Death means separation of soul from the body; Islam
tells us that man is not annihilated as the result of death. He is only
transferred from one world to another, where he begins a new life. The
Holy Prophet has said: "You have not been created for annihilation. You
have been created for everlasting life. The only thing is that you are
moved from one world to another."
According to Islam, separation of soul from the body
does not take place in a uniform manner in the case of all individuals.
The souls of the sinners and of those who are too much attached to this
world are separated with violence and force, but the souls of the virtuous
and those who love Allah and are in communion with the next world are separated
with ease and gentleness.
All prophets and sacred books unanimously agree that
with death human life does not come to an end, and after this world, there
exists another world where human beings will be rewarded or punished according
to their deeds. The virtuous will lead a happy and pleasant life, and the
evil-doers will be punished and tormented. Belief in resurrection and the
next world is one of the fundamentals of all religions and a believer in
prophets has to believe in resurrection, too.
The idea that with death every thing comes to an end
and man is completely annihilated, is not only appalling but appears to
be odd and illogical also. Especially after the acceptance of the doctrine
of divine unity and acknowledgement of the existence of Allah, it is totally
It is unbelievable that the aim of all the complex
laws of evolution is simply to first transform a simple and invaluable
being into a highly developed intellectual being like Avicenna (lbn-Sina)
or Einstein and then to annihilate him altogether. It does not stand to
reason that annihilation should be the fate of the entire human race and
its culture. Such a theory is incredible, unreasonable and incompatible
with the knowledge, wisdom and skill of the Creator. This looks as if a
vainglorious person builds a carefully designed and well-executed magnificent
workshop or factory and then blows it into pieces.
Will it not be more logical if we admit that life
continues in another form after death and the process of evolution does
not come to an end ? Here we can give a beautiful example. Our life in
this world is like that of a foetus which after passing through several
evolutionary stages, is transferred to a wider and more perfect environment
of which it could not even have imagined (if it had any power of imagination).
Had human life been limited to a foetal period and
every foetus died immediately after birth. Would such a life not have been
illogical and unreasonable ? It would be more logical if human life in
this world after passing through intricate and difficult routes of physical,
intellectual and moral evolution, is a prelude to the beginning of a higher
and wider life in the next world. The life of that world should bear the
same relation to the life of this world as the life of this world to the
That is why all those who believe in Allah also believe
that with death man is not annihilated, but is transferred to another world
whose full details and characteristics are beyond our comprehension, for
we are confined to the four walls of this world. Anyhow; we know this much
that leaving this world does not mean the end of life and that another
world does exist.
Study of the laws of the Universe, of the forces which
push man forward along the path of evolution and of the systematic grandeur
of this world convincingly testify to this truth.
The Holy Quran says; "Did you think that we had made
you in vain and that you were not going to return to us ?"
It also says: "And surely you have known the first
evolution then why do you not mind ?" In other words it says you have seen
the life of this world, then why do you not conclude that there is another
world also, for the study of this world and the laws concerning the evolution
of human life here show that there is another world where the process of
evolution will continue.
Scientific Laws and Resurrection
It is remarkable that Science with its modern discoveries
has taken a long step forward towards proving the possibility of resurrection
and life hereafter, and with the enunciation of the doctrine of the imperishability
of matter and energy, the resurrection which previously appeared to be
impossible, has now become logical and comprehensible.
The doctrine of the imperishability of matter which
was first discovered by Lavoisier has rendered the question of complete
annihilation totally unscientific. According to it, the particles of man,
howsoever, decomposed and scattered they may become, still exist in this
very world, and it is possible that one day they are recollected.
This is the first step forward towards the possibility
of the resurrection of man and his return to life after death.
This doctrine was further reinforced by the discovery
of radio-active bodies by Marie Curie. Her discovery confirmed that not
only matter but energy is also everlasting and that there is no duality
between matter and energy, for they are convertible with each other.
On this basis, we should admit that our ideas, our
deeds and all our movements which are all produced by the transformation
of our various bodily energies, continue to exist in this world.
Our vocal waves are not obliterated and their traces
always exist in the air and the objects which surround us. Only their form
is changed. The same is the case with all our works and deeds.
This is another step forward towards the possibility
of resurrection and even physically seeing the deeds themselves.
Anyhow, with the progress of science the question
of resurrection is no longer as complicated as once it was. Now it is comprehensible
and from a scientific stand-point fully admissible.
Faith in Resurrection and Human Development
Faith in resurrection besides logically interpreting and revolving the puzzle of life and death and besides being a truth which must be accepted, produces diverse effects on human life, the most important of them being the following two:
The picture of death which had always been appalling
and the thought of which had always disturbed the peace of mind has undergone
a complete change. With the acknowledgement of resurrection and "life after
death" in a world where all the gifts of life will exist eternally and
on a higher and bigger scale the picture of death is no longer as dreadful
and appalling as it was, and the scenes of death and old age no longer
disturb the peace of mind.
The unrest and anxiety caused by the thought of death
is not as painful to us as to the materialists, and thus we can lead a
more comfortable and satisfied life.
The believers in life hereafter welcome sacrifice
and martyrdom for a sacred cause, for they regard them as a prelude to
a new life in a higher and wider world.
2. The realization that human thought and deeds continue
to exist, that they after going through a process of development and growth
come back in a magnified form in the next world, that all good and bad
deeds are to be minutely accounted for and that one has to receive reward
or punishment, as the case may be, certainly exerts a healthy effect on
human conduct and behavior. Thus the belief in the next world creates a
favorable atmosphere for the promotion of good deeds and keeping the out-
burst of passions under a check.
Independent Existence and Imperishibility of Soul
Though the materialists try to describe thought, understanding
and other psychological phenomena as the physical and chemical properties
of brain and nervous system and hence proclaim them to be material, yet
the inadequacy of their interpretation clearly indicates the independent
existence and non-material nature of soul, because in spiritual phenomena
like thinking, imagination and memory, we find characteristics which are
not the general properties of matter.
We can embody in our minds huge planets, galaxies
and solar systems or mountains, deserts and large rivers, though in their
external existence they are so enormous. Obviously, in such cases, a huge
picture, even as large as the heaven and earth is drawn in our minds and
we feel the existence of the mental picture within ourselves.
Now the question is where is the location of this
picture ? Certainly, it cannot be located in our brain cells, because our
mental pictures may be millions of times larger than our brain. Can you
ever, on paper, draw a map of Japan to the actual and physical scale of
that country ? Certainly not.
Hence, we must believe in the existence of meta-physical
forces to be able to interpret this phenomenon without being confronted
with the dilemma of correspondence of a big object to a small object.
One of the general properties of matter is constant
change, transformation and disintegration with the passage of time, whereas,
our mental picture, remain firm and stable and do not undergo a change.
For example, I saw a young friend of mine some years
ago at a meeting. If I recollect that meeting even after fifty years, the
same mental picture, which is still firm in my memory , will reappear without,
the slightest change. This shows that mental pictures remain stable and
are not affected by general properties of matter, and hence they cannot
Non-correspondence of a large object with a small
object and unchangeability of mental pictures are two out of many arguments
advanced by the philosophers to prove the independent existence of human
soul or spirit. There are other arguments also, for which a reference may
be made to the books of philosophy.
From the above, it may be concluded that soul and
spiritual phenomena do not have general properties of matter, they do not
come to an end with physical death, and continue to exist even after having
separated from the body. This clearly indicates the possibility of resurrection
Life hereafter and resurrection after death are proved
by reason, but reason cannot guide us as to the nature and character of
the next life. For that we have to refer to the sayings of the prophets
and religious leaders (Imams). The Holy Quran and the traditions of the
Holy Prophet tell us that there exists a world named Barzakh where the
dead will be kept till the Day of Judgment and general resurrection. It
is an intermediate stage between this world and the next. When a man dies,
he comes first to this world, where he passes a special kind of spiritual
life. At the start of this life which begins from the grave, a brief interrogation
is carried out, and the beliefs and acts of the individual are checked.
If his beliefs are found in order of his acts and deeds good, a door of
paradise is opened to him and he stays on the way leading to paradise,
where he enjoys heavenly blessings. There he waits for the Day of Judgment
and final attainment of eternal favors. On the other hand, if he is found
wicked and his beliefs false, he is placed on the way leading to hell and
the door of hell is opened in his face. There he leads a bitter and unpleasant
life. He is tormented and remains in constant fear of the Day of Judgment
and severe punishment.
Allah says in the Holy Quran:
"And do not say of those who are slain in the way
of Allah that they are dead. In fact, they are alive, but you do not perceive
"Do not regard as dead those who have been slain in
the way of Allah; nay they are really alive and are well-provided by their
The Holy Prophet said: "The grave is the first stage
of the next life. If one is saved from its rigors, the next stages are
easy. If one is not saved, then what follows is not easier."
Imam Ali Ibn Husain (A) said: "The grave is either
a garden out of the gardens of paradise or a pit out of the pits of hell."
The Holy Quran and the traditions of the Holy Prophet
and the Imams describe resurrection as under: -
The sun and the moon will become dark and lightless.
The mountains will be cleaved and torn as under. The planets will collide
with each other. The rivers will become dry and will be ablaze. The heaven
and earth will be deformed. At that time all the dead will be raised. They
will be assembled for giving account of their deeds. Allah has the record
of all acts and deeds of the people. Nothing has been left out or missed.
On the Day of Judgment the veil will be lifted from the eyes of the people
and they will be able to see their deeds with their eyes physically. Then
the process of accountability will begin.
Everything will be checked most carefully and minutely.
The infidels and the unpardonable sinners will be sent to hell. The sinners
who will be eligible for pardon. having already undergone a part of punishment
during their stay in the Purgatory, will be pardoned as a result of an
intercession by the prophets and the Imams. They will eventually be sent
The accountability process in respect of the good
and virtuous will be completed speedily and with ease. But the infidels
and many sinners will have a rough time. Even the minutest details of their
conduct will be checked and they will be asked to explain all their acts.
This will take a long time, and they will pass through various stages of
accountability in great discomfort and anguish.
Paradise is the place where the good and the virtuous
will be sent. There exist all means of comfort, ease and happiness and
all that one may enjoy. Everything which one wishes will be available there.
The Holy Quran says: "There shall be what the soul
desires and what delights the eye." The blessings of Paradise are higher
and better than those of this world. None has heard of nor seen anything
like them. There will be no discomfort there. He who enters paradise will
have eternal life and will stay there for ever. Paradise has various divisions,
and everyone will be accommodated in them according to the degree of his
good deeds and virtues.
Hell is the place where infidels and the wicked will
be kept, and there they will be punished, tormented and subjected to most
severe pain. The punishment meted out in hell will be indescribably harsh
and severe. The fire in the hell not only burns the body, but it also burns
the heart and soul. It erupts from within and inflames the very existence
of the individual. "The fire of Allah that has been lighted, rises over
the hearts," says the Holy Quran.
Those who will be consigned to hell will be divided into two groups: -
The first group will consist of unbelievers who do
not acknowledge Allah. They will for ever be tormented in hell and will
have no escape.
The second group will consist of those who acknowledge
Allah, but their faith being weak, they commit sins and thus become liable
to punishment. They will be kept in hell temporarily. After they have been
purged of the darkness of the sins, they, through the direct mercy of Allah
or intercession of the prophet, will be forgiven and sent to paradise.
Hell also has various divisions where various types
of chastisements have been provided for. Everybody will be placed in the
class which he deserves according to the varying degree of his sins and
will be suitably punished.
The principle of intercession has been mentioned in
the Holy Quran and the traditions of the Holy Prophet and the Imams. Hence,
in principle, intercession is undeniable. On the whole the traditions show
that the Holy Prophet and the Imams will intercede on behalf of some sinner.
They will say: "O Allah : Though this person is a sinner and deserves punishment,
yet for the sake of the certain quality which he possesses because you
are All-forgiving and for the sake of that consideration you have for us.
We beseech you to ignore his misdeeds and show mercy to him." Their request
will be acceded to and Allah will forgive the sinner and will bestow his
favor on him.
Though in view of the Quranic passages and traditions,
the principle of intercession is undeniable, a few points must be borne
No interceder will intercede without prior permission
Intercession will take place only on the Day of Judgment
and after the process of accountability is completed and all deed sheets
have been checked. Interceders will ask for mercy only. There will be no
intercession so long as a person is in ' barzakh ' where sinners must undergo
punishment according to their sins. Though it is possible that there also
on the recommendation of the Prophet or an Imam, punishment is reduced
or commuted, but that is not what is meant by intercession,
The interceders (Imams) themselves have said : "Be
careful to come on the Day of Judgment in the form of a man so that we
may intercede on your behalf." This shows that if sins and beastly acts
of a person are so heinous that he comes on the Day of Judgment in the
shape of a beast, he is not eligible to intercession. In any case, eligibility
is the essential condition.
The interceders have said that their intercession
will not include certain sins like not offering prescribed prayers.
In view of the above, one must not commit sins in
the hope of intercession. That will only amount to taking poison and relying
on the aid of physicians and medicines. Such a person is certainly liable
The passages of the Holy Quran and the traditions
of the infallible Imams tell us that if a sinner before his death repents
and feels penitence about his misdeeds, his sins are forgiven without further
questioning. Hence the door of penitence is open to all sinners and one
need not despair, for true penitence wipes all sins. But it is not enough
to repeat any formula of penitence or just to shed a tear. True penitence
has certain conditions to which Ali ibn Abi Talib (Peace be on him) has
referred. He has said: "Penitence has six conditions. One must :
Really and sincerely repent his past misdeeds.
Be determined not to commit any sin in future.
Discharge all the rights which belong to others.
Fulfill all neglected obligatory acts.
Melt through self-mortification all the flesh that has grown on his body through the use of unlawful foods.
Bear the bitterness of acts of worship in the same
way as he had tasted the pleasure of sin. Only then, he should utter the
formula of penitence."