition, when he has gathered wealth, he shall not spend it for the goodness of himself or the society, but indulge in extravagance and lavishness and in reality drags the financial resources of the society towards destruction.
On the contrary, the individual or the society which has faith in life after death, not only takes into consideration the Divine and the human criteria for acquiring of the wealth and never strives to collect wealth in every manner possible, but even during consumption of the wealth, always takes into consideration the rights of the society.
Unfortunately, that which is destroying the material resources of this world in this era of ours is the lack of consideration of these two important points.
In other words, in the twentieth century, the western civilization, and man in general, with the advancement of knowledge and technology, has extracted the god-given resources in every way possible, without giving thought to the protection of the environment or the rights of the coming generations and after that, in its consumption also has not exercised moderation and consideration to the social rights.
Consequently, it has destroyed the economic resources and the environment of the world as well as corrupted them.
Here, it is interesting to note that man, after years of destruction of the economic resources and the environment, and extravagance in the consumption of the divine bounties, has now sat back to reflect upon the protection of the environment and more interesting is that the researches of the scholars have shown that the only serious and effective way to protect the environment and to give importance to the economic resources and to safeguard the rights of the future generations lies in the religious teachings and amongst them the belief in the continuation of life after death. With this and the other religious beliefs, it is possible to have an effective check on the pollution of the water, jungles, the incessant consumption of the underground resources and.... etc.
In addition, on the basis of this belief, it is possible to establish the foundations of a correct economic connection in the society and thus stop the economic trickery, fraud and treachery in check.
Hazrat ‘Ali (‘a) has very sweet and eloquent statements in this regard. Amongst them, in one of his letters to one of his governors, who had misused some funds from the public treasury, after reprimanding and rebuking him, says:
فسيبحان الله! أما تؤمن بالمعاد؟ أو ما تخاف نقاش الحساب؟""
“Glory be to God! Do you not believe in Resurrection and do you not fear the accounting and the questioning (of that day?”5
Hence, if one believes in the day of resurrection and does not forget it, he will never misappropriate the funds from the public treasury. A prominent example and a practical and perfect model of this reality is Hazrat ‘Ali (‘a) who has narrated the incident of himself and his brother Aqil, whereby he states: “ By God, I saw Aqil disturbed and in a state of abject poverty. He wanted me to give him some of your wheat (public treasury) and I saw his children whom due to poverty had their hair disheveled and their skin darkened, as if color had been applied to their faces. He would keep visiting me and repeat his request. He imagined that I had given in to his requests.
Then I heated an iron piece and brought it close to him. He wailed out in a manner as a sick person would in pain. He was near to be scalded by the heated iron. I told him “May the criers cry over you as a mother cries over her burnt child. You wail of the iron which man has playfully made hot and wish to drag me into the fire, which the Powerful God has heated by His anger? You moan due to the suffering and I should not moan from the burning due to the anger of the Creator?”6
The Holy Qur’an also, after threatening them with the sentence, “Woe unto the defrauders in measuring”, says:
أَلاَ يَظُنُّ أُولَئِكَ أَنَّهُمْ مَبْعُوثُونَ لِيَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ يَوْمَ يَقُومُ النَّاسُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
“What! Think they not that they shall be raised. For a Mighty Day. On the day when men shall stand before the Lord of the worlds?”7
From these verses, it can be clearly understood that the belief in Resurrection refrains man from overcharging and other illegal economic actions. Perhaps the reason that the Holy Qur’an mentions the name of the overchargers and threatens them, could be that one of the important economic problems and offences during the time of the revelation of the Holy Qur’an and also throughout the eras, was and is, overcharging.
Anyway, one of the most important results and effects of the belief of Resurrection, is moderation in the consumption, and non-performance of treachery and offence in the way of acquisition of income and also non-destruction of the economic resources and the environment.
One of the other most important effects of the belief in Resurrection is steadfastness in the battlefield and perseverance on the path of Truth. This is because, one not having faith in life after death, when confronted by an adversary, does not have the stimulus for being steadfast and at times being killed. As a result, he is always in a state of fear, hesitation and disturbance and at an opportune time shall readily take to flight.
Such a person shall not only not show steadfastness in the battle-field, but also, during his entire life, whenever he encounters any obstacle in the course of a divine or human objective, he shall change his course and altogether deviate from his path, objective and ideas.
But one who believes in the life after death and considers it to be better, wider and more perfect, in the battle-field, not only does he not choose flight, but even fear does not overcome him. He believes in the Holy Qur’an, which mentions the final outcome of a soldier of a religious war and knows that eventually, he would either be victorious, or attain martyrdom and eternal happiness. The Holy Qur’an mentions the final outcome of a soldier fighting for truth as:
قُلْ هَلْ تَتَربَّصُونَ بِنَا إِلاَ إِحْدَى الْحُسْنَيَيْنِ وَنَحْنُ نَتَرَبَّصُ بِكُمْ أَنْ يُصِيبَكُمْ اللَّهُ بِعَذَابٍ مِنْ عِنْدِهِ أَوْ بِأَيْدِينَا فَتَرَبَّصُوا إِنَّا مَعَكُمْ مُتَرَبِّصُونَ
“Say: Do you wait for us but one of two most excellent things? And we wait for you that Allah will afflict you with punishment from Himself or by our hands. So wait; we too will wait with you.”8
In short, the belief in the life after death is the cause for steadfastness, perseverance and incessant strivations in the battlefield and also during the entire life of a person and in all occasions which demand strife and struggle. The Holy Qur’an while mentioning the incident of a group from the Bani Israel who were under the command of Hazrat Saul (Talut) when embarking on a war with Goliath (Jalut) explains beautifully and subtly the mentality and the characteristics of those accompanying Hazrat Saul and the part played by the belief and the lack of belief in Resurrection saying:
فَلَمَّا فَصَلَ طَالُوتُ بِالْجُنُودِ قَالَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مُبْتَلِيكُمْ بِنَهَرٍ فَمَنْ شَرِبَ مِنْهُ فَلَيْسَ مِنِّي وَمَنْ لَمْ يَطْعَمْهُ فَإِنَّهُ مِنِّي إِلاَ مَنْ اغْتَرَفَ غُرْفَةً بِيَدِهِ فَشَرِبُوا مِنْهُ إِلاَّ قَلِيلًا مِنْهُمْ فَلَمَّا جَاوَزَهُ هُوَ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ قَالُوا لاَ طَاقَةَ لَنَا الْيَوْمَ بِجَالُوتَ وَجُنُودِهِ قَالَ الَّذِينَ يَظُنُّونَ أَنَّهُمْ مُلاَقُو اللَّهِ كَمْ مِنْ فِئَةٍ قَلِيلَةٍ غَلَبَتْ فِئَةً كَثِيرَةً بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ وَلَمَّا بَرَزُوا لِجَالُوتَ وَجُنُودِهِ قَالُوا رَبَّنَا أَفْرِغْ عَلَيْنَا صَبْرًا وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَنَا وَانْصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ فَهَزَمُوهُمْ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَقَتَلَ دَاوُودُ جَالُوتَ وَآتَاهُ اللَّهُ الْمُلْكَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَعَلَّمَهُ مِمَّا يَشَاءُ وَلَوْلاَ دَفْعُ اللَّهِ النَّاسَ بَعْضَهُمْ بِبَعْضٍ لَفَسَدَتْ الْأَرْضُ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ ذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ
“So when Talut departed with the forces, he said: Surely Allah will try you with a river; Whoever then drinks from it, he is not of me, and whoever does not taste of it, he is surely of me, except he who takes with his hand as much of it as fills the hand; but with the exception of a few of them they drank from it. So when he had crossed it, he and those who believed with him, they said: We have today no power against Jalut and his forces. Those who were sure that they would meet their Lord said; How often has a small party vanquished a numerous host by Allah’s permission and Allah is with the patient. And when they went out against Jalut and his forces they said: Our Lord pour down upon us patience, and make our steps firm and assist us against the unbelieving people. So they put them to flight by Allah’s permission. And Dawood slew Jalut...”9
The faith and belief in resurrection and life after death, made the Muslims and the soldiers at the time of the advent of Islam so much desirous of martyrdom that they did not in the least fear death and without any fear, alarm or disturbance of mind, they would bravely rush into the ranks of their enemies. This unbelievable morale and bravery was a cause for astonishment and perplexity for the unbelievers. As a result, the hypocrites, for justifying their fearfulness and the fearlessness of the real soldiers of Islam, said:
إِذْ يَقُولُ الْمُنَافِقُونَ وَالَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ مَرَضٌ غَرَّ هَؤُلَاءِ دِينُهُمْ…
“And when the hypocrites and those whom in their hearts is a disease said amongst themselves: Their religion has beguiled them.”10
The purport of the hypocrites from the above sentence was that the real soldiers and Muslims have been deceived by the faith in the resurrection and are warring, with manifest bravery and valor, for the purpose of the meeting their Lord.
It is interesting to know that during the Revolution and especially in the 8 years of the Holy Defense, we ourselves were witness to such morale and bravery that no justification other than the love for martyrdom, exists for it. And more interesting, the enemies and those weak in faith also made the same judgement as that made by the hypocrites of the era of the advent of Islam, that “these adolescents and youths have been deceived.”
Nevertheless, in spite of the fact that the effects of the belief in the resurrection are exhaustive, we shall content ourselves with these few examples, with the hope that we ourselves be among the true believers of the day of resurrection and also with the hope that Allah, in every state and circumstance, especially on that Day, be our Helper.
1. The Holy Qur’an
2. Nahjul Balaghah - Research: Subhi Saleh, First Edition, Nashr Dar Al-Hijrah
3. A group of writers under the supervision of Makarim Shirazi, Tafsir-e- Namuneh, Eleventh Edition, Dar Al-Kitab Al-Islamiyah, 1372
4. Jawadi Amuli, Abdullah, Deh Maqaleh Piramun Mabda' wa Ma'ad, First Edition, Intesharat Farhangi Raja
5. Husayni Tehrani, Syed Muhammad Husayn, Ma'ad Shanasi, Intesharat Hekmat
6. Howaizi, Juma'h Al-A'rusi, Tafsir Nur At-Thaqalain, Fourth Edition, Qum, Intesharat Ismailiyan, 1374
7. Khorramshahi, Baha Ad-Din, Qur’an Pazhohi, First Edition
8. Subhani, Ja'far, Manshure Javid (Vol. 9), Intesharat Mu’assaseh Sayyed As-Shohada, 1374
9. Saifi, ‘Ali Akbar, Burhan Qate' Piramun Qiyamat, First Edition, Intesharat Daftare Tablighate Islami, 1365
10. Shafi'i Kodkoni, Doctor Muhammad Redha, Guzide Ghazaliyat Shams, Seventh Edition, Tehran, Intesharat Shirkat Sahami Kitabe Jaibi, 1367
11. Saduq, Ibn Babwaih As-Saduq, Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Al-Husayn, Ma'ani Al-Akhbar, First Edition, Intesharat Jame' Mudarrasin, 1361
12. Tahiri, Habibullah, Sairi Dar Jahan Pas az Marg, Second Edition, Daftare Intesharate Islami, 1376
13. Tabataba’i, Muhammad Husayn, Al-Mizan Fi Tafsir Al-Qur’an, Fourth Edition, Dar Al-Kutub Al-Islamiyah. 1362
14. Tabataba’i, Muhammad Husayn, Rasail Al-Tauhidiyah, Edition - Hekmat, Publisher - Bunyad 'Ilmi wa Fikr Adliyah
15. Falsafi, Muhammad Taqi, Ma'ad Az Nazre Ruh wa Jism, Fifth Edition, Offset - Marwi, 1360
16. Qara'ati , Muhsin, Ma'ad, Muassasah Dar Rah-e-Haq, 1373
17. Qurbani, Zain Al-Abedin, Be Suey Jahane Abadi, Second Edition, Muassaseh Matbuaati Tabatabai, 1387 A.H.
18. Peterson, Michael, and others, ‘Aql wa I'teqade Dini, Translation – Ahmad Naraqi and Ibrahim Sultani, First Edition, Tehran. Publisher - Tarhe Nu
19. Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Bihar Al-Anwar (Vol. 8, 70,73) Second Edition, Intesharate Islamiyah
20. Misbah Yazdi, Muhammad Taqi, Ma'arife Qur’an, Muassasah Dar Rah-e-Haq, 1373
21. Mutahhari, Murtadha, Zindagie Javed Ya Hayate Ukhrawi, Intesharate Sadra, 1360
22. Mazahiri, Husayn, Ma’ad Dar Qur’an
23. Shirazi Makarim and a group of writers, Payam-e-Qur’an (Vol. 5,6), 4th Edition, Qum, Madresah Amir Al-Mu’minin, 1374
24. Maulavi, Jalal Ad-Din Muhammad, Mathnavi Ma'nvi, Corrected by - Reynold Nicholson, First Edition, Tehran, Intesharate Quqnus, 1376