A Few Short Notes
1. Those who are martyred in the Way of Allah remain alive for ever. (The Prophets and Imams are superior than the martyrs; and as such, they are also alive). About the martyrs Allah says in the Qur'an:
“And think not those who are slain in the way of Allah, to be dead; nay! Alive they are with their Lord; are being sustained, rejoicing for those who have not yet joined them from behind them, that no fear shall come to them nor shall they grieve. They rejoice in the grace from Allah and (His) bounty, and in the fact that Allah does not (allow) the reward of the believers to be lost.” (Qur'an, 3:169-171).
2. The souls of the believers always look forward for the gifts from their near and dear ones, and especially so on Fridays and Friday eve. This gift may be in the form of prayers, alms, and other good deeds done on their behalf; one may also perform any Sunnat deed and pray to Allah to give its Thawab (Reward) to one's dead.1
3. The souls are sometimes allowed to visit their relatives who are alive. So far as the believers are concerned, there is no doubt about their visit. According to many Ahadith, even that believer who has the lowest rank is allowed to visit his relatives once every Friday. Those above him in rank may be allowed more frequently.
According to some Ahadith, even some unbelievers are allowed to visit their relatives so that their sorrow and grief may increase by seeing those relatives in disbelief and sin and realizing that they also would be punished in Akherat if they persisted in rejecting Islam and Iman.2
4. It must be mentioned here that the souls of the unbelievers remain in punishment and are not free to do any mischief to any one. Therefore, the idea of some people that this or that person became a ghost after his death is sheer superstition. There is no basis to accept such beliefs, prevalent in Hinduism.
Of course, there are Jinns, and among them, according to the Qur 'an, there are some evil ones also. But it does not mean that the evil Jinns have no other interest except teasing the East African residents of Indian origin. It is really surprising to listen to such lamentations that 'I have chronic headache, and so and so (a Sheikh, or Amil, or sorcerer) has said that a very evil Jinn (Kalkail, Dardail or some such name) is upon me.'
The belief in magic or sorcery is prevalent in Africa, and the East African Shias also have some Hindu background (as they have originated from India), and unfortunately, the people who came to guide them in religious matters from Iran (and lately from India) found this ready belief in ghosts (and evil Jinn) conducive to their material gains. The result is that if, for example, there is a dispute between a husband and wife, each party tries to obtain the most effective 'Hirz” to subjugate the other party. (Incidentally, it would be the most expensive also!) Neither of them would think of amending oneself to win the heart of the spouse. The result, of course, is Divorce.
Of course, there are many 'Hirz' taught by our Imams, which may be seen in Biharu'l-anwar3 and many of them are 'Sahih' (Correct). But the writers of 'Hirz' today do not confine themselves to those correctly narrated Ahadith; and what is more despicable is their selling their 'Hirz' and turning it into a merchandise. Who has ever heard that spiritual benefits could be sold and bought?
Before we go further, it is advisable to mention some Ayats of the Qur'an with their interpretations.
5. “Until, when death overtakes any of them, he says, 'O Lord; cause me to return (to life), so that I may do that which is right which I had neglected.' By no means. Verily these are (mere) words which he speaks (he will not change his ways) and behind them there is a bar (partition) until the day they shall be resurrected” (Qur'an, 23:99-100).
This Ayat describes the sorrow, shame and grief of the unbelievers, when they face death. At that time they desire to be returned to life, so that they may amend the ways of their lives and become virtuous. Of course, such wish will not be granted to them. But by telling the believers what the unbelievers would ardently wish, Allah reminds the believers not to waste the opportunity of doing good, lest we also should wish like that at the approach of death.
6. “Allah shall confirm them who believe, by the steadfast word (of faith) in this life and the next one; but Allah shall leave the wicked into error; and Allah does what He pleases” (Qur'an, 14:27)
It means that Allah keeps the believers steadfast in their faith in this life by the Creed of the Unity of Allah, and will keep them firmly on the path of Paradise in Qiyamat by the same Creed.
But according to the interpretation of our Imams (A) , the word 'next world' in this Ayat refers to the grave. Accordingly, this Ayat refers to questioning in the grave. It says that Allah will keep the believers steadfast in the grave because of their Creed. This help from Allah needs no further explanation because we have seen how Allah by His Grace, exempts them from questioning if the Talqin has been recited for them, or if they have died on Friday or Friday eve. Even when they are questioned, Allah sends Hadhrat Ali (A) to help them at that time. In this way their faith is confirmed.
As for others, Allah leaves them in their error in the grave, because they rejected the divine guidance in this life.
7. “They (the unbelievers) shall say (on the Day of Resurrection). 'O Lord, thou hast given us death twice, and thou hast twice given us life; and we confess our sins; is there, therefore, any way to get forth (from retribution)?” (Qur'an, 40:11)
According to many traditions, two deaths and two lives mean death in this world, then resurrection in the grave for questioning, then death in the grave after questioning, then resurrection on the Day of Reckoning.
According to others, it refers to Raj'at (Return), which is briefly mentioned in ch. 36.